2006 - over and out

J and I enjoyed a proper grown up night away with friends the other day. Wind and rain could not stop us from having a restful time away and the company helped make sure there was never a dull moment.

Christmas has been good generally. It's been great to see the folks and to do all the traditional Christmassy things. I feel full but strangely rested.

Totally unrelated are today's photographs. One is my retuned bass, the other our child's first toy - assuming it continues to be as lively outside the womb as it is in.

If, as is likely, this is my last post for 2006 I'd like to say thanks for reading. Although I don't get too many hits I am aware that quite a lot of people come here to read my odd rambings and this makes me happy. There will be a lot more writing in 2007 and, hopefully, some exciting changes. The baby is due, Soul Beaver will be ten years old, I hope to have a new instrument and with luck I'll be getting back to taking photographs with an SLR again. I hope you (and I) stay healthy and happy.

Sweet Music

A busy day musicking. Andy Guitarist presented me with a bag of Reese's Peanut Chips. The orange bag is a sign of something I'm always going to like. Reese products are sickly but wonderful and they always remind me of my trip to New York in the very early 1980's.

Pictured here are Simon the drummer, Richard Guitarist and the sweets.


Kenyan Peaberry rules

A quick last minute Christmas shop in the local town of Faringdon was rounded off by a visit to the Faringdon Coffee-House in the market square. They serve freshly ground coffee, extremely good cakes and even have a wall of sweets in jars. My favourite meal there had been their veggie breakfast but some months back it had arrived in a bad shape and with each sending back to the kitchen it got worse. Back there today I thought I'd give it another go and found that they now, amazingly, stopped serving breakfast at noon. Fair enough. I had something else and, when paying, was asked by the owner if that was better than my last meal. Wow, she remembered. Not only that, she had stopped serving the breakfast at noon to avoid the sort of problems I'd had last time. Next time I'll be back in the morning.

A delivery of cards rounded off the day and I drove home through the spooky valleys around Uffington remembering why I hate driving at night so much. Now to have a trawl through my favourite albums of the year.


It's a big menorah

While walking around in the freezing early morning I spotted this giant menorah. Note the 'flames'.

Quite Tiring

Phew! Back and unbroken. I got to town before the crowds but they were certainly there when I left. Morning coffee was accompanied by a woman speaking business-speak VERY LOUD to her colleague and even louder to her mobile phone.

Oxford was eventually full of stressed people who slowly became more obnoxious in their manners. Frenzy threatened and so I dived into the QI shop/cafe. Here I got to play a game called 'Go Mental' and enjoy the circular bookshop. I would have stayed longer but I sensed a calm outside and decided to make a run for it.

Having got home it now transpires that J needs to get a few last presents and so back I go.

Right now.

Robust last minute dolphin babies

Maybe watching a programme about 'Animals in the Womb' wasn't such a good idea last night. I was trapped by the cat and the legs of sleeping pregnant wife but after the dreams I now wish I'd made more effort to turn it off.

Off to town to buy presents. May I remind you that this is the day before Christmas Eve so, technically, I haven't left it to the last minute.

And finally, has anyone else noticed the word 'Robust' turning up like a creepy alien virus?


Mr Julie Walters

Overheard in Oxford recently: "I see him as a male Julie Walters."




The bad news is that BBC Radio Three are axing Mixing It and cutting back Late Junction.

The good news is that our Freeview box is playing up and we can now watch the video from BBC 1 (tonight a programme about childless couples trying for a baby with IVF) and the audio from BBC 3 (Dog Borstal). This produced a wonderful, surreal mashup show which I could watch all night.

The weekend was good. Caught up with great friends on Saturday and Sunday. We spent most of last night sitting in front of the fire.

Music is very much on the menu for January. There is a Soul Beaver gig, another outing for the AshBash band and more work on Richard Guitarist's new songs. As well as this we should be finishing off my album and making available to the three or four people who have shown an interest.


Jetpack on the beach

Tuesday was full-on at the dayjob. It's nearly the end of term and people are exhausted and tetchy. I came home, packed up some musical tools and headed out to an Oxford studio to rehearse with most of Soul Beaver. I've been playing my Fender Jazz bass recently. It's an American made, standard issue fretless and it's been played in palaces and on a beach in Egypt (hence the photograph). It hasn't been played much recently as I've been working on five-strings and the Stick. However, just for fun, I brought it along and reveled in the simple interface it presents. We rocked, of course.

In the land of babies - J is still not showing much and I'm feeling a little concerned despite others reminding us that "... everyone shows differently." Perhaps it's a male thing that I want her to be looking a bit more, pregnant.

We had long ago found a suitable name for a girl but struggled with boys' names. Last night J suggested a name which immediately felt right. It was as if another stage had been passed. There's plenty of time to change our minds of course and maybe a chance for me to get my favourite name idea (Jetpack) back in the running. Yes, it was a joke, but still ...


Happy Birthday/Christening to ya

Last (working) week ended oddly. A good class but a sour last half hour in the staff room, despite a good chat with colleagues. Luckily Saturday gave me a chance to do something practical - that is, get a Christmas tree and some festive goodies.

Today J and I attended a christening service in a church near Oxford. I'm not really a church person (expect for music) and, truthfully, I found the whole service empty, flat and a little hypocritical (not hypercritical as I wrote earlier - thanks FJL). It was also surprisingly like a gig. The PA broke, a wrong song was played and people only really warmed up when it was time to pack up and go. Catching up with friends was the best part of the day and J even got her own new name - 'Preggers' courtesy of Richard Drummer. The band rehearses this week. Bad news as I work 12 hours days on Monday and Wednesday, but good news as I love playing with the band.

Much work to be done on the house over the festive period. Job two is the get a flor down in the loft so I can store spare gear away and convert the back bedroom into a nursery. Job one is to ask the new neighbours, nicely, to fix their back gate which is banging away every few... BANG ... minutes.

Yesterday was the birthday of a cousin, an uncle, my oldest friend (37 years and counting) and the greatly missed brother of my dad. I went to toast them all in the evening but only had a rather wanting mulled wine. Oh well, happy birthday anyway.


Dragoncave: Music I Still Dream Of

Dragoncave: Music I Still Dream Of

Art Durkee always provides me with inspiring ideas. His post on Sunday contains a lot of wisdom.

Hall of rock

Hall of rock
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
The hallway, pre-rehearsal.

Lights II

Local church
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
Slightly more impressive is the local church. This is something of a beacon to me on my drives home.


The local Christmas tree before and after lights-on ceremony.


Last Saturday J and I attended the lights-on ceremony for the village Christmas tree. The ceremony consisted of a small crowd of us standing in the dark for ten minutes, followed by a rousing countdown from ten to one and then… nothing. A few more countdowns had to be tried out before the lights came on and we all cheered. Later, a simple walk around the village became an adventure as it was pitch black and huge, deep puddles covered many parts of the road. At one stage we both had to climb across a thin strip of raised ground – thorny hedge on one side, deep water on the other. Great fun.

Sunday brought Richard Guitarist and I to Wokingham for a rehearsal. We had understood the times to be 10:00 – 2:00 but it was actually 2:00 – 10:00. Hours of drinking coffee and chatting was therefore followed by us not being able to stick around for the full rehearsal. This is all for the Ash Bash drum clinic show later in the year. Highlight of the rehearsal was watching guitarist Andy C turning purple while singing the extended notes in ‘I predict a riot.’

J has now managed a whole 24 hours without throwing up. That’s as much baby news as I can bring you at the moment. Expect quite a lot more soon.