Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Easter In Bruges

One of my favourite films is called "In Bruges". If you haven't seen it you should - it's fucking brilliant.

Two inept hitmen are sent to Bruges to hide out after a job, which is one of the main character's ideal location with lots of historic places to see and the other's idea of hell which means he wants to spend most of his time drinking. It features copious amounts of violence and a dwarf on ketamine. It also has a shit load of swearing, which personally I'm not a massive fan of, as you may well know if you're a regular reader of my ramblings. But it's actually a dark comedy rather than an action or horror movie and there's nothing overly cerebral in the plot to confuse my tiny mind - a few of the best clips are here but it does contain a few plot spoilers

It was on TV a few months ago and I watched it with Mrs AC who asked if I'd ever visited Bruges. I have, I was 7 or 8 and the only memory I have of going is spending half the day being told off by my mother because I'd managed to tread in some dog poo. I'll repeat that I was 7 or 8!

Mrs AC then declared she wanted to visit as it looked fantastic. Any idea which of the main characters I'm going to be yet?

Mrs AC, despite being American, is actually quite cultured and loves visiting historic European cities as her image of Europe whilst she was growing up was that we all live in some sort of medieval fantasy land. Bruges hits that spot as it's Northern Europe's best preserved historic city and the whole city centre has been designated as a UNESCO world heritage site. There are some far better photos than I'm capable of taking here

But Bruges, being in Belgium, is not that far from the brewery where the world's best beer is made so having put in another order we organised a long weekend away over the Easter break which is a 4 day weekend in the UK.

An early start and a long wait at the eurotunnel entrance (thanks Brexit!) didn't phase us and once we arrived in France (only 35 minutes by train under the English Channel) it was an easy 2 hour drive through northern France and Belgium before arriving mid afternoon and checking into a B&B not unlike that featured in the film. Less than 2 hours after arriving I'm itching for a beer despite Mrs AC's protestations that she wanted to do more sight seeing and we ended up in a fantastic 800 year old cellar bar with over 100 beers to choose from

The weekend flew by like this before I took Mrs AC to Brussels for the flight home on Monday as she needed to be back in London whilst the only pick up day for my beer was on Tuesday so I found another B&B near the brewery and drove home on Tuesday with a trunk full of beer and a few bottles of wine (Mrs AC is the oenophile whereas I could barely tell a merlot from a malbec). Well I say a trunk full but thanks to Brexit we are now only able to transport a limited amount of booze before incurring import taxes but 42 litres of beer and 18 litres of wine should keep us going for a while. 

Please comment below with your favourite film and whether you've visited the location where it was set or filmed. My next favourite film is Dumb and Dumber but I'm not sure I fancy a cross country road trip whilst driving a dog liveried van! 

Saturday, January 29, 2022

28 hours later

It's Thursday morning and I'm told that the person I was due to spend time with on Thursday and Friday won't be in the office. I have virtually no other plans. 

28 hours later I'm feeling like death, there is definitely someone playing the bongos inside my head and I'm over 5,000 miles from home. Fuck. The last time I was here was 705 days ago and I was sitting in the exact same chair, feeling like death after another hastily organised trip and a big session the previous night At least I'm consistent. 

I'm at the airport in Vegas, which was not exactly the place I was meant to be until my conversation the previous morning. 

I'd been in LA since Sunday with the intention of staying there all week when I'm effectively cut short on Thursday morning. What to do? The chances of getting a seat on that evening's flight back to London are pretty slim so I can either stay in LA or head to Vegas for a night. But one night in Vegas is barely worth it is it? Oh.....right.

Having booked a flight and a room for less than just an extra night in LA I'm at LAX for a mid afternoon hop over to LAS with a couple of drinks inside me before the flight. Therein lies the probable cause of me feeling like death, or at least the start of it anyway. 

One thing I've really not done much of over the last 705 days is boozing. I've only travelled twice since the US opened its borders (it should have been more and my drinking has reverted to what most people would consider a sensible level. I usually only have a couple of drinks at home and certainly don't drink at the level I do when I'm in Vegas - a long poker session usually sees me running out of fingers when counting beers drunk, necessitating the use of toes to keep a running count. 

But anyway - back to Thursday afternoon and once I'd jumped in a cab and checked in I'm ready for some food and poker, in that order. Before Covid I would definitely have prioritised poker but now I'm sensible I actually need to eat so I headed to TAP for a burger before sitting down at the poker table just after 7. It's a very nitty game and I'm actually referred to as a "young Euro aggro" player more than once. I'm flattered to be called young but I've never been called aggro before - what do these guys expect though if there's 6 limps and I can 100% guarantee that by raising they'll all fold? Again and again it was the same story and I think I won at least 6 times preflop with this strategy. 

I must have scared them all off as by 11pm it's a much looser contingent of players and given I've now had a week's worth of booze in the last few hours I need to slow down so I can actually focus on the cards. A few unremarkable hours passed and it's nearly 3am before I cash out a $300 profit and stumble back to the Signature. I've missed doing the drunken stumble although I'd forgotten how far it is. Apparently I called Mrs AC who was back in London but I have literally no recollection of the phone call or conversation but she later told me she'd used a phrase which rhymes with "plucking sunken boron" but I'm still none the wiser!

So Friday afternoon was spent recovering on the short flight back to LA before I got some sleep on the overnight flight back to London and I'm starting to feel slightly less like death as I write this on the train home.

I'm still trying to organise a trip to Vegas for the Superbowl but it's looking less likely by the day at the moment. If the 49ers manage to win this weekend I'll be happy to watch it from home though and I won't need to take my shoes and socks off to keep track of the numbers of beers I've had! 

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Of mice (in the attic) and men

Just when it was starting to look better somebody has obviously fucked with the game settings and we look like we're going backwards in terms of the world opening up.

Our original Christmas plans were to have visitors from the US at home in London before travelling to Paris for a few days but France shut their borders to travellers from the UK - what do they say about the best laid plans of mice and men?

On Christmas Eve we picked up our guests (Mrs AC's best friend plus boyfriend from NY) from Heathrow having given them strict instructions not to have found out the score to the previous night's 49ers v Titans game. Given that Mrs AC and our friends are all Giants fans they seem to have lost most of their interest in the NFL season by now - I wonder why that could be? My interest is waning now given that the 49ers need to beat the Rams this Sunday or hope for an unlikely Saints loss.

Mrs AC had been itching to decorate the house with Christmas decorations since just after Halloween but I put her off until after Thanksgiving. When I retrieved the decorations boxes from the attic I found traces of some uninvited guests - mice! Oh joy. I put a couple of traps up there and I've been finding one every few days so lord knows how many of the little fuckers are up there - I lost count at 12 and we had a shock one morning when there was an utter racket coming from the attic. It turned out that the trap had caught one without killing it and it was dragging the trap around the attic trying to escape!

Christmas was pretty relaxing, followed by a few days in London doing touristy things then driving down to Stonehenge where we met up with friends who then came back to London with us and stayed for New Year.

But now the house is quiet as Mrs AC has travelled back to NY for work for a couple of weeks and it's just me and the ever dwindling mouse population as I'm not confident that I've killed them all yet. If I keep finding them I may need to invite my mother to stay so she can kidnap a neighbour's cat but I'm afraid that the cure will be worse than the symptoms. 

Anyway - happy new year all and I hope you all enjoyed the holidays.