well, I'd forgotten all about this until Z printed off one of my blogs on here and handed it to me in the week. I think Facebook kind of took over for angst, but is actually less expressive so I thought I'd return. I'm not really doing much treading water as the arachnoid cyst and the brain connections continue to bug the hell out of my life with noisy tinnitus and balance issues - worsened by more recent labyrinthitis (probably from the neural feedback shorting out as it gets more blocked/damaged). Half the time I forget I've got anything wrong me - which leads to quizzically asking K why my archery (I've kept that up over the years along with going to festivals, and working at eFest Towers) has gone to pieces.
At the moment I have breathing issues too (pile it on fates why dontcha?) following a bad case of flu with effects the lymphatic system - K far worse than me this time around. I lost my tankard at a very muddy Glastonbury so can look forward to dropping a few pints at Beautiful Days (literally). Z is about to move out to her own place up the road, and so it'll just be me, IK and the cat rattling around here (again literally in my case).
I just noticed it's 10 years since my post on here where I was first diagnosed and given a decade so it's all good (keels over and dies)
Ah so today is the first of Jan 08 - or 118 as has been rattling about my head all day. The end of December rushed up over me and gave me little time to post. We had our work's Xmas do at the races - where I won enough to get very drunk on alcohol, but not enough to show more than a tenner to K the next morning to justify my huge hangover. Work continued a pace and I completed half my workload for January to give the lads a chance to train someone new up.
Then suddenly it was panic pressie buying and more evenings at the pub and a trip to my sister's for my niece's birthday. Xmas day was nice, we had a delicious crown of lamb, a load of food and a chance to work it off on the new Wii games. Spiced Cider (which Z liked) and spiced wine and Bucks Fizz (another winner for Z) kept us in good cheer between our journeys around the South West visiting the relatives.
The spare room has been converted into an office for the new job, you all might have guessed what it is by now - if not, you've not been paying attention!
New Year's Eve Eve - my traditional party night - involved getting a little too merry and falling asleep outside on my sister's patio while i cooked a five star meal for her, family and friends in her lovely kitchen as they all watched and was resoundingly plaudited all night - guess i still have it as a chef. The night after involved some more nice food and feet up in front of the telly watching the huge fireworks from London. Typical we stop going to the London Eye for NYE and they put on a show like that!
A few days before we managed to get organised enough for us to travel to Exmouth for their fun Xmas shoot at archery - we all came away with golds! Me for Longbow, Z for Junior Girl and K for Ladies Recurve - what a glorious end to the year. See it's worth getting off your arse and doing stuff in your spare time as it pays dividends if you apply yourself!
Anyway new job tomorrow - slightly nervous!
HNY everyone or Honey as all you internet abusers will be aware is just hilarious!
Here we are again. We arrived in the campervan fields yesterday. The journey in the campervan uneventful. We set up the awning, and settled back in the long grass and the sunshine. Z was excited as her school is out the way, it's the first year she is able to come before Friday. As the sun set we lit the BBQ, and suppered on burgers and haloumi. A few beers, and the obligatory look at the site at night all lit up and waiting for us it was off to bed. We were woken by voices, and the trudged of boots, the queues of people in wet weather gear, masses of em all the way up to e24, we wandered over to see the site in daylight, and got back to the van just as the heavens opened. Now we air and listen to the rain as the sodden arrivals trudged past with theory trolleys and barrows. Day one has begun...
This year's Glastonbury Festival has all the makings of becoming the stuff of legend. Sunday's line-up is topped by Stevie Wonder who draws what has to be the biggest crowd ever assembled in front of the Pyramid to see his singalong set of hits and feel good numbers to "celebrate" Glastonbury's 40th Anniversary.
Wonder had the masses in rapture when he brought event founder Michael Eavis on to the stage saying, "I want to thank this wonderful man who's had this for 40 years. Yes, 40 years. It's a celebration. Happy Birthday." A huge massed chorus of "Happy Birthday" followed with farmer Eavis joining in on vocals.
Elsewhere festival favourites Orbital drew a decent crowd and Empire Of The Sun provided a visual treat to conclude proceedings on The Park Stage. Rodrigo y Gabriela also gathered a decent following at West Holts. Meanwhile on the most incredible looking stage at the festival, Arcadia, David Rodigan provided a fortieth anniversary celebration of the formation of Bob Marley & The Wailers, with enough flames to Catch a Fire. I love the stage loads it's an awesome visual spectacle and the sound's good too.
A whole five days of sunshine with not a jot of rain is a rarity at Glastonbury, and the fields were dusty as fluttering flags and the occasional cloud provided shade during the morning. I was too tense about the football to consider not watching it, I wish now I had. We pack up the van awning and prepare the van ready for an exit very early tomorrow morning
The big clash of the day was the ill fated England match versus a rip roaring sing along to 'Sweet Child Of Mine', 'Paradise City' and more on the main stage with Slash, one of the most metal flavoured acts to ever grace the Pyramid Stage. #i made the wrong choise, the girls the right one.
We went to the bar to watch it on the tv screens, and our hearts sank as our defence just fell apart. For those footie fans who'd smashed up their vuvuzelas and were feeling the clouds of depression, there was Ray Davies filling the legend slot and he'd brought the Crouch End Festival Choir onstage with him to perform a string of Kinks hits including 'Sunny Afternoon', 'You Really Got Me', 'Lola', 'Waterloo Sunset', and 'All Day And All Of The Night'. It kind of helped the pain, some nice depressing 'slit your wrists' music would have helped more. Some of the shops had dropped their prices and started their sales, so we meandered around a few of them looking for shopping ideas.
