Archive for the ‘Out & About’ Category

Welcome Back!

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

hi everyone! got back for a well-earned break with The Wife.

I left having got to the halfway point in my Personal Upload Challenge, things at work seemed to get very hectic & no let up since getting back, so no blog posts, till now.

2 weeks on Formentera was just what the doctor ordered, lovely people, Sun, Sea,fresh air, stunning scenery, but was bittersweet.

My aunt, who’d been ill for a long time, finally lost her battle against cancer & passed away during the first week of the holiday & the funeral took place before we were able to get back.

I’m not angry as such, there were practical reasons for the funeral arrangements & issues regarding trying to get back, but as she was someone I was close to & she’d played a huge part in my early life, it was natuarlly, difficult to deal with.

That said, at least when the end came, she was surrounded by family & friends, so she did not go out of this life alone.

I’ll miss her, but I’ll always love & remember her

Comin’ Like Ghost Town……………

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Yesterday afternoon was quite a surreal experience. After event of recent days, we discussed it a little at work,  after which I left with instructions from The Wife to make a stop at Lush in Birmingham City Centre.

As the bus pulls in to the penultimate stop, I notice something’s not quite right. The it hits me as I get nearer to New Street – all but a handful of shops & (a pub) appear to be open. Mercifully , Sainsbury’s is open & after picking up supplies I turn to my mission in hand – as suspected Lush has shut up shop.

I see more coppers than I’ve normally see on a match day, once I get to New Street & the increased presence extends into the train station. I’m walking through town with a large bag & a couple of people give me odd looks, but be serious – a looter, heading towards the police? Then again I hear stories later that do make me revise my estimation of these individuals.

Anyway, I actually get a seat on the train, but when I get to wolverhampton, things get really odd.

Again I see more police, but as in Birmingham I assume it’s a precaution for any activites that may be occurring later. However, as I get to the bus station, there’s a line of officers & then I pass roit poilce in a van once I pass the Express & Star Building.

The town centre is eerily bright & quiet until I see near the Lichfield Street fountain lines of police. Then I (belatedly) realise things have already kicked off. I find a rout past rubbernecking spectators on to the main ringroad & inform the few people heading the other way that the city is sealed off. The sight of a bare ASDA car park & almost total silence in the sun is just odd.

I get home to a relieved Wife & hear one of our neighbours, Richard, could be stranded, as New Street Station was closed not long after I got my train from their & Wolverhampton Staion closed by the time I got home.

I also learn shops started shutting by 3 p.m. & things started flaring up. I also learned that apparently last night in Birmingham, one of the shops hit in the first way of looting was PRIMARK: so we’re dealing the the greedy, dispossessed & terminally stupid.

OK, so seriously, there’s never any justification for the behaviour we’ve seen in recent days, but this shows how dumb some people can be

Many people have proffered opinions, not all of them helpful, but some of those working on the ground, in London at least have given food for thought that we all should consider, such as Camila Batmanghelidjh, who also wrote a piece in the Independent – read that here. In addition,  Paul Lewis  & James Harkin note in the Gaurdian that we most remember that it wasn’t just poor, black kids running feral on the streets: read the full article here.

On a more positive note, people have shown communities may be scared, but not easily broken.

Fellow Mixclouder, Orsii, based in London took part on one of the many volunteer clean-up operations organised by RiotCleanup. If you can help, check out the website at

With everyone’s help, we’ll get through this


When The Boat Comes In………………

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011
By way of a diversion, I read about the world's largest stop-motion animation, produced in association with Aardman Animations, home of Wallace & Grommit. All the more remarkable as it was filmed on a series of Nokia smartphones. Yes, PHONES!
Only just got round to actually seeing it & it's really rather good.
Here's the film:

Gulp. The world’s largest stop-motion animation shot on a Nokia N8. from Nokia HD on Vimeo.

and here's how they did it:

Gulp. The making of. from Nokia HD on Vimeo.

How cool is that?

Al Jarreau, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Sunday 24-07-11

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

2 great things happened this weekend:

  • The Wife returned from abroad, visiting family
  • We got to see Al Jarreau in concert .(the Wife booked tickets before she went away)

Bafflingly, the venue wasn’t full, but the crowd more than made up for the lack of bodies with their enthusiasm.

Despite being in his 60’s & having the air of a mischievous  granddad (he had a cheeky conversation with a young lad in the audience whom we’d seen with his family earlier at a nearby Italian restaurant a few hours earlier), there was no mistaking THAT voice or denying t he talent & vocal dexterity which has sustained a career spanning decades.

Given this tour was entitled ‘greatest Hits’, there’s a lot of material for him to draw on, but he managed to fit in a fair few classics, from ‘Boogie Down’ , ‘Mornin’’ & ‘Easy’ (from the LP ‘Breaking Away’ when I first encountered  his work as a youngster). He also much to The Wife’s delight, performed her Soul Weekender anthem ‘Double face’, which I was unsure he’d do. She hasn’t stopped reminding me of that.

Between chatting & frequent bouts of jazz scatting, he also performed new material, including a surprising duet with his bassist, Chris Walker, who also performed a solo number which was really good.


Another highlight was his cover of the Beatles’ classic ‘She’s Leaving Home’, which I found deeply affecting (must be going soft in my old age….).

Didn’t bring a camera (again), but we went for the train tired, but happy………………

Welcome Back. Again

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

The Wife & I recently returned from our first ever soul weekender, courtesy of Jazz FM & Expansion Records (I’m currently finishing the diary on that, so there’ll be a blog post on that soon, I hope).

Meanwhile, it did inspire me to dig through the archives & find the mixtape, part of which I’d previously put up on Mixcloud.

We had a great time, though it was marred, in part (amongst other things), by the news of Gil Scot-Heron’s passing when we were packing to go.