Top 10 Most Epic Movie Scenes

Posted in Uncategorized on March 31, 2013 by Adam Broome

I’m feeling rather bored tonight, so I’ve decided to entertain myself by watching some of the most epic moments in cinema on Youtube.  The powers-that-be have edited some truly awesome content off the web, but that hasn’t stopped me from pondering, and acquiring my favourite ‘top ten’ most epic scenes in cinema of all time.

To define ‘epic’, these aren’t strictly endings, sad scenes, twists, or moments of brilliant acting or scripting. These moments are just moments that literally made you crap yourself with their epic-ness. Some of these scenes are stereotypically epic, others not so much. It can be anything, from any genre. One scene, or clip, in a movie, that you just remember for years and years to come, which becomes a highlight of quality cinema that connects with you on every level. The creme de la creme. The absolute. Everyone has their own favourites (for example, there’s no Braveheart or Gladiator on mine here).

These are my top ten most epic moments in cinema history. SPOILERS ALERT

10: Scarface – ‘A Test In Masculinity’

What can be said about one of the most famous movie endings of all time? Drug kingpin Tony Montana has risen from street punk to Cuban crime lord, and taken out all of his competitors along the way in series of double-crosses and bloodbaths. During an assassination, Tony sabotages the operation to save a young girl, but his compassion has bloody consequences. The Cuban drug-syndicate’s private army turns up on his doorstep, but instead of going quietly, he grabs the biggest gun in the entire film and runs at them head on, quoting one of the most memorable lines ever in cinema:

9: 300 – ‘Never Threaten A Scotsman’

Here is another absolute classic, though for slightly more fundamental reasons. The film 300 can be quoted as epic, mediocre, childish, boring, gory, and many others. But one thing everyone can agree on is that it became culturally relevant in the rise of the meme generation on social media. ‘What is your profession?’, ‘Tonight we dine in hell’, and ‘Fight in the shade’, are all quotes that were heavily used from the film. Although it all seems a little old-hat nowadays, there is still one line that can’t help but raise a smile, when a messenger from Persia decides to warn the king of the Spartans to surrender to the invading forces, or suffer the consequences. Whoops:

8: Taken – ‘A Man Of His Word’

Why would anybody kidnap Liam Neeson’s daughter? He fought the English as Rob Roy and Michael Collins, and the Nazis as Oscar Schindler. He’s fought wolves, Sith Lords, government agents, and even Batman. He is Zeus, he is a Jedi, he is a ninja, and in this film he is an ex-CIA agent. Sadly, he’s on the phone to his daughter as she treks around France, when suddenly a bunch of criminals break into her home and kidnap her, to be sold as a sex slave. One of the kidnappers picks up the phone, and Mr Neeson proceeds with one of the clearest, cleanest threats of all time. It wasn’t quite as dark as ‘that scene’ from Dead Man’s Shoes, but it was certainly much more epic:

7: Star Trek 2 – ‘Yep, They’re Leaving Us’

The second Star Trek movie of 1982 followed on from an episode of the original series called ‘Space Seed’. In that episode, the crew of the Enterprise discovered a genetically engineered human called Khan, who became hellbent on conquering the galaxy. Before he took the ship, Kirk defeated him, and left him and his genetic army on a barren and hostile world, along with a female crew member who had fallen in love with him. This movie saw him recovered, and back on the war path, but it isn’t until this scene that Khan realises he may finally have achieved his revenge on James T Kirk and his crew. Whilst they’re inside an asteroid laboratory, Khan beams up a planetary weapon called ‘Genesis’, closes down the warp system, and flies off, leaving Kirk and his squad… as they left him:

6: Conan The Barbarian – ‘Prayer To Crom’

Schwarzennegger was always going to be on this list somewhere. Cooler than Stallone, and with more muscles than Willis, this dude was my childhood hero. One of his first-ever movies, ‘Conan’ achieved cult status as being the film that got him discovered, but people often overlook the epic soundtrack, special effects and James Earl Jones’s steeled performance as the villain. The scene in which Conan prays to his God Crom, before also insulting him, leads to the most epic battle of the film, with an epic build-up that never fails to get the heart racing:

5: True Romance – ‘Something He Didn’t Know’

Long before he was directing Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino was helping out with several projects, testing his ability as a writer. One such scene you’ll find his credentials in is True Romance, if only for one single scene (also the only scene in the film to feature Christopher Walken!). What you predict is probably what you’ll get – Dennis Hopper plays the father of a son who has stolen a stash of drugs and gone on the run with a prostitute to make some ‘big bucks’. The mafia track his dad down, and interrogate him. Knowing he probably wont escape alive, Hopper decides he has one last card to play. Sweet Jesus, is this acting good:

4: Watchmen – ‘A Real Superhero’