I slowly made my way up to Park, drowning my sorrows by ticking off another four bars and pubs I'd not drunk in before along the way. Archie Bronson Unit provided the soundtrack as I considered making the climb up the ribbon tower. My vertigo and it visibly moving in the strong wind put the end to that idea.
We wandered slowly back catching a wonderful voiced performance from the special quest in the Bimble Inn - no one I aksed knew who she was however. We stopped off again at the Cornish Arms to drink under the winged surf boards, before finding a nice spot in the sun to view Faithless.
Faithless provided the last day's magical sunset slot entertainment and did not dissappoint, providing a wonderful worked soundtrack and a chance to take in our surroundings and take a chance to look around at the sights and sounds in this, the most iconic of arenas. Much like Maxi Jazz, I felt 'Become 1' was a moment never to be forgotten.
This year the festival had provided so much more Theatre, Circus, Poetry, Cabaret and alternative entertainment that the music almost took second place. Circolombia provided amazing acrobatics, and Ken Fox's incredible Wall of Death was an increddibly adrenaline fuelled experience. There were crowds in front of all the ground shows, and the new areas of The Common, Block9, and The Unfair Ground sat perfectly beside Shangri-La, and Climate Camp. This area really came into its own this year with mind bending site art, we spent ages trying to photograph the various Banksy artworks under low lighting and with camera shake, there were a host of random stages and bars, and a plethora of roving characters which made it an unforgettable experience. The Wheel Of Death was just amazing with the lady rider sitting no handed and side saddle whilst whizzing around the wall sideways - wow!
The Green Fields too provided a wealth of skills to learn, and had a wonderful relaxed feel about it, a true festival within a festival away from the crowds sweltering in front of the main stage. The new kids' galleon, and Earth Dome Stage in the Greenpeace area also provided a nice base for those with young families. I'm amazed that for the first time I never went into the Croissant Neuf tent, the nearest I came was sitting outside at the next door cafe listening on one of the earlier balmy nights.
Glastonbury offers a wealth of fun just for kids, with the huge Kidz' Field, and they turned up in their masses to enjoy the weekend. The mix of people attending the festival was as diverse as ever, with a nice global flavour and a diverse audience. It seemed to me, that all the toilet cleaners, and many of the staff doing catering appeared to come from other countries- and they were so amazed, there was nothing like this in their home countries they all told me.
It's also worth mentioning the huge range of food on offer, the Festival was a Gastronomic delight for many providing a wealth of choices from around the world to sample, alongside the more regular burger and chips, pizza, sandwiches and the like. My three favourite eateries were Tapas (in West Holts), Goan Fish Curry, and Harbour Seafoods. Tapas, the one with a large Spanish flamenco lady above it, proved so moorish and reasonable at £4.90 that I became a habitual purchaser, and got to know the staff. Walking back to the wife with two trays laiden with the spicy food last night, I overheard someone say I must have the mega-munchies.
Festival organiser Michael Eavis and family, who have seen the festival grow into the largest and most diverse festival in the world must be heartily congratulated for giving us such a wonderful experiance over the last 40 years. It's staggering to think of how much time and effort went into making the event so thrilling, and so diverse, and the people who have worked so hard to achieve such a bounty must be heartily congratulated for providing a Festival which incredibly managed to offer more possibilities to thrill, entertain, and get involved than ever before. Every year I say it can't be beaten, and am amused by Michael Evis', "It's the best ever!" statement, but damn it he's right! This year I was asked what my highlights were and realised it wasn't the music acts but elsewhere on site. The headliners definitely took second place for me.
The only downside, the Chinese lanterns whilst they look amazing in the sky, the amount of falling glowing embers (and wire - that's bad for the cows) in such a dry environment made me fearful there would be some calamity with tents catching fire. Three times I stamped out grey lanterns as they fell like jellyfish from the sky, and that was just where I was at the time, imagine how many must have rained down on the site. On the way home the roads and fields were littered with their husks which will cause a cleaning up headache for the Festival. Talking of cleaning up I have a pretty much clear conscience when it comes to litter this year. There's just one occasion where I was without my ashtray that I put a roached rollie but to the ground (and felt bad about it all weekend). clearly it's not just me, the site looked much tidier in the arenas this year, with much less litter covering the grass when looking ofr a space to sit. It could still improve but it seems the message is getting through. I hope the campsites see the same improvement as people leave today too. We will have to wait and see - fingers crossed.
With the wealth of entertainment on offer, it doesn't matter who the three headliners are that the dairy farmer says he has already booked for next year, the Festival will be the most extra-ordinary experience of the year, and we all have such amazing memories of a most treasured annivesary as we make our journeys home.
Today followed last night's Gorillaz example with a host of special guests. Muse stole the show with an encore guest performance from U2's Edge, and before them Scisssor Sisters had an appearance from Kylie.
