A Grim North

Musings from a northerner living in the deep south…

Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Blackpool Rock

Posted by Alan on October 31, 2009

So, last weekend I also headed out to sunny Blackpool. In fact to start with – it was sunny!

Blackpool Tower

Blackpool Tower

Having taken the train over the hills I could really see the draw back in the days of satanic mills and wakes weeks. I started the in the Calder Valley where all the houses are dark, the light is shaded by the steep sides and the air is always just a bit too moist. Climbing out and into Lancashire the weather did improve as did the terrain – by Blackpool it’s flat, open and relatively light even in the October light.

(I was also recovering slightly from the night before which may have had something to do with it).

South Pier?

South Pier?

Blackpool was still really quite busy during the daytime despite it being out of season. I did see a couple of the ‘notorious’ stag/hen parties out there, mostly from the safety of the tram or the other side of the street though! 🙂

However the weather didn’t hold out for all too long…

The Promenade

The Promenade

Big Wheel

Big Wheel

Just before the lights

Just before the lights

So came the dark. And the lights. This is really why anyone goes to Blackpool in the autumn…

Tower at Night

Tower at Night

This is probably the last real trip out for the Powershot S3 as I’m intending to actually buy that SLR very soon – got a couple in mind so just need to try and buy!

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The gig race

Posted by Alan on October 27, 2009

Been a bit of a frantic week for gigs. Firstly, last Thursday the Highbury Garage for Capital/Swimming/I Like Trains (iLT). I do like the garage – went there for the first time to see I Am Kloot not so long again and it’s good. Beer is a bit crap and expensive (£3.90 per pint of Guinness / metallic ‘cider’) but then it’s a gig venue, not a real ale pub!

I Like Trains

I Like Trains @ Highbury Garage

It wasn’t a great gig for photos either. Last time I saw iLT (way back in 2007 at the Scala) I managed to get some great shots on my phone. Alas even with a glass lens the C913 didn’t quite cut the mustard.

I Like Trains II

Close up of the lead singer

Of course, photography isn’t really why you go to a gig. Swimming were pretty good – after I’ve digested the latest pile of new CDs I’ll look into them more. iLT themselves played quite a few new songs which was OK. Highlights of the evening were Spencer Perceval and Terra Nova (Spotify required)


On Sunday, it was the turn of Bellowhead – a modern English folk band. This was up in the Academy 2 in Manchester (yes, resulting in the early morning start for London on a Monday. Owch!)

 

And it was pretty awesome.

Bellowhead

Bellowhead

Bellowhead

Bellowhead

Bellowhead

Bellowhead

A very lively gig with much audience stomping along 🙂

To check out: London Town, Widow’s Curse and The Outlandish Knight. The latter is my favourite track of theirs but they didn’t play it. (Bastards!). The studio recordings don’t quite capture the essence of the live performance but are worth a look nonetheless.

I also saw Bellowhead back in 2007. Perhaps it’s time I found some new bands to go see…

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Hampton Court

Posted by Alan on September 6, 2009

A really quick post; still got loads of house things to sort and we still don’t have broadband yet!

Yesterday I popped up (well more trekked across town to) Hampton Court Palace. Here’s a few of the pix:

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Field Day 2009

Posted by Alan on August 1, 2009

Second festival of 2009 for me, Field Day in Victoria Park near Bow. It was a pretty good idea but a bit of a washout.

There were a few OK bands but sound quality wasn’t awesome at any of the stages. And it rained. Quite a lot. Never mind… could have been much worse. However, by MOGWAI they had fixed the sound problems on the main stage and the event bowed out with an awesome Glasgow Mega-Snake. Can’t be bothered with a proper review like… so here are some pictorial highlights 🙂

Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy

The Thing - Not My Thing!

The Thing - Not My Thing!

The Horrors

The Horrors

Rainbow over Bow

Rainbow over Bow

Mogwai

Mogwai

——————————————————————

List of Bands

  • Wet Paint
  • Final Fantasy
  • Wood Pigeon
  • The Thing
  • The Horrors
  • Juana Molina
  • Mumford and Sons
  • Malcolm Middleton
  • Santigold
  • Four Tet
  • (DJ Skream – Positioning move!)
  • Mogwai

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London Slow Food and Beer Matching

Posted by Alan on July 24, 2009

Last night we headed out to a Slow Food and Beer Matching event hosted jointly by the London Branch of ‘Slow Food’ and East London & City CAMRA.

