The Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza, Jamie Cullum

I managed to persuade Rosemary to go to one festival this year, the  Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza. She seems to have been further persuaded to go by one of her friends.  Playing were Van Morrison, Jamie Cullum and the Wells Cathedral School Jazz Band.

The journey to Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza

We set off from home on the Friday, stopping at Avebury.  The site was heaving with people.  We walked around most of the ring, picnicking on the bank.  The facilities have been changed since we were last there.  The National Trust has opened shops, restaurants and museums.  We then continued the journey to Glastonbury, passing through Pilton on the way.  The trouble with Google maps for navigation was a sudden lack of mobile phone signal meant we were unable to plot a course for some time.  The cached map though helped us drive in the correct direction.

Glastonbury Campsite

A special campsite for the festival had been arranged, very basic, some Glastonbury Festival compost toilets, and trough wash basins.  The Festival painted oil drums for rubbish bins were also in attendance.  We erected our tent by a hedge and then walked into town for some well earned beers and food.  We drank at the Who’d A Thought It, which was the only pub we could find to sit outside, and went to the  Elaichi Tandoori for supper.  Lovely walk home behind the Tor back to the campsite.

The prelude

The following day we ate our breakfast, and went to chat with some campervan owners to see how they had done their conversions.  Interesting conversation.  They seem to have been long time campers and campervan owners.  We then walked up to the top of the Tor where the views were staggering.  We could see Hinkley Point nuclear power station on one side, and on the other side we could make out the Glastonbury Festival pyramid stage field and Worthy farm.  To the North of Hinkley we could make out the Bristol Channel and Wales beyond. We met an American who had come over expressly for the Van Morrison concert and a chap who lived on Worthy Farm.

After the Tor we walked on to Glastonbury for lunch at the Hundred Monkeys Cafe.  Rosemary assured me it was a Vegan cafe, and that I was not to mention steaks.  The first item on the menu was  beef burger.  It was a rather bizarre experience, on what was going to be a busy day, the kitchen did not have a full team, so customers were being turned away from a half empty restaurant.  We were seated, but did spend several hours there.  A lazy afternoon ensured with a bottle of prosecco at the Who’d A Thought It.

Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza

At five we entered the Abbey grounds and found an area on a slight rise that should give us an uninterrupted view of the stage.  The fun started.  R was pleased with the Wells Cathedral School Jazz Band and Jamie Cullum.  She did not like Van Morrison at all.  I have to admit there were probably just two of his songs I  recognised.  Still is was a good evening with an almost cloudless sky.  Even saw the International Space station pass overhead.  The night was finished with splendid fireworks.

The next day

The morning after  the Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza, it was raining. A very fine drizzle in the morning, meant we had to dry the tent out when we got home.  We packed and went towards Pilton.  Here we tried to get to Worthy Farm, but it is barricaded off. Showed Rosemary where Love Fields is.  We then headed for home on the A303.


Then Google announced a detour because of traffic congestion, and we headed off on the A36 towards Stofford where we stopped for lunch at the Swan at Stofford.  We did not go for their Sunday roast, but ate from the menu.  Back on the road, and followed the diversion directions back to the A303, to be met by the traffic problem caused by people rubber necking Stonehenge.  At least Google had saved us a few miles of traffic problems, and showed us a reasonable pub for lunch.  Time the A303 was buried out of sight of Stonehenge, should improve the traffic flow no end.





Ludgershall Bike Night 2016

Rosemary dropped SadGit Richard G and me off at Ludgershall at last year’s Bike Night.  The Bike Night is held every year. Hundreds of motor bikes turn up for the evening at this small rural village in Buckinghamshire.  As you can see there are hundreds of people wandering up the village road looking at the bikes, admiring the machines, chatting, drinking beer and eating.  This year the evening was warm, still, and fabulous. Cheese, biscuits & red wine were waiting at home for us following Rosemary’s resumed chauffeuring duties. 

Bletchley Park, The Bombe

Visited Bletchley Park today with Valerie and Norman.  This was definitely not the best day to go, Fathers Day.  The exhibitions were busy, overflow parking was in a nearby school.

We had been to Bletchley Park, years ago.  Several restaurants have been added since then.  With lottery funding a working Bombe machine has been recreated. This was demonstrated with an explanation on how it works.  We next viewed some excellent displays which went into greater detail of the decoding process.  I never managed to get around the whole of the site.  I will be visiting again, the tickets allow free entry for a whole year. The National Museum of Computing is on the same site.  They house the replica Colossus machine along with other old computers. This is definitely on my wish list.

