Friday, 12 April 2019

To Talk, Or To Write? A Bloggers Return!

You've got to be in the mood to record a podcast, that's one thing I've noticed over the last couple of years doing both the SmarkCast wrestling podcast and my own BullJet Speaks blogcasts. If you're not quite 100% in the moment, it won't sound natural and can come across forced, and that's something I wouldn't want to do.

So no blogcast this time, but I want to get some stuff out there and thought that the best way would be to write it down in a blog. Its been a while, as most of the stuff I write is either for the concord programme or work, but who knows, maybe this will get me back into doing this more often again?
Whisky Live was just under 2 weeks ago, the first of 3 whisky events of the year for me, and as usual I was able to try some fantastic new whiskies whilst catching up with the “whisky friends” that I’ve come to know over the years. As one of those friends said at the time, it’s the people that really make these shows what they are, I love whisky don’t get me wrong, but I enjoy these events more thanks to the familiar faces I see there.

But admittedly, this year Whisky Live wasn’t as good as previous years. In the past I’ve noted that the venue, the Honourable Artillery Company near Old Street, is fairly small, but this year the amount of vendors/exhibitors seemed a lot less than usual and it felt as though there were a lot less actual visitors too. Hopefully this isn’t a trend with the event, but with ticket prices increasing each year I am slightly concerned. At least I still have the Whisky Lounge event in May and the Whisky Exchange event in September to attend!

Last weekend me and the better half had our first road trip, originally arranged around the Concord Rangers trip to Truro City in the National League South. We made a full weekend of it, going to Longleat Safari Park on the Friday before spending the night at Jamaica Inn (known from the Daphne du Maurier novel), and after football on the Saturday, the Sunday we broke our drive home up by stopping at Durdle Door and Portsmouth harbour.

There was a lot of driving involved, but it was well worth it. We both had a blast on the road trip, relived some memories from our childhoods and made loads of new memories of our own, including one near death experience for a lion that you’ll have to hear about in person....

I said memories from our childhoods, well when I was young our parents would take me and my brothers camping down Weymouth way, and I remember seeing Durdle Door and the rest of the Jurassic Coast from back then. As for Danielle, she’d been to the Jamaica Inn as a kid with her mum and dad, so we both had a chance to relive some old, pleasant memories.

The football game on Saturday was the only wrinkle in the weekend, through no fault of our own. The game was abandoned after 77 minutes due to an injury to a Truro player, after an ambulance took nearly 3 hours to arrive, and security couldn’t work past 18:00 which would have allowed the game to continue. Much has been said by fans of both sides online and in person on the day, but the main result is that our lads have to travel back to Truro this Tuesday to replay the game from the start, despite being 1-0 up when the last one was abandoned. For any of our lads that make the trip again, it’s going to be an interesting and undoubtedly eventful night.

That’s a quick catch-up anyway, there’s plenty of stuff to come for us both over the next few months, and even this weekend, but while I can talk for 15 minutes on a blogcast, you don’t want to be reading this for that long! Thanks for checking this out, if you made it this far!

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

New Year, New Blog

It's been a very long time since I've written anything on this blog, but while I had a few minutes I thought I'd just put a note or two down. I'll get back to this with some regularity soon I'm sure.

This time last year I was preparing for my trip to Tokyo, packing and getting ready to fly halfway round the world to another culture essentially just to watch a wrestling show. I was optimistic about the new year and what 2018 might hold, but I don't think I could have even imagined what the year ended up being. That Japan trip made a massive impact on me, I've made no secret of that, there's life before Tokyo, and life after Tokyo, and it helped shape 2018 for me.

The early solo trips to Turin/Milan and Athens continued my leisurely trek around the cities of Europe, and of course the joys of the summer watching the England football team do so well inthe World Cup, uniting the country behind the national side for the first time in years was fantastic.

But the best thing for me in 2018 has been the person I've had by my side throughout pretty much all of it. Over 10 years ago me and Danielle starting working together at c2c, and after a longtime of friendship, and a bit of a false start a few years back, the timing was right for us and we've been going strong since January 13th.

