Saturday, October 07, 2006

Look what I've got!!!

11 weeks and 2 days :-)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Cambridge Folk Festival 2006

Following the thunder storm I'd been craving for the last fortnight and our first attempt at conception (to much info, right?!) we headed off to the 2006 Cambridge Folk Festival.

Apart from Womad NZ in 1999 I've never been to a festival. When I was 16 I would've happily trundled off to Glastonbury/Reading/Donnington/other but I didn't have the means to get there. As I've got older, the thought of going to a festival pretty much filled me with dread for 2 reasons: 1. camping 2. porta-loos from hell. I'd never thought of going to the folk festival until this year.

Back in April (I think it was) I queued from 9.30AM til 7.15PM to get tickets for the festival (the o/h did join me at around 2.30 but I refuse to give him any cred for his endurance). We got tickets for the whole weekend which included a £10 discount as we're residents and access to the Thursday night entertainment.

So, last night was the Thursday night.

The thunderstorm was raging for about 2 hours before we set off (festival site a mere 2.5 miles away from our flat=no camping, hoorah). We decided against biking as there were still rumbles of thunder...

...having had our blue wristbands shackled onto us by a earnest-looking be-dreadlocked youth we entered the festival....

First off, it aint that big but it does have a very nice 'vibe.' My first thoughts were 'ahhh it's lovely.' As well as being bijou there is a distinct lack of chavs which goes along way towards making a good atmosphere. The only group of people that are likely to irritate me are a large group of Scousers who are dressed in cowboy hats with England flags on and tshirts emblazoned with the motif: 'Drunken Lezzers On Tour.' However, theydon'tt' actually appear to be 'lezzers' as they seemingly have hubbies and kids in tow. They are, undoubtedly, drunk. Last night, they showed no interest in the bands at all, they stood in a circle, one of the blokes had an inflatable guitar and they were all doing a drunken-scouse rendition of 'Amarillo.'Nice. But, what they didn't know was they were standing right next to a condemned portaloo which was seeping a large pool of piss and god-only-knows-what-else towards their hideous neon plastic sandals. Hehheh.

Anyway, we did a quick scan of the site and grabbed some food. I had a vegeburger, which, at the time was very nice, but repeated on me all evening and then gave me chronic stomach ache last night, still feeling a little rough now...anyway...we headed to the stage (which is in a large marquee thing with open sides) to see Chumbawamba (acoustic)unfortunately, as we were right at the back we could see (just - think Subboteo) but we couldnt' really hear them. To my delight, they did do the song about the woman beating her husband up with a frying pan and a colendar though we left before they more than likely did an acoustic version of Tub Thumping.


Went back to the stage to see Nizlopi. I had been a little bit sceptical about going to see these guys. Following the whole JCB thing I thought they'd disappeared - 'one trick ponies' as my o/h would say. BUT I was pleasantly surprised. The guy who plays the double bass, guitar and beatbox is clearly talented and the singer actually has a very good voice. Yep, they did play the darned JCB song which would've made me want to kill myself a bit had it not been for the delight of a small girl standing next to us who was bopping around on her dad's shoulders and waving like mad.

Oh, one thing I've forgotten to mention: Martin's 24 Hour Newsagent. Being a festival novice I'm not sure if newsagents are a common feature but it tickled me to see it. We discovered that at this fine emporium, one can purchase 3 items: Tampax, cigarettes and bread.

Martins Emporium

Back to it again this evening, I've been advised to catch Seth Lakeman and Richard Thompson is probably compulsory.


Didn't make it down to the site until about 7. Grabbed something to eat. Came down with extreme indigestion. Felt all panicky due to my crowd/toilet issues. O/h took me home at 9 and then returned to the festival on his own. I had gut ache all night and slept on the sofa. Also had massive guilt issues for ruining the evening for o/h.


Having faffed about at home for most of the day, we decided that blazing heat of the day had passed (not good to be sitting out in it all day) and we headed down to the site at about 6. Eager not to miss Cerys Matthews we squeezed our way to the side of Stage 1 and stood through a rather dull set by these guys: Nickel Creek. Uhm, can't really say a lot about them only that they were bland modern folk....

The wonderful Cerys Matthews

Then it was Cerys, who I have to say is looking very slim (thin really) and with massive norks (methinks it wasn't just country singing she went to Nashville for). Anyway, she did a good set, I wouldn't say great as she was showcasing her new material and always harder to really get into the action with her style of music if you've not heard the songs before. She played one or two Catatonia songs plus a couple off Cockahoop. She avoided Mulder&Scully and Road Rage which I think disappointed the plebs in the audience who seemed to chat throughout her entire set.


