19 October 2014

England: Coventry & Warwickshire

England is full of wonder, let's celebrate some more shall we? People have very different opinions about three places in Warwickshire for many reasons but one of those places brings us some serious paper! Don't be a snob because that style doesn't stick with me, I said we need to see the wonder! Coventry, Stratford-Upon-Avon and Warwick you best be ready!?

Coventry is a city that is seriously misunderstood, I kept my opinions to myself and trusted the city of Lady Godiva. Once the manufacturing powerhouse during WWII this Warwickshire city took a battering by the Nazi German Army, leaving the 14th century cathedral in ruins. Upon visiting the remains of Coventry's original cathedral I had respect for the city of Coventry during that bleak time of destruction, if truth be told the new cathedral didn't impress me much! From rags to races, I paid a visit to the Coventry Transport Museum to be enlightened about Coventry's rich past, present and future contributions to the automotive trade and manufacturing. Since 1896 Coventry has been working in the motor car industry like many other central regions in England. I noticed that Muriel Hind was the first woman to own and ride a motorcycle, she must of been Coventry's 19th century female boss? Start your engines!

Talking about female role models, Lady Godiva rode her horse naked through Coventry's city centre in the 11th century because she didn't agree with a tax charge her husband had introduced to the county. In my book Lady Godiva is another female boss! Get out of the city limits! I had been to Coventry once or twice before so I had a place in mind that I wanted to explore. I chose to visit the Foleshill area of Coventry for some Indian food, I tell you the Foleshill Road showed me a variety of grocers and interesting looking eateries. Doing my research before my visit I had the Panjab Sweet Centre & Curry Hut in mind. I left my comfort zone! Above is Broadgate, Coventry's main shopping realm where you can see the statue of Lady Godiva, I loved the concrete appeal that Broadgate served to me but its a controversial topic. Could regeneration be the key to Cov's future? I reckon the concrete facades will be replaced with a futuristic plan! You should all be 'Sent To Coventry!'.

Stratford-Upon-Avon must be the most famous place to visit in the county?! Being the birthplace of playwright William Shakespeare its a clear winner for foreign tourists who are seeking some culture, let's face it we have some great people and places to thank for bringing some serious cash money to us. Tourism may be the biggest draw for Stratford-Upon-Avon but I was just looking for an alternative day out, yes to take in the Shakespearean tones of the town but to laze beside the River Avon had to be done. Have you seen the birthplace of William Shakespeare? I have! Chill your beans because we all can do that! Like Coventry its easy to reach Stratford-Upon-Avon due to convenient and fairly priced day return tickets from Birmingham Moor Street and Snow Hill Stations. Yes, we live in a very celebrity orientated world but was Shakespeare himself ever hounded by medieval paparazzi in the 1500's?

There's Anne Hathaway's Cottage & Gardens, which is a fair walk from the centre of Stratford-Upon-Avon's town centre but its worth the trip because its really quite something special. I didn't play the fool by purchasing the Shakespeare pass because I was only there for the afternoon, plus it didn't agree with my student loan either. Me and a friend rented a rowing boat but it looked easier than it actually fared to be! Pay your respects at the Church of the Holy Trinity for its the resting place of William Shakespeare, he many have been buried there on the 25th of April 1616 but its still a place of  great significance today. I took one day in the town of Shakespeare's birthplace but you could easily spend two days there nonetheless I was impressed! There's also New Place & Noah's House but I didn't get to that Shakespearean house because I wanted to capture the essence of the town rather than just 100% Shakespeare, you can't judge me! Get your life, visit Stratford-Upon-Avon!

Who's got that castle? That must be Warwick?! Take a chance on Warwickshire's most famous castle because there's more to know! Managed my Merlin Entertainment the modern day castle acts as a wannabe Disneyland but I was more interested in Ethelfelda's mound because that Anglo Saxon princess slayed here corner! Check out Warwick Castle for yourself to find that invasions didn't really happen so that explains why the castle walls still look in good condition. I appreciated the castle for I had been there twice before but just wanted a simple day out in Warwick. The main castle buildings have been preserved and the showcase staterooms make it look like Downton Abbey! Yes, I could live in a house like that! Get to the castle early because those tourists do drag their feet, plus nobody likes to wait in line! What else is there to be done in Warwick? Lord Jesus is that a fire?

Aside from Warwick Castle the town of Warwick deserves a look in, I took some knowledge from the Market Hall Museum in the centre of Warwick to learn about the Great Fire of Warwick. The 1694 blaze started from one spark, hurtling through the town at a great pace destroying a large part of the town centre. The Sheldon Tapestry showed me the expanse of the four counties aside from Warwickshire. I also learn that the city of Coventry was once spelt 'Coventrie' and was walled city that was protected by the River Sherbourne, which has down been paved over by the modern layout of Coventry. The Lord Leycester Hospital showed me something different, once a military hotel that was best known during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I to house certain injured military to aid their recovery. To learn something different about Warwick I suggest a visit to this unconventional hospital, visit than just the castle! Coventry and Warwickshire never looked so good?! OK you?!

Who Said 'Royal Leamington Spa?'

Joseph Harrison 

15 October 2014

Europe ... My First Love!

London, Paris or Milan? I'm not going to serve those destinations any attention, let's save those pennies and enjoy four destinations within the European continent for a lot less money. I'm a city boy at heart so if you share that state of mind then stick with me! Will you let me show you the way? Newcastle, Amsterdam, Istanbul and Hamburg are all waiting for you! 

Newcastle, some call it the Geordie Shore but I won't allow that chat! As a city Newcastle keeps it quiet throughout the day so the city can party all night long, she knows how to throw a party for sure! Resting your head in this North Eastern city will not bankrupt you, just choose the Backpackers Newcastle to make the best of a cheap bed in a spotlessly clean dorm that's has the location factor fulfilled. I stayed in Newcastle in August 2014 for two nights to really enjoy the whole atmosphere of the city. Get on that Hostelworld hype to find your dorm with ease, I even got a cup of tea made for me on arrival! Newcastle is accessible by coach, rail and air so getting to the Toon doesn't have to be a chore, I took the Megabus from Birmingham city centre to Newcastle within six hours because I wanted that £6.00 bargain. Trains take the biscuit so don't bother with that business if you class yourself as a backpacker! 

Take what you want from Newcastle! Grey's Monument demands your attention for the Tyne Bridge thinks it better than the rest! Take the city in at your own pace because the Geordie vibe isn't of a rushed nature, I had put off my visit to Newcastle for so long I just had to break free! Sydney might well have the same bridge but Newcastle's Tyne Bridge came first, it still stands strong as the prototype for the once growing Australian continent. Built from cast-iron is the Angel of the North, she stands strong like a glamazon over the peaks of Newcastle and Gateshead. Take the 21 bus from Newcastle city centre to bow down to the North East's female phenomenon? Newcastle has a compact Chinatown but you can grab a tasty meal for a few pounds to save your paper for the nighttime. Dress to impress B, the Pink Triangle brings the beat when the sun sets. Promise this, Newcastle's a keeper! Yes, London might have the Queen but you can see Beauty Killer at Eazy Street pet! 