Travelling to Spain together for our first holiday, sharing the city I love (New York, obviously) and the family I have out there with Dan, getting round to introducing each other to all the friends and family (and we've still got a few to get to I know), the surprises and gifts we've shared with each other, it's been incredible. I've loved every moment and am looking forward to everything that our future holds, starting with Dublin in January, Geneva in February, and Las Vegas in September. I love this woman, and am happier than I ever thought I could be. Here's to 2019, and all that is ahead of us

Saturday, 21 April 2018

10 Albums?

So I recently got tagged in this Top 10 Albums thing that has been going around on Facebook, and as I don't always have the energy or the memory to keep something like this going for 10 days straight, I thought I would save time and put ten memorable and special albums into one short blog...
First up, it's the self titled album by Tenacious D. The first gig me and my brothers went to as a trio was these guys, the album is hilarious and musical, and if you can't register a smile after listening to Tribute, Wonderboy and Fuck Her Gently, then there's something wrong with you!
Next, who doesn't love a bit of Europop eh? Ace of Base are one of my guilty pleasures I guess, but I loved this album, and still do. The group may have changed on their latest release (which admittedly was nearly a decade ago), but I have all 5 of their albums, and this still holds firm as my favourite of the bunch
Originally just the DJ for Kid Rock, Uncle Kracker finally branched out on his own with Double Wide, and what an album this was. The stand out track is Follow Me, and remains a favourite of mine to this day. Kracker moved towards country music in his later albums, and really shone, but it was Double Wide that really won him the fans.

Wrestlemania: The Album, not a collection of wrestler entrance themes, this was a collection of cheesy, character focused songs that the wrestlers sung, or at least added their voices to. The lead track, Wrestlemania, along with Slam Jam are cult classics amongst the older generation of wrestling fans, and as bad as some of the tracks are, I still love this album.
I love this album, it's what made me fall in love with this band and made them one of my favourites, and sadly one I've yet to see live. Tracks like Youth of the Nation, Alive, and Boom really stuck with me, and I would say they have a big part to play in some of the music I still listen to now. Nu Metal was how this was defined, to me though it was just awesome
Jeff Wayne put together this truly incredible interpretation of War of the Worlds back in the late 70s, I heard it growing up thanks to my parents, and it is an album I play on a regular basis. To me it's the best version you can find of the War of the Worlds story, and an album I am proud to have in my collection.
In 2001, I was snowboarding in Bulgaria and caught a track on the hotel tv which quickly became a favourite. That was Oh No, by Nate Dogg, Mos Def and Pharoahe Monche. Now upon my return home, tracking down the song proved to be a pain in the backside, but I finally found it on this album, and given that I kept listening to that track, the album soon became a favourite. Makin It Blend by Q-Tip, and Legendary Street Team by M.O.P and Kool G Rap are still standouts
Queen were a truly legendary band, but growing up I was too young to really appreciate and get to experience the greatness, and when I was old enough, Freddie had passed away. I grew up listening to Queen thanks to my dads love of the band, and this collection of their three greatest hits albums is for me the best way to show my appreciation and love of the music in this challenge as such.
Maligned for naming every track on the album with a single word, including the album title being just one word, the Believe album by Disturbed may not have been the best around, but it's one that sticks in my memory and is my favourite of theirs without question. Metal from start to finish, to me, quite simply, it rocked...
My tenth album is essentially a parody of a concept album, one that was released long before I was even thought of, let alone born. Jethro Tull put together an album which was one track from start to finish, that being Thick As A Brick. It's one piece of music spread over two sides of the LP, and whilst not to everyones tastes, it holds a special place in my heart, even more so after seeing Ian Anderson perform it live a few years back.
So that's my 10, I know I'm supposed to tag 10 friends in this, going by the friend a day rule for those that do this on a daily basis. But if you've read this, and taken the time to get to the bottom of this blog, consider yourself nominated!

