Last weekend I travelled to Manchester and met up with a group of friends to see Aphex Twin playing as part of the Warehouse Project. The laughs I had with my friends from the very moment I met up with them at the train station was fantastic and I think we made the most of the situation. The small part of the city we ended up seeing was littered with junkies, blood on the pavement and dodgy take-aways with shady clientele – not the greatest first impressions but I’m sure the there are a lot of nice parts to the city.
Aphex Twin was fantastic and his persona… almost robot like as he barely moved on stage whilst creating a brilliant vibe in the room shroud in darkness behind a fantastic display of lasers. I was enjoying myself; right up until the moment I noticed my phone was missing from my pocket! Lost? Stolen? Who knows… and sadly I doubt I’ll ever really find out what happened to it. I apologise for the stock photo on this post but unfortunately all photos I took at Manchester were lost with my phone.
I don’t know if any of you have gone without a phone for a period of time but it’s an awful experience. Despite the fact that my expensive phone had disappeared so quickly without a hope of ever retrieving it, what bothered me the most (after we had left the Warehouse Project) was that I had nothing to do with my hands. It’s strange how much you start playing on your phone – it becomes an almost natural response in some situations and when you notice you can’t do it there’s something very unsettling about it. When we were waiting in the train station for almost two hours (waiting for the first train back to my friends student flat) I could see all of my friends playing on their phones – reading their twitter feeds, commenting about how much fun they had in Manchester on Facebook or just having being able to browse the wonderful array of websites to keep anyone occupied for hours on end. I sat there with feelings of boredom and jealously.
It’s almost worrying how much I find myself relying on my phone to keep me from being bored and giving my hands something to do especially since it costs me over £30 a month for that privilege. I’ve read that a few minimalists have taken opportunities like this to completely free themselves from the hassle and burden of: paying for, carrying and relying on mobile phones in their lives but for me I’m going to have to disagree with that decision – a view that may be slightly unpopular with a few of you.
I might agree that people don’t really need the best phone out there (despite me having one) and that constantly being in a 24 month contract can harm your financial freedom but owning a mobile phone has brought me many benefits. I can see from not having a mobile phone for the past week that I’m completely self-reliant on other people to sort out plans for me as well as my freedom of movement being significantly reduced because I cannot do those spontaneous meet ups with friends that make life fun. After Manchester I did plan on seeing my friend in Harrogate (who I had not seen for months) but because I was unable to keep in contact I had to pass up that opportunity; I wasn’t happy about that.
At this age, I cannot see my life being mobile-free for quite some time and I am slightly annoyed that my pockets will always be bogged down with a piece of equipment that needs constant charging and distracts me from important moments. I decided to become a minimalist, in part, to help me reconnect with what truly matters in my life and if I need to pay for a mobile to keep me in touch with many friends all around the UK then I think that is a trade worth making.
My mobile is a connector of worlds. It allows me to free myself from living in a small area to travel as a please; like a playful wind. Maybe in the future I will re-evaluate my relationship with my mobile phone but for now it’s here to stay and, in my opinion, for the better.
Are there any items you can’t seem to part with?
Following on from my weekend trip to Sheffield I had the pleasure of staying with my friend Matt at his university town of Durham. I’m very grateful for him lending me his room for a few nights; it made my stay a lot more comfortable than my stay in Sheffield (which I was sleeping on the floor!) I think I need to mention that Matt is my oldest friend who I’ve known for roughly 17 years, possibly more. I spent all of primary school, high school and sixth form with him but have barely seen him much over the past couple of years during university as he has been far up in Durham and I’ve spent a lot of my summers in Bath. Before the summer had come, I hadn’t seen him or spoken to him much for about 8 months… an awfully long time to pass that could make any friendship a little awkward when seeing each other again. Thankfully this wasn’t the case for the both of us!
Ever since Matt returned back to Cardiff we’ve had some incredible laughs, made some fantastic new memories and enjoyed reminiscing about the past. This rang true for my few days spent with him at Durham too!
