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The Christmas spirit ran strong in On Tap and the gang decided to celebrate with a bit of topless dancing. If you'd wandered in off the street you might have been forgiven for thinking you'd entered Taipei's hottest gay bar...but I like to think we are mature adults and comfortable with our sexuality!!

If you can't see the embedded video, click here

January 2010

The craze of 2010 is the bicycle!!

Here I am with Edwards and Alex on the golf course having cycled from my house to the Bear's. Here Edwards picked up one of 4 bikes that Mr Eyles now owns and we cycled to Muza...which was not without incident. Have barely gone 200 yards, Alex fell off!! Poor performance from the lad who failed a previous hiking test with his shrieks of horror on encountering a leech... Anyway, from there it was across to Jing-Mei and a quick 18 holes which I was winning until near the end.
The weather turned on the way back and we all got soaked and lost Alex on the way....

While all the other lads are busy doing kindergarten at Happy Marion, I went a step further and started teaching at a PRE-Kindergarten! called Happy Baby. Started in December as a sub for some guy who went home to America for Xmas, but the quality of my teaching shone through and they offered me a contract! classes range from the 3 year olds, 2 year olds, 1 year olds.....and then the babies! 10 minutes of fun with some gurgling tots sat on potties...good to see my talent isn't wasted...

But It's not all babies...I also teach 9 year old's in the afternoons and here I am with the winner of the spelling bee...Eric. Note some of my class rules in the background!

The cycling mania continues...A trip round the coast, over Guan-Yin shan and back was a killer but maybe even topped by a 51km ride to Tucheng, over the mountain to Ang-Kan and finally to Xin-dien where Edwards and I tried to take the MRT home but were turned back by staff as this facility is only available at weekends. Had to leave my bike there and hot foot it to my class dressed in shabby, sweaty cycling gear...probably didn't smell too clever either.

My former Eurocentre secretary pal, Joanne is heading off to Germany for her studies...(going to be tricky when she can barely speak the language!) and I helped her prepare her application whilst sitting in my favourite breakfast joint...Laya Burger.

February 2010

February was an eventful month with me at one point on the verge of no classes. I was saved however by the Happy Marion winter camp which involved showing the kids how to write comic books. The cynics would say these classes are only for kids whose parents don't want them around the house during their winter vacation, but I like to think these were creative youngsters desperate to express themselves through the medium of cartoon and caricature.
Well, to be honest most of what was produced was rubbish....but did give me the chance to start my own Bananaman comic strip!

Chinese New Year as predictable as ever, saw a change in the weather from warm and sunny to cold and steady rain. Edwards and I still ventured out and did a Biathalon, cycling to Nangang, climbing a mountain there...visiting a temple on the way, and then cycling around another mountain in a wide circular route before heading back(all in the rain I might add) and stopping off for tea and scones at some posh coffee shop.

As soon as CNY was over the sun came out! did a record hiking/biking for 3 days on the trot...each one an epic. Took Edwards and Ellen to do the ping-xi classic which just happened to coincide with the lantern festival. We did 4 peaks so it was quite tiring it was also a view free experience because the cloud was too low...but still damned good.

March 2010

After a battle with the Eurocentre I finaly managed to knock Saturday teaching on the head which meant more opportunities for hiking/biking. However if the weather wasn't up to scratch Edwards and I would sometimes take in a cultural activity like a trip to the Modern Art Museum.....

This giant appeared to be sewn together with leather and filled up an entire shed outside. The work inside mostly consisted of videos made in front of a crowd of the artist getting naked or wrapping himself up in a costume made of meat. All pretty weird...

And talking of the Eurocentre, I went straight from hiking to meet some of my students in On Tap before dashing off to play darts in the return leg of the Kuting Possee V Minzu Mob challenge at Tommy's house....needless to say we got thrashed again...but it were a good laff!

Having sold my house and now being in possession of the cash, I decided to treat myself to a new scooter. Upgraded to a 250cc Kymco which has that extra bit of power to burn pretty much everything else off the road! The pic below was taken just as I took my old motor in for the part exchange.

April 2010

While most of the On Tap crew were heading to Thailand for a football tournament, Edwards and I decided to join Dan and go to Kaoshiung trip where he was meeting some business partner. This gave me the chance to see Joanne who had moved back to her hometown some months before.

