28 May 2007


Well, somehow they did it! After a hard fought game that could, to be honest, have gone either way DERBY COUNTY ARE BACK IN THE PREMIERSHIP!

Stephen Pearson’s goal on 61 minutes was all that separated the two sides in what is being called the richest game in football!

Derby County now stand to make something like £60 million in TV rights and sponsorship etc over the next three years! Not bad for a team that were almost relegated last season!

Newark Beer Festival

Newark went off OK - in fact, it was a GREAT day! The weather just about held out for us, we managed to have a look around Newark, and Newark Castle, whilst the sun was still out and the rain that did eventually set in didn’t arrive until early evening, by which time we wanted to be inside the Beer Festival marquee anyway!

We arrived in Newark mid-morning, found the hotel, parked the car up and set off in search of the Beer Festival site, so that we knew where we needed to be later in the day. Newark isn’t the biggest of places so this proved to be no problem - find the castle, then the river and the Beer Festival is on the opposite bank, sorted.

The rest of the morning, and early afternoon, was spent exploring Newark, finding something to eat - we finished up having our own little picnic in the castle grounds (Cornish Pastie, Sausage Rolls and Pizza!) - and looking around the remains of Newark Castle.

Newark Castle.

At around 2:00pm we headed back to the Beer Festival and, after purchasing our beer glasses (we have them from all the beer fests. we’ve been to!) started to sample some of the drink on offer. The "Golden Duck" was a nice beer as was the "Hophead". As well as our first beer, the afternoon also gave us our first music of the day, a singer/songwriter by the name of Guy Maile. Lynda and I spent much of his set trying to figure out where we had seen him before - I thought I’d seen him at Off The Tracks, Lynda thinks it may well have been at Saul! Wherever it was, Guy Maile was great entertainment. I never knew that Tom Jones’s Green Green Grass Of Home could sound so good - or so funny!

After the Guy Maile set, we headed back to the hotel to check-in and unpack. A little over an hour and a half later we were heading back to the festival site. By now the rain had started - nothing very heavy, just the sort of stuff that gets you wet without you realising it!

Once we were back in the marquee, it was time to start on the drink again and claim a spot near the stage, before the music started again. The first band of the evening was a group called The Boatrockers, a four piece from just down the road in Stapleford. Now, I’m not the world’s biggest fan of cover bands, and that’s pretty well what The Boatrockers are, but this lot turned out to be quite good. The set they played was certainly lively, got the crowd on their side and was a good start to the evening.

After more beer, a tray of chips and a rather nice burger, it was time for The Reasoning to take to the stage. This was the second time we had seen this band in just over a month and once again, they proved to be well worth the trip. It would be hard for me to pick a highlight from the set they played as every single track was great but Awakening was stunning as was Aching Hunger.

The Reasoning.

The old Karnataka track After The Rain was another that stood out along with Sacred Shape. The set closed with a track that is now over 30 years old, the classic Deep Purple number, Stormbringer!

Roll on the next time I get to see The Reasoning.

There are a few more photos of the castle and also The Reasoning HERE!

25 May 2007

Right, it’s the weekend again and this weekend I plan on staying fit and healthy for ALL of it!

Tomorrow, after an extra hour or two in bed, we are off to Newark for the Newark Beer Festival. The only reason that I have decided to give this event a go is because The Reasoning are playing there tomorrow evening - if they weren’t playing, we wouldn’t be going. The fact that there will be over 140 beers on offer has in no way influenced my decision! Neither has the choice of Cider - over 20 of those I think!

If the weather is kind to us, we hope to have a bit of a look around Newark, and also the castle, during the afternoon before going in search of drink and music. Photos and more details at some point later in the weekend!

On Monday, The Rams take on West Bromwich Albion in the Championship play-off final. We’ll be sat in front of the TV for that - unless the tension becomes too much, then we’ll be hiding behind the settee!


22 May 2007

It's been fun... sort of!

Well, last weekend had a little bit of everything on offer!

