Monday, August 30, 2010

Arm Yourself Because No One Else Here Will Save You


Blimey it is the second to last day of August! This month has just flown by and although we have been busy doing really nice things I am still having trouble accounting for 31 days! That's actually one thing I really like about blogging, it allows you to look back and remember things you have done or thought, music you have found or friends you have made. 

We have a similarly busy month coming up next but smack bang in the middle of it is our summer holiday! Two whole weeks in the tent in Scotland and I cannot wait! Mountains, fresh air, camp fires, walking all day, reading all day, flying the kite oh and teaching Buddy to swim!

Anyway, I have been looking back through my blog for the last holiday we had in Scotland which was on Skye, and instead stumbled across my first Thursday Thirteen post, where I noted 13 things I like about camping, and this photo I took while working in Scotland a few years back. I am looking forward to views like this and the reasons for my love of camping stay the same.

Thursday 13 - 23rd August 2008 'I love being outside and would camp all year round if given the chance. With suitable under bed mats and a fire to sit round in the evening the UK is a perfect place to camp no mater what the season; in fact, if I could I would live outside, with a hut or shelter for rest and to escape the wilder weather. I tend to camp in the most extreme environments this country has to offer. Here are 13 things I love about camping:

1. Fresh Air – I go camping for two consecutive weeks every year and during that time seldom set foot inside a building. I feel great benefit from constant fresh air and the elements and after a few days become totally acclimatised to the weather. There is always air movement around you rather than the still and sterile atmosphere of the built environment and associated heating systems, to which I become accustomed to for most of the year.

2. Observing Nature – The great outdoors provides a constant source of activity to be observed. Camping allows you to access the countryside in a unique way and provides constant entertainment and sensory stimulus.

3. Restful Sleep – I sleep better than at any other time when I am camping, probably related to the fresh air, but even if disturbed through the night I find comfort in the noises I hear, be they the wind, the adjacent stream, or cows and sheep eating grass outside!

4. Body Clock – When I am camping my internal body clock resets itself and I tend to go to sleep earlier in the evenings (lack of good light being a contributory factor) and wake earlier in the mornings. I love mornings and it’s great to be up and about at what I think is the most beautiful part of the day.

5. Appetite – Another factor of camping that I partially attribute to the fresh air is my ravenous appetite. I think that the increased activity of hill walking and cycling also helps but when I am away I can eat three cooked meals a day and thoroughly enjoy every one of them.

6. No TV – I am actually quite a big fan of the TV and have over the years clocked up many hours watching films and science fiction shows but I never miss the TV when I am camping and I enjoy it being absent from my life. I have considered getting rid of my TV; my partner spent some years without one happily and only got one again as his dog started spending most of the time in his house mates room watching one man and his dog and animal hospital! (I kid you not!) Anyway, we no longer have dogs and have discussed getting rid of our TV however the prospect of no football, and no viewing my Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs was enough to make us hesitate! (I know it’s a kids show but I like it!)

7. Homing Skills – I find that camping brings out certain skills that much of the western world no longer utilises as a necessity and I enjoy using and perfecting them. Whether it’s developing my sense of direction and map reading, picking a good camping spot taking into consideration all available resources or producing a meal to satisfy both a herbivore and omnivore with camping catering equipment! (It’s the cooked breakfast that’s the trickiest!)

8. Simplicity – I enjoy the simplicity of camping trips. The day starts and your only considerations are to feed and clothe yourself appropriately, and then to achieve your chosen activity for the day while being prepared for anything nature may throw at you.

9. Climbing Mountains – There is a wonderful sense of achievement and calm that comes from completing a hill or mountain walk. It is a paced journey requiring mental and physical discipline and a respect of your environment and the forces of nature. (Ok not necessarily a component of camping trips but definitely a component of my camping trips!)

10. Erecting the Tent – The tents available now are very simple to put up requiring little skill or time however it is still an integral part of the camping experience from the selection of the spot to achieving a balanced shelter capable of withstanding strong winds and rain, without blowing away or flooding, in the middle of the night…..which is always when the worst weather occurs!

