Tag: festival

A life update – back to where it all began

Did anyone notice I haven’t posted for a while? <<awkward silence!>>

I started this blog almost three and a half years ago, because I’d been made redundant.

Guess what? I’ve just been made redundant again! Well, I say just, I found out it was going to happen 2 weeks ago today, then I was off for a long weekend, then worked a day and a half before getting put on garden leave (where you don’t have to work but still get paid, in case you’re not familiar with the term).

It was pretty unexpected but not overly surprising, if that makes sense? I’m certainly not angry or bitter with my ex employers because small businesses have to do what’s right for them, and where would being cross get me anyway? I’d still be in the same unemployed position, but with a headache and heart palpitations and sore hands from slamming my fist into walls shouting “dammit”!

So, what have I been up to then? <<whispers>> I probably shouldn’t say this…but…

I’ve been having quite a jolly time! As I mentioned I was off for a long weekend immediately after I was given THE NEWS as we were going to the Rock and Blues festival in Derbyshire. At first it seemed rotten timing (“I’m unemployed! I can’t go spending money on drinking booze in a field watching bands I love”) but then it seemed good timing (“I’m unemployed! Sitting at home moping about it isn’t going to change anything, and I REALLY want to be in a field watching bands I love!”) So that was a whole heap of fun, and you’ll be glad to know I didn’t hold back on spending money on booze, including bakewell cherry gin which, as a none gin drinker, went down extremely well.

Since then, last week, I’ve had lunch with my Mom and brother for his birthday; sorted out the garage to make space for our new boxing bag (more on that new fad hobby another time); this week I talked the husband into taking a day off work (legitimately, obvs) so we could have lunch and drinks and hang out on Monday; tried (and failed) to fight off a HIDEOUS hangover on Tuesday (the trouble with not having a job to keep me in check is that I don’t have a cut off point so drank more and later than I usually would have done).

Oh, and then I just nipped to Scotland yesterday, as you do. The husband had a site visit to do in East Kilbride and it’s a bloody long drive from Birmingham to South Scotland on your own, so being the selfless hero I am, I offered to co-pilot. I perused Primark while he did his thing then we drove back down to a lovely little town called Moffat where we had lunch, and then dinner, and drinks (I’m painting a bad picture of myself here, I know) and a lush overnight stay in a lovely hotel with the BEST duvet I have EVER slept under IN MY LIFE (I found out where they bought it from and I’m buying one, it was THAT GOOD), before coming home via Manchester-ish way where he did another 15 minute site visit and I managed to buy some earrings within that 15 minutes (pro-shopper).

So, all in all I’ve been a busy little bee and <<whispers again>> probably not as pro-active as I should have been in job hunting BUT it’s a been very traumatic and stressful time (not strictly true) and the sun has had his hat on again so I think I was entitled to a few days “me” time before I start the job search in earnest (actually in Birmingham and the surrounding areas, but you know what I mean).

Oh, and it’s not like I haven’t applied for any jobs (I have), or been looking (I have), just in case I come across as a privileged little madam. So don’t judge me yeah, because I’m unemployed and might have a cry.

What have you guys been up to? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

My first…part 4!

Another first of the month – wow! And it’s a pretty grotty one here; rain and cloud and general gloom. Welcome to Flaming June!

What June does mean is Download festival! Which is something I never thought I’d hear myself say, even as recently as 3 years ago, but here I am preparing for my 3rd one in a row and feeling very excited.

The decision to go to Download was a flippant drunken one. You see, I’m not the festival type. I don’t do rain and I don’t do camping and I don’t do wellies. I don’t do big crowds and I don’t do stinky toilets and I find a lot of rock music too heavy or shouty.

What the hell was I thinking of even suggesting it?

Honestly, I don’t know! It seemed like a really nice thing to do for the husband after a few glasses of wine (he’s a lifelong rock fan and used to go to Donnington when it was Monsters of Rock). By the following morning I was already half full of regret but it was too late; the tickets and accommodation were booked.

As I said, I don’t do camping, so it was staying in a guesthouse or nothing! I like home comforts, a dry bed and a bathroom. I can’t possibly imagine how anyone can enjoy themselves if they’ve had a quick wipe down with a wetwipe and their clothes are swimming in mud. But to each their own!