Biffy Clyro were special guests in a packed Park although we couldn't find anywhere near enough to see it, while Shakira and The Dead Weather played to those roasting in the sun at the main stage we chose to chill at the Bimble Inn and bumped into friends. George Clinton and Midlake headlined the West Holts Stage and Park respectively,we watched the former, Kaz wasn't impressed and wanted to watch Moos. Our daughter watched Kelis, Chipmunk, N-Dubz, and Jamie T. I went over to give her a memory stick for her camera and was amazed at the energy, Mistajam had the crowds jumping in the dance village. Leaving for Shangri La over in Avalon Lightning Seeds did a rousing acoustic version of 3 Lions just as we got there.
With the sun providing Glastonbury more fantastic weather, there was the opportunity to explore more of the shaded non-music parts of the site and with our walking pace slowed we didn't see many bands.
In Leftfield however after the forums we watched a showcase of Beans On Toast, Frank Turner, The Agitator, a girl called Grace and Billy Bragg.
The Green Crafts were busy with workshops, the multitude of small stages were well patroned, and the vibe throughout the site was terrific.
We wandered around Shangri La and had a great time, we sang in the Shrine of Bono, got teleported in Lost Luggage, won a free drink, looked in on Fish and Tits, and wanderered about looking at the crazy sights.
Glastonbury doesn't do normal weather it's is a festival of extreme weather and this year it's sun.
Today it's the football vs Slash, and seeking shade, it's the last night to sing at the U2 shrine, dance under the explosions of Arcadia, get teleported in Lost Luggage, dance (and sing) at the silent disco, rave it up in the dance village, and chill out in the stone circle.
It's a scorcher! The main stages sparked into life in the sunshine and Rolf Harris started the party.
Many of the campsites began to fill up and the day's entertainment was topped off with Gorillaz and a host of guests including Snoop Dogg, Bobby Womack, and Lou Reed amongst others. Unfortunately Mos Def had to cancel his appearance at West Holts and Femi Kuti was moved back to headline the flag filled stage.
Earlier Snoop Dogg had drawn the biggest crowd of the day, and The Stranglers played the Other Stage for the first time, and said they rather liked it. Frank Turner, Mumford & Sons, and Florence & The Machine also stool to various stages, with Thom Yorke revealed as the surprise guest in The Park (a well kept secret).
We had to. collect our daughter from the newly moved pedestrian gate A which was a hike missing Vampire Weekend and getting caught both in the crowd for Snoop Dog and them - the first time I've experienced crowds like that here for years. The tents camped by the walk way were covered in dust the first time since 2000 I can remember it being so.
Kuti was moved back to headline the flag filled stage. Whilst on the second stage Flaming Lips delivered a lively set and Sasha got the crowd's seems in the air in Glade. The late night music venues proved a popular choice with crowds wandering around agog. Shame the DJ's played such poor tunes, it was the Village Disco who provided the most audible soundtrack for those in the campervan fields.
However it was the other entertainment from a singing Bono puppet in an Irish bar, to blue mermaids, to Bez "DJing" and a wealth of other delights. Elsewhere the greenfields were a more chilled affair of soft glowing lights, more acoustic flavoured tunes, and chai. glowing lights, more acoustic flavoured tunes, and chai with the lovely tranquil pool.
The Common too had a nice feel with large white birds and old school whole log split standing fires. Having seen the lanes of Shangri La before I was able to make a good exploration before it started to get packed around 2am.
Favourite act today was Sasha, and both of Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs appearances book ending performances in the Scaling Field.
Still not seen the Tor lit at night.
Conditions were near perfect in front of the main Pyramid stage for the eFestivals World Cup football match which raised over £8000 for WaterAid. With the crowds entertained by Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs and an Endorse It In Dorset supergroup before watching a closely fought game where England took the honours winning 6-4. The game was even watched by WaterAid presidentPrince Charles from the stage. Unfortunately post match entertainers Supernova had to cut their set short as the Festival chose that moment to test the speaker array with blast of Gorillaz. After letting one goal in between my legs and getting the wrong side of a poor refereeing decision, I subbed myself only for them to score again during the change over.
Following the match the warm evening and an invigorating performance by Scott Mckewan alongside L's improving ankle meant we were able to enjoy music in the small stages like Nik Turner, 3 Daft Monkeys and Kissmet, before returning to the Bourbon Stage for Ainsley Poster. With most people now on site the new late night areas look awesome, there's a monorail stuck in the side of a 5 or 6 story building and Arcadia has grown arms, we were tantalised with incredibly designed new areas still hastily being constructed. A sizeable crowd gathered in the sacred space to watch the sunrise under a full moon. The only depressing thing was the palls of acrid plastic smoke from large fires in West Holts the first time I've seen that amongst the fluttering flags.
Today sees Rolf Harris open the main stage in the sunshine, with Gorillaz closing the main stage with a host of special guests. Talking of which Worthy fm are hinting this morning that special guests playing sets on site are Lou Reed, and Biffy Clyro. Festival goers will have to wait and see if they're right.
Today also sees the arrival of our teenage daughter, as she finally gets a short break from her exams.
For many we discover the first experience of Glastonbury was being stuck in long queues in the hot sun for hours at the pedestrian gate entrances with no water some even miss the game.
Even at the campervan fields we took an hour to get in, traffic around the perimeter holding us up.
Once in we had to come to terms with limited mobility because of K's ankle, and plans to explore greenfields had to be shelved.
