Tuesday, December 26, 2006

New Zealand

Merry Xmas to one and all.

At the last minute (of course!) we decided to head off to New Zealand for four days over Xmas. We flew in to Auckland on the way as we were unable to get a direct flight to Christchurch at such late notice. One of the main reasons for coming was to fulfill a personal goal and swim with dolphins, also to see some Whales. For many years I have had a fascination with these animals, even going as far as ‘adopting a dolphin’ via the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society in the UK. There is an area approximately 180km north of Christchurch called Kaikoura and it is famed for Whale Watching Trips and also Dolphin Encounters.

We arrived on Saturday 23rd and took the fairly lengthy drive to Kaikoura. We arrived pretty late and to be honest, we were absolutely exhausted. The night before we flew out, I was in a poker tournament and managed to finish in third place so that meant we did not get home until approaching 2am. On top of that, we had to be at the airport the following day by 9:30am. Add in to the equation the flights etc, you can imagine how tired I was. The last hour of driving was unbearable and on many occasions, I was ready to stop and sleep at the side of the road. Anyway, we made it up to Kaikoura, grabbed a sandwich as we had not eaten (apart from the food on the plane over, Air New Zealand First Class is excellent!) and went to bed. We had one huge concern… due to bad weather, the Whale Watching trips had been cancelled for the previous three and a half days. If we missed our arranged sailing at 6:15am, that would be it. We would not be able to get any others so, fingers were crossed. As the alarm went off at 5:45am, I dived out of bed to look outside the window to get an idea of whether we would be going, or bitterly disappointed. It looked nice out there so without delay, I called the company to ask if they were running. It was great news, they could not confirm any other outings for the day, but the first one, the 6:15 would sail, albeit with a ‘severe sea sickness’ warning. We got down to the ocean and eagerly awaited our trip. The place is very well run and loads of merchandise on offer for those that choose to purchase them. We boarded a bus and they took us to the port where we would be sailing from. All of the crew seemed very well informed and took us out on a catamaran. The sickness warning seemed to hold true and I must be honest, I did not feel in the best of shape for most of the trip but, it was worth the discomfort. Whilst out at sea we saw six huge Sperm Whales! (the tail of one is shown abovem just as it was about to dive down). In all, I guess we were at sea for about two hours. Unfortunately we did not see any Dolphins although to be fair that was not the purpose, the whales were. I hope we will have time to do the trip again before we leave but, we will see. We did actually also see several albatross.

That was Christmas Eve. Christmas Day was also spectacular and if I am honest, one of the best I have ever had.

We are staying at a place called Hapuku Lodge, just outside Kaikoura. The accommodation is incredible (although at $550 a night it should be!) Our room is an incredible Tree House! Very modern inside, loads of handmade furniture but with all mod cons. As most people who know me can vouch, I do like a little moan and am rarely satisfied by hotels. Not the case here. I would struggle to find a single fault with the place. Anyway, the made us up an awesome picnic (pictured much further above) including just about anything you would wish for and beautifully presented. We grabbed a bottle of champagne and fresh orange juice, got in the car and headed out to a local Seal colony about 10km away. On the way, we stopped at a local roadside “crayfish” cafĂ© and purchased some freshly caught, freshly cooked garlic mussels. They wrapped them in much the same way we would wrap fish & chips in the UK, in paper. We then went to the seal colony, found a great spot and had an amazing lunch. Loads of seals around, playing in the sea and sitting on the rocks by us. I really could not have asked for anymore. An truly awesome day.

After that, we returned to the tree house, had a siesta and followed this by a traditional Xmas Dinner. Far too much to eat but, don’t we always during the festive season!

Tomorrow is our last day in New Zealand and, weather permitting, we are booked to go on the Dolphin Encounter, sailing at 8am. Fingers are crossed again. If the Whale Watching was anything to go by, it is going to be an exciting day.

Keep Safe.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Bondi Beach

Today we took our first visit to the World Famous Bondi Beach. One of the first things that struck me was the area that it was actually in. I expected in to be stunning apartments, lavish hotels etc. I could not have ben further from the truth. Maybe that was just our exit in but the beach is certainly the best bit about the area. Aside of that, it is a great beach. From a distance (for example where I took the above picture from) the waves do not look too big but I have to tell you, they are, they are also pretty powerful! We both had a great time there and will certainly revisit the place again, probably on Christmas Day. Whilst there, I decided to get my hair cut (shaved is a better desription). The girl who did it was fabulous and friendly. It came as little suprise as she was Greek! Of all the places to stop, I get a Greek to cut my hair. Even more bizarre was the fact that she actually grew up in France.
I start training a new group of staff tomorrow which means it will be an early night for the next few days. I have worked some pretty tough days recently and sleep seems to be at somewhat of a premium.
Anyway, until next time....

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Justine in the Blue Mountains

The Worlds Steepest Railway

One of the Glenbrook Kangaroos


Work has been taking up pretty much all of my time since arriving but we were able to go away to the Blue Mountains last weekend. We rented a car for 24 hours without having really known what we would use it for, other than 'exploring' a little.

So, we headed towards Hertz, stopping briefly at a park in the centre of town for a coffee and piece of carrot cake. As we sat down to eat, the hugest bird flew in (pictured on the left). Ungainly does not even cover it. Clearly this 'fella had not had much practise before. Feathers were going everywhere and his legs making an almost peddling motion. Highly musing. Anyway, it was the bird pictured bove. I think he was only interested in a bt of my cake but soon got bored.

After collecting the car, we decided to head to a place called Palm Beach. This is somewhere that Justine had said she wanted to visit before we left so it seemed an appropriate time. The main reason she waned to go was because one of her favourite TV programs is filmed there, Home and Away. There wasnt actually that much to see there but it is a very nice place.

We returned home at about 8pm on the Saturday night and decide we wold head up to the Blue Mountains that night as it was a 90 minute drive, thus saving time in the morning. Despite the hotel looking nice, it was a bit of a 'hole' to be honest. Lovely on the outside but in serious need of renovation internally. A typical stately home type affair.

The following day we toured around the Blue Mountains, the highlight being a place called Scenic World. As the name suggests, it provides some awesome views and also a thrill or two along the way by way of the worlds steepest railway.

