The New Few

At the beginning of the Covid 19 lock down I was feeling a bit trapped like a caged animal. My last blog some time ago actually resulted in some dear friends offering me help and being concerned for my well being. That was so kind of them and not only shows that some people actually read the rubbish I write about but actually care enough to reach out to me. The others either don’t read my blog or couldn’t give a shit about me. Who knows. Help wasn’t something I needed in the end, it was the willpower to stop eating crap food and stop me gaining weight like it’s a new olympic sport. One that I would win gold for but would be too unfit to actually claim as I couldn’t climb to the top of the podium to collect the medal. Just throw it at my bulbous body!

For me the turn in mental approach came with retail therapy. I became Amazon’s number one customer for things nobody really needs. I’m sure I must have pressed a filter that only shows me items that I’d might like but don’t really need. Chief among these odd purchases was a Fratelli Campana designed umbrella stand. It’s lovely and we all need one of those during a pandemic, right?

I’ve drunk enough tea to sink a battleship and dunked many a digestive biscuit. When I finally managed to get regular online supermarket slots after the panic buying and vast empty shelves, I was able to enjoy learning to cook new things and of course eating them. I’ve made the most amazing triple chocolate brownies and kick arse Yorkshire Puddings. Lamb Kebabs, Burgers and Monkfish Curry’s.

Lock down images
Moli Yorkshire Pudding
Lock down images
Moli Brownie

My true saviour in the early days during the cold and miserable days of lockdown was my XBOX One. I finally paid for a game pass to get it online and then bought a selection of games that took my mind off the wider world for a while and of course helping me avoid the potentially infected population outside my home. The highlighted games for me were Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Train Sim World 2020. The first was a bloody amazing game that with a pair of headphones on allowed me to immerse myself in a world where I kill lots of people. A very cathartic experience but don’t worry I won’t be taking this into the real world any time soon, especially as some 14 year old usually kills me in about 2 minutes while I’m still trying to remember how to walk forward. Often it doesn’t need anyone else as I always forget which button throws a hand grenade. Normally resulting in it landing on my feet and me still not knowing how to walk away from it. The second game was a real shock for me how much of a nurd I am. I found nothing more OCD satisfying than bringing in an express train on time to Baden-Baden station. The amount of working from home I needed to do was nil to minimal and this gaming was a welcome distraction but I’m still not bored enough to play Goat Simulator.

I’ve been enjoying Netflix like most people it seems. White Lines has been excellent and I finally caught up with Gavin and Stacey. I know I’m 10 years too late but I just never got around to it, I actually love it and I’m annoyed I didn’t see it the first time around. What surprised me was just how few episodes were actually made and I was able to catch up with everything in a couple of weeks. I’m probably not alone at wanting more. I’ve also past the time with Succession, Killing Eve, Better Call Saul and re-watching Spooks.

White Lines

The weeks of isolation have also passed with Zoom calls to family and friends, 40 minutes of people talking about my and their lockdown beards, weight gain and new cough. Early on many different groups of friends wanted to do quiz nights that involved doing lots of research on a subject and making the questions so difficult not even a Chaser could answer them. I now realise that not many people wanted to do these catch up calls. Once I stopped asking, nobody else seemed to be bothered either. I still do two regular calls, on a Thursday and a Sunday. The Thursday is a beer and burger call that lasts about 4 or 5 hours and the Sunday one is for a family catch up that lasts no longer than 40 minutes. Both I still look forward to each week and if the clubs and pubs don’t reopen any time soon they will continue for some time yet. On the whole personally I’ve enjoyed the time away from work and that in itself is something to ponder. I’ve spent quality time with my fiancĂ©e and although our wedding plans for this year have had to be put on hold we can save for a bit longer and wait until it’s safe to have the wedding we’ve planned. I can speak for both of us when I say, we don’t want our wedding to be remembered for being the one that wiped out both of our families out. We’re not the Mafia!