We watched the England football team's victory on screens in the newly named West Holts bar, once the First Of May, sad to see the name change. I could hear the massive crowd at the main stage, but being in the shade was too much of a bonus.
We signed up to Greenpeace again and found the Cornish Arms selling Tribute. Afterwards there was a chance to sample the foods on offer like the delicious Tapas place in West Holts and the Foam Fish place, and Moorish. And enjoy a beer in the sunshine.
We went to the EFestivals meet at the cider bus sampled Oily Joe's tasty home brew. After a few ciders I was the worst for wear.
We decided to wander back, as the night was gettting cold and saw a few live bands along the way, before slowly ascending the hill of death.
Today, Thursday, the morning has started slightly cooler, giving us a little more sleep, and now it's shaping up to be another sunny day. One, that will see the eFestivals World Cup football match wherean England team take on the rest of the world to raise money for WaterAid. The entertainment starts at 1pm today in front of the Pyramid Stage.
Parked up, awning up sat out on a warm night in Glastonbury suburbia listening to the sounds of folk getting settled enjoying a beer and a smoke and watching the sky lanterns float off into the night - bliss.
It's only about 7 or so hours until we set off for our twentieth year of Glastonbury. My wife yesterday badly twisted her ankle and despite much grinning and bearing (and a few tears) she is determined to go and won't consider any other option.
We are taking our campervan and so will be arriving on site tonight Tuesday. I'll be letting you know how we fare and what wonders we witness on this blog.
Last week I went back to the doctors for more tests - now they've really narrowed it down, and provided a few answers.
Firstly my tinnitus is not caused by exposure to rock music at festivals, it seems there's something blocking the signal that runs through the bone in my ear to my brain. This block is microscopic, non malignant (by now it should have grown through the bone it is housed in if it was) and has been growing really slowly for decades, until it bumped against the nerve.
So my problem has been solved, but as it is so tiny it was missed on the first MRI, but it being in the ear it effects balance, co-ordination, and hearing, etc. Plus provided too much 'noise' for my brain to deal with leading to some effects on the cerebellum.
But not the loss of feeling in my hands/feet - that's been put down to 'wear and tear'.
The bad news is - its effects are 'enhanced' by alcohol or changes in chemistry in the brain - so now I have to sort out what I can eat, drink, etc without worsening it and what makes it loud.
As well as this, I have to see an audio specialist about having white noise filters fitted to me ears - to aid sleeping, and during tested some long wave frequency audio really knocked me out - so I also need to wear ear plugs.
The doctor said after the latest MRI last night which zoomed in on the bones effected in my ear they will decide how to progress with three options:
1. keep an eye on it and leave it.
2. cut a 'hatch' in the back of the skull, move the brain out the way and operate .
3. Use a gamma knife (a fine pin point of gamma radiation) to zap it, seems there's a bloke in Bristol who is one of the best in the world at this. Too many computer games as a kid I reckon.
Well it's about this time of year that I start to look at a few gigs to review, and get into the swing of things before the summer season. Only, this year there's absolutely nothing around to review. Thankfully Vibraphonic, is on the horizon, hopefully that is:
K went to a councillors meeting the other day, where they suggested that in order to save some money after they lost it all gambling in banks around the world, they cut the festival budgets. firstly it was suggested they just stop funding Vibraphonic, and then they decided they'd reduce the amount they give to all festivals here in Exeter! She came home very disillusioned, now I don't know about councils elsewhere but the expression 'not knowing their arse from their elbow' sprung readily to mind I believe.
This is the same council that now no longer does anything by the book where it comes to employee rights, so god knows what they're getting up to in chambers!
We've bought a campervan too, but I now have reservations about vanning at festivals, I mean the fields are always up big hills and half the fun of going is to sit around chatting until silly o'clock. does this mean we'll now be going back to the van early?
Anyway back to the original point, where have all the acts gone? Are they just not bothering to come down here? seems strange as our student neighbours have felt no credit crunch and still spending their trust funds like Nick Leeson! Now this city has so many of these well heeled children of London's elite, I'm amazed bands aren't falling over themselves to appear down here to spread the wealth!
Well at least we have Rod Stewart in Argyle's footie stadium to look forward to. Not!
Ah only 10 days until we set off on a bit of a trip of a lifetime! It's been 2 years in the planning.
We've got a fish/house sitter so no need to put our aquatic pets in a hotel anymore - and so we're ready for our big adventure.
We'd booked a hotel in Vila, which was the best we could afford until the other day I discovered the Australian equivalent of lastminute.com and we scored a luxury room in THE island resort - Irririki resort - on the island my sister was born on.
Check it out here -> http://www.iririki.com/
We never thought we'd be able to afford to stay there but it's actually £300 cheaper than the hotel we were going to stay on.
We're there for a week - i've contacted the old school my dad worked at, and got my plans of where I want to revisit that i remember from before we left there in 1978. So far we've got a schooner cruise to a turtle sanctuary, big barbecue, scuba dives, melanesian night, kava sessions, windsurfing, sailing, island tour, tribal dancing, cascades (waterfalls), and the visit to my old school, my old house, and my dad's work sorted. At the moment the weather has dropped to a cooler 34 degrees which is nice.
After a week there we fly to Auckland to pick up a motorhome and travel down north island to see the sights - rotarua, gloworm caves, mount doom, giant trees, new zealand rugby home, wellington, hobbiton etc. Then take the motorhome over on the ferry to south island for yule, and new year plus some hardcore sports including zoom jet boats, bungie, glaciers, and possibly a parachute drop.
