What is it about a white Christmas? We seem obsessed about it in this country, ferociously reminiscing about ‘that year when I was a child, when Freddos only cost 10p and there was so much snow that the schools were closed for weeks’. It seems strange that our continental cousins don’t seem to suffer from such an affliction and we as a nation, seem almost too happy to chide them on their lack of gratitude for the daily snowball fights. Well more fool us because as the TwoMenAboutTown EU tour was conceived and implemented not long after I had agreed to spend Christmas away from home and with snow having been in very short supply this year after trips to the thermometer exploding heights of Croatia, it came as a very welcome contrast to the P. family.
Some people don’t like going to Italy. But then some people don’t like washing their hands after going to the toilet and we don’t trust them either do we? What’s wrong with Italy? Yes it’s full of Italian rantiness, yes it is difficult to get something done quickly and yes they do make you pay twice for train tickets (compulsory seat reservations that are not included in the ticket price? That makes no sense guys, just FYI). But it is also full of great wine, Roman architecture, art and fashion that’s so fashionable that if you understand it then you can’t afford it.
But I love Italy. A lot. I love the food, the culture, the language, the wome… the food and pretty much everything else. So making a list of all the places we needed an excuse to see and all the things we wanted to do on the next leg of our #TwoMenEUTour wasn’t hard but fitting them all in to the few days we had was the tricky bit. But as you will see, we did our best! Unlike our previous trips to Brussels or Ireland, we took a bit more time in Italy traveling down on the overnight train from Vienna in Austria to Florence, then on to Pisa, down to Rome, over to Pompeii and then back to Rome to fly home.
Whether it’s crushed inside a packed commuter train or twiddling our thumbs onboard an airliner at 35,000ft, we do a lot of traveling here at TwoMenAboutTown; my favourite pastime when commuting is getting lost in the world of my Spotify library, whether it’s the latest album from Stereophonics or the spectacularly funky vibes of Wham and George Michael. Don’t judge.
The main drawback of any portable audio, particularly in-ear headphones however is unwanted background noise, taking away from the experience of your favourite album or drowning it out altogether; the constant drone of an aircraft’s engine or the clattering of the Virgin Pendalino provide an unwelcome distraction. Consequently, I’ve been hunting high and low for some noise cancelling headphones for some time, with their electronic wizardry to eliminate white and secondary noise; Rob has just reviewed the Pioneer Rayz Plus in-ear headphones with mixed conclusions, but I really wanted something that would knock my socks off.
Enter Bose, recognised globally as the pioneer (yes, pioneer) in audio. The QuietComort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones were calling out to me in the Apple store upon collection of my shiny new iPhone X, so I splurged and prepared to take them with me on my trip to Abu Dhabi.
Over the past few years, I’ve learned a few things on this blog; I’ve learned not to trust friends who have unplanned trips to Dubai, I’ve learned how to enjoy shaving again and I’ve also learned that to talk about tea, I had to talk about coffee. I know a few people who have ordered a salted caramel pumpkin latte with extra soya sprinkles in their time (I’m looking at you SuburbanGent) and that’s fine but are the McDonalds or Burger Kings of the coffee world really what you want every day? With their questionable sourcing policies, suspicious tax implications and deliberately average flavour all leaving you with a rather bitter aftertaste, I suspect not. But what else is there for one to do? If you work in London, it’s no problem as you have many better alternatives to choose from, but with so many people living in Milton Keynes and commuting in, sooner or later someone was going to open our very own proper coffee house and guess what? They just did.
A cold and wet late October’s afternoon in Central Milton Keynes Shopping Centre doesn’t perhaps present one with the wealth of independent eateries that I’ve become accustomed to in my midweek London escapades, but there I was, hunting for some warm sustenance to continue braving the crowds. Strolling along I saw the lunchtime set menu offer at Carluccio’s, two-courses for £11.95 and headed on in, never having set foot inside a Carluccio’s before but having high hopes of an Italian lunchtime tasty treat.
