Saturday 28 January 2017

Poem about my fridge

In my previous post, and in posts before that, I mentioned that I've started writing poetry. They are not exactly the most heartfelt pieces of work, however it's enjoyable enough. So, on that note, here is another (quite short) poem about my fridge:

Grade A Fridge

My fridge recently passed all his exams,
Some of which involved chilling hams
He only just got his final result,
It's an A, without a fault.

I was so proud, a pat on his back,
Efficiency is a tough nut to crack.
You see, I only got a D,
As to procrastinate is for me!

And here's a haiku about a kid who was kicking the back of my seat on a recent train journey:

Kid Kicking My Seat

Good God, please stop now
I will tie you to that chair,
No more I can bare.

Sunday 27 November 2016

Train related poems

Recently I've gotten into writing poetry. It was inspired by a trip to a poetry evening at the Big Comfy Bookshop, which is in a recent post (here). Whether this hobby lasts or not is yet to be seen, but in the meantime I've written some stuff about what I think are humorous events in my life. So, the following two poems are about one day just before Easter in 2015, when I was returning home for, well, Easter. I'd had to get 3 different trains, starting at Manchester Piccadilly. On that day, fate had decided I would have all my allocated yearly train related issues. So the first poem is about the first train I had to get and how I managed to lengthen my journey duration just a tad.

That Time I Stopped A Train

I'd arrived at the platform, where was my train?
So to the departure board my head did strain,
12:05 Manchester to Leeds,
Delayed in Liverpool - not what one needs!

It wasn't long until I was on board,
I was rushed in, as part of the hoard.
Clutching my bag, I soon found a wall,
Somewhere to lean and try not to fall.

Fields and trees quickly flashed by,
But the train couldn't make time, though it did try.
Yet, what happened next didn't help much either,
As the train decided to take a quick breather.

Middle of the Pennines, we ground to a halt,
Was he talking to everyone, with his voice so shrill?
Not everyone, as I turned and saw the speaker grill.

It was talking to me - and I suddenly saw why
An emergency stop, leant on by I!
No glass to break, nothing to smash,
Just a lever to push, quick as a flash.

To make it worse, I saw the blue sign:
Penalty for improper use - a £200 fine!
What could I do - where could I go?
I had to be fast, time was running low.

Jump off the train? That's a big no.
Run to another carriage? Again - no.
So I stood, I waited and I stressed,
Then the driver arrived and I confessed.

"I'm an idiot" I said - "I made a mistake"
"How do I pay? What do you take?"
Then he said, in a way most sublime;
"Don't worry mate, it happens all the time"

I was amazed, relieved and astounded,
At how ridiculous that had sounded
And I was offered a seat, which I gladly took,
Out of the way, I stuck my head in my book.

We eventually rolled in,
I sat and waited for the crowds to thin,
Then I stepped off that train and thought about my trip,
About that lever that was so easy to flip.

So that above was the story of how I stopped a train. Luckily I didn't miss my connection, which from what I remember was a fairly pleasant journey - up until the end. So read on and find out about a time my new train-stopping abilities would have come in handy.

That Time I Missed My Train

Here comes Peterborough, oh here we go,
We're pulling in now, a tad too slow,
I've got a train to catch, so speed would be fab,
My final connection, just one train to grab.

We've pulled in late, I know it's true,
As my six minute gap has dropped to two,
I'm at the door, the light turns green,
I'm out in a flash, such speed you've never seen!

It's platform one and I'm at four,
It's time to sprint, let the pedal hit the floor,
Down the platform, up the stairs,
Back down, platform four and the whistle blares.

A high pitched shriek, it's time to panic,
No no no - what is this trick?!
I run to the beast and without a care,
I scream at it "DON'T YOU DARE!"

It doesn't hear, or pretends not to listen,
As it pulls away, I'm on a mission,
I smack at the doors, hoping they'll work,
No such luck, this train is a jerk.

Only one thing left with sweat on my brow,
What was I expecting? I'd forgotten all tact.

And so it left, without me of course,
I must have spooked it, much like a horse,
The station silence then pierced by laughter,
Fair enough, I couldn't have looked dafter.

