Spring has sprung!


Good morning folks

I trust you had an awesomely fantastic weekend!
Here is your weekly round-up from the barmy old city.
A busy week, final exams, black clouds and the start of spring.
“The Black Dog” is a bit of a gloomy part, so skip that section if you like.
That aside, here is your weekly Lima round-up…

Gloater and the Magic Sign.

I worked in a variety of Bookies as a youth, starting in William Hill’s (in sunny Tadcaster), then on to Ladbrokes at Elland Road (Premier League days) and then various haunts around Leeds and Yorkshire. It was entertaining and as I used to be a (luckless) punter, it was like being paid to be to watch horseracing (and keeping me out of the Bookies, as I couldn’t bet there). It was only when I had an ambitious moment and enquired about becoming management when it all turned a bit sour, but up ’til then it was good fun!

The Punters were a mixed bunch, different branches have completely different “regulars” and they ranged from being friendly and affable, to the angry young man who once flashed a knife at me, when I told him that 9/4 had long gone on his nag!

Most punters had a nickname:
“Mr. Shall-I-shan’t-I” who couldn’t decide whether to take a fixed price or starting price on his horse (usually in short 5-furlong sprints.
“Mr. $h!t-on-a-slip” a dirty, scruffy, incomprehensible boozer who transformed crisp white betting slips into “soiled” crumpled scraps.
“Mr. Lucky 15″ who only ever used to bet on Lucky 15s, and was always lucky.
“Mr. Can’t win/can’t lose” who had impeccable handwriting, producing caligraphic works of art, that took him 20mins to write, always backing all 6 dogs in a 6-dog-race, with the minimum overall stake of 20p, (he’d normally get about 8p back!)
“Mack the Knife” (not sure if he was a chef, but he always carried a huge kitchen knife!)
and “Mad Stan”, who was mad, and called Stan.

One especially annoying punter was “Gloater”, a snidey, malicious type. He knew I was a member at York Races and that it was impossible for me to get Saturdays off. At the first race, he’d always say “Not going to York then?” Not unless I had a Tardis parked outside.
This is a minor example, but he was a generally irritating, annoying and painful bore!

Going to York Races was always a day out to be savoured. Train through from Leeds with my mate Spencer, with a head full of Sporting Life tips, meet ‘Are Kid in York at 11am, a few pints round town and then to the Knavesmire for 2pm. Meet the rest of the lads, generally do my boots in, drink myself into the ground and then round York, somehow getting the midnight train home and somehow getting up the day after, to do it all again (most race meetings were 3 days long! I couldn’t do it nowadays).

“Gloater” always got me thinking and put me in a bad mood, which was his intention!
All of this rambling links tenuously to something that happened this week here…

“Don’t you miss London?”

People here always assume everyone from everyone in Blighty lives in London.
I was born in Kendal, so the Lakes will always be home, but Yorkshire is my adopted home, especially Leeds. Not many folk here have heard of Leeds, so I say it is between Manchester (as everyone is football bonkers and has heard of Manchester Utd/City) and Newcastle (as Nobby Solano played there). It is geographical nonsense, a bit like saying England is between Manitoba and Mali, but I like to make it clear I’m not from the Old Smoke.
(Nothing against London and the South, but I am a Northerner).

A colleague constantly asks me “What are you doing here?” to which I reply, “Teaching my kind of English” (whilst wondering to myself “What AM I doing here?”)

This week, during a class about Social Issues (crime, traffic, pollution, graffiti and the like, an uncomfortable class I don’t really enjoy as Lima ticks all the boxes) a student asked me “Teacher, don’t you miss London?”

I sidestepped the question and explained I was from between Newcastle and Manchester (hoping his Geography wasn’t too good), but he persisted. “Why come to a place like Lima, when you lived in Europe? Don’t you miss England?” Which got me thinking (and I had been thinking already, but this sent me into a downward spiral…

I really, really do miss a lot of things.

sisHardback-BoysOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAlks lakesbeardedBLSSCclk

My family, my mates, beautiful countryside, muddy tracks into the mountains, a good pint with the lads, a decent pie, oven lasagnas, a postal system that works, the NHS, not having a constant fear that I am about to get killed on my motorbike, running in clean air, manners, friendliness (even from strangers) and logic! That would be my response to a Starter-for-ten…

I like London, but don’t miss the actual city itself too much. The Tube is ace, but being colourblind is very confusing down there!

The Black Dog…

Some things I’m never quite sure about putting on here. Everything I write is true and honest.
Any opinions discussed are merely my observations and not criticisms.

Coming back to Peru was always a risk, especially with a Nipper. Returning to a place you’ve been and expecting it to be the same is insanity, I never expected it to be the same. I’ve changed and so has the wild city of Lima. Lima has grown and I guess I’ve grown-up. I always talk about this place in 3 times:

Phase I – Coming here as a volunteer in June 2004 at the Orphanage. Teaching 3hrs a day and then socialising the rest of the time with a really cool bunch of mates, whilst living with an amazing family who made me feel like one of their own. Then buggering off round the World and at one point wondering the fateful thought “What would happen if I returned to Lima?”

