Food Giant (Top 5)

Travel broadens your mind – that seems to be the consensus among most people…well yeah sure, I guess – but one of the best things about travel, no joke; is the new food you get to sample and consequently fall in love with!

This is my top five list…I honestly could have did a top fifty…yes, I am that greedy…anyway, here it goes:

5. 热干面  (China)

Whilst in Wuhan, China – I found that the area’s traditional dish  热干面 (rè gān miàn) was just sensational…it isn’t going to sound like anything too special – but the simple collaboration of flavours just worked so well! Think boiled spaghetti, peanut butter (well, sesame sauce), and chopped carrot…sounds disgusting? It was AMAZING! And at 30p (50¢?) a pop, there’s only one winner! ME, AND MY DAILY HABIT!

4. Escargot (France)

As a child the thought of eating snails…was…well…unthinkable – after all they look like little alien creatures from the planet Zoozlax! Butttt, in reality escargot are beyond delicious! It could be argued that anything would taste wonderful if it was smothered in enough garlic butter…but still…wow – oh yeah, and then get some freshly baked bread; dip it in there…wow x2.

3. Bernerwurst (Austria)

Austria disappointed me a little, sure they had spectacular cakes – and equally good coffee (100 automatic points to Gryffindor!) but other than that I didn’t find anything too special…that was until I had a couple of hours spare at the airport…that’s when I met my soulmate; the Bernerwurst. This beautiful thing, oh my goodness – so it’s a sausage, stuffed with cheese, and then wrapped in bacon. It’s enough to give you a heart attack just thinking about it…but you would die happy, VERY happy.

2. Haggis (Scotland)

One of my all-time favourites is Haggis – I bet I can make your mouth water with this one… so think of the liver, lungs, and heart of a sheep – all chopped up, mixed with other stuff, and then shoved back into a sheep’s stomach before being boiled, and served. Delightful. It may sound like the menu of a post-apocalyptic world, but it is actually gorgeous…you can get it at my local chippy back home. It’s just amazing. I can’t even find the words…

1. 샤브 샤브 (South Korea)

샤브 샤브 (shabu-shabu) is actually a Korean twist of a Japanese dish…and it is my number one favourite thing to do on a Sunday…you know, when you have a full day free to GORGE yourself. It also introduces a little bit of Vietnamese style cooking, so it is a huge beautiful mix of different flavours! You have the pot in the middle, that you may put noodles, rice, veggies – whatever! And then around the side there is a hot plate that you cook up pork, and beef strips…

I returned to my old neighborhood recently, with the sole intention of going back to the 샤브 샤브  restaurant I loved so much…it had closed down (probably because they temporarily lost their best customer) – I cried…I broke down…and I haven’t been the same since.

Notebook Fries GIF

Anyway, so recounting all of these ridiculously delicious dishes, just made me very, very, HUNGRY. I am off to eat myself to an early grave…I guess the diet is off, I shouldn’t have started this…

What are some of your favourite dishes? (This has to be one of my most loved things to discuss!)

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The Rocking Chair Theory

Sometimes you see something and it sparks a whole chain of thought almost immediately…often it’s in things you don’t expect, and from places you wouldn’t have guessed – but despite this it feels central to your life in some way…as if it has always been a part of you, even if you hadn’t realized it before. I mean…if it wasn’t, why would you suddenly feel so strongly about it?

Safe Life

Anyway, that’s how I felt today when I stumbled across this photograph and caption on the Humans of New York Facebook page…

And no, settle down…it wasn’t because I saw the bit about STDs. It was just because I realized that despite also being quite a cautious person I am forever attempting to push myself free from those “hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t” shackles so that I can hopefully live a life well lived, rather than a one full of safe regret instead…

Mind I’m not calling this fella a square because he hasn’t ever had a battle with chlamydia…there’s every cause for congratulations in that respect – however it did sadden me that his words have such a final tone to them…even though I imagine his life is far from over…I mean, there’s still plenty of time for him to volunteer in Africa, develop a drinking problem, become addicted to crystal meth, and/or blow his  life savings on cocaine fueled hookers. So why the negativity? Stop wasting time, and get on with it! 