Oh, and we booked VIP guest passes in additional to the standard tickets, so we could go in and out of the guest area which has better toilets, less queues, bars, places to sit, undercover areas and additional entertainment, At £100+, on top of the £160 ticket, it’s pretty expensive, but £35 a day just for a more hygienic loo break is worth it!

So the car was packed full of clothes for every eventuality and we had plans to meet up with friends who went every year. We got ourselves settled, got ready, and called a cab to the festival site.

And it was AMAZING! The buzz collecting our wristbands and walking into the main festival arena was electric. There were hundreds of people, some dressed up, some dressed down, some already drunk. Everyone excited and up for having a good time. The sun shone all weekend meaning we could sit on the grass and chill out with drinks when there were bands that didn’t interest us that much. The food was really good; with food trucks and cuisines from all around the world. We went on the fairground and I screamed my head off. We drank Sambuca shots from a converted VW Campervan. We sang along at the top of our voices to Aerosmith and swooned over Steven Tyler.

I loved every minute.

This is my favourite picture of the weekend.

Download 2014 me and my husband

In fact it’s one of my favourite pictures EVER! It was taken by an ex work colleague of the husband’s, who is now doing very well as a photographer. I love the reflection of the circus tent in hubby’s sunglasses. It never fails to make me smile and fade off into hazy memories of an amazing weekend.

Read about last year’s wet and muddy Download here!

Are you a festival go-er? I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Moseley Folk Festival

Once again this weekend our beloved village was home to a 3 day festival; bringing bands, bars and brightness to the park.

You may recall I blogged about the previous one – Jazz, Funk and Soul, back in July.

This time it was the turn of the Folk Festival which, over the years, has become less about just folk. Gaz Coombes of SuperGrass played and Sunday night was headlined by The Monkees!

I honestly can’t comment on the music, as it was just a backdrop to a wonderful couple of days in magical surroundings. We were blessed with gorgeous weather on Sunday and it totally made it; chilling out on picnic blankets with friends drinking lots of pink wine and soaking up the late summer sun.

Here it is in pictures – we didn’t head down until early evening on Saturday.

 

Moseley Folk Festival 2

Moseley folk festival bar

Beer barrels

Festival merch

Remember I said on my Hat-urday post that I barely wear my 70s floppy hat? I put that right!

70s floppy hat

Lots of face painting and people looking pretty (I did ask these people if I could share their photographs!)

Face painting menu

Face painted Dad and Daughter

Face painted man

Sunday was nice enough for me to bust out another hat I haven’t worn yet – the straw cowboy one.

Straw cowboy hat selfie

The entrance to the park is so green and secluded; you’d never know it was just off the main road.

Entrace to Moseley Park

Entry to Moseley Park

I drank a lot of wine.

Rose wine

Accosted a Morris Dancer for photographs (and swapped hats with him!)

Morris dancer 2

Morris dancer

Morris dancer and me

Had to have a little lie down on the blanket (I blame the wine)

Mirror shades selfie

Look at the weather – just gorgeous!

Moseley Park trees

Got my face painted.

Me facepaint

What a fabulous time we had!

Moseley Folk Festival

Moseley Jazz Funk and Soul Festival

Moseley, just outside Birmingham, has a private park. To use the park you need to buy a key. It’s only around £45 a year, so is pretty good value.

You wouldn’t know the park existed if you were just walking through Moseley. The main entrance is down a little alleyway. There are also 2 other gated entrances, on other roads.

The great thing about it for me, apart from the fact that it’s hidden and you have to pay, is that it’s wild. No carefully manicured flowerbeds. No children’s playground. Just expanses of green, a massive pool, wildlife and trees that are hundreds of years old. It’s a proper little oasis.

Moseley Park 2 Moseley Park

Twice a year Moseley holds 3 day festivals in the park. Jazz, funk and soul in July, and folk in September. This weekend just gone was the turn of funk soul and jazz.

We had no intention of going as musically it’s not really our thing, until we heard that the original Friday night headliners had pulled out, and Public Enemy had been booked in their place. Public Enemy! American Hip Hop Royalty, playing right in my hood! Well that was one not to be missed.

