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Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Survived No Internet Night

I bet you are all delighted to hear that I survived a night without the internet.

I waste too much time doing things that I don't need to do on the internet so I decided I would try to go without it for the night.  It was quite productive too, I just got behind the decks and did a mix.  I might even post the new mix up later, there are one or two dodgy bits but fuck it, I need to put a new mix out there.

I only failed by using the iplayer whilst I was eating my dinner but I switched it straight off afterwards so only a technical failure as I wasn't going to eat my dinner in silence and I don't have a television.

I shall be making this a regular thing.  I would love a Facebook holiday but probably not the best idea if I have a night to promote (oh any excuse for a plug)  I might even switch my computer off one time next year.

Monday, May 28, 2012

James Winfield's Guide To Ibiza 2012


I think it is safe to say that I have only been to one place in the world that I love more than Kingston-Upon-Hull, and that is Ibiza.
It is also safe to say that as some point in the next couple of months, the lure will prove too great and I will be booking flights, most likely for September.  You are more than welcome to join me.
Resident Advisor have done an excellent guide to Ibiza, I cannot really beat it, but I know you are craving my perspective on matters…
They did try to be positive even on the stuff that blatantly is of no interest to RA readers, like David Guetta, however I was most amused of their description of Matinee – “Extremely Spanish, extremely high-octane and unlikely to be of appeal to any serious music fans”.
I will try not to be so reserved, here goes:
The dates that I decide to go to Ibiza will depend on when Sven is playing at Cocoon.  Though as I will have seen Sven twice this year and Ricardo not at all come summer, I may consider a non-Sven night if Ricardo is playing.  This is the Monday night.  I am led to believe that Cocoon are also doing something at a new venue with a 24-hour music license.  Yes, one of those mythical things of Ibiza before the island started chasing the high value tourists circa 2006 and before the massive Spanish recession which seems to have changed the minds of the authorities.  Also keep an eye on La Plage in PDB – site of many good free after parties on the beach just up from Bora Bora in 2011.
Speaking of free things, it is often worthwhile a trip to the beach at PDB as the lesser-popular nights often hand out free wristbands, or half-price with a drink.  You won’t get free tickets to Cocoon or David Guetta, and you will probably have to be there by midnight or 1am, they will often have good underground line-ups, if you are willing to give some of the less-established nights a chance.
Ibiza doesn’t have to break the bank if you know what you are doing.
So, you know I love Cocoon – but what else do I fancy?
Circo Loco at DC10 sounds a bit over-rated for me, too many DJs too.  And it would ruin me for Cocoon.  I’m in my 30’s.  I don’t do 24 hour sessions without paying for it massively.  I would still go but it isn’t on my to-do list.  Of more interest at DC10 is man-of-2011, Jamie Jones’ Paradise night on Thursdays, with people like Art Department, Maceo Plex but also Space Dimension Controller.  This will be a superb night, and very popular.  Also Tania Vulcano’s Pandemonium night on a Friday would be a lot of fun I suspect, and musically excellent.  Believe it or not, I have never been to DC10.  Crazy, I know.
Tuesday is a new night at another club I haven’t been to, Sankey’s, rumoured now to have the best sound-system on the island.  The night of interest is Diynamic by man-of-2012, Solomun.  Expect the absolutely very best in modern house music and a very musically clued up party crowd.  Or how about the Carnival night on Saturday?  Very interesting.
I could be tempted by a bit of Pete Tong at Pacha, but do it randomly so I don’t know what the line-up is.  I might get lucky with Eats Everything, or Seth Troxler.  Or incredibly lucky with Paul Oakenfold?
Finally worth a mention, one which may surprise you coming from me, is Defected at Pacha.  They have some really excellent names playing this year for their Saturday parties, like Solomun and Dennis Ferrer – have a look – you might be surprised.
Right, enough being nice, time to get barred from a few places and upset certain sections of the definitely non-existent Disco Mafia.  Who makes these bizarre internet rumours up?
Ushuaia sounds like my clubbing hell.  Expensive and pretentious.  OK, I haven’t been there, but just like I haven’t been to The Ivy, or Chinawhites, I also haven’t been to Ushuaia.  Sometimes you don’t need to try something to know it isn’t your cup of tea.  This being Ibiza though, I am sure if I were dragged along, and didn’t have to pay anything, then I would have a very good time.  It just is not my cup of tea.  It is clubbing for a different type of personality to me and I have no intention of paying very large sums of money when I know I can enjoy something more for less money.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with it per se if that is your kind of thing but it just isn’t me or what I am all about.
Privilege.  Firstly I don’t see anything listed vaguely of musical interest.  But also, whenever I have been to the club, it just feels as if very minimal care has been taken of it over the years.  Fine if you like very big clubs but I am quite happy in a very small club, like Amnesia.  I wish I didn’t have a mobile phone and a wallet as I do want to go there, jump in the pool and be dragged out by the bouncers.  Plenty of years left though to lose my marbles.  I still dream of having a metal detector on the beach when I am in my 70’s in Ibiza.
Subliminal at Pacha.  How is Morillo still pulling a crowd?  The line-ups are very predictable and very average.  Take a risk, Morillo, go back to your roots.  Lend the models to me for the season and book someone underground.
Worth a mention to some is Richie Hawtin’s new night at Space, if only because it will get some really boring people away from good nights to go and gawp at him whilst he uses his myriad of controllers to mess around with perfectly good songs and so I am told, serve Sake through your orders sent by Twitter to one of his consoles and he will then program the robotic drinks server to serve you a Sake drink all from his DJ pod.  And Dubfire is joining him.  Isn’t it about time Dubfire and Sharam stopped being shit on their own and went back to making some of the best ever house tracks as Deep Dish?  Does anyone know what that amazing minimal remix of Grindhouse is that only Damian Lazarus I have heard playing is?
I do wonder how Marco Carola will do with his own night at Amnesia.  I don’t get him, but he is very popular on the underground.  Good luck to him.
Finally, I want to say a big well-done to Cream for this year being an amazing 20th year on the island.  I have checked their line-ups and I cannot stand every single DJ that they have on every single night (in a musical context anyway, I am sure they are lovely people) but they must be doing something right.  I promised one friend that if we were on the island at the same time during 2012, that I would go with him in exchange for him coming to Cocoon.  I used to love Cream back in 2003.  Then I discovered Cocoon and never looked back.  How lucky would I be if Deadmau5 was playing that night?  Maybe Paul Van Dyk is still doing exactly the same set as he did back in 2003…and 2004?
I haven’t mentioned Space, have I?  Or Es Paradis, or Kaos.  Or Eden.  Oh how short-sighted of me.  Oh well.
To be fair to any night or club or event, it is incredibly hard not to enjoy any night out in Ibiza, no matter what your music tastes, it is just an incredible island with an amazing energy and there is something for everyone and you should not be afraid to mix it up a bit.  I actually love a spot of people watching in the West End, I wouldn’t put it past me to do an hour in Twice As Nice.  Just give it a go, you are on holiday – loosen your barriers a bit.  You are not in London now, no need to be such a snob.  To anyone offended by anything I said, I’m only having a bit of fun – get a sense of humour.
I haven’t even mentioned the non-clubbing side – but you can go exploring that yourself as I doubt I know the best bits.
Perhaps the biggest question has to be though, even more than when will I make my Ibiza DJing debut (not including villa parties, been there done that) – where will Paris Hilton be DJing?  And will she be up for DJing with me?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Days Like Today