11. Time – I always feel like I have loads of time when I am camping. I think our lives become cluttered by the clutter we accumulate in our houses. The more things we buy to do, the more there is to be done but the time available to us does not increase. When I go camping personal effects are kept to a minimum to allow easy transportation and minimise distraction. I always have a book, a pen and paper and occasionally my guitar. My mind is very still and restful. 

12. Seclusion – I have found other campers to be predominantly friendly but similarly to me protective of their time in the great outdoors and therefore not overly sociable. This suits me well. 

13. Peace – I think the last item encompasses all of the other 12 in one way or another. Camping gives me peace.'

Scotland here we come!!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

That Friday Feeling

Ever since I posted last I have had Van Morrison singing Into the Mystic in my head (please note I am not complaining) it has been 3 days now!

Well I am delighted to say it is Friday and I am starting to get that Friday feeling, helped along by the sunshine which has returned albeit through thin and intermittent cloud.

The dogs and I have had a long lunch time walk and swim (as usual I did not swim but as usual the temptation was there) and they are enjoying an afternoon nap! I miss the ignorance of childhood. I am a water baby and as a child would accidentally on purpose throw myself into any available water. Now the desire is still there but knowledge prevents my actions. For example the stream may look nice but the cows poo in it and the farmer washes his equipment and such off in it upstream!

Still I will be plunging myself into the water on holiday in Scotland next month, no matter what the temperature. We are usually very lucky with the weather in Scotland. The year the storms hit and demolished Boscastle we were in the North West of Scotland. As we holidayed in ignorant bliss, avoiding news broadcasts and papers for two weeks, the road behind us was closed due to mud slides and our family prayed that we were safe and dry. We had glorious weather for the entire holiday!

I have also been advised by my vet to try and get Buddy swimming to alleviate the restrictive movement in his rear legs. You would not notice it when you watch him running about like a lunatic (Buddy's Song - With legs like these, Buddy he was born to run! Sorry Bruce.) but when the vet stretched out his legs he said there was restrictive movement there which obviously for a German Shepherd could be a future issue.

Buddy is afraid of water; he has come on leaps and bounds since we got him as we take him to shallow rivers and streams for a dunk on hot days and encourage him to play without forcing him. Even when I bath him he is desperate not to get his back or head wet. Anyway my vet thinks that if we both go in the water he will follow rather than being left alone, and as Roxy is also a water baby there will be two people and one pup swimming so he will hopefully want to join in. Perhaps we should have gone on holiday in July!!

I will keep you posted on my progress there! We have been on holiday camping in September before but this year Autumn does seem to have arrived a little early. It's hard to tell. I always say I should keep weather and temperature records for comparison. I know of people who do and when ever I have compared trends in weather, rainfall, temperature etc my perception is always wrong.

Well I have been sat at my laptop most of the week and although this activity is not in the least bit work related it is definately time to look at something else! I may retire to the garden for some end of summer pruning and tidying!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Peace of Mind

I have had a trying day work wise and like most days of this ilk have found myself making many mental blog posts, but when the time comes when I can sit down and blog I am exhausted and ready for bed. I did however find some peace of mind in this wonderful song. So I am blogging the end result of the day. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 22, 2010


We have had my parents staying with us for the weekend and had the most wonderful time, including a bit of a sing song session last night which lead to my few previous musical posts. At 2am I gave it up and went to Bedfordshire!

It was lovely to have some quality family time. My Mum taught me some new crochet which was very exciting and will hopefully be the start of me developing my skills in that area, having been limited to crocheting squares. I have always got a lot of joy out of it but I am now looking forward to going further. My Gran taught me to crochet squares when I was little. It is a very peaceful past time.

My Dad, reminded me about the The Grumbleweeds, which I had completely forgotten about, who were a group of comedians and impressionists around on the TV when I was growing up, and we all had a hoot listening to some old Barron Knights tracks. (As posted below!)

The main event of the weekend was my Mum's driving experience day but that is not my story to share so you will have to keep an eye out on Bowledover's Blog to hear more about that!

We are now spending a quiet sunny afternoon doing a few chores and relaxing before the working week starts again. Happy Weekend all, may it be as joyous as ours has been.

Don't Stop Me Now!

