Sunday, 29 June 2014

Summer Solstice with Kasabian, 21st May 2014


Last Saturday saw us taking a little trip into Leicester to Kasabian's summer solstice event.

We were all really looking forward to this - our daughter Jasmin was joining us, so a nice little family trip to see one of the best live bands out there.

About to board the Mini, tickets at the ready
It was due to all kick off with doors opening at 3pm and the first act on at 5pm. I have to say I was very underwhelmed by the supports, we've seen some great support acts whilst seeing Kasabian in the past - Miles Kane, Reverend and the makers and Temples. This time around it was Beardy Man, Zane Lowe, Jagwar Ma and Rudimental. Come on lads what about some real bands! We decided to leave fairly late on in the afternoon to hopefully avoid most of the support acts, so by 5pm we were off, the sun was shinning and Kasabian was on the iPod blasting through the Mini speakers on the way down the M1..

Arriving in Leicester we began looking for a parking place and saw the 'Park and Stride' now the problem with this was it was a 2 mile walk to the park and somebody decided it was a good idea to not give any directions on how to get to the gig, oh well lucky we headed in the right direction and soon found ourselves among the crowds of fans going into Victoria Park. A quick Mr Whippy ice cream stop and we were into the gig.

Wow, it certainly was heaving, we found a spot to chill out whist we waited, unfortunately we we're unable to miss Rudimental! However they were only on for 30 minutes and once they were off the crowd was greeted to a giant countdown clock, only 45 minutes left to the main event.

Can you feel it coming?
Soon it was close to zero, you could feel the tension and then Kasabian were out to raw emotion from the crowd and it all kicked off with Bumblebeee.

Amazing, we were a fair way back but that enabled us a bit of room for some serious bouncing about and dancing. The band was looking great and sounding awesome. The set list was spot on, Shoot the Runner, Underdog, the fantastic Fast Fuse (wasn't expected that one but was so pleased it was played) then it slowed down briefly for Days Are Forgotten. Soon  all of Victoria Park was chanting Eez-eh from the new album. Processed Beats, Stevie and ID all followed, then the beginning of The Doberman before seguing into Take Aim then the outro of Doberman again.

 Can this evening get any better, it was hot, sweaty and loud. Then onto fan favourite Club Foot, followed by Re-wired, Treat and Empire before ending with the festival anthem Fire. Of course there was an encore the regular Switchblade Smiles, Vlad the Impaler then a bit of Fatboy Slims Praise You, I have to admit that I had goosebumps at this point and then the big ending LSF just like the early days.

The band looked genuinely overwhelmed to be in their home town looking out at the 50,000 fans. An awesome night.


  • Serges' Les-tah t-shirt
  • Serge and Tom being overwhelmed at the presence of Hot Dog and Noodle Bars
  • Fast Fuse and even faster dancing
  • The Doberman, absolute favourite even in the segue
  • Star jumping in front of the boring arses in front of us who had not even wiggled all night.
  • Finishing with LSF
  • Dibs getting to speak - that is a first for us

Such a great feeling to be walking down London Rd with everyone still singing LSF those two miles soon flew by. Lets hope its not too long before we see them again.

Jasmin and Victoria

Victoria and Paul

Paul and Jasmin disturb Victoria's snooze during the Rudimental set

We can feel it coming?

Festival footsie!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Hotel Bloom; Brussels, 22nd to 26th May 2014

During late August last year Victoria and I had taken the Eurostar to Brussels and stayed at the lovely Hotel Bloom near Botanique. On October 26th last year it was my mum and dads 50th Wedding Anniversary and we decided that we would take them to Brussels in the spring time for a treat.

Delirium Cafe
We booked the Hotel Bloom and Eurostar quite easily but had a bit of a dilemma about getting to St. Pancras, the previous year we had taken the train for Derby, but with coming back on a Sunday this time it seemed a bit of a long-winded, multiple change, late arriving, faff. However, we saw that if we went from Newark, the journey was only one and a half hours each way and worked out at £23.00 each for a return - bargain!

On the Thursday mum and dad picked us up and we drove to Newark station and were soon on the platform waiting for the train, it had been unfortunately delayed by a broken down good train but we arrived at St. Pancras in good time. Dad mentioned that it was the first time that he and mum had been on a mainline train since spending their honeymoon in London over 50 years ago!

Enjoying a Floris Pomme
Arriving at Kings Cross we traversed the road to get into St. Pancras and picked up some lunch to take on the train. Victoria and I had Yo Sushi take-out while mum and dad went for the safe option of a Marks & Spencer sandwich. We were soon on the Eurostar to Brussels where we arrived at Midi Station and took the Metro to Botanique and were soon checked in to the hotel.