Sunday, 14 January 2018

A Trip To Tokyo

Tokyo, a city on the other side of the world, in a country with a culture and language incredibly different to that of ours here at home, and at the start of this year I had the pleasure to spend 5 days there.

The travel was a bit of a mission, as to avoid paying through the nose I chose a 2 hour stop in Moscow rather than a direct flight. Leaving Heathrow at 10:40 on January 2nd and finally hitting Tokyo at 11:30 on the 3rd, my body clock was gonna struggle! It's actually taken until now, a week later, to be back to normal (having come home to work a set of 4 nights).

That first day I did some walking around, getting the lay of the land so to speak and figuring out where I was in comparison to the Tokyo Dome for the next night (the pictures are all on FB). Joel and Mali arrived later that night and we all went for dinner, where I continued my tradition of eating local. Although eating tonkotsu ramen as a chopstick rookie was interesting.....

January 4th was the main reason I was in Tokyo, New Japan Pro Wrestling's Wrestle Kingdom 12 show at the Tokyo Dome, 6 hours of wrestling including a truly epic encounter between Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho (yes, he of WWE fame). I've discussed how awesome that experience was on our wrestling podcast “The Smarkcast”, found on soundcloud and itunes by the way, so I won't dwell on it here. Prior to the show, myself, Joel and Mali met up with Stuart and grabbed some yakitori, which I think the easiest way to explain it is mini meat kebabs. I tried pork tongue and pork heart, but drew the line at colon and rectal!

Then came the sightseeing, taking in the Tokyo Tower and a couple of the temples dotted around the city on the Friday, along with seeing the Shibuya Scramble up close and personal. It wasn't the warmest weather, but we had a decent day and I thoroughly enjoyed the Sushi we had for dinner that evening. The story of the day though was the earthquake warning that came through on all the the mobile phones around us. That particular warning was a false alarm, but there was no warning for the quake that woke me up at 1am that night. Surreal and unnerving is probably the best way to describe it, waking up to the whole room shaking sent my heart racing, and it took me an hour to calm down and get back to sleep!

It was more sightseeing on my final day there, seeing an area of Tokyo that was full of arcades, with classic retro games and plenty of new modern ones. Took me back a few years as I played crazy taxi for the first time in ages too! There were a few games that were a bit odd and different, and I was surprised to see a couple of fairly detailed train simulator games, with pretty accurate train cab layouts! After seeing more of the city it was dinner time, Yakiniku was the order of the day. It's essentially japanese BBQ, we were cooking our own meats over the grill in the middle of the table, some of which were absolutely outstanding.

Then came the long journey home, with another 2 hour stop off in Moscow, the first flight leaving Tokyo around 13:10 on the 7th, and landing back home at 21:30 that same day. The city of Tokyo was beautiful, different to any I'd been to before but just as impressive and memorable. There's plenty I didn't get to see out there, but I don't think I'll be heading back in a hurry. For me, Tokyo was a bucket list item, it's ticked off and I can say I've been, same as Wrestle Kingdom. But whilst I'll not be rushing back, that doesn't take anything away from what a great city it is, and if you ever get the chance to take that near 12 hour flight to Tokyo, I'd definitely recommend taking it and soaking up that unique and special culture full of friendly, helpful, welcoming people.

Also, I generally don't go on holiday with people, my trips are just that, my trips. Italy late last year was the exception to the rule, but meeting people I knew on this trip, having that buffer between my nerves and emotion and the local culture/people/food, really added something to whole experience. I've said it elsewhere, but I'll end this blog by saying it again. This trip wouldn't have been what it was if it wasn't for the people I shared it with, so thanks to Joel and his wife Mali, to Stuart and Saki, it was an amazing experience.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

2017: An Appreciation

We're fast approaching the end of 2017, when we see the endless run of people saying new year new me or people moaning about those saying new year new me! Either way, the new year is essentially just another number, life goes on as it has done for years before, it's just another set of dates to tick off of your calendar.

Of course, with the end of the year being nigh, it's easy to look back over the year that has passed by and reflect on what's happened, what you've experienced, and what you've learned. Whilst this year has been one of ups and downs, mainly it has been ups thankfully.

