Monday 7th May 2007

My weekend unofficially began on Friday morning. I was watching music television, something I never really do during working weekdays. I was channel hopping, as I do and came across Bliss. They were playing music videos from the 1980s (Golden era of the music video) and the opening bars of ‘Take On Me’ played. I thought how much I could turn things around in the space of a three minute song, but let that thought drift out of my mind and concentrated on the weekend. I was excited. I was looking forward to every aspect, the drive down, the company, the whole experience. So, as the video ended, I switched off the television and headed out to the client office. It was just gone 9am. I got into my car, just after 4pm and it was baking hot. I said goodbye to my manager and wished him a good weekend and let the thought of work drift away. Switching to holiday mode as I drove through Gerrard’s Cross. There was road works on the A40, so I was stuck in traffic for a few minutes. A woman in a 3-series BMW cabriolet, lost her patience and turned around, I waited in the queue and eventually we were let through. They were digging up the road opposite the BP garage, so had set up a traffic lights to control the flow of traffic. After this, I was stuck behind a big group of cars but did not care, I put the volume up and just relaxed. The weekend was about to begin and I was in a good mood. As I pulled off the A4, into Sonning Common, I was stuck in heavy traffic. I took the opportunity to call one of my friends at their office and have a quick chat. The cars in front were not moving very quickly at all and I knew I would be stuck here for a while. I text Pav to let him know where I was and that I was on my way. It was 5.30pm by the time I pulled outside Pav’s house. The weekend could officially begin. I gave my spare key to Nige and then a few minutes later Pav arrived. He had the touch up paint he had picked up from Audi Reading on the way back from work. I got changed out of my suit. Other Nige had arrived now, in his new Vectra SRi and we then just had to wait for Melanie before we could head over to CostCo. I transferred all my bits over into the 528i and sure enough around 6.30pm, an hour or so after I arrived we headed out. We had to go and collect Foxy from the other side of Reading before heading down to junction 11 of the M4.

Wind Mill

The CostCo warehouse store is located just behind the Madjeski Stadium and just next to the wind mill that hangs over Green Park and is clearly visible from the motorway. We stocked up on drink mainly and we were in there for about thirty minutes, it was surprisingly busy. Several families stocking up for the long weekend. I was given the duty of pushing the trolley which was quite heavily stacked with boxes by the time we got to the till. Pav paid, as he has a trade card and we then headed for the exit. At the door, they had an employee checking off receipts with the goods in people’s trolleys. I over took an elderly gentleman, who then said to me, “In a hurry?” I apologised and took my space back in the line, behind him. Our receipt was checked and signed off and we headed to the car to pack. Pav had no space left in the saloon, so we had to dump everything into Nige’s Vectra. Then, it was a case of waiting for Kev and his friend to arrive. Foxy began to get into the swing of things, he was going to be the source of the majority of entertainment for the weekend. He started by blasting Lady Sovereign on Nige’s car stereo. I am trying to wonder what we must have looked like. A group of young adults, standing around two parked up cars, away from the rest of the cars, listening to grime at loud volume. We called Kev again to find out where he was, he assured us he was on his way. It was getting cold and dark now, so we opted to sit inside the cars. Foxy put on Billy Bailey CD and it had us all in complete stitches, particularly the homage to Chris de Burgh and Billy Bragg. We were still waiting for Kev and it was 8.14pm. We had been waiting for nearly an hour and some of us were getting annoyed. We should have just headed out onto the motorway and started our journey instead of waiting, but as we were waiting there was no point now. It was another fifteen minutes or so before Kev finally pulled up in his silver Leon. Pav took the lead, as he had the TomTom running on his N73, with Nige following closely behind with Kev a little further behind in the convoy. I got Pav to let me know the stats for our journey down to the south west coast. I made a note in my phone so I could note it on my blog. Journey time – four hours and four minutes and a distance of 223 miles. We had a long journey ahead of us. We were listening to Radio One with Pete Tong playing the Essential Collection to kick off the weekend for a couple of hours. They were heavily pressing the big weekend in Preston next weekend, requesting for listeners to logon onto the web site and register. We switched over to local radio and listened to GWR Wiltshire for a while. The passengers in our vehicle decided to sing along to Bryan Adams – Run To You at