Hallo Amsterdam! Spend a day or two in the liberal city of Amsterdam where the grass is greener on the other side. Tulips might not be the native plant because they are Turkish but this Dutch city has enough canals to last a lifetime! If your travelling from the United States or further afield then trust in Amsterdam's Schiphol International Airport to get you to the Dam! My September weekend in 2013 served me and my brother a glorious sunny weekend. The Red Light District really deserves more respect so show it some appreciation because those working girls command their windows like a businessman would run his office. I must say it was really quite something to see some of the women wave at me and my brother, trying to suggestively coax us to their windows but that's not my cup of tea. To the left the canals along Oudezijds Achterburgwal looked every inch the Amsterdam scene I wanted to see. 

The sale and consumption of Cannabis may be legal in The Netherlands but stringent rules must be abided by otherwise its curtains for you! Me and my brother favoured GOA, it had a young and current feel with a low drone of hip hop music playing whilst the customers blazed throughout the day. It's no joke in Amsterdam you can legally buy an abundance of kooky looking drug paraphernalia but we left the habits of Coffee Shops in the Dam. Nieumarkt and its square is cute and hispter at the same time, lined with lovely cafes and restaurants its not difficult to find a tasty Full English Breakfast in a fully Dutch environment. Take a canal boat trip to experience the life blood of Amsterdam's famous canal ways, its best when the weather plays ball because its a sight to treasure. Get Dam Square to go, morning time serves this Dutch focal point because people flock to that Amsterdam sight. Take a deep breath, Amsterdam doesn't do stress so blaze the day away! Dankuwel! 

Istanbul, Turkey is where east meets west with its inter-continental connections its a sure winner! Take Istanbul on, embrace the craziness of the Grand Bazaar because nothing else really matters. I'm not a shopper but you can try for yourselves. Be greeted by a former Catholic Church that also served as a Mosque, the Hagia Sophia puts the cat amongst the pigeons when places of worship are concerned. Sultanahmet takes you back to the days of the Ottoman Empire where the Blue Mosque rubs shoulders with the Top Kapi Saray, words don't do it justice but I'll do my best! During my two visits to Istanbul I managed to capture the same amount of craziness, Istanbul doesn't waste time! Are you intrigued by this Turkish mega-city? 

Taksim Square calms the crazy down, its a modern yet authentic hangout for the young Turks of today with the usual Turkish tea shops and Topman fashion stores. Istiklal Caddesi is the international infused streets that I'm introducing, its completely bizarre if I do say so myself. My hostel was located in Taksim Square on a side street that oozed Istanbul city realness not for the faint hearted but life is all about drama. Going hungry in Istanbul is a lie because the International pallet can be satisfied with the small Kebab cafes on one corner next to a KFC restaurant, so all parties can be happy. The Bosporus Strait defines the European and Asian borders, separating the two continents. Take a stroll along the Galata Bridge over to Beyoglu, barter the best price for a fish supper!?

I don't do Hipster but Hamburg, Germany sold that sub-culture to me good and proper. Hamburg stands as Berlin's little sister close to the North Sea, take a detour from the next one to spend some time in this Hipster like dwelling that plays Industrial regeneration just right. Embrace the Rathaus, Hamburg's council house serves face in all respects with its grand chandeliers and onyx bathrooms. Getting around Hamburg can be done by the city's Underground system that has links with Hamburg Airport so from beginning to end you can ride on time! HafenCity stands strong, breaking the dawn with its changing dockyards that are being transformed into trendy dwellings. Don't be a hot potato in Hamburg just have one for lunch, dine out on a hot Kumpir for a few Euros to fuel your sightseeing quest. You can rely on Deutsche Bahn to get you to Hamburg on-time for a great price. Germany, I'm so jealous! 

Even though Hamburg's city centre had be at 'Guten Tag' I wanted some down time, choosing the St. Pauli Backpackers Hostel I made the best of my time in a trendy and historically rich part of Hamburg. Located close enough to a Underground station I was still connected to the action, anyway I embraced the Hispter charm of the outdoor bar/cafes and restored clothes stores during my early evening discovery. Lamachun anyone? Germany is the second Turkey so that boded well for my search for Turkish food on the run. Dining alfresco with a ice cold jug of Ayran suited me just fine. I can endorse Turkish Hipster life completely! Whether it be England, The Netherlands, Turkey or Germany I love my continent and then some B! Travelling on a budget in Europe is number one, you know it's my first love! Hostels hold the key to a comfortable, compact and affordable stay wherever in Europe, don't be a hater! Don't just think about London, Paris or Milan! Let us love Europe! 

Europe Shows You More! 

Joseph Harrison 

6 October 2014

Pride: The Best Of Three?

Somewhere over the rainbow? With the skies becoming blue I dare say we can dream further than we first thought that we could. Before my lifetime it wasn't a bunch of roses to be a friend of Dorothy but now we celebrate what equality has been achieved with Pride. So, here goes my best of three! New York City, Birmingham and Wolverhampton are you ready? Yes!

NYC Pride 2012 turned up in May for me to experience my first Pride celebration. I had never been to a March before that beautiful sunshine afternoon. Meeting up with friends in New Jersey, we made our way over to Christopher Street in New York City to wait for the NYC Pride March. Pop icon Cyndi Lauper acted as Grand Pride Marshal for the 2012 Pride event, yes girl she was out to have some fun! I had turned up two chances to see Birmingham Pride for myself before I embarked on my Industrial Placement in 2012 so I wasn't going to let any work schedule stop me from seeing that Pride parade in Greenwich Village, NYC! I am telling you that I wasn't going anywhere, I stood in my space before the barriers waiting for the parade to begin! Honestly, I really did not know what to expect but I knew it would be worth the wait in the heat! New York City Pride 2012 was ready to come out in all of its glory! Love it!

Cydni Lauper opened the parade as we could see her car bring here closer to Christopher Street, she was looking good but her rainbow flag was dreadfully plastic! Drag Queens of all colour and style graced the parade, commanding the pride goers with their beauty I tell you no woman could look better! The lavish Pride floats that made floated down Christopher Street possessed colour and creativity, each blasting a iconic Pride anthem for the crowd to practically Vogue to! Flaming Saddles bar made their way through, serving Cowboy realness in a fashion I loved! Could this really be?! I was amongst the beautiful people of NYC for Pride is just like a Gay Christmas falling only once per year. Puerto Rico did it so much better! The Enchanted Island served Boricua realness with their booming music and Transgendered ladies all curvy and beautiful! I didn't go to 'Dance On The Pier' but the March itself served enough sass and excitement! I saw Manila Luzon and her Drag daughter! 

I didn't celebrate Pride in 2013 but I vowed to attend at least one Birmingham Pride before I concluded my studies in Birmingham. Through the rain we danced on, being a part of UCB's LGBT Society enabled me to walk in the Parade during the 2014 event. We celebrated and then some but we remembered the true cause of the day, to understand that not everyone in this world has the freedom of being true to who they are. Big name acts performed throughout the two day Bank Holiday May weekend, I viewed the event from a critical point of view. My Dissertation topic lies close to LGBT tourism and the attitudes of Pride. Stooshe and Fuse ODG both played blinding sets, I left my judgement there. I didn't appreciate the Monsoon weather!

