Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Worcester... Thanks For Everything!

A cathedral city? Did I need some more divine intervention or what?! Yes, I did! I wasn't about to get twisted just yet, I had heard mixed reviews about Worcester so I wanted to see for myself! Would it be a day of enlightenment for me? From the Hopmarket to Foregate Street I had a part of my adventourous side reintroduced to me! Take me to the River Severn now B! 

I took Worcester to church! I eventually made it to Worcester's Anglican Cathedral in my own time because I wasn't in no mood to rush at all! There must be something about places of worship? I couldn't get enough of the peace and quiet that Worcester Cathedral served to me! I was on the look out for a statue of the Madonna, I'm not religious but I see the Madonna as a strong female figure to take strength from but I must of offended the volunteer that I asked. I was like 'Where's the Madonna at?!' Apparently, the Anglican part of the church takes a patriarchal stance?! I was like 'I don't think so lady church person!?' It wasn't difficult to find a piece of calm in the end! With no Madonna in-sight I wanted to find the crypt to go underground! Silence!

Did I see the tomb of King John? That's a question I simply can't answer! Built between 1084 and 1504 there was some serious restoration going on at Worcester Cathedral the day I visited, we all need a makeover every now and then! After being denied the chance to see the Madonna, I went underneath the church to experience the crypt to be fronted by a blanket of silence and stillness. I hadn't planned much ahead of my trip to Worcester but I knew that I could rely on that formidable place of worship! Fashioned by a Norman flair it was evident to see various influences had made their mark on Worcester's Cathedral. Stuck on a treadmill of normality I wanted to breakaway for the day to seek some solace. Playing by the rules I paid for my photo permit, make your coins Mr. Jesus C!

Finding the riverside from the cathedral gardens I was greeted by a calm River Severn. There wasn't much going on as I took some time out, but in actual fact it was great to watch the river flow past. Getting to Worcester took some going even though its not far from Birmingham, I took the Midland Metro from Bilston via the Hawthorns then a train onto Worcester's Foregate Street station. After the stillness of the crypt I wanted to be in the open for just a moment so the riverside seemed like the best plan. Up until that point my day in Worcester hadn't been knock out compared to other places I've visited but it gave me the chance to think about things, especially the riverside for its slow pace allowed my mind to runaway to a whole other place. I'm not throwing shade on Worcester because the sights that were presented to me did please my eyes, I was living for Worcester in ways that I didn't realise W!

Capturing the perfect snap of Worcester's Riverside didn't take much doing because I didn't have my blog head on that day for I wanted to take in the sights without any forward thinking. The weather wasn't cold but neither was it warm so I bid farewell to the River Severn without much thought. Turning up my Nigerian beats I powered forth, making my way back to Worcester's city centre to find a vibrant network of quaint streets that were exceedingly busy for a Friday mid-afternoon. Foregate Street oozed small city Overness with its main high street of well known brands and some independents that caught my eyes for sure! Any high street that has a 'Paperchase' is a winner in my eyes, let's just say a dear family member got a rather classy birthday card indeed. Worcester was like a medicine in the respect I used seeing the new sights as a tonic, easing my mood significantly! Choose Worcester's Riverside to meet the River Severn in a chilled state of mind? Yes!

I thought I had seen everything I wanted to in Worcester until I stumbled upon the Hopmarket. Taking a unplanned left on Foregate Street I found a charming and quiet courtyard that I dismissed for a second but then decided to grab a a bit to eat at one of the cafes, don't quote me on the name because its slipped my mind. Indulging in a ham and cheese panini, I opted for a pot of tea to mix things up. Wanting more I saw 'Joy' a new age store, I bought some Nag Champa incense sticks. There wasn't a lot going in within that courtyard but never-the-less it made a great alternative to not have McDonald's for lunch. Maybe the Hopmarket will receive a financial boost to attract new business? I'm glad I found the Hopmarket when I did, for I would have jumped on a train without hesitation. Like I mentioned before I'm not throwing shade on Worcester as a place I just wasn't feeling completely myself really B.