In a film that is predominantly about what would happen if normal people went out and fought crime, amidst the complex and intricate narrative, Dr. Manhattan is born out of a particle experiment gone wrong, and becomes the first real ‘superhero’. Every character has their own origin story, and the character Rorschach has all the best lines, but the best scene in the film bar none was this montage of Manhattan’s origins. The complete scene lasts about ten minutes, and is one of the most heart-stopping-ly epic moments in cinema you’ll ever see. Unfortunately it’s practically impossible to find on the internet, so here’s the crux of the matter:

3: Ip Man – ‘Chinese Pride’

This surprise emotional roller-coaster of a martial arts film clocks in at number three, as the peace-loving, world-weary Ip Man takes a back seat for the first hour of the movie. Although all those around him fight each other and challenge him, the only thing he actually does is have a friendly fight with a challenger inside his house. But then, the Japanese invade during World War Two, and are quick to ruin the heart and soul of the country – particularly through their martial arts. Ip Man’s friend beats a Japanese soldier one-to-one, and then decides to challenge three at once, just to see if he can win. He is shot, simply for trying to provoke hope within the Chinese people. Needless to say, Ip Man becomes upset, and enters the arena, asking to take on ten soldiers at once. Almost one hour in, he finally decides to unleash his full potential and show what he can do. Your heart is in your mouth:

2: Unforgiven – ‘His True Colours’

Throughout the entire duration of Unforgiven, Clint Eastwood’s old, broken, fragile old character tries to forget his past. Much like aforementioned Ip Man, his days of killing and kicking ass are over, but unlike Ip Man, he is a shadow of his former self. Poor, defeated, and failing to provide for his family, he accepts a job with his old pal Morgan Freeman to assassinate two men, but the duo find themselves dangerously out of step with the industry. Even as Eastwood suffers from withdrawal symptoms from alcohol, people hint at a recognition of him, and the monstrous things he did in his youth. Whereas Ip Man waited one hour, this time it’s not until the very last scene that Eastwood finds out that the town’s evil sheriff has killed his old friend, and mean to hunt him down too. Eastwood suddenly realises he must become the monster that he used to be, just one last time, to avenge his friend. He strolls into town, and finally grants everyone’s wish to see his true form. The stuff of nightmares:

1: Once Upon In The West – ‘The Duel’

It’s funny that the top two on this list are both westerns, but if Eastwood doesn’t do it for you, look no further than Sergio Leone’s masterpiece from 1968. Not only does this film not reveal the entire point of the two-and-a-half-hour story until the closing ten minutes, but you practically forget the story until you are reminded about it here. Although a film with many narratives, the opening scene introduces a simply principle – a man playing a harmonica wants to kill a man called Frank. We don’t know why. Frank doesn’t know why. Lots of stuff happens, hours fly by, and then ten minutes from the end, we get the showdown. It’s binary opposition film studies 1-0-1. It’s shot painfully slowly and beautifully, as both characters savour every camera angle as they prepare to settle the score once and for all. Again, you wont find the full scene anywhere easily, but this sets it up quite well:

 

Poetry Becomes Part-Time (The Rebirth)

Posted in Part Time Poet on February 26, 2013 by Adam Broome

Welcome to the Lost and Found

So for a little while since graduating I’ve been sort of wondering what to do with myself. Sure, I have the 2.1 in Media Production, but regardless of whatever stigma you have for the course, the fact of the matter is very few of my friends seem to have gone into what they’d been studying for. A sign of the times – but it got me thinking.

One of my life mottos is that you’re always best playing the card life deals you. We’ve all graduated in perhaps the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s (just give it a few years), but that is simply the card life has dealt us. Despite being renowned for being a pessimistic prick most of the time, I actually consider this new challenge with optimism – if we truly deserve our degrees, at least as a ‘measurement of our intellect’, we should be able to consider the alternatives and make them happen.

‘Just remember, then smile to applaud all around

When the bells of Coventry Cathedral sound’

So recently, I decided to stop and re-evaluate my life. I was getting down because I couldn’t get a job… as a retail assistant? I mean, where did that come from? Sorry, no wait, not sorry-b-wha-WHERE did these notions come from? Sod this, I thought – eyes on the prize.

For a long time I thought about starting up my own media service, like a lot of my fellow course-mates have done since graduation. However, having done the business school ‘run’ for five years, I know the first thing you need is a unique selling point, which regardless of my friend’s ideas, I simply do not have one. Almost everyone has a camera nowadays, complete with editing suites, be they in mobile phones or second-hand laptops. You can sell a professional service to people, with lighting and what I like to call ‘the shit’, but even so, I saw the market was ridiculously competitive across the internet, even in the UK alone. To know oneself brings a certain elation and confidence to decision-making – regardless of my passion for film-making, it seems I am not cutthroat enough to operate in this industry.

