Sunday, 2 December 2012

The Timi Hendrix Experience at The Blues Bar & Cafe, Harrogate, UK

Click on the image for more shots from the gig.

Sounds from a live recording earlier in 2012.
Will said, "Having family and friends right there in such a cosy little venue like that is just magic. It's a privilege. I must admit it was like Buddys Guy and Miles with Dave's fat drumming too. Hopefully we'll get to play there again next year. There was an older guy sitting next to Ben Greenwell during the first set who thanked me before he left. There's something about Harrogate that makes you feel really appreciated".

Friday, 28 September 2012

Dunbar to Montrose

Dunbar-ish to Montrose-ish, the second half of our recent journey along a fine stretch of the North Sea's coastline.

I hope you enjoy this set. The images are intended for a screen resolution of 1366 x 768. Each set can be viewed as a Slideshow. There are captions for most shots. If you want to read them, I'm sure you can find them.

Sum Doood’s VW Camper Vans

Sum Doood’s VW Camper Vans

Posted on February 24th, 2009

Sum Doood's VW Camper Vans

This weeks guest post comes from Sum Doood, a regular reader of the VW Camper Van Blog and a member of the VW Camper Van Blog Facebook Group. In this article, Sum Doood tells of his lifelong dealings with VW Camper Vans:

In 1959 at the age of three somewhere in Gloucestershire I was introduced to my first VW, a Kombi in which the family took holidays in wildest Wales and highland Scotland. I remember sleeping over the engine and waking to dodge the overnight condensation dripping onto my ex-WD sleeping bag.

We progressed to a comparatively sophisticated Devon Caravette and in 1966 moved to Wales where, with our hip-displaced Labrador puppy, we lived for three very wet autumn months in an old, crudely converted and totally immobile Bedford bus, what some might call a non-starter home. Perhaps for adults it represented too much camping because shortly afterwards the Caravette was sold.

In 1970 Alice’s Restaurant, a truly wonderful film, brought VWs back into my life. By then we were living in a converted chapel – the significance of which you’ll understand, if you’ve seen the film.

In the ’80’s I bought a 1959 Beetle for £100 from my Dad. Hand-painted a deep yellow, it had the dreadful 6 volt electrics and a huge folding sunroof. To compensate for dozy semaphore indicators I quickly relearned my hand signals, and to operate the reserve petrol tank lever with my left foot, but after about twelve months I managed to kill the engine while driving too fast on the M61. The roof was cut off and the remains of that fine little car went for scrap.

I then bought another Beetle, a 1303S which was pretty dreadful, until a so-called VW specialist garage made it worse.

It wasn’t until 2000 that my wife, Jo and I managed to get our own VW camper, a T3 hightop which for a couple of years seemed to be the best van in the world. Despite having needed two more engines and three more gearboxes, over four years it took us on many long trips around the UK, Eire, France and Switzerland and always brought us home again.

In September 2006 we bought a 2.5 TDi LHD VW T4 Westfalia California Freestyle in which we’ve made several trips to Western Europe and then (in 2008), a carbon-offset six week journey around much of Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Alnwick to Berwick

Alnwick to Berwick-upon-Tweed in our 2003 Volkswagen T4.

This is the first half of our recent journey along a fine stretch of the North Sea's coastline. I hope you enjoy the set. The images are intended for a screen resolution of 1366 x 768. Each set can be viewed as a Slideshow. There are captions for most shots. If you want to read them, I'm sure you can find them.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

3 Weeks Campervanning in France.

I hope you enjoy this collection. The images are intended for a screen resolution of 1366 x 768. Each set can be viewed as a Slideshow. There are captions for most shots. If you want to read them, I'm sure you can find them.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

When I was on the Move

View Larger Map

I don't know why, but until now I'd never compiled this list in full, not even in my mind. The map shows roughly where I lived between 1956 when I was born, and 1966. Six addresses and four schools, that's not ideal, is it.

I guess if that hailstorm had veered around my dad's newly planted fruit farm and the buds had stayed on the apple trees, I might well have stayed at address A until 1974, not met many of all the people I did meet, nor developed very many of all the same interests I have now.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Oscar Peterson

On holiday from college in 1975 I caught some late night TV programmes which I remember as being made in Canada and called Night Train. The piano playing was clearly jazz, but never obscure, and therefore like no jazz piano I'd ever knowingly heard. Returning to Ambleside (Cumbria, UK), for the autumn term I dashed to Fred Holdsworth's bookshop with some birthday money and bought The Trio Live. I played it semi-secretly because it wasn't like anything else I or my friends liked. Or thought we liked. Or admitted to liking.

One thousand years later the vynil's worn out, but mp3 versions are always nearby and the tunes are still amongst the music I listen to most frequently.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Actively Lazing

This morning I lay in bed and travelled from east to west across Russia reading Paul Theroux's excellent The Great Railway Bazaar (published 1975), then galumphed downstairs and ordered (secondhand again, of course), Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, his thirty years later follow-up.

Joanne Newman and I had a light-ish lunch at the inescapable Whale Tail Cafe, after which I popped into the Oxfam bookshop and was grabbed by an OS map of Leeds, now a present for Will Newman, and Anglo Saxon England by J & L Laing.

The blogger at Sutton Hoo, July 2010.

Jo was driving us towards a VW agency to look for a replacement for her Fox when I re-realised what madness it is to get involved with main dealers and persuaded her that we should be looking at the proper garage where over the years her family have bought several used cars, none of them bad. By mid-afternoon we were home.