Saturday 12 November 2016

Big Comfy Bookshop and My Attempt At Poetry

Hello once again -  this blog is raising its heavy head, wiping the sleep away from its eyes and reaching for the nearest cup of coffee. The reason I say this is because (as you may be aware), the posts on this blog became few and far between, with items appearing sporadically when I had the inclination. Unfortunately inclination is easily triumphed by procrastination, resulting in a poorly updated blog. However, I aim to rectify this in the coming months, so stay tuned.

About a month and a half ago, I moved to Coventry (moved, not sent) as I have begun a new position as a PhD student at a nearby university. In this time, I have been exploring the city, getting to know my new surroundings and increasing my intake of caffeine. As a result of my explorations, I have been to a few events here and there, one of which I plan to make a staple of my monthly calendar. What is this event, I hear you ask? Fire and Dust Poetry Night, at The Big Comfy Bookshop (BCB).


Yes, poetry. This night is a monthly event, taking place at the BCB, a beautifully quaint second-hand bookshop in the heart of Fargo village in Coventry. I will admit, the name is somewhat misleading, as it isn't particularly big, but it certainly is comfortable. The event runs as follows - if you want to read some poetry, you can. If you don't have anything to read, but you'd like to hear some - you can. I went in not really knowing what to expect - my last experience of poetry was the GCSE anthology and forced rhyming schemes. Thankfully, this was not the case, as people had written about a whole variety of topics - from leaving old jobs to how their dog was the best dog in the world. It was a brilliant, relaxed evening with no judgement or scathing cut-downs, only applause and laughter (where appropriate). It made me realise that you could write about anything and more importantly, anybody could do it - even me! So, I went away feeling invigorated and ready to write some poetry.

My attempts

I quickly realised that this poetry lark was going to be quite difficult if I didn't know what to write about. Some people had written about heartbreak, some had gone for abstract themes and bizarre scenarios. Neither of those (or many of the scenarios in between) were for me, so I settled on a topic I knew all about. Things that I've done/ happened to me, with a possible focus on my idiocy. A goldmine of ideas! I'd have poems for years.

My return to the bookshop
BCB Logo. Credit: Big Comfy

Soon enough, a month had passed and I found myself returning to the poetry night at the BCB. I recognised several faces from the month before, along with some faces from other events I'd been to. The night was organised the same way, the main difference for me was that I was now a participant. So, speakers went up and read their works (one of my favourite was the heartbreak over falling in love with a Tory). Then it was my turn. I went up to the microphone, introduced myself and explained that my poems were mainly about stupid things I'd done. After one about my first day of work (which involved an accident report - I'll put it in a future blog post), which was pretty well received, I read out the following poem. It's about having a cold and as I explained on the night - I had a cold but I wanted to get something positive out of it! It's called "Cold Gremlin" and I forgot about syllables and a constant rhyming structure when writing it.

Cold Gremlin
Today is a Sunday,
And I have a cold,
My nose has packed in,
As earlier coughs had foretold.

How do I get rid of this gremlin of mine?
Perhaps a fire hose,
Put up in my nose,
It could work - who really knows?

So Fireman Sam turns on the tap,
As cold water surges up to my cap,
Floating my brain and turning me blue,
I'm awake now, that much is true!

And without warning,
There's an almighty pop!
Lo and behold, a gremlin did drop!

A creature so green,
With skin most foul,
He looked up at me,
And gave me a howl.

So I gave him a kick,
I had to act quick,
As now the sight of him,
Was making me sick.

It got a few laughs and went down better than I had expected - I quickly realised my nerves had been for nothing and that this was something I could do. I could write poetry about things in my life - a new hobby emerged! The rest of the night at the BCB was excellent as usual, and after chatting with the fellow speakers at the end of the event, I'd made a vow to start up my blog again - so here we are! So stay tuned for hopefully more coherent posts, poems and reviews of places and events I'd been to (mostly with a Coventry focus).

Saturday 8 October 2016

Why you should visit Montmartre

For many who visit Paris, Montmartre means two things – a quick picture outside the Moulin Rouge and a hike up to Sacre Coeur to soak in the view. Once these two tasks are complete, they’re usually followed by jumping back on the metro and zooming off to elsewhere in the city. I recently visited Pairs and I don't know if I would have done much more if my hostel (Village hostel) wasn't based in the area. However, this region of Paris offers much, much more, if you know where to look. So read on and let me convince you that Montmartre is worth more than a flying visit.

