31 August 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 

28 August 2014

Back To Birmingham

Birmingham was great to me but at the time I just never that, I don't need to look back because I always make a comeback every once in a while. I went back to Birmingham the other week to see what was good. Bilston gets me down sometimes, so Birmingham had something to give! Who knew that Botanical Gardens and Bubble Tea would be a great combination?!

Birmingham, since I've been gone I have had to rewrite the book. I have been doing so good but I never need a reason to revisit my student city. Someone left the lights on, this city is changing. My blogging is crazy right now so with my crazy margins I needed a snap of UCB's frontage. Graduation is upon me, I never planned on attending I had my Emirate idea of being a Cabin Crew for the airline but I was brought back down to earth when I didn't get the job. Nevertheless, I've been back to pick up my transcript so I will be graduating with honours in September. Fast forward to the present I booked a trip to Newcastle so with an early coach I made an afternoon out of it, choosing wisely to print out my papers for the journey at the resource centre. My life is in transition at the moment things are on the pause button, I do get excited about small things. I'm loving life! Back to Brum, I'll walk these streets again!

Choosing a university closer to home has worked in my favour so I took the Metro to Birmingham Snow Hill from Bilston Central. It's mad to think I now make any excuse to visit UCB when in the last year I hardly ever attended. I still got all my work done but I preferred a good lie in because nobody loves 9am lectures. The resource centre gives me life, as silly as this sounds I really enjoyed the quiet atmosphere that took me back to the frantic days when I planned my Dissertation. UCB you got me looking at you in a whole new way! I'm tired of waiting, I just want to graduate already! UCB I want you to tell me what you're waiting on! Why Birmingham before Newcastle? The Geordie Shore got me looking once more, I was just like its time to see what that North East city had to offer me. Going back to Birmingham was a no-brainer! The studies have been completed, the results are in, there's only three weeks until my graduation! UCB I'm going to work it out good and proper!

Bubble Tea is the cure for a lot of things. My current hometown of Bilston won't ever know what Bubble Tea is, I chose Birmingham! Caffe Chino was calling! I had planned to meet with my friend Kelly in the city but it wasn't meant to be so I went ahead with my original plan. I chose to drink a Hong Kong style Bubble Tea, accompanied by a Hong Kong style cheesecake. I love things from Hong Kong! Birmingham's Chinese Quarter reminds me of happy times from my university course. Aside from Bubble Tea and cake I took some solace from my visit to Caffe Chino. I learnt the art of buying Chinese cakes and pastries upon my first visits to Caffe Chino, this time I knew the drill because Bilston hasn't got a clue what I enjoy, Major's chips are amazing but I just want some Bubble Tea! Cathay Street will always look a certain way for me, I know Birmingham is changing. Oh, I should of bought some Oolong Tea! Boo!

Chinatown! That part of town always looks like a kaleidoscope of culture, colour and flavour. Undoubtedly, one of my favourite parts of Birmingham's Southside I just can't get enough has to be Birmingham's Chinese Quarter. Chinatown I have love for you! So Xiexie! I'm a mad one for planning things, time in my book must be respected so I broke that rule completely. I wasn't feeling too good but I knew that my sweet treats would set me in the right direction to the Botanical Gardens. Since Blackpool things have been slow but its been refreshing to see the simple things in life are keeping me going. Bubble Tea and a visit to the Botanical makes everything good again. I'll be back in Birmingham for my graduation in a few weeks but I have some things planned until then until I get my papers all in line. Thanks again Caffe Chino! Headache gone, all was right with the world! Birmingham will be waking to a new tomorrow with the expansion and modernisation going on!

Chilling out for the afternoon I walked for what felt like a million miles like really, I gave up on my IPhone map route to reach Birmingham's Botanical Gardens. I had been once before when I was aged seven, throughout my University College days in Birmingham I vowed several times to visit again but I failed. With my departure to China approaching I used my spare afternoon to my advantage and got something done for a change. Using my student discount I made my way through the plant houses, the heat was humid and the plant-life impressed me much. I'm not the best at reading so I had mooch around the gardens, found a seat that overlooked the manicured gardens to read my book. I'm trying to finish 'Fresh Off The Boat: A Memoir' for the third time so I made the best of my attempt. Opened on the 11th of June 1832 the Gardens are in Edgbaston, Birmingham's exclusive side. Yes, Birmingham does classy!

