Monday, 27 September 2010

Mrs B leaves....Gulp....

Mrs B has packed her bags and left…

In truth I have known that it was coming for a few months but have been powerless to do anything about it

All I know is the house feels empty and I find my self going through the motions of living….. putting out two bowls for breakfast, when only one is needed. Boiling the kettle for a cup of tea that Mrs B will not drink.

The pain and the loss cuts through me like a knife, even the cats are more mopey then usual.

I know this sounds over dramatic (of course it is, this is BlackLOG after all what did you expect?) but in the last 16 years Mrs B and I  have not spent more than a couple of nights apart.  To find her on the other side of the world for almost 2 weeks, while she is in Hong Kong and then Shanghai on business, is quite a shock to the system (The fact that she is not available for editing duties may come as a shock to your reading enjoyment and help you realise what an important part Mrs B plays in the production of the BlackLOG) ….It certainly makes me realise how much she means to me and how lucky I am to have discovered a true soul mate.

It is strange only being able to talk to her on the phone, especially as it is normally while I’m going to bed and she is just getting up,  mainly because I’m being used as some sort of trans-continental alarm clock. Then when she is going to bed in her 5* hotel she generally catches me part way through the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (The extended versions, there have to be some perks to being abandoned….. In fact if my work and the list of tasks that Mrs B left me had not got in the way I probably would be work my way through the Six Star wars films, The God Father trilogy and any other film franchise I could find…..)

Since Mrs B has Mini Beast with her for company, I look forward to her being able to share her vision and experience in a future BlackLOG – I just hope the promise of external reports from Hong Kong and China proves more successful than my attempts to bring you the on the spot reporting from the Vancouver Winter Olympics…

"Yes Mitch I’m still waiting……"

Taps fingers impatiently on the desk...

watches less than fresh tumbleweed drifting passed...

"As you are possibly a little beyond your original deadline… about a historical view of events.  I’m prepared to give you a new deadline for this, lets say anytime in the next twenty five years…."

A big thanks to Craig and Mala, Joe & Kirsty who have taken it in turns to take pity on this poor abandoned soul and provided both sustenance and company to see me through these moderately dark time…..

The BlackLOG to be made into a film?

Not as far fetched as it might sound, especially since I’ve entered my “how to almost create the perfect gig experience” into a channel 4/American express competition

Unfortunately it had to be decimated down to 200 words - If you are a regular BlackLOG reader you will know I don't do things in 200 words.....

If you get the chance please check it out by clicking on the following link And if you enjoy it please click on the “Like” button....

My Gig experience

If I win you get the reward of seeing one of my most embarrassing moments made into a short film....I just hope they don't get Mr Bean to play me.... If you are really feeling particularly evil feel free to pass this weeks Blog onto other people who would like to see my embarrassment come to life….

P.S This bit is very important, don't look at any other entries, especially if they look far more interesting then my entry….

Keep fit
We have been going along to body balance on a Sunday morning for the last three or four months now and since the football season (that’s soccer to you Americans) has started up again have been going to the class before it as well – Body Combat. This is mainly because our club shares the car park with a number of local Sunday teams and unless we get there early enough we would have to park further away than we live (well obviously that’s not true, but it sounds like a good enough reason for getting up early on a Sunday).

Our normal teacher was away this week so they sent along a substitute, which would have been good except she didn’t actually get around to asking what level we had reached. So her attempts to teach the class the keep fit equivalent of Advanced Quantum Physics proved a little over the top to a class that was effectively still attempting to master basic potato printing level 1 (i.e no sharp objects allowed only spoons to carve out the basic shapes in the spud ….)

I can’t believe I didn’t get slapped for this….
I may have failed to mention that the substitute Advances Quantum Physics Body Combat teacher was heavily pregnant. This did not stop her bouncing around like a mad woman, putting the rest of us to shame. The result of her exertions was the development of a rather sweat ladened area of floor around her....

I innocently asked her if her waters had broken.....

Fortunately for me she found it funny, allowing for another entry in “I can’t believe I didn’t get slapped for this….” rather than a trip to a local casualty department...

