SNV30239

SNV30239

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Thursday, 30 August 2012

Summer Sundae days......


It's still festival season here in the UK...every weekend there is a music festival somewhere... a chance to relive your youth, listen to some great music and chill out with friends. Oh and dodge the rain.....it's been that kind of summer.

Over the years I've been to many, but there's one particular festival in August that I go to without fail. It's called Summer Sundae and it's held in the grounds of the rather lovely DeMontfort Hall here in Leicester.

The whole weekend passes in a smiley faced blur of contentment.




The concert hall   holds 2,400, there's a big outdoor stage too plus two stages in marquees and an outdoor bandstand. Over the years, artists such as Joan Baez, Steve Earle, Bon Iver, Macey Gray, Keane, Seasick Steve, Mumford and Sons, Noah and the Whale to name but a few have played at the festival. Summer Sundae also showcases the wealth of local talented bands and acts here in Leicestershire such as By the Rivers, Mahalia, Park Bench Society, Charlee Drew, Kyte, and many others..

This year, a different headliner for each day...Friday it was Katy B, Saturday ..Ocean Colour Scene
and Public Image for Sunday.There were a hundred and three other acts...reggae, ska, folk, rock, electronica, indie, you name it, we heard it.

Bands flew in from all over the world...Willie Mason and the Bower Birds from the USA, Dan Mangan from Canada, and the band to travel the furthest were the wonderful Black Seeds from New Zealand.

There's a lovely feel to the festival....it's very popular with families., with lots of activities for children. This year's hits were a safari and Monsieur Mouse's Puppet Theatre and there's also lots of oddities to get caught up in and watch including this lepoard....



Nichola Wood is a sand sculptor.....it's amazing what she can do with five tons of sand!

What I love about Summer Sundae is that it's a festival in a city, on a site that's not too big, where you don't have to trudge miles from stage to stage, where there's always somewhere to hide from the rain and there's flushing toilets too. Now that's what I call heaven at a festival!

And I love the way the atmosphere changes as night falls.....the little ones are tucked up in tents or at home..and everything changes. And after the stages have closed, there's always a silent disco or the comedy tent for even more entertainment.




That's not to say that I just sit around on the grass watching my favourite bands by day, or party all night....

I may snatch a moment doing just that(well 60 minutes actuually on Sunday out of a thirteen and a half hour day).....but primarily I'm there to work. And it was a busy three days ...




....the sun shone...in fact it was very hot.....and I was there to record a documentary on the festival, and broadcast live.. Not to just feature the bands...but rather the whole feel of the festival ,with stories from the back room staff, and the audience too.


Simon Fowler from Ocean Colour Scene and me with my ancient...but trusted Marantz!



If you'd like to listen,  you can do until next Monday morning

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00xpry5

What's your favourite music festival?

The track for today? It's from the Black Seeds.....I first heard their music in Australia four years ago...and I finally saw them at Summer Sundae! Lovely guys...and you can hear their music on the documentary too. This is "So True"...one of my favourites...and I was standing just behind the person who filmed this....




Monday, 13 August 2012

Lazy days

There is always something to do in a garden. Something for every mood. If I'm feeling like a workout....digging.  Feeling peeved? Weeding. Feeling like I want to take out my bad mood on something....having a good old go with the secateurs.

But there's something I'm never in the mood for ...and that's mowing the lawn. Hate it , won't do it. In fact there's three things that I avoid as much as humanly possible - reversing the car, morris dancing and mowing the lawn.

However, I digress.

On Friday afternoon I was at home. I didn't feel like doing anything- I wanted to lay in the garden.In fact I'd wanted to do just that last weekend too, but we had rain....and a storm or too....

Look at this storm about to come in.....


But on Friday afternoon I felt so tired, I just wanted to lay in the garden and do nothing. I'd been awake since 5am, at work since 6am doing live inserts into the breakfast programme followed by a stint in court. I wasn't in the dock you understand....just reporting from there,  in case you were wondering.

Anyway I got home just before three and  the sun was shining, so.....

I lay in the garden reading....



under the old ash tree





Looking up into the sky..just thinking and listening to the drone of a plane flying over, and the thrum thrum thrum sounds of Mark or Phil three fields away in their combine harvesters.....



It was all very peaceful until I was joined by my furry faced, faithful little friend....






who wanted to play






For once , I declined her offer of a romp around the garden, and so Boo decided to join me and have a doze in the sunshine.....





Peace , perfect peace, doing nothing, lying with my dog in the sunshine. And it was perfect...

Moments captured from a busy week, sunshine stolen for an afternoon from a miserable summer weatherwise...it made me realise how I don't do this often enough.

Today's track is Summer Time..I love this song - always have. There's so many versions....but here's one of my favourites featuring Billie Holliday......






Thursday, 9 August 2012

cinq jours francais part deux

Gosh, this time two weeks ago I'd just  arrived in Ceret, in the south of France for Jenny's party.

Now, I have to tell you, Jenny and her husband Phil put on exceedingly good parties. Wherever they are, there are always lots of laughs, loads of wine, and there is always ...how should I put it ...an incident. Or two.

Ten years ago, at another of Jenny's special birthdays....(ones ending in 0) there were several incidents worthy of note. The party was in several parts -her parties are always long and complicated. No arriving at 7.30pm and leaving at 11.30 type of nonsense, oh no.

The party was near Parthenay in France. Lunch for about forty in a chateau.A posh do, canapes and champagne on a terrrace followed by a slap up lunch . It was a long lunch.