It didn't take me too long to realise today was going to be one of those days.

Tuesdays after clubbing are always particularly testing, both phsyically and psychologically.

I woke up at 430am.  Nothing unusual about that but I couldn't get back to sleep.
The rush hour annoyed me more than usual.  I couldn't put my finger on it but it did.
I spoke to some proper miserable fuckers on the phone, probably rude people too.  Sort it out.
I've had worse mornings at work but I was hungry and tetchy so really looking forward to sorting it out with a big fat sandwich at Morrison's (the only place in walking distance from work) or some hot food like stuffing balls...but I wasn't really feeling the hot food after the walk.
Sadly, Morrison's had no electricity and hence no fresh products for sale.  No hot food, no sandwiches, no sandwich meat, no sausage rolls.  The list goes on.  So I ended up with scones for lunch.  And they were burnt.
So get back to work and some twat in another team decides to piss me off.  I cannot really say why on my blog but he was out of order.  I cannot say anything as I need my job.
And then the heat in the office started to get too much as it reached 29'C, and the dreadful stuffiness too.  We don't have air conditioning.  It really doesn't help when you have lots to do but you feel flustered with the heat.  No wonder the Spanish get nothing done.
And finally, time to go home.
But no, South West Trains decided against that.  Though finally after a while a train was scheduled to stop at Bracknell station.  And it flew by.
And then I found something to eat at Sainsburys but the queue was way too long for my now fractured patience.

