April 22, 2005

Fly to El Salvador...

...I'm a loser baby so why don't you kill me.

Thanks to Dan for the Beck reference.

Athlete were pretty damn good. I wasn't too keen on the Tragic Blunders though.

Posted by Jim at 11:45 PM

April 17, 2005

I'm a Celebrity, Get me in here!

A belated flat-warming party featuring the likes of Alan Partridge, Gwen Stefani, Vyvyan, Sharon and Kelly Osbourne, ...

Very few photos, thankfully. A bit like my recollections of the end of the evening.

Posted by Jim at 09:13 PM

April 14, 2005

24 - 1 down, 3 to go

Tonight I finally finished ploughing through the borrowed box set of 24, series 1.

After weeks of sporadic binge-watching on a nice widescreen TV, the final disk was seen off on a laptop in bed. At first it seemed that I'd have to spend cash on getting a DVD decoder plugin for Windows Media Player 9, but salvation came in the form of the excellent and free Media Player Classis - highly recommended as lightweight, standalone DVD playing software.

So what did I make of 24? Well, it had its ups and downs, at times impossible to stop watching and at others becoming a chore to watch. Overall I can't deny it was good fun and when I find the time (and someone generous enough to lend a box set for months on end. Thanks Paul.) I'd like to at least get through the second series...

Posted by Jim at 10:47 PM

April 07, 2005

Eine Kleine Haydnmusik

The Zizzi restaurant just along the road provided some delicious food with good, quick service meaning there wasn't too much of a rush to get to see the Classical Opera Company perform Haydn in Eisenstadt at Wigmore Hall.


Posted by Jim at 11:05 PM

April 04, 2005

Numer of sprouts seen: zero

Having books train tickets and a hotel via the Eurostar website for a very reasonable price, I enjoyed yet another long weekend following Easter, over in Belgium with 3 nights at the Radisson SAS hotel, Brussels. The hotel was very nice and in a good location, but there was a lot of building work going on just outside which I'm sure is the reason why the price was so reasonable.

Besides the e-ticket printing machine having an e-fit and chewing up the train tickets, the journey there and back went smoothly, besides the relatively well behaved stag-do party in the same carriage who made what I assume to be the stag put on a dress and walk up the train to purchase a Kit Kat. At some point an unmistakable phrase came from the midst of the group, and we instantly picked up on the reference to his similarity in appearance to Anne. Brussels Midi / Zuid station felt a bit confusing on arrival, but there were information desks to help us on our way in English despite my brave attempt to speak in French. The Eurostar ticket gets you to any Belgian city from Brussels, including a single stop along the line to Gare Centrale. An unfortunate wrong turn took us out the grim exit of the station, but we were soon walking down pleasant cobbled (and very much wheely-case unfriendly) streets, soaking up the atmosphere.

The Grand Place was an incredible site, made moreso by the temporary art installation Trash People there at the time. Photos give you a good idea of what it was like, but I think you had to be there to not just get an idea of the scale of it, but also for the eerie quietness of an area that your eyes keep telling the brain is full of people and should be more noisy.

A Rough Guide to Brussels pointed us in the direction of 'T Kelderke in Grand Place for the first evening meal, which matched up to the description: excellent food (Stoemp avec steack de cheval was delicious. Any other horse lovers out there?) and lethal home-brewed beer.

Saturday was an early-ish start for a day trip to Brugge, 1hr away and 24 euros for a 2 person weekend return. Not bad at all. The town was very pretty with plenty of shops and market stalls to browse but far too touristy which was fine for the day but would have got a bit much to stay longer than that. I couldn't resist l'escargot (getting to use the novelty snail tongs and fork) followed by mussels and chips, washed down with a Leffe Blonde. Yum.

After returning to Brussels and back to the hotel, we headed out for a more exotuc dinner at Tassili, an Algerian restaurant just along the road. The food was delicious and plentiful, making the walk over to Grand Place rather welcome. The Rough Guide came up trumps again with Groupil Le Fol, supposedly an ex-brothel with more tat and sofas crammed into 3 floors than you've ever seen before, moody lighting, quirky French music, and various fruit-based and highly alcoholic drinks.

Sunday was devoted to exploring Brussels and just going for a wander really, starting near the hotel at Cathédrale St-Michel et Ste-Gudule where people were signing condolances after the recent death of Pope John Paul II. Then north to the Colonne du Congres, the south-east through Parc du Bruxelles and beyond to the European Parliament building. Continuing east, we briefly passed through the fairly non-descript Parc Leopold and onto the much more impressive Parc du Cinquantenaire before catching the Metro back from Merode to Gare Centrale.

Back to a more traditional dinner at Restaurant Vincent, the food was excellent and was partly prepared in the kitchen, and partly by the waiters at a cooking unit by the tables. Novelty. To finish of the evening, De Gulden Boot served both Kwak and Framboise and offered a great view of the square from the first floor seating area.

Monday, our last day in Brussels, was spent with more sightseeing: Mont des Arts, Le Square du Petit Sablon (or The Public garden of the SMALL FINE SAND if you're using Google to translate), and Palais de Justice. For lunch, it had to be a croque madame and what was probably my strongest beer of the weekend: Westmalle Tripel that came with a free friendly warning from the waiter.

Posted by Jim at 11:51 PM