Monthly Archives: August 2013

Frantic Festivities

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Cue the strobe lighting, sleepless nights and diverse music, it’s got to be that festival feeling. Thankfully, the weather was a lot kinder to us this year and we got through the weekend with minimal showers (both from the sky and genuine washing facilities) and and a whole lot of sunshine.

So, the days went by and I can’t quite believe the diversity of events and people I experienced from the hard core dancing in ‘hashtag disco’ into the small hours and tense bunting and bracelet making to the more lightweight bio-ethics talk of human enhancement and the movement of technology. Then, there was the classic ‘beer and hymns’. This is a fairly simple and self-explanatory concept with a sermon something along the lines of “there are many ways to praise and worship God, and one of them is to drink beer and sing some hymns”. This is where thousands of people pack into one tent accompanied by a pint of beer from the ‘Jesus arms’ and bellow out well known hymns in, of course, the most tuneful of manners. If the heat and slight sense of claustrophobia were ever an issue, it definitely got turned up a notch when the dancing started in ‘Lord of the Dance’.

So, four days of singing and dancing, arting and crafting, playing and laughing, meeting the bands and meeting the festival-goers, what a weekend. As always, everyone and everything was fantastic and friendly but these kinds of things don’t just happen by chance and to do my bit I was on the ‘take-down team’. This was a not-quite-as-willing-as-putting-up team of volunteers at the end of the festival weighed down by heavy signs, constant reprimands and serious sleep deprivation until no one knew exactly what we were doing and people had lost all ability to even tie a knot. But, in doing this I did meet some truly fantastic people that I only hope to meet again before too long.

And, thus begins the frantic frenzy of friend requests, music downloading and photo viewings…

So, until next year, I guess that’s goodbye Greenbelt and thanks for the fun times.

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One Short Week in the Emerald Country

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“There are wonders like I’ve never seen, it’s all grand, and it’s all green! I think I’ve found the place where I belong. I want to be in this hoi polloi, so I’ll be back for good someday to make my life and make my way, but for this week I’ll wonder and enjoy…”

That’s right, I’ve just spent one glorious week in the Emerald Isle, somewhere I’ve always wanted to go. And, I have to say, one of t’ings I love most about the Irish is how close and yet how wonderfully unbritish they are. They’re just so friendly, for example if you’re sat on a train or in a coffee shop, people will just come and sit next to you as opposed to keeping a polite one-seat’s distance in that way only a true Brit does. Not to mention, everyone in cars lets you go on the road and the ‘youth about town’ run up and welcome you to the town. We went to a village festival with a flatbed truck for a stage and hay bales to support musicians and electrical equipment as if health and safety, organisation and being ‘PC’ were all just things for other people to worry about. The music was loud, the dancing was vibrant and all the people were smiling. All the cares of the world were problems for another time or another place because right there, right then, it was just laughter and good times.

Of course being English tourists we did have the typical tourist day, visiting Blarney castle and kissing the Blarney stone – the legendary stone of eloquence – (which should apparently be on everyone’s bucket list?) It was fantastic though, normally if people talk about historic castles and gardens, you can cue the yawns but I really would recommend this to anyone (especially if you’re willing to climb ten storeys up a small stone spiral staircase and lean over backwards across a gap at the top of the castle to attain the gift of eloquence).

One day we took a country walk (in the rain of course) before retiring to an Irish bar to listen to the live traditional music and watch traditional dancing, it was all very suitably…Irish. This is when I fell inevitably, irrevocably and irreversibly in love with Ireland. We stayed there just enjoying the moment, guinness in hand and music playing before leaving to find this was by no means the only place this was happening. Everywhere there were bands playing and crowds gathering, just outside where we were there was another loud and lively band playing just on the street until we got to the point where we were listening to bands without even knowing which pub we were attached to, but then I guess there it doesn’t really matter as long as you’ve got a drink in your hand and a smile on your face. All the way back to the car we were being literally sucked into pubs by music and friendly faces. It may have been a t’irteen hour journey to get there but it was worth it. It was ‘great craic’ and I definitely see myself returning, hopefully before too long.

So, I wish you all a Top o’ the morning and the rest of the day to yourself and wherever you go and whatever you do, may the luck of the Irish be always with you 🙂

Tutti Frutti

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So it’s lunch time in a public area, a classic packed lunch situation with other people. You look down at what you believe to be a perfectly average and moderately balanced meal but as you look around, there’s always someone with a lunch consisting entirely of fruit and a rabbit food and seeded cardboard sandwich as if to say “look at me, I’m going to live forever while you all die after a perfectly average amount of time”. But, looking closer at the contents of their lunch, you see a banana – can this even be called a fruit? Just a mushy long stick only good for toy guns and making penguins from peeling the skin. Then there’s the pot of blueberries labelled a ‘super fruit’ but are realistically anything but super both in taste and size. And then, there’s the apple, always a gamble because although I would say on the whole I am a fan of apples, nothing ruins your day like a disappointing apple. Right from that very first moment you bite into it you know if it’s worth pursuing or, if you are going to have to suffer the next five minutes enduring a soft and powdery snack. So, you stare, not so enviously now at their pretentious, colourful array of juicy delights and realise that when you say “eat the rainbow”, you are talking about skittles as opposed to the products of an overly productive session at ‘pick-your-own’.

So anyway, you get out your humble satsuma and there is always  one person (usually the one carrying around the small orchard) that gets out an orange. An orange; the grandfather of fruits, the alpha male to your satsuma. This is when you find there are two types of orange eaters – the competent, experienced fruit eaters that are there to put down your lowly satsuma and well, the less so. The ones that spend hours hacking away at the endless wall of skin with a pen knife before sticking their thumbs mindlessly and aggressively into the small incision, squirting themselves directly in the eye with zesty juices, blinding themselves, all the time precariously close to a knife. They then claw away at the never ending barrier only to find their orange is now left entirely encased in a white covering that everyone just puts up with by this point because they’ve spent so long getting through the outer skin. Then, they are faced with a whole orange, slightly disfigured by a brutal attacking and realise they just have to plunge their face into the orange, a turmoil of juices flying in all directions, sticking to their face and attracting the nearest swarm of wasps to come and sting them half to death. There is no elegant way to eat an orange and this quite simply is why they are not fit for public consumption. This is why whenever faced with any kind of communal fruit bowl, oranges are avoided like the plague.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-fruit, I, like anyone else, enjoy a good fruit salad in the summer, a nice refreshing smoothie or a healthy snack, I just don’t understand why one would voluntarily choose to consume an orange in public rather than an easy-to-peel, practical and pre-segmented snack? And, contrary to what I said before, I do believe that a particularly good apple; crisp and crunchy, can be fantastic, I just believe fruit, in certain circumstances, has the power to make or break a day really. Take the raspberry for example, at the right time, you just can’t really go wrong with raspberries, always ready to brighten anyone’s day 🙂