I say that was the highlight but there was one further 'highlight' that day. On the way home we stopped off at a National Park called Glenbrook. It is in the middle of nowhere and you have to drive through a few miles of tracks, through a 'ford' (water covering the road) and up and down some incredibly steep hills. It is worth the trip because eventually you come to a clearing that is a picnic area. In the late afternoon you get Kangaroos come out in to the area which is quite a sight. The one on the photo above was one of about half a dozen that we saw. They seemed quite comfortable with us getting close to them, as long as we still kept a bit of distance. It was a great weekend and we are hoping we my be able to get back up there before we go.

Last night was our Staff Christmas pary which we had in quite a funky area of Sydney called Darling Harbour. I only had two drinks all night as I have been so exhausted so no hangovers today I am pleased to report.

I will post a few photos from our trip so far over the coming days.

Until next time,

Keep Safe

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Goodbye Hong Kong, Hello Sydney

Whilst I enjoy Hong Kong, I was actually quite glad to be getting on the way to Sydney. It still felt like we were 'in transit' at that point. So, we packed the bags, headed to Hong Kong Station (a remote airport luggage drop off for want of a better description) and decided to head over to Tung Chung in an effort to get to the Po Lin Monastery, or more specifically, the Tian Tan Buddha. Whilst living in the UK, I did flirt briefly with an interest in Buddhism as they seem to have some pretty sound values but never really explored it enough to be honest. It seemed kind of logical to head over there and check the place out. To set the scene, it is built in the middle of nowhere (Lantau Island to be specific) and involves crossing a lake, over some mountains and there we are! To add a tourist touch, they have actually built a cable car which takes about 20 minutes, and made it seem somewhat like a theme park feel, calling it Ngong Ping. A very scenic ride, no doubt even more impressive for those with head for obscene heights. Anyway, cutting to the chase, the place was simply amazing and it is very hard not to get caught up in the idea. We saw a small theatre production (Walking with Buddha)about the progress of Buddism, toured through the area and then took the large walk up the 268 steps to the top. We of course went inside and later, down to the Po Lin Monastery. It was a remarkable place inside although by this point, we were getting rushed to head for the airport. We purchased a few souvenirs and left the area for a 30 minute wait for the cable car. The only downside of the whole thing was that we were so rushed. Hopefully one day we will get a chance to return. As we left I purchased Buddhism for Dummies. Hopefully this time I will find the time to read it!
Until next time, Keep Safe.

Po Lin Monastery - The Tian Tan Buddha

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Hong Kong

23rd November 2006
We have now arrived safely in Hong Kong.
The flight was not so bad and I am pleased to report that I managed to sleep for most of the trip so, it went fairly quickly. The one down side was that I had quite a lot of work to do and didn't manage to do it so, I have that to look forward to.
Whilst at London Heathrow I purchased a new camcorder whihc record directly on to a hard drive in the machine. It looks pretty funky and have already used it a little this morning.
The weather is kind of miserable but it is still nice. Back in the hotel room after an early morning stroll as I awoke at 4am. Damn jet lag. I was actually quite lucky as managed to get quite a lot of sleep on the plane. Just went to Starbucks for a coffee and some loopy women asked me if I had 5x$20 bills to swap for her $100. I said sorry I didn’t. anyway, 5 more minutes passed and she called over to Justine, “are you Pamela”….weird women. So, she said she wasn’t then about 10 minutes later, she wanders over again and puts a $100 on the seat next to me (I must go on record as saying that is only about £8). This was just as we were about to leave. Anyway, I stood up, obviously leaving the money, and headed for the door. At which point she quickly picks up the money and kept begging me to take it from here. I made it clear that I didn’t want it and tried to head for the door. She was still grabbing my hands and trying to give me the money. In the end, I said ok, so she went to sit back down, I put the money on a table near her and went for the door again, she dived back up saying words like “please, do me this favour, take the money”. Again I said ok, she sat back down and again, I put the money on a table and left. Very weird. It spooked me a bit as I wondered what she was up to. I was super careful that she stayed away from my pockets etc the whole time. Anyway, I went back to the hotel and had a damn good wash, just in case. I still feel really uncomfortable about the whole thing.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I'm leaving on a jet plane...

Updated via my PDA for the first time!
Monday 20th November
I have been very slack with keeping up to date with my injections so, as I write, I am sitting in the Doctors having just had my vaccinations. I am pleased to report that I did not sob like a baby when he put the needle in me. To get here in time, it meant going through Central London at rush hour. A word of warning. Avoid London during rush hour, it is not good. Hopefully at the end of these few days in the UK, I will be in full working order. As we do not have that much confidence in the Greek heath system, we have been saving everything up!
Amendment via computer:
Apparently the transport problems were due to line failures etc. The place is still rubbish! Anyway, after Doctors, Dentists ( I have to go back AGAIN tomorrow!), we decided to pop over to the Tate Gallery as one of my favourite pieces of art is kept there; Summertime by Jackson Pollock. I have obviously seen the picture a million times but all prints or photos etc. The first thing that struck me about the real thing was the size of it. I just looked it up on the internet and apparently it is 848 x 5550 mm. Quite incredible really. In addition to this they had Rothko work and Monet. I don't like to be a synic but, it is a good job that beauty is in the eye of the beholders because a lot of the work in that building is......errrr... a bag of shells :-)
More amusement was provided by Justine; I don't know what it is but 'something' on her keeps setting of the store alarms. Every time the same questions when they see she doesnt have anything with her, "Maybe you have some library books Madam?". I was so hoping she would reply with something sarcastic such as "Ah yes, let me pull them out of my ass" or something. I mean they could see she was empty handed, where exactly was she going to put Library books? Anyway, the Tate Gallery was the latest in a line of stores that thought we were trying to steal from them!
So, as it has gone midnight, later today we fly out to Hong Kong. We are getting a haircut in the Virgin Upper Class Lounge at Heathrow and maybe a massage or something. Hopefully that will relax me a little before the 13 hour flight. As previously mentioned, we have two days there before leaving for another 8 hour flight to Sydney. I will update as soon s I can, until such time..
Keep Safe
Anyway, was well worth the trip even if it meant that we only got 45 minutes there.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Australia Trip

I will try and update most days whilst away but lets be honest, it probably isnt going to happen, even being able to do it with my PDA!