A record of the week

She's Leaving Home - by The Beatles (But she is coming back again, thankfully)

She left me on Friday - by Shed Seven (OK so it was actually a Monday that she left on but you get the gist....)

The Bed's Too Big Without You - by Sting (Not entirely true as McG and Mischief manage to take up more than their fair share....)

Delicious - by Shampoo (Oh no this only makes sense if you read the Photo finish section below – I was tempted to put the "Record of the week" after "Photo finish" for this weeks BlackLOG but felt that it would have somewhat ruined the whole illusion of the description)

Delicious - by Sleeper (The cakes are so good I thought two songs were warranted)

She's Bought A Hat Like Princess Marina - by The Kinks (Once more my dear readers you will have to go into the depths that is Photo finish to understand the inclusion of this little ditty…)

Boris the spiderby The Who (Oh why do I have to make life so difficult for myself, it's only a description after all....Once again (and the last time) you will have to delve down into the next section)

Photo finish
We are off to Cuba in October on a cycling trip. Although Mrs B will deny it, she has never been a fan of cycling helmets, so I made it my mission to find something a little bit different to protect our noggins.  As preparation goes it certainly beats doing some complicated keep fit routine. The idea behind the Yakkay helmets is a basic helmet with interchangeable covers.

As Mrs B is currently on the other side of the world our friends Kirsty and Joe kindly did some modelling for me – in case of any doubts they are the ones that carry the hats of with style, while I’m the one that looks like a prat in a hat (just as well I don’t take life too seriously).

I have no doubt Mrs B will be able to carry the hats off with her normal grace and beauty, leaving me aiming at best freak chic……

In case of ant doubt the pink one is for Mrs B. I really wanted the Russian Cossack version (It was actually advertised as a Russian Tsarina) which I though would have been fantastic for skiing but alas they seemed to have stopped selling it – I suspect much to Mrs B’s great relief.

Instead I have had to make do with a white Polo style cover and a Green Fido style one.

Let’s hope the Cubans don’t take offence or worse think I am attempting a counter revolution…..

While Kirsty shows how to wear the
hat with a bit of style....Yes ladies
this is a cycling helmet....

I manage to come off more like
rather than Brad Pitt... 

Don't let this man anywhere near your cornflakes.....

Joe looks like the world first polo
playing serial killer....

Yes Teach, even I know it's a different
spelling but it's still a great joke.....

No, OK I'll get my hat.....

I think Yakkay might pay me
vast sums of money not to
model any more of  their hats....

Could this be the new Kylie????

You say you want a revolution.....
Move over Fidel I'm cycling through..

Please tell me you didn’t really expect
the other type of revolution?

Well after a heart felt request from Teach I have risked my waistline and dropped into Delicious to take some pictures of the cakes. While I was there it would have been rude not to partake in the produce…

I got chatting to the owner, Adam, who showed me how to make a proper frothy coffee (you have to froth the bubbles when the milk is cold and not hot.  Which explains how Mrs B and I have been failing to make it properly for years. This almost feels a bit like I’ve extracting some great secret out of the Magic Circle) he also showed me how to create the art work on the top of the coffee

– hmmm, I think I will have to be content with the improved frothiness …..

I would like to point out (In case Mrs B is listening) I only had one cake, which was the Chocolate Malteser cake but feel you should have the opportunity to feed (at least your eyes) on some of the other choices. If you are ever in Bishops Stortford you should drop in, you will get a warm welcome, good service and leave very fat and happy….

I don’t think they are expecting anyone to eat
the Tea Room itself.  Well certainly not in one
sitting, but if you find yourself in the general
vicinity you should pop in and sample some
of the great cakes…

Victoria Sandwich, no relation to the Earl of Sandwich.
Just as well, I’m not sure that sticking this behemoth
between two slices of bread is going to improve
anyone’s waist line....

I might have to try it though, if Mrs B introduces that
blanket cake ban that she has been threatening me with..

The scene - Delicious Tea Shop Bishops Stortford
Two years into the total cake ban

Mrs B has just walked in

Mrs B
"Is that cake?”

Desperately trying to shove the
rest in, in one convenient (and
all hiding) go

“Hmmm, ummm, yum

Wiping away any incriminating crumbs

No, no not cake, just having a healthy sandwich…
Did you notice it was on Granary*?”

