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Beautiful evening

Is it really five months since I last posted? Oops!

After a mellow day at work, and having the chance to leave a little early, I nipped down to the Riverbank Club to catch the last of the sun, grabbing a bottle of rosé at home on the way. What a lovely evening! I’d forgotten that it was a barbecue day, and there were sausages left to nibble in exchange for a glass of the rosé. Lovely chatting with Ray, Caroline and Ted. Seagulls, pigeons and a beautiful pheasant added to the August evening charm.

The only downside: Graham’s over mid-Atlantic en-route to Washington DC. I missed him and he will be jealous as hell.

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Rearranging web hosting

I’ve moved my blog from http://www.michaelgray.org.uk/blog/ to http://blog.michaelgray.org.uk/. I hope I haven’t broken anything.

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Ribs

This morning I sent Graham a link to an article about barbecued spare ribs on the Cooking For Engineers blog, in an “out of interest, have you seen” kind of way. So I wasn’t expecting to come home to the full works wonderfully prepared on our new barbecue.

They were fantastic, extremely tender and very spicy. Yummy! Thanks Graham!

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Blog gap

I seem to have gone months without posting. I need to backfill a few things, especially concerning my BIG NEWS.

Watch this space…

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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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The One

Just finished reading The One by Paul Reed. A fantastic evocation of schizophrenia and Edinburgh life, and Nuala used to work on the ward where much of it is set, too.

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Guided off the rails

We hired the recent film of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Perhaps I had too many preconceptions, and perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I’d never heard the wonderful radio series or read the book, but it really didn’t work for me. The Vogons were good, there were one or two great CGI scenes, and Alan Rickman did a great job voicing Marvin. But the Guide took a sad back seat to the action, and half the cast seemed to be on automatic pilot, with the honorable exception of Mos Def as Ford Prefect. We both agreed on 4/10, and that was being generous. Sorry, guys.

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Cafe Royal

E&E took me into Newcastle and we had lunch at the lovely Cafe Royal. Scrummy mussels in calvados cream with chorizo. Then the long slog home via metro to Newcastle Airport, EasyJet to Stansted and Central Trains home. Next time I’m going to take the train…

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Great North Run


Now that C is in Gateshead, we didn’t have quite such an early start: just a walk down the hill to the metro and a short journey into Newcastle. There was no bottled water at the start: eek! I was gasping by the first drinks station.

This year we made sure that we kept right at the start to go on top of the sandwich motorway rather than down in the depths. The high continued with the Red Arrows flying directly over as we crossed the Tyne Bridge: what a buzz!

C, J, H and I all started together, but after a while H dropped back and later I dropped behind C and J. I found myself running near F for a good part of the race, which was nice. Gosh, it was hot! But none of us died and we all finished. My time wasn’t as good as last year, but I was quite happy with it given the heat and my somewhat patchy training.

Back in Felling we dined on huge amounts of takeaway pizza, before sadly I had to walk Graham to the metro so that he could get back for work.

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Coppuccino


A long day of travelling: depart at 8am; coach to Glasgow; train to Newcastle via Carlisle; arrive Newcastle 3.30pm. A mometary highlight was this converted police box on the outskirts of Glasgow, now cheekily selling coffees as ‘Coppuccino’. Sadly we couldn’t leap out and buy one so we had to wait for a rather less original Costa at Central Station.


In Newcastle C+N met us at a convenient metro station and took us to Seven Stories. Graham got a row for taking pictures,but not before he’d snapped me in the story teller’s chair. It’s a great interactive musuem and center for children’s books. We followed up with more coffee and cakes at a Cafe Nero, and tea and more cakes at F’s.

The day ended in Gateshead at C+E’s place for much pasta and pre-race preparations.

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