P Free July Can Benefit You!

Just over two weeks in. What have I learned from my politics free month of July? Well, to start, I’ve enjoyed not being too fussed by all the drivel coming from the far left and right sides of politics. I’ve laughed myself silly over the idiots who donated over £30,000 to make a pathetic balloon of Donald Trump to fly around with the equally obtuse protesters as they rallied against what? I’m still not too sure to be honest what these utter bell ends are so furious about.

Just as much, I’ve enjoyed having a chuckle at the hysterical far left on social media as they continually embarrass themselves with pointless memes and posts based on nothing more than bitter points of view lacking any reasonable sense of cohesion. You know, the far left are a bit like Everton supporters. Always crying foul and moaning and the unjust realities of their lives but doing completely fuck all to change anything aside from blaming everyone else for their own incompetence.

Moving past July, I think I am going to stick to this politics free lifestyle because trying to debate anything political with the far left and right is akin to bashing ones head against a brick wall. Actually, I do tend to think that one could reason more with a brick wall than a screaming political banshee.

The only question I can pose with any seriousness is simply, why I didn’t do this sooner.

Well, It’s Not Coming Home Is It?

Logic told me that Croatia would be physically spent after two consecutive extra time matches with one, against hosts, Russia going to penalties. Then, England went and did what they did best and royally fucked it up. Oh well, at least they didn’t go out on penalties. Funny thing, the night before when I went to Tranmere to watch Liverpool play Rovers in a friendly, I had assumed Loris Karius had put his inept goal keeping blunders behind him as well. Wrong! Again! All through this, I’d been getting on with battling a nasty head cold amid all the travel, beer and catching up with great people.

I woke up feeling even worse on Tuesday but soldiered on the train to Liverpool. With a bit of time on my hands, I wandered around my favourite city and stumbled over the Mo Sallah tribute which promptly put a smile on my face. In the hour or so in town, I’d also managed to replace my UK SIM card, grab a new pair of slacks and a Beatles t-shirt whilst avoiding the temptations of all the great food on offer. Around 4 pm, I bundled back into another train to make my way to Hooton where I would be meeting up with Pearl, Chris and Nancy. We settled in for a cup of tea and conversation before the lure of a football match became too much.

We grabbed a quick pint in a nifty pub by the ground then headed in to watch the match. Liverpool sailed, comfortably I must say into a 3-0 lead and we were left thinking a repeat of Saturday’s 7-0 rout of Chester was on the cards. How wrong could we have been? By full time, the red men scrapped home with a 3-2 victory no thanks to our seemingly clumsy goal keeper. My thoughts over the past couple of days have led me to think it may be time for Loris to head out on loan for a season in Italy or Spain to get his mojo back. I can’t see him starting against West Ham on the opening day, that is for sure and certain.

Once home, and already knowing the result, we watched the second half of France v Belgium which meant France would be facing England in the World Cup final! It’s coming home!

Fast forward 24 hours and Pearl, Denis and myself were snuggly settled into the Cavalry Arms for a few pints and England’s comfortable passage into the final against France on Sunday. It’s coming home! And, at 1-0 just past the hour mark it seemed very much to be the case before Croatia found two goals with the second coming in the second half of extra time which meant it was no longer coming home and we’d have to wait another 4 long years before we could pull the song out again. I can’t help but think England missed a golden opportunity here. Still, the squad is young, hungry and will hopefully learn from the experience and go onto to bigger and much better things starting with the 2020 Euro’s. Here’s hoping anyway.

With a healthy number of beers in my guts, Pearl and I stumbled home whilst discussing our thoughts on what Liverpool need to go all the way to glory in the coming season. We had some pizza and watched an episode of Pointless (ironically, the end result of England’s World Cup campaign) before heading to bed.

Oh, I should mention that Pearl and Denis have two cats in the family now. Both black as the night is long and very cheeky. They seem to love their play time in the garden and eating leaves. Plenty of smiles are to be had around these two little treasures.

I woke up this morning feeling glum knowing this Sunday won’t be as wonderful as it potentially could have been. My head ran through all the what ifs before breakfast and a great quantity of tea before I boarded another train to Great Yarmouth where I would be catching up with Sarah, the kids and her family. It’s still not coming home but at least I am going to continue having some cracking adventures before heading back to Australia in 10 days. What have I learned from the past couple of days? Well, Loris Karius won’t be the keeper to steer Liverpool to that much needed Premier League title and nothing truly unites the English like a magnificent yet hollow run in the World Cup!

