A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about events

La Tomatina

...surviving a drive by fruiting.

sunny 35 °C
View La Tomatina on StephenJen's travel map.

We rose early on the last Wednesday of August, the day of the annual La Tomatina festival. In preparation for the event, we had hit the local carrefour to buy a couple of cheap t-shirts and some eye protection.

The traffic grew heavy as we approached Bunol. As we hit the outskirts of the town we saw hundreds of 'free-campers' who had set up on just about every square inch of space available on roadsides, vacant lots, car parks and parkland. We parked the car and started to walk into the centre of town. The air was filled with the smell of the hot breakfasts being sold by local street vendors, and the cries of "beer... one Euro!". There were thousands of people sporting all manner of outfits. We observed various national flags, a couple of guys with watermelon helmets, a group of guys painted in 'Braveheart' theme (complete with tiny plastic swords and shields), a group of girls dressed in Aussie Swimming Caps (Members of the Fanatics), an excellent volleyball helmet, and a rowdy bunch of Portuguese men chanting "Por-tu-gal!..Por-tu-gal!..." as they forced their way through the crowd towards the Plaza Mayor.

We managed to reach the halfway point along one of the avenues approaching the Plaza. We found a bit of wall to lean against and started watching the proceedings. Local home and shop owners had covered the facades of thier premises with boards and sheets of plastic. They hid on the balconies of the upper floors and darted out from cover occassionally in order to hose or bombard the crowd with buckets of water. A group of about 8 local men and women had set up a large dining table in front of their shop. The sat in suits and ate morning tea determined to withstand the constant targeting by water bombers on the upper floors. They remained there, chatting calmly, until just before the start of the event and refused to react as the crowd roared it's approval with each drenching from above.

The event starts with an open challenge to climb a greased pole and retrieve a large ham which is attached to the top. We were some distance from the main plaza, where this takes place, so were unable to witness the activity. We were alerted, however, to it's successful completion by the sounding of an air horn. This blast of the horn also announces the beginning of La Tomatina. Before too long the already packed avenue was further compressed to allow the first of the tomato trucks slow passage, and our first supply of fresh fruit with which to pelt each other senseless. The width of the vehicle was significant and, as a result, people were pressed against either side of the avenue with substantial force. For the few minutes that the truck was in front of us, it had become difficult to take a deep breath and I was fearful of receiving a future paternity suit from the girl in front of me. It was a tad embarrassing, very uncomfortable, and a little distressing for shorter folk. The wall to wall armpit reminded us that we would soon be climbing aboard the London Underground again. However this crush, unlike the peak hour tube journey, had a pay off. It allowed you to vent your aggravation through the use of controlled violence, courtesy of the drive by fruiting. Each truck contained tons of ripe red tomatoes and several people in the tilt back of the vehicle. They stopped periodically and tipped a heap of fruit on the ground and as the crowd raced to get to the bounty, the men and women perched on the sides would fire off a volley of red missiles at those below.

Most of us had equipped ourselves with eye protection, swimming or safety goggles, but they soon steamed up and became impossible to see through. This left us without any peripheral vision and open to easy attack. We soon had a combination of whole and mushed tomatoes bouncing off, or splatting against, every side of our heads. T-Shirts were also soaked in the river of tomato juice on the street and flung with venom. This had the added effect on temporarily mummifying you as it wrapped around your face and head. We had not forgotten the early attacks from the residents and took aim for the gaps between their protective plastic sheeting. They returned fire with buckets and hoses. The whole tomatoes ran out and the fight would abate for a while, until trucks arrived with fresh ammunition. They did so on 3 or 4 occasions and, after about an hour, a final series of blasts of the air horns signalled the ceassation of the day's hostilities.

We took the opportunity to remove our steam and tomato filled eyewear and survey the area. Everyone was covered from head to toe with seeds, skin and tomato flesh. A river of juice and pulp flowed along the avenues as we embarked on the challenge of getting out again. We saw a break in the sea of people and joined the exiting throng. BAD IDEA... there was a crush of drunken men pushing from every side. Jen was constantly shoved around and was only just managing to keep her feet. I pity anyone who fell because they would have been trampled. A girl next to us was very distressed and looked ready to pass out. We had worked our way to the edge of the crowd when a couple, seeing our predicament, reached in and grabbed us, and the distressed girl. They pulled us to the safety of the wall, much like being rescued from a river torrent. It was a relief to only be taking soggy T-shirts to the head again. What a debarcle. We caught our breath and then started laughing, with relief, before stockpiling knotted, soggy shirts for a revenge fuelled volley at the next group of drunken louts. Our stress levels abated with every successful face shot. The rest of the crowd joined in and one loud, muscle bound, moron was pelted mercilessly... ahhh, rough justice never tasted better. I could hear Robert Duvall in my mind "I love the smell of tomato in the morning".