Followed by a barbecue for about eighty at their cottage nearby in the evening. A different vibe, jeans, barbecue , music, lots of booze and franglais as the mixture of English and French guests got more creative with their language as the night rolled on.
This was the night of the lavatory incident. Phil and Jenny's house had an indoor loo. Just. It had a roof, but not a door.A swishing curtain to protect modesty and a hand painted sign saying "Vacant" on one side and "Occupied" on the other which guests would have to move accordingly.

At one stage, desperate for the loo, and observing the occupied sign, I was getting restless. " Come on , hurry up "I shouted. Not one but three people came out. The first two had been helping the third who had fallen asleep on the loo. That third person had woken up with a start and fallen headlong into the strimmer and lawnmower which were also in the loo.....( well , where else would you keep your gardening equipment?)

The two good samaritans were trying to patch him up in there...but it looked like a crime scene...a blood bath..and when his wife caught sight of him....let's just say she was not best pleased.

So the scene was set for another legendary party lasting four days. There were seventeen of us for the weekend....two , Bob and  Mavis live in Ceret, Jenny and Phil have an apartment there so they had already arrived, and the rest of us flew in on different flights  .

By Friday night we were all there...so a quiet meal in Ceret's lovely main square was planned



and went ahead


with music which wasn't booked....



and although very jolly, there's only so much accordion music I can personally take before wishing certain things...unprintable things.....apologies to accordion players worldwide but that's just the way that I feel....

Anyway, I could hear a live band starting up jsut at the back of the square...so I went to investigate....and there was a really good covers band playing in the next street.



I went back to get the others...the next thing, we found ourselves singing and dancing for the rest of the night....




Oh dear, the photos were getting blurry by this stage, but hey ho....




On Saturday morning some of us were up bright and early for the market.....hundreds of stalls selling baskets (yes I bought one), clothes,jewellry, ornaments, chickens, plump salamis, the freshest vegetables and rather a lot of goats cheese.

So hot though , so we escaped to the lake ...for a swim, a chat and a beer.......until it was time to get ready for drinks and present opening in Jenny and Phil's apartment,.followed by the birthday meal itself.


 A delicious meal....serrano ham and melon, fish baked to perfection with an aoli accompaniment and lots of roasted courgettes, peppers and tomatoes, followed by Catalan Creme. Imagine creme brulee with a twist.....I'm salivating just thinking about it.....




Everything eaten,several games of Chinese whispers were played which became increasingly bizarre and filthy.....



We then decamped to a bar ...I can't remember the name....where there was a lock in . More drinks, more dancing.....and male bonding...





and dancing of a different kind....Bob, one of the more diminuitive of our gang...and the lovely, tall Vera.....


I love this photo even  though it's blurry!

Bridget, Dave and I left about 1.30 am I believe...details are rather hazy. What was certain was how difficult it was to get Dave back to the house we were sharing.It took us half an hour to walk down the hill with the dead weight which was Dave......it was exhausting. Halfway home we had to lean him against a building so that I could draw breath and burst into fits of giggles.....

There were fewer laughs further down the hill....we came to a rather lovely fountain....which Dave was nearly pushed into ....not by me I hasten to add!



The fountain by daylight......and on the Sunday lunchtime, a recreation of how we got him back to the house the night before...




And by Monday, most of us had left -flying back from Girona in Spain, or from Perpignan...back to work after perfect days of partying....I just wonder what the next party will be like!

Today's music is from St Germain....It's called Pont des Artes off their 2000 album "Tourist".... I always have to play this when I'm in France... it brings back such great memories of a hot garden ten years ago in France...this was playing as we all sank orange juice and ate croissants in an attempt to liven ourselves up after the night before......




Friday, 3 August 2012

cinq jours francais

I popped down to the South of France last weekend. Now that sounds fancy doesn't it? And it was....but it's not something I'm prone to do on a regular basis  you understand. I was there for a special party for my very close friend Jenny.




More about the party (and wow what a party!) in the next post....I'm still thinking about what I leave in or out? Should I protect the guilty? Should what happened in Ceret stay there?

Meanwhile, I love this town near the French/Spanish border. A walled town oozing charm and history, I first came here on holiday eight years ago, staying in a maas three tmiles away. This time I was staying in the town itself....full of tall, narrow houses built higgledy piggledy on narrow streets.



Many of them don't have gardens, just  a roof terrace or a balcony. But however small the space,  there is always room for a pot or two ....or ten....





As well as pots of flowers and herbs everywhere, you can't fail to miss the magnificient oleanders spilling out of gardens, being used as tall edging by the roadsides - the oleanders reign supreme here....in light pink and cerise.....




I adore seeing so many of them under bright blue skies basking in the sun. I know they can grow in England further south, but I've never wanted to buy one. The thought of them in the pouring rain, under leaden grey skies seems wrong somehow....it would be cruel to transplant them.


And do you know what, I felt just like an oleander by the time when I arrived back at Stanstead Airport...within half an hour I was driving home in squally heavy showers. I wanted to be back in the sunshine under shimmering skies....for at least the rest of the English summer......


I wanted to be back here at the lake near Ceret...at the Plan d'Eau......having lunch, a swim, and a gossip with some of the gang...like this time last Friday!






And the track for today... having being forced to listen to Francois Hardy for three days in the car out and about  in Ceret, I'm not choosing one of her tracks!

How about one of my favourite French groups...Phoenix...with "If I ever feel better"....