So this last few days have been quite the journey and filled with fun. All amounted to great 30th birthday weekend.
Wednesday we had a bit of a delay in Dusseldorf, due to the ice on the aircraft that needed to be washed off. But we did get to Manchester eventually. It was good to be back in the country and in Manchester. Manchester is just one of those cities with a look and atmosphere which is quite unique, and so it was refreshing to see it all again.
We we're of course staying with Sam's mother, and it was nice to see the house and the two, now rather old and grumpy, cats. They seemed to know us straight away, even if we had been gone for a year. That afternoon we went to watch Les Miserables in the IMAX. Dear God we have missed IMAX. In Germany there are perhaps 3 screens, no where near us. That film of course was excellent, either for the acting or the visuals. Hugh Jackman of course was phenomenal, and of course Anne Hathaway once again proved that she is more than a 'Disney Princess'.
Thursday was a mixed bag of a day. I popped into the university and to my old haunt, the MIB (Manchester Institute of Biotechnology). It was a quick visit, and I had a good chat to my PhD supervisor, Prof Popelier, and also a good chat to the current research group, learning what progress has been made in the 4 years since I was there.
That afternoon we had a quick visit from Sam's aunt and then we headed into town to meet up with Daniel, Sam's brother. We had some awesome pizza at Dough (English Breakfast pizza how I have missed thee), and then it was onto a nice new cocktail bar.
The Alchemist is one of two bars by that name in Manchester. Both are focused on experimental mixology. And it did not disappoint. Even on a Thursday it was packed. We we're eventually joined by two of my old class mates from degree and PhD, who are also to be married at the end of March. The cocktails were awesome. I enjoyed a passion fruit based mojito, and also a Dry Ice Tea. The latter involves a large glass with a huge piece of ice and coke foam. The rest of the Long Island Iced Tea was in a glass tea pot, and into it dry ice was dumped, leading to the whole thing steaming just like a hot tea pot. Of course this was to be poured onto the ice. Daniel ordered another excellent cocktail – a Smokey Old Fashioned. That was served in a conical flask with dry ice, and was poured onto a globe of ice in a tumbler. The ice was infused with the essence of burnt oak. So the whole thing had an amazing smell with the drink hit the ice, and visually was stunning.
Friday was one hell of a day. Snow, snow and snow. The journey down to Leamington was the easy part. But on arrival we saw just how much snow had been dumped in the south. It took some effort to drag the suitcase to cafe Corleone's. But it was worth it. And there we met up with Heather, and the now healed Steve, and indulged in the best brunch ever. Something we miss greatly since leaving the UK.
The next part of the journey was worse. The train was just about on time, but the weather got worse and worse on the way. The train itself was better that those that normally go down that route (free wifi and actually room for once). But we were delayed on getting into London and the doors of the train were frozen shut. This just annoyed us more as we needed to get to the hotel to change so we could meet Anna and Mark at Cafe de Paris for the Black Cat Cabaret.
At the hotel we had the extra surprise of having been upgraded to one of the four poster bed rooms. Truly stunning, as we have stayed at this hotel before, but in one of the basic rooms. So this was quite the step up. We got then headed out to the club.
In the club you get a mix of people there. There are those who have paid for the dining, and those who have come for just the show. And Anna and Mark being awesome got us in for the show for free. Now there was one dining table unoccupied. Right in front of the stage. So with a few words we were able to sit there. Mark was filming the performances that night and would be DJing later. All the performances were stunning, involving great dancers, acrobatics, fire eating, and burlesque. Being sat right at the front meant we got the danger table as the host, Dusty, gave Sam a new nick name – Mademoiselle Luce. The fire eater, and performer, the Pig of Hell, stuffed a French Fancy in my mouth as his act involved a lot of food! Our table was almost set on fire as a menu got knocked onto the candles by the Butterfly burlesque act, and I got slightly knocked on the nose by the end of the rope during the trapeze act. I was fine and everyone was glad that I am a good sport. Plus you couldn't make this type of stuff up.