But to turn a negative into a plus, what I can do (and have always been able to do well) is the written and spoken word. I did drama almost every year at school until about age 14 (and because I forgot my lines and got bollocked by the teacher, I got stage fright for the next eight years!) In a few projects undertaken at university however, for the sake of laziness, I made some poetry videos that were (generally) well-received. After a bit of digging, I found the Mouthy Poets operating in Nottingham, and joined the group as part of an extra-curricular activity.

Nottingham has always been renowned for it’s balls-to-the-wall attitude, and anyone who knows me remotely knows that that attitude is me all over. I generally had a pretty rough time in the last year of university, yet I look back now as using those rather edgy times as inspiration for comedy for the masses. After all, most of them wont be going to university now. I can tell them about all the joys they’ll miss…

‘For the next two years we were all related, and we all left elated and I remember that I waited outside the chip shop on Spon Street thinking that this night was fated. The friendship we created reinstated my belief that I could be appreciated.’

So suddenly, as recently as the last eight weeks, a new direction seems to be opening up in my life. I finally have a goal. The goal before was to get the degree at 2.1 or above. The new goal is to earn money and pay the debt off (and I mean actual money), and, in true ‘Adam Broome’ style, I’ve probably gone for the most bonkers solution of the lot. I make myself the institution. I can handle that. Am I not, myself, a unique person? Is that not some (vague) attempt at a business strategy? There’s only one version of me – I’m catering to a niche market.

Oh how avante-gard… yes, Mr. Lennon. You’re right. Complete bullshit. Oh well, it’s better than re-playing Mass Effect all day, waiting to get a job I probably wont like, and getting swiftly sacked after a few weeks for having a long face all day while I stack shelves (or whatever their reasonings are).

My New Alter-Ego

Part Time Poet

My First Photo – Taken at the Say Sum Thin 4 event at the Nottingham Playhouse. It’s the only photo of me so far delivering a performance. Catch the Mouthy Poets on the summer show at Say Sum Thin 5 in June!

I wanted to create an on-stage persona that people of the modern-era could relate to. My performances would not be all that serious, as I believe people want more than anything nowadays to have a laugh. That’s not to say they don’t like ‘ripping yarns’, but humour would be my focal point (and, contrary to what some people think, when I’m in my element it’s one of my stronger points!)

‘You treat my like I’m your close friend

But I think you’re just one big bell-***’

I was originally going to go with the name ‘Steam Punk Poet’, but that became ‘Part Time Poet’, as my on-stage attributes are definitely not as airy-fairy as the former title belies. After all, I am still looking for work as a media professional. I just don’t fancy my chances much is all. Adam Pacitti’s CV is wayyy better than mine, and even he had to go to all that trouble just to get noticed. So I’m taking on board a lesson from his little experiment – I make a spectacle of myself, I demonstrate my abilities as a media professional around my own career, and I become my own institution. This way is more work for me (possibly), but at least I’ll know what’s going on 100% of the time. And I’ll least I’ll enjoy what I’m doing.

I’ve always wanted to entertain people. That’s where my passion for the media (moreover, the arts) is born from. At the end of the day, passion doesn’t make you good at something, but it gets you halfway there. Breaking into the arts nowadays will be a challenge, but certainly not impossible. The way I see it, I don’t really have much choice in the matter anymore.

I’m simply playing the card life has dealt me.

‘The evil maimed and lust unchained

Shadowed stains fading like memories of Spain

Lorraine, my dame, we shall drink champagne

And I let never return that anger again…’

Cloud Atlas Review

Posted in Film Reviews And Conversations on February 24, 2013 by Adam Broome

From the visionaries who brought us the revolution-inspiring V For Vendetta, and the man who taught us the principles of the chaos theory in Run Lola Run, comes this new, three-hour multiple-narrative hybrid of the two concepts, combined to weave a story-line spanning hundreds of years, as a seafaring businessman’s half-finished journal ultimately inspires a series of events that culminate in the creation of a future holy doctrine that will one day save the human race.

(How’s that for an opening line?)

Cloud-Atlas

This film is split into six primary narratives. The first takes place in the mid-19th century atop the seven seas, as a businessman battles illness whilst trying to protect a stowaway slave hiding in his quarters. The second takes place seventy years later, as a young academic assists an old composer to create his final masterpiece. In the 1970s, a journalist uncovers a deadly corporate secret that could affect the lives of millions, whilst in present day, an elderly publisher becomes confined to an old folks home by his family. In the 22nd century, a Korean clone gets rescued by a revolution needing a voice, whilst several centuries on, two people must ascend a mountain to reach an ancient secret concealed within the ruins at the summit.