Retracing my steps from the Hopmarket to the middle of Foregate Street's busy high street I found the Guidhall in all of its finery, from the outside obviously! I must admit that getting back into the blog mode was a great thing, I chose Worcester for location if I'm honest and I know that it didn't disappoint me! I didn't see the Madonna at that patriarchal place of worship but I found some calm within the stillness of the Cathedral's lower crypt. It might read that I was underwhelmed by that cathedral city but it planted a small seed into my head. I was like 'let's go out tonight?' I told myself 'NO!' Leaving the cathedral and the Riverside behind I bought some of my favourite Strongbow Dark Fruit cans for the night ahead because I was determined I would hit the streets of Birmingham's Southside that night! My day in Worcester did me good in many respects and yes I terrorised Birmingham's Village Inn that night to my delight I had a great time from what I can remember!

Worcester ... I'm Good!

Joseph Harrison 

Monday, 30 March 2015

My Eurovision Song Celebration: 2012, 2013 & 2014...

Hello Europe! The Eurovision Song Contest has thrown some serious sass and pure ridiculousness over the last few years, from 2012 to 2014 I want to see what countries represented with integrity whilst others that rested on the famous 'gimmick?!' From Baku to Copenhagen via Malmö, there's been some serious political voting going on! Yes, I love Eurovision!

In a far off Eurasian land, well Azeribajian to be exact welcomed the 57th Eurovision Song Contest! Feeling the energy I caught up with a few favourites from that years edition to include Cyprus who was represented by Ivi Adamou, singing 'La Love' with a seductive number that oozed Eurovision sass! Being in America for that contest meant I had to rely upon YouTube to be a part of the party. A fan of the contest since 2002, I wasn't about to put off my Eurovision Song Contest ritual because I was away from the BBC! Romania owned their 'Zaleilah' groove, a strange yet catchy jingle that sounded suspiciously Spanish?! My American co-workers had no clue about the ESC so I flew the flag independently! Bringing the Aphrodite queen a second time with Greece's Eleftheria Eleftheriou making everybody want that Aphrodisiac! Russia took the biscuit with a group of crazy grannies who represented!

Eurovision has had to transform itself into a modern contest, reinventing its image to be even better than the previous year so a certain Scandinavian nation represented! Their had been some shade thrown towards certain breeches of human rights in Azerbaijan, don't quote me what words were hurled during the build up to the contest but one lady slayed! Performing seventeenth Loreen changed the face of Eurovision with her strong and energetic rendition of 'Euphoria!' With an avalanche of votes resulting a victory with 268 votes Loreen won the contest outright! In my opinion Loreen's impact was a serious game-changer for the contest, she catapulted a credible club tune that I have danced like nobody else was watching! I can identify with Loreen's anthem because its about being ourselves and just living in 'Euphoria'. Girl, I bought your album and that's a first for a Eurovision star! 2012's Eurovision Song Contest changed the game for many reasons but I sense more drama!

Malmö had big things to serve! Loreen was back for one night! Tensions were brewing with Turkey after they were outraged by Krista Siegfrids 'Marry Me' where she puckered up with one of female backing singers! Yes, Finland! Those Scandinavians owned that Eurovision malarkey! No questions! Norway chilled the party, Margaret Berger brought a rock goddess vibe to the contest with 'I Feed You My Love'. Certain political undertones had been raised but this fabulous musical event always finds a way to grab the headlines or fuel the evils of tactical voting. Zlata Ognevich served Avatar Realness as she belted 'Gravity' it was a firm favourite with her performance and vocals. Talking about Turkey, oh they needed Sertab Erener to help the side any way she could! Our hope was Bonnie Tyler, we couldn't hold out for a hero any longer! Let the tactical voting begin Europe! Why does the UK have so much bad luck?!

From Finland causing a stir with that kiss it was left to Romania to bring the bizarre to Malmö in 2013! Dracula had entered the arena, Cezar belted out a pop operatic performance of 'It's My Life' to put the legendary Eurovision 'gimmick' to the test 100%! I honestly loved Romania so much more compared to 'Zaleilah!' Holding out for a hero didn't do us any good so I looked over the Irish Sea to Ireland's Ryan Dolan for 'Only Love Survives!' Ryan's super cute performance was complemented by his two strapping drum players, oh Ireland I was counting on you to bring it! Loreen made her comeback with a banger 'Euphoria' and her new single 'We've Got The Power' to bring the house down! Host Petra Mede presented a hilarious Smörgåsbord of a halftime show, signing about the joys of IKEA, Mamma Mia, Abba and Gay marriage! There had to be a winner, Denmark's Emmelie de Forest won with 'Only Teardrops' to my dismay the United Kingdom had lost again! Malmö served IKEA Realness!