With a general election coming up in the UK, an April Fools joke in the Guardian had this campaign poster of Gordon Brown threatening "Soft lad" David Cameron to step outside and settle things with a bit of fisticuffs...rather amusing and kind of typical UK laddish mentality.

May 2010

Ellen and I had the bright idea to set up a hiking group called the "White Monkeys". Great idea but Ellen stopped hiking with us so I joined forces with Edwards and set up a Facebook page and got some namecards printed.

The first hike was naturally enough to Monkey Mountain and four of us went on a four hour hike through valleys, woodland, farmland and a tea plantation where I have visited before on numerous occasions. I asked the lady, as she was pouring us tea if we could borrow some conical hats for a photo opportunity to which she assented...anyway, check out the webpage.

One of those rare nights in Taipei where not only one but TWO international acts appeared on the same day. Tears for Fears were also in town though not much chance of me going to see them. The Bear, surprisingly chose the Purple option and we headed off to Nangang after a few beverages at my gaff.Three originals remain, they got shot of Blackmore because he was always walking off stage and John Lord retired....Yes, indeed they are not the youngest band around!
The night continued at On Tap where Dave Roberts leaving party was in full home very late and very drunk.

The White Monkeys, intrepid as ever set off for the mountains on a rainy day and despite having a few problems with a grumpy, hungover Edwards the trip was another success. See the vid on the White Monkey Page

June 2010

World cup fever in Taiwan and as usual Englands expectations were sky high. Watched the games in On Tap which had a cracking atmosphere for the USA game and much less so for the Algeria game where we played like shite!!
This was against the backdrop of some appalling weather...constant rainfall dampening everyones spirits. One amusing moment came when we made a rare midweek trip to Carnegies and Dom as usual was passed out on the street. This young lady was happy to pose for a few S&M type pictures with her virtualy comatose victim.


As Rob says every week when Dom stumbles around in a drunken stupor, "Dom's a legend!!"

July 2010

I worked like a trooper the first week of July and spent the day of my flight rushing around signing contracts for the new teaching season. Bottled out of taking on a Kindergarten at Matt Wharton's old place after hearing too many horror stories....but could it really be that bad?
The day I arrived in UK was hot and sunny so I spent time getting rays round my brothers place before heading back to more Thatcham of course as that has now been sold....
Next day went to Heathrow to pick up not only Nina but also two of her mates! 2 weeks with a group of German speaking teenagers could have been a tough call but I was prepared. After a couple of days I drove them off to the west country and a stone cottage in Welcombe, North Devon where it proceeded to pour with rain!
I made them walk to the beach which I think they enjoyed, but in general they seemed to prefer hanging around the cottage watching the music channel on TV and chatting away in German...luckily I had a good book to read! As I was with the kids the whole time I didn't get much chance to see my mates and by the time they left I only had five days before heading back to Taiwan. Got on the phone to Nick and we organised a trip up to the Peak District for some serious hiking.

August 2010

August was another big month because this time I flew off to Indonesia with three mates for a three week holiday. Finally got some colour to my skin and decided to get a crew cut into the bargain as well!

September 2010

Before I knew it my holidays were over and it was back to work again, though with my weekend's free there was plenty of time for hiking and pubbing!

Teapot and Banping mountain conquered

The White Monkey's were back in action with a trip to the North East and one of the best hikes ever...a big loop around Jin Gua Sh with views of the sea and surrounding mountains.

If you can't see the embedded video, click here

On the Mid-Autumn Festival, Edwards, Matt Wharton(Warden, Warthog...take your pick) headed off to the beach at Bai-Sha-Wan to get some end of season rays and play a little beach footy. I haven'y kicked a football around for literally years and it was fun to rifle a few shots into the onion bag as in years gone by (ahem!...ed)
On the way back, Mr Wharton took us to one of his favourite restaurants which was a bizarre experience. It was full of drunken Thai's singing Karaoke with the volume turned up to 11. Now call me boring or old but it wasn't exactly the chilled out end of day location I was looking for, but worth seeing (one time only!!) just to see how the other half live!