For those who enjoy fancy idling away a few hours by strolling around, there is probably no region more rewarding than Montmarte. Between the basilica and the Moulin Rouge lies a region just perfect for an afternoon walk. Walk up and down the hill and you can easily lose yourself in the narrow cobbled streets and you’ll see why this area was such a draw for artists and poets alike. Keep an eye out and you’ll easily spot a moulin or two (other than the Moulin Rouge!) If you’re really paying attention you might stumble across the Clos Montmartre vineyard – a fully working vineyard in the capital! If you ever get lost on your walk, just head uphill and you’ll find yourself at the Basilica du Sacre-Coeur, one of the most impressive monuments in Paris. If it’s a nice evening, make sure to get up there around sunset, find a seat and enjoy the atmosphere as you watch night descend upon Paris - something I discovered on my visit there.

For those who enjoy a museum, the Montmartre region caters for you as well. The region boasts the Museum of Montmartre, which is based in the oldest building in the area. The building has previously served as residence to artists such as Renoir and Valadon, the works of whom comprise part of the permanent museum collection. The museum also plays host to the Renoir Gardens, which offer a perfect spot to rest. If you hadn’t found the Clos Montmartre already, these gardens offer views of it along with the rest of Paris. While at the museum, keep an eye out for the cancan room!

That leads us to Boulevard de Clichy, home of the Moulin Rouge and what many call the ‘street of sex’. Cancan, peep shows and sex shops are the order of the day (and night) along this street. Even if it’s not your cup of tea, it’s definitely worth a walk along to take in the surroundings. At sunset, as the neon lights switch on, it becomes all the more impressive. While here you can find the Elysee Montmartre theatre, which some say is the oldest (or at least one of the oldest) cancan theatres in Paris.

So, the next time you’re in Paris you know why you should head over to Montmartre. There are some pretty great hostels from the HipHop group in the region - so you can easily base yourself in Montmartre and have a great time. Either way, it doesn’t matter how long you’re in the city for, this region is worth it and has a little something for everyone.

The 16-25 Paris Pass

When travelling around in Britain, it’s easy to take our museums for granted – free entry all around! Consequently, when travelling around Europe and a museum is spotted, incredibly often it is followed up by a slightly emptied wallet and a sense of annoyance. So imagine my surprise when in Paris, one of the most expensive cities around, I discovered a deal which can save you a nice sum when visiting museums and attractions. The name of this deal? The 16-25 EU Citizen deal. Not a very catchy name, I know.

Names aside, this deal deserves more attention that it currently receives. Being less than two and a half hours from London, Paris is obviously a destination that is top of the list for many Brits. So I thought I’d shout about this deal a bit. Quite simply, if you’re aged 16-25 and you’re an EU citizen, then you get free entry to a whole cavalcade of destinations – and not low rate ones either! For example, you can get to the top of the Arc de Triomphe for free, where you can get views such as these:

Or you could go and try to understand some modern art at the Centre Pompidou, or perhaps you could just take in the bizarre architecture of the building. Well, a modern building for modern art I guess.

I discovered the deal on a recent short trip to the French capital, when I decided to visit the Musee D’Orsay and see a few of the works of Vincent Van Gogh. I'd been staying at the Village Hostel, up in Montmartre (website here) and after a good night with other guests in the hostel, I was ready to tackle one of Paris' finest museums.So there I was, stood and ready to part with my cash - only to be asked if I was English and under 25. I quietly answered yes, expecting a price increase on the spot – only to be told to go straight through with no charge! This deal saved me about €10 there and then, which was much appreciated. I later found out this deal applies to a whole heap of attractions across the city, including the Musée du Louvre and the Panthéon, making it perfect for culture vultures.

It’s certainly worth knowing about if you’re heading to Paris soon and you’re trying to stick to a tight budget. But then, even if you hadn’t planned on visiting Paris, this might convince you otherwise! So, if you’re coming up to 25, or your country (for some reason) doesn’t want to be part of the EU anymore, get your skates on and get to France! You can see some pretty impressive sights and avoid the cost just by showing your driving license/passport. At the end of the day, it’s really a no-brainer.