Needless to say I couldn't believe a council estate lay a few minutes away from the image captured above. Let's just say that the time I spent relaxing with my book in the gardens was lovely, taking time out to zone out can be great. Getting back to Birmingham was the thing I needed before my Geordie weekend, let's just say it was nice. Bubble Tea and a little visit to university put me right, Birmingham is changing but I'll be back soon. I have to express that the Botanical Gardens brought it! I'm easily pleased so the greener pastures of the manicured gardens shine for sure. Birmingham, you sure know how to keep bringing it! Choose Birmingham's Botanical Gardens to take the stress out of the city, I know what I would rather be doing! Birmingham I know you recognise this! Would you visit Birmingham? I honestly don't care if this blog sounds boring or if you think it lacks character, I can look back at my last Birmingham day with a smile. I must look forward, no going back B!

Joseph Harrison

25 August 2014

Let's Introduce... Shrewsbury, England!

When times get tough I feel like its the perfect time to branch out, to introduce someplace new. Shrewsbury caught my eye and after a following on Twitter I just had to get out to see what this Shropshire town had to give. Now, stranger I did what I usually do, leaving my expectations at home I embraced Shrewsbury to the fullest! I wanted me some ramen noodles! Yes!

Why Shrewsbury? I say why not! I was beckoned to that Shropshire town to see what all the fuss is about. No fuss was found, I left Wolverhampton to arrive in Shrewsbury within the hour so time didn't have to be of any essence. From the very moment I stepped off my train in Shrewsbury I could feel that small town vibe, a town with history and tonnes of winding roads that gave me a break from the post-industrial town of Bilston. You know I still love you B! Located close to the Welsh border it was easy to hear the slightness of a twang in the townspeople's talk, had I reached Wales? Greeted with the English Bridge I loved the view onto the Severn river. I've only ever heard about Shrewsbury through the news, when the rain falls the Severn river throws some serious shade on Shrewsbury! I left my expectations at home to find I was very impressed by the Tudor vibe that Shrewsbury served so well! 

Shrewsbury Square served some kind of Morris Dancing folk show! That Saturday took it to somewhere else, a crowd was attracted to that spectacle for sure. Getting around Shrewsbury doesn't take all day, centrally located from all the main amenities its no sweat to see everything in an afternoon. I knew it wasn't long since I had visited Newcastle, somewhere new beckoned, staying closer to home Shrewsbury told me that miracles can happy every now and then. I might have enforced that I don't do shopping but Shrewsbury possesses a long run of niche boutiques that didn't have a Poundland price tag, she be showcasing some real class! For a small town it stood strong with lots of independent retailers, we need to empower the mom and pop businesses! I thought I had seen it all but I had been fooled, check out Shrewsbury's High Street to soak up all the Tudor architecture it surely played when a Ask Italian looked more like a medieval pub, chain restaurants can look good?

In hot pursuit for some Korean and Japanese fusion food I wanted my lunch already! Momo No Ki, the home of Ramen in Shrewsbury town. Twitter got me good, after a follow from an interesting looking eatery I didn't see why I couldn't have some of that good cooking! I ordered the signature dish, the Momo No Ki served up noodle bowl heaven with spice and substance. Bringing out all the colours and flavours from the Ramen goodness I could of been back in Chinatown, New York City! I didn't have to wait in line for I was served promptly by the friendly and professional team who worked the floor at Momo No Ki! Captured to the right stands my hearty serving, accompanied by a Kirin Japanese beer I dined on a international hype even though I was in the charming town of Shrewsbury. This experience has really made me pay more attention when I get an alert on Twitter, social media has a lot to answer for! 

