Robert Hampton

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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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17th June 2013

Left Hanging
Posted by at 11.16pm | Out and About | 3 responses

Emirates Air LineAfter the stress of my exams, I decided to unwind by giving myself a holiday. First, I headed off to the Isle of Wight, the story of which I am writing up over at my other blogpart one here, and part two here, with part three to follow shortly.

After a few days there, I decided to go to London to spend a happy weekend in the capital. My accommodation was The Strand Palace Hotel, an altogether too luxurious place for a pleb like me (they had a man in a top hat opening the front door!) but why not push the boat out once in a while? It’s in a brilliant location on The Strand, within easy reach of most of the theatres, Covent Garden, the London Eye and (ahem) Soho. The only downside was that I didn’t get to ride the Underground much, as most places I needed to go were within walking distance.

One mode of transport I did get to ride was the Emirates Air Line … or the “Arabfly Dangleway”, as London-based blogger Diamond Geezer would have it.

This new cable car across the Thames, linking Greenwich to the Royal Docks, opened in June 2012. It is the “brain” child of London’s ever-popular mayor, Boris Johnson. As you may have gathered from the name, the Emirates Air Line is sponsored by the Emirates airline, who paid to have their branding on the cable cars and stations, and also for cutesy details like referring to the cars as “cabins” and journeys as “flights”. This sponsorship helped to offset the construction costs, meaning the cable car didn’t cost a penny to the taxpayer… oh, apart from the £24 million cost overrun which had to picked up out of TfL’s budget.

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