Bletchley Park House

Next we walked around Bletchley Park House, where there was an exhibition of the The Imitation Game film.  This is  complete with Bombe machines used in the Benedict Cumberbatch film.  These don’t work, just the dials rotate with the electric motors behind.  The sound engineers  used the recreated Bombe for sound track on the film.  Wrens who had worked on the real machines back in World War II say it does make the correct sound.

Second Visit to Bletchely Park

We did make a second visit to Bletchely Park when Richard and Andrea visited us. Rosemary, Richard and I visited the park (Andrea was off at a Conference).  It was less busy, but still busy. This time we saw a few other huts.  One very amusing one was the use of carrier pigeons for intelligence purposes.  Did you know there had been undercover spy pigeons? Each side was shooting down pigeons, or using birds of prey.


Caius College Garden Party and Illuminated Caius Choirbook

Rosemary and I visited Cambridge for the Gonville and Caius Alumni garden party.  This is a thankyou event to those alumni who donate to the college.  Despite high fees paid by undergraduates, their payments only cover half the costs.  When I was a student at Cambridge, tuition costs were fully paid, and I also received a grant for living expenses.  I feel a debt of gratitude which I now repay by donations to Caius college.  This is big business to the college, who have a set of rewards depending on the value of gifts made.

The day was a sunny day, and the city was lively with the Brexit campaign in full swing.  The city was full of those supporting the Remain campaign.  Of course the majority  of those we spoke to at the alumni party were in support of Remain.  Education and research is so bound up with freedom of movement and research grants from the EU. It is no surprise that Cambridge voted to remain. 

The food at the party was as usual excellent.  I have never seen so many prepared Cromer grabs.  Wine and fizz was available in good quantities.  After the congratulatory speeches we hastened to the Cockerell building where the Illuminated Caius Choirbook was on display.  We were also entertained to some singing from the Caius Choirbook and came away with a CD.

Starling being fed in old Rayburn solid fuel cooker

Picture of a Starling chick being fed in an old, disused Rayburn solid fuel cooker which a pair of Starlings were using as a nest.  This was the second time Starlings have done this, the previous time being two years ago.  I managed to grab a few pictures of the chick being fed.  The next day it had fledged and gone.  The pictures were taken through an open window on a Canon EOS7D Mk2.  The lens was a 100 – 400 Canon.

Both parents were feeding one chick.  At least, I believe there was only one chick.  This was the same as the previous nesting two years before.



Waddesdon Manor Christmas Lights 2015.

Waddesdon Manor Christmas Lights 2015. Bruce Munro’s installation of lights at Waddesdon Manor called SOS, This is his final year of three years at Waddesdon Manor. The lights on Waddesdon manor were by Woodroffe Bassett design.  We visited with Ian and Julie.  Lovely warm evening for December.  You must watch the video to hear the sound track associated with the lights in the tent.

The Amazing World of M.C. Escher at Dulwich Picture Gallery

Rosemary and I ventured into London to see The Amazing World of M.C. Escher exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery.  His graphics were truly amazing, from his original portraits and drawings, onto metamorphosis, and tessellations.  There was also the iconic waterfall.  He worked with British mathematicians, like Roger Penrose who gave Escher the idea for the stairs picture.  Exhibitions of his work are very rare in the UK, and this one is well worth visiting.  It is on until  the 17th January.  We also ate lunch at the gallery restaurant, tad expensive, but very nice meal.

Back in Central London we visited the Chris Beetle gallery.  They are the gallery that sell the original Matt cartoons which are published in the Telegraph. I have an original Matt which Rosemary bought me for my birthday, its of Cyber Crime. Sorry Guv I had to taser the computer. R had tried to buy me a Glastonbury Matt, but it was sold in minutes of being published. The gallery staff were in fact setting up an exhibition of Matt Cartoons, presumably the ones which did not sell.  They also sell originals from many other cartoonists and etchings from a variety of books.

A coffee in a Cafe Nero, then a stare at some of the shop windows as we walked our way to Piccadilly Circus and back home.

2015-12-08 14.17.03

Crystal Palace from West Dulwich

2015-12-08 15.32.42

Fortnum and Mason

2015-12-08 15.34.31

Fortnum and Mason and Selfie

Mars, Venus and Jupiter

I have been meaning to see Mars, Venus and Jupiter for the last few days, but been thwarted by not waking up and the clouds.  First saw them at 2.00am on Saturday morning, saw two bright objects in the sky, low to the horizon.  I thought the other object must still be below the  horizon.  So went back to sleep, to wake at 4.45 am to find cloud.