Our next challenge was to find somewhere to clean ourselves up and change into some clean clothes for the drive back to our hotel. We had rented a Seat Ibiza and assumed Europcar would prefer it returned without the bolognaise. It had quietened down considerably when we tagged onto the crowd leaving the avenue for the main square. People were splashing, jumping, sliding and sitting in the river of tomato juice. Many people were heading down a hill towards a narrow stream in order to rinse off. We joined them and, after a trecherous climb down the slippery bank, were washing off the morning's ripe red coating. It was only then that we detected the faint smell of sewerage. We looked in horror at those immersing their heads in the water and decided that, as we had escaped death by tomato, it would be a shame to subsequently die of hepatitis. We scrambled up the hill and joined the end of a long line which had an old couple, with garden hoses, at the other end. Mrs Gardenhose was giving everyone a powerful spray of water from head to toe. She had an excellent technique and was very efficient. She was obviously a veteran and was racing through eager participants. Her husband was somewhat less efficient. He was far more laboured and took his work very seriously indeed. Particularly long female legs and bikini tops. I drew the short straw and received only a cursory squirt from Mr garden hose. Whilst showering later at the hotel, I flushed a large chunk of tomato from the inside of my left ear. I should have worn a bikini top!

We had intended to clean up our clothes and shoes but it was clearly not going to be possible. Our Keens and Salomons, along with clothing, was confined to the garbage bin. We were certain we smelt strongly of Tomato, but later surmised that we had bolognaise sinusitis. Our skin was perfect though... because we're worth it.

La Tomatina is held annually, on the last Wednesday of August, in Bunol. You can find reasonably priced accommodation around Valencia and it is easy to travel to Bunol for the event. There are a host of activities on the preceding night and also the day/night of the event. Live entertainment and plenty of food and souvenir stalls. It is intense, a real challenge to those who need some personal space, and enormously enjoyable. Give it a go if you ever get the chance, but wear shoes you are happy to throw away afterwards and bring eye protection. We had a blast and hope to do it all again some day.

Pre-fight Bravado

Volleyball Helmet = Stylish and Protective

The locals are protected by plastic Sheeting...

...and they attack the crowd with a barrage of water bombs

The calm before the storm

The tomato truck arrives

We survive the first volley

The sea of tomato pulp

The guy in front of us takes a soggy T-shirt to the head

The crowd prepares for the next wave

Trouble starts as a real fight breaks out

The first re-supply truck arrives

...and the food fight continues

El hombre está en la sopa de tomate

Clean... almost.

Climbing down to the El Stinko river

Mr & Mrs Gardenhose (note: Mr GH is far less interested in his current male client and prefers to gaze at the bikini he just hosed)

The post fight street party begins

The First Truck Arrives

La Tomatina 2009-The Worlds Biggest Tomato Fight

Post Tomatina Street Party feat. The Coolest Dancer In The World

Posted by StephenJen 06:00 Archived in Spain Tagged events Comments (0)

Spinal Tap at Wembley Arena

... Hello Wimbledon!

sunny 28 °C

London has seen the Majesty of Rock that is... Spinal Tap.

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Mocumentary 'This is Spinal Tap', and the release of the new album 'Back from the dead', the lads kicked off their one night only world tour with a single show at Wembley Arena. There was a great array of classic heavy metal t-shirts on display. Tour shirts from the 70s & 80s featuring the usual suspects. I imagine middle aged men all over Britain had entered the secret code to the unlock the rock merchandise draw, removed the ADCD, Led Zeppelin or Metalica T-shirt from it's protective plastic sleeve and stretched it over the beer belly. This was not a night for half measures. An array of cardboard or inflatable guitars, fake Derek Smalls moustashes, long blonde wigs and a sea of black clothing prevailed. Looking around the crowd, It was a little like combining a Star Trek convention and a public funeral.

Tap were in good company with American folk legends 'The Folksmen' as the support act. This slick trio were note perfect, as you would expect. They had the audience cheering and clapping along to their self styled 'Eclectrified Folk". The stand out songs were their 1962 top 70 hit 'Old Joe's Place' and the sombre 'Blood on the coal' "Over the years we have noticed that about 50% of folk songs are about terrible tragedies" said Bassist Marta Shubb (until recently Mark) " The other 50% are about mediocre tragedies. Most involve either a coal mine disaster or a train wreck. I think this is the first song, however, to feature both". They took the audience on a rambling tour of hits including "Loco Man" and "Never did no wanderin'". The Folksmen - Jerry Palter, Alan Barrows and Marta Shubb -performed expertly with smooth vocal harmony and masterful guitar and mandolin playing. Displaying the musical savvy that has seen them become America's "most popular late addition to folk festivals within a day’s auto travel of their homes".