Before I rejoice in the highs though, I want to spare a thought for those that we've lost over the last 12 months. Whether it's loved ones, acquaintances or even those we idolise in the media, it's not easy handling loss. For me, my Aunt June passed away early in the year and I was a coffin bearer at her funeral. She was loved by many, is missed by many more, and the world is a worse place for her not being in it. Also, I would like to take this moment to send my love and wishes to the Compton family, who I still have a good relationship with after all these years! Joyce was a lovely woman, she was kind, funny, and treated me like one of her own, I always loved seeing her over the years that I was around your family, and whilst it's been a couple of months, my heart goes out to you all.

So 2017, a year where my penchant for travelling around the world (well mainly Europe) continued without hesitation. I left the country on 6 occasions, 7 if you include Doncaster which is like a different country at times, and gained a new experience/memory from each one. Berlin kicked off the year in February, with the history surrounding the wall and the wars that was very impactful. Barcelona a couple of months later was special too, although having the Freddie Mercury song playing in my head all trip showed how my mind works.

A week doing bugger all in Bulgaria was something new, lazing by the pool all day every day, and that will be something I plan on doing again in 2018 for sure. Taking inspiration from google maps I went to Vienna, which was incredibly picturesque, whilst Italy was its usual beautiful self in both Rome and Venice, the latter being one I will definitely return to! Then there was New York, and we all know how much I love that trip each year, even more so that I saw a Jets win!

Away from the trips I've been a busy bee here at home too. I visited Alexandra Palace twice, for snooker back in January and darts earlier this month, watched live test cricket at the Oval (albeit with a rain interruption or two), and went to the O2 for two boxing related events, those being Haye vs Bellew, and a meet & greet with the champ Anthony Joshua.

Theatre has played a part in my 2017 too, catching Wicked for the first time, which was awesome, and seeing Bat Out Of Hell the musical twice, something I am looking to see again now that it's coming back to the west end later in 2018. Add to that the Metallica & Impractical Jokers gigs, the usual whisky and beer festivals, and the countless Rev Pro UK wrestling shows, it's been a busy one.

Oh and not to forget the two Fullmetal Alchemist-inspired tattoos on my left forearm, the Star Wars Identities exhibit at The O2, and the Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum.......

2017 also saw me sign my life away and join the Cineworld Unlimited club, mainly because the Empire cinema at Bas Vegas was changed to a Cineworld! I talk about my comic book movie fascination enough, and it's no surprise those films were some of my favourites over the year, I mean Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 and Thor Ragnarok were pretty fucking awesome. But it wasn't just those, Baby Driver was something truly unique, Power Rangers took me back to my childhood, both Transformers and Fast & Furious were delightfully OTT, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, well that was special.

2017 was a year to remember, and given the start I have planned for 2018, that will be too. It's good to look back at the year that's just past, learn from mistakes, embrace the experiences and good times, and take that into the new year to ensure it's bigger and better than the last one.

I just want to round this blog up with a thank you, thank you to every single person that has been a part of my 2017. Whether the experience was positive or negative, whether it was a fleeting visit or you're someone that is with me for life, it's been one hell of a year and it wouldn't have been what it was if it wasn't for the people in it.

From my Jets crew in the US, the clan in Donny, the Concord/football family, my friends, every person I talk to on the various social media formats, to my siblings and incredible little niece, every single person has made my 2017 what it was, something I'll never forget. Thank you all.

Friday, 1 December 2017

A Month On

Its funny really how much can change in a short space of time. Think back to just over a month ago and the last blog I wrote, there was plenty of optimism and positivity when it came to life, love and work. Fast forward to the start of December and there's a few changes in mindset and direction that mean that things aren't as they once were. Things can change quite quickly when you think about it.

Don't get me wrong, my optimism and positivity hasn't totally left me, there's still plenty to look forward to over the next few months, especially the first couple of months of 2018. I mean there's Tokyo, and in turn Wrestle Kingdom 12 in the Tokyo Dome on January 4th, then there's Snooker at the Ally Pally with the old man, the day after that I'll be heading into London to see The Rat Pack Live from Las Vegas, and then in February I'll be heading back to Italy for another trip......

