Movin' Onsite feed
Wednesday 17 June, 2009

Here be the final ever post on onionbagblog.blogspot.com.


I know I've pulled this trick before, but this time I really mean it. Thankfully I have the handy get out clause of including the infuriating .blogspot domain to my rather major statement above.

Ah, I see - so not goodbye onionbagblog, just goodbye onionbagblog.blogspot.

See what I've done there?

Essentially I'm moving over to Wordpress. Blogger has just become unworkable and too restrictive for me of late. The functionality is far from ideal, albeit for a free service. It's like trying to produce a colour supplement on a Gutenberg printing press.

So bye bye blogger, WOW! Here comes Wordpress.

Thank you kindly for reading, commenting and RSS-ing the old onionbagblog.blogspot. Please kindy update your bookmarks over here (do people still use bookmarks?)

A more reader friendly RSS feed is available here.


Movin' on up.

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Cumbrian Comedownsite feed
Tuesday 2 June, 2009

Feel the pain

And so that was Tour de Lakes, 2009. Five days, 150 (ish) miles and a few mountains thrown in. Plus temperatures touching 25 degrees, which are about as rare around the mean streets of Cockermouth as a Chelsea supporting Cumbrian on Cup Final Day.

Highlights included meeting up with old friends from Poland and the US. For one week only, Cockermouth was indeed the centre of the cycling universe. Lowlights were giving the London cyclists' finger to a beeping Petrol Head pushing up my backside around Bassenthwaite, only to find that it was a friendly greeting from the lovely Polish Tour support car.


Crummock Water came *shhh* close to matching the lovely lido (oh how I have missed thee,) although I'm pleased that my bathing around the waters of Crummock came after the cattle herd decided to use it as a public toilet.

The time trial to Maryport was accompanied by an even quicker return leg. I think that tells you more about the delights of downtown Maryport, than any athletic endeavour on my behalf.

The rest day was spent in search of Withnail. No sign of everyone's favourite thespian anti-hero, but I was told to 'shut that gate,' as well as getting involved in a slight inter-change in the tearooms of Penrith.


Country cottages were sourced. Shame about the prices.

Oh, and next time I'll remember not to have the 35 mile Cockermouth to Penrith uphill route as the crowning glory as I crossed the line wearing le Maillot-jaune.


Back to the track this Saturday.


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Tweets, Boos & the Twittering Owlsite feed
Saturday 30 May, 2009






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Climb Every Mountainsite feed
Thursday 28 May, 2009

And so a long weekend of cycling awaits. Wonderful. We're on route once again for another holiday by mistake up in the Lakes. The added value this time is that I'm taking the road bike with me. Chapeau!

But even a keen hill climber would be hard pushed to pedal all the way up to the tearooms of Penrith. That's where shoddy Virgin Trains comes in, with it's rather useless on board WIFI, and only slightly better provision for bicycles.

Leaving my Giant wedged between a shipment of water bottles and a stepladder (every train should have one,) didn't leave me with much confidence for a smooth ride as we pulled out of Euston early Thursday morning.

Never mind - it's all about the bike, and not the train. I knew we would be in for a good few days of rolling out around the Lakes when I had the good fortune to pass a Moulton as I cycled along Waterloo Bridge.

This is only my fourth spotting of one of Dr Alex's dream machines in London. It looked the part within the urban environment of SE1, and made my road bike appear as out of place as a blank column on an MP's expenses form.

I did ponder with the idea of taking the Moulton up to Cumbria. I'm waiting on a few minor frame adjustments (um, the frame split into two!) first. With a backpack stuffed full of lycra and not tweed, I'm sure I've made the right choice with the road bike.

The plan is to have bike, have GPS on the iPhone, will travel. It really is as simple as that. I'm already missing my mornings spent at the lido, but I'm sure a bit of breaststroke in Bassenthwaite at the start of each day will be a fine alternative.

I'm keen for some serious mountain climbing on the bike. But everything that goes up, has to come down, which is where I wimp out and apply the brakes.

The fragrant mrs onionbagblogger is doing a fine service as race back up. Not quite a water carrier, more of a MacBook carrier, as the first stage (Penrith to Cockermouth) kicks off whenever Virgin Trains manages to overcome the engineering works that are making this journey almost as slow as the crappy WIFI.

I can almost smell the lakes.

Lycra time...

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Crap Boo Reportsite feed
Wednesday 27 May, 2009

Sussex 184-9 beat Surrey 163-9 by 21 runs.

C'mon the 'rrey!