I awoke on Saturday morning feeling somewhat worse for wear - nothing to do with alcohol; I hadn’t had a single drink the night before! I can only think that something I’d eaten did not agree with me because my stomach was not best pleased. I managed to get through work okay in the morning, and also the garden centre in the afternoon, but I wasn’t feeling quite right somehow.

In the evening, we went to the Peatbog Faeries gig at Kinver. Getting there proved to be a bit of a laugh; Wolverhampton ring road is not something I would recommend you try unless you really have no choice! Being in the very left hand lane of a four lane dual carriageway when you need to turn right can be a little tricky - still not quite sure just how we made that turn, but we did!

The gig was good, not the best I’ve been to and certainly not classic Peatbog Faeries, but the set of tracks played wasn’t anywhere near as upbeat as I had hoped. Still, it was good to see the band live again and it did have some good “dance” moments - “Friend Of Crazy Joe” and the superb “Folk Police” spring to mind!

The Peatbog Faeries.

By the end of the gig, my second ailment of the weekend had come to light - my back, shoulders and neck were killing me. Half an hour into the drive home and I was in agony, for the next hour Lynda was having to act as “spotter” for me at junctions and roundabouts as I couldn’t turn my head at all!

By the time I got out of bed on Sunday morning my back and neck had eased a little - at least I could move my head freely again - and I felt that I could cope with the drive down the motorway to help Gary with his race car. The meeting was very good with a reasonable turn out of cars, some very close racing, hardly any hold-ups and three acceptable results for us. Gary drove to a strong 3rd place in his first heat, managed 4th in the second after a bit of a hectic first bend and then drove like a man possessed in the final race to finish 3rd again.

This final race was, I think, the best race of the day for Gary. He was a little slow away from the start and was last going into the first bend; there was then a big first bend bunching as the lead cars seemed to brake just a little too hard on the damp track, this caused the rest of the pack to bunch up behind them and saw Gary finish up sideways across the track. The next few laps saw a typical “Cookie” charge around the outside line and, by the time the chequered flag fell, he was back up to 3rd.

Gary on a typical outside line charge!

By late on Sunday evening my stomach had started to remind me that it was not a happy bunny, I then spent most of Sunday night/early hours of Monday visiting the smallest room in the house! I was not feeling well! Needless to say, I didn’t make it into work on Monday; in fact, I didn’t manage to drag myself out of bed until just after 5:00PM.

Today, Tuesday, I do feel a little better but still haven’t managed work - maybe tomorrow, if all goes well.

18 May 2007

Headlong into the weekend!

This weekend will be another busy one, one way or another.

I have work in the morning, a trip to the garden centres in the afternoon - so that we can start planting the summer bedding - and then we’re off to the Peatbog Faeries gig tomorrow night!

On Sunday, I plan on doing a little more work on the garden in the morning before heading off to my first autograss meeting of the year - yes, Gary FINALLY has his car ready to race! The meeting will be at Gary’s home club - Melton - so at least he will know his way around the track!

On Sunday evening, I MAY go to the gym for a short while, but then again…

17 May 2007

Getting behind The Rams!

So, after Tuesday nights rather tense game The Rams can look forward to a Championship play-off final at Wembley on May 28. I think it’s a pretty safe bet that Derby will more or less come to a stand still at 3:00PM on Bank Holiday Monday as many people will be either in London for the match or sat in front on a TV screen somewhere!


Derby County - The Rams!

The penalty shoot out.

The moment the crowd realise Derby are in the play-offs!

16 May 2007

The long weekend...

Okay, it’s all just a small piece of history now but here’s a run down of last weekend…

We arrived at The Flowerpot in plenty of time for the Bluehorses gig on Friday, almost 2 hours early in fact! Well, it gave us chance to catch up with the band and a few of the regular faces, that and a little time for a beer! Whilst chatting with Nic and Liz we tried to work out just how long Lynda and I have been following the band - we reckon it must be approaching 11 or 12 years now! Doesn’t time fly!!!