*You have to make some sacrifices in life

"That's a wrap"**

** Didn't he listen I clearly said it was a sandwich....  

I could really get into this film malarkey, so get those votes in....

Blueberry cake

With all that fruit on board, this is technically
(well in BlackLOG terms) healthy eating....

So best avoided….

Lemon Meringue cake, better call the gym and
book in some extra session to work this one off. 

Malteser cake - who can resist - I know I can't....

At this point if I was an ancient Roman***, or a
Supermodel, I would be calling for a feather ......
If you don't know what I'm talking about,
best not to ask.... 

*** Rather than an aging Britain

The spiders from Mars (well our back garden actually)
Having watched Lord of the Rings this week it seems more than apt to have discover these fearsome chaps in the garden. While they are no Shelob (if you don’t know you will just have to read the books or watch the film) they do manage to portray the true horrors of our eight legged friends....

It's just as well Mrs B is away, I'm also a bit
worried about the cats going outside...

I think one of them has brought its own lunch….
hang on a second isn’t that young Frodo Baggins…
Hope to see you back next week...

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

How to insure you lose out....

Insurance companies

You have to love them – September is bumper outgoing time in the BlackLOG household as we not only have to find funding for Mrs B’s autumn/winter ensemble* we also have car insurance, house insurance and travel insurance all demanding a cut from our ever depleting funds…..

* This would have had more impact if Mrs B had not discovered my secret stash of recent clothes purchases from Joules. I took the opportunity to buy a number of items on the web when I discovered a 15% off and free postage offer.

My cunning plan to introduce them slowly into my fashion repertoire over the next few months was doomed from the moment I elected to hide them in the large drawer where Mrs B stashes her collection of handbags (The ones she does not think I know about) … I should have guessed Mrs B would have had a rummage through the drawer sooner rather than later, no doubt while attempting to add another new purchase….

Doh! Turned out to be sooner, they were only in the draw for just over a day before Mrs B found them….

Which begs the question just how many handbags is she buying?

I’ve just been told to face it like a man, having been caught red handed I should not be trying to deflect.

So moving on....

Travel insurance
Seems to be behaving and for £77 we get a joint annual travel package that meets our requirements. No complaints about this, I guess we are in the “too old to do something stupid” category and “too young to need constant medical attention”. Although come to think about it I have not had my renewal notice so might be speaking too soon…

Car insurance
Now, being the good citizen that I am I decided to declare the damage that was done to ElleGee, which is a company car, when someone ran into him when he was parked at an old peoples’ home (it’s a long story) and then legged it (or to be more accurate wheeled it). Being a company car it went through my firm and since they have an excess of £10,000 (i.e only write-offs need apply) they had the pleasure of paying for it. So, in summary, no car insurance company, especially (let me underline and capitalise that) ESPECIALLY not our own insurance company (the car they cover was sitting safely in our garage at the time of the incident) had to pay out any money on the incident. Yet they happily load the premium for our insurance next year. Grrrrr

Guess who won’t be getting our business….?

For anyone who says why bother declaring a company car claim to a non-related Insurance Company – well, non-disclosure is a good enough reason for an Insurance Company not to pay out any future claims so it would be as well to go without Insurance altogether rather than pay out a premium that may not be worth the piece of paper it is printed on….Believe me, it is very tempting when you find out that the fine for not having car insurance is a lot less than the average cost of car insurance…what a fantastic bit of legislation that is….

Household insurance – this one really hurt
We have two household policies, one for contents and one for the building and we have (or rather had) 10 years+ No Claims Discount built up on both. Last year we had a broken pane in the roof of our conservatory** (not sure what happened, no missing tiles or anything obvious and before anyone says it, no McG did not attempt to take a vacation on the roof….) and with the cost for repair coming in at over £1,400 we decided to make a claim through our building insurance…

Fair enough that we lost the NCD for the building insurance but I was less than impressed to see our Contents NCD being trashed as well. If the two are linked why on earth are they listed separately on our policy? Despite their offer to reduce the renewal premium for being loyal customers I decide to take my business elsewhere. Not as cheap as it should have been as we can now only show 1 year’s NCD for contents - thanks for nothing – This worked out costing us an extra £200 on our policy.