And what a brilliant idea it was too – my thanks go out to Bill Green of ELAC for choosing the beer and arranging the venue. £20 bought you 8 combinations to sample – each with their own subtleties.

Seven of Eight

Seven of Eight

(The 8th was a lager therefore needed to be chilled).

Pretty simple concept really – we were guided though the beer by our host, Bill, and after pouring a sample (around 1/3rd pint) some food would arrive. Taste, match and enjoy. So without much futher ado… here’s what I thought.

1. Umbel Magna (3.8%) + Serrano Ham Crostini

Beer has a lovely sweet start. Cuts though the grease of the cheese/ham. Very nice contrast between the flavours.

2. Heather Ale (5%) + Quail Egg wrapped in Haggis (a la scotch egg) with Hollandaise

Mmmm. Nice. The spicy of the haggis works really well with the floral flavoured beer.

3. Taiphoon (4.2%) + Thai Chicken and Coconut Satay (with Sweet Chilli Sauce)

Not very keen on this. The beer didn’t really have a strong enough flavour to match the Chicken, especially with the sweet chilli sauce.

Chicken and Tempura

Chicken and Tempura Pimento

4. Dandelion (4.5%) + Tempura Roast Pimento

Love the pimento and the very subtle dandelion flavours. Works well for me.

5. Grozet (5.0%) + Wild Boar and Apple Chipolata

The only lager amongst the set tonight, I was really impressed with this. It complimented the sausage really well and was very drinkable on it’s own. Apparently it’s main flavour was Gooseberry. Having never eaten a gooseberry I can’t confirm that! Nice anyway.

Grozet, Lager - Sounds Eastern European but is actually Scottish!

Grozet, Lager - Sounds Eastern European but is actually Scottish!

6. Greenwich Meantime Chocolate Strong Ale (6.5%) + Beef Teriyaki

Flavoured with Chocolate rather than Chocolate Malt. Not really my thing as a beer. Goes OK with the Beer, but perhaps a little too similar as both are quite “heavy” flavours. Apparently they had to switch supplier of Chocolate as the quakers who own Cadbury’s were non too impressed their chocolate was being used to brew beer!

7. Greenwich Meantime Raspberry Wheat (6.5%) + Mini Summer Pudding

Based on a weissbeer style this was ok, though I think I would have preferred a non-flavoured weissbeer. It didn’t match the pudding very well either – the sweetness of the pudding made the beer taste uber-tarte.

8. Chalky’s Bite (6.8%) + Breaded Chilli Camembert

Beer and cheese combo works very well. This beer is flavoured with fennel and is the first of the strong beers to taste strong in alcohol. Provides an intermission to the cheese flavours. Lovely.

——————————————————

If you get offered the chance to do something similar, take it up! A very enjoyable and inexpensive night!

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Scilly Holiday

Posted by Alan on July 20, 2009

Probably last update for a little while, as the search for a new flat gets going – sorry… this is going to be a long one!

Our main summer holiday saw us abandon the UK mainland for the Scilly Isles. 30 miles off the end of Cornwall this delightful archipelago was a great choice. Good food, good atmosphere and always a lovely day for boating.

St Michael's Mount (Near Penzance, Cornwall)

St Michael's Mount (Near Penzance, Cornwall)

1st class rail travel put us in Penzance, where we stayed in a lovely B&B. If you ever feel the need to go west check them out! Our first proper holiday day, took us to St Ives and Lands End.

Cream Tea

Mmm....... Cream Tea

There’s nothing quite like a good cup of tea. Unless it comes with cakes and clotted cream of course!

Sennan Cove

Sennan Cove

299 Miles to Wallington

299 Miles to Wallington

Lands End is a bit of a non-event for those who haven’t been. The land stops and the sea starts. Just before the transition there are a few tacky shops and a bar. Still, I guess it’s good to have been. You can also pay a few quid and have your home town put into the sign – I spotted Wallington on the sign whilst having a cheeky half.

So… Scilly. Well, it’s a bloody lovely place. Very relaxed and generally friendly. Our first day we checked out St Mary’s and found Prince Charles.

