Cob walls in Blewbury

Cob walls in Blewbury
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
What do you mean 'why have they thatched the walls?' This is what they do in the country.

The open road?

The open road?
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
On the Ridgeway, Oxfordshire

Exciting foot shot

Exciting foot shot
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
This doesn't do justice to the miles walked or the oddly shaped flies that kept pestering us on our journey this morning. But it is my foot!


Problems with getting online are now fixed, so I can revel in the comparative luxury of typing my entry on a regular keyboard.

Today Jenna and I could have been watching a rugby match, but events have transpired so that we are still in home territory. This morning, rather than stay in bed, we went for a seven and a bit mile walk in the countryside. Glorious and just what I needed to blow the week's cobwebs away. Not to mention last night's wheat beer and pizza.

I took some photographs, including one of my foot - something I always did when getting to the end of a roll of film and stuck for subject ideas. Why bother photographing my foot with a digital camera, especially with all the lovely scenery around? I have no idea.
Soul Beaver is playing next weekend so I'm going to spend quite a lot of this one catching up on marking essays.

What else; well, my dad celebrated his 78th birthday. I was able to get over to see him and mum. I spent a wonderful evening talking, eating and doing puzzles. A visit to my folks is always a breath of fresh air.

Talking of puzzles I have to warn you about Su Doku. If you haven't come across these number puzzles (in Britain the Times and Telegraph publish them) you can find them at www.sudoku.com but wait! They are highly addictive. You've been warned.

Or, for Mac users, try this. It's a Su Doku generator (and solver, but where's the fun in that?).


Getting online

I've been having some problems getting online fom home recently. This is a quick phone blog to remind you that I'm still here and will be posting some updates shortly. Plenty happening, it's just too tiring typing on a phone key pad.



Originally uploaded by Roostar.
I'm posting this - a picture of a colleague's mousemat - purely to shunt the horse head photograph down and off the page. It (the horse head) seems to have the effect of destroying the blog's shape when viewed on PCs with Internet Explorer. Mac's (with Safari) don't seem to affected the same way. If any of my English students are reading this, that was also an attempt to get 'effect' and 'affect' into a sentence. Or two.
Are educationalists the only people to use the word 'differentiate'?


Post gig

A great night. The pub was heaving with good natured and lively people and we got the landlord up to make a speech (he's moving to Spain) and sing along with a song. The evening was a combination of playing bass, singing and dodging passing punters and dancers. I don't think I've ever seen people dancing with such verve in floor space equivalent to that of a phone booth.
I took the camera along last night, but there was no room to move, let alone take pictures. I'm not sure my camera skills could capture the mood of the night anyway.

No more gigs for a few weeks. Lots to talk about though. I believe my Chapman Stick bass goes into production soon, so there will be a countdown for that. Now, back to work.

Judas Iscariot from the album “The Dark Keys” by Branford Marsalis



It's phone blog time again. The band is squeezed into a tiny corner of the pub, which is already full. Not sure if photos are possible but a full report should be along soon.

Grumpy person speaks

Having posted nothing for days I am gripped by the urge to write something extra, merely on a whim. Jenna and I stayed in last night and watched Top of the Pops for the first time in ages. Tony Christie ('Show me the way to Amorillo') was number one. He seemed to be the only person singing live and possibly the only person with a live band. I can't stand the song, having heard it too many times, but it did stand head and cliche over everything else in the chart.
I don't want this post to be a 'modern music is rubbish' message, but it easily could be.

The reason modern music isn't rubbish is because:

a) so much good stuff exists but is not on the BBC's average playlists (has anyone heard ' Fanes d'automne' by Marsen Jules on Radio 1?

b) the idea of 'rubbish music' is entirely subjective.


Neil And Jack And Me from the album "Neil and jack and Me (Live DVD)" by King Crimson


This has been a rather insane week. Illness and work have taken over. But now things have settled somewhat - and a good thing too because I have a gig tonight with Soul Beaver. We're playing the Prince of Wales pub in Iffley Village, Oxford. Show start around 8:45pm. Come along if you can.


Rock pioneer Johnson dies aged 80

Rock pioneer Johnson dies aged 80:
Rock 'n' roll pioneer Johnnie Johnson, who inspired the Chuck Berry hit Johnny B Goode, dies at the age of 80.