September saw Apple announce two new models to add to its successful smartphone armoury, the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X; the latter a radical change of design direction, with the removal of the home button and addition of a new edge-to-edge screen, marking the ten year anniversary of the iPhone family.
With an ageing older iPhone 6, I was straight online on launch night (like a sucker) to pre-order my new X (pronounced ten), which arrived just about a week ago. Having used the phone fairly extensively for both business and leisure, including a trip to Abu Dhabi, I thought I would share my first impressions of the latest effort from the fruit-based smartphone manufacturer.
People, you can ignore the Roman Gregorian calendar, the last 2,000 years of history and any talk to the contrary because you have only got ONE week until Christmas. One week, and one week only until Christmas starts on the 1st of December. That’s when you can open your advent calendar and we all know that Christmas begins when you can eat chocolate before breakfast! Well, maybe grown ups can’t justify chocolate with their daily weetabix but we think that a quick snifter before bed is more than acceptable to keep you in the festive spirit! If you get an advent calendar for the kids then you deserve some Christmas cheer as well, right? Well, Drinks By The Dram think they can help you with that situation, and I think they’re right!
When I bought my first Sonos I realised my life had been missing something, then my man SuburbanGent bought himself a EU BOOM 2 to share his love of Peter Andre with the world and I knew that things would never be the same again. Here at TwoMenAboutTown we love our music but you’ll already know that if you follow SuburbanGent’s twitter feed which speaks for us both when it comes to demonstrating just how indiscriminate our musical tastes are. But neither the Sonos nor the Boom provide a particular personal experience, thankfully Pioneer have been making headphones for a long time so they should be pretty good at it by now. We would soon find out because with Apple’s newest attempt at global domination and personal bankruptcy all rolled into one with the iPhone X launch well underway, Pioneer have decided to use their considerable proficiency to launch their first foray into lightning connector powered earphones.
Getting an appointment in this day-in-age, in some GP surgeries, is a nightmare; taking time off work can be difficult, whilst a non-emergency appointment in my local practice can take up to four weeks – yes, four weeks – before it’s possible to get in front of a doctor.
This, of course, isn’t necessarily the fault of said surgery, it’s hardworking staff or the GPs within, but a reflection of our over-stretched NHS. However, for somebody like myself who finds it difficult to take time off work, let alone get an appointment in the first place, this presents a problem; how do I get in front of a GP and get the treatment or prescription that I need, at a time that is convenient for me, at short-notice?
Enter Push Doctor.
If you haven’t already seen, I’m a big fan of London rooftop bars; there’s a great collection of bars and restaurants with sterling views of the capital, but there’s a new kid on the block that offers something a little different.
There is no denying it – I am *incredibly* privileged here at TwoMenAboutTown; from trips to Dubai, to beautiful hotel stays and sampling the finest gastronomic delights up and down the UK, I get to do some very cool stuff. When the invite came through to attend London’s newest pop-up, Fuel by celebrity-chef Jack Monroe, you would correctly assume that I was looking forward to an evening of gluttonous consumption before lazily sneaking off into the night in a food-based coma.
I was therefore not prepared for an evening that would open my eyes and leave me aghast of a crisis of epidemic proportions, with a lasting impression of wanting to do more to help and put my privilege and platform to use. There’s no such thing as a free meal, after all, right?
So far on Trip 4 of the #2MenEUTour, it’s been a rampage across central Europe as we’ve taken in Amsterdam, Brussels, Luxembourg and Stuttgart in a non-stop juggernaut of continental culture dunking. But we knew we couldn’t keep that up, we needed somewhere to slow things down for a few days and what better destination to do that than Austria? Stunning countryside meets fascinating history in this wonderful land of all things Von Trapp. Home to old skool Music moguls Mozart and Beethoven, the famous Spanish Riding School and of course some of the friendliest locals you could ever hope to meet, all made Austria one of our favourite destinations of the tour so far.