** If we keep oranges in it we could go all posh and call it an Orangery….

Phone call of the week
I gave feedback to my work help line that I had difficulty understanding many of the operatives based in India

I received a phone call from some one from I think it was the “Resolver help line group”

I think, but can’t swear to it, as I could hardly understand him, that he was apologising to me not being able to understand his colleagues and did this resolve my issue?

I decided to end my agony and limply said “Yes”, resolving never to complain about our helpline ever again…..

Good service
I shall end the week on a high note

Amazon – who made it so easy to exchange our ripped tent under their no quibble one year guarantee. They even arranged for DHS to collect the damaged tent…

Cycle city – who came back to me to check that I knew that I had ordered just a cover for Mrs B’s new cycle helmet and not the actual helmet as well before sending out the order….For the record I did know I was ordering just the cover.

Joules of Amersham – Who replaced a couple of items that I had got in the wrong size, honouring the 15% discount that I had got on the web rather than making me wait for the items to be reposted.

Delicious - a Coffee shop in Bishops Stortford – While I was waiting for Mrs B I ordered 2 cafĂ© lattes. Instead of plonking them both down in front of me at the same time, mine arrived and 20 minutes later the other one arrived when Mrs B finally made it. They obviously know my wife better than me…

A record of the week
"Taxman" by The Beatles - The lyrics are as close to as I could get to the money grabbing aspects of the insurance world

"Call me" by Blondie - Just make sure the conversation is legible

"Iris" by The Goo Goo Dolls - I always though she was a lady....

"Tales from the Riverbank" by The Jam - Not a bad effort for some city boys.... 

Piggy’s by The Beatles – More apt lyrics for our insurance friends I guess even the Beatles felt they were being ripped off at times

(I can’t get no) Satisfaction by the Rolling StonesI just want an honest straight forward insurance company, is that too much to ask?

Photo finish
Not much to take this week so I've dug out some more of  our Norfolk weekend pictures....

Was this the inspiration for a Goo Goo Dolls song?

Probably not, I don't think they
ever made it to Norfolk

 Please don't tell me that this Cliff is called Richard

I like to think this Blog has some standards,
even if they are low ones.... 

Mrs B managed to borrow a camera
with a bigger lens than the Beast...

Talk about one upmanship...

Seal Pantomime

"It’s behind you"

"Oh no it’s not"

"Oh yes it is…."

Etc, Etc...

The Norfolk synchronised swimming team 

"Heads up ladies..."

Give us a kiss....How romantic

Sorry to break the news, this
turned out to be girl on girl action...

I didn't realise it was that sort of Blog

Mrs B and a friend

In case you didn't spot it on Mrs B's
arm, this was the friend.....

 Tales of the River bank - is that
Paul Weller just behind the tree...
Hope to catch you next week....

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Nature bites but not into dodgy Italian cooking

A bit of a hotchpotch this week as I try and catch up after the last two weeks were devoted to V2010 Festival Day 1 and  Day 2

First - the August bank holiday weekend
Depite a history that said otherwise our continuing belief that this will prove an ideal time to go away ….

Just when we will learn…?

For the third year in a row we have been routed by the weather….

While our minds scream “It’s August so it’s going to be hot with glorious sunshine”, the reality has been rain, rain and strong winds followed by a promising bit of blue sky that only serves to give you false hope that things are improving, followed by bucket loads of horizontal rain. It’s bad enough when you are in a nice B&B or rented cottage but we, once again, were seduced by the lure of open air living. Unfortunately  we talked some friends and family into joining us under canvas (well what passes for canvas in this hi-tech world we find ourselves living in)….Sorry Sis, Lisa, Mala, Craig, Alex and Emma

Mrs B and I managed to avoid the worst of the weather on the Sunday as we had booked a nature tour and photography day. If you ever find yourself in Norfolk I can highly recommend Wildlife tours.. Our guide Carl was brilliant. He really knew his stuff and most importantly of all made it interesting. In fact he was so good we have already booked to go on a Red Kite spotting weekend in Wales with him next year. Carl’s attention to making sure we got the most out of the day was incredible. Knowing that the weather was not set to be great he had even spent the evening before trapping some moths so that if the worse came to the worse we would still have some wee beasties to photograph.