Then back home in January - looking forward to it loads!
Right, I'm off to see Billy Bragg!
I've had a battery of tests today - I keep thinking this is like some Duracell test - where they will press my head and feet and a giant glowing indicator will light up my side to show how much charge i have left!
Well my appointment was for 10.45 at 11.45 the first doctor sees me - turns out the consultant isn't available (why not just cancel at this point? - I have work to do, and my spinal tap isn't until the afternoon) but he goes through the same proceedure as my own GP did - then I go to have the audio tests done - they can't do it today! - So I wait around a bit more. Then they can't book in a new appointment - although I'm stood with a nurse because the doctor needs to write a request. So the nurse says she'll get him to write one, and they'll put a letter in the post to let me know.
Next up get changed into a gown - very' 28 Days Later' and sit around in my pants in a crowded waiting room. Eventually i get a room, for no apparent reason - probably to build up my fear of hospitals - there's signs everywhere warning of vomiting and diarrhoea - nice! Then I'm led back out to another waiting room - why not just put me straight here?
Then I get sent in for the spinal tap - I'm trying to think of the band to take my mind off it - as I'm asked to put my head between my knees. The anaesthetist nurse - takes for ever to stab me with the local anaesthetic - repeatedly asking me, who hates needles, to relax. Then they wait around for a bit - I'm starting to feel like i have the vomit/diarrhoea bug when it's on to stage two - my head's still between my legs. They stab me with another bigger needle - this hurts even though it shouldn't I'm braced to stop the reflex movement - trying not to move as I feel this scraping in my spine. Then it's done - it's now about 2.15pm
so for nearly four hours I've had about half an hour of medical work - all billed back to my GP I presume. Nice! I'm supposed to be remaining flat - but it's too uncomfortable, So I'm sitting down.
No results, just a case of more waiting now.
Since about August I've been getting a lovely buzzing noise in my ears and a bit of disorientation - sounds like the results of a good night out? Well I thought it was hearing damage - so went to the doctors. Found out earlier this week that there's no damage to my hearing at all - the noise it seems is not coming from my ears!
So wa-hey back to the brain scan machine for me! And it seems the doctor played down the results of my previous tests!!!
Terrific! On the plus side I do get to see a tinnitus councillor about dealing with the noise 24/7
He said, "Did the specialist tell you that they confirmed your senses were weakened?" To which I replied I never heard anything, it took a part time doctor last time I was in there to tell me my results. He then said, "Well the results confirmed you have a weakened system of nerve responses, but we have no idea what's causing it. Have you tried looking it up on the internet?"
Wish I'd never gone now, K only persuaded me to go as she reckoned my ears might be blocked.
On the plus side, I'm working feverishly to get the eFest calendar finished. Got my Glasto ticket (all 3 of us have)
Oh and it's K's birthday today.
been a while I think I'm number obsessed - had woman flu (it just goes on and on and on) since Guilfest, then WOMAD, and now Endorse It - weather's looking good for that - touch wood. Broken a long bow and bought a new since my last post - currently have one - Grand Master Bowman score - need three to get the classification - and going to enter the County Champs - if i do well then County Squad beckons!!! Not bad for someone doing it just over a year. Lookin' forward to Beautiful Days - Z is gonna be a teenager - so we're taking her to <s>hell on earth</s> Reading Festival as she's now a \m/ \m/ a rock chick!
right better go and pack for this weekend's festival frolics at Endorse It!
Getting the hang of the new job, I've got a rough idea of how it works. The hard bit is working out what I've done wrong when it doesn't! Now I've got to get up to pace as rapidly as possible. Archery was hard work Friday - straight off the train into archery, Sunday's frostbite was well attended but blustery and it's the longbow league shoot this friday. If I get a good score in that I'll be rewarding myself at the beer festival mmmm 60+ Winter-only brews & Festive Cyders, a Tombola and Products stand and a sing along with Stompin' Dave Allen although CAMRA membership hasn't shown up yet, so it'll be full price entry. Grrrr!
Well last Friday I'd handed in my notice and had to pack up for an early plane flight - packing took a bit longer than expected and as K had to visit the Archery Club to sort out some stuff - as it was we didn't get to bed until midnighet and were up again two hours later for the trip to Bristol airport and our flight.
No problems boarding and time enough to have breakfast, my sister and her party (her daughter aged 2 and 2 additional friends of hers) cut it fine arriving literally as we were boarding. The flight was pleasant enough and before long we were flying over the west coast of Spain following the coast down to Murcia airport.
Sun and warmth greeted us as the doors opened and we diembarked with a bit of a wait for K to collect the hire car from the local town 2km away. Our little group had hired 2 cars and before long we were driving around the Mar Menor onto the sand spur of La Manga and arrived at our apartment - rooms were allocated and the refurbishment met with approval - both kitchen and lounge/dining room have been extended and new bathrooms fitted.