It’s no surprise then, that there is lot to process in this movie. Each narrative plays alongside the rest, with the stories being revealed in installments lasting between thirty seconds to five minutes. It operates on many levels, and will no doubt encourage academic talk for days after viewing regarding what it all means. In short though, the message is slightly diluted by the many vestiges it goes through. Run Lola Run effectively delivered exactly the same message about inter-connectivity in (quite literally) half the time.

CLOUD ATLAS

That is not to say, however, that this is not an enjoyable movie. The cinematography is perhaps the most beautiful I have ever seen, effectively accomplishing what Zack Snyder has been trying to do for years – create a believable and brilliant vision of the past and the future. Two crews were used in the production, and this is to great effect – the scenes in the retirement home story are every bit as beautiful as those set in Neo-Seoul.

The acting is superb on every count, and the cast should be thoroughly proud of themselves for juggling so many roles. One of the best parts of the experience is right after the credits role, and you find out how many times Tom Hanks has played a woman, or Susan Sarandon a man. I assure you there’ll be parts they starred in that you completely missed, making this the ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’ of this generation. Even Hugh Grant plays about eight different roles within the film. I’m sure some of the cast will be bagging trophies next year.

CGI is used sparingly, the script intermingles coherently, and the pacing is generally consistent throughout. The film retains your attention for the entire three hour span, with always just enough intrigue to keep you watching and guessing. Some parts didn’t go so well together – scenes with police shooting gravity guns that send people flying ninety foot into the air do not go so well alongside a group of pensioners plotting to escape from a retirement home, but overall the film works surprisingly well, and I commend the effort.

ca3

In case you haven’t caught on yet, this is a very complex film. It’s not all-action, or lovey-dovey, or a simple popcorn blockbuster. It’s something of an art house film that does a lot of things, but keeps you caring about the characters, the narratives, and the ultimate denouement. Think of it as Inception but with double the ‘layers’ – and believe me, if that film confused you, you’re going to have a hard time this time around.

But for those who stay on board, you have a gorgeous-looking and enticing story that is all parts ‘Master and Commander’, ‘The Reader’, ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest’, ‘Erin Brockovich’, ‘Minority Report’ and ‘The Last Of The Mohicans’, and to say it creates a movie of this calibre, means it deserves respect. This is an intelligent blockbuster, and best of all, Christopher Nolan had nothing to do with it for once.

THAR BE HOPE FOR HOLLYWOOD YET.

9/10

Nightwish at O2 Academy3 – 6/11/12

Posted in Film Reviews And Conversations on November 8, 2012 by Adam Broome

Four and a half years ago, I visited Birmingham at the now-relocated O2 Academy to see one of my all-time favourite bands. Symphonic metal band Nightwish can sell-out stadiums the size of Wembley in their home country of Finland, yet here get lucky to sell out even adequate venues. It certainly gives them a variety in audiences – to add to their variety of music, variety of style… and variety of singers.

The band reached cult status with original opera-class singer Tarja Turunen, but when she left in 2005, her replacement Annette Olzen got fans in a stir. With followers decisively split, the last five years have been rather uneasy territory for the band. Eight weeks ago, Olzen also split, leading Nightwish to cast dutch singer Floor Jansen as their new lead singer. Word got round that this new singer had the ability of both previous singers – operatic vocals complete with pop-inspired pitch. There is no doubt that all eyes were on her tonight – did this newcomer carry the entire weight of the gig?

First up, Peter Tagtren’s band ‘Pain’. Same warm-up from four years back believe it or not. This time, I knew the songs. The blend of cyber-dance-metal is still a strange one to couple with the neo-classical goth that proceeds it, but it definitely gets heads banging and the floor thumping. Overly-enthusiastic teenagers punched the air repeatedly, reminding me of how I must have looked four years ago! True to memory also – no mosh pit. Tonight, I was thankful – I’m getting too old for it all nowadays! Still, it is always good to note that audiences outside of Nottingham always seem more chilled out – Rock City still seems to host the most mental nights and audiences.

Pain left upon announcing an up and coming tour in 2013, before the stage got set for the main event. Nightwish opened the sound of their single ‘Storytime’, before Jansen took to the mic. I have to say, my heart sank. Despite being almost deafened by the speaker right next to me, I could still hear that Jansen was struggling to hit Annette’s high notes. It got me worried – maybe she could play all the old stuff from a decade ago really well, but this notion would surely divide fans once again.

However, it wasn’t long before Jansen started to settle into the role. The more she did, the better her renditions of the last two albums became (after all, it was really only those two we were expecting to hear!) But the longer the concert went on, the more Nightwish started to bring back their older works… and something really special started to happen. Keep in mind that some of these songs haven’t been played by Nightwish in over seven years – ‘Planet Hell’, ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’ and the rather legendary ‘Ghost Love Score’ all made appearances, as did ‘Nemo’ and ‘Bless The Child’. Other hits from Tarja’s era with the band appeared, and the crowd hit the roof with excitement. To hear such old songs sung well is something fans have been hoping for for many years now. It was a wonderful moment.