After a short interval, the house lights dropped and a roar went out accross the arena. We could hear the stage manager calling Tap to the stage but there was no sign of them. "Tap, Tap , Tap..." the crowd chanted, but still no sign of the band. A greenroom camera revealed David and Nigel playing Xbox, oblivious to the fact that it was showtime. The stage manager threw to a clip of "The Magesty of Rock" and shortly after the arena erupted up as Spinal Tap took to the stage. "Hello Wimbledon, we are Spinal Tap". They opened with the powerful "Tonight I'm gonna rock you tonight" and the crowd went crazy. What followed was a journey through the back catalogue of hits including "Gimme Some Money", "All the Way Home", "Cups and Cakes", "(Listen to the) Flower People" and a reworked, funk version of the classic hit "Sex Farm". It sounded sounded slick and the skull motif on the screen behind the band was now sporting an afro and 'Bootsy Collins' star shaped sunglasses. Could this be a preview of their new direction?
The crowd was on it's feet for the whole show and obediently thrust fists in the air as they called out the choruses of "Hell Hole" and "Heavy Duty". London was treated to the genius of David St Hubbins in the form of the completed work "Saucy Jack" the definitive musical exploration of the infamous East End serial killer, Jack 'the ripper'. The band also played more recent offerrings like "Warmer than Hell" and "Rock and Roll Nightmare" "Do you want to go back... right back to the very beginning"? asked David St Hubbins, the lights dimmed and Nigel stepped to the mic. "In the beginning.." a roar went up from the crowd as the band played the immortal 'Stonehenge" halfway though the song a huge inflatable replica of the monolith slowly rose on stage left. A little too slowly actually. As the two dwarves, dressed in medievil costume, arrived on stage, Nigel emplored them to 'Push it up... push it up" eventually it stood tall... Stonehenge. The dwarves did a kind of Morriss Dance around the statue until it toppled over, trapping them underneath. When the song was over the arena thundered with applause. Tap did 3 encores the last of which was "Big Bottom" and featured, among others, Frankie Poullain (the Darkness) & Andy Scott (Sweet) on bass. "Goodnight London, We love you" and it was over. Almost as soon as the World Tour had begun, it was over. Spinal Tap had again rocked the house and silenced those who would consign them to the 'Where are they now?" file.

History had been made, and history will show that anytime Spinal Tap sound the call to their fans, 5000 overweight, middle-aged man in poorly fitting shirts will answer. I should know... I was one of them.

Posted by StephenJen 23:18 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged events Comments (0)

Parkour Demonstration & Skatepark at London's Southbank

sunny 25 °C

Yesterday we took a trip to Southbank, in London, to check out a Parkour demonstration by the Urban Playground Group. It featured Charles Perrière and Malik Diouf - two of the original members of Parkour founder David Belle's 'Yamakazi' group.

Parkour is also known as PK or l'art du déplacement (the art of movement) and first appeared in France. It focuses on moving from one point to another as smoothly, efficiently and quickly as possible using the abilities of the human body. It is built on the philosophical premise that any obstacle, physical or mental, can be surpassed. Parkour practitioners are often called traceurs (males) or traceuses (females).

The demonstration was impressive and, as a result, we are now unable to look at the urban landscape without imagining ourselves leaping, climbing and balancing our way through, over and accross it. I would encourage anyone young and fit enough to give it a try to do so.

We also discovered a skatepark along Southbank (East of the London Eye).

Ahhh... takes my mind back to Nicole Kidman's mad skills in 'BMX Bandits'.

Posted by StephenJen 15:48 Archived in England Tagged events Comments (1)

The East Finchley Festival

community spirit complete with songs, sausages & squirrels.

semi-overcast 25 °C

Sunday saw the celebration of our beautiful town with the yearly East Finchley festival. It is held on the common at Cherry Tree Wood and is a real community celebration. Stalls are set up by the local community groups, schools and charities with all the usual fare available - books, clothes, trinkets and collectables. An array of culinary options from Caribbean jerk chicken to Indian curries and healthy salads were on offer. We chose the barbequed snag in bread (Aussie Aussie Aussie).

The entertainment was housed on two stages, one at each end of the common. A series of bands played on the larger and a series of nervous school children danced on the smaller. Nothing says 'Community' like a group of 25 badly co-ordinated, terrified primary school kids who have been forced, by their parents, to flail around on a little stage whilst being filmed for future humiliation on their 21st birthday!


We sat on the grass and listened to a couple of the bands before walking through the treed area in search of some squirrels to feed. We thought they might have gone to visit relatives for the day, but neither the noise of the bands or the East Finchley Primary School choreography had driven them away. The sun was filtered through the pale green canopy of leaves and the squirrels were in fine form.


After a couple of hours at the festival we were sporting 'I Love N2' badges and T-Shirts, had full tummies and no more peanuts. Next year we will do it all again... talk about living life on the edge!

Posted by StephenJen 22:39 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged events Comments (1)

Anzac Day

remembering the Anzacs in Melbourne.

View London to Melbourne on StephenJen's travel map.

On April 25th Australia and New Zealand observes Anzac Day. In remembrance of those sons and daughters who have fallen in all conflicts. Foremost in our minds though, are the Anzacs, those who fell at Gallipoli, in Turkey. Over 8,000 Australian and 2,700 New Zealand soldiers died. For Australians and New Zealanders at home the 25th of April became the day on which they remember the sacrifice of those who died in war.

This year I found myself back in Melbourne for Anzac Day, whilst Jen remained in London. We each attended remembrance services. Myself, with Adam, at the Shrine in Melbourne and Jen on Whitehall in London.

I feel somewhat ashamed to say that this year was the first occasion I have attended the dawn service at the Shrine of Remembrance. I would encourage all Victorians to make the trip at some stage. In the 1920s, after the First World War, returned soldiers sought the comradeship they felt in the quiet, peaceful moments before dawn. With a symbolic link to the dawn landing at Gallipoli, the dawn service became the common form of remembrance on Anzac day.

