Phone Photos Follow-up

I try not to talk about phones too much here, because despite my slight obsession with modifying, updating and generally staying ahead of the mobile curve, I know most people aren’t very interested.

But you may recall I recently swapped my trusty, much modified, but by-now-ailing Galaxy Note 2 for a phone so new that you can’t yet buy one outside of the Far East (an LG G Pro 2).

It’s a fantastic device, and many things about it have impressed me, but the camera just continues to surprise!

This picture, for instance.

Snapped outside very quickly at lunchtime, I’m finding it hard to believe this is from a phone and I took the picture!  This is uploaded straight from the phone, completely unretouched.

Images from the weekend’s MozArmy trip, despite being taken in a dark and dingy pub, have also come out clear, sharp and beautiful.

🙂

Mozchester

I went to a “MozArmy” meetup in Manchester at the weekend, because… Well, I’m not sure, really.  I’m not anything to do with the #MozArmy group on t’internet – that’s a hardcore collection of proper Morrissey fans. Don’t get me wrong, I like The Smiths and a lot of Morrissey’s solo stuff; but a “fan”?  No, not really. But I was invited by my friend Rachel, who I worked with at Expedia, and thought “What the hell?!”  A night away from home in Manchester doing something I’ve never done before.  Why the hell not?  I’ll be dead soon enough so make the most of the time I’ve got, right? 🙂

20140427_012321
Lorna, me, Jane, MozArmy Meetup

There were five of us going up, three ladies and two gentlemen – my friend R Kelly, Rachel, her friend Jane (who I’d met once before) and Lorna, who I’d never met – all of us sharing a tiny apartment.

Speaking of the apartment, we had a bit of trouble with that, after Rachel booked it through Expedia, who then double-booked it and offered her another one instead.  But Expedia then cancelled our booking, which we only discovered on trying to check in.  Thanks, Expedia.

While Rachel negotiated with the receptionist at our cancelled apartment Rich and I went to the original one, on a hunch to see if our booking had reverted there. It had.  Thanks for the heads-up on that one, Expedia.  Yeah, cheers. Dirty Pool

This meant we had no time for food for food before the MozArmy Meetup started so we went straight to the Star And  Garter pub where it was taking place.  More confusion as the doors were supposed to open at 8, but were still locked when we arrived at 8.20 due to “The beer not working”. Funny thing about the Star And Garter, it looks quite nice in the pictures on the Internet, but inside is rather less salubrious.

This is the pool table Rich and I played on; plus, all of the video games inside were old school.  If we’d been in, say, Hoxton or Shoreditch you’d have assumed the pub had paid a lot of money to get such retro ’80s artefacts.  In the Star And Garter, I think they just hadn’t ever been updated!

Fortunately, I like pubs such as the Star And Garter, and we had an enjoyable drunken night there, even briefly meeting celebrity Smiths’ fan  Julie Hesmondhalgh (aka Hayley from Corrie), who was there! 20140427_134822

Next morning, slightly hungover, but with plenty of time to kill before our train home at 4.15, we walked to Salford to see the Salford Lads Club, scene of an iconic Smiths album photo. Rachel and Jane tried to recreate the picture, with middling success…

By now flagging a little we decided a retreat to The Marble Arch pub was in order, and after waiting just 45 minutes for a taxi (which was – again! – cancelled) we eventually staggered into this seriously beautiful pub for a wee drink and packet of crisps before returning to Manchester Piccadilly station and heading home.

Manchester was…nice.  Not amazing, not terrible, but perfectly nice.

When is the holiday going to be for?!?

I don’t know if it’s the return to school that has tired Amber out, but both the Lovely Melanie and I have had to bite our tongues with her this week.

She’s had two monster bennies (our term for a tantrum) for absolutely no reason.

weetabixThe first was at breakfast yesterday, when her Weetabix was the wrong temperature (yeah, I know…)

Our fridge is on the blink at the moment, and everything is far too cold – sometimes even icy – so when Amber’s Weetabix looked like an ice cream sundae I put it in the microwave for about 20 seconds.

Perfect!  It came out room temperature, sans ice cream.

And your majesty had a gigantic benny because it was warmer than she liked it.

As is my parenting style, I refused to budge when she asked for a bowl of Cheerios instead: “Not until you’ve eaten your Weetabix.”