Thursday 16th November
We flew in to Athens tonight on the Olympic flight. It was Justines first experience of the island hopper and whilst she was petrified at first, She seemed to be fine with it. In a bizarre way, I actually prefer these to the large jets. Whilst I love the local restaurants, it was actually nice to see somewhere that had a menu with more than Lamb on it! It was also one of the first places that I have seen in Greece that sells Sancerre. The local wines on the Island are very good but....
Friday 17th November
So today is the first in London and I can't Say that I have missed it. From the moment we got on the tube I felt very uncomfortable. I have not felt that way for some time. The flight was ok, as far as flying goes. We had a 1:30pm appointment at the dentists but to be honest, it was a bit of a waste of time. We were very late due to excessive travel and the worst hotel reception you could imagine. Stupid does not come in to it.
Anyway, one great advantage of being In London is Wagamamas, one of the very few things that I do miss. One of the greatest restaurants on earth! Justine bought he self a new 8gb ipod Nano. Very funky. Anyway. It is Just about time for bed now as for some reason, the London has the most ridiculous start time on earth, 7:15am.
Saturday 18th November
Workde from the office but I do find it quite hard going whilst there. It nice in one way as rather than helping the new guys via MSN Messenger, I can do it face to face but there seems to lack a certain 'something' from other offices I have worked in. There are quite a few people working in there but very little by way of dialogue. I know they are there to work but maybe a little more atmosphere would increase productivity?
We had a fabulous evening that was planned at the last minute. The idea was to go to gutshot and play some poker but to be honest, I didnt really fancy it. At about 9pm I decided that I wanted to go to Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club. We managed to get in even though it was sold out, in much thanks to the Manager who I spoke to on the phone before we left. The London Jazz Festival was on, hence why it why it was so busy. The main act was a lady called Stacey Kent. I am not a huge jazz fan but it is certainly better when you are there in thick of it. It was pertty cheap as well. We had a meal, bottle of Moet & Chandon, tickets (which were £52), other drinks pre-show and taxi and the whole lot was only just over £200. Very good for London.
Sunday 19th November
Today was mainly going around the shops and I have to say I was remarkably restrained. Only one jumper to show for it! Wagamamas was again involved... I know I am fussy sometimes but this hotel is the worst. After i moaned several times about the dreadful service, they charging 700 to my card that they shouldn't have and black mould around the bath, they eventually gave
me a room upgrade. Within twenty minutes of being in the ne room, I had rang down to recoption about the internet plug being broken, the plug socket not working, the TV not working,, the safe was already locked from the people who were in here last time and I had not even started. Ooops.
Anyway, tonight will be a poker night (I just won a Sit & Go for $250 as we speak!), hopefully a bot of relaxation tomorrow although with Doctors visits (jabs for trip) and back to the Dentist, I guess it is unlikely! Until next time...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Maria's Wedding

Saturday was Maria's wedding and it seemed like a good time was had by all. There was a rare photo of me taken (I hate having them done as anyone who knows me is aware). And yes, I know, I have put weight on, the problem is, Greek food tastes good! So does Jack Daniels and Coke. At the start of the summer, I was so sure I would swim everyday etc. Fine chance of that. OK, I will start jogging. One Day. perhaps... I will post more photos of the wedding (minus the tubby guy on the left) in the next few days.
Keep Safe

Thursday, October 12, 2006

More damn flying ahead...

Nothing exciting has been going on for the last few weeks. The tourist season is coming to an end and quite frankly, I am pleased. I do prefer the winter here (apart from the weather) as there is a much different atmosphere, one which is a lot more relaxed.
Having said I prefer the winter here, I will actually miss a fair bit of it as I have to go to Australia for work. We have opened a new office out there and they have asked me to go out and give the staff training in the more technical aspects of the job, "poker work". I am excited but equally dreading it. As most of you will know, I am terrified of flying so the thought of spending 36 hours on a plane does not fill me with confidence. Having said that, we are travelling first class so hopefully I will be able to get a a fair amount of sleep. We fly out on the 21st but have decided to stop over in Hong Kong for a few days to break the trip up a little. As I have been there many times before, it will be good to show Justine some of the sites such as The Peak (this is the most incredible view you are likely to see). After that, we will arrive in to Sydney on the 25th November. We will then work through until the 6th January and then have a two weeks holiday before returning home on the 20th January.
It should be good to see the Sydney Harbour Bridge on New Years Eve. I have seen it on TV and it does look quite spectacular. One of my friends has also suggested that Christmas Day on Bondi Beach is quite an experience also.
As part of the "holiday section" of the trip, we plan to go to New Zealand as I would love to see the Orcas, Sperm Whales and Dolphins that Kaikoura (just North of Christchurch) has to offer. It should be one hell of an experience.
On top of that, one of the largest Poker events of the year is being held in Melbourne, The Aussie Millions. I am undecided whether to fly down there to play the event or use the extra time to explore a little. I note that there are also plenty of cheap flights to Fiji, Tonga and Samoa from Sydney so that is an option.
One final thought is whether I can get tickets for the Ashes to watch the England cricket team whilst I am there. It appears that they have sold out but we will see...
Besides, that, I got the greatest phone/PDA I have ever had the other day. The make is HTC and the model is TyTN (pronounced Titan). It has full internet access (not WAP access), has wi-fi so I can connect wirelessly anywhere in the world, MSN Messenger, loads of awesome programs a full keyboard that pulls out (although the phone is small) and you can use handwriting on the screen if you prefer! It wasn't the cheapest thing on earth but it is worth every penny.
Anyway, unilt next time
Keeps Safe

