Sunday, December 28, 2008

The End

Hi there everyone

I'm giving up writing this blog - increasingly I've been finding it harder to post here, and I have other interests on the web on which I now concentrate. Thanks to everyone who has read the blog, especially the regular readers. I will leave the blog up as it is, I won't delete it, as it's good to have a record of these past 4 years or so. Since I started the blog as a happy-go-lucky 34 year old, I've had 3 miscarriages and a divorce, but I deliberately haven't referred to these things as there's seldom any point in depressing other people. Instead I've tried to emphasise the fun and entertaining things of life, such as my romance and second marriage with Patrick, truly wonderful.

But before I go, here is a list of my favourite gigs of 2008, in no particular order:

Oysterband at Pontardawe

Demon Barbers at South Petherton

Show of Hands at Saul Canal Festival

At First Light (bloody good Irish band, with some Lunasa members) at Bath Folk Club

Flossie Malavialle at Whittlesey Straw Bear

Love to you all


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Weekend in Kent and Sussex

A weekend of joy and sadness. On the way down to my birthday weekend in Greatstone, Kent my sister told me that my cat, Holly, had died. Holly had been a good friend to me through illnesses, miscarriages, divorce...she was a beautiful Autumn-coloured cat with white paws and bib, bossy but very affectionate and liked nothing more than to snuggle up in bed next to me at the end of the day. She was unique and I will always miss her.
Greatstone was a nice place, a strange mixture of desolation and seventies bungalows. The weather on Saturday wasn't good so we visited the museums in Hastings (lunch at the excellent FILO brewpub) and Battle (1066 Museum somewhat disappointing). The bonfire parade and fireworks were very enjoyable once more, although less bonfire societies were there this year, due to Rye not being last of the season this year. I bought a flashing pink wand to carry along the streets - tasteful!
On Sunday we did a car tour through Felixstowe and Dover to Ripple, the village near Deal which our narrowboat is named after. There was a windmill, a little church and a lovely pub (where I had a good pint of Harvey's Sussex) and a pink thatched cottage called Raspberry Cottage (get it?). Patrick took lots of pictures, he's hoping to put a few on the boat.
Then it was into Deal for lunch at the Bohemian (a cracking seafront pub) and a walk along the odd looking pier and a look at the fishing boats hauled up on the shingle.
Bit of a long drive to stay the night with Simon and Jane and visits to the Good Intent and the Sandrock, then up at 6am for the drive back to work in Midsomer Norton!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me!

I had lots of presents this morning - a bottle of Maderia, 2 books, some smellies for the bath and 2 boxes of chocolate - all from Patrick!
Bought cakes for my colleagues from Muffins in Midsomer Norton, very nice they were too. Yes I did try one myself!
Off to a Laphroaig Masterclass Whisky Tasting this evening, at the Ashton Manor Hotel in Bristol, courtesy of Simon. What a great present!
It's going to be a really good birthday. I'm looking forward to the next one as there will be lots of special stuff going on...but not looking forward to being 40!!!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Weekend on the Narrowboat

A couple of weeks ago we had nothing particular on, and were both a bit fed up of working on the garden and spare room, so I suggested a weekend aboard Ripple. Patrick, of course, readily agreed!
This also gave me the chance to try some motorway driving on the way to Saul Junction. I didn't like merging, especially as there was an annoying Skoda right behind me trying to nick my gap on the inside lane, but one I was there I was fine - even overtaking a cement mixer, a caravan and a horse box!
Ripple was fine when we got there, but Patrick had to remove a quantity of oily water from the engine compartment before we moved, so that the automatic bilge pump wouldn't start up in the marina.
We decided to head towards Slimbridge so that we could visit the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, as well as the Tudor Inn! The cruising was pleasant despite the odd shower. We moored up just past the bridge and headed for Sir Peter Scott's bird sanctuary, where we were persuaded to become members of the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust, which meant we could come and go for free. We also heard some stories of the oil tanker disaster from first hand experience, and other stories of life working on the barges, from one of the volunteers there - which made Patrick's day!
Evening meal at the Tudor was a bit disappointing, and there was only one beer that we liked. The Bell at Frampton serves better food, beer and cider, but sometimes some of the young lads get a bit rowdy.
Next day it was hammering with rain so we treated ourselves to all-day breakfast at the Black Shed, which was 'nicely' decorated for a halloween party later! Back to the bird sanctuary for a longer wander and a cuppa at the kiosk near the canoes. We decided not to canal-bash all the way down to Sharpness, but cruised westward for an hour or so before turning back towards Saul.
A lovely, relaxing weekend - back to reality now!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Folk Awards Nominations 2009

Yes it's that time again!