The second day we headed out on a trip to see the puffins and seals on a glass bottomed boat. It was good fun though for the glass bottom to be any use you’d need clearer waters than the Scilly Isles. You can see tiny fish in the shallows but not a whole lot else bar seaweeds. However, the skipper (?) did take us up close and personal with the customs vessels moored off St Mary’s

La Douane Française

La Douane Française

The French one was a whole lot more impressive and really not bothered we came so close.

Our first smaller island to take in was Bryher. With a population of somewhere between 80 and 100 there isn’t much there…

Bryher Beach

Bryher Beach

…except of course the post office, local shop and the FRAGGLE ROCK BAR! Where we enjoyed a well deserved pint. In fact all of the islands still have a post office!

On Friday evening we took a trip out to St Agnes for tea at the Turks Head, the most Southwesterly pub in the British Isles. A couple of gig race boats left for the race that evening – can’t help but feel they were somewhat at a disadvantage having to row across to St Mary’s first…

Traditional Gig Race Boat

Traditional Gig Race Boat

Saturday took us to St Martin’s, famous (locally of course!) for it’s bakery and vineyard. Sadly the vineyard was closed but we did enjoy some good baked food, before relaxing on the beach for a while.

St Martins' Beach

St Martins' Beach

Sunday brought us to the last inhabited island- Tresco, proper famous for it’s gardens. But I don’t know much about plants and Ruth’s hay-fever was playing up a bit. So we just wandered the island. You’ll be pleased to learn there is no Tesco on Tresco.

Tresco Abbey

Tresco Abbey

The Tresco Channel

The Tresco Channel

Lastly… Monday brought us back to Penzance via chopper where we could board the sleeper for London – after a cream tea and a really good dinner of course. You really don’t get much space on the sleeper!

Sleeper Train

Sleeper Train

That’s all for now – another update soon with info on the really tame Scilly Wildlife.

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Glastonbury 2009 – Sunday

Posted by Alan on July 9, 2009

Sunday was chilled out even more. There weren’t really any bands I was that bothered about, with the exception of Blur. And that wasn’t really a must go see but a nice to be able to say I’ve done in a few years time kind of want.

So… a very lazy start saw Status Quo on the pyramid stage. More morning cheese 🙂

From there I went up to the Acoustic Tent where amongst other bands, I saw a singer/songwriter called Kate Walsh who was excellent and Penguin Cafe Orchestra who made me angry. PCO have soundtracked a few adverts it would seem and that was pretty much all they played. They took around 30 minutes to soundcheck as well due to the sheer number of instruments. Rubbish!

Kate Walsh (Acoustic Tent)

Kate Walsh (Acoustic Tent)

To wake myself up again from the calm of the acoustic tent I headed off to the queens head. It was pretty empty – which was a shame – next up was The Capitol Years from Philidelphia, US. Quite good…

The Capitol Years (Queens Head)

The Capitol Years (Queens Head)

Next up – Madness. Who put on a really good show. But the best bit I thought was at the end the put loads of randoms on stage. Let some lad have the mic at the end – who gladly said “thank you and good night Glastonbury”. At which point the engineer cut the sound, leaving Suggs holding a dead mic. He didn’t look best pleased…

I heard Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds from the solidarity bar where I had bumped into a colleague.

Then finally Blur. Nice gig to come down from all the excitement of the past few days.

Damian Albarn (Pyramid Stage)

Damian Albarn (Pyramid Stage)

I didn’t watch the whole set due to nature calling mid-way through the set (4 pints in the solidarity bar… didn’t bode well for a 2 hour set). But this presented a great opportunity for chips!

So I finished off Blur with chips and curry from a burger  van. Marvellous!

A slightly blurry Blur on the Pyramid Stage

A slightly blurry Blur on the Pyramid Stage

And so that’s it Glasto 2009.

Bring on 2010!

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Glastonbury 2009 – Saturday

Posted by Alan on July 8, 2009

Saturday was a little bit less mental than Friday; I guess I was kinda worn out!

Starting in the speakers forum where I picked up some enviromental poetry whilst waiting for Mark Thomas. Very enjoyable – recommend checking out Danny Chivers.

Mark Thomas (Speakers Forum)

Mark Thomas (Speakers Forum)

After Mark I walked down to see Eagles of Death Metal via Rolf Harris. Except 60,000 people had had the same idea so getting so see any of Rolf wasn’t going to happen. Great time to use the cash point though! Eagles were good but not awesome. Perhaps it was the fact they’d played at 0215 the previous morning…

I then went up to the acoustic tent to chill out a little. You can sit down in there and it never seems to be too muddy no matter the weather outside.