After the main event being my lunch I wanted to see more of Shrewsbury, looking towards the edge of town I found The Quarry, now a vast park space to enjoy I found a spot to take a break along the Severn River. Dubbed the 'Original One Off' I would have to agree with that tourism description of Shrewsbury, the relaxing pace of the town was infectious even with the busy pace of the Saturday afternoon that was in full swing. Need I forget to mention, Momo No Ki is located opposite the Abbey so look for that once you cross the English Bridge from Shrewsbury's town centre. Get it together! Go get lost in Shrewsbury like I did, it made a nice change to for the day. Staying overnight can be done, I passed numerous centrally located hotels in the town centre so making that Shropshire stay can be easy. Another Twitter follow from The Buttermarket showed me that Shrewsbury has a lot going for itself even if its a small historic town! I kid you not, no shade Shrewsbury!

I'm not religious, like a prayer I found myself taking a moment at Shrewsbury Abbey. I didn't receive any calling but I'm a sucker for a place of worship. Shrewsbury Abbey reminded me of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Stratford-Upon-Avon, the resting place of William Shakespeare. Like a prayer or maybe a dream? With its earliest foundations dating back to Saxon times in 1070, the Abbey was most influential when it was used as a Benedictine Abbey in 1084. Something told me this Abbey had put in some serious years I guess life is a mystery? I noticed Shrewsbury had a cathedral but I just wasn't interested in that! Shrewsbury's Abbey gave me some peace and quiet so all was good. I didn't expect to find an Abbey that had so many years behind it, the engravings looked like Latin! 1070 might well be 944 years since Shrewsbury Abbey started, hope for another 944 years. I even paid one pound to take a photo!

I didn't know somewhere like Shrewsbury could be located so close to home!? I chose to keep Shrewsbury's Cathedral at arms length because Abbey served enough, this Shropshire town had all the qualities I had once seen in Chester! Another town that could have been scouted for Disney's UK Pavilion at the EPCOT World Showcase in Orlando? It really does beg the question?! I told you Shrewsbury had hidden depths, but why did the heavens have to open?! I mean the rain! Please believe it, Shrewsbury beholds a castle! On my way to the train station I knew there was something hidden reason for me to take the wrong turn, back in the early days Shrewsbury Castle ran the town to slay to protect the people. As well as the Castle the Regimental Museum stood within the forever royal grounds, who be dropping ammunition like Geronimo?! Whatever you think about this blog I say a visit to Shrewsbury leads to many things, take a look at the Abbey and dine at Momo No Ki? Yes!

Introduce Yourself Shrewsbury!

Joseph Harrison

22 August 2014

Destination: Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Wye aye, man! The Toon wasn't ready for me! Newcastle Upon Tyne is a far off place for me, the North East coast of England sounded like a plan. Promise this, I didn't want a typical Geordie Shore experience I was looking for something extra! Take the time to say your prayers because I'm not apologising for nothing! Hold that coach I'm on my way again Newcastle!

I don't know how you did it to me Newcastle, from the first moment I saw the Tyne Bridge I was captivated! Nothing good comes easy so the six hour coach journey confirmed I made it to the Geordie Shore for all the right reasons! A certain Geordie pop icon was born in this city, can you guess who she is? No fog on the Tyne it was rather cloudy and cold! I was like hold up, I wasn't impressed by the signage on the bridge but I realised it was all in aid of the Great North Run. I had always had a burning desire to see Newcastle Upon Tyne, she's almost Scottish so the trip took some doing but it was worth it. From the first glance Newcastle presented itself as a former industrial powerhouse like her sisters, Sunderland and Middlesborough. Get into Newcastle! I've been to Sydney, Australia where I saw the Sydney Harbour Bridge but this Geordie prototype was taken to Sydney, Australia! Two bridge sisters!

I can always sense when a place has a buzzing atmosphere, from the second I stepped off my Megabus on to North East soil I had a great vibe from the Toon! Life expects us to be strong but Newcastle Upon Tyne is a busy lady! You should be too?! I wasn't on any Byker Grove hype, spreading my wings I took some time to embrace the waters of the Quayside for it told a story of strength and toil. Industry is being replaced by alternative points of interest, the miners might have packed up but on the way through Sunderland I noticed some of the foundries had been transformed into museums. Newcastle looked just canny to me, I could mark off another amazing home city visited in England. The night was far off from that point so getting to know the daylight side of the Geordie Shore had to be done before things got crazy! Truth be told I did love eavesdropping on people's conversation for the Geordie talk had me instantly. Auf Wiedersehen pet! There was no way B!