But every cloud has a silver lining as I walked out with my empty basket, only realising when I got to M&S and seeing how cheap it looked to theirs.  Surprised they didn't kick me out.  Especially as I was baring my recently-shaved chest for the ladies.

Speaking of which, if any ladies showing leg today are reading - thank you.  You saved me from putting windows through on the train when the damn thing finally arrived.

And now I cannot get into my shorts as I have put way too much weight on.  Idiot.  But as much as I am desperate to lose weight, I really cannot get into the mindset.

Anyway, karma is going to strike in a good way tomorrow as I have the day off so I can do whatever the hell I like.  And I am going to sunbathe, after getting up early, getting my hair cut, buying some shoes - and you never know there might be a thunderstorm?

Just one of those days today.  I am really looking forward to tomorrow, so much to achieve, no work and lots of sunshine.

Oh and the pizza I wasn't going to eat until I weighed myself is ready, yum flipping yum.  Show us your bum

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sven Väth & Cocoon @ Electric Brixton, London, May 2012

You very likely know that I adore Cocoon, and Sven is my ultimate life hero.  Even more than Peter Andre.  Unless of course you have never read my blog before in which case these two ideas must be implanted into your head which I hope I have done.

I wasn't sure how it was going to work at a venue like Electric Brixton, but I wasn't going to let any unfair judgements put me off going - this was the first time Sven has been to London in 2012, and the first Cocoon event I had attended in 2012.  Nothing was going to stop me going there, and I took my very good friend, JP, with me.  Nobody else I knew was that interested.  Their loss.

I shall get the negative bit out of the way first, because I don't enjoy writing negatives, especially in relation to things I love, but if they are not aired then the negative could become the acceptable.  And that ain't what I want.

I think for those of us that are used to going to Cocoon events, like those previously at Matter, in Ibiza at Amnesia, Cocoon itself in Frankfurt or Cocoon In The Park (and many others) - you come to expect the very best in sound-systems.

It was far from the best.  In fact I would go so far to say that it was crap, at least compared to what I expect from a Cocoon event, and also being a fabric regular.

It was loud (unlike the deafeningly silent sound-systems of SW4 last year) but the quality really was not up to scratch.  All I can say is that I wish more people involved in the dance music industry understood the importance of good quality sound for a night out.  There is a very excellent article recently published on Resident Advisor which is very worth 10 minutes of your life to read it.  I highly recommend it.

It is so much more enjoyable when you feel at one with the sound coming from the speakers, when it envelops your whole body and encourages movements you were not expecting - as opposed to feeling that you are being attacked by it.

The venue itself pleasantly surprised me.  Quite a thorough search on the way in (quite right too given the exciting but edgy area the club is located in), but all of the staff were open, helpful, communicative, they let you get on with your night and gave it the relaxed atmosphere that it deserved.  Top marks to all those working there.

It is a good space too, very theatrical, so much potential if you have the imagination.  Perhaps a bit basic in parts but I want functionality in a nightclub and it definitely had that.

The lighting was absolutely spot on - everything you would expect from a Cocoon event and a top-notch nightclub, definitely added to the experience.

The crowd were absolutely spot on too.  The usual mix that you would expect at a Cocoon event of people that were adventurous, individual, music-centred, sometimes glamorous, always beautiful, along with respectful and a good level of friendliness.  

And of course the music.  Well, what can I say.

I saw Sascha Dive at 93 Feet East earlier this year and he very much impressed me, and again today he played an excellent warm-up set. Really got the crowd in the groove pretty much from the start, slowly building it up and letting rip just when enough people were ready to have their first dance but calming down a touch again before the monster to come.  Sascha Dive has thoroughly impressed me both times I have seen him this year and I think he is most definitely a DJ (and producer) to watch in the coming years.

However, around 1am, when Sven was supposed to start, I was up in the heavens (you can get a really good view of proceedings in certain areas), I saw someone tap Sascha Dive on the shoulder, say something to him, Sascha seemed to slam his headphones down and walked off.  Disappeared.

Part of the act?  I didn't know.

And then after a 5 or so minutes he came back, seeming not so happy.  And continued to play.