After the Kingswood fireworks, I set the alarm for 4.45, prepared the camera and went to bed.  Woke and it was misty, but the stars were still visible.  This time I saw the two bright objects high in the sky?  Where was the third.  Puzzled, fired up google Night Sky and searched for Mars, Venus and Jupiter.  Duh, of course Mars was not as bright as Venus and Jupiter. The red planet was easily spotted with binoculars.  Here is a photograph of the planets, from left to right they are Mars (red), Venus (the brightest) and Jupiter.

Mars, Venus and Jupiter on 1st November 2015 a 5.42 EDT, Kingswood, Bucks, UK

Mars, Venus and Jupiter on 1st November 2015 a 5.42 EDT, Kingswood, Bucks, UK

Kingswood Firework Display

Saturday we went to our local firework display at Kingswood organised by Ian and Julie and kindly hosted by George and Annie. Ian put on the display. Burgers and sausages cooked and serverd by Duncan, Keith, Karin and Charlotte.  Good time as we get to meet and chat with others from the village we might not meet every day.  Selina, Phil and Julian came over as well.  Selina caught up with  Julie and Smeg.

Lovely still evening, no wind and remarkably warm for the end of October.  The bonfire included some of the stuff we had been collecting for years, including old doors and our “thermometer” which was placed on the crossways years ago when we were trying to get people to sign up for broadband.




Kingswood Bonfire 2015

Kingswood Bonfire

Land Rover Defender

imageWednesday a group of us went to Land Rover Solihull factory to have a look around the factory and see the last of the Land Rover Defenders coming off the production line. We started the day at a nearby pub for lunch, then arrived at the factory at 1.00 for the Land Rover Experience day.

First we saw the body shop where the components of the body are manufactured and were put together ready for painting. This seemed quite a manual process, with the occasional robot doing a spot of welding.

We missed seeing the paint shop, apparently not practical for a tour.

The next stop was the production line, where the chassis, wheels, transmission, engine all met with the body. It all was a complicated process as each Defender is made to order, and there are many variations in body and style. Apparently around 110 Defenders are manufactured per day.

We were taken around by an Australian, and predictably were not allowed to take photographs. It was a fabulous day out, seeing the last of a great British iconic vehicle coming to the end of its life. What will its replacement be like? Did you know the biggest export market is Germany, and that a door made for today’s vehicle can be fitted to a 25 year old Land Rover? The factory building where the vehicles are assembled in are the same buildings as Maurice Wilks used when he started building Land Rovers after the war.

King Crimson at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

King Crimson at the Aylesbury Waterside TheatreKing Crimson at the Aylesbury Waterside TheatreMonths ago I ordered a ticket to see King Crimson at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre.  This was the start of their tour where they are playing their music from the 70s  The first two dates were at Aylesbury, put on by the Friars Club. (There was an earlier private event at the Waterside the day before.) The reason for the first UK tour dates being hosted by Friars was Kings Crimson’s long association with them.

Well the day came, and I remembered the gig, still sitting at home, almost an hour after it had started.  I was gutted.  Luckily there were still a few good tickets available the next day, and more importantly I was given permission to go and see King Crimson.   Arrived at Aylesbury in plenty of time, time to have a pint at the Farmers Bar in the Kings Head where there were some drinkers waiting to see King Crimson, and others who had been the day before.

Back to the theatre, King Crimson merchandise purchased and then into the theatre.  What a sight – three drum sets at the front of the stage.

What an evening.  The set of three drums was phenomenal, the way they interacted.  The encore, brought tears to my eyes.  All the music was familiar King Crimson.  The encore of  The Court of the Crimson King and 21st Century Schizoid Man sealed a great evening.