The early arrival meant we wandered off to Cabo De Palos for late lunch in search of the cheap restaurant we'd visited last time,it looked derelict however so instead an expensive (the most costly of the holiday) ensued at The Miramar. Once we'd paid a kitty was set up and we went to local supermarket El Arabol for our first group shop - buying our essentials for the week and a cheap cut of loin of pork for tea - cooked by yours truly on a bed of potatoes and covered with tomato and served with salad and washed down with a cheap 2 euro bottle of lovely red wine and some Don Simon Sangria to follow. K and I stuck to the red all week, along with copious litre cartons of Don Simon and mucho cervaisa, the other women preferring to knock back bottles of Jumilla Rose.
Sunday was market day at Cabo De Palos, where realisation of handling a larger party became apparent as we intended to shop and eat there, however one of our party wanted to stay in the lovely apartment - enjoying the sun and the beach. Much clothes and vegetable and nibbles buying later and after buying two spit roast chickens our plan for a meal at the restaurant (now busy after looking closed yesterday) was altered to eating at El Arabol, great choice lovely food and beer and wine and all dirt cheap.
Evening meal was prepared by me again, with ratatouille and potatoes and more wine, night temperature was a lovely 16 degrees, although one of our party crashed before dinner and the rest not long after. They all preferred early nights!
Monday involved going to the large city of Cartagena - we (K, Z and myself) know it is large because we got lost missing hours of shopping time and arriving just as siesta started. The stress tips me over the edge and I find a tobacconist and buy some cheap Spanish tobacco for around 50p. The other three women and baby were exhausted so they headed off home, we did shopping in Oysho, women's Secrets and El Corte Inglais and I could have bought lots of clothes but for the fact a Spanish XL is wayyy too small for me. We soaked in the countryside of orange trees and mountains and blue skies on the way home and another of our party took over doing the cooking highlighted the difficulty in not knowing portion controls for 5 adults and two children, there was masses left over - so i utilised it for a paella the next night.
Tuesday we took easy spending the day on the beach literally a few steps from the apartment and made sandcastles and dug out a boat on the shore of the Med. They have really small surf and hardly any tide - it felt strange to me so used to Devon's coastal surges and vitality. A cloud thought about appearing and eventually my mind had a thought and we stocked up on seafood for the paella all incredibly cheap - the total cost per head was one euro!
Wednesday and K and I leave the group looking after Z (who wants to spend time with her baby cousin) and we make the three hour drive to Javear (or Xabi) to see B and J. Stopping off for lunch at the head of the Algar river and have our photo taken at the waterfalls there. The long drive gives me a chance to read George McKay's book on Glastonbury: a very English Fair which is fascinating and I realise how lucky we are and how new the festival experience is. Much of the history of festivals is relatively recent - no older than myself, the book is fascinating as is the countryside we're travelling through.
B and J's apartment is lovely - fantastic views over a town unspoilt like it's neighbour Benidorm by high rise apartment blocks due to a height restriction. It's great to meet B and J again and for them to give us insights into Spanish life as well as introducing us to other Brits who have emigrated and interestingly we review restaurant prices on their benchmark for the rest of the week. Talking of restaurants they take us to a great cheap Chineses called Wok which offers all you can eat buffet and much wine (I get very full and slightly slurry). Both bars and restaurant despite the European smoking ban allow me to smoke indoors! Fabulous! J has work the next day but for B it's Spanish Constitution Day and a holiday so we talk about life in Spain and their festivals (didn't realise most summer festivals in Spain are night affairs - the day being too hot). By breakfast beachside at a cafe - K and I are thinking how wonderful it would be to live here in Spain with it's space, it's uncongested roads and it's friendly policy to immigrants.
We arrive back at La Manga around three pm after an aborted plan to hook up with Z and the others in Cartagena as the shops are shut. We've found out there is a Medieval Christmas market in Cartagena however and leaving Z again at the apartment with the rest of our party K and I slip back to check out Spanish nightlife (our visit to Xabi has clearly given us an appetite for it) the port city is alive! It's packed with Spanish out promenading under the wonderfully Xmas decorated streetlights. The whole place is a throng of Spanish just milling about. We join them for olives, nuts and coffee and walk down to the night clubs on the port side. They're horribly synthesised clubs (the kind you get all over Europe and we could be anywhere even the UK) so we leave and head for the port on La Manga eating at a busy (=good) Italian restaurant cheaply and it's lovely food. We arrive home before closing time but at the beachside apartment everyone has already gone to bed.
Friday is a different story, suddenly the people we are with realise they are missing out on the fact Spain sleeps in during the afternoon and comes out to play at night. We do the same looking after my niece while the others shop in Cartagena and spend our time lazing by the pool. The afternoon we eat at the boat restaurant on La Manga, overlooking the inland sea (the Mar Menor) more gorgeous seafood and delicious Postre and we're stuffed and take ourselves off to the park next door - however the weather is turning, clouds and winds rise! We return to the apartment - watching the gorgeous sunset birds migrating and the bats circling in the fading orange sky it's warm and sultry. We stock up on Don Simon and eat most of the food stocks we have left - chatting and reading and packing for the early morning return.
Saturday dawn is amazing, the (now) cloudy skies bands of red and grey and the sea like strawberry blancmange - everything is tinged in burnt gold and liquid orange. Many photos aqre taken before the bags are put in the car and the convoy leaves La Manga destined for the airport. No problems leaving apart from a small fracas over bag weight but eventually the Don Simon boards the plane! The return journey starts well enough but wind and rain rise as we head for Blighty. The landing is like something from Alton Towers and the grey vertical rain, floods on the roads and strong winds bring us back to earth with a bump.