Drag means a lot to me, it makes Pride that little bit more camp! The Village Inn Cabaret Marquee turned it up with a top billing line up of class Drag acts. Sandra worked the crowd with her cut throat comedy and side splitting gags that I belly laughed to! 90's pop icon Angie Brown made a comeback with her chart topping single 'I'm Gonna Get You', she was amazing! Security was at the forefront of Birmingham Pride 2014, I had no problem because yes I behaved myself. Manchester duo 'Queens Of Pop' performed their 'Atomic Kitten' themed set at Eden, I especially loved their Girls Aloud tribute to Cheryl and Nadine. My Birmingham chapter has finished now but I'm really happy that I experienced one amazing Pride celebration in Birmingham! Keep on celebrating Southside! Yes B!

Wolves Pride 2014 came around in late September, I had to know was going on in my home city! No, I'm not going to throw shade on Wolverhampton because she's rising like a phoenix! Pride celebrations raise funds for worthy causes so a £5.00 donation was more than OK with me, don't be shady because that's ugly! Wolves Pride served a favourable March with several supporters showing their rainbow Pride, I tell you for Wolverhampton that was inspiring for me to see. In its third year Wolves Pride had the voices of Gay activist Peter Tatchell and Wolverhampton City Council so kudos to you WV! The ethos of the event screamed 'community' and for a modern day Pride I was thrilled to see that one event hasn't sold out to the big name acts and Disney like commercialism, let's remember those activists who sparked a Gay Pride Liberation in the 1980's! Wolverhampton, I'm a supporter for sure! Yes B!

Entertainment was served upon the Main Stage for all to enjoy, I've been missing Birmingham's Gay scene so I couldn't wait for Sandra grace the stage with her scandalous sense of humour along with Drag duo Glitter Lips. Headlining the event was X Factor finalist Lucy Spraggan, she arrived on stage to a rapture of applause and adoration from the audience. Aside from the big names a range of upcoming artists and groups showcased their talent, Little Jack and Vois impressed me much! Drag performer Baga Chipz made an appearance, singing a few tracks with a certain swagger she wasn't too far from her hometown of Wednesbury. The Voice finalist Jenny Jones performed her heart out, she was amazing on that Wolves Pride 2014 stage! Pride in Wolverhampton was crafted by the hard work of LGBT Network Wolverhampton, in its third year I know that with continued power of support the event shall prosper ever more! That's my Pride best of three, where will the next Pride be?!

Let's Have Some Pride! 

Joseph Harrison 

30 September 2014

Those September Days . . .

Summer has gone and autumn now stands before us, the month of September has continued to be a treat. Those September days from 2012 to 2014 have been eventful yet relaxed so for your entertainment I'm going to throwback past months because I can! From Wolverhampton to Amsterdam via New York City are you ready for this? How were your September days?

Let's rewind back to September 2012 a time that seems a world away, yes a world away! Throughout my eighth month working in Newark, New Jersey I got up to quite a lot of exciting things indeed! I showed my love for the theatre when I saw 'Evita' on Broadway at the Marquis Theatre, there's nothing quite like the bright city lights of New York City's Times Square! Pop sensation Ricky Martin played the part of Che but I wasn't bothered what part he played because he was in the show. Madonna called me to the Yankee Stadium to 'Get Into The Groove' for her MDNA 2012 World Tour, she sung 'Holiday' and 'Like A Prayer' amongst her new material but her original hits made the night unforgettable! Apart from my fun times I want to look back at my time working at Newark Airport when I was a Passenger Services Agent for Virgin Atlantic, I hated the hours but I loved the drama. Oh Brit, those September days in the USA! 

The North East coast of America can get mighty cold in September so I packed my carry on bag, trading the autumn chill for the sunshine of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. I missed the birth of my two youngest cousins that summer so I wanted a little holiday to recharge and to take the stress away from having no sleep whatsoever. Discovering the old forts of San Juan's colonial past, finding out the 'rich port' was fought over viciously I appreciated the time capsule atmosphere of the Spanish architecture that has been preserved. Taking a trip to Escambron beach I encountered some San Juan realness, I was in the hood for sure but I loved it really! My placement year in New Jersey afforded me the chance to experience some sketchy neighourhoods, it meant I didn't have a problem upon my arrival back to Birmingham for the new university term. I know in my heart I'll return to Newark and New York City in two years for that September enriched my life no end, I'll be back soon!

What difference a year makes? Tell the truth! September 2013 took me to the greener side! Getting our lives together me and my brother spent a mint weekend in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. We spent time at the Coffee Shops and even took a river cruise through the winding canals of the Dam! We saw what wanted from the Red Light District, don't be no fool! It could of just been an illusion? Wolverhampton served some serious fashion faux pas but I'll let it off the hook only this time. Back to reality, back to Birmingham for the final year of my university studies was a sobering moment, I had peace to make with my student city. I wanted to be back in the Dam! Starting a fresh me and a friend took a chance on Cannon Hill Park for the afternoon to catch up after the break. The Indian summer vibe transcended on Birmingham that Sunday afternoon but I guess some friends don't deserve my time!? Bye Felicia! 

I said 'hello' to my final year at University College Birmingham, I had the chance to be a Fresher one more time! My younger brother had started his studies and was out on the student scene so I had to join the brotherhood out on a few nights out! September 2013 gave me the boost to see a new side of Birmingham, after trusting a Google Map I managed to reach Birmingham's famous Balti Triangle that's in Sparkbrook, Choosing Shabab Balti Restaurant for a Kashmiri food experience. Being a frugal soul I dined on a sumptuous Balti three course extravaganza. Getting back to the Village Inn September 2013 and onwards gave me the chance to serve some fierceness on the dancefloor to my favourite dance anthems! Back to Wolverhampton for one moment, I had a mooch around the town in between changing the Euros for Amsterdam to find that WV needed some love! Amsterdam loved us and Birmingham embraced me for my final year of uni. Yes, I was down for that!

The efforts of yesterday brings me back to today, what do you say September 2014?! Bringing some royal highness to my life I discovered Warwick and its Medieval Castle, I had to see what my inner Queen thought about it! Ethelfelda's mound stood as the original barrier for Warwick, that Mercian Princess began the fight against the Vikings! Slay! Warwick had several endearing qualities with its market square small town feel, I was impressed! Trying not break any dishes I chose Stoke-on-Trent for the day to see the Pottery legacy of the Industrial Age getting to know the Gladstone Pottery Museum suited me just fine. You know I was craving a Staffordshire oatcake with bacon and cheese! Hanley served me with a whopper of a oatcake that I fell in love with! I'm easily pleased! Concluding my day at Trentham Gardens, I appreciated the grandeur of the gardens but hadn't I seen you before T?

