Found my new favourite drinking hole on Saturday night, during one of our all too infrequent weekend nights out into Reading. The Hobgoblin is crammed into a tiny site on the main Broad St drag. There are always people outside, which led me to suspect that it was tiny inside too. Not so. The place is a labyrinth of woodlined corridors and cubbyholes, the ceiling encrusted with beer plaques from the 4000 guest ales they’ve served since 1993. One nice feature is that the graffitoes on the walls, tables and chairs have been left to accumulate, and they have a bit more class than the usual “John Shagged Jane ere 2002” tags you get in most pubs (although there are plenty of those too). Love stories, cryptic sayings and rude jokes jostle for your attention. The music is the right side of gothy, and I was even feeling mellow enough to forgive the odd burst of folk. What’s more, they’re selling old vinyl for a quid a pop (some collectable stuff too, no I’m not saying what, too late sucker) and all in all a mellow vibe that is light years away from the Yate’s and All Bar One’s clustering on Friar St. If you’re a lagerhead you may as well forget it (however, Budweiser Budvar on draft? not too shabby!), but speaking as a beer bore, I had a fine time.
In other alcohol related news, this was introduced to me earlier in the evening by a very nice man at Santa Fe on the Waterside. Beats Jack and Coke into a tipped hat. Won’t be trying this in a hurry, though.
Hangover report for Sunday: heavy, overcast, thundery in places.

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That’ll teach me to blog. Running for a bus last night, some wag yelled out “Everybody off! He’s got a bomb!” Highly amusing. This is in Reading, by the way, hardly terrorist central. However, I’m now seriously contemplating changing my bag, which at least should have the effect of cutting down the amount of crap I’m lugging around with me these days. For example, today I’ve got my iBook, iPod, associated chargers, library books to go back, writing implements, assorted bits of paperwork, for some reason a tube of Krazy Glue, and this is before we talk about my phone, keys, wallet and travelcard secreted about my person. It’s a good workout, but starting to tire me on too many different levels. Maybe I should just invest in one of these.
On a related note, apparantly a girl toting a big rucky on the tube yesterday had a note pinned onto it saying “Don’t shoot me, I’m going camping.” Made me laugh, anyway.

Back in England, things aren’t quite so rosy. Coming into London is of course a jolly experience. There are signs at both Reading and Paddington listing bus services for those too un-nerved to travel by tube. If you are brave enough, try not to be dark and in possession of a rucksack, unless you’re prepared for a journey filled with sideways looks and uncomfortable shiftings from your fellow passengers. I suppose I should be grateful I didn’t get more of a tan on holiday. Meanwhile, the weather continues to disappoint and the jet lag from the flight back still has it’s claws in. And I haven’t shaken the cold I caught on the plan. And I cricked my neck at work last week and the bloody thing’s still twingeing.

Hi ho. Post-holiday grumpiness makes for poor blogging. I will get me some happy and write again when smiling.

Last day blues. I get up early for one final swim in the pool. I’m the only one there, and I luxuriate in the feeling, peeling off long, lazy lengths that take up often the whole width of the pool as well. It’s kind of like star-fishing in bed when you’re on your own except, well, wetter. It’s warm. The air is fresh and coolly scented. The sky is a delicate, flawless blue.
Then back for a shower, and a cup of tea. I pad around the apartment in shorts and bare feet. Everyone else is in bed. All is silence and calm.
The last day of a holiday always has a certain feel. We’re not flying out till 8ish, so we have a whole day ahead of us, but I know it still won’t feel like a holiday. There’s that knowledge that, no matter how early you check in, you can feel your passport and tickets home in your pocket. All day, you’re half on the plane.
Still, doleful don’t get diddly done. We’re going to try to fill in some of the gaps in our holiday plan, maybe one more whiz round the shops, before Big Bubba goes back in his kennel at about 4.
It’s been a brilliant two weeks. I can’t really single out any one moment as the best. The whole experience for me is already merging into one big fuzzy hug. I’ll muse more on this over the next few days, and try and compare it to the feelings I get about flying back to my poor beleaguered country. It’s gonna be a strange week, that’s fur shure.
Anyway, there’s movement now, and packing to finish. In Ian and Sandi’s case, there’s bags to be bought to pack all the stuff they bought that won’t fit in the luggage they bought with them. Land of the free? Hardly!
Time to be gone. With joy and best wishes, we have been the Orlando 5. Thanks for listening.

We’ve had a quiet couple of days after our theme park binge, chilling by the resort pool, having a ride in one of those funny five-seater bikes, which in this hot weather is not that sensible an idea. Still, got us a bit of exercise.
We took a day trip up to Daytona Beach, which as you can see by clicking the hotlink allows you to drive right onto the sands! Hot rods and beach buggies putter up and down all day, and the vibe is nicely chilled. Unlike the weather, which was fricking hot. The surf was glorious, but we were caught out by how quickly the tide moves, and Camp Bubba ended up underwater at one point. With no dry towels, everyone and everything ended up coated in a fine layer of sand.
Yes, everything. Oh, the chafing.
Oh, and apparantly Daytona Beach has a major problem with jellyfish. Which we found out about the day after. I feel so much better about disporting in the surf now…
Tonight, we’re off to Charley’s Steakhouse, as part of Ian’s quest to seek out the finest lumps of animal on the planet and get them down his cakehole. I, of course, will be picking at a chef’s salad with a supercilious expression on my face. And not indulging. Heavens, no. The thought of chowing down on a beautifully aged, wood-grilled USDA steak doesn’t appeal at all…