Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!

21st March 2013

Getting Away From It All

Blurry LondonFor the first few years of the blog’s existence there aren’t many records of trips out, because – well, I didn’t like to leave the house. More recently, however, I’ve taken the advice, “you need to get out more,” to heart. I’ve ventured out more and more.

London features regularly – in 2009, 2010 and 2011. The last trip was with my friend Scott and seemed to involve hanging around the Abercrombie & Fitch store and then going to see West End Bares, a charity burlesque show. If this gives the impression that we enjoy looking at naked men, that is… accurate.

I like London, with its Oyster cards and palaces and whatnot. I think it helps that I have loads of friends who live there, so I can avoid expensive hotel bills by imposing on their generosity. In fact, I’ve just completed another London trip (this time with my friend Ian). It’s waiting to be written up, once these retro-blogs are out of the way…

Read the rest of this post »

31st December 2010

Twenty Ten – again. Again

July brought big changes to the newspaper industry, as The Times started charging for access to its web site. This was supposed to ensure a steady income stream for the newspaper, putting it on a secure financial footing for the future. However, it also resulted in the Times being completely removed from the online chatter of the blogosphere, as its news coverage and columnists were no longer accessible to the internet hoi-polloi. Still, I’m sure this decision made sense to someone somewhere.

The Supreme Court ruled that gay people facing persecution are entitled to claim asylum in the UK. I welcomed the decision, although my blog post is curiously vague about precisely why I welcomed it. Hmm…

In other gay-related news, I reviewed, with sadness, a booklet from the US Military discussing its anti-gay don’t ask, don’t tell policy.

Elsewhere, health and safety went mad as one person suggested banning rugby scrums. I felt uncomfortable on a train full of Orange Lodge marchers and I defended the traditional sitcom from an onslaught of criticism from trendy TV reviewers.

Read the rest of this post »

6th December 2010

Brighton Belly Up

Well, it wasn’t as arduous as I expected. Stories of travel chaos across the south east left me wondering if I should have taken a sleeping bag with me, but the reality was somewhat more mundane.

In these cost-conscious times, I needed to make the journey as cheaply as possible, and I chose to use London Midland’s service, which is much slower and requires a change of train at Stafford. However, at £24.50 for a Super Off Peak Return from Liverpool South Parkway to London Terminals, it is much cheaper.

Despite a delay on the train from Liverpool, our connection at Stafford was held and I was delivered to Euston on time. One quick tube journey later and I was at Victoria for 2.15pm, where the emergency timetable was very much in force and the departure board was much barer than usual.

Read the rest of this post »

2nd December 2010

Brighton or Bust
Posted by at 11.15pm | Out and About, Trains | 1 response

I’m off to Brighton tomorrow, to see Mark again. My last visit was during the summer, and while the weather wasn’t brilliant, it didn’t preclude us getting around, seeing the sights and having a good time.

This time round, things are slightly different, with the country under 12 feet of snow (estimated) and all manner of chaos on the Brighton Main Line. Southern Trains have suspended all services today, and tomorrow an emergency timetable is in force.

In spite of all this, I have decided to go anyway! It should be an adventure, if nothing else. I will of course update you all fully when I get back on Monday evening. I may have had a great time, I may have had to sleep on the floor of a 377. Either way I’ll have some stories to tell.

30th August 2010

Pier Pleasure
Posted by at 7.24pm | Out and About | No responses

Sunday was my final day in Brighton but the first day when I would properly explore the town itself.

We hopped aboard a number 27 bus for the short trip to Brighton Marina. I used a few Brighton & Hove buses over the weekend, and I was impressed. The buses were clean and showed up when the timetable said they would, two things that Liverpool’s bus operators don’t seem to have quite got the hang of yet. Also, nearly all the stops had real-time route indicators showing when the next bus is due: much better than the half-hearted effort made by Merseytravel. And a day ticket costs just £3.60!

Read the rest of this post »

29th August 2010

Bluebell of the Ball

On Saturday we were up early (well, lunchtime) and en route to the Bluebell Railway‘s terminus at Sheffield Park, which is less than an hour’s drive away from Brighton.

Sheffield Park station

The Bluebell was one of the first preserved railways in the UK, with services commencing in May 1960. This means that it retains possibly the most authentic steam age atmosphere of any preserved line — because it was preserved while steam was still extant on British Rail!

Read the rest of this post »

27th August 2010

The Devil’s Dyke is in the Detail

Later on Friday afternoon Mark and I headed out to the Devil’s Dyke. This deep valley, just a short drive away from Brighton, promised stunning views and — more importantly — a pub offering excellent food and drink.

The weather wasn’t too splendid and I stupidly forgot my camera so had to make do with the lousy quality of my mobile phone. But hopefully these pictures will give you some idea of the breathtaking views available:

Devil's Dyke 1 Devil's Dyke 2 Devil's Dyke 3

(I highly recommend the Harveys bitter, by the way)

On the way back we stopped off in the village of Clayton to marvel at Clayton Tunnel. Originally constructed during the building of the line in 1841, it comes from an age when railways still had something to prove to the world, and hence this ostentatious structure was built at the portal.

Clayton Tunnel portal

My picture doesn’t really do it justice, but I hope you get some idea of the impressiveness of the structure. It’s a shame it only gets seen properly by train drivers and the occasional people like us, who stop to peer over the nearby road bridge.

We rounded off the evening by watching Hot Fuzz on DVD. (SWAN!)

26th August 2010

Look on the Brighton Side
Posted by at 11.58pm | Gay, Out and About, Trains | 2 responses

Brighton PierI’ve written previously about the Internet’s ability to bring people together, and — more specifically — to bring me together with like-minded people. The latest chapter in this ongoing saga was written at the weekend.

A couple of years ago, when I was still a miserable closet case, I joined OUTeverywhere, a social networking site for gay men. It was more in hope than expectation, but it’s fair to say I met a broad spectrum of people on there: from the nice but boring to the definitely crazy, and everything in between.

Among these were a few people who I managed to establish a rapport with: there’s Nuno, with whom I shared adventures in the Scottish Highlands, there’s Andrew, who taught me (not entirely unsuccessfully) to ride a bike. Of course Scott was on there, but I didn’t actually meet him through the site.

And then there was Mark. Read the rest of this post »