Now I’m not normally a particularly patient* person  but give me The Beast and the chance of glimpsing a timid wee beasty**  and I can spend hours just gazing at an empty bit of sky, water or other, non-specified, natural environment. Thanks to Carl’s local knowledge and animal/bird craft he took us to locations where waiting time was minimal – mainly because these animals aren’t stupid and so find sheltered off the beaten track spots.

* Although unlike most youngsters today I can sit through most films without having to check my texts, go and get more popcorn and fizzy drink which is inevitably followed by at least one trip to the toilet……Aaaarrrggghhh! I just want to watch the film, damn it

** No I don’t mean Kylie Minogue – she’s able to wriggle into minuscule gold hot pants which, for obvious reasons, rules her out of the timid part of the equation….

I think I amused Carl with my determination to catch a shot of a flying Swallow (or was it a Swift or a House Martin?) Anyway, whatever they were (I can confirm they had feathers) they were tricky little buggers, teasing us as they flew around at high speed, banking, diving, rolling and, I suspect, sticking two feathers up in our general direction.

Some facts I discovered:

  • There are only about 40 cranes (of the bird variety that is) in the UK – There’s me thinking the place is awash with them…..we got to see one of them but it was just a dot (albeit a large one) on the horizon.
  • Mrs B turned out to be a great “spotter”. She picked up the water voles – although she was not quite so good with the birds:
         Mrs B – “Oooooh, what’s that?”

         Carl – “That would be a wood pigeon.”

         Mrs B – “And that?”

         Carl - “A different pigeon.”

         Mrs B – “and…”

         Carl – “Pigeon.”

         Mrs B - “a,,,,,”

         Carl – “Pigeon.”

         Mrs B – “So I guess that is a pigeon as well…?”

         Carl – “No, that’s actually quite rare….”

         Mrs B - “Really?”

         Carl – “Nope, just kidding, it’s a pigeon.”

  • A 200mm lens with a 1.7 converter does not get you close enough to the action – I suspect even an 800mm lens would not get you close enough sometimes.
  • Animals and birds just seem to know when you put your camera away….because inevitably that’s when they make an appearance.
  • After all this I still can’t tell my "Greater Crested Blue Tit In Hob Nail Boots" from a "Lesser European Stealth Duck With Optional Accessories". What I can tell you is that we had a fantastic day. This swiftly turned around however………………….
We returned to the campsite to a scene of total devastation - flattened tents and wind-swept people struggling to keep their possessions together. We found our tents and were at first impressed to see that everything seemed to be standing. It was only when I looked inside the Event Shelter (a kind of posh gazebo) that we discovered why it was still standing. Clinging desperately to the inside were my sister, Lisa (no sign of Scarlet for once), Alex (nephew) and his half sister Emma. They were the only thing standing between us still owning an Event Shelter and waving goodbye to an oversized, out of control kite….

At this point we all decided enough was enough and when the wind and rain eased sufficiently to give us a short respite we decamped – the long weekend’s camping trip somewhat shortened. In the final reckoning, of the 5 tents that were in our party, only ours was damaged - thankfully it was brand new and purchased through Amazon who replaced it with no questions asked. The Event Shelter, our second of the year (this was a replacement after the first one was damaged by a slightly playful breeze about 30 seconds after being erected) was also damaged and returned for a refund. A great piece of kit as long as you don't breath heavily in its general direction…..

Second - Italian cooking
I don’t know what you think about when you think of Italy but it brings to my mind (which we have already discovered this week is hardly infallible) sophistication and style. Our Italian friend Vinnie, for instance, is a snappy dresser and an accomplished cook. Bless him he went into shock the day that he found out that our friend Mala uses tomato ketchup in her cooking. He wore a black tie and arm band for months afterwards. So imagine my delight when I discovered that the champion of fresh food preparation uses Dairylea processed (I hesitate to use the word) cheese slices. It turns out that our prince of style would rather spend hours on his hair preparation than slaving over a freshly made sauce. For the record I fully support Mala in this. In her defence, I myself have been known to use ketchup in my cooking and, me lud, I would also like taken into account a number of cases of solicitous Worcestershire sauce use. However, give Mala an egg and it is a totally different story. The poor things are taken to such an inedible state they make Pot Noodles look like haute cuisine…..

