Calgary and the North – August 2019

Recently went over to Canada for some R+R, and started in Calgary and , headed North up to Jasper and Canmore and some places in between. Had a great time but the photos are the winner here.

So heres some notes I did for someone else, and the photos:

Johnson Canyon near Banff. Bit tourist, made paths etc. 2 Waterfalls. Not the end of the world if you don’t get there, but worth taking a look if its quiet. I say that as its one way in and out, and if it’s busy I imagine a nightmare.

Peyto Lake. Just off the Icefields Parkway North of Banff. Short walk from the car park but the view is amazing. Once again could get chaotic if busy, but worth it.

Further north around Jasper you have Valley of the Five lakes. Proper hike for about 5 miles, not surprisingly, around 5 lakes. Some great views, nice bit of countryside. Bring mozzie repellent. By the state of me once we had finished, bears would have been welcomed !

Maligne Canyon. Bit touristy and made paths but worth the walk along ever increasingly deep canyons and water just crashing through.

Lake Louise and Lake Moraine. Lake Louise is the jewel in the crown and has a 5 star hotel attached. We blagged our way into the hotel car park for nish, but they will let you in for $20 if it’s not too busy. Else it’s get lucky in the nearby public car park, or its a 7km park and ride. Canoes for $100 an hour. No thanks !

Moraine is close by and more normal and worth the short drive. Also has a shuttle service but we managed just to drive on in. I thought the actual view and lake was better at Moraine but seemed to be in the minority.

Grassi Lake. We went here on a recommendation from an old friend who now lives in Canmore, just outside of Banff, who we saw for dinner. I didn’t even know she lived there until 1 week before we left. Hadn’t even spoken to her in 10 years ! Any way. It’s a locals hike, quite a bit uphill with 2 amazing smallish lakes at the end, but the view of the main lake from the top of the hill is worth it as well. Bear country, take your spray.

If you fancy something more hardcore in that area, there’s Ha-Ling peak

Japan – November 2017

Last month we were lucky enough to go to Japan for a week or so. Absolutely amazing place and somewhere I need to spend more time. We based ourselves in Tokyo and and had a day in Kyoto.

Central Tokyo like most cities is full of shops and offices, but the sheer amount of different shops they manage to pack into one building through vertical integration does give that feeling of claustrophobia. We were staying just outside the centre in the Hilton , which is more in the business district of Shinjuku which gave us some relaxation away from the neon and bustle.

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Invictus Games

What better way to celebrate the end of a good summer, than to share the sunshine of the Olympic Park, Stratford with Prince Harry, James Blunt and the Foo Fighters. An unlikely group, I’m sure you will agree.

However, we actually came together to celebrate the end of the inaugural Invictus games. A sporting event set over 4 days, bringing together injured service men and women participating in events once thought improbable (100m double amputee race anyone ?). This was the brain child of Prince Harry post his visit to the US version, The Warrior Games last year. The reason we went was twofold, one to see the Foo Fighters and two as we had a friend who was competing as part of the UK squad.

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WHUFC vs Tottenham Hotspur EPL 2014/2015 16/08/2014

3 mins until the start of the season
3 mins until the start of the season

The new seasons is upon us and Sam has promised a new look attacking West Ham. What we got was Carlton Cole up top on his own . 

The game started at a pretty frenetic pace as you would expect in a always competitive London derby. However both teams cancelled each other out, and chances were at a premium. However, after 27 mins a turned shot from Kevin Nolan was adjudged to be hand balled by Kyle Naughton and he was dismissed and Mark Noble stepped up to take the pen. I have never been the biggest fan of his penalties but he always seem to score them, so fair play. Anyway this one he pulled to the left of the goal and the game stayed drawn. As is usual Spurs started to get back into it, and they swapped to 3 at the back. This is where Sam made the mistake. As soon as Spurs went down the 10 men we should of gone two up top. Valencia and Zareto were on the bench, and Nolan was on the pitch, but no, Sam knows best and kept Carlton isolated up front.

By the second half you could tell the fans were getting frustrated, but we kept getting chances. Stewart Downing was unlucky after getting through 2 players to only drop short against a brilliant Lloris save. Valencia came on for the last 15 and looked lively although small. Collins was also dismissed after the hour mark for a second yellow, both of which were justified as basically he was trying to break up play with cynical fouls.

The interesting thing was that at 90 mins, no one was leaving the ground. I and I think everyone else knew that something was going to happen but didn’t know what. They didn’t have long to wait when Spurs new signing Dier broke through the dogged WHU defence and slotted home the winner around Adrian.

Bottom line is we played OK, just OK, but not poorly. Cresswell looked great and Kouyate was OK in the middle but needs to come out and forward more. Valencia’s cameo appearance was encouraging, but he is way too small to play on his own up there.

For me Cresswell was MOTM, with Noble closely behind. Nolan was shocking and Sam needs to take a good look at his best mate and his contribution to the team. And at least we are above Man U on the league. 

Looks like we already taking the existing ground down !
Looks like we already taking the existing ground down !

I also had some time before the game to check the progress on our new home in Stratford. Things seems to be coming along, but it still looks too big for us if I’m honest.

2 years to go....
2 years to go….

Hard Rock Calling 2013

This years Hard Rock “festival” has moved to the new venue of the Queen Elizabeth Park, Stratford, or to give it its casual name, The Olympic Park. This event is part of the reopening events for the park.

Travel was a doddle and although not quite at Olympic levels, stewards were on hand to direct punters across the river to the venue. It was nice to see the place again and brought back great memories for me of my visit last year (see here).