Stepping back in time to experience the Back To Backs in Birmingham's Southside showed me how Hurst Street's finest used to live, I was astonished by what had been bought back to life by the National Trust! Memory, I wasn't alone in the moonlight because I had booked a ticket to see Cats The Musical at Birmingham's Hippodrome Theatre. The feline themed show didn't impress me much, I had seen it better done in the West End when I was a boy. Donning my graduation cap and gown on the 22nd September it was time to graduate from University College Birmingham with a 2:1 Honours Degree, I worked! I said 'Sissy That Graduate' as I made my way to the stage to accept my degree certificate, I had waited for that mother for a long time! The summer of 2014 took a lot of waiting but September made its appearance eventually, the house down! Wolves Pride concluded my September 2014, it was a day to celebrate LGBT power! Let's be all proud! Yes, I'm proud of you Wolves!

September ... Not Just Any Month! 

Joseph Harrison 

29 September 2014

Wolves Pride 2014: Rising Like A Phoenix!

Wolverhampton have some pride! Like a phoenix rising from the flames, its been a long road but out of the ash came a celebration for Wolverhampton's LGBT community. Wolves Pride 2014 being in its third year put its best foot forward, showcasing a worthy day of entertainment, reflection and empowerment. Wolverhampton didn't throw any shade for once! 

With the Pride summer calendar coming to a close it was time for Wolverhampton to bring it! Wolves Pride was first unleashed on this West Midlands city in 2012 so I wasn't going to judge, its staggering to think that the whole value of Gay Pride has been transformed into a cash cow but let me finish. Set up in all of its rainbow design the Community Stalls brought a sense of simplicity to the LGBT focused event, can you see what I'm trying to express? Ranging from information from the University of Wolverhampton, advice stalls from the Terrance Higgins Trust right through to the sweet treats of 'Sally's Sweet Oasis' a mix bag of local faces served the event with a pride. My most recent Pride was back in May 2014 in Birmingham, a Pride weekend that's been going for seventeen years so I looked at Wolves Pride from a neutral view, its my home city so we support WV1! Wolves let us all be proud! 

Who do you think you are? I thought I knew Wolverhampton before the 27th of September 2014 but something changed for the better, in one way I was happy to be known as a Yam Yam and that's not easy for me to admit. Wolves Pride 2014 made me realise that it's OK to be from Wolverhampton? Thankfully there was a trusty burger van within the Community Stalls area, I was hungry! Whatever's said about the Black Country its been a tough road for our communities due to the recession, but we all love a bit of rainbow power even if you can't admit it! My university days might be over but it was great to see the Birmingham LGBT network present at their respected stall, I promise to stay away from the Birmingham Pride hype. Was it your first Wolves Pride? I had been in contact with Martha Bishop, the Manager of LGBT Network Wolverhampton to see about publishing a blog about the event. The level of communication was ace, I appreciated that to the hills and back again!

The clock struck 1pm, initiating the beginning of the Wolves Pride 2014 March through the streets of Wolverhampton. Beginning from the Main Stage area in Fold Street around the city centre the procession made their way with some serious colour and vibrancy! Leading the way was the 'Someone At The Door' samba group, followed by LGBT Network Wolverhampton who are the driving force for LGBT awareness in WV. Like any fabulous Pride March the famous rainbow flags fluttered proudly within the procession. Gorgeous Club showed their support for the cause as well as Wolverhampton Homes representing their division. The key part of the March was that everyone believed in the cause, raising the awareness of our modern day fight for equality. After my Dissertation I don't agree with the term 'LGBT' its a sweeping statement that categories a margin of society, I don't want to be classed by that G! No!

The Pride March matched the progression of the event, in its third year Wolves Pride 2014 had an energy that gave the onlookers hope for the future impact of this Wolverhampton Pride event. It didn't cost the earth to be part of Wolves Pride, for only £5.00 I was able to contribute to the Wolverhampton's LGBT Network and have a great day and night. Many Pride events nowadays make the best of the Pink pound but I didn't get that feeling because you didn't have to be a scene queen to be a part of the hype on Fold Street. People do complain about parting with their cash to attend a community event but the origin of Pride hones back to the days of the 'L.G.S.M' where funds were collected through the hard work of the Lesbian and Gay activists during the Miner's Strike of the 1980's so bare in mind that its not all about the sparkle and campery or the booze because Pride always has a cause. Wolves Pride March served Wolverhampton realness, walking proudly for the city!

Come join the party! I heard it through the grapevine that the Main Stage at Wolves Pride would be welcoming X-Factor's Lucy Spraggan to headline the event that night. Welcomed by important faces from Wolverhampton City Council opened the show, local MP's spoke their words but I'm not one for politics. Wolves Pride had nerve, built from humble beginnings to now host a formidable Pride celebration, I was proud! Packed to the brim with music acts from across the region it was a celebration! Drag duo Glitter Lips opened the festivities, I hadn't seen anything quite like it! Drag sensation Sandra graced the stage with her razor sharp sense of humour, damn you watershed! Local songstress Jenny Jones sang her heart out! Little Jack and Love Beats Riot worked it as well! Who needs pop royalty or a money hungry diva, Wolves stands above! How about another track Rose Redd?! Another pint of Cider boy!

Vois smashed their set, boy they have some talent! Above all I loved seeing the progressive acts because like the event they are all on a journey, fighting for the next level of their careers. Fresh from the Big Smoke had to be Baga Chipz, queen of the battered sausage who originally hails from Wednesbury! After seeing Baga on London Live's Drag Queens of London I couldn't wait to see her candidly honest set at Pride. Baga performed her set wearing a scantly clad Union Jack top, she represented her region with a strong drink in hand! That's our girl Baga Chipz! What Pride was best? NYC, Birmingham or Wolverhampton? That's a tough question because Wolves Pride served urban realness in its city centre location, I have to hold the torch for my home city to support a growing event that showed me a bostin' day! Wolves Pride, I have faith and wish you every success for future projects. After the show the Bond Street Tavern complimented my day and night. Yes, Wolves has a Pride!

Wolves Pride 2015 is next!

Joseph Harrison 

24 September 2014

Birmingham: The Next Chapter

I have been in a state of delusion, like I mentioned previously that my life is in transition well its moving forward! The previous chapter of my life has been written and closed firmly, ready for me to move on because its been a strange couple of months. Good things do come to those who wait! Birmingham, let's get this clear because it's now time to say goodbye! 

Birmingham called me back three final times this month, firstly to the Birmingham Hippodrome to see the hit musical Cats. I saw the ticket release date for the show and jumped at the chance, we have to treat ourselves once a while! I hadn't been out in Birmingham for a while so the theatre borrowed me some time back in the second city. Getting my Chinese food fix was quite underwhelming, not tarnishing all the restaurants in Birmingham's Chinatown but I've ate much better at the other restaurants, especially Dim Sum. I literally couldn't spend my money as I've been on the hunt for a new pair of trainers, I would be damned even if I tried harder! At least the pint of Cider I had at the Village Inn was nice, it brought back some memories of my Uni days but those nights are done! I suppose we should get back to the show? Would this touring show match my childhood West End experience? A memory?

