Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!


This is my little corner of the world wide web. If you're visiting for the first time, you might want to start by reading a bit more about me. I blog here about anything that interests me: mainly culture, Liverpool, politics, trains and a whole lot more besides. The latest posts are below and there's more in the archives. For other sections of the site, follow the links in the navigation bar above.

2nd October 2015

A Hamburg stroll
Posted by at 10.05pm | Out and About | No responses

Friday morning we decided to do a walking tour of Hamburg. Every day at 11am a tour sets off, taking around two hours to take in some of the sights of the city. The tour starts at the Rathaus (City Hall), one of the many impressive buildings to be found in the city centre.

Hamburg Rathaus

In the square outside some sort of inter-schools concert was being held. Children of varying ages filed in and sat themselves down on folding chairs, to be entertained by other children. Well, I say “entertained” – we escaped just as a group of teenagers started rapping (badly).

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30th September 2015

Frühstück, Mittag- und Abendessen
Posted by at 9.05pm | Out and About | No responses

For past travel blogs, I have done a chronological account describing what I got up to. It was exhaustive – practically every minute of last year’s Berlin trip is accounted for – and exhausting to write. This time I’ve decided to try a different approach by writing a series of posts, each themed around a particular aspect of my visit.

First topic is one close to my heart (and stomach): food! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen some of these pictures already.

I was fortunate to have Boris with me as a guide. No wandering around looking for somewhere suitable to eat, as happened when I was in Berlin alone. Boris knew the places to eat and as a result I enjoyed some delicious meals.

We had breakfast in Schweinske, a chain of restaurants found across north west Germany. From the breakfast options, I opted for Die große Sause, a delicious offering of bacon, eggs, ham and cheese, alongside bread rolls with jam and honey. It was delicious, so much so that I had the same thing again the next day.


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28th September 2015

Hamburger Helper
Posted by at 10.05pm | Out and About | No responses

Regular readers of this blog (if there are any left) will know that I have a bit of a thing for Berlin. I’ve visited there twice, and I want to go back. It’s the most exciting, cosmopolitan, liberal city I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing.

However, it turns out that other German cities are available. My friend Boris was returning to his native Germany to celebrate his birthday in Hamburg. Would I like to come along, he asked. The chance to visit a new city with my own personal tour guide? I hesitated for approximately 9.5 nanoseconds before saying “Ja!”

So, on the evening of 17th September I found myself at Manchester Airport waiting for a Germanwings flight. I arrived far too early for the flight, but I didn’t mind, as Manchester is a massive, sprawling terminal and I was grateful to have the time to saunter gently from the railway station to security to departure lounge.

Germanwings use fun-size aircraft on the Manchester-Hamburg route, with just four seats in each row. I was perturbed by the cabin crew’s insistence that I put my wheelie case in the hold – I don’t like parting with my luggage – but it arrived at the other end without incident.

Hamburg Airport is connected to the city’s extensive S-Bahn system.

Hamburg S-Bahn

One change of train later and we were exiting the U-Bahn at Lohmühlenstraße, where we promptly got lost, wandering around the grounds of the nearby St Georg Hospital for a good 15 minutes or so. The rumbling of my wheelie suitcase probably woke up every patient. We eventually had to retrace our steps to the station, then take a different route to our hotel, the Relaxa Bellevue. It was late, and we went more or less straight to sleep once we’d checked in.

Next morning, we ventured out of the hotel and across the road, onto the shores of Lake Alster to admire the view.

Hamburg Lake Alster

I had a feeling that this trip would be very nice indeed.

16th September 2015

Stuff happens
Posted by at 10.10pm | It's My Life | No responses


As August gave way to September, I found myself in something of a low mood. There were actual tears produced at one point.

It had been a stressful few weeks. Work has been difficult, I’ve had an End of Module Assignment to deliver to the Open University, and on top of that, I’ve moved into a new flat.

You may remember that, when last we met, I’d just acquired the keys. The apartment was devoid of furniture, fittings and most of the other things that are required to – ahem – “make a house a home”.

I didn’t immediately realise what I was letting myself in for, but it turns out that being a grown up is hard.

It didn’t help that there was a long list of niggles to sort out. The Virgin phone line didn’t work and required an engineer to come out. I phoned up Liverpool City Council to sort out council tax and was put on hold for nearly an hour because the telephone operator forgot his computer password. I had to phone Scottish Power on three separate occasions to actually get an account set up. United Utilities asked me for a water meter reading… and I couldn’t find the meter. The sofa I ordered failed to turn up on time.

