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The Who at The Hydro

The Who at The Hydro

Earlier this year, when the tickets originally went on sale for the Who, kicking off their 50th anniversary tour at The Hydro, I scoffed at the price and made my peace with the fact I’d probably never get to see them live. Fast forward to three weeks before the gig and, by virtue of a workmate who had tickets but now couldn’t make it, I jumped at the chance and paid him the substantial face value to secure the pair of them for me and my mate Adrian.

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In the champions league

TKD-champions-league-wishaw-sparring

In the two years or so since I first took up Taekwon-do, most of the students at roughly the same grade as me had taken part in several competitions but, for various reasons, I just never put myself forward. I did like the idea of competing, though, so back in June I opted to skip a grading in order to hone my technique so that I could compete at blue tag level at the Taekwon-do Champions League event in September.

However, when September rolled around the event was held for juniors only and I didn’t want to hold off on grading any longer. Reluctantly I did my blue belt grading and figured that once people got to that standard they’d know what they were doing in competitions and I’d only get schooled now I’d left it so late.

Still, my friends in the class kept telling me I should at least give it a go because, as the belts progress, there’s only a very narrow window before you get to black belt and at that point the standard really does ramp up. I was keen to give it a go before the chance was gone. Read the rest of this entry →

The long awaited summer

The view from Ben Bouie on the afternoon of September 21st 2014

Since moving back to the west of Scotland six and a half years ago, we’ve not had the best of luck with the weather during the summer months. 2009 was a complete washout across the whole country and it was an especially miserable one for me. The years that followed didn’t deliver much of an improvement and I was really starting to rue the decision to move back here.

Things took a turn for the better in 2013, though, with July being simply fantastic with week after week of beautiful blue skies. I hoped for more of the same this year and boy did we get that and more. Even over the easter weekend in April the weather was fantastic, but really, from when we came back from the family holiday in Orlando at the end of june the weather this summer was just incredible, with the exception of a very wet end to July.

I’ve noted before that good weather is a great enabler for me. It gets me out and active and that in turn just helps me stay energized and positive.

2014-07-10 19.22.24The list of things I enjoyed doing during summer 2014 is practically endless. From riding my cruiser skateboard into work almost every day, to re-joining the tennis club and making the most of it. We went out on Loch Lomond aboard Crazy Uncle John’s boat. We played baseball on the grass field by the house in the evenings. We did the Swing Park Challenge again. We spent sunny weekend afternoons in Helensburgh on our skateboards and scooters, just soaking up the vibrant mood brought on by the glorious sunshine.

For as long as it lasted, I knew that in late September we’d all too soon be wrapping up for the wind and rain. So, on what I thought would be the very last weekend of good weather for the year, I set off and climbed Ben Bouie to take some pictures of the town basking in sunshine.

But it turned out I was wrong and the good weather rolled on for a few weeks after that. There were even days in October that were t-shirt temperature in Glasgow and I was able to ride the cruiser down the hill to the station a few more times than I could have reasonably hoped for.

The view from Ben Bouie, September 21st 2014Anyway, going back to that day I climbed Ben Bouie – it was my way of doffing my cap to what had been one of the most enjoyable seasons I can remember. As the clocks went back to mark the end of British Summer time I had to concede that regardless of how brutal the winter is, that summer was one I’ll not soon forget.

Unless 2015 can better it, of course. Fingers crossed!

One year ago in Indiana

Each of my trips to Indianapolis has been distinct in different ways. The first time I went out, to see the 100th Anniversary Indy 500 in 2011, it was all about soaking up as much of the speedway, its history and traditions as was possible in the time that I was there. Everything I experienced was new and, as such, I spent practically every minute of each day with Patrick guiding me through my rookie ‘500 weekend. I treated that week as if it was something I’d never get to do again, I was fixated on the details and I lived every moment as if I’d never again step off a plane in Indianapolis.

So, when I returned in 2012, I was more relaxed and spent a bit more socializing with Patrick’s family & friends and slightly less time picking over the cars and the race track. It was a great week that culminated in Dario Franchitti winning the race and me staying an extra day in Indianapolis due to a flight delay. As I sat on the porch of the hotel near the airport on that last night, drinking ale and talking to strangers, I made up my mind that I wasn’t going to write about my 2012 Indy escapade in detail after the event because I felt it had been all about living in the moment and enjoying it.

Hooked entirely on the experience, I headed back to Indianapolis in 2013 and again wanted to spend the greater balance of my time catching up with the family and friends. Of course, the track and the race are still the focal points and that’s as it should be if I’m going to fly 4000 miles to be there. But the thing is, the track and the race aren’t going anywhere and I could come back another 50 times and there’ll be a race on Memorial Day Weekend the way there has been for the last 100 years.

However, I might not always get the chance to spend quality time with the people who’ve given me such a warm welcome over the last couple of years that Indianapolis really does feel like a home from home for me now. It’s from the desire to capture those moments in a jar so I can look back at them in years to come that this late account has been put together.

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