I can’t say I’m looking forward to being in any crowded places for a while or returning to a crowded work place for that matter. No matter how many risk assessments are done and planned out, how many hygiene stations and one way systems are in place. You can’t plan for dumb. You can’t plan for stupid arrogant people that won’t follow the rules and help to protect front line retail staff and other customers. Before this pandemic hit, most of the time, the public treated retail staff very badly with selfish and aggressive behavior. Now that sort of attitude will put lives at risk and anyone not following the safeguards should be treated as an assault. Companies clearly want to get back to earning profits and I fear they won’t be willing or able to protect against the public’s unpredictable nature. An example of this is a friend that got into a lift with his girlfriend. The signage clearly marked that only 2 people should be in there at any one time and having waited in a line to use the lift, they entered it when the door opened. As they went in a 3rd man jumps in behind them both. When it was pointed out that it’s only 2 people at a time for social distancing, the guy turned to them and said. ‘You’d better leave then!’ The lift door closed and a slanging match ensued but more importantly, that idiot has put them all at risk. Arrogant and selfish behaviour will put lives at risk. It made me so angry hearing this that I’m more and more convinced that people cannot be trusted to do the right thing. When I finished off my last blog 759 people had died from Coronavirus in the UK, 14,543 were confirmed infected including the Prime Minister. Roll on 10 weeks or so and that number has now become 37,837 dead and 269,127 infected just in the UK with America massively out of control and with little or no lock down to contain it. It seems that we have faired better than expected as the Nightingale Hospitals were hardly used and the London hub having a tiny fraction of the 5000 beds actually being used which is great news. Talk now of life returning to a new normal in the UK with shops re-opening again soon, to allow people to do no essential shopping. This all feels a little too soon to be relaxing the lockdown in this way and countries that were ahead of our timeline are already seeing second spikes in infection like China and South Korea. I really hope I’m wrong.

Nightingale Hospital sign

Tonight will potentially be the last clap for carers. The first week was a bit light on support around these parts but the subsequent weeks were much better and a fair few neighbours were clapping and showing support with nobody really knowing when it was time to stop clapping. It was nice to hear local ships sounding their horns and the whole experience actually gave me a bit of hope and pride for humanity. That we can come together and maybe we will be okay. However, I now find myself getting annoyed at those that don’t come out to show support. The NHS and key workers have done an amazing job and one day life may return to normal. The key workers are the best of us. In this world war on Covid 19, they are ‘The New Few’.

12 Weeks

Coronavirus

This week I received a letter from the government and the amazing NHS telling me that I’m a high risk individual for complications from Covid-19, Coronavirus. I knew that having a chronic lung condition probably wasn’t going to be a good thing and I emailed my lung specialist to ask him that very question. The government letter arrived before I got a nice reply from the doctor and both said the same thing. I need to shield myself away from people and any physical contact with them to avoid getting the virus that wouldn’t end well. The vast majority of cases around the world that have died have had pre-existing medical conditions, so the threat to my life is a real one. This is clearly a scary time for everyone but no more than for the elderly and those that have medical conditions that put themselves at increased risk. Frankly I’m scared of my shadow right now and I’ve not been sleeping well. I love being at home and spending time watching TV or playing games to pass the time but the stress of isolation is a different beast. The realisation that I can’t just go out for a walk or wander around the shops or go for a spot of lunch is leaving me feeling trapped, like being locked in a box and now I’m starting to panic. I feel fairly ridiculous really. A grown man acting like a baby. The thing that might be playing more on my mind is the period of time it has taken for the anxiety to toll on my mental state and how quickly that’s happened. Just 4 bloody days!

Shut Down

During the first and second world wars, kids would lie about their age or health to volunteer and sign up to fight for their country and way of life. They would put their lives on the line and many died doing their bit to save their way of life and make a difference. In many ways, we can’t understand that nowadays and I can’t really see the majority of youth today doing the same. All any of us really now have to do, is sit on our soft sofas and watch Netflix. Easy right? With the national lock down in the UK being set for a period of 3 weeks most people, including myself could handle that, however for me the period of time that I face in isolation is the most difficult for me to reason in my head, 12 weeks. 12 weeks without going out, meeting people, going to get a haircut, getting food, opening my own post, the list goes on. How on earth will I cope with that and what state will I be in afterwards?

Mark Oliver Photography

As I work in retail its fairly limited what I can do to work from home beyond people admin and the preparations before the lock down were nil to minimal, so I have limited resources. I’ve set up a small office in the kitchen and have kept myself busy with trying to put plans into place to look after the well being of my team while the country tries to stop this virus spreading around. In doing so, I realised that I’d rather be out there helping the fight than hiding away from it like some coward. Applauding the NHS as we did last night, I’m actually jealous of those people trying to make a difference and would have loved the chance to fight this war like our grandfathers did before us. The near 1 million volunteers are today’s hero soldiers alongside the nurses and doctors on the front line. This really has become World War 3. Not being fought with a flash and a bang from a foreign power or from some ideological mad men but from an enemy that we can’t see and we have no defense against. Like all wars, people will die or be left with permanent injuries and some dark days are coming. The government after all doesn’t create a 4000 bed hospital with 2 morgues at Excel, London without expecting a battle to be on the horizon. We will lose love ones to this Covid-19 and the suffering globally has already been immense and will only get worse in the coming weeks. The least we can all do is our bit. As home bound soldiers we all need to find the strength and character to fight this battle from our armchairs and stay at home. It might not feel very heroic but we are all heroes, because we all saving a life and I get to do it for 12 weeks.