Hello Europe! Copenhagen, Denmark welcomed Europe to the 59th Eurovision Song Contest with one hell of a dramatic show for the continent to enjoy! I had gone out the night before so found out when a certain Austrian stole the competition, forgive me for my hungoverness?! Flashing back over the contestants I couldn't help feeling they were all singing for peace and solidarity? Hold that thought! Poland served something between Polish folk dancer meets the Pussycat Dolls! I was confused with their scantily clad milk maids who proclaimed their talents lay making bread! Nie Polska! Not making the final I adored Portugal's lively beat that took me back to the streets of Newark's Ironbound District! I want to say obrigada to Suzy for 'Quero Ser Tua' it gives me life! Can Ivi Adamou represent Cyrpus again please?! On second thoughts, why didn't Portugal get to the final with their catchy melody?!

007 who? Conchita Wurst, a Austrian powerhouse of glamour and elegance rose even higher than a phoenix! No one could have guessed in 2014 such a groundbreaking act would follow 1998's Dana International, let's just say Conchita had a little secret to serve? This Austrian female impersonator set the stage on fire with her powerful lyrics, leading the message to be that her haters fueled the fire for her strength and determination. Born Tom Neuwirth, his persona Conchita stole the show by taking the flame of victory for Austria that May 2014 night in Copenhagen, Denmark. Could Conchita Wurst be the first bearded Bond vixen? That fire has sent me a little crazy! 'Rising Like A Phoenix' I know in the drag stakes Conchita Wurst made her impact after the glittering contest ended to become a Gay rights ambassador and Pride icon! The recent anti-gay legislation that had been released in Russia angered us and the torch was carried on by Conchita! No, Russia! Go sit down!

2015, We Ready!

Joseph Harrison 

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Destination: Birmingham, England!

Birmingham is a destination like no other! It's a city that doesn't receive the praise its entitled, neither the funding to take it to the next level! I try to get back to Birmingham as much as I can, one can never have too much of a good thing! I wanted my day to be refined for some reason? Birmingham gave me my sanity back that day I know that for sure! Represent Queen Brum!

I never really appreciated Birmingham whilst I was living there during my time studying but each visit back to my region's capital I take something new in! As per usual I had things to do, with the dullness done I headed for Birmingham's Cathedral to see if I could track down some divine intervention because I was feeling the heat that week. Like a prayer I did find a pocket of calm in my life, even if it was for a brief second. Celebrating its 300th birthday this pint-sized house of worship served Jesus Christ realness! Bless yourself, then genuflect! Nestled within the glass fronted Colmore Row Business District this house of worship has witnessed some serious change since it served this once progressive West Midland town, it was much smaller! 1715 didn't know what change this cathedral would witness, I didn't pay much attention to this cathedral during my student days back when I would take the metro. Life's a........!

Birmingham, you say?! This destination stands in the shadow of others like London and Manchester, both places are great but Birmingham has the art of reinvention down to a fine key! Throw your shade but I know Birmingham will be getting into a whole new groove in the coming years! Crisp the weather may have been I wasn't looking for anything to dampen my unplanned Brummie pursuit. A part of me wanted a cheeky pint and a full English breakfast but I ignored that hunger pang for another time, breaking from the usual is what I did that day. Swinging by Victoria Square and the Council House I noticed that Birmingham's former Central Library was looking towards a new 'Paradise' that reinforced how much my life has been altered, I wouldn't mind going to 'Paradise!' Keeping my head in the game I traded my down demeanour for an outlook of optimism, Brum had one more chance to serve greatness! What the heck is 'Jesus Christ Realness?' Heaven help me! Yes, choose Brum!

Shopping isn't one of my favourite things to do but I broke that chain of thought whilst I was last in Birmingham. I'm a firm believer that the Bullring isn't Birmingham's main selling point because their are greater things that represent Birmingham! Channeling my inner 'Material Girl' I took a chance on Selfridges, I had just been paid so I wanted to flash some plastic fantastic. Paperchase knows my pin code, I could spend obscene amounts of money at that premium stationery outlet in Brum. Diamonds and pearls always look alluring but I had my eye on a new cherry red notebook for my notes at work. Primark's concession caught my eye on the men's clothing floor, I'm a skinflint when it comes to money so grabbing a £7.00 black and gold tee suited me just fine! I've got to look sickening the next time I hit the clubs of Southside! Birmingham is a fashion phenomenon! BHX isn't the only runway in Brum! I was ready B! 