full voice. After fiddling around with the tuner for a while, we switched back to Radio One as the quality on local radio was just so poor. It was coming up to 9.30pm and we decided to stop for food and fuel. We stopped at Tauton Deane services on the M5. The queue for Burger King was quite long but we waited patiently and they did eventually open a new till. I was tempted to get a whole meal but just opted for a burger. Mel got web fries, which were promoting the new Spiderman movie. After food, we headed back to the cars and around to the Esso petrol station to get some fuel, Pav only put in enough petrol to get us down to Looe. We then headed back out onto the motorway, which was quiet by now. It was 10.09pm and the TomTom estimated three hours giving us an ETA of 01.09am. We were keen to get there a little bit before then. We switched on the radio and it was Annie Mac with her Friday mash up. Great fun and played some excellent tunes. She has a segment on her show called Knight Riders, requesting those driving to give details of their car and passengers and destination. Emily text in but we were knew it was unlikely our text would be read out. Around 11pm, I drifted off into a shallow sleep for about thirty minutes only to get up and be wide again almost instantly. There is not much more of the journey to note really, until we came up to Tamar Bridge. Quite an impressive structure but the true beauty was lost as we were driving across in the darkness. The TomTom had been programmed to avoid the toll bridge, so kept advising us to turn around before hand, as there was a main roundabout before the bridge. After the bridge, the roads switched to single carriage away affairs, rolling through the countryside. Pav was trying to keep a steady speed through these roads but it was hard with the winding turns and dips. Plus, I am sure the tidiness from the journey was kicking in. We pulled outside the cottage at 12.30am. As I got out of the car, we could smell and feel the cool sea breeze. Once we unpacked all our stuff, quite a bit of luggage for a couple of days we settled down in the lounge. Em put the radio on, for some background music and we all began to relax. We just sat around and had a few drinks to unwind before we headed back to bed around 3am. I had a spot at the top of the stairs on a soft mattress. I drifted off to sleep quite quickly, I was tired and looking forward to the next few days. Kev woke up early and his movements woke me up. I asked him the time, it was 6.40am, I sunk back into my sleeping bag and feel asleep again. We eventually did get up around 10am and once everyone was ready, headed out for breakfast just before 11am. The walk into town was relatively short, but it was not the distance that was the problem, it was the incline. The road is uphill and then around the corner, you cross a small park heading downhill. Then onto gravel path all the way down to the town centre. The view was amazing and I wish I had brought my camera along, but my stomach was ruling my head, I needed food. The weather was great, warm golden sunshine and the sandy beach just below us was very busy. As we entered the town, we looked around for a place surfing breakfast. We popped into the Golden Guinea and took up two tables. As tempting as it would have been to go for a full English, I went for something less demanding. After breakfast we headed around the shops, I was looking to buy some shorts and even a t-shirt for the beach but could not find anything. We headed back out to the coastline. We could see the beach was busy, so decided to plan our afternoon. We headed around the beach over to the people beach around the corner, just down the road cottage we were staying at. Mel headed over to the beach on her own, while the rest of us headed back to the cottage. We changed and grabbed drink and food for the beach, we then were waiting for a few of the others that had headed for the shop to buy ice bags. Kev, Kev and myself decided to head down and give Mel some company as she was on her own. We headed down the road, walking past a construction site. A new house was being built into the cliff face. It was an impressive view with the trees just falling in the right place to give the perfect amount of shadow around the property. Oh, what it would be like to own a place like that one day? A retirement home or even holiday home with a view of the sea. As I came out of my day dream, we realised there was quite a walk down to the beach and the walk up would far from easy. We got to the beach and putting on my sunglasses, I joined Kev kicking the football around. I also took the opportunity to take some photographs. I was keen to get a picture for FlickR but I did not want to force my hand. I was cautious to the fact that the shot would come naturally during the day. We were waiting for Em, Foxy, Nige and Pav to arrive with the cooling bags and additional drink. I had only been able to bring down a small crate of Coca Cola cans. The sun was high in the sky and it was very hot. Enjoyable hot, not too bad, as the sea breeze was making the temperature quite gentle.