The next day, after an epic sleep and breakfast in bed, we did a bit of shopping and then headed to Anna and Mark's flat for Mark's 30th birthday (yeah it is that sort of weekend). There was candy floss, popcorn, and a pinata. It was like a 5 year old's birthday. We met some fun new people, one of who was performing at the club later.
The House of Wolf, and the club night, The Burning Beat, is the event at which Anna and Mark DJ. It was in an excellent venue, very Victorian and fitting for the night. We were joined by Mel, our friend from Manchester and who we also stayed with a few times in Leeds. And we were also joined by another old friend, Dan. We got to see an stunning belly dance, more acrobatics, and a hoop performance which was spectacular.
Today of course has been our last full day in London. We headed to Camden, met up with Sam's friend Ky, had a good nose about the Markets, and found a great new label to order clothes from. We were also joined by James, who had recently moved back from Hamburg, to Cambridge, and then back once again to the Isle of Wight. So it was great to catch up with our best friend.
So overall it has been the best birthday weekend ever, and has made turning 30 great, and that we plan to have a lot more fun. It also is good to feel like the last year in Germany has really paided off as my project continues on well and we are now more than excited by the prospect of friends coming to visit us.
Bloody hell – where did the year go.
Now I’ve been in my job for a year, and also living in Germay for a year. Whoa! That is kinda crazy when you think hard about it.
I have been living in a foreign country for a year.
Now my German is still shite. When ever I have got time to practice it I do something else – read a book, write stuff for roleplay games, blogging, podcasting, reviewing books, painting toy soldiers, going out – so I am still basically a novice but I am picking it ever so slowly.
As always with a new research position, the first year feels awful as once again you adjust to what you are doing. Figuring out a new method has been my bane of the year. But the hard work for that is over. Time for actually putting it all into practice and harvesting the results. About fucking time. However in this time I have had one paper done, and a book chapter, and I am waiting on another paper. As a result of work I have also been to Berlin for a conference (took Sam along to that one), Berlin again for another (shorter conference on a specific DFT program), and another in Lugano (I would have taken Sam, but the place was pricey and I would have had no time for sight seeing as the conference was all about my very specific field). That last conference was great as I got to meetup with some familiar figures, including my PhD boss. And hell it was good. Pretty much all my work for my PhD got presented, and my own work was cited a lot in other talks.
Of course Sam and I have been to Venice this year, for Carnival, to mark us being married for 3 years (it will be 4 years this Feb). Venice of course is always great, and I think given we have gone 3 times now we have pretty much walked almost every street there.
This year also saw our friend, James, move back to the UK from Hamburg, which is sad as it was cool to think we could visit him often. But we have also made a few friends here, and I have a rpg group going now. Finally!
On the hobby side of things the podcast goes from strength to strength, and now has a spin off magazine. So I get to write a bit and practice more often with my creative side. We also went to Essen Spiel, a gaming convention, that had a shed load of larp and re-enactment gear, games, rpgs, etc. We also got to meet a very cool artist there, Nigel Sade, who is hoping to move to Germany (where the streets are paved with gold! – actually decent health care and affordable public transport and cheap renting).
This coming January sees me turn 30. I don’t know if that makes me feel old, or not. I guess I don’t care too much – I don’t look my age. And for that we are going to visit the UK, via Manchester and London, where we plan to sample some very cool club nights.
Anyway here are some pictures from this year.
Dave “Death and Arcana” Brookshaw
Mike and Chris are joined again by Dave Brookshaw, a writer for Mage’s recent Left-Hand Path sourcebook. In the Secret Frequency, the hosts explore Fengdu, the Chinese City of the Dead, and also discuss the legend of a slumbering dragon beneath Beijing. Following that is a lengthy Q&A with Dave Brookshaw, looking at Requiem’s Blood Sorcery, the God Machine Chronicles, and the upcoming NWoD game, Mummy: the Curse.
Don’t worry, we have some CWoD discussion in this episode too! And get pumped for our upcoming NWO Conventionbook review.
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The elusive Dr Ether, master of the aetheric arts, reality hacking and spookagraphic experiments