Here An Albert, There An Albert!

Well, I’m officially fucked! Over 48 hours with little to no sleep but it’s 9:17 pm and in an hour or so I can get to bed and let my body clock adjust. The second leg of my flight was a most gruesome 14 hours in the air with China Airlines with below average food a little to no refreshments which left not just myself, but many other flying companions with dry throats and headaches. Still, I can’t be too concerned because my flight over cost me less than half the price of other airlines for this time of year. And tomorrow of course, I head to Merseyside to catch up with Pearl, Chris and Pearl’s mum for the Liverpool v Tranmere friendly. Hopefully, a few of the other regular match goers will be around. To say I’m excited is an understatement!

I jumped on the Gatwick express to Victoria for the princely sum of £14.80 and, in no time at all found myself at Victoria station. From there, I undertook a 4 km walk with bags on my shoulder through the warm evening sun to Queensgate Road in Hyde Park where my hostel awaited. It’s a beautiful hostel here and only £24 for a night in a 4 bed dorm room with all the mod cons and a touch of Victorian class. It’s also just around the corner from The Royal Albert Hall, The V&A, The Albert Memorial Gardens, The Natural History Museum, The National Science Museum and quite a few other educational spots for the curious traveller to seek out.

There are memories of Prince Albert at almost every turn. Namely, The Royal Albert Hall. A curious slice of history for this venue is that, during the Second World War, a German commander was a fan of classical music and had been to The Royal Albert Hall many times prior to the war so he made sure the area was left relatively untouched by Nazi bombers. How kind. Albert died in 1861 but that didn’t stop Queen Victoria from making sure he was remembered for a long time to come.

It’s a lovely area for walking through these leafy parts of London. You see now, I have a love/hate relationship with the capital because on one side, there are so many wonderful landmarks and a rich cultured history whilst, on the other, there is great exploitation and money hungry developers who only seem interested in tearing down what’s great about London. The city itself drains your money like no other. The are the filthy rich and abject poor all mixed in together into a melting pot of multiple cultures. Once upon a time, I hated the place yet, with the passing of time and too many visits to remember, I’ve grown to find and love the many exciting pockets of creativity and culture on offer. Essentially, the older I get, the more I learn to enjoy my stays here in the capital.

It’s time now methinks to hit the hay and try and get some well earned rest. To be fair, I thought I would have passed out long ago but that doesn’t seem to be the case at all. Fingers crossed I get a good nights kip under the belt and enjoy the train to Liverpool tomorrow.

The Journey Begins…..

Let’s be honest. Some 18 years ago when I began these international flights here, there & everywhere, it was kind of thrilling and exciting jumping on planes and spending crazy numbers of hours on board. Fast forward to 2018 and I could not think of anything worse than flying. Long queues, incredibly daft people, intense and strict security. It’s changed a lot. I’ve grown older and perhaps become a little grumpy. But that’s ok because at least I get to travel unlike many people in this world who are unable to for varying reasons. If being able to explore ancient cities, art galleries and watching football matches all over Europe is the hardest part of my life, then well, I’ve got a pretty sweet life.

Anyway, I’m off once more and currently in the departure lounge at Taipei International waiting for the second leg of my journey. The airport itself appears rather run down and in need of urgent upgrades to compete against the midterm and progressive airports but I was told by one of the cleaning staff that there was in fact, a major upgrade 12 years ago. If that’s the case, the mind boggles at how bad it must have been 20 years ago! I must admit, I was tempted to have 24 hours here in the Taiwan capital but time was against me so perhaps another time. It’s only a hop, skip and a jump to the wonders of one of my favourite cities too. Hong Kong. And I’ve not been there for the longest time. You see, the seeds are always planting themselves inside my mind of places to explore and new adventures to plan. I know travel isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but for me, it’s my everything. I see travel as an evolving opportunity to broaden ones horizons, explore new cultures and meet interesting people. Sometimes you just need to reach out and try it.