Seriously though…people often say things like: “that’s something to tell the grandchildren!” when they do something out of the ordinary, or have an experience that is half-way interesting…and I suppose it’s this miserable fear of sitting in a rocking chair at 80 years old with nothing interesting to say that motivates me to push on and fill my life’s tapestry with weird and wonderful stuff! You only get one life to live, and all that lark…right? And I don’t want my most thrilling tale to be something about how milk and eggs used to be a lot cheaper, “back in my day…” as I slurp on soup, and fill a plastic bag with pee…

With that said being a cautious person is not entirely a bad thing, and you certainly shouldn’t relinquish control completely, that could prove to be disastrous! In fact, it actually reminds me of a situation a few years back where I found myself cornered in a Sunderland bar in the early hours of the morning – you see a possibly (definitely) psychotic football hooligan had taken an interest in me and wouldn’t let me go…he was too engrossed in his life story, which included a penchant for stabbing police officers in the neck with broken plastic pens during riots – and a claim that he will never stop doing heroin because it is “too fucking great to stop”. And whilst I must concede his sounded like a very interesting life to live – this is perhaps not my suggestion with this rambled post.

I would in actual fact suggest a person can still live a wonderful life even without stabbings, and heroin. I know, a controversial view – but I’m somewhat of a radical I guess! 

All it takes is simply loosening your grip on the “what ifs?” every so often…letting your guard down to different experiences, and occasionally pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. After all it is here where true rocking chair memories are made…

So why not get started today?

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Adult/Child: The Battle

I’ve been getting nostalgic regarding my childhood – like most people I think it would be GREAT to be a kid all over again; just to be so carefree, and wild! In this video I mourn over my loss of childhood, and also take a look at some old photos from when I was a kid.

Fun to watch, but the message runs deep for all of us!

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Horrible Jobs/Horrible Bosses!

Hey friends! This took me a while, so I hope you enjoy it! It’s a little trip down memory lane…a look in at some of the crummy jobs I have had along the way – I could have made it A LOT longer, but we would be here for hours!

So yeah, hope you get a kick out of it – and let me know of any stinkers you’ve had, would love to hear your tales! 

If you have a video request you can leave a comment, or send me an email – if it’s a cool/interesting idea then I will get to it as soon as I can!

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Lazy Sundays (ARE THE BEST SUNDAYS!)

If you have a video request you can leave a comment, or send me an email – if it’s a cool/interesting idea then I will get to it as soon as I can!

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Please buy my collection of stories! Get it in paperback here – or on Kindle here! ALL proceeds go towards Macmillan Cancer Support!

DISRESPECT YOUR ELDERS.

Were you brought up, and instructed to “respect your elders”? Well yeah, so was I…and although this phrase sounds a little Star Wars-ish, once you get past that, it is for the most part a sound bit of advice. After all with age, comes experience, and with experience comes wisdom (most of the time)…why would I want to make my own mistakes, when someone who has been there done that, can advise me against them? It’s common sense, right?!

What are not so common, are these super-rare dance moves:

Old People Rock GIF

YOU’RE WELCOME!

Anyway, now the reason I am rambling on this topic, is that I have found in South Korea they have the same ethos…except it is, for want of a better phrase…out of fucking control! In this land you must respect your elders, but continue to do so even when they continually show YOU, or anyone else aggressive disrespect. You, and the rest of the onlookers must just remain silent, or possibly nod – and/or apologise if the aggressor demands you to do so. Odd, right? 

I’ll give you a couple of examples…alright firstly, whenever I am walking around with a Korean friend (who has the misfortune of being female)  it is not a rare occurrence for evil death glares to  be shot our way by senior citizens. Uncomfortable, sure…but I smile back politely, and try to remember my Jedi training. My issue is with them coming over, and screaming at my friend for even sitting next to me…calling her a slut, and other things that I can’t translate, but which are probably worse. I mean respect your elders – sure…but how do I respect that kind of behaviour? 

No one intervenes…and tells them they are out of line…they just look down, and think “they’re old, so it’s okay.” Well patently – it is NOT okay. 