The Play List

Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part One
One More Red Nightmare
Suitable Grounds for the Blues
Radical Action (To Unseat the Hold of Monkey Mind)
Hell Hounds of Krim
Easy Money
The ConstruKction of Light
(Part One only, no vocals)
Level Five
The Talking Drum
Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part Two
Devil Dogs Of Tessellation Row
The Court of the Crimson King
21st Century Schizoid Man

My T shirt

King Crimson Tee Shirt, The Back

King Crimson Tee Shirt, The Back

King Crimson Tee Shirt, The Front

King Crimson Tee Shirt, The Front

Reading Festival 2015 #ReadingFestival #RandL15

Reading Festival White Camping

I couldn’t make up my mind whether to go to Reading Festival, and delayed and delayed, looking at the site for nearly 6 months.  Two weeks before the event, permissions granted, I decided I would get a day ticket for Saturday to see Metallica. Unfortunately the Saturday tickets were the tickets which had sold out, so I ended up buying a full weekend camping ticket.  I knew I could do the Friday and Saturday, Sunday was out because of other commitments.

As is usual for me, I travelled to Reading on the Friday, arriving a little after 10, soon erecting my tent on the White campsite which is on the North Side of the River Thames.  I parked the tent in a very empty space, making sure it was not erected in the water.  The picture does not show the water which is surrounding the tent.  There was an inch or two of standing water on all sides of the tent.  Soon had the tent erected, I was pretty proud of the speed and efficiency in its erection.



Reading Festival Thames Bridge Reading Festival Thames Bridge Reading Festival Thames BridgeSo off now to the stadium, almost a 30 minute walk.  This took me over the River Thames on a specially built festival bridge, and then through several campsites, eventually arriving at the arena a few minutes late for the first band at 12.00.  For the two days I watched bands on the main stage, not venturing to the other stages.  I didn’t know any of the names on the other stages other than Limp Bizkit, but they clashed with Mumford and Sons, Alt-J.  As it turned out I should have watched Limp Bizkit.


Reading Festival Ale barThe first band MARIACHI EL BRONX, they create a fusion of traditional melodies and modern ambience, the band embraced the sonic mash and created a mariachi inspired sound.  A very inventive band, they had the crowd entertained.  I enjoyed listening to them. Quick break and I found Reading Festival were yet again selling real ale.  Other festivals take note, not everyone wants to drink that tasteless lager.  In fact the real ale seemed really popular, and could have done with a larger outlet, or more outlets, to cut down on the queuing.

Next up were  Neck Deep.  A Wrexham pop punk band, poised on the brink of certain Stateside superstardom.

Drenge came on next, I really enjoyed them.  Drenge are from Castleton and Sheffield where the band now live.  The duo Rory and Eoin Loveless, joined by Ross Graham in their recently released album.

Relaxing in the sun at Reading FestivalPalma Violets came on, while the sun was still shining.  Another must-listen-to band. Will I be buying ‘Danger In The Club’, time will tell.

More beer, some food, and then back to listen to Panic! at the Disco. This Las Vegas band were really good.   Next up were All Time Low as the sun was setting.

Next memorable band was Bastille.  Good rock band nominated in 2014 for four BRIT Awards (British Breakthrough Act, British Group, British Album, Best Single for ‘Pompeii’), winning British Breakthrough.

The final two bands were Alt-J and Mumford and Sons.   Both these bands have a couple of good memorable tracks, while I admit I find the rest of their work not very inspiring.

Reading Festival CampingWalked back to the tent, taking a rather circuitous route, arrived back after a rather long time.  Managed to find the tent, it did now have a couple more tents surrounding it.  Managed to get a good sleep, there was not too much noise during the night.  Eventually was up and out by 8.00 for another day, breakfast of bacon, egg, beans and sausage.  The utensil to eat it with was the smallest wooden fork I have ever seen, a couple of inches long.  Then to the bar, but it was too early at 10.30, so a wonder around, looking at T shirts waiting for my first pint of Hobgoblin at 11.00.

One change I noticed to the main stage was that there are now three sets of barriers.  The barrier in front of the stage now has a section in the middle which extends into the crowd and joins a second barrier 30 meters back.  This allows performers to leave the stage and interact not only with those at the front, but also people further back.  There was another barrier, separate to the other barriers, another 30 meters back.  Health and Safety rule, gone are the days of the one barrier.

Baby Metal playing at Reading Festival 2015 Waiting for Baby Metal at Reading Festival 2015First band started at 12.00 and were Baby Metal.  Baby Metal are a Japanese band, fronted by 3 females who are dressed to look very young.  They danced and sung. The backing group, all wearing white robes and white masks, were a very reasonable metal band.  Personally I am not sure what the three front line girls added to the band, other than they looked cute.  They also have a very heavy media machine behind them, I have never had 26 retweets of any tweet I have made.  Maybe one retweet. I am sure we will be hearing more of them.

