Friday, September 30, 2005

Six of the best: Alton Towers Air

Robin and Alton Towers' Air
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

This is the last of my mammoth six posts today - another ride at Alton Towers. This is one of the newest rides and is meant to replicate the feeling of flying, so you sort of lie forward in your seat, facing down, and then go whizzing off.

And, sure enough, as you hurtle around the loops at a ridiculous speed, facing down, with nothing beneath you except the ground, it feels a) rather like you're flying and b) rather scary!

This was one of our favourite rides of the day. After all the rides, you can buy a picture that they've taken of you on it, and on this one both me and wife had massive grins on our faces.

A top day out, to end a top week of top days out.

Six of the best: Alton Towers Nemesis

Robin and Alton Towers' Nemesis
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

This is another of the rides we went on at Alton Towers. You hang down in your seat, dangling below a rail above you. This is a loop-the-loop and you'll see that people's feet are towards the sky and their heads near the tracks.

This is one of the park's most famous, popular rides - but happily, because the kids are all at school now, it wasn't very busy at all. In fact, we only had to queue for about ten minutes to get on this ride (it could easily be two hours in the peak time of summer). It's a fun ride, but you do come off feeling rather dizzy!

Six of the best: Alton Towers

Robin and Alton Towers' Oblivion
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

So, having been to the New Forest for my wife's secret day out (see below), on Thursday I took her to Alton Towers, a massive theme park in the middle of England (not far from where my mum lives, actually). My wife had always wanted to go and was very pleased with her surprise.

Alton Towers has some of the world's best roller coasters. This one is called Oblivion and features an enormous vertical drop into a black, smoke-filled hole. When you get to the top of the drop, they pause the car just over the edge and then - whoooosh - you hurtle down into the hole. Quite scary, but very good fun.

Six of the best: wild horses

Robin and New Forest wild horses
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

This is a second picture from our New Forest trip. The New Forest has literally thousands of wild horses roaming throughout it and this picture captures a bunch of them. It's amazing to be cycling along and just come across seven or eight horses grazing or galloping about. They're obviously used to having people about too, so they didn't run a mile at the sight of us.

Six of the best: biking the forest

Robin on his bike at the New Forest
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

So, the morning after our trip to Tamworth, it was the first of our secret days out - whereby, on Wednesday, my wife planned a secret day out for me and, on Thursday, I planned a secret day out for her.

Her day was a trip to go cycling in the New Forest, which is down towards the south coast of England. We had a tremendous day, cycling about, sitting in cafes in cute little towns and enjoying the fresh air.

Six of the best: at Tamworth FC

Robin at Tamworth FC
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up folks

This is the first of six - yes six! - Robin pics I'm posting this morning. Myself and my lovely wife have had a few days off work, so we've been going on some day trips.

This one, on Tuesday, was up to Tamworth to watch my boys York City play. Happily, we won 3-0 - the third of which you can see being scored in the background of this picture. Moments after the picture was taken the ball flashed into the bottom corner for a goal. Hurrah!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Big chair! Big desk!

Robin and giant furniture
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

If you look to the right of Robin on the kite-flying picture below, you might be able to see this giant table and chair, which is currently situated on Parliament Fields on Hampstead Heath.

It's a work of sculpture called The Writer by Italian sculptor Giancarlo Neri. It's an impressive piece of work, like something out of Alice in Wonderland or Lilliput, just sitting there in the middle of the field.

You can read all about the sculpture on The Guardian's website here.

Robin goes up to Parliament Hill

Robin goes fly a kite
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

'Let's go fly a kite, up to the highest height,' sings Mary Poppins at the end of the film. And that highest kite flying height in London, as Poppins was no doubt aware, is Parliament Hill on Hampstead Heath where you'll always find plenty of kite flyers on a Sunday afternoon.

We went up there with Robin yesterday afternoon to watch the pros with their huge parachute-like kites, while joining in with our little foldaway pocket one (you can see it at the very top of this picture).

We offered to tie Robin to the kite before we got it going, but he didn't seem keen on the idea.

Robin at Aldershot FC

Robin at Aldershot FC
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

On Saturday Robin went down to Aldershot's Recreation Ground to see the game between Aldershot Town (in red) and York City (in blue). Sadly Aldershot won 2-1. Still, at least it was a lovely day and there was autumn sun to be caught.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Robin towers over London!

Robin up BT Tower
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hey up folks

Yesterday evening, Robin, the wife and I were invited to a party up at the top of the BT Tower in London. It's a huge tower that stands head and shoulders above London - 189 metres high - and isn't normally open to visitors (they closed it as a tourist attraction after a bomb was placed in the toilets in 1971).