Last night was the Archery Club's Xmas meal but unfortunately i think we were too exhausted to fully enjoy it.
Well after 12 years at print publishing with LCD I've decided to change jobs. Well thankfully someone offered me the chance to change career and I jumped at it. I can't say more as they are announcing my imminent arrival at some point in the future. It's in the field I really love so kind of like getting paid to do your favourite hobby.
I'm off to Spain for a week now - so it may be announced while I'm away. Anyway I'll be catching up with Boris and Jo while we're there and generally take a breather from work while the dust settles. Hopefully getting a Wii too if stocks haven't run out and visiting Guadalest again with it's amazing buildings and views: link and also hoping to go to Elx link which is one of my favourite cities in Europe. Other than that it'll be dipping feet in the Mar Menor, plenty of seafood, sangria, wine and tapas! And i think the girls will be doing a lot of shopping.
We've got a fish sitter this year - K's mum so I'm less worried about leaving them on their own for a week.
Then once we return i have 11 more days in this job!
And in other news K bought a Richard Head (top of the range) longbow on Tuesday - it looks and feels awesome! I'm a little jealous will wait for clout shoot to see if it has the range.
Hope you all have a cool run up to yule.
Well there's a big change in my life on the horizon, and I can't say anymore than that but it can't come soon enough. Looking forward to heading to Spain in the beginning of December - the temperature in Murcia is over 20 degrees both day and night at the moment - lovely! Have to get in touch with Boris and Jo and firm up meeting them - not looking forward to getting the plane at 4am though! But really looking forward to the first break since festie season and getting a Wii too! Looks like Metroid, Zelda and Mario Galaxy will be purchased at the same time. I'm also doing well at Archery achieved my first D Class score on Sunday - just got to keep to that level of shooting! But I didn't think I'd be breaking the 400 barrier so soon! Z is clearly following in my footsteps and won the girls' cross country last week. Scary news is Holloway might be off from Argyle! Nooooooooooo!
To celebrate breaking the 350 in archery yesterday with a personal best of 354 thought I'd mention these interesting factoids:
The trade of yew wood to England for longbows was such that it depleted the stocks of yew over a huge area. The first documented import of yew bowstaves to England was in 1294. In 1350 there was a serious shortage, and Henry IV of England ordered his royal bowyer to enter private land and cut yew and other woods.
In 1470 compulsory practice was renewed, and hazel, ash, and laburnum were specifically allowed for practice bows. Supplies still proved insufficient, until by the Statute of Westminster in 1472, every ship coming to an English port had to bring four bowstaves for every tun. Richard III of England increased this to ten for every tun.
This stimulated a vast network of extraction and supply, which formed part of royal monopolies in southern Germany and Austria. In 1483, the price of bowstaves rose from two to eight pounds per hundred, and in 1510 the Venetians would only sell a hundred for sixteen pounds.
In 1507 the Holy Roman Emperor asked the Duke of Bavaria to stop cutting yew, but the trade was profitable, and in 1532 the royal monopoly was granted for the usual quantity "if there are that many". In 1562, the Bavarian government sent a long plea to the Holy Roman Emperor asking him to stop the cutting of yew, and outlining the damage done to the forests by its selective extraction, which broke the canopy and allowed wind to destroy neighbouring trees. So deforestation problems have been around for nearly 500 years!
In 1568, despite a request from Saxony, no royal monopoly was granted because there was no yew to cut, and the next year Bavaria and Austria similarly failed to produce enough yew to justify a royal monopoly. Forestry records in this area in the 1600s do not mention yew, and it seems that no mature trees were to be had. The English tried to obtain supplies from the Baltic, but at this period bows were being replaced by guns in any case.
However more worrying is this little gem:
Skeletons of longbow archers are recognizably deformed, with enlarged left arms and often bone spurs on left wrists, left shoulders and right fingers.
Work have decided to up the anti this month - to ridiculously high productivity levels - I'm now producing each day the equivalent of what the whole office of six staff used to do in a month when i first started - hence my blog being a bit quiet. Trouble is the work load is giving me headaches now - and i had a really bad one at archery on Tuesday - nearly buckled over i did, shot through the pain though - for a low score however. Talking of archery off out to the woods this weekend to shoot foam animals - very much looking forward to that.
My sister's invited some friends of hers over to Spain, so we'll have a housefull again now. Can't wait for the break and I've got loads of books to read while I'm there!
'Ancient' religions tended to be more based on science - witnessing and celebrating the changes of the seasons and the forces at work in nature - they didn't have science to explain this but gave the forces at work arhetypes. Many of the old religions also took into account the human condition - using archetypes to explain personality traits - loving, violent, mad, forgiving, optimistic, sanguine, introverted etc. In those days there was no school of psychology. These were described as frequencies which we were effected by or waves and by altering the resonance in a person you could move them from one state to another. Much of this frequency base was used as polyrthythms in singing or music and it was these frequencies which were given names - like moods in music.
This pantheon of nature and aspects of the human soul were given names as gods - but not worshipped as a seperate entity until much later.
All religions had their central tenent the belief of no-thing from which everything came. Only with later religions was god removed from the workings of the universe and given 'his' own judgement or a set of rules to say if you were in or out of that religion and that's where it all went pants and people had to be believers or not - before that you could believe the sun wasn't going to come up or winter wasn't going to come but you'd have been wrong.