Dawn service at the shrine of remembrance


It is with a sombre national pride that we pause to reflect on the sacrifice of war. Strange indeed that from this most brutal theatre, spring stories which speak of honour, decency, courage and mateship almost lost in the modern era. Many of the young men who were shipped to Europe went through a commitment to our Commonwealth, many through a sense of adventure. Only to fall on the beaches, on the Western front, or in the fields of places like Villers-Bretonneux.

Jen and I, along with Adam and Meaghan, visited France and Belgium in 2007. We visited the town of Villers-Bretonneaux, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villers-Bretonneux the location of the Australian War Memorial in France. It is a sombre place that imbued us with a sense of both sadness and national pride.

I detest war. Nobody celebrates the loss of life in conflict and this is not a day of celebration. Anzac day gives our nations time to pause and reflect on the huge number of young people who lost there lives overseas. I remember when I was 20 years old. I felt grown up and invincible. In reality I was a kid, just starting out on my life beyond childhood. Think of the 18 and 19 year old soldiers who left in droves from the cities and rural communities, bound for the war in Europe. Swapping a school uniform for a military one. Kids, prevailed upon by the Commonwealth to commit themselves to war. They should have been at home in their communities, with thier families. Instead, they gave their lives in support of families in France and Belgium.

The Australian War Memorial

In Villers-Bretonneux there is a sign which reads 'Do not forget Australia'. The people of this town know the courage and sacrifice of Australia's sons. They have their bodies in the fields which stretch out from the town. They honour them in remembrance. On April 25th join these grateful families in saying

Lest we forget.

The eternal flame

Posted by StephenJen 07:18 Archived in Australia Tagged events Comments (1)

Wednesday Night Football... live from Wembley

"Who are ya?... Who are ya?... Who are ya?"...

semi-overcast 5 °C

Wednesday night brought our first ever World Cup Qualifier - in the magnificant new Wembley Stadium.

Over the past few weeks more and more people we know were slipping into conversation that they had tickets to see Ukraine vs England in this World Cup Qualifier, and we started to wonder why the heck we had not tried to get tickets for this. Anyway, the final straw came two days before the match, and Jen logged on, went through the process to become an Englandfan (the only way left to get tickets) and puchased two for us to go for our first ever major game at Wembley.

Walking from the Tube Station towards Wembley

The walk down from the Tube to the Stadium was insane, a sea of football fans singing and kicking footballs, loading up on overpriced pizza slices and hotdogs (just like at home!) on the walk towards this massive stadium.

Our seats were quite high but allowed us to see the entire ground clearly, even if we couldnt see the players sweat covered faces! Just like playing on Playstation - we could clearly see the passages of play - all we needed were our controllers. The atmosphere was amazing, we learnt a few new football chants during the course of the game and its impossible not to get caught up in the emotion of an international match.

Ukraine and England Teams enter the Ground

Stephen Checks Out the View of the Ground

The Flags Come Out

God Save The Queen

England looked very sharp early on, and were rewarded with a goal by Paul Crouch at around the 40 minute mark. Then they switched off. It appears that the English play football much like a workday... A bit at the start, not much through the day, and then a bit at the end. Suffice it to say, as they were relaxing in the middle, Ukraine managed to steal a goal to equalise (we could tell they had scored by the deafening silence of the crowd). Instantly, England switched on again. They brought Beckham on, without about 20 minutes left in the match, his impact was felt immediately. A couple of free kicks gave us the chance to see him Bend it Like.... well... him. He delivered a corner from the far side and John Terry sent it into the back of the net. the crowd sang "two-one.....two-one....." followed by a standing rendition of "You're not Singing Anymore" whilst pointing at the small section of Ukraine Supporters.

Chanting Crowd

Game Play


A few minutes later the referee signalled the end of the game and we began the crush back towards the Tube Station. Lines of Mounted Police prevented too may people getting into the station at one time, and it actually went quite smoothly. We were home by 11:30 and are now dedicated followers of the World Game.

Posted by StephenJen 03:30 Archived in England Tagged events Comments (3)

There's no business like snow business

Britain's coldest winter for 18 years

-4 °C

We have routinely whinged about the cold Melbourne winters. Never again!

Winter in London, this year, has been one of the few times that we have been cold through to the very marrow of our bones. Not suprising as we are experiencing the coldest winter in 18 years. Last week saw significant snowfall right across England.

We awoke in the middle of the night to snow bucketting down and by the time I was ready to leave for work on Monday morning (05.00am) there was a thick white blanket covering the entire neighbourhood. Unfortunately, I had to drive to Barnsley, in South Yorkshire, some 190 miles North. Whilst I made it there and back in treacherous conditions I shant do it again. That said, provided we don't have to get to work, we still LOVE waking up to snow!


Posted by StephenJen 13:57 Archived in England Tagged events Comments (1)

Ladies and Gentlemen... Frank McComb.