Let me begin, I first saw Cats when I was about four years old in the West End so I had a high expectation because shows lose their edge when they tour. The iconic 'Jellicle Ball' theme song was dragged out for the first half of the show, I already knew the show lacked in dialogue so I took that into consideration. Grizabella, the glamour cat will always be my favourite member of the show but she didn't have the age that needs to be portrayed. I had the opportunity to see Elaine Page play the role of Grizabella, she wasn't that old but her rendition of 'Memory' was more than outstanding. The part of 'Rum Tum Tugger' the ladies tom cat was played the best along with 'Mr. Mistoffelees' so that impressed non the less. I half enjoyed the show, that emotion was shared with a fellow theatre-goer who agreed with me. I last saw 'Singin' In The Rain' at the Hippodrome in March 2014, it was a very good performance! With one curtain call its time to compose the next chapter! Go!

Throughout the years I spent in Birmingham as a University College student I never got to see the Back To Backs! Nestled deep in the heart of Birmingham's Southside stands the only remaining block of back to back terraces in Birmingham. For a small cost I was able to see the forgotten way that inner-city Brummie's lived through the 18th and 19th century's. Three restored houses stand with a thousand memories and stories that were told to me and my tour group by the knowledgeable tour guide. Ranging from 1830 to 1930 the three houses have been brought back by the National Trust, I had relatives who lived in a back to back terraces within the West Midlands. I never knew that Southside and Hurst Street was once a thriving Jewish community, boasting a Synagogue and Kosher bakeries. Only Block 15 remains today but its a must to witness the Back To Backs that have been reborn in Southside. 

Birmingham's Back To Backs aren't for the faint hearted, I even had a challenge navigating the stairs in the vintage housing project. I also learnt that in the 1960's the Back To Backs in Birmingham were condemned unfit to live in but Block 15 survived due to the existing businesses that once faced Hurst Street. I loved seeing something different within Southside, after all it was part of my night scene of nightclubs and bars throughout my University days. One of the couples in my tour had stopped in Birmingham to see the Back To Backs on their way home from the Cotswolds, I apologised on-behalf of the dreary weather because Birmingham didn't look at its best. Throughout the tour our tour guide showed us a photo of what Birmingham's Hippodrome theatre looked before its major revamp, I was saddened because it looked very grand with its eccentric brickwork. See something new or something borrowed but get to Birmingham's Back To Backs! Yes, National Trust! 

Now, Sissy That Graduate! On the twenty second day of September I donned my cap and gown at Birmingham's Symphony Hall. I graduated with honours, against all the adversity I faced as a school boy I got my hustle game on and achieved a 2:1 degree after completing my BA Hons Hospitality and Tourism Management course. University College Birmingham took me places that I never thought I would ever go! I worked at Walt Disney World in the summer of 2011 and I experienced one year out on placement in Newark, USA for Virgin Atlantic Airways. I didn't want to get a First Class Honours because I worked my hardest at uni and partied in Birmingham during my student life. I never planned to attend my graduation ceremony but it was such fabulous day, my cap and gown annoyed me but I won't forget strutting across the stage in front of a enthusiastic audience! I didn't have to bring the house down! 

It was great to finally face the day, I tried my best to fast-track my degree because of securing a Chinese visa but I faced facts because it was something I couldn't control. Celebrating the event with some of my classmates was great, we've all change but it's been a while since we all embarked on the beginning of our course. Donning our cap and gowns we chatted about the good times, looked towards the future and compared the results of our degrees but most of all it was a great lasting memory. The last few months have been strange, I felt a sense of accomplishment as I made my way back to my seat with my degree in hand! People come and go and with each friendship remaining makes everything worthwhile, I know who'll be on my Christmas card list in the future. The next chapter has only just begun, I look forward to the next phase of my life and to embark on my Chinese year of discovery! Quote Rupaul's 'Sissy That Walk' to understand my opening word. I will work! 

Birmingham ... You've Still Got It! 

Joseph Harrison

14 September 2014

Stoke-on-Trent: Welcome to The Potteries

Ey up mi ducky!? Stoke-on-Trent, the world's ceramic leader took me by the hand to teach me a thing or two. Don't you go about breaking any dishes! Oatcakes were on my mind the whole time until I got my hands on one! Trentham had my attention also but let's be serious, I'm don't appreciate the posh I wanted nothing but Stoke realness!  

Pottery has been a part of Stoke-on-Trent's soul for thousands of years, making the most of the rich source of clay, water and coal sparked the early Pottery trade. Established in 1774 the Gladstone Pottery Workshop worked through a thousand arduous days until 1970. Thankfully the 17th Century site was saved from demolition to be preserved as a working museum. Located in Longton, one of the five towns that historically made up the city of Stoke-on-Trent. If you couldn't stand the heat you wouldn't make it as a pottery worker, all 700 degrees in that kiln! It's believed that half of Stoke's population made their money in one of the pottery works, it was a family affair! The Gladstone Pottery Workshop boomed through the late 17th century through to the industrially rich 18th century period. Gladstone Pottery Museum tells the truth, celebrating the legacy. Let's bring more pottery back to Stoke-on-Trent! 

Stoke had some bottle! I mean the bottle chimneys that once littered the skyline of that North Staffordshire city, but the pollution plagued the people of the city with health problems so eventually newer equipment was used during the 1950's and beyond. Call me crazy? I wanted to learn something about the pottery works in Stoke because its rare that positive things are said about the city on the Trent river. Have you heard of Josiah Wedgwood or Henry Doulton? Josiah and Henry paved the way to become two of Stoke-on-Trent's most famous produces of fine bone China. Several top ceramic works have been commissioned to make products for the British Family to serve Great Britain and the Empire. Keep your opinions to yourself because they won't make a difference! Hanley, Burslem, Fenton, Stoke and Longton now work as one, things haven't been rosy for the Potteries but demand for British made ceramics is picking up now. Stoke-On-Trent, you better work duck!

What's up Hanley? Stoke-on-Trent has a unusual layout but I made it to Hanley after I learnt about the city's pottery legacy. Not being a bus person I put bigotry aside for the day because I didn't fancy walking from point to point! Hanley, you have such a personality! I wanted nothing but a Oatcake! Stoke does them best, like a pancake but made with oatie goodness! Choosing a catering van outside the Intu Potteries shopping centre I indulged in a cheese and bacon whopper Oatcake! Duck, it was great! I didn't have time for clothes shopping, I just wanted my Oatcake from Hanley! If the truth be told I randomly decided to visit Stoke-on-Trent, I didn't take anything seriously. You already know that I appreciated the uncomplicated vibe that Hanley had that Friday afternoon, I should really look North more often. I have to eat a Oatcake or two when I'm in Stoke-on-Trent, don't be a stink get your Oatcake on! 