That evening we walked into the centre of Brussels and had dinner at one of the restaurants on Petite rue des Bouchers, they are all pretty much the same so whoever offers the best deal take it, we were just happy to get a vegetarian meal with a drink for €15.00 After that we had a beer and a walk around the city taking in Grand-Place and Manneken Pis. After another beer it was back to Hotel Bloom for some kip.

Veggie hot-dog, yum!
In the morning we decided to forego the €25.00/head breakfast at Hotel Bloom and walked into the centre and had a fresh coffee and croissant for an incredible €2.00 at Exki. After that we showed mum and dad around town and then left them to wander while we went to a couple of the the comic book stores on Anspachlaan where I picked up a copy of Pieces of Wonderland that I have put away as a birthday present for her while Victoria bought me a copy of Pin-Up Wings 2 (I already have Pin-Up Wings 3). After a bit of shopping we went to Delirium where we had had a couple of lovely beers last year. As there is so much choice - it holds the record for having over 2000 different beers on sale - this year we decided that we would try some of the many fruit beers on offer. We had a Delirium Red, a Floris Pomme and a Mongonzo Mangue all off which got a tick from both of us. For lunch we found a hot-dog shop that sold veggie hot-dogs - these were lovely.

Galler waffle - yum!
We then met up with mum and dad in Grand-Place for a coffee while watching the world go by. We then popped into the La Boutique Tintin then back to the hotel to put our feet up before we went out again for a pizza for dinner on rue Gretry then took mum and dad to Delirium, dad liked it, mum was not so sure, I had another Delirium Red while Victoria had a Mongonzo Coconut both very nice.

Mum & Dad - Happy 50th
The next day we awoke and walked into town and had breakfast at Hema then a day mooching around town. Victoria did not fancy what was on offer so had a chocolate waffle from Galler, she gave it five stars. Wandering around town in the sun it was not long before we succumbed to the lure of Delirium, so Victoria and I soon settled down to a lunchtime session, Pink Killer, Floris Chocolate, Floris Frais and Delirium Red, realising we were a bit peckish we also had ordered the bowl of Gouda - a massive amount of cheese with mustard and celery salt for about €3.00. That afternoon we were a little dazed, so wandered around town some more picking up some souvenirs from La Boutique Tintin we met mum and dad at Exki for a coffee before picking up some beers to take home from De Biertempel before a walk back up to the hotel for a snooze before dinner.

Delirium drinks
That evening we took mum and dad for a traditional Belgian supper of chips and mayonnaise on rue Henri Maus, mum was impressed that she could have a bottle of wine with her chips although we will skip over the ketchup incident - buy me a beer and I'll elaborate.

Mum and dad went for another Belgian tradition, crepes and waffles, while probably unsurprisingly Victoria and I gravitated back to Delirium. It was Saturday evening and the bar was bouncing, we had a Cookie Beer, Floris Frais, Floris Ninkeberry and St' Idesbald Blonde.

Man vs Waffle
Next morning was our last day in Belgium, we breakfasted again at Exki and then went back to Hotel Bloom to check out. We took the luggage to Gare Midi and then caught the Metro to Heysel Stadium and then walked over to the Atomium where we spent a fine morning enjoying the exhibits and views. We went back to Gare Midi for lunch, picked up the luggage and then caught the Eurostar back to London.

At Kings Cross we walked over to St. Pancras and were soon on the train back to Newark and were home by 10:30PM.

Mongozo Coconut and Floris Frais

Grand Place

Monday, 16 June 2014

Pawton Barn Cornwall, 15th to 22nd January 2014

Over the previous few years we have been taking a break in Cornwall during the February half-term break. Previously we have stayed at The Swallows just outside St. Merryn, however, that lovely barn conversion is no longer available so this year we took the plunge and booked at Pawton Barn just outside Wadebridge.

We have really enjoyed our time at the Swallows as it is a short walk to get on the Cornish Coastal Path for some fantastic walks, while Pawton Barn is much further inland so requires the use of a car.

Arriving at Pawton Barn on the Saturday after lunch we were in for a real treat, the place is beautiful and excellently equipped a proper home from home.

After unpacking we settled down for the evening and I did some figure painting.

On the Sunday morning I did a little more work on the figures we drove to Constantine Bay and had a short walk along the Cornish Coastal Path to Treyarnon Bay and back then a walk along the waters edge getting our feet wet in the process. We popped into Padstow for a box of chips at Rick Steins Chip-shop and a look around town. Despite the forecast of poor weather the day was fantastically sunny. It was back to Pawton Barn for some figure painting and bed.

Monday morning I was up bright and early and again working on the figures before Victoria made an appearance. The impending rain had broken so we decided to stick to our original plan and visit the Eden Project. When you purchase a ticket for the Eden Project it is valid for a year, as last years ticket was still valid we had a freebie this time. Walking around the Temperate and Tropical Biomes as the rain hammered down outside. This time we used the new Rainforest Canopy and also queued to get into the platform at the top of the dome. As usual we had a fantastic lunch in the restaurant.