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Funny Bones Armssite feed
Tuesday 26 May, 2009

Bank Holidays were meant for booze. All the better if the beer is flowing in your (semi) local, and the evening's entertainment is a work pal who has crossed over the great divide to become a genuine friend.

Remember rule #1 in the onionbagblog work mantra: make genuine friends who will remain with you outside of the coalface.

And so the fragrant mrs onionbagblooger and I, plus a couple of other colleagues close friends from Peckham (blimey) made our way across Sunny Stockwell and the short walk through Albert Square (seriously) to the Cavendish Arms, for a bit of comedy with @comedybeard. Naturally.

I'm ashamed to say that even as SW8 locals, this was our first visit to the Cavendish Arms. I've heard glowing reports about the live entertainment venue for around six months now, but it's always been just a bit too far on the other side of Sunny Stockwell to make it our local.

Not so now - what a bloody brilliant venue! A spacious bar, and then a backroom that looks as though it should be holding court somewhere along Piccadilly, rather than the mean streets of SW8.

Essentially the performance space is a large Punch 'n Judy booth. Not so large that there's no atmosphere, but the red velvet lined stage area certainly gives a very agreeable vaudeville stage presence.

I regret now not coming along to The Cavendish sooner, following the refurbishment of two summers ago. But is your pint glass half empty or half full? We may have missed out on some top nights, but hopefully there's more to come at The Cavendish over the coming months.

Monday night is Comedy Virgin night. I think that's a singular expression, rather than a plural take on the performers. For your FREE entry fee, you got to see just under twenty comedians, each given five minutes on the mic to showcase their talent.

The quality ranged from vaudeville virgins, to a handful of skilled performers, who are clearly taking this comedy lark rather seriously (ha ha) and hopefully might even be able to turn it into some sort of profession.

I wasn't expecting @comedybeard to fall into this latter category, but blimey - Mr Beard has progressed at an alarming rate since we last saw his show. Incredibly confident, commanding the packed audience, and a rousing cheer at the end.


It's not a beauty contest (although Mr Beard would probably fare rather well if it were,) but our man with the mic walked off with the audience led Performer of the Night trophy. Well deserved, and which just happened to be the darts boards from the old boozer - all the old darts trophies had been handed out in previous weeks.

I'm no observational comedian (I think that's a singular description,) but I did notice a lack of female performers, perhaps the only downside to the evening. Only one female with balls, battling it out with around twenty testosterone males. But being an open mic policy, then there's an open invitation to address this gender imbalance.

Despite only two pints downed all evening, every comedian got at least a couple of laughs from me. And here's lies my slight worry with the Cavendish business plan:

I really hope the venue survives - it is a rare treat on an otherwise soulless Stockwell entertainment circuit. But the format of the evening was to buy a pint, take it through to the Ballroom, and then sit down in the bar-less Ballroom for the first hour of the set. A brief bar break, and then repeat again.

The intimacy of the Cavendish Arms would have meant it rude to wander off mid-set for a top up. I'm not sure what the solution is, but I hope that the fine Mr and Mrs Cavendish aren't cutting the profits for the sake of comedic respect. I would happily have doubled my offerings behind the bar, had the moment felt right.

And so we wandered off into the balmy Bank Holiday SW8 evening air, cheered on by much comedic love for @comedybeard, and happy to have found a new home at The Cavendish. Mr Beard and the other non-Stockwell crowd seemed to like both the pub and the area, and so hopefully they'll return.

I hope they weren’t joking.

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Philosophy Footballsite feed
Sunday 24 May, 2009

Tip top table

Cheer up Alan Shearer. The Professional Geordie Whinger may be feeling even more morose than normal come Monday morning, but at least he didn't have to limp around a North London football pitch for six hours on Sunday.

The Guardian's annual 5-a-side competition was competed up at Old Street this year under brilliant Bank Holiday sunshine. And whaddya know - my team was also rather brilliant as well.

Past form has taught me that you turn up for these competitions with a number of late pull outs; your team of vagabonds kick off full of enthusiasm, only to find that your tournament has finished with the Sunday carvery still yet to be served.

But Team Mod (of which I can lay a distant degree of professional association) competed rather well. P3 W3 is a track record that the Professional Geordie Whinger can only dream of. Our team of *shhh* ringers and rough diamonds somehow found ourselves in the quarterfinals after the morning qualification competition was complete.

A horrific injury to a midfield maestro dampened our spirit, but his support for the team in staying up at Old Street for the afternoon, even though an ambulance was called for, certainly helped to carry us forward. Fine work, fella.