Grey's Monument took me to the heart of Newcastle Upon Tyne's city centre, definitely resembling Nelson's Column! Now a Grade I listed monument this pillar of strength was built in 1838 to acclaim the 2nd Earl Grey, Charles. A contrast of a city Newcastle showed itself to be, nevertheless I adored this central part of the city centre. The stone buildings stood regal along the road leading to Grey's Monument, Newcastle just keep on serving! Quitting was out of the question, my early morning departure seemed a world away, I was willing and ready to soldier on. Loving life must be an official Geordie sport, the streets surrounding Newcastle's column showcased a maze of shops, restaurants and cafes. I wasn't feeling the 'Material Girl' vibe for I was on a severely tight budget so I saved my paper for the night. Fear not, Newcastle is a walk-able city, I never used the Metro. Save the stress, love the Toon! 

I have a fancy state of mind but I always travel basic, hotels are for haters! I have love for a hostel. Newcastle Backpackers has a winning formula, its affordable and possesses a central location. Choosing my bed in the bunk I felt comfortable at Newcastle Backpackers, I even got a cup of tea made for me! Westgate is the only way to experience Newcastle on a budget, don't judge because like most trips that I take I met some genuine people from the four corners of the world. I'm not saying this to make it sound good I'm just being real, leave your attitude at the door because this backpacking friendly hostel just wants you to enjoy England's North East! Back to the Toon, I must admit that Newcastle has a compact Chinatown that served up a budget meal with a big budget taste. Choose The Gate for pre-drinks or the cinema? I watched the new Inbetweeners Movie. Laying it down Newcastle has a calm feel during the day, people went about their business stress free.

Get me to Gateshead! Leaving base I took the 21 bus from Eldon Square bus station, Newcastle to the Angel of the North. I had been so pumped to see this glamazon, she's just so statuesque! OK, I must admit that the pop icon in-question is Cheryl 'Fernandez-Versini' Cole. The nations sweetheart hails from Newcastle Upon Tyne, I wholeheartedly believe that she's the true Angel of the North but like every winner there's always stiff competition. This cast iron queen didn't have to sing a note because she stood strong, serving and protecting the Newcastle and Gateshead region. I first saw the Angel on Geordie Shore, not taking the show too seriously I was intrigued by the cast iron queen, I just had to see her for myself. Its's no secret that Newcastle has produced some famous faces, making themselves known by their many trades. I'll stay faithful to the true star of Girls Aloud. Cheryl is the Angel of the North! 

I'm a city boy at heart so being back in a bustling centre of crazy felt good. The TV series Geordie Shore influenced my motive to visit Newcastle, by no means was that my only reason for looking North East. I loved visiting Manchester in January 2014 and Liverpool several times so I have a close connection with the North of England. Things just have a feeling of chill about them, let's be real its difficult to find southerners willing to be helpful with directions or acknowledge when shoulders accidentally collide? I've just made the biggest sweeping generalisation of everyone who lives south of the Midlands but I know its true. The Angel of the North looks fierce but she means well, like her Northern population I understood why an angel was built to promote a feeling of cohesion and to uplift the region. It's no Billy Elliot story the drama of the miners strike shook the region, the Angel of the North does her bit. Cast iron is gorgeous! She's a glamazon pet!

Make no bones about this I just wanted a drama free night out, those queens are just too much! Eazy Street showed up and saw right through me, I just had to see what was good! Like a rollercoaster I just enjoyed the highs of the night. Beauty Killer was the compare on Thursday night, girl I wanted a selfie with her! I was trying to understand what was going on, I was in Crazy Stupid Love! Trading the predictable haunts like Tiger Tiger or Bijou I loved Eazy Street, it didn't ask questions or judged anyone for that fact! I made a new friend, not a Geordie but he was a gentleman. Friday night turned things up a notch, feisty and ready for the weekend I knew where I was going! I made a detour to Rusty's, let's just say that a fellow doppelganger was shady! Telling the DJ to take it high returning to Eazy Street to conclude my final night in Newcastle's Pink Triangle! Yes Cheryl, of course I requested Promise This! Work Brit!