Silly me forgot to convert my Aussie dollars that I had in cash to British pounds before getting to the Brisbane Airport and we all know how bad exchanging money at an airport can be. Travelex (rip off merchants that they are) we’re offering 45 pence to every Australian dollar. Plus fees! Considering the standard exchange rate is around 57 pence to the dollar, I refused the offer of Travelex to obtain some pounds. Still, there were a lot of people lining up to cash their money in. Strange!

On board my China airlines flight, it appeared everyone was sick! Actually, everyone at Taipei airport seems sick too. Lucky for me, my immune system is quite strong and I don’t even bother getting that pointless and completely useless flu jab! Only mugs get that shite pumped into their bodies.

The food on board was a bit hit and miss. I had the dinner which was chicken and rice though breakfast didn’t appear too exciting so I chose to kip down instead. The decor inside the plane was like quite stale and dated. I did however pull my usual stunt of getting on last and taking up a free seat in the emergency exit row instead of being sandwiched between two fellas in 64B. Fuck that for a joke! One thing I have learnt over the years in travel is that you have to be a little sneaky and take advantage of situations that 99% of the population just doesn’t compute.

So there we have it. The beginning of another adventure abroad. I may moan a little about the daft side to my fellow passengers but I know that in another 16 hours, I’ll be touching down in London for yet another escape from the realities of day to day life. I’ve packed light and can’t wait to get cracking!

The Beatles Attraction You Probably Never Knew About

Just over 5 years ago now, I was in Amsterdam for a few days and headed north west for approximately half an hour on the train for a day out in Alkmaar.  Known predominantly for their historical cheese market, the people of the town have one other attraction to be proud of.  and no, it isn’t the football team like you might have suspected I would point towards.  It’s actually The Beatles Museum.  The largest of its kind in the world, Azing (the owner and Beatles tragic since 1970) runs an impressive outlet that doubles as both the museum and a retail outlet for Beatles memorabilia.  I’d not read any reviews before going as I like to be left in the dark regarding attractions until I see them with my own eyes.

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The Museum is located just north of the town center and is east enough to find.  Around a ten minute walk from the town square where you will find the famous cheese markets.  From memory, the museum opens around 11 am and you’ll need around one to two hours to explore and enjoy properly.  Azing has some amazing items on show, most of which was collected through auctions and even from Paul McCartney’s own personal archive of memorabilia.  This is a man who has turned his passion into an art form.  Everything is laid out with incredibly perfect precision.  No stone is left un-turned and you soon realise that the 2 Euro’s you paid to go in is worth it and them some.  Despite the temptation to spend way too much money, I only left with some postcards and a couple of books.  Probably a good things as my impulsive streak can sometimes get the better of me in places like this.

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Some of Azing’s stories are nothing short of amazing.  He’s an incredibly passionate man who can recall where and when he was with each item in the museum.  I saw a lot of myself in Azing.  He’s so deeply in love with music from all walks of life but The Beatles are his main squeeze.  Can you blame him?  Ask Azing any question on the band and he will surely answer with great authority and fondness.

During my visit, there would have been around 20 or so other visitors popping in which allowed plenty of freedom to look around and not feel to cramped.  You can happily stand and stare in amazement at all the gold records framed on the wall or contracts hand signed by band members without feeling like you are getting in anybody’s way.  Fab indeed.  Some of the other fans there were from Japan and had made a dedicated trip to The Netherlands just to visit Azing’s museum.  They didn’t speak much English but were enthralled at every turn.  They ended up leaving with massive smiles and plenty of shopping bags of Beatles memorabilia to take back home.

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A large percentage of the memorabilia on show hails from the 1960’s and early 1970’s when the “Fab Four” were the pride of Merseyside and anything with that famous name upon it sold like hot cakes.  I do love some of the dresses on show that have all the members covering a great deal of the material.  Why can’t we have more clothing like this today I wonder?  There are also thousands of other items to enjoy.  Vinyl records, comic books, DVD’s, posters, t-shirts, key rings and well, anything you can think of is here.  I don’t think there will ever be anything quite like “Beatlemania” ever again in our lifetime.  The fact that the group still sell millions of records every year doesn’t surprise me at all.  And the merchandise is also freely available just about anywhere you travel in the world.

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Should you be in or around Amsterdam any time soon, buy yourself a return train ride to Alkmaar and enjoy the worlds largest and most incredible museum dedicated to the greatest band that has ever lived.  Oh, and whilst you are there, catch the amazing scenes at the cheese market during the morning rush.  It’s something to truly behold.  Oh yeah.  One more thing.  The football team is half decent so perhaps you could tee up your journey with a match at AFAS Stadion.  AZ Alkmaar have won two Eredivisie titles with the most recent coming just a decade ago.