Warning! The following blog contains mercilessly lengthy musical critique.

sunny 27 °C

On Monday I read an article about a piano player/singer named Frank McComb. He was playing one show only in London that night. I had not heard of him previously but I read who his influences were and thought it may well be a set that we would enjoy. I also thought it would be nice for Jen and I to get out and treat ourselves to dinner and a show. I got online and reserved a table at the Pigalle Club in Piccadilly. We had been to the club before but, having been to the Moulin Rouge in the Pigalle region of Paris, we had an idea of the sort of club it might be. We arrived and our waiter met us at the door upstairs. He led us down several flights of stairs and showed us to our table. We were staggered to find ourselves at front of the stage about three tables back. The club was a very authentic Paris supper club, the type of place you could imagine Dexter Gordon or Miles playing back in the day. We were feeling very special, but trying not to be too obvious in our excitement. We ordered a bottle of French red and chose our courses.
The lights were dimmed as we ate to the sounds of Monk, Bird, miles and Trane. By desert the DJ had started his set and we had moved to George Benson and Barry White. It was all very romantic and we were feeling pampered and relaxed.

Shortly after our meal Patrick, who hosts the Monday music night, took to the mike to introduce the evenings guest, Frank McComb. Frank sat at the Rhodes and the band followed. Drums, bass, percussion, sax and trombone. From the first 4 bars we were pretty sure we had made the right choice. When the vocal came in we were certain. The man has a voice, the quality of which I have only heard a couple of times before. Frank McComb gave us a combination of the smooth, soulful styles of Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway but with the clever scat lines of a be bop horn player. He is the personification of everything I love about music. Jen and I were blown away. The band was a group of London guys who were doing just this one night and they nailed it! The set was fantastic. A brilliant fusion of jazz, soul and R&B. Add some funk and Gospel overtones, present it with a dynamic honesty and vocal fearlessness, what you get is Frank McComb.

Posted by StephenJen 13:05 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged events Comments (1)

A London Eyeful of New Years Fireworks

... happy New Year from England

overcast 5 °C

'Hello London. Are you ready for the greatest fireworks show on the planet?' That was the question booming out of the loudspeakers around Big Ben and Westminster Bridge. It was met with a resounding 'Yeah' from the crowd. We were... and it was!

The crowd gathers as the New Year approaches

I've seen my share of impressive fireworks displays from the Sydney Harbour Bridge but the show we witnessed at the London Eye was unmatched. It was an amazing feeling to stand at the feet of Big Ben as the bells tolled midnight. Then to be treated to an unbelievable display of colour and light, with the booming sound of the charges echoing off the banks of the Thames, made this a truly memorable night.


Fireworks shoot from the London Eye

Fireworks show in London

London Eye fireworks

More fireworks

Fireworks shoot from the London Eye

London Eye bathed in red

We welcomed our second year in England with tremendous excitement and anticipation.
We hope it is our best yet. We hope it is your best also.

Happy New Year everyone.

Posted by StephenJen 03:20 Archived in England Tagged events Comments (2)

Jerry Springer live

... polygraphs, porkies & penile dementia.

rain 8 °C

A few weeks back Jen, Lou and myself toddled down to the Riverside studios in Hammersmith to be part of the live audience for Jerry Springer's new show 'Nothing but the truth'. In spite of the fact that this show didn't feature a crack addicted secretly cross dressing bi-sexual out of control teen hillbilly deadbeat dad secretly been sleeping with the now pregnant mother of his long term girlfriend... his midget stripper cousin, We did have a lot of fun and even got to chant "Jerry...Jerry...Jerry".

The format of the show is this: Contestants subject themselves to a polygraph and answer increasingly personal and challenging questions in an attempt to win up to £50,000. Pretty straightforward wouldn't you say?

We arrived a little late and, once inside with our tickets, found ourselves at the end of the line. When we entered the studio there were only a few scattered seats left and it looked like we were to be separated. Dame fortune smiled upon us as we were ushered to 3 reserved seats. They were in the front row directly behind the area onstage where the contestants family members and friends are seated. Nice... happy with that.

We were feeling excited because we figured we were positioned in an area of the audience where we would get our heads on TV quite a bit. It then dawned on me that, as it was mid November, I was sporting a very Village People moustache as part of the Movember charity event. Not really the way I wanted to present myself to the viewing public.

After a bit of applause practice and some jokes from the warm up guy, we were ready to roll. "Ladies and gentlemen would you please welcome... Jerry Springer" we clap like crazy and all start chanting "Jerry...Jerry...Jerry". It is then explained to us that this is a DIFFERENT show and, whilst we are encouraged to get involved, we can leave the Jerry chanting alone. So we did. Jerry had a bit of a chat to us and then taping started.

The first contestant was a self important London tour operator in his 50s named Peter. He was a total tool. He starting trying to do gags from the first question. He had his ex wife, step son, elderly father, and current young Russian girlfriend sitting onstage with him on the family and friends couch. The first round of questions were a walk in the park...

"Do you lie about your age ?"
A long pause followed by a Hal 9000 style voice saying "That answer is .... correct"

"Could you be considered a Bull##itter?"
"Do you use your job to pick up women?"

After two rounds of questions, we had learned that he joined clubs to network for his business, Said he gave to charities without doing so, thinks his divorce was the best thing that could have happened because now his friends are envious of all the women he gets. Peter had picked up £5000 and the audience was turning on him. He was revealing himself as a sleazy, over confident pratt who had little regard for anyone else. Jerry asked if he wished to continue and answer another four questions to get to £10000? Peter played on. The questions got more personal and more challenging.

