Sunday 26th August 2007

Woke up yesterday morning with an acute headache. Not good. I had some breakfast, Coco Pops as my usual Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes was finished. Afterwards, I had a Nurofen tablet, hoping it would kick in the by the time I jumped into town to catch the train. I had quick shower, grabbed all my things and headed out the door by 11.30am. Parking the car, I noticed gangs of rugby fans in St. Helen tops all over the place, most queuing for tickets. I parked the car, headed to the station, bought a ticket from the FastTicket booth (now advertised across the network as a Time Machine! Oh whatever next!) Then headed across to platform three. It was quite busy, with a disabled chap, in a wheelchair with his Mum and Nan. They got onto the next London bound train after me and got chatting. It was nice to speak to some friendly people and made a change from my selfish anti-social act of listening to my Zen. The train was full and emptied somewhat at Wembley Stadium. I suppose with the nice weather on a Bank Holiday weekend, many of these people were walk on day trippers. At Marylebone, I topped up my Oyster Card, the site had been down for maintenance and actually moved servers. It would be a few days before I would be able to top up online. The reality was, I did not really need to put any extra money on but I hate the idea of my blue plastic going empty, particularly if my journey is extended for some strange reason. I bought a drink and plugged in my Zen, then headed down to the tube. The long queue for the tube ticket office and Chiltern Railways ticket office, confirmed that this was a big day for walk on fares. I got to Finsbury Park quite early. I text Terry but no reply. I was hoping to meet him before hand and perhaps go for a drink before the match. I waited for a few minutes and then decided to head for the ground, I could wait for him there. As I got outside the grove, I was approached by an elderly couple. They asked where the shop was, I pointed them in the right direction. They were asking if a DVD would be on sale of the last time Manchester City beat us here (I assume they were referring to Highbury). I explained that I did not know but I was not convinced that it was from 1950. The programme which I bought shortly afterwards stated 1975. The museum was open and I was tempted to go and take a look inside. However, I knew it would close close to kick off and wanted more time in there. Perhaps when I come over for a stadium tour. I waited a good fifteen minutes for Terry but then opted to go into the ground, get a pie and then head for my seat. I was quite high up to the left of the goal. I was looking forward to a good performance, a convincing win and some goals. The place was quiet, but there was over half an hour before kick off. While we were frustrated by Man City for a while, we were not taking our chances. Some personnel changes helped but man of the match (in my opinion) Alexander Hleb, passed a great ball through to Fabregas and he finished calming in front of goal. The place erupted. Justified result, particularly after the penalty that was not converted by Robin. You can read up the full details over on the Beeb web site. The performance was not great, but we kept City at bay and scored, eventually. After the match, Arsenal now host ‘Extra Time’. This takes place in the lower tier by Block 31. They have music, guest speaker with Q&A session plus cheap drinks. Rather than normally rush off, as I would do, I decided to check this out. Clayton Stevens provided the entertainment in the form of music from the Rat Pack. There was New York, New York, which most of the crowd sang along to. Then we were joined by John Radford, Arsenal’s fourth time all time goal scorer. I stayed just over the thirty minute mark and then decided to head home. The crowds had by now dispersed. I had seen the emotional scenes up at Goodison Park with the evening kick off of Everton versus Blackburn. I thought it best to head home. There were just a handful of people heading towards the tube station but the queue for Arsenal was long (as usual). I made my way across to Finsbury Park, jumped on a tube train and headed back home. It only takes a few things to make a Saturday night perfect. My Dad collected pizza from Pizza Hut and we watched the final of DanceX. In strange twist of fate, I had seen the opening show several weeks ago, but then been out every Saturday evening to not see a single show until last night’s grand final. I hate to see kids growing up these days, who think that Saturday night means phone in reality television shows. Such a shame. The golden era, in the 1980s and early 1990s are gone forever. Bruno’s team won and they were the more convincing dancers and singers in my opinion. There dance to Michael Jackson’s Black or White was the highlight of the show for me. However, if you could take members of both teams, you could in fact make a super-dance group. However, I do not want to give the impression that I am a fan of the show, the format, or the judges. However, having said that it is not as bad as X Factor. Now that is pure car crash television. One contestant, said something very profound without actually realising the power of what he had said. “I want to be the next Shayne Ward!”. So talent show winners are inspiring other people to enter talent shows, even if said winner has achieved very little, apart from the number one single which is almost guaranteed from the moment you win. Today, I got up at 9am and was very much ready for action. I was off to Birmingham, for the first time since January 2005. Then I went shopping with Nav who caught the train up from Leicester. Today, I was going to meet my friend, do a little shopping and just have a relaxing day. I had purchased my tickets in advance via Train Line. Chiltern Railways run a special £15 return fair, although the £5 E-Day ticket (each way) is not available on Sundays. That is a shame because I wanted to use that service, which sends a barcode to your mobile phone. Don’t you just love technology. I got to Wycombe station early, just after 10am and had a bit of a wait for the 10:43am train. When it did arrive, we left waiting for ten minutes as a new driver was on his way via taxi from Aylesbury. We did eventually get going and were running about five minutes late. When we pulled into Moor Street, I was surprised by the station. It had been renovated but in 1930s period style. The last time I had been here, almost three years ago, the station was in a state of neglect. It is amazing when you approach the station, because you can make out the significant buildings of the Birmingham skyline. I am of course, referring to the Selfrdiges Building. Once off the station, I took a photography in the glorious August sunshine with my phone.

Selfridges, Bull Ring

I waited for my friend, who arrived shortly afterwards and we headed off into the Bull Ring. We had coffee (tea for me of course) at Star Bucks, then headed down to the Mailbox. This was one of the places I had not visited on my last trip and was keen to have a look around. It is a strange building, which looks smaller from the outside. We at lunch at Red Peppers, a nice latino flavoured affair. Then went for a drink at Sante Fe, which over looks the canal. All seating outside was taken, so we had to make do with the air conditioned interior. We then went looking around a few shops in the Bull Ring but it was approaching 5pm and shops were closing down. Then over the mall tannoy, they announced the centre was closing in fifteen minutes. We headed across to Chinatown, had a drink at Arca. It was nice to just sit outside in the warm sunshine and relax. It was about quarter past six and time for me to catch my train back home. We headed back to Moor Street and said goodbye. I was looking forward to being back home. The sun was setting and I took a great photograph while sat at platform two.

Birmingham Moor Street

It is time like that, you are glad you have a camera phone for such candid shots. Funny how all those years ago, when picture messaging first started that I was so against it. I got home at 8.30pm, after the journey on the train. I had been trying to tune into a local FM station to get the football scores but had not picked anything up. So in the end opted to listen to my mp3s instead. A lovely pleasant day and a change from what I would have normally done over a bank holiday weekend. It is week two of Foxy watch. Pav has been texting me MMS over the weekend. One on Saturday was of Mr. Fantastic Fox at Reading festival. As you can see below, his Fred Perry man bag, never leaves his side.

Foxy at Reading Festival

In site news, I have changed my comment provider from Enetation who have been next to useless recently, to the popular Haloscan. I should have gone with them in the first place. I chose Enetation based on great feedback on a Blogger forum two years ago. However, the servers keep going down and readers find it difficult to leave messages without submitting them twice. I am going to retro place all old comments over to the new system but that will take some time. Also, this way I will also be able to monitor trackbacks (if there ever are any!)

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