the red penguin


Friday 30 September 2022

Bad night’s sleep last night, so struggled through work today. Had a cup of tea with Danny Lawrence from Eastgate 87.9, who asked if he could be part of our forthcoming SSDAB application (I said yes). Otherwise a dull dreary day, catching up on work emails seemingly forever.

Thursday 29 September 2022

Back to work today! Left at 7.30am to drop Sharon and Poppy off at Shenfield, then went to the radio station where I had my morning wasted by BT, who were meant to show up to install new broadband lines between 8am and 1pm, but arrived at 3pm, by which point I’d gone home. Sharon is working in London and has been put up in the Park Plaza in Victoria, who upgraded her to a suite. I spent the whole afternoon and evening ploughing through all the emails that came in during the last three days, which is as much fun as it sounds. Alex played away at University of Houston Victoria – a 0-0 draw, but he got a record amount of game time, 89 minutes!

Wednesday 28 September 2022

A bit of a stressful morning at Marrakesh airport – waited an hour to check in, queues moving very slowly here. We didn’t have a lot of time to relax before getting our flight. Touched down around 1.30pm and was home at 3pm. I actually finished a book! I read the whole of The Mighty One: My Life Inside the Nerve Centre by Steve MacManus, a very interesting account of his time working on Action and 2000AD in the 70s and 80s – very much my era for both of these. That book had been sitting on my tsondoku for 6 years; now to tackle the others!

Tuesday 27 September 2022

A quiet day kicking around our favourite places – the square, and Yamy’s for lunch. The waiter who served me a perfectly good tea yesterday got very confused today and gave me a cup of warm milk with a tea bag in it. Poutine was great though. La Pergola tonight for one last time, and dinner in the riad, which was actually pretty good, even though it was UK prices, which was a bit of a shock to the wallet!

Monday 26 September 2022

Went for a walk this morning, through the square and past the main mosque, Koutoubia, and onto Cyber Park, a park which didn’t seem very cyber but it was full of cats. Nowhere to eat in the park, but on the way back we found somewhere called Ensemble Artisinal which was an art gallery full of lots of little shops and cafes, so we chilled out there for an hour. This evening we went on a pub crawl of sorts! There are a few more beers in Gueliz, a suburb about 2 miles to the north. I asked the woman behind the desk of our hotel how much a taxi would cost there. She said “they’ll ask for 50dh (£4.16) but 20dh (£1.66) is more than enough for them. The taxi driver I found did ask for 50, and laughed when I offered 20. “What can you buy with 20 these days?” I imagine he might have done it if we were locals. He dropped us off at the McDonalds, and we headed over to our first bar, the Chesterfield Pub, which was upstairs in one of the hotels. Very nice beer – the Flag Special 50cl for 50dh was excellent – but absolutely devoid of all atmosphere. Our second bar was L’Escape, recommended on TripAdvisor by tourists. It was a dive bar with a couple of dozen people drinking there – all Moroccan men. Sharon didn’t enjoy the vibe of the place, so we found our third and final bar, Le Cafe du Livre, which is – as you’d expect – a bar and restaurant in a small bookshop. Beer slightly more expensive at 65dh (£5.40) for 50cl, food was pretty good though. Best bar of the three. The taxi back was 75dh. He insisted on that fare because there was two of us – I’m not sure taxis work like that, but for a couple of quid we couldn’t be bothered to argue. Bought Dad a pack of tzatziki flavoured Pringles, which probably taste repulsive.

Sunday 25 September 2022

We’ve decided we’re not going to do much over these next few days, so we wandered down to Bahia Palace, a former royal residence built in the 19th century. Building was much nicer inside than outside and it was a pleasant way to spend an hour or so before lunch. Lunch was a fish and chicken panini and we couldn’t tell which was which. Back to La Pergola this evening and a very average tagine in another rooftop restaurant with an amazing view.

Saturday 24 September 2022

Actually going away for four nights with Sharon! This is the longest we have been away on our own since we went to Ireland in 1998, just before Jay was born. We started our day with a terrible 3.30am alarm, got to and through Stansted without much drama. Had a Lebanese breakfast there to get us in the mood. We reached our hotel, sorry, riad in Marrakesh around 11.30am – it’s a beautiful building inside and we have a great room. We’re on the edge of the main market square, Jemaa el-Fna, and wandered out there for lunch, finding the only cafe which sells a sort of poutine! It’s basically a vegetable gravy, chips and a lot of mozzarella baked on top of it but it worked for us. Explored the roof and had a very quick swim in the pool, which we had to ourselves. At 6pm we decamped to La Pergola, a rooftop jazz bar which was as nice as it sounds, with the added bonus of being the only bar that sells alcohol within walking distance. I availed myself of the local beer, Casablanca, which was very nice. Had an pizza for dinner – food very average but a killer view over the square, bustling on a Saturday night.
Prices are quite cheap here. Poutine was 20 dirhams – there are 12dh to the £ so that’s about £1.66. 50cl beer (Marrakesh is very French still, so “pression” beer is sold by the centilitre) was 45dh (£3.75) during happy hour, and we were always there during happy hour! Pizza for dinner was 60dh (£5). Soft drinks are about 10dh (83p) in the restaurants. It’s weird having lunch for about £5 for the two of us.

Friday 23 September 2022

Going away for a few days tomorrow, and flying on Ryanair, so there was a bit of stress today working out what we can take over in their extremely small baggage allowance. Quiet day otherwise getting work up to date and ahead. I was seriously thinking about going over to South London tonight to watch Fightmilk. I think it was the right decision not to go as I have been sleeping early – and I have a 3.30am alarm tomorrow. I fell asleep at 9.20pm.

Thursday 22 September 2022

Spent more time clearing things out of the loft – the only time I left the house today was to take a carload of stuff to the new St Luke’s Hospice warehouse on Pipps Hill. Alex’s team beat Our Lady Of The Lake University tonight, 3-1 – and Alex scored his first goal for LSUS! He got the first, and it was an important win as they are “local rivals” (San Antonio is 400 miles from Shreveport, so I’m not sure they really are) and it was also the first Red River Conference game, so the next nine games are important ones.

Wednesday 21 September 2022

Sharon was working all day, and I’m not too busy with Phoenix work at the moment so I spent the morning writing up gigs for my blog. I went out for lunch at Hanningfield on my own just to break up the day. In the evening we had a video call with Alex and watched Money Heist on Netflix (the only thing I’m watching on Netflix at the moment).

Tuesday 20 September 2022

Celebrated my birthday very quietly today. I didn’t ask for much, but the best present by far was a Bojack/swimming point picture painted very quietly by Poppy yesterday.

Today was very much do nothing – eat – do nothing – eat. We picked Poppy up from Shenfield High School as she had a half day and went to Mizu for lunch. This evening we picked up Dad and took him and Anastasiia to see Jay’s flat. We then had dinner at the Village Taverna in Ware, which was much quieter than last time we went back in June. Dad got a bit drunk on retsina, cognac and ouzo and then paid the bill (I never want him to, but “Jackie’s paying for half of this” always wins me over). My favourite part of the evening was when the owner offered us all a free tequila shot at the end and Dad said “ouzo?” as if that was the only word he’d ever heard. He got ouzo.