CliffMel & Kev

Eventually they arrived and we headed further down the beach to a little spot by the rock cliff face away from a few other small groups. Generally speaking the beach was quiet. There was a family having a barbeque to our left and a older couple tucked away to our right but apart from that the beach was dead. The odd walker would go past, some with dogs but no hoards of tourists. We settled down, while Foxy & Nige decided to kick the ball around. Foxy, in his Tottenhem Hotspur shorts showing off his skills with kick ups. We were all impressed of course(!) We settled down and I think for the first time all weekend, I was fully relaxed. I was handed a cool drink from the chiller bag of ice and laid down and took in the impressive view. This was the life. The time just flew by as we relaxed and chilled out by the beach. A little boy, aged about 6 came over in his Spiderman outfit (including mask) and asked if he could play with Foxy and Nige. He was very happy to be kicking the ball around for a while and came back again later in the afternoon. A little while later, Em, Foxy, Nige and Pav decided to go crabbing. Not quite British Open Crabbing championship standard I’m afraid. They caught nothing in their hour long attempt, even after I came to over to give some encouragement and take some photos. By now we were all feeling a little peckish, so we decided to have a barbeque on the beach. However, I do not think we could compete with the group next to us, having a banquet on a big table. I headed up the road with Foxy, Nig and Pav. We headed around the corner into Looe to the petrol station and then the local Londis store. Foxy, conveniently forgot his wallet but we paid for the food somehow (thanks to Pav). We then headed back to the beach. Instant barbeques, burgers and sausages all at hand. We then settled down again and waited a while before we actually got down to cooking. Or rather some of us did while the others supervised. It had been a tough challenge for me over the course of the weekend but I succeeded. I had no internet from Friday until Monday afternoon. I used my phone as little as possible, sending only a handful of emergency text and two phone calls. I was proud of myself and generally did not feel as bad as I have before without being connected to the world wide web. Pav, had agreed he would go cold turkey as well but he let the side down. He was online via his N73 constantly over the weekend and sent bucket loads of text messages. His criminal offense was to inform us all that his snow board had been sold on eBay as we lay on the beach. Most of us had been struggling for any GSM phone reception but Pav was surfing the information superhighway via GPRS and 3G. I am proud I was able to switch off for a few days. Only to return home and jump back online 1.09pm today to find 5 e-mails in my Hotmail and a staggering 64 e-mails in my Yahoo! account. The world does not stop. After eating we had a further kick about on the beach. Thought I should actually get these tired old bones working, so I decided to have a pass the ball around between myself, Foxy and Kev. Unfortunately no one had a camera, for the moment, when I tried to smash the ball across the beach, only to the miss the ball and fall flat on my face. Laughter all around. The tide was drawing in and the sun was beginning to set behind the cliff face. It was time to make a move, we backed up our things and headed back to the cottage. We rested for a while, putting on the television. We had missed Doctor Who, but I was not too bothered, if I am honest. Plus, it was not for me to place my geeky habits on the rest of the gang. We ended up watching Grease Is The Word reality television show. Foxy is a big fan and was filling us all in on the events of last weekend on the show. We got ready and headed down into the town centre. It was about 8.30pm. We were going to go to Tex Mex, the Mexican restaurant (you never would have guessed from the name would you?) but there was a birthday party and they could not cater for our party of eight. We headed back down Fore Street to Peking Garden. Yes Foxy had to say it as we walked in, “Let’s take a peek at the Peking Garden”. The restaurant was relatively empty and we got our table straight away. After ordering drinks, we were discussing the weekend so far and our ski trip in January. There was a bang and the next thing I saw in slow motion was Pav’s glass hurtled forward towards me. The contest spilt across the table and onto my jeans and t-shirt. I jumped up to try and escape but it was too late. I was soaked through. I headed upstairs to use the hand dryer to dry my jeans but as luck would have it, it was out of order. A little boy aged around 4 came in with his Dad. Looking at the state I was in, he made the comment as he left, “Dad, it looks like he’s wee’d himself!”. Thanks mate! 