Misplaced Childhood?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wasps Nest

Festival Highlights

Time for a bit of reflection on Cropredy folk festival which we attended last weekend. It is a three day festival organised by Fairport Convention and their management team and although predominantly a folk festival has grown to encompass other music genres. 

There are approximately 20,000 people attending and the music is all on one stage. 

In recent years they have had Robert Plant, Nick Harper, Jethro Tull, Yusef and Dreadzone. This year the biggest names were Status Quo (who were also surprised to be asked to play a folk festival), Rick Wakeman (a thoroughly decent chap who was kind enough to shake out hands and let us grab a photo with him) and the amazing, best band in the world, Little Feat!

Little Feat are one of our favourite all time bands so it was amazing to get to see them again. It was a sad event however as Paul Barrere announced during the gig that their drummer, Richie Hayward, had passed away the day before. We were aware of his illness and that he was not touring with them but it was a shock and so sad for all of them.

They played an amazing set and we yelled extra loud to show our appreciation of their performance and presence and after the gig we went to get an album signed and got to shake all of them by the hand. I didn't say much, I didn't know what to say really so I just thanked them for an amazing performance and said what a pleasure it was to meet them.

I am not really bothered about autographs but we bought an album we did not have so we had something to give them to sign as that's what they were there for but to actually have got to meet them and shake their hands was a magical moment.

Anyway I thought I would share a couple of my favourite Little Feat songs that are not perhaps so well known from Representing the Mambo. Enjoy!

Ok scrap that! They are not on You Tube (sounds like a job for Dancin' Fool) in the meantime here is Texas Twister from the same album.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Road to Recovery

Well I am almost caught up on sleep after the past few days! Not quite ready for the big festival post though! It was such a great event and I thought of loads of things I want to record about the three days but I do not want to rush it and this is a quick stop by only!

I have noticed that although it is the 16th August I have only made 4 posts this month! And I expect that trend will continue throughout the rest of August and September as we have a lot on. It is all good stuff and we are very excited.

I might just have to come back in November and make a summary post about the whirlwind that was late summer into autumn!

Well I am going to have to take the pups for a walk, they never tire!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cropredy 2010 - A Festival in Pictures

I will fill in the details in the next post, right now I am catching up on sleep! What a blast!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fly By

I had a top day today. I was very busy in the office...well the spare room but Monday to Friday it doubles as my office. Anyway I got loads done and won a contract in Walsall that starts next week. (With trees it's always can you start yesterday!)

On my lunchtime walk I turned at the sound of jet engines to see the Red Arrows do a flyby which was very special. They were in two V formations and very low. I waved!

And after that I was treated to a close and pre-longed flyby by the Buzzards who inhabit the hill fort in our village. Just lovely.

I did not have my camera with me which is a shame in some ways as the birds and the planes were so close, but on the other hand I got to enjoy the moment completely without suddenly trying to get my camera out of its case in time and focus. I just sat back, smiled and enjoyed it!

The Red Arrows is such a special site and gave me that welled up happy feeling that makes you laugh out loud. I would have loved to have been a pilot but most aeroplane careers that end in that kind of job seem to start in the military and that was definitely not for me.

I have been looking out some Red Arrows shots to post but only like to post images from sites where its cool. I have found an amazing one but its from someones photography blog so I don't want to post the image but follow this link to check it out...truly amazing!

Ok there are no pictures that I feel I can pinch so just go to Bing Images Red Arrows and have a look for yourself!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August The What?!?!?

How on earth did it get to be the 10th of August? Although I have been busy doing fun things. Most recently we had some good friends come and stay with us for the weekend and had one of those fab visits where you feel like you have had a really good break, relaxed and laughed, and you do not feel cheated on Monday. Having said that it still went too quickly!

Last weekend I spent studying for an exam on the Monday which I am happy to say I passed! It was an all day assessment with a practical aspect and verbal examinations.

The week in between and the start of this week have been busy with work and I am looking forward to a short week as we are off to the Cropredy festival on Thursday. Cropredy is traditionally a folk festival but has expanded in recent years to include more diverse music genres and Little Feat and Status Quo are both playing. How cool is that!!!

So some good live music reports to come soon!

I have always wanted to see Status Quo and cannot believe I am finally going to! I have seen Feat before but who would turn down a chance to see them again!


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