I can’t believe I didn’t get slapped for this….
I was sent a list of “and that’s how the fight started” jokes by Mev at work (I may have made a few BlackLOG changes) with my favourites being:

Mrs B was standing nude, looking in the bedroom mirror.
She was not happy with what she saw and said to me,
"I feel horrible; I look old, fat and ugly. I really need you to pay me a compliment.”
I replied, "Your eyesight's damn near perfect."
And then the fight started...
I took my mother out for a meal the other day.
The waiter took my order:
Me - "I'll have the rump steak, rare, please."
Waiter - “Aren't you worried about the mad cow?"
Me - "Nah, she can order for herself."
And that's when the fight started...

So as an homage I am starting the new section - I can’t believe I didn’t get slapped for this….
I suspect it won’t appear very often but it’s here when I need it….

Zumba is the latest fitness craze to sweep Bishops Stortford and possibly the nation. I can’t believe the town is leading the way in anything. Mala is an early adopter and like most converts to a cause has been trying to sign up anyone and everyone. Having failed to spark any interest from her husband Craig or myself she attempted to talk Mrs B into attending a session:

Mala – “They are even starting to sell a range of Zumba clothing.”
Mrs B – “Is it any good?”
Mala – “Actually no, it’s a bit cheap and tacky………”
Me – “Sounds like it’s been styled for the people who attend the Zumba class then…..”

Sorry Mala but if you will insist on leaving yourself wide open…………………

Little Emma also gets a special mention in this section after she told Lisa – “Sorry I didn’t recognise you - I thought you were an old lady” – not bad coming from a six year old.

A record of the week
(well the last two weeks if you want accuracy)

Go wild in the country - Bow Wow Wow (At one with nature, but quietly otherwise nature tends to run away...)
And Your Bird Can Sing - The Beatles (For our feathered friends)
Dragonfly - Blondie (I would not want the insect world feeling they had been forgotten about)
Here Comes The Rain Again - Eurythmics (It was a British bank holiday what did we expect....)
Rip It Up - Razorlight (For the damage done to our tent and Event Shelter)
Rain - The Beatles (More bank holiday weather)
I Wanna Start A Fight - Pink (The song title is actualy "So What" but the lyrics are very apt for the new section)

Photo finish
Loads of wild life photographs for you this week

Not one of those Common Seals but a Grey one
(To be honest I thought all Seals were Grey....)

Oh well ,live and learn...well live anyway

I might be wrong but this looks like the 
very rare*  Albino Hedgehog Seal....

*So rare they don't actually exist.

A Water Vole, also known as a Water Rat
Which explains why Ratty (A Water Vole) is
called  Ratty In "Wind In the Willows"

Since Toad and Mole did not show up you
get a second picture of Ratty....

This being a river bank I had hoped to catch
 a glimpse of Hammy Hamster  on his little
boat but it was not to be....

The Beast brings you not just one fast flying swallow
but two....Well done The Beast....

It looks like something out of the Battle of Britain 

My guess is this is the "Lesser Black Headed
 Armpit Exhibitionist..."  Did I mention I
failed to get my Ornithologist Scouts Badge

Carl will probably correct me but I think this
might be a bird.....

You want me to be more specific....


Quite a large one....


Fast but not fast enough to escape the
attentions of The Beast....

Carl - "Try not to get too excited,
it's a Pigeon...."

Having increased Mala's Life Insurance
Craig decided to allow Mala to fend
for herself....

Lisa in her oscar nominated role as an old lady....

Emma happy to get away
without a good slapping...

Mrs B teaches Lisa how to spot Pigeons....

A wind blown Big Sis attempts to text the BBC to
complain about their weather forecasting inabilities..

Our nephew Alex, not sure if he is struggeling
against the wind or producing it.....

 Craig & Mala spot a bottle of  ketchup which might
come in handy for cooking their next meal....

