Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Monday, December 29, 2014

Marvel Films...

The correct order to watch the (recent) Marvel films. Oh and maybe start with Howard the Duck.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Happy Boxing Day...

Happy Boxing Day
Happy Boxing Day
Happy Boxing Day
Happy Boxing Day
Happy Boxing Day
Happy Boxing Day

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Christmas...

Happy Christmas
Happy Christmas
Happy Christmas
Happy Christmas
Happy Christmas
Happy Christmas

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Social Mobility...

"I believe that people make their own luck in life. Anyone can achieve anything if they truly want it enough…" - said someone with rich parents. Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Stuart, Tim, Andy and I had a lovely few days in Paris. We ate in some lovely restaurants, popped into a few bars, visited the Louis Vuitton Foundation exhibition space, walked along the Seine and visited the Champs-Élysées Christmas Market. Great fun.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Old Jokes Home...

An E-flat, a G-flat, and a B-flat walk into a bar. The bartender says "Sorry, we don't serve minors."

Q: Who lives at number 664?
A: The neighbour of the beast.

Q: What's the difference between a Taliban outpost and a Pakistani elementary school?
A: No idea. I just fly the drone.

Q: What's the difference between Ebola and Tulisa?
A: Ebola will finish you off.

Q: What was Whitney Houston's favourite kind of co-ordination?
A: Haaaannnnd eeeyyyeeee...

I popped into Tesco today and nicked all the baguettes.
It was a French stick-up.

I feared my wife had Tourette's, so I took her to a psychiatrist.
The good news? She's not got it.
The bad news? I am a cunt and she does want me to fuck off.

I went out with a cardboard cut-out once.
She dumped me though, because I stood her up.

Q: Why is Peter Pan always flying?
A: Because he neverlands.

f(x)=2x+1 walks into a bar.
The barman says "I'm sorry, we don't cater for functions."

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Merchant of Venice...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Rupert Gould's production of The Merchant of Venice at the Almeida Theatre in London's glitzy Islington.

Wow! What a show!

Set in a modern day Venetian-style Las Vegas casino complete with full-on Elvis impersonator, dancing girls, Southern-style accents and seasoned gamblers we were treated to a feast of song, dance and antisemitism. It was a brightly coloured free-cocktails-for-the-gamblers sort of night of delight, disgust and degradation.

We had been warned "that cap guns, herbal and e-cigarettes will be used in this performance." Well, that didn't even register in this high octane retelling of how the titular merchant Antonio (Scott Handy) falls foul of the Jewish moneylender Shylock (Ian McDiarmid).

Antisemitism is rife in our Las Vegas and Skylock - who has been treated and insulted terribly - defends himself and his religion not least with his powerful "Hath Not a Jew eyes?" speech.

Antonio borrows some money from Shylock to lend to his friend the valiant Bassanio (Tom Weston-Jones) so he in turn could woe fair air-head Portia (the outstanding Susannah Fielding). The woing goes well - via a hilarious reality game-show Destiny - but when the money needs to be paid back to Skylock Antonio falls short and the bond of a pound of flesh needs to be paid.

When the case comes to court Portia takes on the defense of her new husband's friend complete with Legally Blonde pink fluffy pen. Dressed as a man she delivers the famous and deeply moving speech about the quality of mercy to try and dissuade Shylock from his gruesome demand.

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

But all is to no affect and the knives are sharpened - on both sides.

Last minute all is resolved in a rather distasteful way on a quibble with Skylock then sloping off utterly defeated and spat on and the lovers now mistrusting each other for their disguises and betrayals.

Suspicious Minds plays us out in the end.

Bravo. Viva Las Vegas.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Essex Xmas Party...

We had a super Essex Xmas party on Saturday at the Romford and Gidea Park Rugby Club. Dave was our new Santa Claus. Grumpy Santa had a year off. Enter stage left Overacting Santa. Ho ho ho.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Monday, December 08, 2014

Back Home...

Back in the UK after the most incredible adventure. Peru was lovely, the Ecuadorian rainforest beautiful and the Galapagos awe-inspiring.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Day 16 - Sat 6 December - Quito...

We were collected from the hotel by Ana at 8:30am for our morning city tour of Quito.

We saw the Old Town, silver winged Mary on the top of the hill, various churches (including Iglesia De La Compania De Jesus), plazas, and the presidential residence.

Back at the hotel we printed out our boarding passes, had a spot of lunch and packed.

Later, we transferred to the airport for our flight to London via Madrid. The first flight was fairly smooth (Maltese Falcon + Sleep Aid).

Friday, December 05, 2014

Day 15 - Fri 5 December - Sasha Lodge to Quito...

A 4am start saw us start our trip back to Coca (the same way we had come by canoe). As we were traveling upstream the motorboat trip took over two hours.

At the Coca airport some poor lady got stuck in the lavatory. Made us laugh though!

The flight to Quito was fairly smooth and I got chatting with a couple from San Francisco who were off to Galapagos. I enthused.

Upon arrival at Quito, you were not met by Ana, our representative from South American Tours again. Our flight was an hour early but no one had told her. Again. Awful.

When she did show up she brought our luggage that we had left at the hotel in Tumbaco. We then transferred back to the Grand Mercure Alameda Hotel for an overnight stay.

Being the anniversary day in Quito on the Saturday there were parties in the streets and firework displays aplenty. Stu and I decided to venture out to Plaza Foch. The place was jumping with revelers. We happened upon a rainbow flag outside a bar in a side street and after returning to our hotel for ID went inside for a beer or two. $2 a litre was pretty damned reasonable and the music was good too.

