Friday, December 31, 2010

Kampong Blackpool revisited

Blackpool is my kampong away from home. This is where I spent the last stages of my teenage years slogging in preparation for entry into a British university.

Recently, after 29 years (gosh, am I that old now?) I returned to "Kampong Blackpool".

Blackpool, as I have blogged here and here before, is a seaside resort town. From spring to autumn the place would be teeming with tourists from all over Britain. It's like the whole town was forever in a festive mood. The restaurants, bingo halls and shopping centres would be packed-full with tourists. The streets would be congested with cars, and the buses and trams would be always be full that you'd always have to join a long queue to get on board.

But with my recent visit being in December, the hustle and bustle was not there of course. I was especially looking forward to riding the trams. Alas, I had to miss that too as the service was put off for track maintenance and repair works.

That did not deter me from visiting all my favourite spots. There was always the bus (I took the No. 9 bus from Talbot Rd Station to Bispham). And the freezing winter weather meant that I could walk on for miles without ever breaking a sweat.

The North Pier. A theme park over waters

Entrance to the North Pier

Empty benches, only during winter

No. 4, Cheltenham Road, Blackpool. This is where I first stayed upon arriving in Blackpool. By the same token, this is also where I first cooked a meal (if you could call it that) ever in my whole life. It was a matter of survival: if don't cook, can't eat

No.4 Hodgson Road. This is where I used to stay during summers and holiday breaks. So there are lots of happy-hour memories here, including one incident when we incurred the wrath of English lodgers who stayed on the top-floor. This was when my flat-mate Khalid started grilling the belacan. Upon smelling the grilled belacan, an English bloke came rushing downstairs demanding to know whether we were cooking our socks?!

Norbreck Road. This is where I lived for the most part of my two-year stay in Blackpool

No. 22, Norbreck Road. I stayed with three other Malaysians here: Shaari, Amer and Hamidin. The land-lord (we just called him Alex) stayed on the ground floor with his family

The top most window on the right was my kitchen's window. Cooked some fine meals (and many horrible ones) here. Again, SURVIVAL

The high street shopping area on Norbreck Road. It's a British institution where you'd fine the local grocer, butcher, bakery, the post office and chippy (fish & chips shop). The locals would meet up here whilst going about their chores and chat and gossip. Everybody would know each other. Here, the lady shopkeepers would just call you 'lov, as in "thank you 'lov, see ya again". very friendly.

The local post office where I'd frequent many times to buy stamps to post my mails to Apak back home and the occasional film roles to be processed by mail service

Yes, the post box is still there

From my house on Norbreck Road I would foot it to college. This is the route that I would talk daily for two years

The last stretch of the walk to college would take me across a large field (and I mean really large field). It is used for soccer training by junior players. When it comes to soccer development, they do it so systematically the English. We've got  a lot to learn. 

Distant view of my college as I trekked across the big field

One of my favourite spots in Blackpool is the beach. Nothing much compared to our beaches back home. The water is not crystal-clear and it is always cold. But it stretches a mile out to sea and the sunset is ever so beautiful.  I used to spent many hours here watching the sun set over the Irish Sea and taking photos. Some friends remarked that I was wasting my time as I should be better off studying. But all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, no?

David, the landlord's grandson. When I was renting at his flat in Norbreck he was just a baby. He's now a businessman and doing well  for himself. Despite the freezing temperature, he didn't seem to be bothered, whereas I was all wrapped up
The Blackpool Tower. Still regal and and standing proud. It can be seen from miles around as one approaches Blackpool whether by road or rail 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tahniah Harimau Malaysia

Malaysia 4-2 Indonesia (agg).

Yes, we did it. After a long hiatus, Malaysian football looks like to be coming out of the woods, at last.

We used to be an Asian soccer powerhouse back in the 1960s and 1970s. But somehow, after that, we just faded away.

I think we know what happened there. But that's another story in itself.

Tonight, let's just savour our rise to the pinnacle of Asean football. And let's hope that this will shove in a new golden era for Malaysian football.

Note: photo shows Malaysian soccer fans braving the rain (many with vuvuzelas in hand), starting to fill into Dataran Putrajaya to watch the live Indonesia vs Malaysia match on the big screen.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device via Vodafone-Celcom Mobile.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Images from UK visit

Kirkby Railway Station sign-post. This is actually Kirkby's new station. The old station used to be slightly away from this site

The railway line leading to Liverpool from Kirkby. Just behind those trees (in the background) on the embankment to the right  of the railway line is the southern border of the Malayan Teachers' Training College (MTTC)

My first view of the MTTC former campus ground. This is where my father, Ahmad Termizi Mat Nor , used to study as a young trainee teacher between 1956 to 1958. The green open space used to be almost right at the center of the former campus ground

The MTTC former campus now has been redeveloped into an up-market residential area. The row of houses in the background is where the dormitory blocks (closer to the main entrance of college) used to be

Frost on bollards in Poundbury, Dorset

Holly plant shrubs by the River Lea. 'Tis the season to be merry, no?