Phase II – Returning here in February 2005, with dreadlocks, piercings, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed but essentially clueless, having cut short a round the World trip, in order to have a few bra$$ buttons in my sky-rocket (which ran out completely in July 2005). It was a challenge!
Met Lina (for the second time), started courting and the rest is history.
In the uncertain anticipation of a “Change of Government” I headed for the fair shores Blighty in June 2006 and Lina followed in November. She adapted to UK life immediately and grafted like a good ‘un. We lived in a caravan for a year, did a fair chunk of travelling and I was a shift boomerang at the Brewery, how they let me back so many times is a mystery, but it was Bottling that pushed me to push Lina to try it one more time here. The Wee One arrived in March 2014.

Phase III – January 2015 to now!
This has been the trickiest transition for me and I still don’t know why.
I found work straight away and (generally) like my job, apart from the crappy hours and working Saturdays. I have a great set of colleagues and a decent boss. It pays the bills, but I am dying for a holiday (need to work one full year full-time, to get holidays, a designated (not chosen) month). I have to put on a smiley face at work a lot of the time. It wouldn’t be much fun for students listening to grumpy-guts from between Manchester and Newcastle!

Most other things drive me crazy. I try to not let them, as I know I could never, ever change them, but I am just not able to “Not give a monkeys”, when I do “give a monkeys” (if that is a phase?)

Easy things here are often made difficult and trickier things become impossible, but people just accept them, as normal, the done thing or (even worse) accepted/acceptable.

I won’t whinge about the traffic, I’ve given that way too much airtime. I live on the edge of a manic (human and traffic) crossroads, so to go anywhere, be it walking, running or riding the Clunk, I am immersed into a war! I’ve had too many near-misses on the bike to mention.
People seem incapable of walking in a straight line (they’d never pass the old “drunkard test”), so walking is a nightmare. People barge into each other all the time, not in an aggressive way, just as a normal thing to do. Running is like trying to make your way down Oxford Street/Briggate/Coney Street/Tad High Street the week before Christmas!

Paperwork (tramites) is a migraine inducing process, even trying to take something back to a shop is a no-no. The cost of living is a strange one: Some things are crazy prices (rent, milk, coffee, technology, anything imported) so if you like swigging a Latte whilst using an imported laptop you need to be a millionaire! Other things are cheaper.

Attitudes are what has almost done for me. Ingrained nonsensical logic that simply doesn’t hold water. I’ve clashed too many times trying to argue my point that I’ve given up on this one.

NOISE! This is my personal headache to end all headaches. People either don’t care or realise or are conscious of the fact that they are making more noise than a Discotheque at 4am on a school night. The woman in the flat above constantly rowing with her daughter or banging in the kitchen at 5am. Doors slammed at midnight, 1am, 3am and 6am. Car alarms so sensitive that they go off when a cat walks past, I could go on…

I don’t want this blog to be like a Radiohead album, (which it would be if I wrote it midweek when my black cloud/moods are worst), but I think people here just think I’m a Whinger, so unfortunately you cop for it here, sorry. The Black Dog is definitely not (this) man’s best friend.

It’s not quite as simple as getting back on a plane, (I’d be writing this on a KLM serviette right now if it was!) I think I just need a holiday and a break from the madness.

The original purpose of this blog was twofold:
1- To keep people posted about goings-on here.
2- For if I ever lost my marbles…

I hope it doesn’t become the latter, but if it does, it’s all on here :-)

On a positive note, I do have a handful of brilliant mates here.

I have some awesome colleagues at work.


I occasionally escape to some interesting surroundings!


The Nipper and Lina tolerate my moodswings with incredible tolerance and patience!


Next week I’ll dwell more on the positives, I promise :-)

Spring has sprung!

On a (much) lighter note, apparently Spring is now here. Now for me Lima has two seasons.
Summer (hot and sweaty) and winter (cool, grey and dank, but not cold).
Autumn tags onto winter and spring fumbles into summer.

Locals really do think that the seasons follow the calendar dates, but summer usually starts late or hangs on for dear life, due to El Niño or earthquakes.

Whenever I comment on it being a nice day, 90% of people say they prefer winter!


The Nipper came back from the Creche where she sometimes goes, on Friday, with a crown she had made. She told me she was “The Spring Queen”, but then proceeded to destroy her crown later on. She likes breaking things, but when I ask who broke anything she always says proudly “Valentina!”

Things that Nippers say!

Bairns do say some interesting things.
I was walking to the park today and we passed some pigeons. The Nipper and I both said “Hello Mr. Pigeon” (as you do, as we do!) Then I was told that “They never speak and don’t wave back to us because then don’t have hands!” (She had said this earlier about cats and dogs too).
She has a very imaginative imagination, I’m going to start writing things down.

And finally…

On a sporting weekend when I was working but would have loved to split myself in three and gone to:
a) The Alpkit Big Shakeout.
b) The Three Peaks Cyclo-cross (just to watch, but it is on my list)
c) The MUT (Marcahuasi Ultra Trail). A local mountain race, on Saturday.


I managed to get 14 miles in on the roads at 5:30am on Saturday, but it’s not quite the same!
Here are two very uplifting and inspiring and very different videos for your Monday morning motivation…

First off, (you’ve probably seen this), the incredible sportsmen who are the Brownlee Brothers:


And finally an incredible story, watch it and see :-)


Have yersens an incredible week.

Hasta la proxima amigos.

Johnny, Lina and the Nipper

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>