"Did you pick up your current girlfriend on one of your tours?"
"Are you currently cheating on her?" At this point the camera zooms in for a close up of his girlfriend smiling and laughing nervously. Peter pauses before telling her that they will have a long chat after the show. She is still smiling but now her eyes are filled with tears.
"Yes" he answers. "That answer is ...correct" says the computer voice. We all hoot and boo. "Dump him" we all shout. At this point we realise that we are not being told off for yelling out... so we all compete to try and get our voices heard on the telly.

The next question made us hate him even more. "Have you ever had a sexual relationship with one of your step son,Carl's, girlfiends?" asked Jerry. "We will need to have a talk about this after the show" Peter says "Yes I have". This time the tears are Carls. "They had split up" Peter protested. "NO we were together" replied Carl.
Jerry then tells Peter that Carl would like to ask the next question. "Have you ever had a homosexual experience?" the crowd starts to cat call and waits with baited breath for the answer. "It's a long story" he says, "I was tricked at a job interview when I was younger" he says, "It was supposed to be a massage" he says, "Yes". The audience takes to him mercilessly. Jerry explains that there is nothing wrong with having a homosexual experience bat does wonder how you can go for a job interview and wind up 'accidently' having sex with a man! We now have only one question to go in order for Peter to reach £10000. "Are you satisfied with the size of your penis?" asks Jerry. "I didn't realise until I left my wife just how above average I am... she kept it a secret for 18 years of marriage" he replies. His ex wife laughs at him and shakes her head. "Since the divorce", says Peter, "I have had the chance to actually ask a lot of partners that very question". He pauses. "What did he say?" I yell out. The audience roars with laughter, Jerry starts laughing and Peter looks embarrassed. "For those of you at home, our audience member asked what did he say" says Jerry. He tells Peter that he needs a final answer and notes that if the item inquestion is anywhere near as long as his answers so far that he would clearly have no issue. "I'm very satisfied with the size" says Peter. The room is hushed. "That answer is... FALSE" says the computer. The audience erupts in laughter and the jibes start. A great many pinky fingers are waved at Peter and his family can't help but share a laugh too.
The rules of the show are clearly stated at the outset. A false answer results in the contestant going home empty handed. So Peter had revealed himself as a total pratt, probably lost his girlfriend, ruined his relationship with his step son, all on television. And gone home without a single pence. Now that's entertainment!


Posted by StephenJen 11:32 Archived in England Tagged events Comments (0)


... a hair lip gets hip!

10 °C

(Cue Barry White's 'My first, my last, my everything')


Movember Day 8

I ask you, is there anything sexier than a man with a moustache? Hell no (I hear you say). One need only remember the unabated sex appeal of Magnum P.I or Jason King or any number of international cricketers in the 1970s. The evidence is clear, a man simply looks like a heavy set woman with a gut unless he is sporting a mo. That's what makes Movember the sexiest charity event on the calendar. How could I resist then when the cause of mens health issues came knocking on my bathroom door. I stood tall, put my razor down and put my hair where my mouth is!

I am now proud to be one of the members of the 'Fantashtics', growing a 'Village People' mo for charity. Mind you, it's a little easier for my team mate, Adam, he is currently living in Turkey. Now everybody knows that Istanbul is Motown. Everyone over the age of 8 has a moustache there. I, on the other hand, am subject to quizzical and envious looks from strangers on the London underground as I commute to work each day. I have explained to the people at my workplace that I am growing this bad boy to raise awareness about mens health, and that they must now refer to me only as 'Cougar':

"Stephen can you fix a paper jam in the 6th floor copier?"
"Sorry, Cougar can you fix a paper jam in the 6th floor copier?"

I should point out here that I was originally to be known as 'The Cougar' but after lengthy discussion with my boss, Craig, I decided to drop the 'The'. A good decision I think you will agree. I mean... they don't call him 'The Prince' or 'The Skippy' do they?

The rules for participants are easy. Be clean shaven on Movember 1st and get growing for the month. Along the way, encountering the perils of in-grown hairs to unwanted advances from women in the street. It's a dirty job alright. Especially after soup!

So next year, why don't YOU consider becoming hirsute for health. Get onboard and grow a mo for charity!


Posted by StephenJen 11:35 Archived in England Tagged events Comments (1)

A cracker of a night.

For Fawkes sake... I've burned my thumb!

overcast 13 °C

Well one of the enjoyable things about life here in London is the flagrant disregard for public safety. This weekend that disregard came in the form of Guy Fawkes night. It brought back memories of childhood in Australia as the neighbourhood flashed and echoed as hundreds of fireworks were set off. Never ones to shirk our responsibility to embrace local culture we hit the local Tesco supermarket and purchased a modest supply of fireworks.


We thought the safest location would be a large park, located next to a hospital and a prison. The plan was to brighten lives and get the blood pumping for the heart patients, and bring memories of violent crime and life or death gun battles flooding back to prison inmates, through the use of loud bangs, flashes and smoke. Job done!

We were armed to the eyeballs with all manner of fountains, catherine wheels, rockets, bigger rockets and assorted other stuff. Apart from an over ambitious multi rocket thumb burn, everything went off with a bang. The sky was filled with colour and the grass oozed smoke for ages. We could feel the patients and prisoners joy increasing with every explosion. We were so inspired that we raced home and employed a long piece of pvc pipe to launch several of the big rockets from our balcony, over the primary school next door and into air space over the BBC garden.