Come Tuesday morning the sun was out again so we decided that we would break out the English Heritage cards and visit Tintagel Castle. Parking in town we made our way down to the old harbour and then climbed the hundreds of steps up to Tintagel Castle, the weather remained very bright and sunny and the views were amazing. It was so nice that on the way back to the car we had an ice-cream.

After Tintagel we went to the picturesque village of Port Isacc and had a rather nice tea and cake at the Old School House Hotel. Back to Pawton Barn for some supper and more figure painting.

On Wednesday we drove back to Constantine Bay and set off on a walk along the Cornish Coastal Path heading towards Padstow. We crossed Constantine Bay and Boobys Bay in a light drizzle and were  on Trevose Headland when it came down in buckets so we abandoned the walk and went back to the car and drove into Padstow for a touristy mooch around. Back to Pawton Barn for tea and board games.

On Thursday we stayed at Pawton Barn for a rest day with lunch at the local pub and many games of Carcassone and Guillotine. As may be expected there was more figure painting.

Friday we were up bright and early for breakfast at Jamie Olivers Fifteen Cornwall in Watergate Bay. Victoria and I had a fantastic breakfast watching the breakers coming in to the bay and a few hardy individuals braving the surf in the drizzle. We drove into Newquay for a look around and then came back via St. Merryn where we picked up some Pasties for our tea. Of course there was a final figure painting session.

On Saturday morning we loaded up the Mini and said farewell to Pawton Barn and started the five and a half hour journey back to Nottinghamshire. We would certainly go back, but maybe not next year.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

An Introduction and upcoming itinerary

A long, long time ago! well 1990.
Welcome to the new blog for myself and Victoria.

Our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary is imminent ( 24th February 2015) and we wanted to mark it with quite a tour. Victorias' friend Clare had emigrated to New Zealand and my friend Matt had emigrated to Japan, both working as teachers. This got us thinking, we could celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and see our buddies in the process*, visiting two countries we had never previously been to.

In summer 2013 we started our planning. We knew the rough dates that we could travel as we are limited to school holidays with Victorias' job, so we would preferably travel out in late July 2014.

Eighteen years ago, in 1995, I had been on to a conference in San Jose and Victoria and our daughter Jasmin had accompanied me. We had flown into Los Angeles, visited Disneyland and then driven up the Pacific Coast to San Jose. While I was in the conference Victoria and Jasmin had visited San Francisco while I only had the opportunity of a drive out to look at the Golden Gate Bridge and the Embarcardo, I probably only got out of the car for a few minutes. The rest of the photos in this post are from that trip.
Jasmin outside It's a Small World 1995

We thought it would be great if I could actually see San Francisco so we decided to make this the first stop on our tour. After three nights in  San Francisco we will pick up a hire car and have a leisurely drive along the Pacific Coast, staying for a night at Ben Lomond, we stayed here all those years ago, and a night at Pismo Beach.

Arriving at Anaheim, we will have three nights here, with a couple of days at Disneyland then we drop the car off at the airport and board a flight from Los Angeles to Auckland.

Although it is a 13-hour flight we leave on the Thursday evening but do not get there until the Saturday morning, the intricacies of the International Date Line.
Our California Babe in 1995

The original plan was to hire a camper van in New Zealand, but as it is really winter, the weather will be inclement so we opted instead for a hire car and hotels.

We pick up the car in Auckland and then have a night on the Viaduct. Setting off the next day we have a night at Waitomo where we will visit the glow-worm caves. We then drive to Lake Taupo where we plan to fly over Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu the site of Mount Doom!

Golden Gate Bridge 1995
After a night at Lake Taupo we drive on to Rotarua where we will have two nights and hope to take in a thermal spa and see the sights. Before heading back to Auckland we are going to Hobbiton to visit The Shire and then back to Auckland airport to drop off the car and have a night in the airport hotel as we have an early flight in the morning to Tokyo.

We get into Tokyo late afternoon and are staying on Tokyo Bay where we will spend our remaining days of this tour. Our plans for Tokyo are to have day trips to Tokyo Disney Seas and a visit to Mount Fuji on the Bullet train. Whilst in Tokyo we hope to be able to mooch around town and stumble upon the weird and wonderful delights of Japan, however due to being in Japan during their hottest and most humid month (which is often described as hellish!) we may just head to the nearest air conditioned building!
Victoria & Jasmin 1995

Then its back home to good old Blighty and hopefully - if we're still speaking to each other after that length of time together - to plan our next trip.

I have scanned some very old photos, don't we look young!

Pacific Ocean 1995

* Unfortunately a change in circumstances means that Clare is coming home in July and Matt will be on holiday when we arrive in Tokyo. The lengths some people go to avoid us.