“P” Free July Rolls On!

I’m not going to lie.  The first few days were hard.  Now?  Well, now, it’s starting to become a little easier to ignore it all.  Yep, my politics free July is just on a week old and i’m already beginning to forget about many things or, have successfully put my head well and truly into the sand.  There have been a few odds and sods I have seen and thought of sharing but hey, where is it going to get me?  Most people appear to give around about two fucks on actually researching their information and incapable of moving from their ludicrously far left and far right positions.  I love my left wing political views but I’ve grown to dislike the far left more and more with every passing day.  They have finally become equals with the far right and for many of them, there is no turning back.

More and more people are now sharing memes or posting quotes which compare present day America to that of Nazi Germany in the late 1930’s.  Hell, even attention seeking Jewish University lecturers (who should honestly know better) are trying to tell people that the current U.S administration is not one but several steps along the pathway to Nazi Germany.  Utter tosh on every level for anyone with half a brain and a decent grasp of history over the past 100 years or so.  But hey, calling the American President a modern day Hitler is fashionable for the keyboard warriors out there.  Kind of like how the “outraged” right wing call those with a left leaning people in our society, “left-tards”.  Stay classy people!

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Part of making the month of July politics free was to dispose of right and left wing news pages which do nothing but spread hate towards those on the opposite side.  It’s a breath of fresh air no longer seeing Paul Joseph Watson’s drivel flooding my news-feed each day.  I used to like some of his views but now, well, now I fear his increased popularity may have seeped too far into his brain which has, in turn, led him to recite some utter vile racist propaganda that only encourages even more hatred.  Also booted have been the BBC, ABC, CNN and a host of other news sites.  Credibility in mainstream journalism has been shunted over the past decade on favor of click-bait headlines grabbing our attention for all the wrong reasons.

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Over the next three weeks, i’m going to be abroad for a bit and also celebrating my 41st birthday towards the end of the month as well.  Has anyone told you how good growing older can be?   It’s a fabulous reason to switch off from the political barrage from the left and the right and enjoy myself without the lingering cloud of politics and misinformed opinions hovering over me.  On a lighter note, I thought I should have a drink every time I see a meme in my news-feed comparing Donald Trump to Hitler.  Methinks I might spend the rest of the month pretty much sloshed.

Most of my life has been spent trying to be a decent human being.  By no mean am I a saint but I have always tried to remain kind and helpful to others worse off than myself.  I regularly feed and help homeless people, have volunteered for the Red Cross and Amnesty International, helped out at food banks for the homeless, paid phone and electricity bills for friends in need and worked for over a decade in jobs that help other people, namely a stint with a refugee health services unit.  If I die tomorrow, I will die knowing I have done a few decent things in my time to help other people enjoy a better quality of life.

You know, maybe we should all go politics free on social media and be more pro-active in helping others in need instead of being constantly “outraged” over things well and truly out of our control.  Politics, for the best part, is beyond repair.  There are too many on the left and the right with their heads firmly planted deep into the trough.  They don’t give two fucks about the people.  They are incredibly happy watching the masses argue, fight and abuse each other whilst they all enjoy lining their pockets through greed.  They are completely and utterly incredulous to the world around them.  I can’t change or have an impact of what politicians do but I can have a big say in how I treat others.

 

Your Life Is Short! Don’t Waste It!

On my way back from the gym this afternoon, I saw yet another reminder of why we all need to explore life and do the things that make us happy. Zac was only young and his life ended all to soon. Not being a driver myself, my walks always give me a chance to look around more and too often I see these floral arrangements to remember lost lives.

You just don’t know when your number is up so why would you sit around waiting for things to happen? Start doing what makes you happy today. Don’t wait for tomorrow because tomorrow will never come for some of us.

All too often, I see friends making grand plans that never eventuate. The fear is what holds them back from making these plans a reality. It might be the fear of failure. The fear of what others will think. The fear of loss. The fear of things not working out. If you believe in yourself, forget about what others may think and just go for it, then the chances of you leading an amazing life have just increased ten fold. So? What are you waiting for?