Where was Sven?

All kinds of thoughts entered my head.  Where were the dancers?  Why was the VIP area empty?  Why was the sound-system so bad?  Was Sven refusing to play because of it?

A while later, and Sven appeared, immediately rearranged the monitor speakers, the sound quality improved (though only to an acceptable level, not a Cocoon standard) and the party really begun.

Sven was absolutely devastating.  It was all about the techno.  Very powerful, very masterful, lots of energy, determination and drive.  There were more disco moments, a touch of melody, a sprinkling of trance and some downtime but more relentless excellent techno.

I will give the night a rating 7 of 10.  It was a really good night, it had most of the elements of an exceptional night out but was just really lacking when it comes to sound quality, I cannot emphasise that enough.

Would I go again?  Not sure.  Not without a much improved sound-system.

Instead I think I am just going to have to book a flight to Cocoon in Frankfurt.  To remind myself of how the Germans do it.  Because they really do know how to do it.

Oh and I cannot bloody wait for Cocoon In The Park.  If you haven't been, then do it.  Book your ticket now.  Best day of my year both in 2010 and 2011 - even topping Ibiza.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Olympic Dream


Finally my life-long dream has come true and I am going to the Olympics.

Yes, all that training during the annual Special Olympics on the beautiful island of Ibiza, famed for the levels of endurance by both visitors and islanders, has finally paid off and I have my golden ticket.  That and my recent training in 93 Feet East in Brick Lane, which is a similar venue to those created around the corner in the posher part of East London.

Before you ask, I am not going to be one of the athletes.

I am quite happy watching, far easier and I can get on with my life afterwards.

I am going to be going to be watching something called Hockey.  For those that have never come across this, I am told it is like Polo but without the horses, and played on ice.  The ice has been died bright blue and bright pink, to match the new Union Jack being designed for the Olympics to sell to dumb forreners.  There is also a lot of fighting, which I am very excited about especially because it is woman’s hockey.  I hope hockey is popular in Brazil.  Hmmm.

Failing that, a match between Iran and Israel would suitably amuse me.  I wonder if Boris Johnson will be there?  Probably not though as I heard all politicians have the beach volleyball tickets.

Will they have cheerleaders too?

I asked my Dad if I could shout “Get yer tits out” and he said that is ok.  My mam doesn’t read my blog.  I wonder if my parents might fancy a few drinks down Brick Lane afterwards?


Picture stolen from the Daily Mail website as I reckon they would be well into hockey with all the immigrants that play it.

(c) Olympic James 2012.

RIP Donna Summer

Normally I don't feel the requirement to comment upon the passing away of someone I have never met, Amy Winehouse being the sole exception that I can recall.  Nothing wrong with doing so but I try to keep status updates and blogs upbeat and positive and I don't find it so easy to do so in the context of death.

I will at least endeavour to spell Donna Summer's name correctly in the title, as I just realised I misspelled Amy Winehouse as Whinehouse, a Freudian slip perhaps, and a strange person perhaps for me to comment upon given that her music wasn't really my cup of tea but her life was lived out in public and it was hard not to want to understand and feel for her.

It perhaps seems really clichéd but Donna Summer really did change music.  OK, the track that for me really made her name, I Feel Love (forgive me for inaccuracies, as I was born after it was released) was produced by the equally amazing and game-changing Giorgio Moroder, but it required someone to front it and a particular someone.

Imagine Tina Turner singing "I Feel Love"?

No, don't even go there.

So a big thank you to someone who changed music, and who's very positive, love-filled music which is incredibly future-thinking has changed the world so much for the better, in my eyes.  And ears.

Everyone else will put a video up of her track or disco days, etc, so I instead will put a video of how she is still so influential in the house music world that I so love - this is Ricardo Villalobos really testing the crowd's patience at Cocoon In The Park 2011 with clunk-click music and it takes a while for everyone to realise that he is mixing "I Feel Love" by Donna Summer under it, and I think the video shows how her warmth and love in the music totally changes the vibe of the crowd.

I Feel Love.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Feeling Inspired

I've had a truly inspiring weekend so far.