Oh, and here’s another one! Just this past weekend – I walked past a few old guys, who jabbered something angrily in my direction…again, as usual, I just smiled at them, nodded politely, and carried on. Before long I heard the jabbering again, this time it was a lot more agitated – I didn’t turn around straight away, just moved along nicely…but then when I did eventually look, I saw that one of them was running after me with a crazed vigor – he may as well have been foaming at the mouth. I wasn’t particularly scared – what was he going to do, chew my leg with his three remaining teeth? But my friend urged me into the crowd of the market, and said it isn’t the done thing to deal directly in that way. So I entered the bustle, and foul smells of the little stores….still, I heard him getting closer. I felt someone grab my shoulder, and spun around – he started pushing, and shoving – swearing at me in Korean…

Again, no one intervened…to tell him he was out of line…they just looked down, and probably thought “he’s old, so it’s okay.”

Funnily enough from what I could gather, and what was told to be later – he was complaining that I had shown him a lack of respect, as he had said “hello”, and I had ignored him completely, (bullshit). He began pushing again – my face was so red with rage, I thought I was going to explode. Thankfully my friend apologised despite no wrongdoing, and pushed me into a back street…he followed for a while, still ranting, and raving…but after a while my aggressor gave up, and returned to his pensioner friends. Probably to tell them how people have no respect for their elders these days, oh the bitter irony. 

Crazy Cat Lady GIF

This is so commonplace  – it’s a cultural flaw, really. It’s so bad, that it is now a huge stereotype – and consequently rude Korean grannies become the butt of jokes (when they’re not around of course!) I know you can’t lump everyone in the same category, and that is never my intention – it’s just something I couldn’t help but recognise; that got me thinking about respect, and whether it should be expected...or earned.

So what do you think? Have I got it all wrong? 

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5 Things That Define Me.

I got an email out of the blue recently, with a rather intriguing question – the person wanted to remain anonymous (which is fair enough!), but said they were more than happy with me answering publicly on a blog post! 

The question was a lot longer, but in essence boiled down to – “what are five things that you feel defines you as a person?” Now, I’ll admit it took me a while…but after some soul-searching, and head scratching, I think I have a roughly formed answer…so, here goes…

1. Sense of Humour:

Funny GIF

This may be an obvious one to most, but I feel that my sense of humour best defines who I am…it’s in lots of ways my coping mechanism in awkward situations (that old stereotype), but in others I feel it serves to simply make my outlook brighter – as by making others laugh, as well as myself – it boosts my overall state of mind…and makes me feel healthier, and happier in the process. Naturally this site has taken that to the next level, and has worked wonders.

Wasn’t going to say this – but whatever – as someone who has secretly felt deeply depressed, and on  the brink of bi-polar disorder the past couple of years…my sense of humour has provided that light at the end of the tunnel.

Think of all of my stories, without any of the humour…they would just be inane ramblings about how fucked up, and horrible the world is, right? They would be just post after post, of how miserable I find my existence.Well, that was me, I’m embarrassed to say…so I guess I am starting things by saying thank you. 

Anyway, back to the jokes, here’s the next one:

2. Fashion Sense:

Style GIF

I’m not saying I am a diva, or anything of the sort! I don’t even follow trends for the most part, I just know what I like, and I like what I wear! It wasn’t always that way…Linkin Park hoody here…shaven head there…but after a few years of copying styles, and trying to fit in…I am finally at a point where I just don’t give a shit about all that.

Still wish I had more money so I could splash out a lot more, but for now I just have to Gok Wan it, by switching around stuff to make “fabulous” outfits. And yeah…I do like shopping…if that’s weird, then so be it, man!

3. Love of Food:

SpongeBob Food GIF

Listen – I tried the whole healthy eating thing, I kinda still go to the gym (ish), but I just can’t deny the bond I have with food. I’ve tried, and I’ve failed. What can I say? I can’t live without it! 

It must be love…as my old Grandmother used to say every time she was feeding me, “It’s like stuffing a bloody couch with you!”  But then again, if I ever declined food she said I was, “turning into one of those anorexics!” 

So hmm…couldn’t ever win. Whatever the reason, food is my soul-mate…my BFF.