The Beach and The Restaurant

A trip to the beach is a rare occurance these days, but well worth the hassle of driving out there...whether it's worth another trip to the same restaurant is another matter!
If you can't see the embedded video, click here

October 2010

Went to see these two bands and was impressed with both...The twins in the Deadly Vibes sometimes drink in On Tap and I've met them before...didn't realise that they rocked like The Cramps!!

Birthday Karaoke at On Tap

Jason had arranged a little light Karaoke for the Saturday before my birthday and after the the usual timid start, we were soon in full flow. Here you can see me courting the young Celia with a (ahem) rip roaring version of Coldplay's the Scientist.

If you can't see the embedded video, click here

The next day I made a last minute decision to go and to see FatBoySlim on my birthday and having met Swifty and Alex, decided I needed some alcoholic refreshment so fought my way over to the bar. Just as I was about to order a drink a rather intoxicated Mr Skelly appeared and we had a bit of a chat. Unbeknown to me at this time, the Bear had somehow arranged for FatBoy to hold up a banner wishing me Happy Birthday...the crowd gave a roar and I didn't even notice because I had my back to the proceedings!

Had my first Chinese lessons in eons down in Guting with a foxy little 22 year old who I could tell had never taught before but never mind, it was good to be studying again even if the coffee shop was way too noisy.

Following weekend was Carnegies free party so I had to pay a visit and met Dave and Sharon there...Sharon is pregnant which is damned good news for them and I wish them well. I left early because I had a big hike planned for Sunday...
Edwards unbelievably blew it out because of "inclement" didn't even rain...well a little bit up in the high mountains. The problem was, I couldn't find the starting place which was a nightmare....about 2.5 hours on the bike! and I had to deal with The Mask's inane twittering for most of the time.

Monday was a rainy day so I sat in and did my website and got the Nina 2010 page online.....three months ago but seems like six.

A week of solid rain brought a sense of misery to everything, even in darts! We played the Tien-Mu team and got whipped just as everyone else had, though I felt that if Rob Mason had played and Keelung had been on form we could have done a lot better and maybe sneaked a win. Well, my Chinese class didn't last long. I got an e-mail saying she couldn't teach me anymore because her boyfriend didn't approve....After I bumped into them in Sababba on saturday night I can see what he was insecure about, definitely a case of a "fresh flower stuck into a cowpat" as the Chinese would say.

One of Joanne's friends was up for the weekend so we entertained her with, er...a few drinks in Carnegies where a bunch of the lads were inebriated after going to a wedding. Quick change of venue took us to Sappho and an evening of Jazz...always my favourite choice!!! Next Day I took her to Nanjing East road area to eat and we popped into the art museum to check out the India exhibition....pretty good actually!

If you can't see the embedded video, click here

The dreadful weather continued, I got an ear infection and a horrible burst blood vessel in my eye that looked awful but apparently is quite harmless....So not really set up for Halloween. A bit of a damp squib for me really, wore last years costume with sunglasses (to hide the eye) and although On Tap was pretty good we made the mistake of going to Brass Monkey which was nothing special...oh well better luck next year.

November 2010

Well, after one girl cut me off from her life another one came in. Naomi started to making regular weekend visits to Taipei and helped resurrect my frequenting of fine restaurants!

It's singing time at Happy Marion and my kids will be doing the "Theme from Rawhide" Blues Brothers version.....A cracking little number!

December 2010

The BATCAVE, Sunday 5th December

Naomi left early in the morning so I decided to go and tackle the Bat Cave in Sh-Ding. A very tough climb, up and down but worth it as the cave was much bigger than I had anticipated, but no bats. I investigated a pot hole on the way up however and saw bats hanging on the ceiling right next to my face!

If you can't see the embedded video, click here

Poker playing has made a re-appearance on the circuit and the "Red Baron" is helping to relieve hapless punters of their hard earned cash!
Great weather right up until Christmas time which was spent in On Tap as per tradition. The Bear was back from exile in Hsinju but he left when Naomi, myself, Matt Walpole and Annie decided to go bowling. Drunken bowling is always fun, but I couldn't get a decent surprise there. Ended up back in On Tap and don't remember much more!

New Years Eve was spent at Dave Silver's house to watch the fireworks....Sharen Silver is 5 months silver on the way!

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