Maybe it is the glimpses of sunshine (those that follow my weather forecasts will have long been expecting this, and can be quite confident of what the summer will be like), maybe it was my sister coming to visit me, totally unplanned but absolutely had a brilliant and fun time with her...there really is no better something in the world than family.  Speaking of inspiring, and family, my Dad today did some stupid 25 mile walk over big hills in Yorkshire.  I say stupid because I cannot understand why someone would want to do that kind of walk.  Actually maybe I can.  You have to challenge yourself in life, you have to break out of your comfort zone.

Don't be boring.

Anyway, so what has inspiration got me so far this weekend, other than a big smile on my face and a Sweeney Todd's pie?

Well I am getting a new phone.  Not until the end of the month.  But it is a cracking phone.  Too good to tell you what it is.  And it definitely has nothing to do with that abominable corporation, Apple.

If you bought shares in Apple and are making a profit on them - sell, sell, sell!  Danger danger.  Invest elsewhere.

Speaking of selling, it appears that you can sell anything nowadays.

Literally anything:


This is a large set of keys.  Each key is about 15-20cm long.  Made out of metal.

Please, please, please can you find me a reason why someone would buy this?  What functionality do they perform?  And yes, yours for £30, Sir.

And then, wait for it, a special for the Olympics:


Yes - you can buy a 50p coin for £3.

Maybe, just maybe, that will become collectable in about 50 years time and you can sell it for £5,000.  But inflation will have eaten away your investment anyway, surely.  And you will probably accidentally spend it.

So yes, the world really is your Oyster.  You can create anything, do anything you want to.

I'm inspired.  I hope you are too.  Much love x
(oh and of course a little plug for my bit of creativity, http://www.facebook.com/freehouseprojectuk)

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The New Carla Bruni

Remember Carla Bruni?

Very hot stuff.

There has recently been an election in France and there is a new president.

And of course, a new First Lady of France.

Be prepared:


Always be careful who you vote for.

And never, ever, vote socialist.

Farewell Carla Bruni.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/a-question-of-protocol-for-frances-new-first-lady-valerie-trierweiler-7723405.html

Thursday, May 03, 2012

I Love Voting

I get all excited on election day.

Today is local election day (not for all areas but for many) and also the Mayor of London vote, which I have no say in, but I think Boris is amazing.

So, off I trot after work to try and find my local polling station - there was one sign...right outside. I attempted a short cut which was actually the only way in so if I had gone the way the map seemed to suggest then I would have taken twice as long.

I could sense the danger as I stepped between the used nappies, super strength lager cans, empty baggies and seemingly empty syringes, oh and socialists, and made my way through the door, past two of the locals trying to get elected as my local councillor (the only two with a chance, Labour and Lib Dem - surprise, surprise the Tory wasn't there), and I cast my vote...she nearly gave me two slips of paper but then obviously saw my bright blue trousers, realised I was a Tory and hence I was one of those only allowed one vote.

It was surprisingly busy actually, for a local election. Maybe 30-40% of voters will turn up. That is really good for a local election.

Anyway, with a heavy heart - I voted Lib Dem.

1. To try to keep Labour out.
2. As a thank you for supporting the Conservatives in government.
3. I actually like their policy of increasing the threshold as to where income tax kicks in, thereby reducing the tax I pay. I know this is a national thing and not local but I never got around to reading the leaflet they put through my door (actually I did but don't remember much except something about a garden and an underpass).
4. Locally, I like the Conservatives pledge for a referendum on a mayor for Reading (does anyone else think I could make a good Boris?). Also probably the biggest fuck-up in Reading is the Labour-sponsored Shinfield Road traffic fuck-up which everyone hates except those in power that get kick-backs from Siemens Traffic Systems for installing traffic lights across the city. Sorry...town.
5. I think the Tories need a kick up the backside as I only rate their government performance as 5 our of 10 so far. Which is 5 higher than Labour managed from 1997 to 2010, but still, I had high hopes. I will be writing to them in due course.

We shouldn't take democracy for granted. I don't think people should be legally compelled to vote, as in Australia, but I do think it is one's civic duty to at least consider it and pay a little attention to what goes on both nationally and locally.

Nobody needs to watch an hour of BBC Parliament every day, but this stuff they talk about affects your life and if you do not tell the politicians what you want, both by talking to them directly, and voting for them, you will not have your voice heard. Maybe you don't want to be heard, that is fine and your choice in a democracy, but some of us, in case you cannot tell, have a lot to say.

I told the two candidates on the way out that I voted because Maggie told me to. The Lib Dem, who I met and recognised me, chuckled. The Labour candidate was none too impressed. Ho ho ho.