Fidlar were on next, and then the Marmozets The Marmozets were a half reasonable band, their third Reading show, they play happy punk to visceral aggression and soaring progressive epics, the Top 30 album showcased the band’s technical prowess and a band teetering on the brink of mainstream mania.  Well worth a listen too.

Still not raining, though the sun had now gone, Modestep came on to play their Dubstep.  I was  jumping to their Jump Jump commands.  The band expanded upon their rock, dubstep and electro hybrid sound to create a homage to their hometown that redefines their status as the forward thinking sound of 2015.

Pierce the Vail at Reading FestivalNext on were the Californian band, Pierce the Vail, to be met with the first of the Reading Rain, a light drizzle.  Now remember this festival goer was well prepared, today he was not just wearing a T shirt like the day before, but was well kitted out for the rain, with his Fat Face cotton top.  San Diego’s own Pierce the Veil – Vic Fuentes (vocals/guitar), Mike Fuentes (drums), Tony Perry (guitar), and Jaime Preciado (bass) were good, could be a buy.



Alexisonfire playing Reading Festival 2015 Alexisonfire played next.  The band came together for a series of summer festivals. Reading and Leeds were their exclusive UK performance. Ok band.

A really interesting band them came on.  Just two people, Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher, make up the two halves of Royal Blood, a drummer and a guitarist.  The band is called Royal Blood. Despite their minimal line-up of drums, bass and vocals the pair create melodic music, with a totally full sound.  What these two guys could do with the drums, bass and voice makes one wonder why some bands have so many members.  Royal Blood are a British band from Brighton.  Yeah a must buy.

Now I was down to the last two bands of the evening.  Quick refuel of Chicken Tikka wrap, and beer, I was back  in time to see Bring Me The Horizon. Leading the unstoppable charge of British metal bands shaking the world’s arenas to their core, the band switch between danceable party music and brutally apocalyptic soundscapes.  Actually I can’t remember much about them.  Fatigue setting in.

Metallica Black Balls Reading FestivalMetallica Reading FestivalNow the band we were all waiting for  Metallica.  Already I had seen the preparations for the band in the morning.  It was going to be similar to Glastonbury 2014 where a huge set of large inflatable balls were released on to the audience from the top of the stage, and from the rear speaker stacks.  The stage setup was huge.  The largest video screen at the rear of the stage, set well back, because there were also huge screens on the insides of the stage as well, creating a huge box of video screens.

Before the show started, a large number of selected audience were led on to the stage to watch their heroes at close quarter.  On came Metallica ( James Hetfield – Vocals and rhythm Guitar , Lars Ulrich – Drums, Kirk Hammett – Lead Guitar, Rob Trujillo – Base ) a few minutes late, but they played over a two hour set.  The video footage was similar to Glastonbury, the sound was not as bassy intense as Glastonbury where I was in physical pain in the chest from the low sound waves.  Still it was an intense experience, with lots of friendly people in the crowd. All dancing and singing along to their idols.  This was the third time I have seen Metallica, and the fourth time Metallica has played Reading.  I saw their first show at Reading 18 years ago, in 1997 with Selina.  As I was chatting with some random guy in the ale queue before Metallica played, he reminisced on seeing a blonde busty lady dancing on her own towards the back of the crowd.  I too had see her. She put on a memorable eye catching show.

The show ended with the huge black balls being punched across the crowd, and a small firework display.  Afterwards I stumbled out of the crowd, refueled with a bedtime Hobgoblin, and some Chicken Jerk before walking back to the tent in the rain. A long journey, I have not worked out the geography of Reading, failing to take a direct route back.

Bed by 1.30, woken by the rain at 4.30 and a need for a pee, should not have bedtime beers, up again at 6.30, tent packed, walked to the car and out of the gate by 7.20 and home by 8.45.  Driving out I thought there would be chaos for those leaving on Monday.  The tracks in the field were already dire.

I was a wreck, my arms ached, my legs ached, I needed sleep.

Reading you have a good sound system.  The sound was so much better than T in the Park.

Reading, you must get some better food franchises, those 12 inch dogs, really suck.  The plus side was a good coffee outlet.

I came away with a Metallica Reading Festival 2015 tour T shirt.

Did I feel old at Reading?  Glastonbury festival has lots of older people attending, Reading is mainly a young persons festival.  That said, I got the impression there were more older people there than a couple of years ago.  I reckon I spotted several older festival goers than even me.  Several dads and mothers taking their children to the festival, seeming on a tight leash though.  I remember those days well.