Cue, a fit of wailing and whining that wouldn’t have seemed out of place on the stage.  Of course, that had no effect so she went upstairs to complain to the Lovely Melanie.

After about five minutes of more distant wailing and whining I heard the raised tones of my darling wife telling her daughter in no uncertain terms to get back downstairs, eat the Weetabix and shut up.

Which was unusual because the Lovely Melanie almost never shouts at either child.

That evening the same thing happened again, when Amber wanted to know something about holidays.

To this day no one has the faintest clue what she was asking about, but it went something like this…

AMBER: Mummy, when are the holidays?

LOVELY MELANIE: Which one, poppet?

AMBER: Our holiday. When is it?

LOVELY MELANIE: Our family holiday?  It’s in August.

AMBER: No, the holiday.  How long is it?

LOVELY MELANIE: We’re going for seven days.

AMBER: No, I mean how long is it?

LOVELY MELANIE: I just told you – seven days.  A week.

AMBER: No!  When is it going to be?!

LOVELY MELANIE: (now a bit mystified) In August.  In the school holidays.

AMBER: (getting cross) No, when is it going to be the holiday?

LOVELY MELANIE: I don’t understand, love.  Our family holiday is in August for one week.

AMBER: No!!  You’re not listening!  When is the holiday going to be for?!

I was reading nearby and by now fully understood that we were going away during the school summer holidays in August for one week (or seven days, if you like) but this, apparently, was not the answer Amber sought.

Millie strolled past at one point, curious as to why her sister was having a meltdown.

MILLIE: What’s wrong with Amber?

ME: No one knows.

MILLIE: Oh.  OK.

Amber never did figure out how to make her question (whatever it was) understood, and after about five minutes was reducing to simply screaming for an answer.

In the end she wore herself out and we put her to bed.

Record Store Day 2014

I took the girls to Berwick Street in Soho yesterday, for Record Store Day 2014.

20140419_132742Without a record player and not being a “collector” the numerous limited edition releases available were of no use to me, but I thought it would be a “Cool Dad” thing to take the girls up there and see lots of people dancing and enjoying music.

We got there just in time to see Edwyn Collins playing (you can probably not quite see him in the background of this pic), which was nice.  Good to hear that he’s got his voice back after the horribly tragic stroke of a few years back.

The queues for all the record shops were massive, however, so we didn’t even try to get in there.  I was half seeking a CD copy of Dylan’s Gospel by The Brothers & Sisters, but it looked easier to get it online, frankly.

And the music at Sounds Of The Universe was pretty damn good (and I was hoping to see some of Illum Sphere‘s 3pm set…), but the girls weren’t really into it so we bought cakes from Berwick Street Market instead. 🙂

We did manage to visit nearby GOSH Comics, where Amber chose a Frozen storybook (of course!) and Millie – more interestingly – opted for a Spiderman All-Ages comic.  I was pleased she chose something I enjoyed at her age, and my fairly up-to-date Marvel knowledge came in useful in identifying all the characters!

Monsters University!

It’s the current catchphrase in our house at the moment, said in a silly Japanese-American (I think) accent – “Monsters University Toy Surprise”

It’s all thanks to this video, which Amber discovered while scraping the YouTube barrel for anything with the word “Frozen” in the title or keywords.

What is it?  A lady unwrapping a shedload of Kinder Surprise eggs and listing the toys inside, all in a silly Japanese-American (I think) accent.

A certain level of deranged comedy genius becomes apparent if you watch it for more than five minutes (I don’t recommend the full 13 – even Amber hasn’t managed that yet!)

To save you the trouble, Monsters University comes in at about 9 minutes 40 seconds.

Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark, GreenwichIt still being the Easter Holidays (still!) the girls and I visited the Cutty Sark in Greenwich on Wednesday.

I’ve been to Greenwich often enough and seen most of the cool stuff there (museums, foot tunnel under the Thames, the market, the park, the Royal Observatory, etc.) but never the Cutty Sark.

Sadly we missed our intended train because we were all playing Titanfall and got a bit carried away, but we still arrived just in time for lunch.  And lunch, of course, was at the girls’ favourite London restaurant (because it’s one of the few they know) San Miguel on Greenwich Church Street.  They’d been there with the Lovely Melanie just 48 hours earlier, when they came to see the brilliant Signor Baffo at the theatre in Greenwich; but despite the amazing choice of restaurants in Greenwich decided that San Miguel was the only possible choice.