As for the newer hits of recent times, Floor Jansen got more relaxed after hearing the roaring approvals of ‘Dark Chest Of Wonders’, and settled into the new material just fine, contrary to my initial expectations. Plenty of the new album was played, and although we never went as far back as the ‘Wishmaster’, the set-list was about as eclectic as any present-day Nightwish concert could get. The band all looked like they had a wonderful time, and the audience certainly did. The teasing ‘none-event encore’ at the end finished the concert with a whimper instead of a bang, but there was no doubt that history had been witnessed in the making of this ever-changing and much-loved band. The question now is – what happens next?

9/10

Skyfall – Review

Posted in Film Reviews And Conversations on October 30, 2012 by Adam Broome

These last few months for me have been the best for cinema in years. Catching the unforgettable and shocking ‘Irreversible’, the inspiring ‘Fitzcarraldo’, the dark and disturbing ‘Mulholland Drive’, and the beautiful ‘Let The Right One In’, it seems the art of actually going out to watch a film has been rather lost on me just recently. Enter one of the biggest event movies of the year, James Bond’s return to form after the failure of four years ago: ‘Quantum Of Solace’. Having been a one-time avid fan as a child, does this have what it takes to bring my interest back to the franchise?

Most of the marketing ploys have given the plot outline away already – the film starts on another routine mission, before Bond ends up being ‘killed in action’. The death is short-lived however, with Bond enjoying cocktails and women on far away islands in an early retirement. That is, until a new villain appears on the horizon – Mr Silva, played with pinnace and style from the ever-brilliant Javier Bardem. It seems this new villain has it in for MI6 and all of it’s agents, and it soon becomes more evident that Judi Dench’s ‘M’ is the absolute top of his hit-list.

This felt to me like another re-boot of the franchise right from the off. Casino Royale of six years ago was a re-boot of the franchise after the rather silly ‘Die Another Day’, but it seems that after ‘Quantum…’, Bond is getting a second shake-down. So many changes occur in the plot, most discussion points have to kept under lock-and-key at all times to avoid spoilers, but anyone who caught ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ earlier in the year will certainly see similarities regarding the themes of ‘rebirth’ right from the opening scenes. The running time of the film – just like that other film also – I found rather long, with me fidgeting a good thirty minutes before the closing act.

Bardem’s villain is probably the most interesting and memorable since Carlyle’s ‘Renard’ from the ‘90s, with most of his character development being hinted at, whilst keeping him ‘in the shadows’ for the most part. I do think some of the developments were re-treads of Sean Bean’s rather untouchable performance from Goldeneye however. There are also attempts to reveal more about Bond’s character, and his relationship to ‘M’ – things not explored in any great detail in any Bond movie until now.

The cinematography is more beautiful than you’d expect, and their are solid performances all around, with everybody doing their bit. Much like Casino Royale, the first hour of the film is globe-trotting around exotic locales, leading to the most memorable parts of the film. The second half takes place primarily in Britain however, and although that could seem ‘exotic’ to audiences outside the UK, it left the final showdown looking a little bleak for my tastes (particularly compared to the Venice showdown from that previous film). I found some parts of the film looking like they’d heavily borrowed from the Bourne franchise also – motorbike chases across arabic towns and shootouts in remote farmhouses have all been done before to a very high standard. There is no need to re-invent the wheel with films made less than a decade ago.

Overall though it is an enjoyable film. It certainly tries to do things differently with the Bond franchise cliches, but you can tell that this is the film where Bond is starting to become less ‘Casino Royale’ and more ‘Goldeneye’. It is not about what Bond was originally designed to be – it is about what Bond had become, after developing in a franchise spanning fifty years. Although this film did not set my world alight, it is a massive improvement on it’s predecessor, and it’s every bit as good as other spy films on the market. Hopefully the next installment will get us back to the classic Bond films of old, with a new modern style coupled with the touch of old-fashioned class.

7/10

August 5th – Olympics / Sleep

Posted in Netherlands on August 7, 2012 by Adam Broome

I was one of the first to awake on the boat, having spent the night sleeping on the seas. I welcomed myself to a full English breakfast, whilst also dropping by the recently-vacated internet cafe to try and find out what tickets my mum had bought to get me home. To my shock, I had pre-paid tickets that needed to be collected from a station that was in the opposite direction to where I needed to travel. It was also in the wrong direction by significant mileage. I was the first person to get off the boat, in a bit of a hurry to try and find out how I was going to walk the five miles of track to the next station up the line.

Being the first person at check-in was odd – everyone was talking, then when they saw me, they said ‘We’re up, lads’, and everyone sort of got into position. The Brits I met coming off the boat were stereotypes of the ‘eccentric Englishman’ – all eager for conversation, and permanent strange smiles on their mouths. I was in Essex apparently!