M

As of today: 759 people have now died from Coronavirus in UK, 14,543 confirmed infected including the Prime Minister. 150 recovered.

Doctor Who or Doctor Woke?

The most recent episode of Doctor Who, Praxeus may have been the straw that broke the camels back for me. Since the return of the show in 2005 the decline in great and memorable stories has continued to out way those that I could really watch over and over again. The last truly amazing/masterpiece episode for me was back in season 9, Heaven Sent (2005) Since then it’s been either a pleasant bit of fun or truly awful with great production values and performances being let down by poor idea being poorly told. Before it was even shown, I had some real concerns about season 11. (2018) A great actress in Jodie Whittaker taking over a historically male role didn’t feel me with glee. I’ve always felt that male characters should remain just that and if female characters/ heroines roles fail to be represented, then they should be created. I certainly wouldn’t want strong female roles to be replaced with men just because it suits an agenda.

Doctor Who 2020

Now that season 12 (2020) has started, I had high hopes with for this season with the opener, Spyfall that was dynamic and gave each character great exposure along with some great shocks and reveals. However it’s now going down hill fast. Once again, not in production values, CGI standards or performances but in political correctness overload. Episode 3, ‘Orphan 55’ started this with a climate change story that is clearly very topical given the almost daily messages of planetary doom from Extinction Rebellion and the likes of Sir David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg. I get why that would be an idea in a writers head while struggling to come up with a fresh new story.

Greta

Then came episode 6, ‘Praxeus’. This was the ultimate lesson in the BBC’s agenda of political correctness. I want be clear about something before I continue. I have no problem with any race, gender, sexual orientation or political view being represented. Soaps are historically the vehicle for exploring all manner of social awareness, however the most important thing that soaps do is convey the message in a non-didactic manner. People on the whole don’t like to be told what to do and and think. If EastEnders Dot Cotton gets broken into, the police telling her character to get a better locks on her front door is more likely to resonate with the viewer to do the same for themselves, where people would reject or resist some government official telling you the same thing. This is the real problem I have with the Chris Chibnall’s era of Doctor Who and especially this season. As head writer and Executive producer, he has been responsible for adding layer after layer of representation that is now so overt, the show should now be called Doctor Woke.

Doctor Who 2020

All the layers, concepts and representations in themselves are quite rightly areas and ideas that viewers should be exposed to, however, in my opinion, ‘Praxeus’ took this too far, ramming yet another environmental message down our throats and the science fiction being once again being sidelined. I thought the Third Doctor spent loads of time on Earth. This doctor has the only Tardis that travels in time but not much space and despite the Tardis being bigger on the inside, the cast for this episode was far too big to really make the most of each character or gain any feeling towards them. When they died, I really knew nothing about them enough to become invested in their story. The characters being represented so far and in particularly the ones in this episode seem to be there just for the sake of being represented, that in turn undermines their representation. Subtle characterisation has been replaced by the BBC handbook on political correctness and Chibnall happy to play the nodding dog.

I wonder what Eco-story will feature next? Sorry Doctor, the Mayor of London says you will have to pay an ultra low emission zone congestion charge as you have an old polluting type 40 Tardis. Why not walk or maybe cycle instead? I would really love The Doctor to travel to an alien planet, fight the evil monster of Wokeism and save us all.

Happy New Year

Sorry Guys and Girls. I’ve not had time to write Moliblog for some time.

I’ll try harder this year to get back into it. I enjoy writing and I hope you enjoy reading the blog too? I’ve got lots happening this year and it would be good for me to get my thoughts down as the year progresses and maybe you can follow along.

Mark and Gemma at St Paul's

Until then, best wishes for a great year.

Moli

Little Creatures

Around a decade ago I took the long 23 + hour flight to Perth, Australia to catch up with my family that emigrated there back in the 1980’s. Having hired a convertible car that at the time was considered an unusual car to have due to the climate, I explored a relatively small amount of Western Australia. Perth itself is considered the most isolated city in the world and at the time I visited, it wasn’t heavily populated either. That’s not changed much now with less than 2 million people living there in 2018.