That hangover didn't have to apologise because I loved my nights in Newcastle's Pink Triangle! Now it figures why the city has such a chilled vibe during the day, everyone's sleeping soundly! Thank you British rail for being so expensive so I got myself back to Bilston via Birmingham by National Express coach and Midland Metro, it was rough! Newcastle Upon Tyne showed me North East realness, she didn't hold anything back but she endeavoured to be classy at the same time. Honestly, who really cares whilst we're having a great time?! The way my crazy weekend unfolded I wouldn't of changed one thing! My return journey home got crazy but six hours on a coach isn't good! From the original Tyne Bridge to the centre city of Grey's Monument I made the right decision to visit the Geordie Shore! Gateshead gave me the Angel of the North, keep on serving Geordie realness! Newcastle Upon Tyne, the birthplace of the nation's sweetheart and the true ambassador for the city! 

Up The Toon!

Joseph Harrison

11 August 2014

Fifty Shades of London

That's some shady shade! London is a city that's unapologetic, she doesn't want your feeble words! From north to south and in between this Roman city of the future is a supermodel of the world! London will take those queens down, she's got fifty shades to throw at you! Let those Pearly Kings and Queens serve their London hot couture! Elizabeth we need a word!

Hey Queen! Lizzie, lets spill the tea?! Buckingham Palace is the place to have a good old fashion kiki! Yes, I'm British but when I checked out Buckingham Palace I was just like 'get out of my way!' London is a quick paced city that welcomes you with a short smile, its the London way or the high way! I let my patriotic side have its moment, I was royally impressed at the show piece of the British Royal Family. Westminster wins! We embrace the international vibe in London for people from the four corners of the globe try and catch a glimpse of Queenie and her clan but we had plans! Liz you better work! Spilling the tea I think Queen E was home at Buckingham Palace that day, something to do with the flag? The American's put their hands up to the Royals, those folks just love our Royal Family! They weren't throwing any shade! Since Prince George was born we have seen a boom in tourism. Thanks Baby G!

I can't say what it is that makes me love London? Maybe because I was born there? West Midlands heart, London by that Great British burgundy book! Get hooked on London's intoxicating vibe, let's stay with Westminster because Cupid boy you'll see the good stuff! Forget Soho, you know its all about executive realness if you know what I mean?! Throwing some serious shade on the scene is the political side of things for the decisions are made in the Houses of Parliament. The Elizabeth Tower stands like a Glamazon, maybe she was based on female phenomenon? Let's keep that political shade for next time, don't blame me for bringing that issue up would just get ugly. How many shades of London have I thrown so far? London's political avenue makes its voice heard, those protesters fight for their respected cause! Bring it for the children! Thinking that I was going to cancel on this straight talking blog makes my blood boil, let's got forth to throw some more shade! Go L!

Let's Azonto down to the West African vibe, a controversial choice but I was brave enough to try some Jollof Rice and Beef! This part of London brought realness, not that many tourists know this part of the game so make that your challenge to make a change? Consider that done! Take the Docklands Light Railway to Woolwich Arsenal to experience London's take on Accra and Lagos, I told you London's got many sides to her complex character. I chose Tasty to order that Jollof Rice, its a taste I won't forget so that's another reason to try something new! The young British African ladies served realness with their weaves and hairpieces, serving competition for real in London's SE18! A girl has to travel, Crossrail is coming to Woolwich Arsenal in the coming months! Intertwined with the West African vibe I noticed that Woolwich's waterfront and barracks will be London's new executive address. TINA!

Serve your weave African lady! Woolwich brings the Firepower with a sickening new museum that educates the willing about the wars and artillery of now and yesterday's battles. Woolwich has a extensive history with its story dating back to the days of the Royal Arsenal. Eat some Jolllof Rice and Beef, educate yourself about the Arsenal then you'll be a champion! I told you that I was bringing back some shade! Let's empower Woolwich because destiny could well be yours SE18! I have friends from this part of London, they are genuine and down to earth, that's all that matters! London is a bit like me, we're both unapologetic so recognise! Embrace the African vibe, I used to live in Newark, New Jersey where her Downtown served West African 1920's realness! Just because a place has a cultural influence and a kick ass wartime story positive shade shall be thrown! Just spill the Tea! Turn out the lights, wake up our souls London you'll never be alone! Get turned up Woolwich!