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I'm Crap

So much has happened since my last blog I really do not know where to start. Or end. I am so crap, I was so sure that I would update this more and with one thing and another, it has not happened.
So, lets get the poker bit out of the way. It has been very up and down lately, some horrible runs and some great results. Best one for the last few weeks was a satellite that I won to play in a $300 tournament (it only cost me $24 to enter). In the actual main event I finishde 6th out of 144 and won about $2300. I have been playing quite a few $215 Sit & Go's on Party Poker and they are going ok but only showing a marginal profit. The biggest problem I seem to be having is when I get KK. I just can not win with it whether I am all in pre flop, or betting for value.
We have made a few trips lately, one such was a very pleasant couple of days on the motorbike. I fixed up the groovy BMW luggage and off we rode. It was so nice. We didn't really have any plans as to where we were heading. We stayed at a lovely Hotel called Verde al Mare which is about 30 km away from Patras. Click on the name of the hotel to see it but suffice to say, it was very nice and quiet. After the night there we went on to Patras and over to Kalavryta. This is where we normally go skiing in the winter. I have to say, it is very different in the summer! We went to the lovely Holy Monastery of Mega Spileo (which means the Grand Cave). After that we were planning on heading over to Olympia but we were both pretty tired so headed back. The bike performed very well, comfortably sitting at 100km/h with plenty in reserve when needed.
My cousins band now have a website and I must be honest and say I am rather impressed. If you like your music 'live', played by real people then pop over to their website and have a listen. There are three tracks on there, "Better Days" being the pick of the bunch in my opinion. For the record, they are called 'Behind City Lights'. Looking through the site certainly had me reminiscing of my musical days! If I can figure out how to do it, I may even upload a few tracks of when we went in to the recording studio fully... jeez, twenty years ago. HaHaHa. I am old. Ouch.
Well, I will try and post some photos over the coming days (yeah right!) until then,
Keep Safe.
R.I.P Barbara Castell

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Grand Canyon

A view "mid-Canyon" of the Colorado River...

This is, errr, a Helicopter...

...and quite clearly the one that we went to the Grand Canyon in. It was fairly pricey ($1000) but certainly worth the cost. We were also given a DVD of the trip (the actual one that we went on) which also included all of the conversations that we had via the headphones in flight. There were also some in cabin views. Depending upon the size of the file, I may try and upload some of the footage to my website. Failing that, I also took my camcorder and I feel quite sure they will be much smaller file sizes.

LV Summary

I really should have had a look at what I have updated already on here because I to be honest, I have no idea!
We are back in Greece now and very glad to be back. It was a lot of fun but I did miss 'home'.
I will post a few pictures over the course of the next few days and try and give a few more details of trip.
The journey home was much better than expected, especially taking in to account my fear of flying. That was not helped when we boarded the plane at Gatwick to come back to Greece. It became apparent very quickly that the flight was full of "18-30's" (for the sake of my non UK friends, 18-30's are a type of holiday for people, surprise surprise, between the ages of 18-30, although usually about 18-21. They go on holiday (stereotype warning) to get drunk and have lots of sex). As the flight was at 11:55pm, you can imagine the state of most of the holiday go-ers. To be fair, they behaved pretty well.
One of my friends was here from the UK when I arrived (Carl E) so it was hard trying to be bright and breezy when inside I felt thoroughly jetlagged and full of cold. It was great to see them both (he was with his wife-to-be) though so, that made me feel a little better.
Anyway, this photo is obviously of the Grand Canyon. I'm not sure if it is very clear on the image (click on it to make it bigger) but you can also see the Colorado River running through the Canyon.
Until next time, Keep Safe.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Leaving Las Vegas

Well, the long stint has finally ended. We are just about to leave the hotel for airport and to be honest, I will be very glad to get home.
I will add photos etc when I get back home.
Briefly, it was a very nice last (full) day yesterday as we took a helicopter ride to the Grand Canynon and Hoover Dam. Rather amusingly, just as we boarded I declared that I didnt want to do it and wantde out! The things are so small and as I hate flying anyway, it didn't seem a good idea. Not sure if it was the fact that I would not get my $1000 back or I just wantde to see one of the remaining Seven Wonders of the World, either way, we went!
We finished the day by going to see Reel Big Fish at the House of Blues.
Anyway, full update when I get home.
Keep Safe

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Elton John / Sammy Hagar

Super quick update as it is 4:30am here. Today was Justines Birthday so we decided to go an see Elton John. He was ok although I must be honest and say that I expected a little more. I wanted to go and see Sammy Hagar who was also playing at Ceasars but as it was J's birthday, no problem. Then I found out that Elton John finished at 9pm, about the same time Sammy Hagar started. After the show, we quickly ran to the other venue only to be told we should have purchased tickets where we had just come form. The complete oppposite to what I had been told. Anyway, three minutes of monas later, we were given two free tickets worth over $120. I have to say, I rule at moaning. Anyway, the show was in two parts, firstly Sammy Hagar material which was quite good, then a brief interval and the second half saw the inclusion of Michael Anthony (also Van Halen!). The second half was brilliant as they ran through loads of VH songs including Runnin' with the Devil, Good Enough, Why Can't This Be Love, Best of Both Worlds, Summer Nights etc.
We then went to play pokre for an hour and I won about $215 which was useful.
Just to round of J's Birthday, she also wore the new dress that I got for her Birthday. I will try and post some shots over the next day or so if I have time.
Finally, we went to the Voodoo Lounge (famed Vegas club) last night and had a great time despite the huge 65mph winds! That may seem an odd comment but, to clarify if you do not know, it is outside on top of the 51st floor at the Rio hotel! Some famous singer who I have never heard of played call Rianna (I have no idea of the spelling). Also there was Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy, some guy from Westlife and a whole loads of others stars. The person I spent most of the time with was some guy called "Jack Daniels" (and his sidekick "coke").

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Its a Funny Old World

Here is, rather amusingly, a website where you can buy posters of me, fridge magnets, also mouse mats and mugs! You have to laugh.... The image it takes you to is number 28 although if you click back (top centre) to about 23, there are a few more of me playing at the World Series of Poker.

Paris Hotel (in Las Vegas!)