MARK OLIVER - PERTH
Moli in Australia

One of the places I visited was about an hours drive outside Perth to a very empty town called Fremantle, that at the time had less than 10,000 people living in it. Traveling with my cousin Nick on a hot day, we walked down a quiet side road looking for somewhere to get a drink. We stumbled across the ‘Little Creatures Brewery’ and that’s when I discovered my favorite Pale Ale. Despite my reputation for having a beer, I don’t really drink that much, more quality over quantity and this beer was most certainly a quality brew. Getting back to London I was clearly going to miss it and decided to find some way of getting it at home and remember having to pay through the nose to have a case of 24 bottles shipped over. In recent times supermarket chain Waitrose finally began selling the beer and for a reasonable price too.

Sometimes I was lucky to find a pub that sold it and would then feel obliged to share a fairly camp picture with Nick back in Australia.

Little Creatures
Camp Beer Promotion

Now things have reached a whole new level with Little Creatures opening a brewery in London’s Kings Cross area and naturally I had to pay them a visit.

Little Creatures
Little Creatures
Little Creatures

It’s safe to say that lately we’ve had some Australian type weather, with a fairly intense heatwave. Along with visiting the brewery on a Friday night, it was always going to be busy experience. However, regardless of how busy it was, I was really impressed with the level customer engagement from the team of servers and the detailed knowledge they had of the brewing process and of course how each of the now local brews tasted. I was even offered a selection of tasters to explore my next choice.

Little Creatures

The servers really knew their product and the history of the brand. I was particularly fascinated to learn that when the owner first moved from the UK to Australia he wanted to make his own cask Ale like he had been drinking back in the UK. However, warm beer in that climate was never going to work. So he created a beer using hops that were and still are imported from the UK. Doing this he created a beer that has a more intense and distinctive flavour.

Little Creatures

I got chatting to a fantastic, customer focused manager called Madeleine whom I bored with the story above. She could tell I was a fan of the brand and she made my night by giving me a bag of goodies that included a Little Creatures Baseball cap, T-shirt, Serving tray and a collectable metal sign. I have to say, that was very unexpected and very welcome.

Little Creatures
Madeleine meets Moli
Little Creatures
Cheers!

It’s rare to find great customer service, product knowledge and a great product all in one place. I’ve often found that that you either get one or two of the three. On those rare occasions when all the boxes are ticked, it’s worth writing about it and singing their praises as I have now. Hopefully you’ll get to pay them a visit some time soon and get the Little Creatures experience yourself.

Cheers!

Apollo 11

In 1962 President Kennedy announced in a speech in Houston, Texas. “We choose to go to the moon,” the president said. “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

President Kennedy - We Choose to Go to the Moon
12th September 1962

As with all of humankind’s endeavors to explore and learn, the will and determination to do something must be the beginning of any success you should expect to get. The challenge was exceptional and along with the desire to make it happen, the political desire was equally as important with America wanting to win the space race to beat the Soviet Union, that had been taking all the success with the first satellite, Sputnik 1 and the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin.

Long before Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon, thousands of people had to figure out just how to do it. They had to test their theories on propulsion, guidance and life support, then test them again and again. In tragic instances, some gave their lives as in the crew of Apollo 1 and a terrible crew capsule fire. The learning’s from that fire helped with changes to the design of the final crew capsule. I’m not going to give you a history channel blog and I just wanted to share my feelings about this element of the space race. So much of the space program is well documented but I just wanted to acknowledge the great many people that were behind the astronauts and ultimately in getting humans to the Moon.

Since I was a child I’ve been fascinated by space exploration and the Apollo years. I remember having posters on my bedroom wall of the rockets, space walks and those amazing people walking on the Moon.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Apollo’s 11’s historic landing on the Moon on the 20th July 1969 and I’ve been lucky enough to meet some Astronauts and see the rockets and equipment up close. A couple of years ago, I went to NASA in Cape Kennedy and I remember being impressed when seeing the Gemini program rocket, however nothing prepared me when I got up close to the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

NASA 2017
Space Shuttle Atlantis
NASA 2017
NASA 2017

I actually got emotional when I realised I was standing next to a real piece of space history that I had watched launch in my lifetime. I never thought I’d get that close to the orbiter and for me it was overwhelming. Later in the day I took a tour over to launch complex 39 where Apollo 11 and the later shuttle launches took place. The real treat was seeing the true epic size of the Apollo series Saturn V rocket stages.