The layout was a bit odd if im honest, stages 2 and 3 were no where near the main stage which made stage hopping a bit of a chore, so we stayed mainly in the main arena. The other key issue was that of queues, the beer queues were longer than the loos, which is a rarity  and something i hope the organisers take on board for future events. The afternoon was spent with a couple of ciders and introduced to me Twin Atlantic, who I have to say impressed me, with their semi new wave powerpop, which i always been a sucker for. Next up was Miles Kane. Now, here is a guy who doesn’t read weather reports, as his tight suit in the blistering heat made perfectly obvious ! But his set was spot on with his mix of 60’s style rock, and Artic Monkey moderism made the afternoon end with a bang and a few tunes spinning around my head.

Talking of moderism, next up was the man himself Mr Paul Weller. Despite his ageing years, he rocked it out as usual. nice to see Steve Craddock back on stage as well, (his second show of the day as he did a solo stint in one of the tents as well). Some classics were played and dreams were made for the young lads in front of me when he finished off with Town Called Malice. I didn’t have the heart to tell them the Jam did it better! My favourite of the day, was his cover of Start !. I say cover as it had been rearranged a little, and if I may say so even improved on what was the second number one for The Jam. For those that are interested here’s the highlights of the setlist:


Wake up the Nation

From the Floorboards up

Fast car slow traffic

Sea Spray

Ever changing moods

Kling I Klang

Baby come on

Peacock suit

That’s entertainment


Changing man

Town called Malice

So, that’s three Jam and one TSC and some classic Weller. A whole lot to beat.

Kasabian were up last, and to be fair are a bit of an “OK” band to me. They put on a good show (and came onto the old Grandstand theme tune) but the work had been already been done if you ask me. The set was pretty spectacular though (Weller didn’t even have a backdrop !).

Some piccies:

The full Saturday line up.

The new West Ham Stadium (and the wife !)

Main Arena- Note ; Astro Turf makes no mud !

All going off for Kasabian from the back of the arena

A Hard Rock hot air balloon ?

Miles Kane getting heat exhaustion.

Weller and his 2 drummers is the new Adam Ant.

Olympics 2012- My tuppenth.

The Olympics is now over and the whole of the UK is missing it. The travel chaos never happened, the terrorists never came, and most unexpected of all, Team GB won a gallon of medals, and ended getting the overall Bronze in the medal table!

My Olympic visit came on Aug 9th, and i was lucky enough to secure a ticket to the stadium. Wooo Hooo. So after the grand total of 10 mins on the Javelin train, i was in a place i know like the back of my hand, Stratford.

This was not the Stratford of sulking hoodies and sink estates however. It was one of a happy throng of people with one intent, to watch the greatest show on earth. The volunteers made sure every got in quickly, and were on hand for almost anything. The Army were on the door, and as usual i was the only one of our group of 8 that got the full search experience.

Once inside the sheer scale of the park was amazing. Seeing it empty or on a pre opening tour, did not prepare me for the scale. There were 000’s of people and plenty of space to move about, with no queues anywhere. We took our seats at 6.30 to catch the Mens Decathlon Javelin. The one thing that took my geeky eye was not the power of the athletes, or the amazing stadium. They had remote control mini’s to return the Javelins ! How cool that is has no score attached !

Welcome to the Home of the Hammers !

WANT !!!!!

Not bad seats !

Then some running and jumping, also known as the triple jump. This took place right in front of us, and was eventually won by Taylor of the US, who jumped what seemed like miles for someone like me, who had only ever done this at school.

Next up of interest was the mens 800m. Amazing. a new world record and an easy win for David Rudisha of Kenya. How long before the get into sprinting, they seem to have everything else sorted.

After a Womens 4 x 100 heat, came the main event. The Mens 200m final. Bolt came out to a ovation, and did not fail to deliver. This inevitability, and a double double of Olympic sprinting golds was almost overshadowed by the fact that the result was a 1-2-3 for Jamaica. I kept an eye on those guys and they must of spent an hour doing interviews on the zig zag for what was a <20 secs event !

The Beast

The Daddy

A blurry one two three

Post the Womens javelin it was time to go home. This again thanks to the organisation it was a seamless affair, although I’m not too sure I would of felt the same if was going to St Pancras, but trains were leaving almost every minute.

One last comment before we leave the stadium. This place is a lot smaller when you are in it. If you are on the sides it would be great for football. So i have changed my mind ! Come on you Irons.

So, full of Olympomania, we head on to Sunday, and the closing concert ay Hyde Park. This is a short review as outside of the massive screen on the stage showing the remaining Olympic events live, it was the same as any other outdoor gig.


Bombay Bicycle Club. On too soon ( i was watching the Basketball final – and cheering on the Spanish !). Average indie fayre.

New Order. No Hooky means nothing really to see, and they plodded through the set, as if they were at any one of a million festivals they have done in the past. Average.

The Specials. Now this was the big one for me, and like the Bolt they delivered in spades. Neville may be a little slower around the stage now, but the tunes are still there, even without Jerry. Quote of the day – Terry Hall-  “This next one’s Chariots of Fire!”

Blur. Having seen them too many times, especially at “Final” gigs, I’ve got a little jaded. But as always Damon wins me around everytime. Another success for the Essex Boys.

Another Gold in the bag !

Another Golden performance

My companions for the day + Torch.

There’s that fella again !

Team GB !

So that was my Olympic experience. If you have one please leave a comment and a link, because I really want to see how others enjoyed themselves.

Roll on 2016 in Rio.