One of the welcoming ‘Essex Ambassadors’ heard I was trying to get to Dovercourt Station, and shuddered at the mention. It was so far away, he had difficulty giving me directions to walk, so kindly offered to give me a lift to the station after everyone had disembarked from the boat. I agreed to take the lift, but after sitting and thinking for twenty minutes, I decided to attempt to somehow get my train ticket from here at Harwich International (even though on the internet, I’d specifically requested to pick them up from Dovercourt). Turns out it’s really easy to get your train tickets from anywhere though – I went to the ticket desk, and asked where the self-service ticket machines were. The man behind the desk said ‘That’s me!’ (told you they were eccentric), and proceeded to get my ticket, simply by scanning the card I’d booked the tickets with. I was so relieved at finally have them, and I’m hoping I’m never in that situation again.

I jumped on the train, and got comfy – my journey would take me down to London, and back up to Nottingham. En route to London, we passed a place I had not expected to see – the Olympic Stadium in Stratford. I saw the tower-thing outside the window and recognised it instantly – it is something big that has been happening throughout the entire trip, so it seemed fitting that I should get a chance to see it on the final leg of my journey. People were getting on and off at the station, and I suddenly wondered if I was sat with a load of Olympians!

The change at London St. Pancras was odd, as the security there was the highest I’ve ever seen. Green and blue berets coupled with machine-gun-wielding policemen were walking around in plain view. It was almost like they’d have a tip-off and knew something was about to go down. I got out of there on the first train to Nottingham, and grabbed a little shut-eye on the way. Trains in England feel like ‘Inception’ compared to the ones from The Netherlands – we hit speeds so high, there’s gravitational pulls. I’d forgotten what that felt like! My mum was there to pick me up in Nottingham upon my return. I saved a tenner on the taxi at least!

Looking Back

Having had time to actually recover from my journey a little, it’s a good time to look back at the events of the last week. It’s obvious that it’s been fun, and there have been very few ‘downs’ in the whole trip actually, even despite missing the ferry at the end. For everything that went wrong, there was always more than enough positives to pick me back up, which was part of what made this trip so memorable.

I always eat loads of food wherever I go (high metabolism?). The food on this journey has been pretty darn good, yet I found it strange that the local Dutch food is quite a well-kept secret. The weather in The Netherlands is almost identical to that in England, so the produce is naturally the same. Thus, the meals are cooked with the same ingredients, but just in different varieties. The Bacon and Cheese pancake was the strangest meal, the Farmer’s Cabbage meal was the nicest, and La Madonna was also great, if only for the nostalgia!

FOOD – Onion soup at ‘La Madonna’ (top), and a Kroket in The Hague (bottom). Both very nice meals I had during the journey!

I feel I got to grips with Dutch culture quite well as well. They evidently know how to party, but I’ve also sampled some of their classic artwork, and their history during World War Two. The trip to the Red Light District was for me one of the most memorable moments, probably because that was the one major place I didn’t visit in Amsterdam last time (and I don’t think I’ll be forgetting that show any time soon either…) By trying to speak the language as well, I’ve also realised how difficult Dutch really is as a language. Speaking to Roos towards the end, I told her about language packs that taught all kinds of language, but not Dutch. She told me that it was because Dutch is only really useful in The Netherlands. She was totally right – it’s the equivalent of learning Welsh. There were certain sounds I don’t think I could ever pronounce correctly, and yet they all speak English very well out there (one rumour you can believe). Some people got shy about their English, but I’ll say what I’ve always said – if you can speak English remotely, then you’ve done better than most of us English people have with Dutch!

War – From ‘Market Garden’ to evacuation of Jewish children, I saw memorials of the second world war at pretty much every destination I went to.

The transport was an odd observation – just because The Netherlands is small doesn’t mean the trains need to slow down to that extent. They should have a few ‘bullet train’ type things that shoot all around the country (five laps a day), because sometimes you just want to go somewhere directly, just like from London to Nottingham. Stena Line was great, but the train links around Harwich and ‘Den Hoak’ make it ultimately pointless. Why pay less to travel by ferry when (without a railcard) it will cost you £100 just to get the train from the Midlands to Harwich in the first place?

But the bikes were cool – not only was it a part of the Dutch culture that I hadn’t anticipated, but it’s also something that means they’re doing a lot more to stop pollution than us Brits are. Unfortunately I can’t ever see me being ‘at one’ with my bike, so I can’t see myself ever living out there, as I just wont be able to get around too well. Walking is dangerous when there’s that many wheels on the road!

Modern Buildings – The view of The Hague from the train (top), and my Amsterdam hotel / hostel (bottom). Something else I noticed about The Netherlands was that they had consistently merged the old buildings with the new seamlessly. It was as if you were watching the modernization of old architecture in-progress. 