We had a lot of fun this weekend. Next year we will be better prepared and go even bigger!


Posted by StephenJen 08:58 Archived in England Tagged events Comments (0)

Our favourite Prince

overcast 19 °C

Greetings all,

The story starts like this... On friday morning my boss, Craig, came into work boasting about how he had got tickets for Prince the previous night. He had managed to hook up some tickets via the drummer in his band, CC Dunham. He described in detail all the aspects of the show. I was really jealous but happy for him. He also mentioned that a little bird had told him that unclaimed tickets were resold at aroumd 8.30pm, shortly after his purpleness hit the stage. At a little before lunchtime Jen called me and told me she was in central London and was meeting a girl who was selling 2 tickets for the show that night, the LAST show of his 21 night run. The tickets were selling for £160, which is about £100 over face value... I was concerned about them being the real thing. I told Jen that we should give them a miss but suggested we head to the O2 arena and hang out in the hope that some tickets are released late. So we did.

When we arrived, I spoke to the girl at the ticket counter and she indicated, in a very subtle manner, that if tickets were to become available we were in the right place. We waited for some time and then... the unbelievable happened... WE GOT TICKETS!! Now let me put this in some perspective for you, we got tickets on the final night, we got the new CD included in the price, and the price was £31.20 each! We headed into the arena and were ushered towards our seats. We walked from the top section down, further and further...5 rows back in the middle. Amazing seats, we were behind the VIP floor section and were close... very close to the stage. We had also each been given a purple glow stick, so when the lights came down everyone cracked them and the audience was a sea of purple, it looked fantastic. The band started up and the crowd lept to its feet. Under a single spot and through the smoke Prince rose on an elevated piece of staging. The music stopped and he stood there, the crowd screamed. He leaned into the mike and said "London... what you feel for me, I feel for you" and they belted out 'I feel for you' as the opening number. They kept the music going as they went into 'Contraversy' and Jen and I, along with the rest of the packed arena, were jumping up and down at Prince's command. Awesome!

This has been a particularly significant tour because he has been showcasing all his huge hits. He has also disallowed any media coverage and has vowed never to play them again. As a result, we feel especially lucky to have attended. The gig went for ages and the songs kept coming. We were presented with '1999', 'Let's go crazy', 'Purple rain', 'U got the look', 'Cream', 'Little red corvette', 'Take me with U', 'Sign of the times' and a heap more. I tried to remember them but it is all a blur now. About halfway through the gig the band stopped and he startedchanting "Pass the peas, like we used to say" and Jen and I looked at each other in suprise. We had seen posters for Maceo Parker's upcoming tour and here was Prince singing one of his signature tunes. Suddenly out of the smoke came Maceo. He belted out an incredible sax solo as Prince gyrated around the stage in James Brown fashion. The set also saw Prince take to the stage alone with a keyboard and play a selection of tunes stripped back and very personal. It is a truly amazing thing to see one man stand at a keyboard and, before playing a note, have the entire stadium applaud and scream thier appreciation. The band came back on and when he said goodnight, we had heard one of musics great artists perform some of his greatest hits. We all stayed in our seats and chanted, whistled, clapped and cheered in the hope that we would get more. As we did, a group of latecomers arrived and squeezed past to a group of empty seat along from us. Let me tell you, it is pleasing enough to be in great seats at Prince let alone has Naomi Campbell five seats along from you. We looked around and noticed that Sadie Frost was dancing in the VIP seats, and One of the Jagger daughters behind us too. Very surreal.

The lights went to black again and Prince took to the stage again. "If you ain't going home London... neither am I" he said. And away he went. We got 'When you were mine' and 'Nothing compares to you' and others I can't remember now before he again thanked London for having him and said goodnight. We stayed in our seats and after about 20 mins we got one more, final, encore. "You're not ready for me" he said, "I've got more hits than you have time". We got purple rain again, this time with the full band and small purple and gold hearts rained down from the top of the arena and fell amongst us. I can't even remember what he closed with now, but it was an unbelievable gig.

This year continues to be the most amazing of our lives and, at times, we have to pinch ourselves to make sure it's all real.


Posted by StephenJen 12:47 Archived in England Tagged events Comments (1)

Wallabies vs Wales

World Cup Victory!

all seasons in one day
View London to Cardiff on StephenJen's travel map.

On Friday 14th September, I did something that I never thought I would do in a million years. I picked up a brand new hire car from Waterloo (Central London) and drove it back to our good old flat in the Western Suburbs of London.

Well, after not having driven in nine months - I think I did pretty well - particularly in a big city in the middle of the day. Though the car was equipped with Sat Nav and was telling me where to turn - I still managed to miss my turn a few times and ended up driving past Buckingham Palace, Royal Albert Hall, Big Ben/Houses of Parliament and a few other sights. Quite an enjoyable drive (however what takes around 20 minutes by train took over an hour driving thanks to missed turns and London Traffic!). Anyway, already running late - Stephen and I packed our little blue hire Vauxhall (Holden) Astra with our Australian Scarves and clothes and drove in the direction of Cardiff, Wales.