Not only did the chatting through Cerys' set annoy me, what super-annoyed me was the ignorance of people who brought their friggin tartan rugs and their chairs into the bloomin tent, thus taking up loads of room and preventing people who actually wanted to see the bands getting in and being able to see. One woman very nearly got a slapping from me as not only did she remain seated on her bloody rug, she was reading the paper. If you want to read the bloody paper, get out of the bloody tent and park your bloody fat arse in the picnic area. Grrrr.

Needless to say, o/h and I both wrote complains to this effect in the festival comments book.

Following Cerys we partook of some festival fare - I remained, thankfully, indigestion free this time. We returned to Stage 1 to see Croft No. 5 who I really enjoyed. They're a kind of funk, electrica, dance, folk group. Great smoking music - a bit lost on the o/h due to his 99.9% dope-free youth.

Croft No 5

The final act of the evening was Los De Abajo, I spose you'd call them a salsa band with an anarcho-political twist. They pumped out some good tunes which the crowd really appreciated, lots of dancing and merriment and one annoying twat who seemed to think he was Mexican (clearly 18 year old English public school boy) and kept shouting out in Spanish. I enjoyed their set but couldn't help feeling there was something deja vu about them.

Los De Abajo


We actually made it to the site before 3, pretty amazing considering we were both knackered. Due to our fatigue we parked ourselves on our snazzy new fold up chairs and listened to The John Butler Trio, who sounded very good, though I think we might have lost some of their impact by not actually watching them. I thought he was playing samples whereas in fact, he was doing it all himself. Would definitely like to hear more of their stuff.

John Butler Trio

Before I continue with my Festival Journal (which probably isn't the most gripping of reads) here are some more photos that I took around the festival site. The pics of the bands/artists were pilfered from elsewhere.

Funny lookin bird...

Obligatory hippy bloke

Recycled materials sculpture thing courtesy of the Homeopathic Healing tent.

Standard Festival Transport

Something else I really should comment on, aside from the bands, are the t shirts that people wore. Comedy/witty t shirts are apparently de riguer (sp?). Some of them were quite good (though I wasn't brave enough to ask to take peoples pictures) but I can only remember the slightly crap ones e.g. "I used to be a schizophrenic, but we're ok now" and "how to tell I'm a Tolkien fan." Those who weren't wearing the 'humour' shirts found it necessary to sport any tshirt that was 'musical' e.g. Glastonbury 1995 (cracking line up that year, have it on video), Cambridge Folk Festival 25th Anniversary (it's been going for about 40 years now)and to my absolute horror, I spied one woman wearing a Status Quo t shirt. It just makes me think that all these musical tshirted people go through a similar thought process before arriving at the festival:

'oh, I'm going to a festival, oh I must look like I'm really into my music, hmm, let me see, ahh yes, here's my (insert band name here) t shirt from 1875...oh yes, I rock.'

I'm probably being harsh, but it just made me cringe a bit.

Ok back to Sunday's line up.

Listened to Mozaik. Nothing much to report.
Bettye Lavette. We went to get some food.

Bypassed Emmy Lou Harris, well, we caught 2 of her songs but waded through the crowd to Stage 2 to catch Teddy Thompson, son of Richard Thompson.

Teddy Thompson

After Teddy was my favourite act of the festival which also served as a great finale to the weekend for us (there was an act after, but we chose to end on a high)

Rodrigo Y Gabriela

I'll type out the programme spiel about them because it does them more justice than I could:

"Lightning speed, dynamic range and irresistibly rhythmic invention have seen Rodrigo y Gabriela...Reinvent the rules of acoustic guitar. Their exotic appeal stems from a unique ethnic background originating in Mexico, the pair meeting in their teens in a thrash metal band. Frustation with the dmoestic rock sencen and an overwhelming sense of wasnderlust brought them to Europe, embracing the freedome that travelling with acoustic instruments brings. Tehy settled in Dublin at the turn of the millennuim, honing their skill on Grafton Street and Temple Bar. With fans of the calibre of Damien Rice it was not long before they were signed and released their debut alubm proper, Re-Foc, in 2002. They went on tour with artists as diverse as Courtney Pine, Buena Vista Social Club and Damien Rice humself, culminating in 2004's sizzling Live Manchester and Dublin, the first instrumental live album to enter the Irish Top 10. 2006 has seen a successful arena tour with David Gray and the release of their third album, Rodrigo y Gabriela, a studio album that captures the raw excitement and energy of their live shows. In Ireland it beat the Arctic Monkeys and Johnny Cash to the top position, going straight in to the charts at NO1, creating another record for an instrumental album. They are keen to stress that their music is not flamenco, though you may detect influences of Mexican folk, jazz and the occasional burst of Metallica. Certainly, they are unique and not to be missed."