When the Bluehorses took to the stage the first thing that the crowd noticed was the new stage gear - all the band were wearing kilts, black kilts! What more would you expect from a band that are probably the only Celtic-rock-folk-heavy-metal-goth band around? The other change came in the form of Rhayn Jooste, the band's new bass player. Rhayn, as we later found out, is a very nice chap and a damn good bass player too! He owns a rather cool pair of New Rock boots as well!

The set list comprised of 16 tracks in all; the highlights (for me) being “Witch In Wedlock”, “Billy Boy”, “Gravel Walk” and “Sitting Pretty” a song that always gets the crowd bouncing! Yep, I bounce, even at my age! “Skyclad” is a track that really tests a bass player and I was waiting to see just how Rhayn would cope with this one in front of a live audience - he played a blinder! Anyone seeing the band for the first time would have thought he had been playing “Skyclad” for years. All in all, a great night's music.

Liz - Bluehorses

Jay - Bluehorses

Liz - Bluehorses

Nic - Bluehorses

Jay & Liz - Bluehorses

Rhayn - Bluehorses

Liz - Bluehorses

Rhayn - Bluehorses

Liz - Bluehorses

After getting to bed at just after 12:30AM on Saturday, we were up again at 5:00AM to head off to Kent for a long weekend of bird watching. On the Saturday, we visited two reserves, Lee Valley Country Park and Rainham Marshes, both of which were new sites for me. Lee Valley provided what was possibly the best birding of the weekend - after only walking a very short distance onto the reserve we came across a group of six Hobby hunting over a lake and reed bed. To see one of these attractive falcons is always a treat, to have six flying around together, often just overhead, was amazing. The second noteworthy bird found at Lee Valley was Nightingale. I was fortunate enough to get a reasonable view of this very secretive bird, many of the group weren’t so lucky.

Rainham Marshes gave us the first taste of what the rest of the weekend’s weather would be like, it rained! Luckily I had my new birding coat with me (well, it was purchased with this weekend in mind) so the rain showers were only a minor irritation and didn’t stop us adding Little Egret, Cuckoo and Greenshank to our growing list of species seen. It was at Rainham that we also heard our first Marsh Frogs of the weekend, by the end of the weekend we were getting just a little tired of their non-stop croaking!

Hiding from yet another downpour!

Sunday morning saw us at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, a rather wet Rye Harbour! The rain here was heavier than the day before and the dry spells shorter. In between the downpours we did find some rather good birds though - Wheatear, Little Tern, Sandwich Tern, Sanderling, Avocet and Turnstone helped make the morning a success. The sight of around 20 Mediterranean Gull topped off a good morning's birding.

Possibly the only thing happy with the weather!

The beach at Rye Harbour.

Oystercatchers at Rye Harbour.

Sunday afternoon was spent at Dungeness RSPB Reserve. Once again, the weather tried its best to spoil things but, after a very wet start, the sun did finally come through and allowed us to enjoy this great reserve without being wrapped up in waterproofs. Of the birds seen here, the species added to the weekend list included Cetti’s Warbler, Marsh Harrier, White-fronted Goose, Red-crested Pochard and Whimbrel. It’s just a pity that, at times, you have to look at the nuclear power station in the distance!

The nice view at Dungeness.

The not so nice view at Dungeness.

Monday was our final day's birding and it was spent at Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve. It was also by far the wettest day of the weekend and, in fact, the wettest day's birding I’ve ever known! Thinking about it, it was the wettest day I’ve ever spent outside doing anything! The rain was almost non-stop and very heavy; my new coat kept the water out and my leggings just about managed to do the same. My boots are still drying out even now (the water didn’t quite get through those) and the shoulder strap on my telescope will be drying for days! Needless to say, we didn’t see too much here. Stock Dove was the only new species seen and the only real notable find of the day was the coach waiting for us at the end of a very wet afternoon!

Little Egret.

Just before the rain came down again.

Yet another downpour!