Along the way - we stopped to take a look at Stonehenge and managed to see it in various lights thanks to the quickly setting sun. Stonehenge was quite amazing, it is wierd to see something in person that you have seen so may times in print or on film - the same feeling I got when I saw the Mona Lisa (but this was as big as I thought it would be - unlike the Mona Lisa). Stonehenge is really quite cool, and I can recommend the free audio guide that you can utilise when visiting as it is really fascinating to hear different theories about the purpose or history of such a bizarre structure (and though they did not mention it - I am sure that the Scientologists may also have a theory about Stonhenge that relates somehow to their master plan).



As it was getting dark, we drove through Salisbury (singing Peter Gabriels song Solsbury Hill. We since realised that this is not where he was singing about - hence the different spelling) then, Bath and Bristol. Adam and Meaghan were driving towards Cardiff in their own little Silver Citroen at the same time, though they managed to cover few more km's than us and managed to get run off the road by other drivers! It was getting late, we were tired and had nowhere to sleep. We found a cool little coach-inn called The Three Salmon which had a room for us, and there we stayed for the night (and the complimentary brekfast) until it was again time to hit the road.


We arrived in Cardiff at around mid-morning and after driving down a closed street and being "cautioned" by the police, managed to find a car park quite close to Millenium Stadium where we would be in a few hours time. We saw the Wallabies leaving their hotel as we were coming into town, and started to get excited about the prospect of watching them beat Wales in the Rugby surrounded by other Aussies who had travelled from various places to see it. Cardiff was FULL of Aussies. There is nothing quite like being surrounded by so much green and gold miles from home and all there to cheer on fellow Aussies at a huge stadium. We donned green and gold, Aussie & Boxing Kangaroo Flags and even some face paint before heading to the stadium.




What can I say about the Game? There was so much green and gold, so many people, so much good singing (okay... that was the Welsh, not us.....) and it was a very cool game to see. During the half time break - it was interesting to note that the sound system belted out "Delilah" by Tom Jones to lift the Welsh Spirits and what did we get?...... AC/DC "Long Way to The Top. Noice.


Australia beat Wales by a decent margin however there were some real edge of the seat moments, and the Welsh played with some fierce determination. It was a great feeling to see the Wallabies doing a lap of victory and wave to all of the Aussies that had come out to see them win. This was AWESOME and it was great to have been part of it.



So, the game was over and we came to the very quick realisation that none of us (Adam & Megs or Stephen and I) had anywhere to sleep. We called around hotels/motels/campsites/hostels, drove to Bath, called around again - with no luck). We ended up out in the sticks eating fish and chips and eventually found a cheap hotel that furnish us with two rooms. Nice.

The next morning we headed back to Bath for breakfast and to have a look around. Bath is a very pretty city with a lot to look at, however we stayed only a few hours after Adam and Meaghan said goodbye (again.... which was hard) and headed off again to continue their adventure. Stephen and I looked at the Roman Baths, purchased some tasty-but-expensive toffee and headed back towards London. It took us under 1.5 Hours to drive in total from Cardiff to London (excluding stops) which we were amazed at! What a trip.





NB: I did return the car to the Europcar Office on a Monday morning before work - driving in Central London in Peak Hour - without a scratch, dent or a missed turn! Not a bad effort!?

Jen xxx

Posted by StephenJen 06:05 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged events Comments (1)

Notting Hill Carnival

sunny 22 °C

Hi All

Yesterday Stephen and I headed down to Notting Hill for the annual Notting Hill Carnival which has been held every August Bank Holiday Weekend since 1966, and is the largest celebration of its kind in Europe.

It originally started as a local festival set up by the West Indian immigrants of the area and has now become a full-blooded Caribbean carnival, attracting millions of visitors from around the world. With scores of massive sound systems, many spectacular floats and, of course, the traditional steel drum bands, plus hundreds of stalls lining the streets. Music is at the heart of Notting Hill Carnival - Historically steel bands, Soca & Calypso Music have been at the heart of Carnival but in recent years these the website reports that these have been overtaken by the static sound systems playing anything from Reggae to R&B, Funk, House, and Dub.

Stephen and I arrived and were met with some awesome sounds as soon as we got off the tube - the music was coming from the nearby church and there were people everywhere of every nationality headed down towards Portobello Road. There was the smells of awesome Caribbean food in the air, Curried Goat, Rice & Peas, Jerk Chicken and Red Beans and Rice everywhere and the soungs of whistles coming from every second person (Its tradition to blow whistles when the parade goes past).

We made our way down to the parade (Mas) area just in time to see them start to come past - and loved the spectacular costumes, headpieces, dancing and music that came from each of the floats.




As you can see - so much effort goes into the costumes for Mas and people really get into it, both in the parade and those watching from the sidelines. We stayed for a few hours and soaked it all in but did not feel game to go into any of the venues that had live music, as they were so jam packed that we would have had to fight and push our way in - people were spilling out of every doorway....

Loved the Carnival and will definitely go again next yeat if we are still around London (we have new hopes of winning the Euro-Millions Lotto and buying a house on Portobello Road with a Balcony so we have prime position next year but we will have to see how that pans out.... )

Lots of love to all at home and scattered across the planet....

Jen & Stephen x

Posted by StephenJen 03:09 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged events Comments (1)

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