Saturday, July 26, 2008

Vysoké Tatry

Or the High Tatras to you and me. The Alps of the Eastern Bloc. Abrupt granite peaks splitting eastern Slovakia from southern Poland. Where I'll be for the next six and a bit days.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Thrashed in Crewe, beaten by the BNP in Henley, now even Glasgow is lost. "If they can't hold the line here, then Labour cannot hold the line anywhere."

While the results get worse so do the platitudes: the voters have sent us a message, we're listening, every government suffers a mid-term blip. In fact, far from abandoning their traditional loyalties, the voters of Glasgow East have once again elected the party of the centre-left. Nowadays, it just so happens that party is the SNP. Change or die, Gordon. Change or die.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Even without the alarm clock I woke up at the normal time. Rolling over to the wall, it took a few disoriented seconds to realise I no longer had to get up and go to work. And then I got up anyway.

Last night was my leaving do. I walked out of college with a Sorry You're Leaving card and a Hugo Boss gift pack, went for beers on the beach and then stopped in front of every curry house window in Ocean Road before we chose a place to eat. Another end. But one day, I suppose, I might be back.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Arnison Crag

Arnison Crag, overlooking Patterdale, Glenridding and the last bit of Ullswater. The sun came out in time for breakfast. An hour later we were packing up and setting out for home.

Isn't it always the way?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Helvellyn: Retreat From Red Tarn

Armed with a photocopied Wainwright, a chunky Kit-Kat and two cheese buns, we set off on the long trudge up Birkhouse Moor, the eastern approach to England's third highest mountain. The sun appears briefly at the hole in the wall, but by the time we reach Red Tarn the wind is whipping at my jacket and we're right in the midst of a rain cloud. Striding Edge is black and forbidding, the mountaintop lost entirely. We decide the climb is manageable but no longer fun and head back down with the rain, sometimes ahead, more often behind. At Glenridding the weather clears and Ullswater sparkles. Somehow, it no longer matters that we didn't reach the top.


Side Farm Campsite, a sloping field on the south-east tip of Ullswater. We find a spot just above the lake, pitch the tent at the third attempt and head off for the afternoon steamer to Howtown.

We chug past yachts and islands, spots of rock with trees bent on top. The scenery is wonderful, but the kind that fatigues you when viewed from a distance for too long, and I'm glad when we reach the wooden pier at Howtown and can start the six-mile walk back. The path hugs the lake for most of the way, undulating through woods and fern-covered hillsides. The rain doesn't fall until we're nearly at the end.

That's the end of our luck with the weather. Later that night, as we play pontoon for shots of Asda-label rum (loser drinks) the skies open for real. Within half an hour we're wiping up mud with dirty socks and propping up the ground sheet using shoes and crates of lager. I wake in the morning with a sore back and an aching bladder. Outside is silent. Raindrops splatter the top of the tent.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Lakes, The Lakes

It's the middle of July and I have an extra day off work - you could almost guarantee it was going to rain all weekend. But then what would summer be without the drumming of showers on tents and soggy walks by the side of a lake, hoods up, boots caked in mud, shivering in the wind?

Better, probably.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Falling Apart

After Haltemprice and Howden and the House of Lords debate it's likely that 42 days is as dead as Gordon Brown's premiership, given a gentle nudge by David Davis and then bludgeoned repeatedly by Goldsmith, Falconer and, most damningly, Lady Manningham-Buller. Now he's back in the Commons, my guess is that Davis will end up more of a threat to David Cameron than to Brown - a tub-thumping, pain in the arse Benn to his hold-the-centre Callaghan. Which is not to say New Labour's off the hook: with opinion polls swinging against their look tough gimmick and the Ulster Unionists already paid off with a billion-pound bribe, this bill's set to bounce around for a long while yet.

Where it will hopefully hit several Labour ministers smack between the eyes.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Boldon Hills

Scene of a Civil War spat between Mackem roundheads and Geordie cavaliers. When I was a kid the back-to-backs housed miners from one of South Tyneside's two remaining collieries. Now there's a 24-hour Asda, a McDonald's, multiplex cinema, boarded-up bingo hall, scramble bikes, and a concrete British Legion with a letter missing from its sign.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Two In

Not quite the high-profile, world superstar signing I had in mind, but at least nobody's heading in the opposite direction. Not yet, anyway.

One player who does look to be on his way out is Charles N'Zogbia, the sulky French-Congolese winger born in Paris, raised in Normandy and now apparently 'homesick' for the red-and-white part of north London. With the signing of Gutierrez freeing Milner to play on the left, he won't be missed: his talent has rarely been as big as his mouth.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Are absolutely my favourite grow-your-own fruit disguised as a vegetable. Stick a seed in a pot, about an inch or so down, keep it well-watered for a few months, and you end up with masses and masses (and masses) from July right through to September.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Assignment 9.2

Finished! Finished! Finished! (Only six and a half months after the first three hundred words). Aside from some padding on the use of the past perfect and a few bits and bobs for the portfolio, that's it. Complete. Over. In the past. Arise Michael Hudson Cert Ed / ESS.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Under Offer

Up for grabs? Or just the latest media tittle-tattle? On the one hand, it'd be naive to think that Ashley doesn't have his price (and doubling your money in the space of a year is normally seen as quite a wise investment). But the lack of any detail gives the whole thing a definite whiff of make believe: reports suggested (based on what?); it is understood (by who?); sources confirm the US company was interested enough to hold initial talks (I'd be interested too - but it doesn't mean it's ever going to happen).

Unless, of course, that price tag comes down by about four hundred and twenty million quid.

UPDATE: Things are getting silly now.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Barton Conundrum

Is it time to ditch Joey Barton? The consensus from rubber-neckers with enough time to post on The Guardian's sports blog seems to be yes, yes, yes.

In most other jobs there would be no discussion. Gross misconduct twice over and out you go. But then most other employers don't face writing off a £6 million transfer fee, do they? Plus, you just know there'll be plenty of managers with the hubris to give him another chance - and he'll end up playing out of his skin (as opposed to off his head) on his next visit to St James'.

Whether he's sacked or not, the big mistake was signing him in the first place. And we know who's to blame for that, Mr Allardyce.