NASA 2017
NASA 2017
NASA 2017

These engines were a real contrast to the size of the small capsule at the top where the crew traveled.

NASA 2017

The trip to NASA was a dream of a lifetime and I really didn’t want to leave. As an extra unexpected treat, the current Space X Falcon 9 Heavy rocket launched as my Virgin Atlantic flight headed back to London. Seeing the flash of the engines upon launch and then seeing the rocket rise past us at 39,000 feet was a rare and amazing experience timed purely by luck.

Many years earlier I was lucky again to meet astronaut Buzz Aldrin. I didn’t get much time to talk with him but I’ll always remember shaking the hand of the second man to walk on the Moon. I really should try to smile in pictures.

BUZZ ALDRIN & MARK OLIVER
Buzz Aldrin

I’ve always loved meeting the people I admire in films, TV or Sport and I have a fairly well stocked signed photo collection. Some of those people I meet are my hero’s that have either lived up to my expectations or been a big let down. I wouldn’t say that Buzz Aldrin was the friendliest person I’ve ever met but he did sign one of the most important images in human history for me and a prized piece of my collection. The picture Neil Armstrong took of him that became one of the most iconic of the whole mission. The refection of Armstrong in his visor and the Luna lander, ‘Eagle’ clearly visible.

BUZZ ALDRIN Signed Photo

After 50 years the space program has taken a different direction with deep space exploration being completed by drones that have explored Mars, passing Asteroids and Comets instead of humans which I personally think is a real shame. Should the technology have been available, would we have sent a drone to the undiscovered countries, instead of exploring them for ourselves? I think not. We should go and see them with our own eyes and take the risks that go along with it. I’d do it in a heart beat.

Man’s Giant leap was a long time ago and I’m please that NASA are now developing the Space Launch System for a possible manned mission to Mars. Here’s to the next leap. I just hope I get to see it in my life time.

To the Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins and the men and women of NASA. Thank you for proving humans can be brave, amazing and an inspiration for us all to be better to each other and the planet we all share.

Moli


Thank You

Today is the 6th June 2019 and the world is remembering D-Day. Watching the memorial service on TV makes me thankful that thousands of men sacrificed and lost their lives to invade the beaches of Europe and to fight for freedom. The beaches of Normandy code-named Omaha Beach, Utah Beach, Sword Beach, Juno Beach and Gold Beach were stormed by British, Canadian and American soldiers. Ordinary and brave men that walked into a hail of enemy fire that no movie will ever truly depict.  Films like ‘The Longest day’ (1962) and ‘Saving Private Ryan’ (1998) have done their best to give us an insight into that day. I honestly can’t imagine young men today doing their bit. The closest they and I have come to this might be playing ‘Medal of Honor’ on the PC years ago. I died very quickly but unlike those brave men they didn’t get another go by pressing the reset button. Instead another man had to push on with the battle while watching their friends die around them. Truly horrific.

It’s 75 years since that day and this will certainly be the last time the veterans will be attending any commemoration. The 60th anniversary was widely considered the last time but these men just keep living and remembering. It fills me with pride to still be able to hear their stories and experiences in their own words. Having grown up talking to family members and veterans especially around Poppy Day. I’d always take time to hear about their experiences and understand why their sacrifice was needed.  Some didn’t want to talk about it as the images and memories were so awful that remembering still hurt them. They did have one thing in common. They all considered themselves to be the lucky ones, they got to come home.

Today I was watching and listening to a man called Alf Hicks talk about filming the landing for the news and for history. At 19 years old and armed with just a revolver which he couldn’t use as he was holding and pointing his camera. He captured some rare and stark images of that day, so we can now and forever get some understanding of that time. I can’t say I’m much of a fighter but I’d have chosen that role for myself if I had to do so. Recording the images for all time in a hope that future generations understand the sacrifice given and to avoid having to do anything like ever that again. Just as important in my eyes than any gun.

It make me feel sad that the few veterans that are now in their 90’s and won’t be around much longer to tell their stories and more significantly for us to say to them, Thank You.

A Clockwork Moli for 20 Years

Since I decided to start writing my blog again, I’ve found it more difficult than before to find something interesting to write about. Maybe I need to get out more? Certainly I’ve been fairly busy with work and not had much fun stuff to share. I’ll try harder.

Recently I visited the BFI Southbank to see a screening of ‘A Clockwork Orange’ (1971). I’ve seen the film many times at home while it was banned on a dodgy copy VHS tape and in HD when the ban was finally lifted. This screening was my first chance since 1971 to finally see it with a paying audience and on the big screen.