🙂 After dinner, which was very nice, we headed up the road to the Ship Inn. A busy pub with pool table and loud music. Just our type of establish then! We got some drinks in and headed over to the pool table, it was not in use, so Foxy took over. He introduced us to a game called Killer. I opted out, prefer to watch, while everyone else put in their £1. Pav won in the end, but Foxy took a percentage of the winnings for ‘backing the winning horse’. After a second game, we headed back out into to our next drink stop. We were informed that the one and only night spot (open until after 11pm) was the Admiral Boscarn. As there were about 5 minutes or so before the venue would open, we headed to the bar around the corner. The Decker maybe thirty yards from the Boscarn but it is 30 years in the future! We had a round here before heading into Looe’s one and only night club. As we went upstairs, we were told it was £3 entry. No problem. Foxy, who was ahead of me, asked if there was a cloakroom. No such luck. Perhaps down in the south west coast, they never require a coat or jacket in the summer months. We entered the main (and only room) to find a function room (converted very badly I might add) with a small dance floor in the middle, DJ booth at the back and bar opposite side. It was relatively empty but slowly filled up. They were playing classic radio friendly dance music, some several years old. The DJ was pathetic, not mixing in any tracks, simply playing one track and then after a gap playing the next completely different track. A selection of the tracks included, “Hey Ya!”, “Sexiest Man In Jamaica” and Madonna’s “Hang Up”. We left the night club (if you can actually call it that, is highly debatable) around 1.30am and headed outside. It was quite a walk back to the cottage, plus the in the dark and cold, it would not be an simple walk through the park. Or so I thought. By the time we got to pathway cutting through the cliff, I was surprised how well lit the place was from the moon (not street lighting!). As we headed up, I was up ahead with Foxy and the rest of the gang behind. We heard some noise behind us but kept walking. We found out that Nige had fallen into the bushes and trees below and Em rescued him. the chances of him falling were small but he had been holding on to some stingy nettles and branches to stop him dropping any further. This is turning out to be yet another long blog entry and I am sure only the dedicated readers will get this far. Suppose I will have to rush through the events of Sunday. We got up a little later on Sunday morning and decided what to do. We decided to head down the coast to Polperro for some lunch at a pub. It was a ten minute drive about five miles west. We parked up and at first were going to go The Mill pub on the edge of the village. However, it was busy and the group was spilt between going inside or staying outside in the sunshine. We decided to walk further into the harbour and find a pub. They had horse and cart offering a taxi service but we opted to walk, it was much better. Even the offer of a whipped ice cream did not get us rushing to jump on the trailer cart. We walked past several pubs but could not find one where we could sit outside and the menu to please all tastes. Eventually we came to the Three Pilchards. We got some drinks and headed to the roof garden before ordering some food. Foxy, had to be awkward and order two starters! After lunch, we strolled back to the car, a few of us picking up fudge from the local shop, and got back to the house mid afternoon. Now what was the plan. It was here the plans for the weekend changed. Originally we had always decided to stay Sunday night and drive back on Monday mid-morning. However, Kev, Kev and Mel were driving back tonight, which would leave just the four of us. We decided to head back tonight as well but drive over to Plymouth, catch Spiderman 3 at 7pm and then drive straight over to Pav’s when the screening finished. So we decided to head into town for a final drink and pick up a few things and then wave goodbye to Kev & company before returning to the cottage ourselves, grabbing our stuff and heading to Plymouth. Great man! Pav checked the show times on his N73, there was a regular showing every hour or so, so if we were late it did not matter. We waited while Mel grabbed her things and Kev packed the car. They then drove down into the village while we walked down. We ended up drinking in the Salutation Inn. I over heard someone at the bar say that the Arsenal versus Chelsea score was nil nil with both Drogba and Cole out. I was missing the game and it was the first time in several years, perhaps even four that I was missing a big clash for the Gooners. It did not bother me that much really, I would catch any incidents on the radio on the way down to Plymouth. We started talking about the movie and how eagerly anticipated it was for us all. Being blokes we are all big superhero fans, but not really comic book. I just think that was not our era. It was the icing on top of a