Las Vegas Road Trip Part 3

Things are going well, having a lot of fun although have now started "working" rather than playing poker. I reached another couple of final tables so my percentage for payouts is quite high.
One of my friends also came out whilst we were here (also called Simon and pictured on the left with Justine outside the Bellagio, with fountains in full swing!). He actually left yesterday after a 10 day visit.
Last night we went to The House Of Blues to watch David Lee Roth (ex Van Halen singer in case you didn't know!). The show was a lot of fun and I must say I thought he performance was considerably better than last time I saw him circa three years ago. Even though it was him as a solo artist, the set list was made up of more or less only Van Halen songs (three DLR songs as I recall and two of those were "Californian Girls" and "Just a Gigolo"). Van Halen songs included Somebody Get Me a Doctor, Unchained, Ain't Talkin 'Bout Love, Jamies Cryin, You Really Got Me, Dance The Night Away (awesome rendition), Hot For Teacher, Panama, Jump (including 1984) and Ice Cream Man. I feel sure that I have missed a load out but still, a great set.
The one downside to the evening was when we ordered food, J asked the waitress what she would suggest as she was Vegetarian. The Salmon seemed a good choice, she just didn't count on the sausage that was in the risotto! Needless to say, I spoke to the Manager, and then his Manager. I mean come, on, if it was Joe's Cafe on the backstreet, extreme caution needed but this is the world reknowned House Of Blues!
After the show had finished we caught the end of another band in a small bar. They were very funky (not in a musical sense) and played what I can only describe as "skiffle" music. They played some cover versions of classics such as The Vapours "Turning Japanese", Twisted Sister "We're Not Gonna Take It" and Slades "Cum On Feel The Noise". Very funny. I bought the CD but no doubt it wont be as funny without copious amounts of Jack Daniels inside you! Tonight I think we are heading to the Voodoo Lounge with some people from work but we will see later. I will try and post some more photos in due course.
Keep Safe

Monday, July 17, 2006

Las Vegas Road Report Part Two

The poker continues to go well, I just finished a small tournament at the hotel, $60 buy in and I came second for $439. Unfortunately the hands continue to elude me, I am just being a little "creative" with my play (should read "raising with crap").
Last night we went to "The Venetian" to watch Phantom of the Opera. Its been quite weird, we have spoken to many people who have seen the show before but not one person has said "I have seen Phantom of the Opera before", they all seem to say "I have seen Phantom of the Opera four times" or similar. I did thoroughly enjoy. The main reason for going was because it is Justines birthday soon as she really wanted to see it. We had an opportunity to get great seats so took up the chance.
Still a few days of the holiday remaining although not entirely sure what we will do. I still want to get a Harley for a day and go and cruise around Vegas. I also feel I should go and see the Grand Canyon although, it will of course involve flying (or a long journey) so the jury is still out on that one.
Anyway, just a short one as it is very late, until then,
Keep Safe

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Las Vegas Road Report Part One

So much to report, so little time! OK, so, taking that back a little, we arrived in London on about the 5th of July, spent three nights there working from the office. Played a little poker (a office tournament). Nothing too exciting although I won about £170 in a cash game so that was ok. The hotel was good, we stayed at the Sanderson which is next door to the office so very convenient (just a shame work did not pay for it all!). The fact that it is maybe the best hotel in London also helps.
On the Sunday we flew out to Vegas. All considered the flight was not too bad. It was very empty and as a consequence they gave me four seats which meant I could lie down and try and sleep. Still, flying is... well, flying! We were meant to walk, jog etc, not fly. My hatred for flying grows.
The hotel at Vegas is ok, it is Aladdins, soon to be Planet Hollywood. Nothing special but not offensive. We were obviously pretty tired which was not great news as the following day provided my first World Series of Poker event, the $1000 buy in No Limit Hold'em. The bad news for the people that backed me was that I exited after a couple of hours. My pocket jacks ran in to pocket twos, which ultimately turned in to four of a kind, twos! My second World Series of Poker event is on Tuesday so hopefully I will have better news for the backers!
Aside from the WSOP, poker is going very well. I got a final table of a tournament at out hotel the following day and finished sixth, it wasnt a huge payout, only about $170 but better than nothing. The following day I decided to play the big one at Caesers Palace, the buy in was $130, it had a great structure, a 40 minute clock. After about 7 hours I hit the final table and with only four of the original 170 starters left, we decided to make a deal and split the prize pool up based on a chip count. I got just under $2700 for my work. I was very pleased with my play, especially as the biggest hand I got throughout the whole tournament was a pair of jacks (these are starting cards for the non poker playing readers!). It was quite hard work but worth it at the end of the day.
Tonight we went to see Dashboard Confessional who were superb. They also had two support bands, Say Anything and Ben Lee. Both of which were entertaining. To finish the evening off, we went to play a little Paigow Poker in the casino (it is a card game against the house, not "real" poker) and I won $125 in about 15 minutes. At that point, we decided to go to the restaurant and eat.
Had quite a funny day earlier, many of the casinos run promotions to try and entice you in to their gambling dens. One of which was at Caesers. I went to the Promo Desk to "swipe our card" to see if I had won a free gift for the day. I was a little bored as it was hot (it was 117 degrees earlier apparently) and we had queued at other desks to get the bad news, we had not won. Well, I am sure you can imagine my shock when the women announced "Congratulations Sir, you have won Golf Clubs". Now I dont mean to be ungrateful but, I thanked her and asked if I can have something else as they are not a lot of use to me! I am waiting for them to come back to me. I even told them they can just give me a T-Shirt and we can call it quits! I mean come on, if I get the delievered to my hotel, it will cost a fortune to get them back to Greece, if I ask them to deliver them to Greece, it will also cost a fortune. Lets also be frank here, golf can be very dull, especially when we don't have a golf course on our Island. The one benefit is my bunker play would improve with all of the sand surrounding us!
All in all, a nice few days and very profitable. I will try and post some photographs over the coming days.
Anyway, for now, Keep Safe

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The World Cup Germany 2006 Trip

Lots of Photos from Germany follow as well as a road trip report at the end.

0/10 for tasteful photography... This was the highlight of my trip. This is a urinal in the airport and to be frank, it rules. You may need to click on the image to see this properly but, to help the boys aim, they print a fly on to the porcelain! That way, subconcioulsy we all want to hit it and, never miss! OK, the wheel was good, sliced bread was good but this is numero uno...

Germany World Cup photos

Inside the Stadium at half time...

Germany 2006 photos

Inside the ground a few hours before kick off...

Germany 2006 photos...

This young Lady appears to have put her make up on but forgot to put her shirt on as well...

Trinidad & Tobago Fan

A Trinidad & Tobago fan, they are great big colourful wings attached to his back! Luckily, we were not sitting behind him...