So glad we went along. The park was set up beautifully; with bars, food stalls, face painting, stalls selling hats, glasses, guitars, dreamcatchers, vintage clothes and more.

Moseley Jazz Funk and Soul festival

Moseley Jazz Funk and Soul festival

The trees were strung with fairy lights and people came armed with deckchairs and rugs to sit in the chilled out surroundings and soak up the gorgeously sunny day and amazing atmosphere.

Moseley Jazz Funk and Soul festival

I bought some new sunglasses.

Catseye sunglasses

And also a dreamcatcher.

Dreamcather stall

How good is this mural of Public Enemy? My shorts are from F&F; they’d only arrived that morning.

Public Enemy mural

The only disappointment of the day was the food. With so many great street food vendors in and around Birmingham I had high expectations. But choice was limited to about 6 or 7 stalls, and the quality wasn’t that good. I had some lukewarm noodles and a greasy burger which I left half of. At £13 for two things I didn’t really enjoy, the concensus was “could do better”.

I threw myself into the spirit with some glitter facepaint and crystal bindis.

Face painting at Moseley Soul Funk and Jazz Festival

We watched beatboxing and breakdancing.

Beatboxing

As dusk started to fall the atmosphere turned into a big full on party as Public Enemy came on stage and absolutely stormed it.

Moseley Jazz Funk and Soul festival

Moseley Jazz Funk and Soul festival

By Saturday morning I regretted only having bought a day ticket, as I could hear goings on from my balcony. Even with a lot of the music not being my thing, I’d have been happy to just chill in the park and let the fabulous atmosphere wash over me.

Yesterday finished with Gregory Porter. What a booking for a little surburban festie! I’m told he was fabulous.

Yet another reason why I love living in Moseley!

Download festival (in the rain)

My worst fear about going to a festival is rain. And mud. And basically all of the associated icky, cold, not fun, wet parts of bad weather. It’s hard to get excited about anything in the rain.

Last year at Download it was glorious. Which made sitting around, watching bands, having drinks and chilling out on the grass all lovely and nice and how summer should be.

This year I was determined to remain optimistic in the face of adversity – despite all of the weather reports that were saying otherwise, I was sure it wouldn’t rain. At most it might be cool and, even if there were showers, it had been so dry in the lead up that the rain would just drain away.

Wrong. The heavens opened on Friday night like someone had turned a tap on. It bucketed down! And by Saturday the whole of Download was churned up into a big squelchy muddy field.

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I learnt some stuff this weekend. I learnt that wellies are much more comfortable than I ever remembered (I haven’t had any since I was about 8). I also learnt that it’s kind of fun splashing around in puddles when you know you’re protected. I learnt that paying £100 extra for a guest area pass is most definitely worth it if you want to sit down under cover and not queue ages for a stinky muddy toilet (although I seriously hope the drinking water and toilet water came from separate sources!)

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The lesson that jagerbombs and Sambuca shots will lead to a whole body hangover that lasts almost as long as the festival was a harder one to handle.

Jagerbombs

Most of all, I had fun. The kind of fun that makes your sides hurt with laughter. The kind of fun that you only truly have when everyone is on the same wavelength. Daft fun, sing-a-long fun, screaming til you start to lose your voice fun.

Me at Download

I didn’t see as many bands as I expected to, which was partly due to the weather (we had to abandon Judas Priest and missed all of Slipknot on Friday) but also partly because Download is about more than that. It’s about catching up with friends, hanging out, talking crap and soaking up life. Also because it was always mainly about the Sunday line up, for us, and we knew that’s when we would find a spot and barely move.

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Friday started off badly due to poor organisation – collecting our wristbands took 2 hours this year, when last year it had only taken 10 minutes. The set up just wasn’t equipped to deal with the number of people and the process (the festival organisers had introduced a cashless system this year which meant that each wristband had to be uploaded with the pre-paid cash on arrival and there was one person at one computer doing it). We missed a couple of bands as a result just catching the end of Lacuna Coil.

Marilyn Manson on Saturday was as weirdly brilliant as ever (although I’m hearing conflicting stories that he was terrible, so maybe I was really drunk!)

