Simon Godwin’s Macbeth – Ralph Fiennes & Indira Varma at Dock X

Ellie & I used to watch plays all the time. I remember one occasion when we saw one matinee in the afternoon, then walked straight from that theatre to one across town to watch another play. It wasn’t unusual for us to see three or four plays a week. Back in the days of thriving thespians & thoroughly thrilling, thought-provoking theatre productions. IS IT WORTH THE EFFORT? For several years now, we’ve barely managed to make the effort of going to the theatre once every other month. And it was nearly always disappointing. We’ve come to cherish the times when a play turns out to be okay’ish, that’s how bad it got.   All pics of performance, incl. feature pic, (c) Matt Humphrey, else (c) BerkeleySqB. 25 QUID TO SEE RALPH FIENNES? COUNT US IN. So when my wife, who’s our ‘events manager’, found out about this year’s Macbeth production […]

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Go on a toboggan ride in Funchal, Madeira

The toboggan rides from the village of Monte down to Madeira’s capital Funchal, are considered by many to be one of the must-do’s on the island. TAKE THE CABLE CAR FROM FUNCHAL TO MONTE During our visit end of last year, Ellie & I decided to give it a shot. We walked to the Monte Cable Car bottom station, five minutes from the famous Mercado dos Lavradores farmers market, right next to the seaside. The queue was sizeable, maybe 30 or 40m long, but moving reasonably fast. We bought our tickets and waited. After 20 minutes, we hopped onto a cable car together with three other tourists. (This was during shoulder season, much busier during the main season.)   SPECTACULAR VIEWS ALONG THE WAY The ride up the mountain offers spectacular views across the city and the bay. When we arrived at the top, we had a look around the […]

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Four-Star Genting Hotel at Resorts World Birmingham

During a recent visit to Birmingham to visit The National Running Show, Ellie & I found a reasonably priced deal (£118 + 15 + 15 for double room w/breakfast) via Booking dot com for the Genting Hotel at Resorts World Birmingham. Usually we look for hotels in or very near the city centre. PERFECT LOCATION IF YOU NEED TO BE NEAR THE AIRPORT, THE N.E.C., OR RESORTS WORLD However, we were only going to arrive late on a Friday night, and be checking out the following morning to spend a day trying out new running shoes. This meant that the location, 10 minutes’ walk from the NEC (National Exhibition Centre) and Birmingham International was perfect for us.   EASY TO GET TO From Birmingham International Train Station (which is a stop on the line from London to Birmingham) it is a 10min walk. Half of it will be outdoors, so […]

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Haven Hotel, Sandbanks – Great Views

Ellie & I went on a climbing trip last weekend with a friend of ours, Gilles. Well, I went with a friend of ours, and my wife tagged along. It was because of her, that I picked the Haven Hotel, Sandbanks, for her and me to stay at. (Our friend stayed at an Air B&B nearby.) The lady wished for some distractions and a bigger town. She was not eager on bunk beds in a hostel at our climbing location, the Isle of Portland, an hour’s drive away. 1920s BEACH RESORT GRANDEUR To make up for the fact that I was going to do ‘my thing’ this weekend, I booked the only affordable four-star hotel available. It was built in 1926 and retains its rustic, heavy art deco grandeur both inside and outside. There are elements of the Victorian era designs and furniture of its two predecessor buildings and a […]

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How to get started outdoor climbing independently

There are all kinds of different climbers. Indoor boulderers are often amongst the best technical climbers. However, they might have no intention to put on a harness and use a rope. Some top indoor lead climbers have no interest to get started outdoor climbing. On the other end of the scale, many trad climbers are doing relatively easy routes. Only long-lasting, heavy rain will push them into an indoor gym, if that. (Trad climbing or traditional climbing is where you set your own protection, without any pre-existing bolts or anchors.)   NO ONE SAYS YOU HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO GET STARTED OUTDOOR CLIMBING It is perfectly fine to stay indoors for all your climbing activities. However, if, like me, you are planning on using your indoor gym experience as a stepping stone and training practice for the great outdoors, then you’ll probably ask yourself at some stage: How to […]

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