Archive for October, 2005

Partnership and Serenity

An exciting day yesterday, starting to put things into place for our Civil Partnership. Graham is keeping a record in his Civil Partnership Blog.

Later we went to Vue to see Serenity.
Wow! Loads of fun, taught directing and a strong cast, so highly recommended! On reflection this morning, there’s not much in the way of groundbreaking new ideas in the film, but it all hangs together really well and has a great feel about it.

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A rather tiring day was lifted by this gorgeous sunset on the way home. Sorry about the low quality phone-cam pics.

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Out of sight

Another late night so another late start and a leisurely final Big Dutch Breakfast. We packed our bags and headed over to De Appel to see an excellent exhibition of installation and video art by contemporary Chinese artists: Out Of Sight. It’s worth exploring the web site, or visiting if you get the chance.

Our journey home was smooth as far as Stansted, where we just missed one of the rail replacement buses and had to wait 70 minutes for the next one.

During our stay I read The Warlock In Spite Of Himself by Christopher Stasheff. Very trashy but very entertaining fantasy science fiction from 1969.

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Boat Hopping

We got up scandalously late and had a super breakfast on the boat, followed by a leisurely bath. We wandered over the Amstel to Omar & Péter’s houseboat down the north side of Theater Carré for drinks and nibbles. A lovely, permanent, purpose-built houseboat fitted out in a very smart modern style. Péter and Omar seemed very happy and relaxed.

On to our own boat for a pre-dinner cup of tea with Jan, Chris and Matthew, and then Tempo Doeloe for a superb rijstafel followed by a lovely dessert plate of exotic fruits, sorbets and ice cream. The very hot rendang was amazing: my face turned red in a cartoon fashion and I tried to keep a straight face, but the post-shock flavour and sensation were amazing.

Final boat of the day was Chris and Matthew’s for more drinks and nibbles with the French girls and then the Portuguese-German contingent, and so another late night / early morning.

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We started late with a lovely breakfast from the supplies provided, and then took the tram round to De Joordan for a quick peek in the Stedelijk Museum Bureau. The video installation – The Black Room
by Melvin Moti – was fascinating but not sufficiently to keep us for more than fifteen minutes, so we carried on wandering the pretty streets, heading back towards the Dam Plein. Lunch was a light but very welcome bite at
Café van Daele.

Popping into a couple of gay bookshops on the way back, we decided that Vrolijk is much the better stocked although Intermale has a good selection of secondhand English titles.

Then only just time for a short rest before getting dressed up for the main event. First stop Matthew and Chris’s huge houseboat, just north of the zoo, for a glass of wine. They were sharing theirs with two guests from Hungary. We made aquaintances and then headed over to the Uilenberger Synagogue for the ceremony.

Omar and Péter looked fabulous in traditional Hungarian jackets. The celebrant from the Amsterdam registry office was a very vivacious woman, and although the ceremony was in Dutch, we picked up on her positive and very supportive delivery. Documents signed, the formalities gave way to drinks and canapés and a mini-line-up to meet and greet the parents. Sadly my Hungarian is completely non-existent.

The wedding caravan moved on to its second destination of the night, the private room at the ultra-stylish Brasserie Harkema, suspened behind huge plate glass windows above the main dining room. The food was moderately good but the occasion was fantastic.

Our final destination, until the early hours, was the party at the Badhuistheater, complete with guest appearance from a very convincing (male) Tina Turner. We didn’t manage to get Matthew on the dance floor, though…

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Our trip to Amsterdam for Omar and Péter’s wedding started with another awful Central Trains experience: our Stansted train was first five, then ten minutes late, then cancelled. So off to Bishop’s Stortford by slow train where we jumped in a taxi to the airport (£11 and 15 minutes for future reference!) We felt better after an easy checkin, on-time departure and early arrival into Schiphol, albeit with the now-obligatory 20 minute taxi around the huge outfield before we got to the terminal.

The houseboat is fantastic, equipped with everything we need. Timon recommended a bar on the corner which turned out to be a real gem: Oosterling Slijterij-Tapperij. We had delicious Brand Imperator and Dobbelbock, and slept extremely well afterwards.

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Sadly David was ill so he and Heiko had to cancel. Instead we had an impromptu dinner with Polly & Patrick. I made up my own roast butternut squash and ginger soup, and it turned out delicious. Lovely slow shoulder of lamb, courtesy of the Two Fat Ladies but modified for the clay pot. Graham’s fruit salad with naughty biscuit curls from M&S. It was a lovely to catch up with my cousin.

Patrick brought a lovely bottle of Gigondas and we followed it with The Black Stump Durif Shiraz, both going really well with the rich lamb dish.

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Cidade de Deus

I borrowed City of God from my brother. What a powerful film! Excellent photography, acting, editing and pace all mean that it’s impossible to stop watching the harrowing stories unfold.

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Deep Water

Tonight I finished reading Deep Water – A Sailor’s Passage by E. M. Kahn. I found it in Gay’s the Word bookshop in London. It is an affecting combination of love story, sailing and dealing with AIDS and loss, set in and around New York and Long Island. Although there were brief occasions where I had a sense of ‘Creative Writing 101’ over-work, I enjoyed the book very much. Find details via the publisher or at Amazon.

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Lovely Rita

I had a super weekend with my brothers, staying in a cottage in the Derbyshire Peaks and spending a day at Alton Towers. We arrived late on Friday evening and wolfed down pizza, wine and whisky before turning in for an earlyish start.

Not quite early enough, because there was already a queue for the monorail from the car park to the main entrance. Our first ride, after 30 minutes in the queue, was Rita – Queen of Speed. Fantastic!! I simply couldn’t believe that it could keep on accelerating any longer as we headed towards the first bend. We all stumbled off with big adrenalin-fueled grins which set the tone for the rest of the day.

Although our short-cut tickets didn’t include Rita, they were worth every penny as we cruised past queues and straight onto Nemesis, Oblivion and Air. (Oh, and the Log Flume, but there was no queue for that anyway.) Nemesis remains my favourite: fast, lots of g’s, scary but not too scary, and a decent duration. Another surprise was Hex which starts out almost trying to seem cheap and cheesy but ends up being very freaky!

The weather was mixed and we got a little bit damp at times but on the flip side the park wasn’t too crowded. We ended up on 12 separate rides and made double trips on Nemesis and Oblivion. I was surprised at the number of hen parties in fancy dress, and at the number of times I smelled dope and at its more-or-less open use by some.

On Sunday morning we had time for a stroll up the hillside to Crich, giving us some super views over the Derwent Valley below. Memories of my time living in Derby in the late 80s when I spent a lot of time exploring and walking in the Peak District.

The only downside to the weekend was the travelling: Central Trains inflicted a cancellation, a breakdown and a delay to me on the Friday evening. On Sunday I got as far as Leicester before yet another cancellation, this time caused by a sewer collapse. Sigh.

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