wonderful weekend and I was so glad that we had adjusted plans to do this. We headed down to the a local fudge shop where I purchased an assorted box to take home. Then it was time to wave goodbye to Kev, Kev and Mel. They had just parked the Leon across in the car park opposite and were ready to roll. We then walked through the harbour to a chip shop, so Nige and Em could get some fish and chips. We then walked around back up to the cottage. By the pier, young kids were crabbing, some had caught three crabs already and were still going. We went to the wrong spot guys! We walked back up to the cottage and noticed the spot where Nige had fallen over the night before. The bushes were cleared and you could clearly make out where Nige had fallen and hung on for dear life. Back at the cottage, we packed the 528, while I switched on the radio to listen to the remaining ten minutes of commentatory of the match. It was 1-1 and Chelsea were within minutes of surrendering their Premiership to Manchester United. It was a close fought contest but in the end Arsenal hung on through the four minutes of added time to send the championship North. I was getting excited as we got into the car, it was a short trip up the road to Plymouth. Plus it was at a Vue cinema, so I would still be able to enjoy the Pearl & Dean music before the advertisements. We left after 6pm and got to the cinema set in a leisure park just after 7pm. The reason for the long journey was Pav followed the TomTom directions, which meant we avoided the toll on Tamar Bridge but had to use the ferry service, which costs the same (£1). There was a strange six lane approach with a red light on all but the far inside lane. Then as we pulled behind the car in the queue, a green light appeared in our lane, so we headed down into lane two. We had a ten minute wait as the ferry rolled in and started letting drivers off so we could drive on. Then it was about fifteen minutes before we got to the other side, you could hardly tell we were moving. The send people around to collect the fee, no room for electronic pay tolls here. As we pulled into the car park, we drove past a Renault Clio that had broken down. It was an old L reg model. Two guys were trying to push while their girlfriends stood to the side. It had started to rain. As we parked up, we offered to help. First, three of us pushed the car but it would not start. Pav then jumped in, replacing the driver (who looked about 17). Then we all pushed and Nige shouted “Go on Pav, hit it!” and in the next second the engine roared to live. As Pav climbed out of the car, he raised his arms in the air! Our superhero had come to the rescue! We now truly deserved to go and watch Spiderman! We queued for tickets, it was busy. One bank of three ticket machines were ‘unwell’ and we assummed the other three on the oppossite side of the foyer were for ticket collection only. The queue was a handful of people deep and the cinema generally looked very busy. I was in the queue for ten minutes and got tickets for the 8pm showing for us all. We then thought we would quickly get a bite to eat. Pav wanted to go get a takeway from Nando’s next door but it was a fifteen minute wait. He did not want to risk it. We headed back to the cinema and grabbed some food before heading upstairs to queue outside screen 9. This was a 15 screen cinema, the highest number for a Vue I had ever been to. Yet another first for the weekend. In the queue, we quickly ate our cheese nachoes and got through quite a bit of the popcorn. We where allowed through and Emily commented on the fact that she had never ever queued to get into a cinema, she had never really come to see a film with the mass appeal of Spiderman. The first summer blockbuster of the year. When we got into the screen, we realised how big it was, much bigger than Reading and also noticeably higher up. We grabbed perfected seats, selected by Foxy. Great job T-Dogg, we were sitting directly in the middle of the auditorium with a fantastic view of the screen. As we took our seats, the lights began to dim and that famous music came on… Spiderman will always be my second favourite superhero after Superman and perhaps this movie, went a long way to cement that in my mind. Do not get me wrong, a fantastic movie, with action, suspence, a love story and a few twists and turns but not quite up to the standard, we had come to expect. All in all, well worth going to see. It was great but not much more than that. I suppose with any franchise by the time of the third movie, it can be somewhat tired formula. As the audience we know what to expect, the ‘wow’ factor has gone to a certain extent. Venom was great and worked well with CGI but Spiderman still has not faced a villian of the status to really give him a believable challenge. Go and see it and enjoy but I am sure you too will leave the cinema with a little ounce of disappointment.

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