Germany 2006

As often as I tell myself that I will update this thing more often, the more I forget to do it...
Anyway, I have recently got back from Germany. Good fun appeared to be had by all. I met Tony in Munich and we rented a car to drive down to Nuremburg for England v Trinidad & Tobago. The match was failry poor to be honest (as you all have probably seen) but it was fun. Whilst there, we met up with John (Oscar, left) and Mark (Centre). Tony is on the right.
Nuremburg is actually a very beautiful place which I must be honest, came as a bit of a suprise to me. The hosts were very welcoming and the Poliec seemed to adopt a fairly relaxed approach which led to a trouble free few days. You hear horror stories on the police being heavy handed in these situations but they handled the matter perfectly and the fans seemed to respond accordingly. Unfortunately I hear last night that there was a lot of trouble in Stuttgart which is a great shame. Whilst the trip was good, the journey back was a little stressful. I arrived back in Athens and waited for my plane. I went to check in only to be told that they had over sold the plane and the last five people would not be getting on! I mean theplane only hold maybe 30-40 anyway, it is a small island hopper. To put it mildly I was not impressed. They gave me 250 euros by way of compensation and a free flight the following day, also a hotel. I took the money and said something along the lines of "You jolly nice people can keep your hotel and free plane journey, I like you all very much". Well, something similar anyway..
Anyway, a few phots will be posted shortly from the German trip. Not great quality as they were with my phone.
So, Vegas is now only a couple of weeks away. Im excited about the trip but dreading the journey. As most will know, I am not a huge fan of flying at the best of times but all the way to Vegas again does not fill me full of confidence.
Keep Safe

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Earthquake Aid

Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias said yesterday that residents on the island of Zakynthos whose homes were damaged by recent earthquakes will be able to apply for interest-free government loans. A series of tremors reaching up to 5.9 on the Richter scale shook the Ionian island in the last few months. About 108 homes are considered seriously damaged, while another 548 need repair work.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Visitors a plenty...

Well, I quickly checked my blog and see that it has been nearly a month since I last did an update, time to get my ass in to gear! It has been very hectic so apologies to everyone if I have not responded to your emails yet, I will very soon.
So about four weeks ago, one of Justines friends, Lynsey, came over for a weeks holiday. She stayed with us so it was nice for J. Unfortunately, as she had only just started working at PokerStars (J), it was not practical the request anymore time off (more to come on that) so it was mainly consigned to her days off and evenings. After she went, the following week, he Mother came over for the first time. She also seemed to enjoy herself and I believe is giving consideration to coming out her permanently. I guess the biggest issue is, if someone asks you about the island, whether it is a nice place to live, it is hard for me to be objective as I love the place so much. But, it does rule! The picture on the right is J and her Mum (Sandra) paragliding at Vasilikos. The main reason for her doing it was to celebrate her 50th Birthday so big Congratulation to Sandra!
After she had returned home, there was a few more day and now my parents are also over! As always it is great to see them. Unfortunately the weather has not been great (although a million times better than the UK or France!). We have been to Vasilikos, the Church on the hill (for those who have been before). If you have not, it has the most fantastic views and really is a very special place. They are here for another three days so I may post an update in the coming days.
In two weeks time, it is off to Germany for England v Trindad & Tobago. After that, here for three weeks then it is off to Vegas. At this point I am not too sure how long for but we will see.
I can't really go in to too many details at this point but work have asked me to move back to the UK. There is no pressure to do so but, a fairly nice dangling carrot should I choose to.
Anyway, for now, Keep Safe

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Subjects away from the "E" word...

Well, it's hard not to comment on them but, things seem to have settled down a little (nothing like tempting fate!) After 16 nights of sleeping in the car, we are now back in the house. The car was actually remarkably comfortable, we put the back seats down and put a futon mattress in. We only felt a couple of quakes during the night the whole time that we were in there.
Life away from them has been quite busy, we have a friend coming out today, she returns to the UK in a week. There is a week "off" and then her Mum is out for a week. Justine is really excited as she has been waiting for this for a while. Then there is another week without visitors and my Parents are over the following week. Again, another week without visitors then I am off to the world Cup. Another friend will be here shortly after and then, hopefully it is Vegas! I have still not booked it yet but I am desperate to go. I am playing some good poker at the minute and I am desperate to pit my wits against some of the best in the world. A couple of nights ago I entered a tournament that was a $6 rebuy. I don't usually enter these but there was over 1100 entrants so I thought it would be fun, even though the stakes were very small. After some seven hours, I finished in fourth place and won about $1200 which was better than nothing.
Anyway, tidying up to be done!
Keep Safe

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Latest Newspaper Report

More than 20 aftershocks hit island but experts say worst may be over

After being struck by a series of powerful earthquakes in previous days, Zakynthos experienced some 20 aftershocks yesterday, the largest of which measured 4.5 Richter. Seismologists said they expected the aftershocks to continue for a short while but did not forecast any powerful quakes to hit the Ionian island in the immediate future.

Earthquakes Update

We have spent the last three nights sleeping in the car. The earthquakes have continued but , they appear to have died down slightly. We have had about four or five so far today but nothing above a "4". I can cope with that. The last bout of quakes, which I did not report on, saw our biggest yet which was 6.1 or 6.2 depending upon who you speak to and which TV station you watch. The island was also put on a 24 hour crisis alert. I really hope that we are starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Moving away from the island would break my heart but currently it is a very real possibility.
My work have been superb, my boss has basically said take as much time as I need, a week or two and get away if needs be. It was so nice to hear. This week Justine actually started working for PokerStars as well but her training has obviously been interrupted by this. I have not told work but, assuming we do not have a big one tonight, we will start back again tomorrow. If we do, then I think we will be taking a break for a week and getting off the island, possibly to Athens, maybe to London and work from there or maybe a holiday or something. This thing really is driving me crazy.
Sometimes I feel very selfish forgetting things and being concerned with our own worries but for us, they are very real and happening now. I do of course realize that we are a lot more fortunate than many people around the world.
Keep Safe

