Trying to find the good in Maidenhead

So I was hoping a work trip to Maidenhead would reveal a hidden treasure that I had previously failed to find. It’s the constituency of our former PM, Theresa, who clearly likes the finer things and the surrounding villages are both delightful and upmarket. So surely it couldn’t be that difficult?

Cue hideous multistorey carpark, a building site and my inability to get from A to B without hunting for and having to use the sort of under passes you know you should not use as a women on her own, especially late at night, carrying a backpack.

Things didn’t start well when I realised I had left my phone charger on the train and more annoying than that, I had somehow failed to charge it. I have a ritual checking process with hotel rooms, to deal with my scattiness. Unfortunately it didn’t extend to searching under the table in the train carriage and this time I had no spare. Valuable lesson learned. The hunt was on for usb-C lead after most of the shops had closed.

So I headed to a large Sainsbury with late opening. After checking the various areas displaying electrical items and venturing up the escalator to find a carpark, I saw the Argos concession. Triumphantly, I took my order to the till but it was shut up with nobody there. Phone charge was now on 1%.

I made one final check round the shop, past all the chiller cabinets belching their freezing air like someone though this was the antidote to global warming, not the antithesis of it. Then, as if by magic, a lady appeared at the till in Argos. Apparently she had been in the stock room, had heard my order come through and gone to find it. That was why the tills were closed up! Grateful I paid for my overpriced lead and plug adapter and made a swift exit.

£31.99!!!

Retracing my steps carefully to get to my hotel, I went the wrong way to avoid a menacing group and this took me past The Bear, Wetherspoons. It felt wise to keep on walking…

I arrived at about the last place for a drink before retreating to the Travelodge. The Honey Pot, ah that sounds nice. Maybe I had found my hidden treasure in Maidenhead?

The Honey Pot –
Lap dancing and strip club

Realising the women, most welcome in that establishment, were of the performing variety, I retreated rapidly to my hotel and passively handed over the requested ID. Yes I needed ID in a Travelodge!

Remembering the reason I came to Maidenhead, I ran through my demo for the following day. It centred around the role IT would play in the life of Roland the rat catcher and Cyril the cesspit emptier. It seemed somehow fitting….

Brewdog Instamatic, the highlight

Maidenhead again, next month, I think I need help to find the good in it… 

Guilty Pleasures

So at the last minute, a call came to help out a client in Brighton. As soon as I finished work, I booked a hotel and hopped on a train so I could be there bright and breezy at 8.30am without leaving at silly o’clock in the morning. I like Brighton and would have welcomed a longer trip but there’s always a next time, unless of course I mess up…which is not impossible.

Now I’m not saying I don’t like spending time with family and friends but I do have a guilty pleasure. It’s having a meal out and a drink on my own. If that’s a let down after reading the title of this blog, then sorry, not sorry.

Arriving after 9pm meant I was faced with ‘closing soon’ options all around so plumped for Franco Manca, an Italian close by and open long enough to serve me. It did not disappoint. I tend to find ‘table for one’ means you are greeted with an especially warm welcome, so with my choice of table selected, I eagerly perused the menu. First thing that caught my eye was ‘no logo’ beer, so that decision was made before anything else. The ‘if you don’t know what it is pick it’ approach delivers variable results, but hey I’m still alive.

Not sure what I was expecting but I was met with a blandish IPA from Shepherd Neame. I forgave it as I was born a Kentish woman (or woman of Kent), I really should remember the difference by now, plus it was relatively local to Brighton and local is good. Gotta think if those food miles.

So, as I tucked into my main, I was rewarded with a good view of the pizza chef working devilishly hard kneading pizza dough and making sure he kept his kitchen area spotlessly clean. This is the sort of thing I am impressed by…

Realising I was going to be facing ‘closing soon’ options on the pub front, I moved on and found the nearest good beer guide pub to my hotel.

Met by a cosy atmosphere, wide choice of craft and real ale and people at the bar drinking a third of a pint of something dark, I thought, yep that’ll do me. So Troubadour it was.