Looks like its sportoing a wicked pair of Sunglasses

Danica.... is this any relation???

A fly, not the sexiest thing on the planet,
 I suspect not even its mum loves it....

Hornets which look a lot like large Wasps...
They had stormed a bird box and seemed
to be taunting the poor birds...

Hornet  "Your mother was a hamster
 and your father smelt of elderberries!"
 Mala have you made that poor moth put on a 
Zumba suit under its day wear?

Red Admiral, to think it was just
a Captain last time we spoke....

A Yellow Moth (technical term)
 hanging on for dear life....

A Moth version of McG....

Vinnie the processed cheese king, possibly regretting
giving away his secret cooking ingredients..
Thanks for reading do drop in again next week

Saturday, 4 September 2010

V2010 Day Two - a BlackLOG pictorial

Sunday morning and the BBC weather site predicted a damp start turning to beautiful blue skies for the afternoon....hmm don't give up the day job, that was the worst prediction since Decca told the Beatles "Guitar groups are on the way out" and "the Beatles have no future in show business".

For the second V day day we took our friends' Teach and Hugh's son John and his friend Michael, both from Lincolnshire. We had hardly got through the gate when Michael found himself being arrested by a police dog. (OK, that’s a bit of an over statement as the dog didn’t do the actual arresting but it did sidle up to Michael and got his colleague to do the arresting bit). Michael was marched off for some interminable time and returned to us a little later more than a little disheveled…..When asked, he said he had not been worried about it until the rubber gloves came out…..fortunately they were for searching through his pockets and not making him walk like John Wayne just after getting off a horse….. Turns out it was a mistaken drugs bust brought about by a faulty police dog. Now that’s something for a young man from Lincolnshire to have sweet nightmares for the rest of his life.

Teach had a pop at me and the Beast for not taking any pictures of the boys at this year's festival….but how could I?…From Michael’s release to meeting both boys back at the car, when it was pitch black, we saw them for approximately 35 seconds.  34 of those were the back of their heads disappearing into the 60,000 crowd…..Sorry Teach, the Beast was still hiding at the bottom of the rucksack so it was never going to happen.

It was just as well the Beast did hide, as during the Faithless performance we had managed to get a great position in front of the sound desk (good cover from all that beer throwing and a bit of respite from the rain – thanks for nothing BBC).  With no one behind us it allowed us to stand on the chairs (oops sorry Kirsty and Joe those might have been the ones we borrowed from you).  After I had taken a couple of shots I got a tap on my shoulder to find the head of security glaring down on me:

Head of Security - “Have you got a license for that?”

Me - “No!”
I said busily putting the camera away

Head of Security - “Well people pay a lot of money to take shots from a position like this”

Me - “OK”
I kind of got the impression it was a "Don’t do it right under my nose" type of warning, so all shots after this were taken only after I risked life and limb pushing my way towards the front of the crowd.

This did allow me to get a bit closer just without the ability to hover magically above peoples' heads. Dragging the Beast through the crowd is bad enough, clobbering said crowd with a collapsible chair and then climbing up in front of them would probably put me in with an excellent chance of a good lynching. Oh, the joys of trying to bring you lot a few fuzzy snaps….

It’s also interesting to note the bigger the Act the harder it is to photograph them.  Not only do they draw more people for you to fight your way through but they come on later in the day - just as it starts to get dark. Not a problem if you are professional photographer, given free run in the open space in front of the stage but a nightmare when you are 20 rows back and being constantly jostled by over-excited fans.  No complaints mind, it is the music that we are all here for after all and it just adds to the joy of the challenge as well as giving me an excuse for not coming up with the perfect shot each time….

The Music

Matthew P
A bit of a surprise this one.  I had wanted to see either Tiffany Page or Pixie Lot (yes Cynical, I missed Pixie  but since she is about 5 that's probably not a bad thing....) Mrs B was happy as she had already stated that she had no intention of watching anyone called Pixie or Tiffany, this was despite me giving her a warning for being namist in the extreme....Not sure I will ever hear of Matthew P again but it was entertaining enough for such an early act.