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

More Details

Taken from a website. It is actually about 30 earthquakes in total now...
A strong earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale shook the western Greek Ionian island of Zakynthos Tuesday, the fourth earthquake to strike the region within 24-hours, the Athens Geodynamic Institute said.
There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries, the Athens News Agency said.
The underwater earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale hit at 20:29 (1829 GMT), with an epicentre 240 kilometres east of the Greek capital Athens.
Three smaller earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.7, 4.7 and 4.4 struck the Ionion islands in the early hours Tuesday.
Residents were alarmed throughout the island, and many rushed in a panic outside their homes.
'We follow closely the latest developments which we see as not being normal,' said seismologist Giorgos Stavrakakis.
There was no major damage from the earlier earthquakes according to Zakynthos, Mayor Dimitris Gasparos, but only slight damage to two bridges.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Horror 12 hours

We have had about 40 minutes sleep since yesterday morning. Shortly after going to bed the first earthquake hit and the continued all night, the highest being a huge 5.7 (although the normal site I look at declared it as a 5.4). It really was as scary a 12 hours as I have had in my life. Most of the night was spent outside.

Justine was mean to start work today but we had to ask for it to be put back. I love my life here so much but I can't live in constant fear like this.

Date & Time UTC Lat/Long Mag. Region name
2006-04-11 07:07:40.0 37.72 N 20.91 3.4 IONIAN SEA
2006-04-11 04:10:48.0 37.63 N 20.83 3.1 IONIAN SEA
2006-04-11 02:03:28.0 37.79 N 20.93 3.1 IONIAN SEA
2006-04-11 01:02:36.3 37.64 N 20.93 3.7 IONIAN SEA
2006-04-11 00:56:45.0 37.83 N 20.88 3.0 IONIAN SEA
2006-04-11 00:40:11.0 37.35 N 20.05 3.0 IONIAN SEA
2006-04-11 00:23:34.0 37.66 N 21.09 3.4 SOUTHERN GREECE
2006-04-11 00:02:39.9 37.66 N 20.90 5.4 IONIAN SEA
2006-04-10 21:21:24.3 37.62 N 21.01 4.3 SOUTHERN GREECE
2006-04-10 21:10:19.9 37.70 N 20.89 3.6 IONIAN SEA
2006-04-10 21:21:24.3 37.62 N 21.01 4.3 SOUTHERN GREECE
2006-04-10 21:10:19.9 37.70 N 20.89 3.6 IONIAN SEA

All details taken from my usual Earthquake website

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Short Update

A fairly quick one again as I am about to go fishing for the afternoon.
Only real things of note over the last month have been a couple of sizeable earthquakes, the last of which was last night and measured 5.7. What made it worse was that the epicentre appeared to be only a couple of kilometres away so it did feel pretty bad. Whilst it is not the biggest one we have had, it is the first time I have gone under the bed for cover. Someone needs to remind me why I love this place so much! We have also had four aftershocks today although luckily they have not been huge.
The weather has been great over the last week or so which means it is time to start tanning a little...
Anyway, coffee and fishing at Keri beckons.
Keep Safe

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Sunset City

I just took this photo from our back window, I was a little late to catch the sunset properly but still quite nice.

I have been looking at the finer details for the trip to Vegas, I am hoping it colud get even better as Damian may be getting married around that time so it will be great if I can be there at the same time (if I get an invite!).

Anyway, it was just a quick one to show you the sunset!

Keep Safe

Friday, March 03, 2006

What do I want to do?

I have been quite fortunate in that I have already managed to fulfill many of my ambitions in life and I am now thinking about a few I still have to achieve. Well, one of the big ones is to see the Northern Lights. My trip to Iceland left me unrewarded but I am still inspired to find them. there is a fabulous link about them here.

And of course the picture here is them in their full glory. Swimming with Dolphins would be another one. That could also be done on a trip to Australia and New Zealand (Monkey Mia has loads apparently). In addition to that, I quite fancy a ride across the USA on a harley, maybe even a different bike. I just think that would be a whole lot of fun. I will need a travel partner for this though. Any takers? There are some good websites about this, one of which is flyrideusa. Of course, I have already mentioned playig in the World Series of Poker. After I have done those, I can sleep for a while.

As most of you know, patience may be a problem. Once I decide I want to do something, I want to do it NOW. Work will be there only problem (twenty days, grumble grumble, I think I will have to follow other peoples lead and go to Mansion Poker, ha ha) so, by that rationale, it will take me about four years. I was kind of hoping to do them all by the end of this year.

I wonder how work would feel about me taking a six month hiatus...

Keep Safe

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Boring ramblings

Not been a particularly exciting few days. We have had loads of big storms, the likes of which I have never seen before. The winds are so powerful it is not unusual to see trees literally ripped from the ground beneath them. It's also been pretty cold.
Luckily that is also broken up with some fabulous weather.
Its amazing to think that the tourists will return soon, only about 10 weeks now. It is actually quite funny seeing everybody rushing around, trying to clean the place up after four months of doing nothing. All we need now is for them to start thinking about doing something with the roads. They are not great at the best of times but at this point, they resemble something from a war zone.
I was just scanning through the photos on my phone and came across the one shown here. It was actually taken on Christmas Eve, two Santa Claus riding along on a scooter. Highly amusing. Its a very good job that I can think quickly on my feet, I had to explain to Justine how it was possible that there could be more than one Father Christmas. Luckily, she still believes in his existence and it was merely his brother. Rudolph was sleeping after all the hard work over December.
Poker continues to be profitable and now I am even more keen to go to Vegas for the World Series of Poker. The one down side is, the holidays at work are appalling, you only get 20 days. If I take 15 to go to Vegas, that leaves 5 for the rest of the year. Not good. Its actually quite surprising, they are such a good company to work for in almost every other way. Obviously just don't like you having holidays!
The flights and tickets are all sorted for the World Cup now, the plan is to meet Tony in Munich, we will rent a car the day before and then head down to Nuremburg for the game. It's incredible that these boys get away with it but for an average hotel, over 500 euros for two nights. I wouldn't mind paying that or indeed more for a decent one but for an average one, not good...
I can't recall if I have said this before but, I have spent so much time watching "24" on DVD the last week or so. I went to play.com and they had the first four seasons at only 17.99 each. I had never watched one before but recall seeing the trailers for the first one. I wanted to watch it but, one skiing holiday later, plans kind of changed! Anyway, I purchased all four and it rocks! If you don't know anything about it, go to my "suprise" link on the right hand side (although not much of a suprise now!!).
Anyway, for now...
Keep Safe

Saturday, February 11, 2006

How time flies...

