Josh and Anna

From Norfolk to Berlin (and every disco I get in)

Something significant has happened. Yes, there’s been another month gap between posts, but in that month I have laid my hands on a shiny new smartphone which has the significant advantage over its predecessor of actually taking nice photos which aren’t blurry, indistinct, or tinged blue like a world permanently bathed in flashing police lights. So this means I barely have to write anything at all, to be honest. I can just stick on the sideshow and leave you to it.

(Except, yes, you’ve probably all seen these already on Facebook, in significantly higher quality than I use here. Originally, leaving my blog in this early 2000s design timewarp was simply laziness, but as the years go by I’m increasingly going to pretend it’s a conscious artistic design, in homage to the era of its creation. So squint, dammit, squint at the photos and just be grateful they’re not blue anymore.)

But let’s start by going back to the first weekend of August. It was hot: hot enough to pass that critical tipping point where cider becomes my default drink over beer. Oliver and Abi were back from their American adventures, so we had an afternoon of incomprehensibly-complex board games and Shakespearian quizzes. The next day there was a family BBQ, and some nice photos:

Matt Smith-era Self Family

Matt Smith-era Self Family

And then just a few short hours later, we gathered on the sofa to learn that Malcolm Tucker Peter Capaldi is the next Doctor. Gasping ensued. Really? Like, really? Because this is going to be awesome. And especially awesome because over the next few months I have the weighty task of introducing Doctor Who to a newbie, which is a frightening responsibility to have, so it’s nice to have a new era to go into together. But which episodes to show? Which episodes to hide? How early do you get to Blink? (These are not rhetorical questions. Tell me. I’m scared I’ll mess it up and end up with somebody who thinks the Doctor is half-human.)

Gosh, that was a lot of rambling and we haven’t even got to the surprise Berlin trip yet. But first!

Josh and Anna

Josh and Anna

Flat Night

Flat Night

Me and Nour

Me and Nour

Please observe the little trains snaking through the background

Please observe the little trains snaking through the background

It has been a good month: chilling out in beer gardens with Josh and Anna, celebrating our flat’s anniversary, stealing Michele’s friend Nour and somehow persuading him to go see Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (our mutual reaction was haha that’s hilarious and haha Hollywood couldn’t pull that comedy off aren’t-we-smug) and journeying up to the top of the Shard on a last-minute invitation from a mother burdened with a spare ticket. Two notes about this, actually:

1. I could hear a somewhat-sarky Diamond Geezer in my head the whole trip, especially when we got to the gift shop. Which of course just means that he’s become a ‘valuable brand’ for ‘curated experiences’, and someone should stick his endorsement on trendy ‘alternative’ tours of the view from two-storey office blocks and slightly rising hills. But face it: the Shard is tall, and you can see a lot from a tall building, and that’s that.

2. My mum’s instant reaction on emerging into the upper viewing deck was to stare down for a few seconds before saying “you do realise we’re looking at South London this side?” and move away. Hah.

Photos a bit like my old phone used to take

Photos a bit like my old phone used to take

BERLIN!

It’s only been a year, and now I was back on a work trip. Which itself was interesting and rewarding, but then a bunch of us stayed for the weekend too, and then it was really time to enjoy ourselves. Berghain isn’t a place I would ever naturally go in my life, and indeed I only lasted until a pitifully early 3am before crashing out, but it was so worth going for the out-of-this-world atmosphere, with shadowy dark corners and spooky steps like something from a video game ‘abandoned factory’ level but filled with cool Germans and techno.

We ate the best food in the nicest places. We drank crazy German beer where the price is determined by a live stock exchange of beer purchases but it doesn’t really matter because it’s Berlin, not London, so beer is always cheap. We properly chilled out. We did the touristy sight-seeing bits. And I confronted an American tourist on his lack of enthusiasm for Ampelmann. (“But why is it a thing?” “What do you mean? It’s Ampelmann! It’s the glorious marriage of Soviet-era graphic design and gift shops!” He looked unconvinced, but he was in an Ampelmann gift shop, so I think I was well within my rights.) The bottom line is: Berlin is now about #3 on my ‘list of potential cities to flee to if London is flooded or attacked particularly badly by zombies’.

Not the best food I ate, but certainly the longest

Not the best food I ate, but certainly the longest

And bringing us right up to date with ‘stuff that happened just now’, I spent this Bank Holiday weekend with Cat and Matt in Norfolk in the lovely family home of the Hurleys. (Her mum could seriously run a B&B off the back of those breakfasts ) Kings Lyn Lynn is not Berlin, but it was actually no less lovely, as we celebrated Cat’s birthday in advance with her homeland friends (sorry guys, we’ve stolen her forever), rambled through the countryside (“this field has a horse in it!”) and unearthed some incredible VHS tapes of Cat’s pantomime past.

(Traumatically, these village performances always culminated in a spirited rendition of the national anthem, which is more than enough to mark the very marked difference between growing up in Norfolk and growing up in Willesden Green.)

Norfolk: beautiful in its own way

Norfolk: beautiful in its own way

This is getting on for a treatise, so I won’t carry on through the very many other lovely evenings this month with Matt and Caroline, with Simon and Ellie, or with my mum dining out in Angel. I will say a massive congrats to Katie for her scary A-Level results, and how excited I am getting for Canada…

Oh, what, Canada? That’s right guys: 2013 is shaping up to be a lot more travel-heavy than I had planned

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