4. Hip-Hop:

Hip Hop Hmmm GIF

Yeah, I get that look a lot. But music is a big part of my life, and although I love a whole host of stuff from other genres (your favorite artists included, perhaps!) Nothing has touched my soul like hip-hop has…and no, not so much the, bling-bling, yo-yo-yo, etc, etc, type (that’s my parent’s perception of it largely!) But instead I am talking about the early Outkast stuff, Talib Kweli, The Roots…Big KRIT…and so many more, clever wordsmiths, who touch on so many issues, and subjects the world can resonate with…if they just listen...all with a sense of humour and wit, without making the song “jokey”, or cheesey…they speak of a desire for something greater, about the work-ethic required to get there – and how true happiness has to be the goal to feel accomplished. There isn’t anything else like it, for me.

Oh, and yeah I did once think I would be a rapper (in my head only), but I then had a re-think, once I considered the fact you’d have to go up on stage…and in front of people…and…all that…MC RedCheekz…DJ Purrz-Piration…

Don’t really have a ring to it…oh well. 

5. My Mind:

Mind Funny GIF

So much of the human condition in itself is lived through our minds…that in itself, is fascinating to me. I just love the thought of everyone having this rare, and intricately unique tale to tell…and everyone having their own personal view-finder for the life they live. I live in my head, as I am sure lots of people do – thinking through just about everything, and every variation of every subject that pops up in there…my head is basically like a computer with a virus…except I am not sending in Norton any time soon…I am just doing my best to make sense of the pop-ups. 

The novel I am writing at the moment, explores this to the extreme…through the view of a deeply disturbed character. His actions, and his life itself blurs into each other – which has me intrigued…as when I consider this…so does my own. 

~

What about you then? Which 5 things define you? Have a little think – and let me know! Thanks again for the question…really made me think!

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Manliness

What makes a man, a man? Is there a solid definition…should there be? I don’t know really! After all, I rarely refer to myself as a man…in fact I don’t think of myself as one. That, err…yeah, that came out wrong! I don’t mean that I don’t think of myself as male, and instead prance around in ladies’ underwear every evening, whilst applying red lipstick…well never say never…ahem, but NO! I just mean that I am not too comfortable with referring to myself in that way. I think of a man as a finished article, and in no way am I there yet…a man is a grown upa man has confidence in himself, and his mustache. A man is fearless, and can drink whiskey without being sick in a nearby gutter. A man…

Sponge Man GIF

Well the truth is the modern man isn’t shackled with the same stereotypical constraints that he was a few years ago, so the definition of man is a lot more obtuse these days, thankfully. Not to say I haven’t always longed to slap someone with a glove, thus challenging them to a duel…but yeah, those days are long gone. 

You’re probably wondering what made me begin this slightly waffling, and vaguely ranty type of writing. Well one of my brothers recently told me a story – he was walking down a corridor in one of his university’s buildings, and as he was going through  – two ladies approached, and he held the door open for them rather than bursting through, or shoving past them. Pretty normal. I would like to think we have been brought up well, my Father used to always say “manners make the man” when teaching us little lessons, and when my sisters would inevitably complain, he would chuckle, and chime “manners make the wo-man, too!” 

What one of the two ladies did next, was somewhat bizarre. She refused to go through the door – instead, she left my brother standing there like a buffoon holding the door open for no one. Apparently she then screamed, “you know I can actually open a door myself, I don’t need YOU to do it for me!” and remained standing, holding back her friend at the same time.

Faint Door GIF

Naturally my brother was shocked, stunned in fact…I mean, his whole world had just came crashing down – after all he was sure, up until that moment, that no woman could open a door themselves, because how can any woman manage to work out the intricate push/pull mechanism of those tricky things…instead all they can do is wait, like damsels in distress, hoping, wishing, praying for a knight in shining armor to come on through, and release them to freedom.*

OBVIOUSLY, I jest (felt I needed to state that so people don’t get it twisted)*

But people are strange. My brothers and I were not taught one-sided chivalry rules; “open the door for ladies, but anyone else – fuck ’em! They have arms after all!” We were just taught common rules of decency, like I don’t know…“it’s nice to be nice!” It sounds oversimplified to state that the world would be a better place if people lived by that little motto, but it really would. Small things like giving your seat up on the bus for the elderly, dropping change in a homeless person’s cup…whatever…they should be encouraged, and it honestly upsets me to see that it is A LOT less common these days.

I don’t know…have I got it wrong? I hope so.