A lot of people are asking me what the best part was, but honestly, I don’t have one. How do you compare a three hour bike ride through rural Netherland forests to skinny-dipping at 4:00am in a park? How does one compare seeing a sex show with smoking a legal joint in a cafe all to yourself? There wasn’t a dull moment at any point, which is the way it is supposed to be! I feel I saw a lot of The Netherlands – I may well return to Holland for a long weekend in the future, but such are the similarities between our two cultures, that I reckon there wasn’t much more to see in Rotterdam or Utrecht. I could be wrong.

Karaoke – One thing I didn’t manage to do in Tenerife was do a karaoke. The sort-of ‘rap-battle’ with Kasper in Arnhem was pretty memorable for that reason! (I forget I know most of the Marshall Mathers LP by heart!)

To sum it up, I’d like to remember The Netherlands as being like a slightly better version of Britain. It doesn’t sound all that patriotic on my part (and yes, Britain does have it’s attractions). But The Netherlands is like a whole country of The Lake District. The whole place is like a Beatrix Potter world. The bikes, the easy-going attitude, the application of common sense as opposed to the ‘nanny state’ (something I’m sure all of us Brits can relate to). The fields were green and the animals looked cosy. The cities were busy and the nights were busting with life. At no point did I feel in danger or under threat, which is something that’s a little harder to avoid in England at least. There didn’t seem to be any breakdown of social structure over there, or any form of conflict. Of course, this could just be me being naive – after all, I was only over there a week. But simple things like riding a bike through a forest without the fear of getting robbed or attacked is something that is just harder to find in England. Pains me to say it, but there it is. As I say, despite this I’ll probably never move out to The Netherlands, but for what’s it’s worth, for whatever we’re doing wrong this side of the channel, they seem to be doing a bit better. England should take a few pages out of their book. (But keep the speedy trains – yeah, they’re cool 🙂 )

Boots – In England, we know the store as ‘Boots’. Over in The Netherlands, it’s called ‘Etos’. I spent a whole hour looking for this place, and (in Amsterdam at least) it appeared to be the only shop of it’s sort. If you’re out there and need shower gel / deodorant, you’ll find it a lot cheaper in one of these stores!

August 4th – Hook

Posted in Netherlands on August 6, 2012 by Adam Broome

One of the last things I remembered hearing from the night before was ‘Drink up Adam, this a revenge!’. It certainly was, and were it not for my alarm clock on my phone, I would have overslept big time (that’s forward planning for ya!)

I awoke as groggy as could be, wondering just how I was going to avoid any sort of sea sickness on the return ferry today, when Roos suddenly took to speeding about her home in a small panic. She had lost her keys at some point last night – a key ring which had her house key, bike key, goodness-knows-what-else keys, and it had vanished. I was under the impression that it may have had something to do with me losing the two tickets last night (though she denied this), so I got changed and sat in the lounge, a little unsure of what my next move was to be.

Roos seemed convinced it had nothing to do with me though, and soon after our 9:00am wake up call we were heading towards the beach area of The Hague – a popular local holiday spot for the Dutch! I had my eye on the clock the whole time, aware my ferry was leaving at half past two. We arrived at around half past ten at the seaside, giving us a scarce ninety minutes to have a look around.

I saw a pier, some amusements, a few seagulls, and generally everything you’d expect to see down at Brighton. For the first time in the whole trip, I began to feel a little longing for my home country. It was, after all, just across the sea. I bunkered down in a nearby diner with Roos and had – you guessed it – fish and chips (of a sort). The waiter spoke funny, and then asked me where abouts in England I was from. When I replied ‘Notting-ham’, he told me that that was not a Nottingham accent. I suddenly realised he was half-scouse, and his accent had nothing to do with being Dutch (just shows how much your ears get accustomed to new accents!). It is true, when I’m abroad, I slow my pace of talking down a little bit to help with communication. I don’t do it to offend, it’s just that my natural speed of using English is so fast, half of all English people I meet have difficulty keeping up!

 

Fish N’ Chips – There’s always a point towards the end of every expedition that I want a local variant of this dish!

We left the jolly mood of the beach behind, and I left a rather hung over Roos at the train station, after she helped me get my ticket back to my final ‘port of call’ – The Hook Of Holland. Just before we split however, she got a call from her mum telling her that she’d left her keys at the house when she went out last night. She never took her key ring out with us. Needless to say, that was a big relief – for both of us!

Now, before I go any further this post, let me just say one big cultural difference is the fact that trains are just really REALLY slow over here. The Hague to ‘Hoek van Holland’ is twenty miles, tops. It should not take over an hour to make that journey by train. I was sweating like a dog in a kebab shop en route to the docks, wondering if I’d miss my ferry. I had to make a change as well – some sort of cross-train-thing with the line to Rotterdam. I figured that for the main ferry between England and Holland, there’d be better transport links set up.