Birds on Blackpool beach during sunset

Books on the book rack in the Architecture & Planning Department Library, University of Manchester. This is where I used to spend hours slogging it out

House boats on the River Lea. No need to pay rates

Signage on the National Cycle Network which runs by the River Lea and just close by the Olympic Stadium 2012 currently being built

Monday, December 13, 2010

Goodbye Manchester

At 2.02pm my 10-wheeled National Express coach set off from the Manchester Coach Station on Chorlton St.

It has been a hectic and very tiring 4 days and 3 nights in the North West of England for me.

But for a sentimental slob (yeah, that's me) it was well worth it.

For I have managed to re-visit not only my old university in Manchester, but also my old college in Blackpool.

But to top it all up, I squeezed in a short visit to Apak's stomping ground all those years ago, which is Kirkby in Merseyside.

No easy feat all this running around. Especially when the weather is so unforgiving, and the daylight hours are so short (sunrise is round eight in the morning and it begins to get dark around half past three).

To be sure, my visit was helped by a great extent through the kindness of some bright Malaysians students in the city of Manchester.

I will write about my travails in the North West and my stay with my new-found friends in my next posting.

For now I'll let you "enjoy" a view of the British drab winter afternoon. Picture taken from my bus as we leave Manchester for London.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Here comes the sun

After six days in London (at last) the sun is shining over Britain, or at least parts of it.

For the past few days, site visits have been conducted in freezing, sub-zero temperatures. This has got to be the most grueling site technical visits ever in my career as a town planner -  and that's including my student days, too.

So the sun is here, for today at least. But according to the weather man, it won't be for long. Come next week, another cold front is expected to sweep over Britain.

I'm now at the Victoria Coach Station waiting for a bus to Manchester.

Note: The photo shows a man on a train platform on our way to Poundbury in Dorset. The sun may seem to be  shining, but the temperature was actually  -1 celcius.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

On a flight to London

The time is 10.55am and MAS flight MH004 takes off. Immediately I saw the Kota Warisan giant signage on the ground below.

Next came the view of Putrajaya. A magnificent view, I must say, makes me feel really proud.

From the aircraft it looks as if a blanket of light clouds hang just above the ground down below. So surreal. After 5 minutes I'm now flying over Shah Alam. Managed to track down and view Man's condominium block in Bkt Jelutong very clearly.

I'm on a trip to London for a technical visit with a colleague. We're flying on a Boeing 747-400P. MAS has 10 of this beautiful jumbo jet. With a length of 231ft, it can seat 359 passengers. The B747 can fly 12,900km non-stop and has a max. cruising speed of Mach 0.86 (that's 916km/h).

It's now 2.15pm and we're just entering India sub continent. Calcutta is somewhere to my right and Delhi is up ahead. Its JUST another 9hrs and 10 min to London with ONLY about 7700km more to go - gonna be a long day ahead. The aircraft is hurtling towards London at the speed of 874 km/h. We are now 9762m above sea level and the air temperature outside the aircraft is -2celsius.

3.45pm Malaysian time. We have just entered Pakistani air space. And I have just performed my zohor and asar prayer. Performing my obligation towards my Creator 9km up in the air. Subhanallah.
On my way out of the lavatory after performing my wudhu' I bumped into the flight captain. He was waiting for wudhu' after me in pepreparation for solat too.

Alhamdulillah. Its nice and reassuring to know the our pilot performs his duty towards Allah too, doesn't it?
Another 7hrs and 41 min. to London, with about 6391km more to go. The aircraft is now flying at 874 km/h. The outside temperature is -12celsius! Altitude is 9734m above sea level.
Up ahead, Afghanistan.

5.07 Malaysian time. After more than 5 hours of flying we are well into Afghanistan and fast approaching the Turkmenistan border. London is now 5423km away. Travelling speed is at 817 km/h. At this speed we are destined to reach Heathrow in 6 hrs and 28 min. The outside air temp is now -18celsius!

7.00pm Malaysian time (8 hours after take off). We are now flying over the Caspian Sea.
We are 5423km away from London. Another 4 hrs and 28 min to Heathrow. The outside air temp is now down to -27celsius! The plane is at a much higher altitude too: 10,585m. Up ahead is Russia.

8.30pm. Well into Ukraine and just passed Russian territory. Suddenly, espionage and the thought of Russian Mig fighter planes storming at us comes to mind. Yeah, I know, I got a bit carried away there.
The outside temperature is now at a mind boggling -32celsius!! Coming up ahead of us is Kiev (Ukraine's capital city) and then on to Poland. Its another 3hrs and 20 min. more to London.

10.30pm. We have just entered Germany and in a few minutes we'll be flying over Berlin. From here we will fly over Netherlands and then start our descend to Heathrow in about 1hr and 20 minutes time insyaAllah.
Light meal was served. Oven baked lamb loin.

The scenery far down below is dominated by white patches of land. SNOW!?

Freezing England awaits me! Brrrrr!

11.24pm. The flight captain has just announced that we will be descending in 9 minutes time and we are scheduled to land at Heathrow at 4pm British time.

12.00 midnight Malaysian time. After 13 hours of flight, we finally landed at Heathrow. The captain announced that the temperature outside is 6celsius.

Looking forward to checking into the hotel.