There's an amazing view from up there, as you can probably tell. The most obvious landmark behind Robin is the London Eye - the big wheel that was built on the banks of the Thames to celebrate the millennium and is now one of the most popular attractions here.

Hope you folks have good weekends.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Robin watches England win the Ashes!

Robin at the Oval
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Yes, Robin was at the Oval cricket ground yesterday to watch England win the Ashes cricket series against Australia for the first time since December 1986.

This is massive, front-page news here in England and, as I write, a victory parade is beginning to make its way past tens of thousands of people to Trafalgar Square. Sadly, me and Robin can't go cos I've got a meeting at work.

Still, I was one of the lucky 23,000 who got to see us win it. An amazing day. Well done England.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Robin and the singing dogs...

robin and dogs
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hello folks - hope you've had good weeks.

Here's Robin with a couple of singing dogs on a pillow. They were given to me by my mother last week when she came to visit us in London. On taking them out of the box, I wasn't quite sure why she'd bought us such a schmaltzy gift - but then she showed us a button to press which brought them to life singing 'I Got You Babe' to each other in full-on Sonny-dog and Cher-god animatronics fashion.

That was the song myself and my lovely wife sang in front of all our guests at the party on the night we got married (in truth, the dogs are probably more tuneful - but it's a lovely reminder).

Monday, September 05, 2005

Robin takes tea with the chap from OutKast!

Robin meets Andre 3000
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Yes folks, Robin's been rubbing shoulders with the stars again. Today he bumped into Andre 3000 (or Andre Benjamin) from the band OutKast, Atlanta's finest hip hop duo whose last album featured the hit song 'Hey Ya' (the one about shaking it like a Polaroid) and sold over 11 million copies!

Mr Benjamin was so pleased to meet Robin that he offered him a nice cup of English tea and then helped him to drink it. What a lovely man.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Robin and a London bus

Robin and a London bus
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Yes, my prolific posting spell continues with a shot of Robin waiting at the bus stop about half an hour ago to catch the bus home. This is your average London bus - red, double decker and all that. Not the quaintest of bus stops though!

Dawn, absolutely take your point about the roads being out of use making it difficult to get aid to the New Orleans area, but I spoke to a pal of mine in Austin Texas today who was saying that the Austin police helicopters are still in the city - you'd have thought they'd have sent all the helicopters in the area to the disaster zone by now. There have certainly been plenty of distraught people on the news complaining about how no aid has arrived whatsoever, so it's not like those helicopters wouldn't be of some use.

And, again, take your point about the hugely foolish people shooting at the helicopters - but I'd say that although the authorities were encouraging people in advance to come to the sports stadium to escape the tornado, they don't seem to have thought very hard about how they'd look after/police them when they got there, so mob rule broke amidst some awful conditions.

Terry Ebbert, the head of New Orleans' emergency operations, has already said the slow response by the wider authorities has been a 'national disgrace' - so it's not like I'm the only one who thinks the response has been rather slow and the problems poorly anticipated (people were, afterall, well aware that the city is below sea level and that there was a very good chance it would flood).

But, I'm sure we're all very much agreed that they need to get relief there as soon as possible and thank goodness that seems to be starting to happen. I really hope that they can regain control of the city and help the thousands of desperate people who are in such awful trouble,

Anyway, my Austin pal was also telling me it's a holiday weekend over there in the States this weekend - hope that amidst these awful scenes you folks manage to have a peaceful weekend.

Robin on a famous piano!

robin piano
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Hello folks,

Took this picture yesterday afternoon when I had to go to a recording studio in West London. This very piano, the manager of the studio told me, has been played by Elton John, Jon Bon Jovi, Freddie Mercury and, now, Robin. Well, I say played, he just jumped up and down on the keys a bit.

Like everyone in the world, we've had crazy pictures coming to our TVs from the New Orleans area. From this distance, even given the size of the hurricane, the lack of preparation for what they'd do afterwards is just stunning, as is the fact that so little relief seems to have made it through so far. I really hope they can actually start to help people before things spiral any further out of control.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Robin hits the town

robin giggin'
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Yes, just to prove that it's not all work and no play around here, here's Robin at a concert at the Luminaire in London last night by a band called The Brakes (taken on my phone, so perhaps not the best quality). It was a top night and Robin moshed his little heart out.

Also, really sorry to hear what's going on in the New Orleans area at the moment - the pictures I keep seeing on the news are just so disturbing. That and a 1000 people dying because of a stampede in Iraq makes for some of the most heart-wrenching news in years. Really hope that the state authorities can pull together and help out the people that are stuck in New Orleans and that something can be done for all the people who've lost their homes. Just devestating. Also hope none of you guys reading this have been unduly affected.