People have been talking since the beginning of time, but you're standing that test because you serve London with its bridges and its where North meets West! Captured to the left is Tower Bridge, one of London's most iconic bridges to stretch the Thames gap. On the southern side there's Shad Thames in the London Borough of Southwark, that part of town turns it back to Dickensian London with its former warehouses and brew-houses. Why not try a pure brew pint at the Anchor Tap on Horselydown Lane? London wants you, she doesn't appreciate slackers! Crossing the bridges of London needs to be done with focus, stick to the path and you'll be fine! Tower Bridge reigned as top dog during London's shipping era but there's always a new girl to throw the shade as usual! Rising from nothing The Shard is the skyscraper of now, I say she's the future?! Build her a boyfriend already!

Okay, I'm going to break it down because I call the shots here! Upon my last visit to London I didn't go to Camden Town, I had seen her on my previous trip so I chose something new. Shoreditch, Spitalfields and Brick Lane was the answer to that question, searching for Huguenot realness I found that and the work place of Jack the Ripper! I got my drink on with some crazy fools at the Ten Bells Tavern on the corner of Fournier Street, then I stumbled down to Brick Lane for a curry! I'll always be shameless! That Jack slayed! You wanted to say that I know you did! I said Shabat Shalom to Golders Green and Stamford Hill! I had some Kosher Chicken Soup and a Cream Cheese Bagel or two, I tell you London I wasn't disappointed! The London Underground is the toughest mother out of the lot, the commuters of London have a code so don't break that sacred thing! London definitely has fifty shades of realness and sass, respect and don't forget Chinatown, she's a whole other story!

Queen Elizabeth! Lady I Still Want That Kiki! 

Joseph Harrison

10 August 2014

August 2013: This Time Last Year...

I can't help looking back in time, I know that I'm lucky but this time last year I spent the month of August in Turkey. I want to rewind back to the golden sands and baking temperatures that I luxuriated in this time last year! Have you been to Turkey? I suggest that you get a grip of things and book that flight now! Turkey, I love you! Seni Turkiye'yi seviyorum! 

Çalış Beach welcomed me once again to witness its sunset one final time. After sailing through another semester at University College Birmingham I packed my bags once again, this time I took a flight to Turkey for I had some holidaying to do! Turkish Airlines flew me from Birmingham International to Dalaman airport via Istanbul's Ataturk airport, might I add that the flights I took with TK were out of this world. The cabin crew served a flawless service, offering several free poured mixed drinks was amazing, I arrived in Istanbul feeling live! Getting back to Çalış, Turkey meant so much to me, that holiday resort town had seen 13 years worth of holidays for me and my immediate family. I'm in a thinking kind of mood, just go with it please! I will always have time for Çalış for its a simple town that has a slow pace, catering to the family market means things don't get too crazy. You better Çalısma!

I had five weeks to get my tan, I didn't want to laze away the days on a sun lounger, no girl I had grand plans to travel around the area to see Çalış from a new view. Hitting the ground running I visited the local market, limiting myself to one visit was a wise choice because after a decade of the same outing it sometimes gets tiresome wading through crowds of newbie tourists. I knew what I wanted to see, I don't have time for ditherers so its get it done and leave! I had spent two years away from Turkey due to work commitments in the United States so I was really excited to be back in the heat of Turkey! Taking to the waters of the Aegean Sea I accompanied my family on a boat trip to sail around several beauty spots along the Turquoise Coast, I channeled Ariel from Disney's the Little Mermaid for the crystal clear water just had to be enjoyed. My first few days merged into one beautiful state of mind the holiday that I had waited for two years had arrived, I wanted an ice cold Ayran!

I wasn't going to sit pretty, I was hungry for more! Getting to grips with Istanbul helped to understand why she was such a hot mess during the summer of 2013. It had probably just been over a week since I touched down in Istanbul before I was hitting the tarmac once again, I chose to fly with Pegasus from Dalaman to Sabiha Gokcen International Airport on the Asian side of the city. Girl had some shade thrown in 2013, I did feel an atmosphere but Istanbul is a crazy place so that just felt natural. Istanbul is a perfect contradiction, it has modernity but holds and represents Turkey as the Ottoman Empire it was once known as. Taksim Square and Istiklal Caddesi brought international realness. Sultanahmet rewinded back to the Ottoman Empire!