Leaving the 'Hot Couture' behind, it had to be 'Operation Southside' for my obligatory Hong Kong style bubble tea from Caffe Chino. It's a ritual I always make sure that I execute whenever I visit Birmingham, it's more a flashback to my university days when me and my friend Kelly would ignore our studies for a moment for a slice of something sweet and a bubble tea for two. Kelly now being in Hong Kong the distance doesn't seem so gargantuan when I enjoy my bubble tea! Rod Roj on Smallbrook Queensway had my full attention, I had heard a few positive reviews about the food served so I wanted some of that good Turkish cooking! Dining on a delicious serving of chicken and lamb shish that was served with rice, salad and bread like any self-respecting Turkish meal should be formed. Ayran was in my life for the first time in a long while! Could Southside be the new Turkish Quarter?! I might not live in Birmingham anymore but there's somethings that won't ever leave me! Get it Birmz!

University College Birmingham provided me with the tools to achieve my university dream but I wanted to see how the other half study. Making it to the grounds of the University of Birmingham didn't take much thought, I was looking for the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower, for that ticking landmark embodies Birmingham's most prestigious educational institute! The students that passed me by were potentially training to be doctors or other respected professions so a certain type of stereotype was brewing. Not my path, never and no! I loved the clock tower and the grounds that made up the Chancellor's Court reminded me of my time spent in Havard near Boston, USA. Their was a cool vibe beneath the clock tower, it was weird seeing all the students because I've been quite hung up about not having university as a part of my life anymore! Quite frankly I need to get a grip! A Brummie university that's right on time B! 

The University of Birmingham campus and halls of residence played a part in my university journey even though I studied at UCB. I remember going to one of the halls of residences for a fireworks display during the first semester of my first year of uni in Birmingham. Rounding off the experience now after my graduation to see 'Old Joe' felt like the right thing to do. My halls of residence 'The Maltings' were located on the Mailbox's doorstep so I was within a five minute walk of the city centre if I speed walked, looking at the main campus at UOB I gathered a few amenities were on campus to make things more convenient for the students. I preferred being in the thick of it for nights out were so much easier to execute, rather than being a train ride from the centre of town I wouldn't like being away from it all at UOB. 'Old Joe's' clock tower impressed me much and I saw the other side! Who knew that I would be serving 'Educational Realness?' Birmingham is a destination with much more! Work it B!

Going walkabout was just what I needed to do, I feel stress very easy so lets just say I needed to be distracted for a little while! Making my way from Chancellor's Court I chose the canal to get my head around the last couple of months, my short canal-side stroll got my head back into the game. Leaving Edgbaston behind I had my sights set on Harborne Village to seek a more refined Birmingham. Eventually, I made it across to Harborne but wasn't overly impressed by the parade of shops really, I was looking something that was more quaint! The houses behind the main parade of shops exuded a small town feel, on the outskirts of Birmingham I probably didn't do badly? Getting it together I stepped closer to Birmingham's city centre for time was pressing on, having only one day off I didn't have the chance to extend my Brum escapade. Yes, I traded that mid-morning pint that I wanted, a posh cocktail was needed! It was!

After being followed on Twitter by a boutique hotel in Edgbaston I thought it would of been rude not sample a drink or two from the menu! Retracing my steps from the Hagley Road I made it to The Edgbaston Hotel, a six bedroom luxury Art Deco hotel. Taking a place at the bar I was informed about one gin cocktail that sounded superior to me, I chose the 'Bees Knees' which tasted like a heavenly melody with a honey based after taste. Not feeling completely satisfied and making up for the amount of walking I had just done I treated myself to a 'Santa Muerte' that set my brief experience of The Edgbaston Hotel perfectly! I would love to stay that that stylish hotel because it had something special about it! Passing back through Broad Street I made my final pit-stop at one of the bars at BrindleyPlace to see my brother Lewis whilst he was on shift, I had a few pints of cider before making the decision to return back home. Birmingham has my heart, its my destination! OK, B I'm done!

Birmingham is Ready!

Joseph Harrison

Monday, 16 March 2015

Desperately Seeking Adventure - The Third Strike!

The third strike is real! It's been three years since I upgraded my Facebook notes, for a blog that would become my own international phenomenon, from a simple idea my pursuit of adventure has turned into something else! I hate looking back sometimes but having any excuse to produce a flashback blog works for me anytime! Yes, I'm serving up third year Realness! 