The waiter even recognised them!  They are officially “regulars”!

Beneath the Cutty SarkAfter lunch (I recommend the calamari), we joined the Cutty Sark queue inside the entrance – not realising the queue began outside and you had to queue outside to join the queue inside!

As an Englishman with a genetic-level respect for queuing and proper queue etiquette, I was mortified when this was pointed out to me, and hung my head in shame in the outside queue. 😦

Despite this embarrassing social gaffe, the Cutty Sark was really rather good.  It’s not a terribly old ship (nothing like as old as, say, HMS Victory or the Mary Rose) but looks very impressive – an immense shape simply floating in the air above you, and is fascinating to explore, too.  It’s all very well done for adults and children.

It being the Easter Holidays (still!) there were arts and crafts activities going on beneath this 963 tonnes of wood and iron, so while the girls made kites and windmills I stared up at this floating mass (963 tonnes of wood and iron!!) wondering what on earth was holding it up.  I asked Amber at one point, she shrugged and replied “string?”

Tangled up on the Cutty SarkThe only small downer on the day (queuing mistake aside) were Millie’s endless requests to go to the bloody gift shop.  Every two minutes, “Can we go to the gift shop?  When can we go to the gift shop?  Are we going to the gift shop now?”

I can count the number of times I’ve actually told my children to “shut up” on the fingers of one hand, but this added another finger to the count. 😦

We got home, exhausted, but just in time for tea and had hot cross buns for tea.  Yum.

And Millie, inspired by the Cutty Sark and the ship in a bottle from the gift shop, has been inspired to write a story on her blog called The Ship In A Bottle.

Extreme Easter Holidays

It’s the Easter holidays and everyone’s busy!  Well, last week less so because the girls were away with their grandparents in Hatfield.

But now they’re BACK and things is CRAZY!

To be fair, it’s not just them.  I’ve had a sudden flurry of “going out” – three nights in a row out with friends, for gigs, birthdays, and lectures by SELFS (the South East London Folklore Society).

Three nights on the trot is a lot at my age though.  And there was no let up on Sunday, when I took the girls to the library, to the shops, and then they helped me sort out the front garden in the afternoon.  I dug up weeds and put them in the compost bin; they dug up weeds and put them in pots.  The back garden is now awash with potted daisies, buttercups, and other such things.

Bexleyheath Library, Sunday morning
At the library – very quiet!

“What will a daisy turn into if you pot it?” asked Millie.

“More daisies?” I replied, more than a little perplexed.

We also planted more raspberries out the front on the grass verge that doesn’t technically belong to us, but which we’re slowly annexing.  I’m rather hoping some obscure bye-law will make it our property if we cultivate it for a certain amount of time. 😉

And there was no let-up yesterday.  I had the day off to take care of the girls, although never has the phrase “day off” been less accurate!

In the morning we tried to get Amber back on her bike.  She learned to ride last year but has since lost her confidence and apparently forgotten (giving lie to the old saw that “it’s just like riding a bike…”)  So, when it came time to go to the doctor’s and the shops, she ended up running behind Millie and myself.

To be fair, she did well at keeping up.  But Millie and I were exasperated at having to ride so slowly.  Amber eventually got a stitch on the way back, so I put her on my handlebars and rode slowly and carefully home.  “Don’t tell your mother,” I told them.  And they haven’t.  But I just did.  Bugger.

In the afternoon we went to the Post Office in Sidcup , then down Station Road to go swimming.

Going down the Station Road hill was oddly nostalgic, since Millie and I used to go that way three times a week after dropping Amber at nursery.  It was a gorgeous sunny day and the girls climbed on anything climbable and pretended to be butterflies.

Amber invented a genuinely new stroke when we eventually got to the swimming pool: a rotating combination of front crawl and backstroke.  Is it practical?  Maybe.  Is it novel?  Yes, very!  I’ve christened it “The Corkscrew”.

Swimming with the girls is so much easier now they can both swim even when well out of their depth, and neither of them has the slightest fear of the water.  You can throw them in the air, flip them off floats, and dive down to the bottom – nothing phases them.  They were like a pair of little fishes.

Glad to see all that money spent on swimming lessons hasn’t been wasted!

Today, I’m home alone, working; the girls have gone to visit our friends Ben and Sharon in Lewisham – although, Amber found time for a bit of hair plaiting before they left.

Tomorrow, we’re visiting the Cutty Sark