Our team tactics seemed to be centred on frustrating the pants off the opposition. Don't be fooled by the Love Me I'm a Liberal agenda - Guardianista work culture is actually rather competitive, and slightly sporty. All except Team Mod, one of whom had arrived in EC1 after an early hours DJ session.

'But you don't look like footballers,' as one (defeated) opponent accused of us after we progressed to the semis at the expense of his team of corporate Sport Billy's. Don't be put off by appearances - power is all contained within the finger pointing.

Ah, yes - a proven team tactic was to eye up the opposition before kick off, and point randomly at various players. It fooled not only us, but also our opponents, all the way through until the semis. A 5-1 defeat at the hands of The Observer Picture Desk was an image just waiting for a witty picture caption.

I officially retired after almost twenty years of park football just over a year ago. My knackered knee could take no more, and swimming and cycling were winning the day. But a rare, one off run out with the Graun folk just about passed my pain threshold. The Professional Geordie Whinger may be hurting inside, but that's nothing compared to the need for a stair lift before I hit the age of forty.

Cheer up, Alan Shearer.

Full flickr set over here.

onionbagblog video

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Welcome to the Cheap Seatssite feed
Saturday 23 May, 2009


I know it's not rock 'n roll, but I LOVE attending gigs where you know what the next song will be. It's a reassuring presence, and gives a pre-defined start, middle and end to a show.

But blimey - with the Groove Machine clocking in at just over thirty-nine minutes on vinyl, The Wonder Stuff rolling out their debut from start in finish in Shepherd's Bush on Friday night could have been something of a blink and you'll miss it gig.

No worries - that's what the back catalogue and the beauty of all those bonus tracks are for, filling out start to finish album gigs. It had me head scratching though. I had no idea what was up next after the final power chords of Poison.

Back in the day and by my estimation, we wore out three cassette (!) copies of The Eight Legged Groove Machine, with the Groovers on Manoeuvre I use to run around with in the rolling countryside lanes of South Nottinghamshire. It was the soundtrack for our pub crawls, love bites and bruises.

Phew, rock 'n roll.

And so how would the Grove Machine shape up, some twenty years later? For a start, it's actually the Four Legged Groove Machine. The Bass Thing and Martin Gilks have gone to that great mosh pit in the sky. Squabbles and rivalry has resulted in a band that now only contains Miles Hunt and Malcolm Treece from any recognisable line-up during the Stuffies glory years.


The Groove Machine show on Friday was basically in two halves, with a rather pleasing middle segment. First off it was heads down, Groove Machine from start to end - last one to finish has to go for a girly haircut.

The first encore was where it got really interesting - the B-sides that accompanied those glorious rally calling early singles:

Goodbye Fatman
Who Wants To Be The Disco King?
Ooh She Said
Astley In The Noose
A Song Without An End

Doubt we're gonna get to hear these live again for some time.

And then we were back in more familiar (and almost mainstream) Stuffies territory:

Mission Drive
On The Ropes
Here Comes Everyone
Golden Green
Don't Let Me Down, Gently
The Size of a Cow
Ten Trenches Deep

There was a sense of pantomime to the occasion; but then that has always been the case with Miles Hunt and his acidic tongue. The music in West London was more about the memories for me, rather than the moment.

The Stuffies at their peak were still a band out of time A final run through of the Groove Machine, twenty years since the release, wasn't going to upset the Midlands Grebo musical timeline.

The fragrant mrs onionbagblogger lapped up the opportunity to be transported back to the early '90's indie girl that she has always been at heart. The girl did well in resisting the urge to buy yet another Stuffies T-shirt; the complete collection from '88 - 98 takes up half the house.

The evening was complete with a totally unexpected reunion with a couple of other Groovers from back in the day. Hugs, memories and middle age regret all round.

'I remember a time when I was feeling down,
and I never ever wished you were here.

And now I need a hug and now I need a hug,
and I really really wish you were here

Mr Hunt threatened us with a twenty-year anniversary waltz around Hup next summer. Country 'n Western meets Grebo I can do without. We didn't wear out a single cassette copy of that difficult second album back in the day.


Hup! Hup!

Hup!!! Hup!!! Hup!!! Hup!!!

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Twitter Tour of 2012site feed
Thursday 21 May, 2009

All aboard!

A thrilling Thursday evening being shown around an East End building site - seriously.

But this wasn't any old East End building site. In three years time, one billion people will be looking at the same building site, as the Games of the XXX Olympiad opens in London. Here's hoping they get to disembark from their bus.

