Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!

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.

Read the rest of this post »

3rd May 2013

For What It’s Worth
Posted by at 10.45am | Out and About, Trains | No responses

Leeds is a station that has a lot of trains. It took several minutes to comprehend the departure board as I sipped my overpriced coffee from the station café.

Leeds station
Somewhere in that massive list is the train I wanted – the service to Keighley, which was to take me to the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway for their diesel gala.

I haven’t visited the KWVR in a very long time. I can’t remember the exact date of my previous visit, but I do remember the old slam-door electric trains were still in use on the West Yorkshire commuter lines, which must date my visit to the mid-1990s. I do remember it was part of a family day out, and my mother insisted on dragging me away from the trains, alighting at Haworth to trudge up the hill to the Brontë museum, where she cooed over every aspect of the sisters’ lives for what felt like a bajillion hours. Very good authors, but I was not that interested in their kitchen, to be honest.

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.

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 »