For the first couple of weeks, I spent my evenings eating ready meals on a deckchair in the bare living room (because I had no dining furniture). I would probably have had a nervous breakdown, were it not for my amazing family and friends who rallied round with practical, financial and emotional support. Too many to mention individually (and I don’t want to forget someone and upset them) but you know who you are… and THANK YOU.

After all that, it was fortunate that September brought several events which cheered me up no end.

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15th August 2015

Flat tired
Posted by at 9.31pm | It's My Life | 2 responses

So today I picked up the keys to a flat I’m renting…


now what do I do?

19th July 2015

The Incredible Huk
Posted by at 8.07pm | Out and About | No responses

At lunchtime on Monday I was back in Aker Brygge, having lunch with Mark at Espresso House, home of the most bizarre toilet graffiti I’ve ever seen. Obviously someone is a fan of The Critic, or early period Saturday Night Live.

Jon Lovitz graffiti

After Mark and I went our separate ways, I pondered how to spend my final few hours in Oslo. I had to catch a train to the airport just after 5pm, so time was short.

While researching Bygdøy, I’d found that there was a beach there. The weather was still warm and sunny, so I decided to head back there. I got on another Number 30 bus, this time staying aboard right to the last stop at Huk.

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14th July 2015

Posted by at 9.49pm | Out and About | No responses

This is the penultimate Oslo blog post. Yes, we’re up to Monday 29th June and my last day in Norway. I was bereft. Look at me, there, trying to put on a brave face. Oslo Pride indeed. Sob!

Hampo Oslo Pride

My flight wasn’t until 9pm, however, which left me most of the day to take in some more sights. I left my Ryanair-approved luggage with the concierge at the hotel, and headed back down to the pier in front of the City Hall, from where various ferries and sightseeing cruises depart.

Sunday had been marred by overcast conditions and the occasional shower. Now, however, the sunshine was back.

Oslo Panorama

The Helena was waiting for me at the pier, ready to set off on a mini-cruise. This is a substantial vessel, complete with an on-board bar selling drinks and snacks. For this, the first trip of the day, there were only a handful of people on board, so I grabbed a table to myself and sat down.

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10th July 2015

Museum Piece
Posted by at 8.05pm | Out and About | No responses

Oslo circa 1300

The Oslo City Museum is small but perfectly formed, with exhibits documenting the city’s storied history. And what a long history it is – there has been a settlement here, in one form or another, since approximately 1000 AD.

We started with a quick film on the history of Oslo, complete with animation of a comedy mammoth sinking into the sea to symbolise the end of the last Ice Age.

Most of the exhibits were in Norwegian. I realise that this is a ridiculously “little Englander” complaint, and it’s entirely fair that Oslo’s city museum uses the native language, but it was a bit of a problem for me. There were booklets offering a translation into English.

One interesting exhibition talked about the Norwegian women who, during the Nazi occupation of Norway, fraternised with the German soldiers. After the war they found themselves abused and ostracised by their fellow citizens. This exhibit told their story and asked whether their treatment was too harsh. It was fascinating, although I did annoy one group of visitors by standing right in front of a short film they were trying to watch. Beklager.

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9th July 2015

Posted by at 8.54pm | Out and About | No responses

If you read my previous blog, you may not be surprised to hear that I woke up on Sunday morning feeling slightly woozy.

I poured myself a strong coffee, which proved to be a bad idea, as it just made me feel even worse. It took a hot shower and a stodgy breakfast before I felt even vaguely good enough to leave the hotel.

A few days before my departure, I’d asked on Twitter for ideas for things to do in Oslo, and @colin7t3 came through for me:-

A stroll through a park seemed like exactly the sort of genteel activity to ease me into the day. Even more excitingly, getting there would involve a ride on a tram. I’d seen Oslo’s trams trundling around the city since the moment I arrived, but this would be my first chance to ride one.

Oslo Tram on Route 11

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6th July 2015

The long good Pride day
Posted by at 9.12pm | Gay, Out and About | 2 responses

Oslo really gets excited about Pride. The Pride Parade, traditionally held on the last Saturday in June, is preceded by a week of festivities. Even the trams are adorned with rainbow flags for the occasion.

Tram with Rainbow Flag

I’ve been rather sceptical about Pride recently. Just before I left, Liverpool Pride had announced a dramatic scaling back of its 2015 event. This was portrayed in the media as a disaster; personally I’ll be happy if this year sees a return to a more community-based event, rather than charging £11 to experience terrible music and overpriced beer.

Yes, I’m a grumpy sod, which meant that Oslo Pride was going to have to be quite special to shake me out of my funk. Could the Norwegians do something that Liverpool couldn’t?

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