Ah yes, the bus tour. The lovely nu meeja folk at London 2012 invited a number of London based bloggers for a state of the nation tour of the Stratford site. I wasn't alone in expecting hard hats, hi res jackets and a bit of a walk around.

Instead we were stuck in traffic on a Thursday night in some East End hell hole, only to be bussed around the building site with the doors remained firmly locked. A bit of a disappointment, and certainly not photographic friendly (if indeed you ever wanted to take photographs of a rather large building site.)

But we did have a half decent running commentary, as well as a very helpful bus driver who managed to sync the images on his plasma screen with the planned finalised architectural designs of each venue as the wheels on the bus went round and round.

Yes, it's easy to become frustrated at the lack of access that we had; being so close to what will become the epicentre of global sporting and cultural activities for two weeks in 2012, yet still so far away from actually experiencing the feel and ambience of the site.

But given that a building site is a building site is a building site, the early cynicism gradually disappeared as I got to see the scale of the project.

Endless facts and figures are available - we even had an on-board Olympic quiz (sample Q: How many corporate partners has London 2012 signed up with? Its all about the sport...) Instead I'd like to present my online observations from the 2012 Blogger's Tour in a medium in which they deserve.

Limited access meant limited opportunities to get out there and gather information. I was blessed with audioboo and Twitter, even though we were asked to turn off mobile devices as it would 'interfere with the rolling commentary' (yeah, right...)

So rather than bore you with construction stats (just Google 'em,) here is my online timeline from a rather enjoyable Thursday evening spent being bussed around a rather big building site in the East End.

Heading off to Stratford for a blogger's tour of the 2012 site. Who else is in? #

2012 Blogger's Tour 1


2012 Blogger's Tour 2


Mmm - so the 2012 Blogger's Tour is... a bus journey around East London. Open mind, but I (and others) was expecting site access. #

They better get this bloody East London traffic sorted out before 2012. Stuck on a bus. Not feeling sporty. #

Passing the time stuck on the 2012 bus with an Olympics quiz. "How many corporate partners do we have?" It's about the sport, isn't it? #

2012 Blogger's Tour 3


2012 Blogger's Tour 4


Fans of large scale building sites, as viewed on a bus, would love the 2012 Blogger's Tour. #

Hockey is replacing the Hackney Dogs Track. There's a legacy for you. #

I think I just saw the fosil of one of Ken's newts, right in the middle of the handball arena. #

Just passing the home of Leyton Orient, 2013. #

2012 Blogger's Tour 5


Cynicsm aside, the Aquatic Centre for 2012 already looks spectacular. Main stadium is meh. #

2012 Blogger's Tour 6


End thoughts:

The site itself didn't seem that large. Maybe that's because the majority of it still remains to be built? This is no bad thing, as ease of access should give a genuine village feel during the games. Post 2012 and the expected White Elephant might also become slightly easier to disguise.

The Aquatic Centre is stunning. OK, so describing some pylons of varied heights hammered into the ground as 'stunning' is perhaps stretching it; but this is the one venue where already you get a sense of the occasion, helped along with a genuine eye-turning design.

The Olympic Stadium is meh. You've seen one mega bowl, you've seen them all. I'm personally more impressed with the early '90s transformation of Meadow Lane from a wooden dump to a state of the art old Fourth Division ground. Still, at least the dear old O's will have the option to turn down a half-decent new ground, post 2012.

The tour itself was useful, albeit behind the windows of a bus. My lack of photographic evidence is partly in protest of this, partly because I couldn't be bothered. The bus full of bloggers all had their shutter fingers flicking away all evening. The images will be out there soon, once again I suggest a quick Google.

And so many thanks to the nu meeja folk of London 2012 for the invite. Not quite what I expected, but at least I'll be prepared for hopefully what will become an annual event over the next three summers.

As ever, the best bit of the evening was the impromptu blogger's booze up after hours. Lovely company with the likes of @ianvisits janeslondon @mattfromlondon @diamondgeezer Londonist Duncan and London Reconnections. The walk from the bar to our backroom table was the best leg stretching exercise I had all evening.

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The Bulls*****r & the Bikesite feed
Wednesday 20 May, 2009

Mr Marin

As the embedded boo below states, I don't usually podcast on matters of a personal nature. But blimey - I got wound up over a bike today. Not so much the bicycle per se, but the silly Islington banker boy who thought he could pull a fast one on me.

But he who takes on a contemporary urban South London anarchist cyclist, risks the wrath of lycra.

Never trust a banker, especially if the useless tosser works for RBS.


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