However

I made it back to the docks with thirty minutes to spare on the clock. Heck, even I knew I was cutting it fine. A half-arabic guy joined me and we ran to the check-in gates, only to find that they were all closed. The place was shutting down, and the staff seemed convinced that we had missed the ferry and we were not getting on – even though it was right outside the dock window!

Looking around though, I made my peace quite quickly with this fact  – the place was like a darn airport. Upon revision of my ticket, it did say (albeit in rather small print at the very bottom of the last page) that check-in closed forty five minutes before sail. That’s right – all across The Netherlands, no link missed, only to miss the final connection by fifteen minutes. Luckily, myself and this guy went to the reception desk, and the lady there was really friendly and sympathetic (it must happen a lot to be fair). She managed to relay our tickets free of charge. For the arabic guy, the same time tomorrow. For me, the night cruise in four hours time. I thanked her, and then I did what any Brit would do – I went to the toilet, took a massive dump, and re-assessed my life.

Hussein

Looking around, the half-arabic guy had sorted all his stuff out. We stood outside a little lost – and bemused – by our predicament. I called my mum to let her know I was going to be about twelve hours late getting home, and then considered going for lunch. The arabic guy had a better idea though. We went back to the station platform, where he had concealed the last of his marijuana before entering the docks. Since neither of us were going anywhere anytime soon, he asked if I wanted to share the last of his ganja with him. We both laughed, said ‘f*ck it’ at the same time, then sat down at the station platform and started blazing (only in Holland).

He told me his name was Hussein, and he was from Afghanistan (yes, really!) We talked a bit about our lives, our hopes of travel and our job prospects – you know, the usual. His train turned up about thirty minutes later, and we bid each other farewell, knowing we’d most likely never see each other again.

This left me at a loose end, so I took a walk in a random direction to explore the local port. About two miles down the coast, I came to a beach. The place was like a retirement village for over-50s Dutch people. There were also several WWII museums, with people dressed in wartime garments stood outside them. I grabbed another of the local Dutch delicacies Roos mentioned – Haring (that’s ‘herring’ to us Brits) in a bun, with onions on it, and a can of Heineken. I bet the check-in people loved me for eating that! (Well, if you’re gonna keep me hanging in a fishing port for four hours…)

Eventually, the storms appeared on the horizon, and I made my way back ahead of time, just reaching the docks as it started to downpour. I killed another hour inside the docking station blogging, before the check-in gates opened. I was one of the first people on the ship.

Stena Line could not have fooled me any more. When someone says to me to me ‘ferry’ I think of the Isle Of Wight boats. Namely, a leaky tugboat with a greasy diner selling hot dogs, rocking to and fro like a catamaran on a windy day. I was expecting rain macs, shaking hands holding a cup of hot coffee, and a few seats inside that people literally committed murder over trying to get custody of. I walk onto the boat and I’m greeted by something that reminded of ‘Poseidon’. Not that it was going to sink, but the ship was like Titanic. It was two football pitches long, easily. Servants helping people to their rooms, a shopping area, a cafe, about five bars, a club, a casino, a play area, a gaming corner, an internet room, a restaurant-for Pete’s sake, I’m going to England, not cruising around the Med’! Yes, it was lovely and swish. Had I known this prior, I was would been at the check-in two hours early. I thought this was going to be some sort of Olympian endurance test against the elements. Not… frigging… Cruise With Stelios!

Classy – My cabin (top and middle), and the restaurant (bottom). ‘Five star’ is really the only term I could use to describe the Stena Line boat, though that may be only be just because my expectations were so low! With the exception of incredibly bad internet connectivity (which is quite important on ferries to and from countries), everything was great!

One big bonus though was having my own cabin. In this, I charged up my phone, my iPod and my laptop. The key card went wrong immediately, but I managed to sort it. Then (because I’m using a Macbook, naturally) the internet went wrong too. This was a bigger problem, because I needed to book some more train tickets for when I arrived in Harwich. I called my mum and directed her on what to do on the internet over her end. This was hassle, as my mum hardly books anything online ever! We did eventually manage to get some form of ticket booked in the end – it brought the total cost of me missing the initial ferry to around £70 (I’d lost my previous pre-paid train tickets).

Then, feeling rather lost, I had some lasagna, grabbed a shower and went to bed. It was to be the last push home in the morning. The trip had one more surprise in store for me yet.

Sunset – This was the last view of ‘The Hook’ before we set off ourselves into that there sun. The industrial surroundings, and the fact that my journey had been so epic, made it the perfect finale to the trip, and possibly the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen in my life (and believe me, I have seen some incredible ones!)