After a food break and stocking up with some tinnies from the tent I headed over for a night of other stage headliners. Plan was to hang round the back for Maximo Park (having seen them in Glasto 07 anyway) then move forward through the crowd through Pendulum for Franz. By the time Pendulum came on I was already pretty close to the front…

Pendulum

Pendulum

The crowd was mental. Being quite fat and unfit I actually had to duck out after a few songs. Just too energetic for me… how rubbish is that eh? Oh well. Maybe next time I might be in better shape! So I headed off for the bar to avoid the unidentified flying liquids etc. Not too long after I could see people lighting fireworks and flares for the crowd.

Finally, Saturday headliner for me was Franz Ferdinand. I wasn’t expecting great things having heard previous live material. But it was pretty damn good, especially the extended version of Lucid Dreams (Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, 2009), featuring a lengthy electronic noise solo and the ending of Outsiders where all the band were playing a single drum kit!

Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand

To be continued…

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Glastonbury 2009 – Friday

Posted by Alan on July 7, 2009

There isn’t going to be any particular order in these glasto notes – too much to write about and way not enough time or inclination to really bother!

Friday was a bit of a mission for me really. Not sure why but it just seemed like a good day to see a lot of bands. Maybe it was the lousy weather and the fact the queens head was pretty empty so I could see small bands and be dry. Needless to say, 15 bands in one day is a little silly. My ears didn’t forgive me until we reached Penzance to start our next holiday!

Of course, seeing so much stuff in a day does lead to a smidge of mind fuck. Especially when the first half is in a tiny tent next to an amp stack… but, a sample of the better photos are below with a little commentary… I shall save the rest of the pub.

City Stereo (Queens Head Tent)

City Stereo (Queens Head Tent)

Lily Allen (Pyramid Stage)

Lily Allen (Pyramid Stage)

Doves (John Peel Tent)

Doves (John Peel Tent)

I finished Friday with Doves in the John Peel Tent, on the barrier. Some fat bloke had been trying to push past a few people to get to the front – I’d stood my ground so someone on the front make some room for me! 🙂

Doves were pretty awesome, especially playing ‘There Goes The Fear’ – the track which made me buy their album (my 2nd ever LP purchase) back in college! I will definately be investing in their new LP after my next trip away!

Lily Allen warmed up after a shaky start.

Fleet Foxes were lovely but not especially interesting. Pretty much like their album, I thought it went on a bit long.

The Slips were pretty cool. Music from laptops with dials does impress me slightly even if it is a little souless.

Perhaps not the kind of thing you’d expect me to see is Sub-Universe – check it out at http://www.myspace.com/subuniverse it certainly woke me up!

And finally… back to the start of Friday, with Bjorn Again. Ah, Abba. Nothing like a bit of cheese.

To be continued.

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Glastonbury Revisited

Posted by Alan on June 21, 2009

On Tuesday, I’m off to Glastonbury festival. This is my second time – the first being in the gap between studenthood and paid employment.

So… I thought it might be nice to put up a quick reminder of last time to help get me in the mood 🙂

Glastonbury 2007…

Sunset

Friday

  1. Modest Mouse
  2. Amy Winehouse
  3. Chas ‘N’ Dave
  4. Charlotte Hatherley
  5. The Coral
  6. Jack Peñate
  7. Arcade Fire
  8. Arctic Monkeys
  9. Björk (last track only… amazing light show!)
Polar Bears Mud Glorious Mud Arcade Fire

Saturday

  1. Liz Green
  2. Three Daft Monkeys
  3. John Otway
  4. Nina Conti & Stan Stanley
  5. Simon Munnery
  6. Maxïmo Park
  7. Editors
  8. The Horrors
  9. Iggy Pop & The Stooges
  10. Dragonette
Simon Munnery Maximo Park Silent Disco

Sunday

  1. Cold War Kids
  2. The Horrors (unintentional repetition!)
  3. Rumble Stripes
  4. The Young Knives
  5. Manic Street Preachers
  6. Kaiser Chiefs
  7. KT Tunstall
  8. Bellowhead
Manic Street Preachers Bellowhead

Panorama of Park

Wonder what I’ll see this time…

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