Down our short garden the sun was shining into the 8' x 16' "house-shed" so I took my Anglo Saxons out there, put on Jack Bruce's Songs for a Tailor and soon afterwards sort-of accidentally lit the woodstove. Later, as the sun dropped between two menorah-like ash trees in the middle distance, I stood at a window and used my hands to carefully crop our neighbour's pebble-dashed garage, a street lamp, a powerline, and the intruding chimneys of bungalowland from an otherwise glorious view.

Jo and I prepared snacky teas and dashed back to our woodstoves. In the sitting room she was settling down to watch ice-dancing on TV. In the shed I caught  David Sedaris reading a couple of his excellent short stories on Radio 4. I'd only recently heard his Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk and it had made me laugh so much it hurt.

After a couple of hours of Anglo Saxons by the woodstove I half-dozed and half-listened to 15 tracks of Blue Note bossa nova, yes, really, and was pleased to find trumpeter Blue Mitchell and, a particular favourite, guitarist Kenny Burrell on several of them.

About 10pm I returned to domestic conformity, but not without just standing for a few minutes. Beneath a plump half moon the night was so bright as to be almost glaring. And there was Orion on guard in a star-stuffed sky..... It occurred to me that I could have spent half of today driving to a dark sky park, out to Argyll perhaps, or to the Llŷn peninsula, not lazing around in a shed however enjoyable that might be.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Muddy Waters?

Today it occurred to me that had McKinley Morganfield been known as Suspended Sediment, his career might have sunk without trace.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Young Art and Old Hector

Young Art and Old HectorYoung Art and Old Hector by Neil Gunn

Probably my absolute favourite book of all time, a wonderful account of the life of a boy and his grandfather in northeast Scotland. In the mid-60s it was serialised on "the Home Service" but not recorded! Every chapter is a good quality story written with extraordinary perception. Art's sports day can still almost(?) bring me to tears of vicarious pride.

View all my reviews

Will Shakespeare on Climate Change.

[W]hy should proud summer boast
Before the birds have any cause to sing?
Why should I joy in any abortive birth?
At Christmas I no more desire a rose
Than wish a snow in May's new-fangled mirth;
But like of each thing that in season grows.

From Love's Labours Lost.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Bringing Home my Harvest of Firewood.

On Friday the cloud was low enough to hide Farleton Fell as I drove through the Yealands then as far as I could get down the track without making a muddy fool of myself. I parked the van and in heavy drizzle walked along the edge of a wood where oak takes forever to grow, birch lean uprooted like long silver skittles, and ash, hazel and hawthorn consistently fail to thrive in the greasy, black, bog bottom soil. A drift of breeze brought a steady shish of traffic from the A6 three fields ahead of me. A firm believer in Sod’s Law, I refused to look for any deer - if you look, you won’t see them, but if you don’t, you might.

A minute later I’d forgotten about them, which surely explains why then I noticed those grey shapes moving to and fro below a leaning holly tree, the only evergreen in sight. I walked on until I could make out the spotted coats of three, four, counting......, five indecisive fallow deer tottering to and fro. I walked. They stopped. They stared. I walked again. They stared, broke away, trotted, stopped and stared again. As well they might. I was pushing a stripped down, steel-framed three-wheeler pushchair – exchanged several years ago through our local swap shop for a bottle of vegan, organic, French rosé wine - and I must’ve looked more like a bag lady than any rambler, pheasant feeder, or hunter within these deer’s experience. I worry a little that these deer aren’t as scared as they should be.

Beneath their holly tree the ground was as dry as any deer could want it. Further on I glimpsed the first of several stacks of firewood I’d made fourteen months ago when clearing overhanging trees back from a long neglected ditch. To keep my crop off the ground and in the breeze I pile it between forked trunks of birch, but this is a tulgey wood, particularly there on the leeward side, and seasoning can too easily become rotting unless I can get my hard won lengths back home to our wind-tunnel woodshed.

A length of bout five feet will make me six logs the larger of which will burn better for having been split to somewhere near threebeetoo, as they say. I find that in locations nearer to public roads any cut lengths of wood tend to “walk”. I don’t enjoy wasted effort, so logging and splitting is done at home.

I carefully loaded the pushchair keeping it close to its backward tipping point so that I can lift the front wheel and swerve it around mud holes, tussocks, rocks and stumps. With three screamingly tight stretch hooks I secured what is inevitably a top heavy load and shoved off. As I rejoined the track there was another fallow deer, so indignant to see me that it tossed its head and stamped a forefoot before making an abrupt turn and disappearing as only deer can.

I’d thought to bring home three loads that day, but soon two seemed enough. Now the wood’s in our shed and drying well. Perhaps in 2012 I’ll finally get around to bringing home enough to get us through the whole winter without these extra trips. But I doubt it. By the way, should anyone be wondering where to find the rest of my woody stash, it is (sire), “a good league hence Underneath the mountain Right against the forest fence By Saint Agnes' fountain.”

This morning I heard again what is surely one of the most evocative natural sounds. I ran out of the shed and shaded my eyes to scan the bright blue sky...... There they are! Across a moderate westerly gale three jagged skeins of Canada geese, probably sixty birds in all, were making gust-battered progress northwest towards Morecambe Bay. For all our species' cleverness and adaptability, sights like this are reminders that there will always be things at which we are no good at all.