My university placement took me to Newark, New Jersey in 2012 for reasons I have mentioned several times, yes I'm bringing this old relic back one more time! It's where my blogging odyssey began and where I was acquainted with the gargantuan powerhouse of New York City! Looking back at my first and second year blog birthday round-ups I don't seem to be recognising those places I captured on a whim during my placement years! Things must change right about now! It took me a quick second to realise I had been bitten by the blog bug when I visited the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, at the time I saw my first baseball match it just seemed like a new experience when it was another monumental memory for my blog. Baseball was good but you know I was searching for something fabulous! Madonna stopped by at the Yankee Stadium during her 2012 MDNA Tour, did she make it rain alright?! Yes M! 

From a home run to getting into the groove with the queen of pop I made it up to Bronx twice during my year over the pond! I kick myself that I didn't investigate the neighbourhood but that's for another time I will make it back B! Surrendering to the charms of NYC didn't take a second to compute, I was in love with a mega metropolis that won't ever leave me, I long to return but I need serious funds for that epic reunion with that Big ole' Apple! My blog didn't mean much when I was stateside because my life was crazy, I have become obsessed with the blog count for each month and monitor the paragraphs with a fine tooth comb! Jennifer Lopez's former block put me in my place, oh my Bronx! Getting my ass over to Broadway for a bizarre rendition of Evita at the Marquis Theatre only to see Ricky Martin play the part of Che! The crazy life was mine to document in my own special way! I feel forever connected with my year of desperately seeking adventure! OK?!

Retracing the journey's of New York's early immigrant history I found myself looking up to the Statue of Liberty! Self guiding myself from my former Ironbound, Newark neighbourhood to Ellis and Liberty islands to seek something quite remarkable! Hoboken was my intended hangout for that summer 2012 day off, I saw Hoboken early on in the day but was left hungry to see something that ticked some of my boxes for the year I wouldn't be repeating anytime soon! Miss New Jersey helped me sail across the Hudson River to see the former Ellis Island Immigration Centre, a fusion of stories and struggle faced me during that day to realise we all have a dream! Deep down in the depths of my heart I was living my dream! Let's go back B?!

Getting half the day off work wasn't enough for me so I gave away my evening shift at the airport during the October of 2012, making way for my unplanned day out to the New York Borough of Queens. I got lost on the NYC Subway as I made my way west from Newark into the city, luckily I found Jackson Heights to be fronted with a vibrant south Asian neighbourhood that served me some lovely Indian food for my lunch! I wasn't satisfied ending my day after my dinner so I hopped off the N train at Astoria Ditmars Blvd to find a different part of that Royal Borough of Queens, there was something of a Greek and Italian feel as I passed the market stores and businesses that traded along Ditmars Blvd. Walking off the main street revealed a Middle Eastern hype, Queens serves spice! 

My American blog crusade of 2012 had a short intermission during my weeks holiday in England, I wanted to see my new cousins and get back to Bilston for a short turnaround! Whilst I was away a certain evil called 'Sandy' caused havoc along the east coast of the USA not long after my Virgin Atlantic flight departed from Newark Liberty Airport! Upon my return to Newark I was faced with a waiting time for the PATH to resume its 24 hour service, lets just say it made my trips into New York City a little stressful because the last train would leave for Newark Penn Station at 10pm! Even then I didn't realise how much of an impact my blog would have on me after my placement would end. Well three years down the line I have to pinch myself for all the places I documented throughout that distant time. I had under three months remaining of my placement and winter had arrived, there was no time to loose! Oh life B!

I looked towards the festive season with a smile, if you had of asked earlier on in 2012 about Christmas I would of had a breakdown but with time and my visit home I came to realise that spending the holidays in the NJ/NY area to be an absolute pleasure! I took my final trips to NYC in December of 2012 to be welcomed by the High Line, an urban garden project that takes form on the base of a former freight line that spans from the Meatpacking District to 34th Street, showing me a view from the top always looks better in the freezing cold. I accidentally deleted my blog photos during 2013, for a brief second I thought I had lost my snaps of that elevated walkway forever! I recovered the necessary photos finally if not with some struggle! So, year one, two and three of blogging haven't been so bad after all! I know that I shall keep on desperately seeking adventure into the future, no matter what life throws at me! Newark and New York City, I shall return one day soon!

Happy 3rd Birthday Blog of Mine! 

Joseph Harrison