Making sense of Hanley's city centre amenities I could tell that few things had changed since my last visit some years ago. Well apart from the new bus station that served me well with my onward connections. My aunties both lived in Stoke-on-Trent for a number of years so it meant several visits to North Staffordshire. Throughout the years I had the chance to see Sneyd Green, Burslem and Talke, all showcasing something completely different. Sneyd Green and Burslem serve straight up realness with a no hold attitude about anything, both colorful neighbourhoods to say the least! Whereas Talke offered a slice of calm with the green fields and scenic views that I had the opportunity to witness. If you're looking for restaurants, cinemas or even a indoor water-park I suggest you catch a bus over to Festival Park because that all lies there. Would I go back to Hanley? For an Oatcake I would definitely go back! Yes, I fully endorse the Oatcake! Get to Hanley! Get your life B!

The Trentham Estate took me by surprise! From the Gladstone Pottery Museum and Hanley City Centre to then end up surrounded by the grandeur of Trentham Gardens, I was very impressed! The formal Italianate gardens are set within a three hundred acres estate of parkland that dates back to 1758. Part of the wider city of Stoke-on-Trent the suburb of Trentham plays as the perfect contradiction. To the left stand the well manicured gardens, standing from the viewpoint gave me a whole new perspective on the Potteries. Aside from the grand gardens there's plenty to get up to around the Estate, shopping can be enjoyed at the Trentham shopping village that borders the garden's entrance. I took the 21B bus from Hanley bus station that took around thirty minutes give or take some traffic. I had seen the Monkey Forest on a previous occasion so I chose to visit the Gardens entirely. You in?

Summer, Winter, Spring or Autumn I can assure you the gardens at the Trentham Estate will look amazingly regal! Trentham definitely has gardens to envy but what's going on with that five star hotel? Don't take this the wrong way, I always notice that there's a dreary look to the sky in Stoke, but as negative as that may sound I saw it as a benefit during my Stoke day! Don't judge a book by its cover because Stoke-on-Trent deserves respect for all of its industrial advances it was just dealt a bad card. Word on the street is that the pottery trade is filtering back into Stoke-on-Trent, so far so good! Wedgwood, Royal Doulton and the rest of you pottery works, keep working on your grind! The Trentham Gardens give the perfect opportunity for rest, relaxation and a pleasing view. Like I previously mentioned I endorse the Stoke Oatcake, its best served with cheese and bacon! Hanley's city centre keeps its hustle true to the mark! Yes, Stoke-On-Trent will know what to show you!

Don't Go Breaking Any Dishes!

Joseph Harrison 

8 September 2014

U.S.A - Feel The Love!

In my heart I will always have a place for the United States of America, its a place that's given me a lot that I can be thankful for. Enough of me, I want to share some of the top places that I know you should visit! From coast to coast, America welcomes the world to experience its many personalities that encompass the fifty states and overseas territories. Ready? 

La isla del encanto esta esperando! Puerto Rico is now! Leave the mainland behind you to experience a hearty serving of Puerto Rican culture? Step back in time, choose Old San Juan for a relaxing break to embrace the breathtaking colonial Spanish architecture, now that wasn't a question! I chose the cobbled streets of Old San Juan to relax and to see the castle forts that were fortified by the Spanish. Hostel like a true backpacker just like I did, it won't cost you the earth either! Both Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo de San Cristobal stand strong meaning business, protecting the rich port from invaders these fortification's are part of the U.S National Park Service. Learn your history? Why Puerto Rico? It's a part of the U.S.A so if you only hold an ESTA its no problem to entry any one of Puerto Rico's ports of entry from the U.S mainland. You know that Puerto Rico does it better! Dios Mio!

Trade the fast food for a meal at Cafe Puerto Rico! It's a must do, would I tell a lie? Choose a Mofongo with chicken that's served with a rich garlic sauce, a Mofongo is made from plantain so its filling and packed with flavour! Boricua's are proud of their heritage and love to express their allegiance to their island of Puerto Rico! I couldn't drive when I visited PR but I went on a day trip from Old San Juan to the El Yunque National Rainforest and Luquillo Beach. The rainforest transported me to a tropical oasis, reinforcing the hidden beauty of Puerto Rico! To conclude the trip a rest stop at Luquillo Beach where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, it was a magical time relaxing on the golden sands in the sun with a ice cold Daiquiri in hand, I loved it! You can be in a state of pure bliss to?! Puerto Rico has attitude, brush up on your Spanish because English isn't the first language so some things can get lost in translation. Be enchanted by the beautiful island of PR!

New York City boy! The city streets might be tough but feel the deal because its so real! From Downtown to Central Park I beg you to look closer, between the lines to capture the true essence of NYC! Chinatown NYC doesn't throw shade, she just knows that she is fierce. I'm down for a Broadway show like the West End but I suggest you take the 4,5 or 6 train to the Bronx. The New York Yankees play their game with heart so I would rather applaud that show than a 47th street musical. NYC could be the queen of your dreams?! Taking solace from the struggle immigrants went through at Ellis Island meets the perfect opportunity to meet the Lady of Liberty. During my time in New York City I left my worries in Jersey because NYC was my playground. New York City serves Royal Highness! It's crazy to think that NYC is only a six hour flight from England, breaking away for a long weekend is so easy. 

Do you want that Empire State of Mind? On a clear day its best to appreciate the view from the top of New York's Empire State Building, its a long way up but the view is immense! Being a foodie in NYC can be cheap, shun McDonald's for a curry in Jackson Heights, Queens or lunch at one of Bayard streets Vietnamese cafe's? I would recommend walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, back over the Manhattan Bridge towards the city to find yourself in the heart of NYC's Chinatown. Bubble Tea is done better along the side streets, I favoured the Oolong Bubble Tea for it reminded me of my favourite Chinese brew. Serving Hot Couture can be done anywhere in New York City but to be your own Fashionista, just grab an Iced Mocha Frappicino from Starbucks and sissy that walk down Fashion Ave to let the streets be your runway! That wasn't a question! Battery Park holds fond memories for me, are you Desperately Seeking Susan? I didn't find Susan but I served realness in that legendary setting.

Head down to the Deep South, home of New Orleans and the rolling Mississippi River. Don't get the Delta blues because the French Quarter brings Disney's Princess and The Frog to life with the original builds and Voodoo business. I wanted to take a boat trip through the world famous Bayou but Mother Nature threw serious shade on me and my sister that January afternoon. So dig a little deeper if the rain pours, head over to the Garden District to be transported back to true Louisiana realness with the regal houses that line the streets. Enjoy a triple chocolate brownie from The Grocery on Charles & 6th Street? Leave the crowded city streets behind you to experience an infusion of old Spanish and French America for that's where New Orleans began before the stars and stripes! Fairytales really happen, no suggestion is strong enough that New Orleans has to be on your bucket list. C'est vraiment incroyable!