Originally uploaded by Roostar.
Jenna and I had a great day with our nephews. We climbed White Horse Hill, ate ice lollies in the sun and even got to play some bass.

For those of you interested in Soul Beaver, there will be a gig at the Prince of Wales pub in Iffley next Saturday (23rd, I think) starting around 8:30pm. We should have some exciting news soon as well.


Hitchhiker's set for last journey

Hitchhiker's set for last journey:
Sci-fi classic The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy draws to a close on BBC Radio 4 next month.
I should be listening. The first series, on BBC Radio 4 was on while I was at school. and has been an influence to this day.

Feed me...

Having just discovered the delights of I also ventured off into the world of news feeds. Since I enjoy reading blogs it made sense to have a way to spot when favourite blogs have been updated. I'm trying out Pulp Fiction lite, which seems to work very nicely.
Then, once I sorted that out I dug around in Blogger.com to find out how to add a feed to this site so you can add me to your news browser if you should possibly want to. The feed details are in my links list to the left. Alliteration - you've got to love it.
The next step would be to make a podcast of my own, but I just don't have the time.

And for those of you new to the world of computers let me apologise for everything above. It's all getting a bit nerdy, I know.


Another nicely odd week.

I've spent a couple of days at 'work'. That is, the building at college where I'm based. I was completely alone in a large building, which was a surprisingly thrilling experience. I did plenty of work, but also stared out of the window and felt good about it. I'm trying to find a practical way to be philosophical. Can you be practically philosophical?

Yesterday I went with a friend to sort out clothes for his wedding. It was like revisiting an old world for me as I used to work in the retail/clothing business before having a life changing return to England and education. My wonderful parents helped be change from unfulfilled salesperson (a job I was never going to be very good at) to a qualified teacher and (finally) practising musician. Some days I still don't believe I made the change. Back in the clothes shop (a superbly traditional place in Oxford) I found someone I had worked with back in the eighties. It was an strange moment, standing there with a friend who I play in a band with and who I had met as a 'mature' university student, while chatting to someone from so long ago they knew me by a (slightly) different name. Things seem to be coming together.

Anyway, the clothes shopping worked really well. I'll certainly be taking a camera to the wedding, which should be an enjoyable day. The bride's sister is recovering from having an orange sized tumour (thankfully benign) removed from her brain. Relief at the thing's removal is being tempered with the nervousness of how she will fare over the next few weeks while she readjusts - but essentially this is good news. The groom, bride to be, bridesmaids and self has a succulent meal at Bistro J'taime (terrible name but great food) in Oxford then I came home to faff about with a new song.

In the world of blogging we seem to have lost a few a few stalwarts. 'A blog's life' has vanished, and 'Call Centre Confidential' has stopped. I'm having a tidy up here and recommend to you Arthur Durkee's Road Journal (permanent link coming soon). He's a Stick player who has hit the road for a change of life. His journal is also available as a podcast. Podcasting is fun but I'm very new at it - finding and tasting a variety of superb and extremely not superb podcasts. Don't know what podcasting is? This should help.




Having a walk on Port Meadow. The neighbours woke us up at three this morning, so it is good to be out here, enjoying some sunshine and nosey horses.


Rose and Crown

A good gig last night at the Rose & Crown in Charlton. With hops on the wall, good beers and food and a friendly landlord the pub was beautiful but tiny; it was like playing in someone's living room (something I've done but wouldn't recommend). The locals were very welcoming though and we had a celebrity in our midst in the form of Steve Hogath.

The first half was rather lacklustre, since we had promised to 'keep the noise down.' You can't play music like this quietly, or rather you can, but it's difficult to put passion into it. Our dynamics suffered and it felt like we were almost apologising, rather than making a statement.

The second half was very different. With the pub full to bursting the audience were louder than we had been, so we turned the volume up appropriately and let fly. Much better! Sweat was raised, dynamics reappeared and the crowd reacted accordingly. It was no longer an apologetic performance.

Emma, our drummer's partner and the singer from Soul Beaver seemed very pleased with the results which, to me, is the sign that we have got something right.

Another big Beaver gig to come and more dreams of my Bass Stick.