In short, they were great and have downloaded their album Rodrigo Y Gabriela. A fine finale to the weekend.

Highlights from the festival can be streamed on BBC Radio 2 website and two 2-hour programmes are due to be screened on BBC4 at 9pm on 11th and 18th August.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Decor faux pas

The o/h and I were oop North at the weekend visiting his family. We decided to go for a pub lunch so we headed to a canal-side pub in Carnforth (I won't mention the name for fear of repercussions). After a bit of a faff in the carpark trying to squeeze o/h's Mondeo between a campervan and an ill-parked VW we found ourselves a nice table outside. Now, the wipe-clean menus should've been ample enough warning (someone on the TV once said "never eat anywhere that has a wipe-clean menu" i.e. Wimpy and those godawful chain 'family pubs' called The Fat Pig or some such). Anyway, we ordered the food (fat and carbohydrate only on this menu, though I think my salad did contain traces of cucumber...but I couldn't be sure)and as we were waiting for the food to come I turned round and to my horror I saw...

... a carpeted conservatory (dark patterned pub style carpet) furnished with dark wood (oak-effect I presume) tables and chairs like the one below:

Oh, it was just so wrong. There's just something about the internal decor of a pub, the traditional dark furniture (disguises beer stains and cigarette burns) and it being placed in a light, modern, white construction. This doesn't mean,however, that conservatories have to be furnished with cane (ick) though the pub could've chosen something that was a bit more conservatory-ish e.g.

Is it just me?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Felt and fleeces

I was watching a programme earlier this evening which briefly demonstrated the processes involved in making felt and sheepskin rugs. As follows:

shear sheep
salvage woolly bits
soak woolly bits in stale urine (didn't state origin of urine)
rinse it out
dye it using onion skins
lie yellow woolly piss-ridden mush out on the floor
cover it with a net curtain
roll wool in a giant sushi mat
then stamp on it with your friends
then mix and match colours to make a nice pattern
dry it out
and then you've got a 50 pence piece-shaped bit of felt

and to make a sheepskin rug:

rub fleece with salt
take fleece to only remaining tannery in the universe
put fleece in big wooden washing machine thing
feed fleece through a ma-hooo-sive mangle to get fat off the skin (mmm, imagine the smell)
then dry it in a ma-hooo-sive airing cupboard
add a few other bits and pieces to it during the process to preserve it
and then your rug is ready

Now, what I don't get is how the fuck did someone come up with these processes? How did Mrs (or Mr) Neanderthal (for want of a better era)discover that soaking wool in stale urine would culminate in some mighty fine felt? I mean, was s/he sitting there one day with a lump of wool and a bowl of piss and thought "hmm, I wonder what happens if I soak this wool in piss?" I just don't get it.

I've been experiencing something strange....

...I'm feeling optimistic about work.

Went to look at the new school (where I'm going to be working in September) and it's great. My classroom (which I have all to myself - for the first time ever in my teaching career) is pale blue and cathedral-esque in size.

I'm going to be teaching a variety of subjects rather than just boring Careers and PSHE.

To gain brownie points I've volunteered to steer the school's attempts to get Green Flag status:

The only thing that puts a bit of a dampener on the whole thing is the fact that my o/h and I are about to embark on a little procreation project. I can't mention this to the head/deputy so have to show willing regarding my gaining of further qualifications which will make me secondary-qualified. I can't be doing training and experience in mainstream school if I'm up the duff and about to go on maternity leave, can I? I feel a bit dishonest but work is not the b-all and end-all...

Anyway, it's all good.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

When bitching is justified....

Warning: this entry may make more sense to those who work in education!