St. Louis Cathedral gives Jackson Square life, the French influence is unstoppable within that part of town. Look out for the Fleur de Lis, instilling the French history. Cajun cuisine breaks all boundaries, Cafe Du Monde coffeehouse serves up some seriously delicious Beignets with coffee! Cajun cuisine impressed me much, I made sure that I tried Gumbo and Catfish at least once to ensure my whistlestop experience of New Orleans would be complete. Breakfast has to be enjoyed at Stanley's, me and my sister discovered that French Boudin completes the perfect 'Orleans cooked breakfast! I would advise against planning your Louisiana trip during the winter months because the weather was fierce with rain and wind during the trip. OK, Princess Tiana didn't make an appearance but there's so much Voodoo hoodoo within New Orleans French Quarter you will be spoiled for choice! New Orleans knows its own, surviving Hurricane Katrina it's a true fighter! I'll find you Tiana!

Everybody comes to Hollywood, USA! We're all superstars in our own way so that's enough of that baloney! Who am I kidding? Life has never been more celebrity orientated, do you want to make it in the neighbourhood? Hollywood Boulevard puts the cat amongst the pigeons, home of movie premieres and the walk of fame its a whole other story! Take what you want from the hyped up energy that is bottled and fed to us about that supposed superstar because that Dolby Theatre promotes a crazy image. It takes a bunch of patience to grab a photo, I learnt the hard way! Do you have a favourite star on the Walk of Fame? There's just too many to choose from! Universal Studios Hollywood makes fun of the bizarre energy that's found down on the boulevard, take the L.A Metro to the alternative American theme park to mix things up?! Las Vegas is a four hour drive from Hollywood, it was a day to remember Britney Bitch! 

Beverly Hills who?! Turn the world on its head, take a Hollywood star trip around the promised streets of Beverly Hills to then witness the power shopping along Rodeo Drive. I have been a lucky soul to visit Hollywood twice in my short life, I loved the tour around the stars houses, the hype is unreal! Quote me wrong, I saw the security gates of Brad and Angelia's fortress like L.A home and one of Lauren Bacall's former homes. Money is one thing, excess and gluttony borders to the other extreme for the designer stores that give life Rodeo Drive are just insane! Staying faithful to the mouse, back in the early 00's I had the chance to see Orange County allowing me to spend a day at Disneyland, California. Mickey's original Magic Kingdom exuded a more personal feeling than its Floridian counterpart but we're all different. In the future I want to go West to have a party in West Hollywood and roller-blade along the promenade at Venice Beach! I need that paper! L.A. calls!

Do You Feel The Love?!

Joseph Harrison 

6 September 2014

Warwick's Little Secret . . .

Here I go again, another month meant a new adventure! Warwick had some unanswered questions so without further ado I got my act together, taking a train this time to that Warwickshire town. Warwick might be famous for its 1100 year old castle but I wanted to leave those castle walls to question that notion. Warwick, you need to step into the beat! 

Serving medieval realness Warwick Castle stood before me, I have to admit that castle looked in very good condition for 1100 years! I had been twice before my recent trip so I didn't have a problem getting around the inner circle of Warwick's castle. Have you been to Warwick Castle? I worked at Walt Disney World in Florida so I can sniff out the competition within a second, no shade shall be thrown! Rewinding the clock to 914, the original castle was more of a mound. Crafted by Ethelfelda, that Anglo-Saxon princess used her fortress to protect Warwick during the early years. I learnt from the performers that Warwick Castle stands today in such good condition because of the lack of battles that were fought. History aside it was an international affair that September morning at Warwick Castle, to hazard a guess I heard four extra languages spoken excluding English! Princess Ethelfelda, Slay!

Warwick Castle is another one of those typical voids that satisfy the American tourists to name a few, they just gagged on the medieval realness that Warwick's most famous castle slayed to them! Flashback to my time when the world and their mothers went crazy coo over Buckingham Palace, I suppose we the British have a valiant history to be proud of?! That wasn't a question! Substituting the modern love I took a sneak peak inside the main castle buildings to admire the former opulent living quarters of the previous tenants, when can I move in Merlin? You might be thinking who's Merlin? Warwick Castle is owned by the Merlin Entertainment group, its one of the many properties owned by the entertainment middleweight. I didn't waste my time dawdling around without a purpose so I got my snaps, saw what I needed and even contemplated climbing the almost four hundred steps around the castle tower. I did that when I was a boy! Give the castle a chance! Yes!

Unfortunately, we can't all be royal for long so leaving Warwick's castle to see some of the town had to be next. Warwick may only be a small town, so facing facts I wanted to see as much as I possibly could. Step back to the year 1571 to understand the Earl of Leicester's plan! The Lord Leycester Hospital stands close to the town centre but oozes 11th century architecture. The hospital element has never existed, making sense of its ancient sense meaning 'a charitable instigation' to help the needy, infirm or aged. Don't be fooled, this Warwick point of interest caught my attention, I wanted something authentic away from the castle. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I the hospital was under royal charter, commandeering the space for old and disabled soldiers who fought under her service. Modern day brethren and their wives still make a worthy level of contribution to ensure this historical gem. Plan?

Connected to the Lord Leycester Hospital is the Chapel of St. James the Great was built over the ancient West gate that leads into Warwick back in 1123 by Roger de Newburgh. Capturing a snap of the hospital took some doing but I just got on with it. Warwick Castle takes the shine from the Lord Leycester Hospital inevitably, lets keep it to the point I like to support the underdog. Upon my visit to the hospital I learnt the tour would be self-navigated, I don't like being part of a tour because I feel like a sheep being herded by the keeper, no thank you! The chapel was quiet, giving the perfect location for reflection or prayer if that's your thing? I bagged a student price for entrance, every little helps even though I'm no longer enrolled at a educational institution. I noticed within the quaint courtyard the architecture served some more medieval realness, I was living for that sight! It must be a force of habit, I was in a cost conscious bypassing the Brethren's Kitchen. T!

Be attracted to Warwick, its a small historic town that has a fiery story to tell. September 5th of 1694 brought the Great Fire of Warwick, this Warwickshire town suffered the burn of the fire but with the strength of the townspeople it rebuilt itself back up strong! To the left is High Street, one of the main streets in Warwick that was hit with the flames of 1694. Starting from a small flint of light from a burning branch that would be used for fire wood the wind must of been hearty to start that fire?! No I'm not a walking historian! To gain the knowledge of Warwick's catastrophe I trusted the views of the Market Hall Museum in the heart of Warwick's town centre. Are you a sucker for a slice of historical shade? I am! Mapping the region of the four boroughs took a quick second to be familiar with the Sheldon Tapestry work. Who knew that Coventry was once a walled city with the spelling, Coventrie? Warwick's got the lot!

I appreciated what the castle showed me and with further research I like the sound of Princess Ethelfelda because we all start from somewhere. Blazing through the town like a torrent of flames the Great Fire of Warwick 1694 only took its toll on Warwick for a short time. If your from a foreign land I urge you to visit Warwick town and its castle because it exudes that vibe you dream about a small town in the heart of England. The Lord Leycester Hospital challenged the conventional meaning of  a hospital but its a lesson. Take the time to take heed from the Market Hall Museum to understand Warwick's strong women that fought of the Viking invasion during the Anglo-Saxon reign. Warwick lies thirty minutes away from Birmingham Snow Hill, so get those tickets booked! Leamington Spa looks good, I'm on a Warwickshire hype at the moment so watch out for a round up blog soon! Be the Queen of the castle or conquer a whole dominion? That's no secret to keep B! 