Do you know, today it is three years since I broke my back? Quite incredible. So much has happened it that time that I could never imagined.......
Keep Safe

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Poker Keeps Getting Better

I have been playing a lot of poker over the last week or so and it has been very profitable! (Click on the image above for a bigger version). A couple of days ago I won $1500 for finishing third in a tournament (although I agreed a "saver" with Matt from work so he got 20%), the cash game is going even better, especially the stud games. As I am on day off today, I decided to enter a tournament that was $50 to enter, now I have just won that for another $1260. I even afforded myself a few cashouts which I do not do so often! I think that is about $5,000 profit in the last week or so now. The one down side is, I have been working really hard at work and am exhausted so, not as much time to play as I would like. Now, a couple of people have asked about "sponsoring" me for the big one in Vegas in July / August for a percentage, keep the offers coming! First prize in that is a cool $10 million big ones.
The funny thing is, we should have been going skiing today but Justine woke up with a really bad migrane.... well, it is not funny really but you know what I mean!
Keep Safe
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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

My Birthday

Thank you for the Birthday cards / Gifts, much appreciated. For the evening of my Birthday we went to a Taverna that is quite close to us called Popalarous. We only really discovered it about a month ago but have been quite a few times since then. On a Friday and Saturday they have live music. As I am not so keen on the "smoking" aspect of Greek life, we tend to go fairly early so not so many people will be there however, for various reasons (mainly poker!) we ended up going much later. The band were superb. We would normally only see them for about 20 minutes before we leave but this time caught over an hour. Its funny, looking at them you would not imagine they could play a thing but they appear to be incredibly talented. I suspect we will probably start going a little later now. The picture attached was taken just before we went.
For the poker players who read this, I have found a new love of "Stud" rather than Hold'em. It's weird, I have even been playing ring games which typically I am not a huge fan of.
Finally, Thanks for all the calls etc to make sure that we were ok after the much publicized earthquake it Greece. It strange, it was huge in certain areas of Greece, 6.9, yet there was not a single death. One of the two big ones that killed hundreds of thousands in Pakistan was only 7.1. It does make you think.
Anyway, for now, Keep Safe.

Monday, January 23, 2006

New Look Blog

I hope you like the "new look" blog.
There are a few links on the right hand side that may be of interest.
Firstly, there is the "Earthquake Monitor" which I know a lot of the family follow. It is quite an interesting site and gives up to the hour information on earthquakes around the world.
Secondly, there is the 'Babel Fish Translator'. I often use it to grab words any Greek words that I am stuck with. It does work equally well for German, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese and Italian as well as many other languages.
Finally, there is a link which I will frequently change. I wont advertise what is though, if you want to know, click it!
One of the things with the blog, I never know if anyone actually reads it, I could well be wasting my time so, feel free to drop me a mail and let me know you are!
Keep Safe

Ski-ing Again!

After a four year hiatus from the slopes, yesterday I found myself back again! Remarkably, Greece has a few great ski resorts and we decided it was time to give them a try. I was looking forward to it despite the horrors of my last ski/snowboard trip.
We left on the 4:15pm boat on Friday arriving at the mainland around 5:30. I did a route planner and it suggested that it may take up to four hours to get there. After getting a little lost (for the record Mr President, they are called "road signs", readily available in most developed countries) we appeared to finally find the "main road" that would lead us all the way to the resort. After a while without signs, we saw a gentleman in a small village and decided it would be prudent to ask for directions. Great, he told us, this road, another 30 minutes.
As suspected, it looked like we would be completing the run in under three hours. It was about an hour later that we approached another village that came in to view at the bottom of a very steep hill. I just turned a corner, touched my breaks and slid for about 10 feet. Good job I was going very slow. Anyway, the next mile took us about 20 minutes at a guess but at least we had arrived. Wrong! This was actually just a village in the mountains, not the resort of Kalavryta!
A little fed up we drove for maybe another hour, never getting above 30km/h when we arrived at a much bigger village. The only thing that really stood out in the village was a big sign that read "Kalavryta 50km". We were horrified. We had stayed on the same road the whole way (in fact, I am not sure there was even a turning off) and now found ourselves fully 50km away from our destination. It was pitch black dark, the roads were horrific and we were not happy bunnies. We were now faced with a decsion to try and find a room for the night or carry on. Maybe against our better judgement we carried on. About 5 km in to our journey I had serious regrets. We were just driving up and up and up, further in to the roof of the mountains. There was black ice on the roads, HUGE drops at the side of the road and no road barriers. I kid you not, at times our speed was not even registering on the dial. We would go over an hour without seeing a car, because we were in the middle of nowhere, only Maria (our friend who came on the journey with us and kept us smiling in troubled times; her "husband to be" is a very lucky man) had any reception on her phone, but only had 1 minute 40 seconds of call time left.
At every opportunity I was looking for places I could "roll back" in to should the car slide backwards. It really was not very pleasant. Anyway, to cut a very long story short /quite long (delete as applicable), we arrived at about 11pm, absolutely exhausted.
Kalavryta is a fabulous place, not a typical ski resort but lovely. It has some lovely restaurants (shame they all are smoke filled!) and views to match. We were very lucky with the hotel as it was very pleasant and reasonably priced.
The skiing was a lot of fun although I must confess to aching quite badly by the end of it. The trip was actually cut a day short as it poured with rain on the final day and our lack of suitable clothing dictated that a drive home was a better option. I did purchase a set of ski blades (mini skis) which are a lot of fun so, we hope to go back next week but only for the day. We found a different way home which is considerably further but much easier and only 2 hours 30 from the port.
Changing subject, we are very settled in the new house and it is so much warmer thatn the last one where our only heatng was small electric radiators or the small fire.The weather has been woeful for the last couple of days, freezing cold (outside), driving rain and gusting winds.
It still looks so beautiful, even then.
Keep Safe
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A small part of the slopes

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Maria on the Slopes

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A Chairlift with a View

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Maria and Justine

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Maria and Justine

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