Robert Hampton

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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.

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

Cruisin’
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

Statuesque
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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3rd July 2015

Rob / Munch house
Posted by at 7.34pm | Out and About | No responses

hampo-stortinget

Saturday was my first full day in Oslo. The Pride Parade was due to take place later that day, but before that I decided to start the day by immersing myself in some culture. Oslo has a museum dedicated to the works of one of Norway’s most celebrated artists, Edvard Munch, and it was there that I headed.

The Munch Museum is slightly outside the city centre, which meant the thrilling prospect of a ride on Oslo’s underground system, the T-Bane. There I am, on the right, just before descending into Stortinget station. Look how excited I am!

The T-Bane consists of 6 lines which all converge on a central east-west route beneath Oslo city centre. It was this central section that I was about to ride on, which meant I wouldn’t have to wait too long for a train – any of lines 1-6 would take me where I needed to go.

I walked down the station’s passageways – complete with blue and red wall cladding and corrugated ceilings – to the eastbound platform. A train soon turned up to take me on the short journey to Tøyen. A quick exit, avoiding some slightly dodgy looking characters at the station entrance, and I was on my way to the Munch Museum.

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2nd July 2015

Rudolph the tasty reindeer
Posted by at 9.12pm | Out and About | No responses

Oslo Pass

I had bought a 72-hour Oslo Pass, which for 590 kr (about £50) gave me free entry to loads of museums, unlimited travel on Oslo’s public transport system, and discounts in a number of restaurants. On Friday evening it was the latter feature that was of most interest to me. I had eaten a Boots Meal Deal on the plane, but it was now nearly 7pm and I was hungry.

The pass booklet recommended Kaffistova – “serves traditional Norwegian food and is one of the oldest cafés in Oslo”. It was near my hotel and offered a 20% discount to Oslo Pass holders. I made a beeline for it.

The café itself is self-service – take a tray, get it loaded up with food and return to your table. There were various delightful sounding options on the menu – steamed salmon, shrimp sandwich – but “Reindeer cakes with potatoes and mushroom sauce” jumped out at me.

I can honestly say it was the best reindeer I’d ever tasted. Kind of venison-y. It was very tasty, in any event. I wolfed it down quickly, but not before putting a photo on Instagram. Yes, I’m a wanker.

Reindeer Cakes

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1st July 2015

Norway José
Posted by at 9.27pm | Out and About | No responses

Ryanair planes

The first half of June was a stressful month. My ongoing Open University studies – already sucking time away from me like a Star Trek: Voyager anomaly – culminated with an End of Module Assignment, Exam and Tutor Marked Assignment all due within ten days of each other. I managed to finish them all on time (although how well I’ve done on the exam remains to be seen) and felt rather pleased with myself. All it required was the complete abandonment of all activities outside of work and sleep (and sometimes I skimped on the sleep, too).

The whole experience left me drained. I needed to relax, unwind, recharge my batteries, discharge some tension. But how to do so? Killing sprees in the office are frowned upon. Even a hot bath, filled with the most ridiculously large fizzy bomb I could find in Lush, failed to do the trick. I needed a holiday.

Anticipating this, back in April I’d started looking around for somewhere to go. This highly scientific process consisted of me looking at Liverpool Aiport’s destination map and choosing more or less at random. The destination for my summer 2015 weekend away would be… (drum roll) Oslo!

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25th June 2015

I love it when a plan comes together
Posted by at 8.15pm | Films, Liverpool | No responses

Flying Saucer

Yesterday I went with my friend Boris to one of Liverpool’s newer cultural attractions – the Small Cinema. A dedicated group of volunteers has taken over the old Magistrates Court building on Victoria Street in the city centre, converting it into a bijou space where sixty or so film buffs can sit in comfort to enjoy a movie.

The cinema is running a series of cult films under the umbrella title Cheap Thrills. Yesterday’s opus was Plan 9 From Outer Space – the legendary Ed Wood film which is so bad that it’s actually quite watchable, if only as a study in ineptitude. Boom mikes appear in shot, one actor is visibly reading his script in his lap and the spaceships are obviously toys dangling from strings.

We also get brilliant dialogue like this: “Future events such as these will affect you in the future!” and “Inspector Clay is dead, murdered, and somebody’s responsible.”

On the other hand, there is a certain ingenuity on display: Bela Lugosi’s death didn’t prevent him from appearing in this film – old stock footage of the actor from different films is used (one shot appears three times) and in other scenes a different actor plays Lugosi’s role – we’re treated to endless shots of him walking around a cemetery with his face obscured.

It’s a terrible film, yes, but the unintentional hilarity makes it compulsive viewing. As someone who avidly watched Mystery Science Theater 3000 during its very brief run in the UK, I found it all very entertaining. As an added bonus the main feature was prefixed with a selection of 1950s American drive-in trailers and adverts; a great idea which really added to the B-Movie feel of the evening.

Overall, it’s a lovely venue. Definitely worth checking out if you have a free evening.

15th June 2015

Runnymede and Titan, yes sir, I’ve been around
Posted by at 8.13pm | In the News | 1 response

Today marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta, the document which, legal scholars agree, laid the foundations for our modern legal system. David Cameron is celebrating big style. If the commemorations seem a little over the top, bear in mind that most current Conservative party supporters were around for the original event – it’s a big thing for them.

Addressing the crowd, the prime minister, who has advocated Britain’s withdrawal from the European convention on human rights and replacing the Human Rights Act (HRA), said Magna Carta had altered “forever the balance of power between the governed and government”.

It does rankle slightly to hear the Prime Minister talk in reverent tones about Magna Carta, while also advocating the withdrawal from the European Convention of Human Rights and promoting the Snooper’s Charter – more legislation which will forever alter the power between governed and government. As comedian Paul Sinha pointed out on Twitter earlier today, Cameron is King John in this scenario.

Cameron appeared on Letterman in 2012, where he was asked what Magna Carta meant. He didn’t know.