I started working at my school last September. After being there for about a week I'd sussed that one of the HLTAs was narked that I'd got job as Careers teacher and she hadn't (after all, I'm a teacher and she's not so go figure...). Throughout the year she has been very precious about information -she still organised the work experience and wouldn't relay any info to me about what was going on with the kids' placements. If I'd had this knowledge I could've tailored the Year 10 and 11 Careers lessons to each kid more effectively. She was also TA in one of my Year 11 Careers lessons. On a couple of occasions she'd let me take the class then sidle up to me afterwards and say "actually they've already covered this with me last year" AFTER I'D TAUGHT THE CLASS!! Or "you shouldn't have asked them that" little quips like that.

I was also placed with the worst form group in the school (that's another long story). They have given me hell throughout the year behaviour-wise and with terrible home-life scenarios. Yesterday was our last day of term, the school is closing so it was a big day for all the kids and staff. I'd not organised any party food or anything for the form partly because their behaviour had been so horrendous and also because I'm officially only co-form tutor. Their *offcial* form tutor is the deputy head who makes it to the class about once a week. So, deputy head bought some party food for the end of the day. The food somehow ended up being delivered to the class by aforementioned HLTA. Instead of just handing the stuff over to me to dish out to the kids (despite the cr@p time I've had with them I did want to end it on a nice note) she completely took over. I said "what am I meant to do?" she literally shooed me away and said "X asked me to do it" (X being deputy head). So I had to stand aside while she dished out all the stuff to the kids. I was completely surplus to requirements. Two other TAs were in the room packing up art materials. I looked at them and both of them stood there stunned. I could feel myself about to lose it so I walked out. By the time I got to my little store cupboard (I didn't get a classroom) I was nigh on hysterical. Anyway, I pulled myself together enough to make it in time to say goodbye to most of the kids before they got on their busses. After the kids had gone both the TAs in the room came up to ask me if I was ok. One of them said "that was so horrible to watch, I'm sorry you had to go through that."

SO, last night I went out with a few people from work and my o/h. One of my friends from work does bring out the worst in me on the bitching front I must confess and last night I was going hell for leather bitching about this HLTA. O/h witnessed it and said to me afterwards that this is a "typical scenario, one woman offends the other and the offended one loses it over something quite petty - it doesn't seem to matter how petty but the response is always the same. To make a topical analogy, look to the Middle East..."

Ok.... I think what he was trying to say there was that women bitching isn't very attractive. BUT I feel I was bloody justified in bitching about that smarmy-faced, fat, pencilled-in eyebrowed, evil old battleaxe. What do you think?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I am NOT a mentalist.

My brother rung the other day (we'd not spoken since mid-May, we're not what you'd call 'close'). After catching up on the family gossip I decided that now would be a good time to tell him about our baby plans. So, I breezily said "oh, M and I are going to start trying for a baby soon."

*deathly silence*

"Oh" says he, "what do you want to do that for?"

So, I took his less than enthusiastic response as general disapproval. I was somewhat irked by this as he produced his first child at the age of 19 - I'm going to be 30 this year so our situations are hardly comparable. So the subject was quickly dropped and I felt a bit disappointed that he couldn't muster *some* enthusiasm.

Last night I told my mother about his response. "Well," she said, "B (brother's wife) rang after A (my brother) had spoken to you." "It's not that he doesn't approve as such, he's just worried that you're not mentally stable enough to look after a baby."

The cheeky sod! Granted I have had some 'issues' over the last 18 month but I was very sensible about the whole thing. Went to my GP in March 05, diagnosed with Dysthymia, got put on SSRIs, when we decided to go for the baby thing, I started weaning myself off the medication, having 20mg a day for a month, then 10mg a day for about 3 weeks then off them completely. I've been off the tablets for about a month now, and I'm fine - mentally. My IBS symptoms have come back but that's hardly a sectionable offence. My o/h is hugely supportive and the most balanced person I have ever met, so even if I do have a 'wobble'for whatever reason, he'll have be back on track. I have never had severe depression, nor have I ever been psychotic.

As well as coming off the medication, I've been religiously taking Folic Acid and am off the booze and we haven't even tried 'going for it' yet.

Does that sound like someone mentally unstable?

My Virtual Bedroom Wall Part 3

It's all coming back to me....

Saturday, July 08, 2006

My Virtual Bedroom Wall Part Deux.

Ahhh, just like the good ole days....

My Virtual Bedroom Wall

As I'm pushing 30 and cosily ensconced in a 2-bed flat with my beloved it is not de rigueur to have posters on our bedroom wall. So, I'd like to recreate my 19-year-old-me bedroom, with a one or two 'contemporary' extras. Please note, that man holding a baby Athena poster, will NOT be making an appearance.