My nominations:

Folk Singer of the Year: Flossie Malavialle

Best Duo: Show of Hands

Best Group: Oysterband

Best Album: The Kansas Sessions (Kirsty McGee)

Best Original Song: Dust Devil by Kirsty McGee

Traditional Track of the Year: Alan Tyne of Harrow by Kerr/Fagan

Horizon Award (Best Newcomer): Flossie Malavialle

Musician of the Year: Cormac Byrne (again!)

Best Live Act: The Demon Barber Roadshow

Monday, October 13, 2008

A mixed weekend

Went to Banbury Folk Festival this weekend - I'd intended to drive there, but the traffic was very heavy and there were lots of a***holes about so I chickened out by the time I'd got to Chippenham!
After some trouble finding the hotel and the Mill Theatre, we settled down to watch the festival's patron, Isla St Clair. A bit different to the normal Folk Festival fayre, she sang North-West Scottish songs, some Burns and of course Speed Bonny Boat. The song "Save Our Glens" went down particularly well with Patrick! I think she was a bit nervous at being in front of the Festival crowd, probably being more used to TV audiences, but she went down a storm!
Uiscedwr were as excellent as ever. Anna was looking happy and healthy, which is good! Cormac Byrne as amazing as ever, and he seems to be sharing the singing and anecdotes now as well. Shame James wasn't with them, I liked his guitar playing and songs.
In the morning, which was beautifully sunny and warm, we went on a blissful trip along the Oxford Canal aboard the "Dancing Duck" dayboat from Tooleys Boatyard. Rob McKinnon was on board, and sung us some wonderful songs which we could join in and sing.
Went to a dance workshop with Herbaceous Border at Saturday lunchtime, but there disaster struck. In a hurry as our food took longer than expected, I dumped my handbag down with the Morris dancer's bags and noticed a small, thin woman with short grey hair standing by them. She offered to look after it for me, which in retrospect should have raised alarm bells, but I took her for the wife of one of the dancers and was in too much of a hurry - as there were a bit crowd of people around I didn't think anyone would dare steal it. However when I finished dancing both the handbag and the woman were gone.
She was probably just after my cash but a lot of other things were in my bag - car key, house keys, mobile phone, bank cards, cheque book, passport, council tax bill, wedding certificate (the last three because of all the name change stuff I'm having to do at the moment). Patrick was concerned about our house being burgled so he drove back to Bath and then we had over an hour's wait for the "emergency" locksmith to turn up (we had been told 6pm but he arrived at 7.10pm).
Then it was drive all the way back to catch Flossie Malaiville and Keith Donnelly at the Town Hall - an unusual combination, possibly a smart career move for Flossie to ink up with someone with lots of contacts in the business, but their music and humour are quite different. We thought Flossie would do better with fellow Brel admirer Robb Johnson. Move to the South Flossie, s'il vous plait!
Biddenden's Cider at the Pegg Inn was delicious but I just wasn't in a drinking mood (unusually, you might say).
Next came Patrick's favourite of the festival, Vin Garbutt. He was on good form despite pharyngitis, cracking some good jokes and singing some thought-provoking songs. I especially liked the song about the New Zealand children - I just hope Gary Glitter never tours there!!
We had a pint or two in the Woolpack, which had a beer festival on (Ossett Porter and Purity Gold very good), then popped back to the Town Hall for Tom Leary and Kevin Dempsey, followed by Waterson:Carthy who ended the festival.
A good little festival - just watch out for Fagin's missus!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Aardvark Ceilidh Band at Subscription Hall, Stroud

It's the first time I've been to a non-folk festival ceilidh in aages - and I really enjoyed it. Adrian, our friend from the Somersetshire Coal Canal Society, kindly gave us a lift and tried to teach me some ceilidh moves - with varied success!Aardvark Ceilidh Band were pretty good - sort of folk/prog rock fusion music, with guitar riffs from Pink Floyd or Led Zep creeping in at times. Trouble was, the caller sounded muffled and so I couldn't hear the instructions - luckily the dances were mostly well-known ones like Roger de Coverley and the Shetland Strip the Willow so the regulars were able to show us what to do - or shout at us when we went wrong! Everyone seemed good natured, nobody was (outwardly!) impatient with us when we made mistakes or weren't quick enough - despite some very good dancers being there (we were in Cotwold Morris territory, of course).
There was only one real ale on at the bar - but since it was Champion Beer of the Cotswolds, Stroud Brewery's "Budding", I wasn't complaining! The dance floor was rather bouncy, even for a sprung floor - apparently they've had problems with it in the past - but it was a huge hall, similar to my old haunt Godalming Borough Hall, with plently of room for dancing.
Very good - will definitely be back when the wonderful Climax Ceilidh Band are on in February, if not before!


Finally passed my driving test yesterday after the 4th attempt. I am so pleased! Now I can drive to work, drive to folk concerts, drive to any Morris dancing or choirs that I fancy...freedom!!
Patrick is pleased because now I can drive him to the pub ;)
The only thing is, now I have to negotiate the double mini roundabouts in Radstock on a daily basis. Poo.