Take A Chance on Matthew P
Professor Green
A bit too much rap for my taste but it was entertaining watching the crowed bouncing about. Why on earth do these Artists think they have to talk like they are black and from Harlem.  He's obviously white and, from the odd dropped H,  from Ackney in East London........He evidently didn't have a lot of faith in his own ability as he dragged on different guest artists for each of his songs. He even introduced someone from Bishops Stortford. Oh the shame, Bishops Stortford has a rapper. I'm not sure we will ever get over it.....

An impressive crowd for the 2nd act on the
2nd stage...We had never even heard of him.....
I'm pretty sure that didn't worry him though...

The Proff, so excited he looks like
he's going to pee his pants.....

Saw Doctors
 They seem to be the Irish version of the Proclaimers, a bit of fun.

The Saw Doctors give away their day jobs.
In between music festivals they are
airport ground marshalling staff

Plan B
Now strictly speaking he has alway been a bit of a rapper, but there is enough cross over to other music genre and he has such a great voice he gets away with it...

A bit of a long shot this one, as the crowd was just
manic, so I decided not to try and risk The Beast as
he can get a bit snappy when people jostle him....  

Has he got a licence to take The Beast's picture?

Shed Seven
I've always had a soft spot for The Sheds, even though there are clearly not 7 of them.  Perhaps they own 7 sheds between them or something? They suffered a bit as the huge following for Plan B dispersed before they hit the stage and so the atmosphere went a bit flat. Mrs B is not a big fan and we had never seen Madness whose set started part way through so we left early. I did feet a bit of a cad abandoning them....

Rick 'Two Sheds' Witter - lead singer of Shed Seven 
"Out Of My Way, I'm Going For Gold" 

Paul 'Three Sheds' Banks
"She Left Me On Friday and
ruined my weekend...." 

It started to rain really hard just as we got to the back of the Madness crowd.  The music was such fun and we were so busy dancing that it didn't really matter.....

 The Return of The Los Palmas 7

Paulo Nutini
He was OK on his faster numbers but his ballads left me wanting to slit my wrists...

Looks like Paolo's New Shoes
might be giving him a spot of bother

The Kooks
I like The Kooks.  They have some really good songs and they were certainly good live, the only problem was they let themselves down a bit between tracks. Not a lot of chat and too much faffing which kind of lost the momentum of the set. Must try harder....They also seem to have a few feuds going with the some of the other bands including The Artic Monkeys and Razorlight....

 It was possibly naive to dedicate their song Naive 
to Johnny Borrell (Razorlight), hardly helpful in
 ending the feud between the two bands....

I don't think Luke Pritchard really needed the XXXL
He has a lot of growing to do to fit into that shirt .....
I was not that keen, having listened to a couple of their albums. It was mainly because we had bagged a good position ready for Kasabian that we stayed. Certainly glad we did, though as I guess dance music just works so much better live than in the sometimes sterile environment of a CD or I should say MP3 these days....


I'm not sure it was worth being told
off by security for this shot....

Kasabian more than made up for the Saturday night headline disappointment that was Kings of Leon....

This could be Fire or even Orange

Not a great picture but it does demonstrate the accuracy
of the BBC's dry 'Ah hem' weather prediction.... 

Tom Meighan looks like Vlad the
Impaler may have got him...

Fantastic and a real high to end a great weekend on. So Good we have already got tickets for next year

If you missed out on day one

 A record of the week
A fair number of artists to work with this week

Kasabian - Fire
The Kooks - Do you wanna (Acoustic Version) -
Shed Seven - Going For Gold
Plan B -  'Writings on The Wall'
Shed Seven - She Left Me on Friday
Kasabian - Vlad The Impaler
Shed Seven - Chasing Rainbows (Acoustic Cover)
The kooks - Naive
Kasabian - Shoot The Runner (Acoustic Cover)

Photo Finish

Teach if you look closely the boys are just out of shot...

My God the Geeks are nicking the
stage equipment....

He must be Scottish if he is still standing after that lot....

Mrs B looks more like she is ordering a hit
I guess she really didn't like Shed Seven...

Sometimes it's better to just get wet rather than
 looking like an extra from a condom advert....

It's never good when you get so drunk that
you lose the use of your arms...