Whitstable Daikaiju

Whitstable Daikaiju

You know what it’s like…  It’s the middle of the night and you are awake.  Awake and hungry.  You’re not going to sleep until you have eaten something.  And right now, the only thing that will sate your needs is a fry-up.  Bacon, eggs, chips and beans.  So what can you do?  Sit there and whinge or go cook.

I chose the latter.

Contrary to popular belief, I’m not a complete bastard.  So rather than sticking on the extractor fan and waking my neighbours, I opened the door. (The aforementioned door opens up onto my balcony. Sounds posh I know, but it's the way you get into my flat. So, not quite so posh.  My point being that it was to outside.  Cos opening a door to somewhere else in my flat, to vent the cooking smells, would just be daft,)

Anyway… there I was cooking, minding my own business… When I was attacked by a monster.  The fiend swept in through the door and assaulted me by aggressively ramming into the side of the head.  My instant reaction was, "WTF?"

I was being attacked in my own home, whilst cooking, by a winged denizen of the night!  You don't plan for that.  A zombie appocalypse, yeah.  Every sane person has a zombie appocalypse plan.  But winged denizen of the night, whilst cooking??!!

Now I had a dilemma. Fight the beast with all the ferocity that I could muster, or stop the bacon from burning. That's not an easy call. Beat back the invader to your home; protect your property, your integrity, your life. Or get perfect bacon.

Of course the bacon won.

So I went on creating my much desired repast. All the time beating back a creature of the night with my wooden spatula. I know, right? Fucking heroic.

I'm pretty sure that a few of you will now be laughing at my expense. But it was big, damn big. VERY FUCKIN’ DAMN BIG!!!  I thought that the monsters hung out in Japan. It turns out that Mothra has immigrated to the UK.  Bastard.

Whitstable DaikaijuSo I finally finished cooking my meal, and had another dilemma.  Do I sit down and enjoy it while it's still hot, or do I finish my valiant battle against the monstrous invader.  I'm not going to enjoy the food if I am constantly getting beaten around the head by a mainstay of Japanese film subculture.  But I don't want my food to get cold either. 

So, war it is!  I mean.  How hard can he be?

We battled from the kitchen to the corridor, from the corridor to the living room and back to the corridor.  At times I thought he'd bested me, and at times I had the upper hand.  But it was a battle of equally matched will, wits and strength.  It went back and forth, forth and back.  Shit, it was more exciting than many films I’ve paid to watch.  Eventually I pulled out my special attack.  One he was not expecting…  A glass and a postcard! 

He was powerless against such cunning.  I was victorious, and he was ejected through the door (which I hurriedly closed so he couldn’t pick on me again).

Fortunately the relentless battle actually took less time to fight than it took me to type this.  So my food was still reasonably warm.  Double win!

And the only thing better than having a late night fry-up, after defeating your nemesis?  Eating your late night fry up, after defeating your nemesis, whilst watching ‘The Blue Brothers’.



Overnight trains: Ukrainian vs. Polish

Overnight trains: Ukrainian vs. Polish

I recently went to a conference in Lviv, Ukraine. There are a limited number of international flights to Lviv so I had to fly to Kyiv and take the overnight train. In August, my airline decided they no longer wanted to fly to Kyiv and cancelled my return journey. The closest towns that could give me overnight travel and flights to Oslo were Krakow and Warsaw. As I've already spent a couple of days in transit in Warsaw this year, I decided on Krakow.

I was quite pleased with myself for managing to buy a ticket to Lviv at the main railway station in Kyiv (all in Ukrainian) although I wasn't sure if it was for the freight truck or a pleasant bed. All I knew was that it cost EUR 10.
The ticket from Lviv to Krakow was ordered online, I got a single room, and it cost me EUR 110.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't expect an 11-fold difference between the two trains. What I do know is that there was an immense difference in my experience and I certainly know which train I will never, ever, EVER put my feet on. Or recommend to anyone else. I actually think the bus ride might have been more comfortable.

Train 091K from Kyiv to Lviv:

22:25     Arrive at train, realise I am sharing a compartment with three Ukrainian-speaking adults and one child
22:30     Installed in top bunk in train
22:40     Train departs
23:00     We're all asleep
6:20       Arrival Lviv, I wake up

Train 52 from Lviv to Krakow:

22:40     Arrive at train
22:50     Installed in single room in train
22:59     Train departs
23:00     Realise granite bed might be softer than this bed
23:02     Realise I can’t turn the lights off and the heating is on, so I open window
23:30     Check out toilet (it’s decent)
23:55     Conductor knocks on door to let me know 5 mins til border crossing
0:00       Nice lady knocks on door and asks for passport (which I give to her), she scrutinizes me and asks my name, I take my
glasses off, smile and say Siri. Nice lady leaves with passport (I leave door open cos I reckon there will be more visitors)
0:04       Realise it’s been raining, and through the open window black yucky liquid has spilled into the room and on to the duvet. Try to dry it with socks (useless), remember I have serviettes in my bag & get the worst off the pale walls
0:05       Guy with cute Jack Russell comes and has a good sniff. Doggy wants my chicken leg but I figure that trying to offer it to him may be seen as bribing an official and I can’t really afford to bribe them all
0:15       New guy comes in asking my nationality, wonders how many bags & suitcases I have and seems happy there are only 4, then wants to check under the bed for stowaways
0:55       Lady returns with my passport
1:00       Train leaves – I lie down again
1:15       Knocking on my door – new (Polish?) passport guy. Asks where I’m headed. Seems uninterested after Krakow but I still finish “then flying back to Oslo from Krakow”
1:30       New visitor – Polish Customs guy. Wants to know what nationality I am, asks if I have anything to declare, believes my no and leaves
1:35       Back in bed – large amounts of clanging begins (preparing train set for wider tracks in Poland)
2:00       I realise I won’t get much sleep tonight
2:20       The train moves out
2:25       The train stops
2:30       More clanging
2:40       Strange sounds from the neighbouring room
2:50       I realise that the guy next door has the most amazing snoring, it sounds as if he’s snoring in my ear. With a microphone.
3:00       We’re back at the Customs station. I get flashbacks from Interrailing and that boring little station in Belgium where you always arrived in the black of night, all trains stopped there, and there was nothing to do but wait for the next train (Liége).
Even more clanging and copious amounts of cursing.
3:10       We’re going the wrong way. I start writing this. I think of interrailing across Switzerland, which took forever cos we crossed the country several times
3:25       We’re going the right way. Guy next door is making some great bass rhythms. Train is moving swiftly. I am wide awake and will be a right sourpuss in the morning and all of tomorrow.
3:30       I go to bed and wonder if we’ll still be on time in the morning…
3:45       Fall asleep/collapse from exhaustion
6:30       Wake up cos I’ve burnt my toes on the heater which is now scorching hot
7:00       Give up on getting any more sleep, realise we’re now on Polish time and it’s only 6 am
7:00       Get up, get dressed, look out the window and see a dreary Polish morning with grey clouds and rain
7:30       Arrive at Dworzec Główny Kraków and spend over an hour trying to buy a cup of coffee. Unsuccessfulness due to brain malfunction, not lack of coffee shops in station.

If anyone asks me if the second train was worth the extra EUR 100… HAHAHAHA yop. Sure thing.