Italy is a country I have plenty of love for, from the bloodline ties to the fact that every time I've been there I've had a fantastic time and have always had a warm welcome from the locals. From the two times I've been to Rome, the recent visit to Venice, and the first time I went to Italy when me and mum went to Rimini/Riccione on a cycling holiday, Italy is a country I don't think I'll ever get bored of, and going back there next year will certainly not be the last time I do.

So this time it'll be Turin, home of Juventus and of course that fateful night for the England national side in the 1990 World Cup. I'll be taking in the city, the stadium that Juventus play in, and anything else that I may find during my 3 days there in the city.

Last time round I was quite optimistic about a few things, including the pending holiday with the girlfriend. Well as generally seems to be the case with me, you get too optimistic about something and it'll come crashing down around you. So I'm back to being on my own in that respect, I'll avoid the details as that's not for this time or place, but life goes on, and whilst I'm dealing with the emotional side of it all, I'm also doing what I can to embrace what's in front of me.

Anyway, for now, it's time to wrap this blog up and bring it to a close. Things may have changed in the month or so since the last time I sat down and wrote stuff about stuff, but ultimately, all that lay ahead of me a month or so ago still sits there on the horizon, just with a slightly different outlook. Thank you for taking the time to read this, sorry I've not sat down and written about Venice, but just ask me and I'll happily gush about that truly incredible city, I mean I talk about it enough on my podcast!

Thanks again for reading!

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Happy As Larry

The last time I sat down and actually typed something out that wasn't for the Concord programme, it was back at the start of July and things were still shifting around at work, the reorg was still in its early stages and I didn't have much confidence in what lay ahead for us there.

Well as October is just over a week away from ending for another year, I thought it would be good to sit back down and type out a load of old tosh once more. I've continued with the “blogcasts”, which tend to be 15/20 minutes of me waffling on about what's going on in life, and I stick them out on soundcloud (just search for BullJet, same online handle I have everywhere). They tend to now take the place of these posts, but I have to keep this going for my own sanity!

There's plenty to talk about, but concerning one of the key things, the NFL and more specifically the Jets, I have a separate blog planned, as that will be one that will go on......

I'm a happy guy right now, I think that's fairly obvious to those around me, a few choice changes and things look brighter all round. I think that actually plays a part in why I haven't written as many blogs in the last few months, it's easier (at least for me) to write about me and my life if things are shit or if I've got something substantial to moan about!

Work's going well, things are going well between myself and the girlfriend, we fly to Italy next week which is something I know we're both looking forward to, and I am officially a very proud uncle after my baby sister (she'll always be my baby sister, no matter how old we get) gave birth to a beautiful baby girl back in July.

Then there's the ongoing trips/holidays, Vienna was a beautiful city, plenty of incredible sights to see and I happened to go when the weather was impeccable, 3 days of beautiful sunshine with no clouds to be seen. I've had my now regular and traditional trip over to see the Jets play, another excellent weekend in NY/NJ, again with decent weather too. And I've got my upcoming trips to look forward to, within a week me and Lou fly to Rome for 3 nights there, then we fly to Venice for another 3 nights there. We'll be in Venice for my birthday too, which will be a great distraction I think from getting another year older!

Finally there's Tokyo, something that has only really got going over the last year. I'm heading out there to visit a city I've wanted to go to for years, but it was only this year that pushed me over the edge and got me to do it. I'm going over to watch Wrestle Kingdom 12, the biggest NJPW show of the year, and I'll be meeting my good friend and podcast buddy Joel over there too. I've only been watching NJPW since January this year too, which shows how quickly this has really got going.

Life's good, and it feels good to say that. I'm looking forward to all that lies ahead......

To Talk, Or To Write? A Bloggers Return!

You've got to be in the mood to record a podcast, that's one thing I've noticed over the last couple of years doing both the S...