On the walk home (we were advised to take a taxi but thought we'd live dangerously) we got offered cocaine, poppers, I got my crotch felt by a very heavily made-up transgender prostitute walking the other way and Stu bought a delicious burger from a dodgy looking street vendor. Normally Friday night in downtown Quito then!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Day 14 - Thu 4 December - Sasha Lodge...

Our relatively late wake-up call at 6am meant our first excursion of the day into the jungle was at a fairly reasonable hour. It had rained overnight though so we had to wear our boots.

Daniel and Victor showed us walking palm trees, orchids, stone leaves for cooking, brown ear fungus (cure for sunburn), champagne cup fungus, black mantel monkeys, vicious conga ants, a palm leaf whose sap heals cuts, green Amazonian dragons, blue crested mannequins, and marbled wood quails.
We swung off Tarzan vines, stuck tree horns on our heads to look like devils and finally had a leisurely canoe trip down the Anaconda stream back to the lake. Simply wonderful.

After late morning snacks at the lake house Stu and I went for a swim in the lake itself. It was like swimming in cold black tea. Tannin from the rotting leaves and bark had dyed the water black. Luckily we weren't eaten by the Cayman, the two types of piranha, nor electrocuted by the electric eels! We only stayed in for five minutes though just in case!

Lunch was lovely, as ever, but the rain clouds started to form. Then there was thunder followed by a full-on tropical rainstorm.

Great though the thunder and rain was at first it rather interrupted our siesta.

And the rains didn't let up for the rest of the night so our canoe ride to the wooden pylon structure was cancelled. As was our jungle night hike. Still, we settled in at the bar instead so it wasn't a complete waste of time.

After dinner we shelled out for the bill ($217 on 21 G&Ts), packed and had an early night.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Day 13 - Wed 3 December- Sasha Lodge...

Our 5am wake-up call lead to breakfast at the lakeside meeting house. We then set off by canoe back across the river to the boardwalk and then the 20 min walk to the Napo river to pick to the motorboat.
Daniel was to be our guide along with local guide Victor. All the groups had a local guide - which is as it should be of course.

Downstream 30 mins we came across the parrot lick where we saw four species of parrots all licking clay off the river back walls. Apparently the clay contains kaolin which aids their digestion.
We also saw a boa eating a parrot while in a tree. Nice. The rest of the parrots went wild.

Further down the river we went to see an indigenous riverside village where the women showed us their settlement. Our guide was called Fanny and she cut up sugar beet for us to taste and dug up yukka (casva) roots and peeled off its inner cyanide skin for us to see.

We were also shown their schoolhouses, the WCS sponsored turtle breeding pond and the women cooked us a traditional meal of fish and palm hearts baked in plantain leaves, baked coca nuts, baked plantains and baked bananas. Stu also sampled one of their baked witchity grubs. Yuk! He said it tasted like bacon. Grubs up!

For their trouble we all gave them $5.

It took a full hour to get back to the lodge as we were traveling upstream.

Before lunch we took the opportunity to take in the butterfly house. And next to the lakeside house on the way to lunch we spotted Lucy the neighborhood Cayman crocodile.

Post-lunch we had a siesta before getting booted up and heading northward towards the three metal pylon canopy walk.

It was fecking 41m high and guess who had the screaming abdabs climbing up it? Great views though. We saw a wire-tailed mannequin (the one that does the shaky bottom dance), howler monkeys and white billed toucans.

After sunset we climbed down (gingerly) and walked back through the jungle by flashlight. On the way back in the darkness we saw a tarantula and an incandescent caterpillar.

Back in time for dinner - this time for a barbecue at the lake - we then set off for our night canoe trip where we saw the Caymen croc again. But not much else.

G&Ts in the bar before bed.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Day 12 - Tues 2 December - Sasha Lodge...

We didn't sleep particularly well at Hosteria Villa Da Fiore due to the aforementioned dog noise but breakfast of scrambled eggs was fine and we were at the airport in good time. Very good time as it turned out as the short 30-minute flight over the Andes from Quito to the river port town of Coca was delayed by an hour. D'oh!

We had packed very light for the trip to Sacha Lodge leaving our main luggage in Tumbaco.
On arrival, we enjoyed a packed lunch followed by a motorboat ride (1.5 hours) down the Napo River, before heading to the Sacha Lodge for our three-night stay. Access to the lodge was via a raised boardwalk and canoe ride. Across the black lake...

Unfortunately we got slightly abandoned at the boat house for an hour so later on by way of apology we were treated to an extra evening lake boat tour by Erik, one of the managers to make up for it.

Sasha Lodge was simply delightful. Wooden lodge houses set in the jungle. Insects, monkeys, birds, bars, small mammals... were everywhere!

Our lake tour was wonderful seeing stinky turkeys, king fishers, herons and all manner of birds I couldn't name. The sunset was lovely too.

Dinner was a sumptuous buffet preceded by a couple of G&Ts and followed by an early night. Having liberally doused the room in RAID. We slept really well.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Day 11 - Mon 1 December - Galapagos to Quito...

In the morning we were up early, breakfasted and in the ship's lounge to watch the highlights slideshow at 8:30am. Stu and I both starred quite a bit in the show!

We then disembarked by panga and transferred to the airport on Baltra to take our domestic flight to Quito via Guayaquil. The first flight was nice and smooth, the second less so.

Upon arrival, you were met by Ana again and were transferred to the remote Hosteria Villa Da Fiore in Tumbaco for one night with breakfast. Some of the roads were blocked so we had to take a very scenic route. The hostel itself was pleasant enough but fairly basic with dog barking and cock crowing the audio landscape.

Stu and I got a lift to a nearby shopping mall to pick up some extra long sleeved tops, lightweight long trousers and RAID anti-mossie spray. We then had a delicious pizza in a restaurant in the mall and the hostel sent us a taxi to take us home. $4. Not bad.