Many early religions used the understanding of the human conditions and the 'spirits' effecting the psyche, so that their shaman or priests could either work cures using the only things they understood cause and effect - they aren't called medicine men without good reason - it's just we've replaced them with doctors, the caduceus isn't on the side of ambulances and in hospitals for nothing. The cross with two entwined serpents made sense and was in many religions. Only with christiantiy were the serpents removed and healing became 'faith' and not medicine.
Priests also had an understanding of 'bonding' and the human condition to enforce 'tribal influences' and community' and thuse rituals, celebrations and ceremonies were born - without these we'd have no music or festivals. With this came the rules of life - to keep social structure and provide the basic morality of life. It was also this that the priests realised equal power and thus the gods were corrupted and the bloodshed started.
Just got chatting to the country's master bowyer - and he says he'll make me a custom bow! Cos I'm tall with long arms it'll have a 30" draw - and will be made from yew and hickory! Plus it's half the price of usual bows of this spec.
Secondly, happened to be checking on the 'traditionalness' of this bow when i found this:
While the English used the Longbow, Keltic archers were pictured and described using shorter, gently recurved Flatbows. Below is a hunting scene showing 16th century Scottish archers with bows of this type in 1577.
Above is a particularly accurate depiction by Albrecht Dürer from 1521, of the Keltic recurve bow carried by what he calls Irish soldiers, probably mercenaries in Holland. (Note the early appearance of 'Birkenstocks'!) Also shown in this detail is the fletching cut known as the Swineback, now called the shield cut.
Waveform, being the ecologically green festival that it is raises some interesting questions which as an attendee I find myself wondering about.
The biggest concerns the actual peace ceremony at the heart of the festival. Billed as an Earthdance it actually consisted of a poem read by a hippy woman which I personally felt failed to connect with the majority of the crowd. The wording seemed too couched in hippydom to be taken seriously.
This raises a wider question, dance music has been around sometime now and so much of the audience was middle aged and middle classed. Some people have leveled criticism that the ‘NIMBYs’ and eco-conscious light warriors are actually just middle aged hedonists really there just to have a good time.
Showing little interest in saving the world or the environment and more in doing what they want, partying. As someone who went there I find this an uneasy criticism.
Certainly it was not all middle aged hedonists, there were young people there too, but was everyone carrying a torch for eco-ism? Certainly it was friendly and there was no trouble – so the peaceful side of the festival ideal is covered. But what about the eco message?
There was no hard sell of these messages, there were displays of eco shelters and alternative green living and some workshops on sustainability but these were more on shakras and changing your consciousness and rarely did I see many green workshops.
It seemed the hippy message was firmly embedded, and recycling materials for kids workshops and the compost loos were admirable, but many didn’t know how to use the loos – their split seats with a separate container for urine went unnoticed by many, males in particular.
The high levels of Greenhouse gas (N2O) abuse all weekend and the metal containers and balloons dropped everywhere were perhaps indicative that some were there to party and not to save the world.
Going back to the ceremony afterwards it seemed many were disappointed that they didn’t connect to the thing, so clearly there were also people with good intentions. Perhaps many also felt they didn’t do enough in the fight for the environment too. Or at least make an impact and that’s something that’s hard to achieve.
Certainly the site was pretty spotless and the recycle bins used – but a closer inspection of their contents showed than many couldn’t work out which bin was for what.
I’d like to think that overall the split was in favour of the environmentalists on the whole, and of course there were a lot of elderly locals on site - there to see the hippies but it’s hard to spot a hippy from a Trustifarian and proper living off the earth hippies from ‘Totnes weekend hippies’ but I think most had their heart in the right place. But I obviously have little proof of this.
I guess the point is that at least the organizers showed they were making an effort, solar panels, compost loos, in the main vegetarian catering, cigarette butt holders, local plant hire, bio-diesel and manageable wood, all point to them doing their bit. And I’m sure their ideal of a totally sustainable green festival was achieved. But can the same be said for those attending?
It’s hard to say whether the ‘green festival’ rubs off on an out and out hedonist. Or whether those living in the live in vehicles and shelters full time feel they need to make any more of an effort than they do already – being self-sufficient. I guess the fact they are there proves to some it can be done. I know we tried to do our bit – consistently sticking to the ‘leave no trace’ policy. But I still feel this isn’t enough, but what more can we do at a festival? I have no answers.
But ‘no trace’ I guess is at the heart of the eco-message – reducing waste, and with such a clean site I believe that worked. The organisers also made efforts to cut noise pollution with many stages having sound meters outside.
After witnessing the waste left over from other festivals this year, I believe this shows the message got through. But I do think weekend eco-warriors have a job on their hands to prove they are indeed saving the world to the on looking public.
How hippies can make the language of the sixties more relevant and connected to younger audiences is more of a problem and one that makes me wonder if the eco-message could in the future suffer from the same ‘out of date’ language. What happens if going green becomes untrendy?
What is interesting to note is that the ‘peace and love’ message has now become well embedded, and everyone there showed respect and friendliness to those around them, so festivals at least have bedded in that message. Can creativity, diversity and everyone having a good time possibly not be enough these days? I find it hard to believe many would seek more than that – perhaps it’s time we tried. Perhaps these kind of festivals will empower us to do just that.