Not my usual kind of weekend..

Well, actually, Saturday started in an all too familiar (not TOO familiar mind) way….hung-over. But, this was no ordinary hangover – this was hell on earth – I felt as though my body was in panic mode, desperately trying to survive. And, I am barely exaggerating! Needless to say, the plan for the day flew out the window which was a shame because as usual I had lots of interesting stuff lined up.

I was meant to be going to the Being A Man festival at the Southbank Centre with my sister. Essentially a three day festival of a pretty interesting collection of men gathered together to talk about what it means to be a man today and Saturday’s theme was Society so, talks about being a dad, being gay, being black, sex and promiscuity, being a professional and…being a bloke (that’s the only one that I managed to make). I had been interested in the Being a bloke session but, as it was the last session of the day and I had the exciting prospect of a blogger meet up, I was planning on cutting loose and ending my day after Men and Violence. Ah well. My sister made it to more of the sessions and, whilst we both enjoyed the talk and thought that there were some good points, she said it was probably the least interesting talk that she had attended. I really enjoyed a couple of the panellists though, Wayne Hemingway – who was very articulate, thoughtful and funny, and Billy Bragg who is as persuasive in speech as he is in song.

BAM Sat 1 Feb 2014

That’s Wayne Hemingway on the left (as we look at the image) and Billy Bragg next to him.

The talk started late, and then there was this whole warm-up exercise that I thought was a mistake, (it felt to me as though, rather than loosening everybody up, it divided an already open and engaged audience in half – those that got it, and those that didn’t) and then the talk ran on a bit…the upshot of which was, I decided that there was no way that I would make the meet-up which (as any of you observant readers will know I would have loved to attend as it was in aid of the fifth birthday of the Rachel Phipps blog – she who appears in my current obsessions links). Instead I strolled around to the Real Food Market, just behind the Royal Festival Hall, tasting a bite here and another there, settling on a small pot of Koshari which was just what I needed to bring me back to life enough to skulk home, tail between my legs, for an early night.

Arsenal water                                  Arsenal water…a taste of things to come. Love it.

I was lucky enough to get hold of a couple of tickets (thanks T) to watch the mighty Arsenal take on Crystal Palace (except that they weren’t that mighty even though they brought in the needed win to take them back to the top of the league) and so I found myself on Sunday, heading down the Hornsey Road with C in the direction of the Emirates stadium. We had to stop off for a little pre-match refreshment of course (actually we just wanted to feel like we were a part of the Gooner family so The Tollington Arms was the obvious choice as it’s always a sea of red and white on match days).

Arsenal C and S on their first triip to Arsenal

Setting off for our first match…..too excited for words.

We had great seats but it really was a dull game, especially the first half where the most impressive thing about it was the Crystal Palace fans (to be fair, they were actually quite impressive) who sounded as though they must have a set of drums, a conductor, have been in rehearsals for a month and did not let up for the entirety of the game. The Arsenal fans, on the other hand, barely let out a peep – until the first goal, courtesy of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, when they roared (something they managed to sustain for a couple of minutes at least) and it wasn’t that long before Chamberlain provided them with another goal to celebrate.

Arsenal First half snoozefest 2 Arsenal First half snoozefest 1 Arsenal Beautiful stadium

Impossible to tell from this but, Crystal Palace’s strip was really very stylish! Oddly so, I thought.

Arsenal C wrapping up after first half Arsenal S just before second half

I had a great time. C wants to go again, she wants her very own season ticket but in truth, I need the help of the commentators to really follow what’s going on and, as the Arsenal fans aren’t the most hmmm…vocal, I’m probably better off just watching it on the telly!

Arsenal C posing infront of Emirates Stadium

C looking poised and stylish after the game.

Arsenal action shot of S

S doing an action shot..

We ended our trip where it began, at the Tollington and, after getting our drinks, stood outside watching the autograph hunting fans mobbing the players’ cars as they went by.

2014-02-02 18.46.56 2014-02-02 18.47.05Podolski was actually really sweet and apparently, the week before, had got out of his car to pose for a photo with a fan who was in a wheelchair. I guess it’s annoying for the traffic behind but honestly, it’s a couple of minutes of delay.

Ah…it was all good fun, so friendly and, quite sweet. Once we were pretty sure that we’d missed Arsène (boo hoo) and our fingers were about to drop off, we went back inside…

2014-02-02 18.22.28 Arsenal brr brr brr in The Tollington

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