It’s been 20 years since Stanley Kubrick’s death and the BFI are showing a selection of his films to mark this sad anniversary and they even have the carpet from the Overlook Hotel in ‘The Shining’ (1980)

Clockwork Orange remains one of my favorite films and still looks good and just as relevant today, I recommend that you watch it at least once.

It’s central Character Alex is played by Malcolm McDowell and I was lucky enough to talk to him about the film, working with Kubrick and to take this portrait below of him. It was amazing to meet a fellow Droog.


Also I have a 20 year anniversary. On May 10th 1999 I started working for PC World in their business centres as a Sales Manager. I am proud to say I was very successful in that role for 10 years and when the company restructured I moved into retail management which I’m still doing today.

I’ve worked in many stores around East London and Kent. I’ve worked in Superstores, Megastores and High Street stores with my current posting in Westfield, Stratford City being the busiest by far with over 50 million visitors passing through the centre last year alone. I’ve met some amazing colleagues that have kept me sane and made the past 20 years enjoyable and full of laughs. I’m very happy to still call many of them friends but sadly I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like. I’ve even kept in touch with some of my old business customers too that I built lasting relationships with and one of the reasons I was successful. I always try my best to look after people and that was paid back to me in friendships. The business years got me invited to Downing Street by a client, The House of Lords, The Lord Mayors residence and many corporate Christmas parties as a thank you for being part of making their business a success as well as making a success of my own one too.

I’ve been part of two teams that have been nominated for our Chairman’s shield award and came runner up once and won the other time.

As with all jobs, we have our high points but we can also have low points, however I’ll keep this post positive and professional. We can all moan about our lives and anyone that’s driven to succeed will always be disappointed not have everything they want. Working weekends, late nights, Boxing days and having alarm call outs at 4am can be fairly testing, however we can all have good and bad days in any job but in refection my career has given me new skills, new experiences, new friendships, curve balls to surprise me, challenges to test me and I get to work with all the amazing technology that has always interested me. I was there at the introduction of the internet and the death of VHS. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

I will celebrate my anniversary on my own as I’m probably the only one that actually knows about this personal milestone. I’ll do my best to remember all the teams I’ve worked with and our adventures together.

Here’s to the future. Probably still with a plug on.

Viddy well.

M

Fire and Water

As I write this the Cathedral of Notre Dame is still smoldering after a devastating fire. Having visited Paris many times, I only visited the cathedral once as the queues to get in it are fairly epic having around 30,000 visitors per day. I’m not religious but the historic and architectural loss is heartbreaking. Coming within 30 minutes of being lost forever, the French firefighters have done an amazing job of containing the fire and giving the world a chance to rebuild. Here are my photographs from 2005 of how it used to look.

Paris 2005
Paris 2005
Paris 2005

Anyone living in London would probably agree that we take our traditions and attractions a little for granted. From time to time I try and do something on the tourist trail and always find it interesting. The last time was on my birthday when I visited and rode the Royal Mail train that used to run under London. Small doesn’t cover it but a great experience.

Something I’ve always had a vague interest in seeing is the Oxford vs Cambridge boat race. However I’ve never been that bothered enough to actually see if live. Normally the weather is bloody awful and frankly, watching two sets of very privilege people rowing boats against each other just made me resent their elitist institutions even more. This year was the 165th year of the boat race and I finally found the motivation to attend.

The Boat Race 2019
Hammersmith Bridge

I got myself alongside Hammersmith bridge and waited for the race to start. As I looked around at the fairly large crowds that were gathering, I started to realise that the race was really an excuse for a big party and of course, drinking alcohol The atmosphere was actually great and the Mungos and Ruperts weren’t too annoying. The Womens, Mens and reserve races were dominated by Cambridge university taking victory in all the races. This year the men’s Cambridge team had former olympian James Cracknall on hand to help them. Anyone using a rowing machine in the gym will know how hard it is and the amount of training and dedication needed for these men and women to compete in the race and over the distance is impressive. How they find the time to study is beyond me.

The Boat Race 2019
The Boat Race 2019
Olympic gold medallist, James Cracknell
The Boat Race 2019

The safety aspect was looked after by Chiswick RNLI that did an excellent job protecting the crowds along the riverside and with actually on the water.

The Boat Race 2019
Chiswick RNLI
The Boat Race 2019

The boat race party continued long after the races were over and I was impressed with it all. I don’t know how often I’d go along but I’m glad I did. Make the most of your local event and attractions. You can’t assume they will be around forever.

M