Though really I did it for people like Mohamed Bouazizi, who's act of self-immolation changed the his part of the world (don't Google it if you are easily up-settable) and all those who fought to get the right to choose our leaders.

I don't have to risk my life for a stable future. Many did. I think voting is the least I can do and if I have encouraged one person to vote by writing this, even if they vote sodding Labour, then I have done my bit. 

Enjoy the election x

Can Voting Make You Horny?

I am not sure. I never had chance to vote for Thatcher. But I am similarly excited.  I don’t know why because it is only a local election, but I think seeing images of people across the Middle East willing to die to get democracy makes me remember that we are so lucky to have the freedoms and opportunities that many people in the West take for granted, and I feel proud to have our democratic system and I am not going to let my opportunity go to waste. This isn’t me preaching that everyone should vote.  It is your free choice not to vote.  But I really enjoy it and it excites me. It is unlikely that you need reminding that I am a Tory.  And as such, I feel it is my duty to vote Lib Dem in the local elections.  Only Labour or Lib Dems can win in my little part of Reading so I have to vote Lib Dems for the chance of getting rid of Labour who I loath.  Truly loath.  Also, I met the Lib Dem candidate so I actually feel a connection to them.  I understand the argument of the Tories appearing out of touch at the moment and hesitantly agree with it. Also, it will be nice to give the Lib Dems a little thank you for going into coalition with the Tories in 2010 and not the abdominal Gordon Brown and cronies.  And a kick up the backside for Mr Cameron. I would like to wish Boris all the best in London for the election for London mayor.  He is the best candidate in my opinion, by a mile, and I really would vomit if Ken Livingston was able to bask in the Olympic glory in August.  Seriously, who wants him representing our capital city other than socialists and people who want to go on strike? I don't want to say who to vote for, it is your choice. But please don't vote Labour ;-) It feels good to have something to vote for.  Surely you must be excited too?

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

I like To Move It, Move It

As Erick “I DJ to stick my cock in bimbos” Morillo once sung, “I like to move it, move it”.  Actually, I don’t, I hate moving.   But still, it is time to ask myself where I should be living.   Don’t worry, friends, lovers, groupies and future haters – I am staying in Reading.  At least until my house music revolution has propagated me to playing alongside Paris Hilton at DC10 every week, or on the off-chance that my plan fails and the lure of Shoreditch proves so much so I can finally wear purple leggings, string vest and a sailor’s hat without the fear of some wannabe Mod punching me.  That’ll be sparkly sequined purple leggings, of course, not just any purple leggings.   It is my choice of abode I am questioning.   I like living by myself, and I like my flat.  I can play music loud and nobody cares.  It is a bit crap for hosting guests though.  And there is no central heating.  It is rather cold.  And tiny windows.  But lots of hot girls in my locality.   The main thing that keeps me in my space, apart from being shit at moving mouse, is space.  A flat has space to put all my 1500 cds and other stuff that I have accumulated.  However, I have just remembered the existence of storage.  Given that I listen to each cd once on average, I don’t think I need those 1500 cds on me.  Nor my collection of hats.  Etc, etc.   It costs me two thirds of my wages.  Silly.  Affordable but it holds me back.   And the older I get, and the more I find myself, the more I want to stop wasting so much time and start achieving more of my dreams.  I seem to be achieving a succession of dreams and goals so far this year, surprisingly so but I have long had a dream of doing something crazy – a once in a lifetime thing, and it ain’t anywhere near as “affordable” as a holiday to Ibiza:   To go storm chasing in America.  Don’t tell my mam.  Or let me get a girlfriend.   I’ve found a company from the UK that do 4 trips each spring, for £1,800.00 which includes all travel and accommodation costs in the USA for about 10 days, I would also have to pay for flights to and from Dallas and all my food and drink on top of that.  And maybe buy some life insurance!  So for £3,000.00 that should do it.  Oh and buy a decent camera of course.   The question is, do I really want to do it enough to go back to house sharing with random people constantly telling me to turn my not loud at all music down, etc.  Having to put the toilet seat down and cleaning rotas.   And can I actually be bothered to try and find somewhere vaguely acceptable for my slightly snobbish tastes?  Yeah I know, it’s only Reading…but I’m from Hull so I feel snobbish.   I guess if it all gets too much then I can always find a flat with central heating.