15 May 2007


An update of the weekend - Bluehorses gig and RSPB trip - will be here soon!

I was going to put something on here tonight but the stress of watching Derby County on TV has left me drained!

Derby County are now in the play-off final at Wembley after a 4 - 3 penalty shootout win over Southampton - now there’s a thing!


10 May 2007


Once again, I find myself looking forward rather than enjoying now.

Today was one of those classic motor trade days, the ones that leave you wondering just why you even bothered to get out of bed! If there was one job that went according to plan today, I must have missed it! Everything that could go wrong did, everything that should have happened didn’t, every small issue turned into a major crisis! Why have I put up with this for the past 25 years?

So, looking forward…

Tomorrow night it is the Bluehorses gig at The Flowerpot - a great night in prospect there!

On Saturday, we head off to Kent for a long weekend of bird watching, food and drink.

On May 19, we are going to see The Peatbog Faeries at a gig in Kinver, West Midlands. If anyone has the faintest idea where this is, please let me know!

IF Gary finally gets around to finishing the work on the roll cage in his race car, I will be at my first autograss meeting of the year on May 20. I’m not making any firm plans just yet though!

The Bank Holiday weekend, May 26 - 28, will see us over in Newark on the Saturday for the Newark Beer Festival. Contrary to popular belief, we are NOT going for the beer; we are going solely to see The Reasoning play! I have booked us into a hotel for the night though, just in case we decide to try a small glass or two of beer.

So, that is May taken care of, now I need to start looking at how to fill June.

Oh, one little bit of good news from today - the Derby Cathedral Peregrines have at least two young in the nest. The first of the chicks hatched late last night and by lunchtime today, it was confirmed that there were two chicks in the nest. You can follow their progress and find a link to the web cam at http://derbyperegrines.blogspot.com/

07 May 2007

In true Bank Holiday style, it rained today, not exactly a downpour but at least it did rain. The gardens really could do with two or three days of constant rain but I’m not convinced we are going to get it - the clouds are already breaking up and the sun is trying to come through.

Before the rain did arrive this morning I managed to get a few hours of birding in - a trip to Ambaston Gravel Pits, Willington Gravel Pits and Etwall Farm.

Apart from just being out in the fresh air, the highlights were… Ringed and Little Ringed Plover; Common Tern; Cuckoo; Green Woodpecker; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Yellow Wagtail (3 superb males); Sedge Warbler; Common Whitethroat and, the best bird of the morning, a single male Garganey.

As usual, I took the camera out for a walk too…

"Waste ground" at Ambaston.

Dandelion clocks.

Hawthorn flowers.

A slightly out of focus Common Tern.

Bluebell flowers.

A Reed Bunting, trying to hide!

06 May 2007

Next week...


Not a lot going on again this past week, so I’ll look forward to next week instead…
  • I really MUST get myself into the gym at least twice next week - I didn’t go at all last week, just didn’t feel like it.

  • Having checked the weather forecast for the next few days (rain) it looks like the mountain bike will be staying at home and I’ll be in going to work in the car - another reason to get back to the gym.

  • Next Friday sees the Bluehorses play their first gig of the year and it’s here in Derby. As usual, I’m really looking forward to this. It’s been almost five months since I last saw the Bluehorses live and that is way too long! Bring on Friday!

  • On Saturday, we have an early start - it is the Derby RSPB Local Group annual long weekend birding trip. This year we are off to Kent for three days. At the moment, the weather forecast isn’t brilliant but hopefully that will either change or prove to be wrong. If not, then at least we’ll have the hotel bar to come back to each evening - the weather cannot stop that!

One last thing before I go - some while ago I heard the last little bit of a song on the radio and really enjoyed it. As is often the case when it finished the radio station didn’t say who it was or what the song was called! Damn, that frustrates me at times!

Well, after a bit of a search around the internet I finally tracked down the artist, the song and also a great little video of it. Have a listen; I’ve put the video below.

Christy Moore - Ride On.

Isn’t that just an awesome song?