Our Sunday started with Backyard Babies on Stage 2 – kicking off with their new song and delivering a corking set. Billy Idol was brilliant (and looking fab; my childhood crush doesn’t abate!) Slash with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators was as cool as expected (throwing in a couple of GnR classics too – brilliant!) Motley Crue delivered the goods more so than expected considering the car crash from Sweden Rocks the week before and the stage show and pyro made up for Vince’s missing vocals.

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Kiss were a blast of noise and fire and make up and everything you would expect – sounding and looking great.

What I will say for Download is that it’s an incredibly friendly festival. No attitude, no trouble – just like minded people with no alternative agenda enjoying themselves and throwing themselves wholeheartedly into the action. And fair play to the organisers for having a shedload of hay on hand to try and make up for the mud – it certainly helped! In spite of the fact I originally said I wouldn’t be going next year, there’s a very real chance that in 365 days I’ll be rounding up my 2016 highlights – hopefully with less hangover.

Replacing old favourites

I hate in when something you love – a wardrobe staple – needs to go to the big fashion graveyard in the sky. It makes me genuinely sad. In some cases you just need to accept it and move on. In other cases you absolutely MUST find a replacement.

This is the situation with my go to bag. Black, imitation suede, adjustable plaited shoulder strap, zip fastening, fringed. The perfect bag for a day out shopping, going to the pub, going to a gig, going to the park. Seriously, I love this bag. Not too dressy, not too casual – I can’t live without it! And so when one of the pieces of the plaited handle came loose (after about 18 months of using at least once or twice a week) it was a no-brainer to replace it. Luckily enough it was easy to do, because there are oodles of them on ebay (which is where I first bought one from).

Here’s the bag.

Fringed bag

And it’s available mega cheap, starting at just £6.98 with free delivery from some Far Eastern sellers (I’ve had to buy one from a UK seller and pay postage because I CANNOT wait for postage from China)

It’s also available in other colours

Tan bag Purple bag

Grey bag Brown bag

I’ve had the grey previously, but obviously didn’t have the same love for it as I didn’t replace it. I don’t think imitation suede translates as well in lighter colours, it looks cheap (which we all know, that even though we want a bargain, we don’t want it to look like a bargain).

Having said that, I’m rather tempted by the brown, looking at that picture.

But what about when things aren’t so easy to replace?

I have a black slouchy shoulder bag that I bought from H&M a looong time ago. Again it’s the type of bag everyone should have – perfect for chucking in loads of stuff, still looks good when it’s empty due to the shape. I use it for gigs when I invariably end up with my coat and my husband’s coat, and it was the perfect festival bag last year when we went to Download. Alas, that was it’s undoing as, after many years of use, the pleather started to peel off. Doom.

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And can I find a replacement? No! I’ve tried all the usual suspects and the handles are too short, or the hardware is gold (massive bug bear of mine) or the bag itself is too small. You’d never imagine it to be so difficult.

These are the closest I’ve found.

£18 from Tesco F&F (strap looks too narrow though, it would probably be uncomfortable with a lot of weight in )

Tesco bag

H&M – £12.99 (this one’s described as a back pack, but wondering if the straps would work another way, same issue with them being narrow though)

H&M bag £12.99

And this is probably favourite – £19.99 from H&M

H&M bag £19.99

Off tangent, I also like it in the beige.

H&M beige £19.99

Ebay have the perfect shape, but being fabric this wouldn’t work at an outdoor festival if it rained, and it also doesn’t have a zip.

Fabric bag

Wider this time, with adjustable shoulder strap,  also from ebay, at a bargain £8.79 plus £3.25 postage from China

Ebay black bag £8.79 plus postage

And getting easily distracted again, by the green (same price)

Green ebay bag

Good size and price (£7.68) but the strap is too short

Ebay bag

We may have a winner with this one (£8.89 plus delivery)

Ebay winner

And I also like this one, but its probably a smidge too small, looking at the dimensions.(fussy, moi?)

Ebay 2

The alternative is to carry less stuff around, I suppose! Or, actually go real life shopping, which I really don’t do very often these days…