Sipping that and chuckling to myself as I received a few quizzical looks, really was an exceptionally good way to end an otherwise quite hum drum day.

So my family thought I’d gone on a protest…

So my friend Annie and I both realised we had never been for a trip around Buckingham Palace. Annie, not being a native, had an excuse, but I had none, so we booked a private tour with champagne as you do.

So here we are on the train, starting off as we meant to go on…

Now, I’m the sort of the lady who thinks living in a meritocracy and equal opportunities are important. I’ve been known to go on the odd, protest or two, so when I told my family I was off to Buckingham Palace, they just assumed I had taken a banner and was off to shout about something… So here’s the proof, no banners, no shouting…I even wore a dress!

Unfortunately we couldn’t take photos inside, just in the garden outside, but we did get a free prize of a guide book..

Apparently I now have access to the garden and tea rooms for a year….so might pop along there when back in London for a work trip. See what the company expense policy has to say about that ..

Trip to the Southbank

Whenever I visit London, for work or play, I always think of myself as 30 years younger. Student days long gone, but never forgotten..

This time, I’m with Martin, the husband, who has much longer legs than me. Usual trotting along behind him, a couple of pub stops and saw these en route. Just enough time to take the pic before galloping onwards…

So we had tickets for Bedoine, a last minute booking and a recommendation from Spotify. Hipster folk music from a Syrian born Armenian lady, brought up in Saudi Arabia and now in LA. ‘I come in peace’ she said, looking a bit embarrassed. You could feel the mutual love and embarrassement in the hall. o need to apologise, or we could all start apologising if you like….

We were In the Queen Elizabeth Hall, so smarter than the usual London venues and I got a loud tut when I took this photo.

Just in case you want to hear what the aptly named Bedoine sounds like here you go…

So either side of the music we wandered the Southbank.

This picture brought back memories. When we were here before, with two small boys in tow, the lure of a Doctor Who exhibition meant Martin tried to take young Matthew inside. Not fancying the queues, they tried to slip in the side door and set off the fire alarm. Older brother was in pieces, fearing half of his family were off to prison and he would be left with his mother. Fortunately both reprobates arrived back looking sheepish. Timelord or not, Dr Who would have to wait….

Good day out and reminded me I should get out more often.

End of the Road….

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” ― Plato

I’m writing by torch light in my campervan at End of the Road music festival, blessed to have upgraded from sleeping under canvas, but that leisure battery can’t quite last 4 days without a top up.

Not naturally a creature of habit, this festival is a place we have returned to each year for a number of years. Plenty of families with young children reminding us of the little boys we took on our first trip and who have now grown up to be young men we are immensely proud of.

So what about the music festival? It’s an eclectic mix of new music and very much a festival which shys away from big names. I make no apologies for enjoying the food, comedy and art as much as the music. It’s also set in the stunning grounds of Larmer Tree Gardens with peacocks wandering freely, parrots in the trees and surrounded by pretty pubs and villages.

End of the Road always has a packed line up of female singer songwriters, with Mitski being one of the most anticipated acts and she didn’t disappoint. So here’s the track ‘Nobody’.

As usual, my favourites were mainly unexpected. First up, Kero Kero Bonito, recommended by my son who is a death metal fan. I dutifully went along, hiding at the back protecting my ear drums and fearing the worst. What I did find was a bunch of very young, bouncy and talented musicians and it turned out to be a highlight…so here you go…..this is a newly released.

I’d been looking forward to Beirut, but they had cancelled and their replacement did not disappoint. I’d seen Kate Tempest perform on Newsnight, saying things, I’m not quite sure the BBC and our tabloids were ready for. All I’ll say is it was a sublime ‘of the moment’ performance. I was totally in awe. Oh to be so accomplished at such a young age.

While I’ve loved my trips to End of the Road over the years, I have other adventures planned for 2020, more of that later. So here’s a review of End of the Road 2019 and for now, farewell….