Durham is a very small town in the north of England with very little sites apart from a splendid cathedral which dates back a thousand years! I’m thoroughly jealous that Matt had his matriculation there for Uni… especially since scenes of Harry Potter were filmed there!
Despite Durham being very small, and the entertainment seemed rather limited, it had a certain charm to it. I think this was largely down to the River Wear which passes through it, which provided wonderful walks through lush trees amongst a vast display of wildlife. The churches, the viaduct and the university college system gives the town a very English feel, steeped in heritage and traditions of times past. I don’t think I could ever live in Durham but my time there was very enjoyable and I would love to visit there again.
I think the gem of the visit was the trip to Newcastle which is just 15 minutes away and gave me a huge shock! As you may recall from my Sheffield adventures, it pointed out my ignorance and almost offensive preconceptions of what the city was like. Well, I had similar expectations for Newcastle and like the previous days I was gobsmacked! The architecture is so beautiful in some parts of the city; including a theatre that I would love to one day go to. There are also a couple of fascinating bridges there which look wonderful at night.
During our visit we went to the cinema to see Drive; a fantastic film that I highly recommend! Ryan Gosling plays a stunt driver and criminal wheelman who get caught up in a deal that turns out wrong, eventually putting Irene and her son in danger. Gosling’s acting throughout is superb and he portrays the driver so mysteriously that will leave you considering his back story, interests and character for days. Carey Mulligan (as Irene) and Bryan Cranston (as Shannon) also provided top supporting roles and their presence (Carey Mulligan in particular) on-screen added a lot to the film. The violence used has its artistic merits but isn’t for the squeamish and the use of slow motion was tasteful and added much suspense. To top it all off the cinematography and soundtrack were fantastic; the views of LA are a feast for the eyes! It definitely deserves the praise it receives and I hope to see it again soon.
On the whole, I have had a fantastic time in Durham and it was a spectacular continuation of the trip to Sheffield; ending the summer holidays with a bang!
One of my oldest and dearest friends arrived back in the UK after travelling for 21 hours from California and it was great to see her again! I got up in the early hours of the morning to travel to Heathrow Airport to pick her up from the airport but still managing to arrive late (shameful, I know!). Unfortunately we didn’t have a lot of time to hang out together as her train back to Aberystwyth left in roughly 3 hours after I picked her up but we did get the chance to reconnect after what has been a long time since speaking to each other. It also gave us the opportunity to tuck in to some doughnuts and do crosswords together!
We’ve been through a lot and I expect we still have lots to look forward to. I’m especially looking forward to the idea of visiting Liverpool soon, a city I have not yet experienced as well as being able to explore almost everything Beatles related!
After she left I was able to take the day to look around London – a city I’m completely in love with and it always seems refreshing every time I visit. I’m not sure what it is about the city but I seemed to be completely captivated every time I go. It has so much culture to offer, both old and new, that you can rarely get bored.
After lunch I decided I felt a little too queasy to ride on the underground so I decided to walk down from Charring Cross down to Parliament Square and witnessed an interesting sight of pageantry that I have never really seen in any other city before. Just outside the Horse Guards Cavalry Museum I watched the changing of the guard and it fascinating to see! The guards looked very impressive in their uniforms as well as being entirely in sync with each other. I can sort of understand how one could be so patriotic, especially in times before the average person had a television, as the entire event is wondrous on the eyes.
As I arrived at Westminster I sat at a bench on Victoria Embankment reading a paper and enjoying a drink as the London Eye slowly turned in front of me. I felt so peaceful sitting there as the evening was slowly setting in. It had been a fantastic day and I’m thoroughly grateful I had the ability to travel so easily to help a friend, visit some new friends and take the time to enjoy only a minute handful that London has to offer. I hope that one day I can live in London and experience it all on my doorstep! But for now, it has certainly fuelled my desire to travel and I’m thoroughly looking forward to my next railway adventure!