Two days was ample time to seek adventure in Istanbul, it was a touch up trip because I had been there before so I grabbed the experience by the jewels completely! Sultanahmet showed me the opulence of Top Kapi Saray, the sultan's closed palace oozed style and royal highness, I didn't want to leave! The Blue Mosque tempted me but I didn't get the chance to see inside the Hagia Sophia, by any means I'm not the religious type but I would have converted to preach in such a out of this world environment. You already know that Istanbul was named Constantinople during the Roman rule so the Hagia Sophia was a Catholic church. The Turkish reclaimed their Mosque, transforming the church back into a Mosque! Istanbul had me from the first moment! I was in heaven! Evet T!

Turkish food is amazing so it grates on me when Brits abroad don't respect their surroundings, I'll let them have that but I made sure I got back to what I loved! My American summer in 2012 had been something else but I wanted some tomato soup with cheese in Fethiye! I had my soup was great, it gave me a slice of freedom to explore the town of Fethiye once again. The fish market has a distinct smell but I saw it all as an experience. I haven't been far this summer but I have managed to see some great places in this country opposed to my usual foreign summer holiday. My love of Turkish music was catered for in Fethiye, making sure I visited my usual CD shop I spent 90 Turkish Lira on six current Turkish albums. Over the years its been clear to see Fethiye has changed lots, gaining a McDonald's and Burger King to add the fast food culture. It's all good in moderation I'll stay faithful to my tomato soup!

Let's go to the beach! I got my tan on and my drink on during a two day break to Ovacik. Spending one day by the pool nursing a severe hangover wasn't easy! Ölüdeniz beach was calling so well spent an eventful day at the Sugar Beach Club, we soaked up the sun, getting on the cocktails! Things got boozy but that wasn't the end of our drinking antics for a shameless night out was had in the party resort of Hisarönü! The hangovers were worth it, I had not been to Turkey for almost three years so I lived it up before my final year at University College Birmingham begun! Let's just say that week was crazy to say the least, holidays are for our enjoyment, I fulfilled that request completely. Away from the beach and mountains I went on a Jeep Safari with a difference! It was probably my tenth one so I knew what the day entailed so I just enjoyed it to the fullest. Leaving one week to the next I relaxed by the pool, it would be the final holiday spent at our villa at Onur Sitesi.

Concluding my five week holiday in Turkey showed me a peacful stay at Muzzy's Place in the village of Kayaköy to be welcomed back into the peace and quiet, holidays can be eventful and get crazy, I was looking forward to have some down time. A sumptuous yet simple village breakfast was enjoyed by all, well I enjoyed the lot so that's good for me! Abandoned by the Greek settlers the once lively hilly village has served a state of calm. I wouldn't fancy being removed from my hometown because I have right to remain by birth so that's where that ends. My usual routine would be to walk right to the top of the hill, the view was amazing to say the least but I chose to explore the lower village. I was a child once but no I don't like to be surrounded by loud noise when I'm sunbathing or trying to swim a full set of lengths that wasn't an issue at Muzzy's Place for everything fell into place. Love it!

In the here and now I adopt a feeling of contentment I was so lucky to experience an amazing five weeks in Turkey. The three years or so that I been away made all the difference, I have learnt to look a at my previous travel experiences and feel very appreciative. Çalış Beach served its golden sunset one more time for me, getting to know the Onur Beach Cafe offered me a chance to support an independent family run business. Fethiye was darling, reinforcing my love of Turkish food especially tomato soup with cheese and a ice cold glass of Ayran. The party got started during my weekend in Ovacik, the beach and booze made sure things got crazy indeed! Kayaköy served abandoned realness, enabling me to recharge my batteries before the return flight back to England. But Istanbul turned it, I would have to call it my Turkish Delight because I loved it and then some! Turkey is amazing, I plan to see a non-touristic part! There we have it! August 2013 was amazing!

Turkey! I shall be back one day!

Joseph Harrison