Watch Out Warwick!

Joseph Harrison 

31 August 2014

2014: No Summertime Sadness!

Summer for me means a foreign holiday in the blazing sun, this season I embraced Mother England for a change. I thought to myself, why can't I be a champion without going abroad?! From South to North my summer is still standing tall! Newcastle, Blackpool and some of the South served me with some golden memories. Summer 2014 keep being that champion! 

I chose London to kick start my summer of enlightenment I wanted something extra! Ten days in London gave me the opportunity to reconnect with family that had moved to the capital, surely I would be able to see the sights? London is the reason! I stood at the top of the Greenwich Royal Observatory, I loved the sickening view over London's East-end. I got hungry so a visit to Brick Lane served me with a meal to remember. I don't like to call myself a tourist by any means so I went Underground to get the most out of the capital during my stay. Strike up the band I wanted to see a musical! Alexandra Burke served Whitney Houston well in the Bodyguard Musical, the show was legendary! Leaving the main event I took the Docklands Light Railway to Woolwich for some West African food. What's up Golders Green?! Yes, my London trip consisted a lot of eating but that was the plan entirely. Almost home?!

London is a glamazon! She's a strong and beautiful city that is in charge of her dominions, I thought you already knew? Stamford Hill brought the Hasidic Jewish vibe back into my life, that part of London had a vibrant pace but didn't give me my Kosher chicken soup! Whereas, Golders Green gave me exactly what I wanted! Woolwich had that yuppie type feeling, there's some serious development going down within the Arsenal. South East London served as the perfect contradiction with the gentrified areas finding a way to get on with the better known culturally rich neighborhoods. London's Thames Path showed me so much more of London's riverside, learning to love my capital city some more. I was enjoying this no foreign travel lark a little bit too much! Hey Queen! You should try the Anchor Tap, set in the heart of Shad Thames I was impressed! London showed me that hipsters and pubs work, Shoreditch played my game, The headlines are true, I really loved London!

Brighton called! Choosing to spend twenty four hours by the seaside I couldn't get any more South. My writing had won me a free nights stay at any one of the Jury's Inn hotels, Brighton worked because I had just been in London. Getting the essence of such a bohemian beach town I trusted Brighton from the very first second I saw the Lanes. Taking things a little slower than I had in London, Brighton spiced up my life with the Royal Pavilion. There was something special about seeing the blue waters. I learnt fast that the townspeople of Brighton watch out for the seagulls, I didn't fancy my chances as I ate my lunch by Brighton's first pier. I usually endorse the main attraction but I wasn't satisfied with the new Brighton pier at all! I just wanted more but I knew that London had taken it out of me so I took it easier in Brighton that day and night. I would sure return for a night out in Brighton in the future!

I tried hard not to get lost in the illusion because my time in Brighton had come to an end, meaning my return back to the West Midlands. The South served a few days of rain but mostly sunny spells graced the days that I spent running around trying to see as much as I possibly could. If truth be told I was sad to leave Brighton, I guess goodbyes just aren't that cut and blow dry? Nevertheless, I really appreciated the Indian spice that Brighton's Royal Pavilion oozed, it served as a tasteful reminder of the British Raj. Suffering from a slight bout of tunnel vision I missed out on a sweet treat from Choccywoccydodah, I mentioned about that night out, I shall be back B! Who knew that I would win a competition based on my comedic writing skills?! I surprised myself if you must know the truth! I received some shade towards my '24 Hours In: Brighton' blog, you know I have no time for haters! The beautiful South allowed me to fall recklessly in love with Brighton!

To the North! On a whim I booked a weekend in Blackpool. I had received my degree results so Blackpool seemed like the best place to celebrate! Leaving my dignity at the coach door I didn't know that B'pool could look so good! The legendary Blackpool Tower took the crown, she's still working it after all of those years. Comedy never got so blue! Nursing a hearty hangover I took a chance on Joey Blowers comedy show at the Merrie England Bar on the North Pier. He told a crude joke or twenty but I wasn't prepared to be pulled up to the stage! I was tired of waiting for a good night out, just wait a quick second Joseph! Blackpool broke it down to me like it was looking at me! Blackpool didn't need my approval because I left my judgement alongside my dignity at the coach door. No fish and chips for me that weekend, it was all about pie and chips. There was no diet that weekend Brit! No I didn't swim in the sea! 

Funny Girls kick started my Lancashire weekend with an injection of cabaret, I even got a selfie with DJ Zoe! The night was young, I had heard some great things about the Gay scene in Blackpool, getting my drink I hit the Flying Hangbag and Kaos that Friday night. I literally crawled down to breakfast the next morning, who serves breakfast at 8am?! I had almost forgot what pre-drinks were before that weekend, my student days had wrapped up just before that Northern trip. University was done so I reunited with a fellow student who I met at UCB's LGBT Society. Girl, we got our drink on for sure! Hitting the up the same nightspots on the Saturday night I did see Amy! Breakfast didn't exist the following day, Blackpool showed me a weekend to remember or not! Time never stays still so I said farewell to the Las Vegas of the North once again. Talking of Las Vegas! Did Blacks measure up to that Nevada mecca? Go past the Stratosphere to understand the Las Vegas reference. 

I made a promise to Newcastle Upon Tyne! Fulfilling my pledge I made the mammoth journey up to the Toon. Megabus got me to the North East without a hitch but I never want to repeat that journey ever again! The Tyne Bridge served cloud and cold rather than fog, beggars cannot be choosers. I was guilty to say that I was inspired to visit Newcastle because of seeing the reality series Geordie Shore. Money's been tight so I stayed at Newcastle Backpackers, it served the purpose of my trip perfectly and was located close to my chosen nightspot. The Geordie accent arrested me I just couldn't stop listening to the locals talk their talk! Grey's Monument had me at 'hello' yes I loved it! As Chinatown's go by, Newcastle's compact Oriental corner served me a budget priced beauty of a meal. I bet you couldn't tell that I'm easily pleased? True to say I had that Newcastle Upon Tyne state of mind. No fog on the Tyne!

I got my public transport hype going to reach Gateshead's Angel of the North, another key reason why I trekked from the Midlands to the North East, 'Cheryl Fernandez-Versini', formerly of Girls Aloud will always be the true Angel of the North for me. However the actual cast iron queen stood strong like a fierce looking glamazon! Now I say, take me to the Pink Triangle! I saw right through the clubs that were featured on Geordie Shore I wanted to party at Eazy Street! Newcastle Upon Tyne has a very chilled feeling in the day, people went about their business figuring why the night scene got crazy! Eazy Street served North East realness, Thursday night gave me the opportunity meet 'Beauty Killer' I got a shameless selfie with her! Friday took things up a few notches, the party people were out at Eazy Street for sure! There was no pretense at Eazy Street for it was all about having a great night whatever happened! I was in Crazy Stupid Love! Newcastle how did you do that to me?!

Who Really Needs a Passport?

Joseph Harrison