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On Wednesday this week Patrick and I went to Lincoln to see Bob Geldof play the Theatre Royal.  I have been a fan of Bob’s since the early days of the Boomtown Rats in 1977.  I clearly remember as a 15 year old watching this strutting, pouting vision of sex on legs (yes, he really was) belting out Looking After Number One on Top of the Pops and falling instantly in love with him and his music.  My opinion has not changed despite the fact that Sir Bob will be 60 on 5th October this year. 

Bob....a few years ago!

For those of you who only know Bob as the loud-mouthed political campaigner and co-founder of Band-Aid and Live Aid,  I have to inform you that the man has also been making music for 36 years now and in my opinion it is pretty darned good music!   

Bob Geldof - Promo picture from his 2011 tour

He and his band, including Pete Briquette, one of the original Rats, are also phenomenal live performers, excellent musicians to a man they kept the Lincoln crowd entertained for around 2 hours.

Having already seen Bob and the band twice in Hull (in 2003 and 2005) I already knew what a treat we were all in for.  However, I will now attempt a review of Lincoln, 21st September 2011.

We took our front row seats (and the stage literally was a foot away from my knees!) and enjoyed a lively support act, an acoustic duo who didn’t appear to have a collective name as they introduced themselves using their own names, which I cannot remember.  A young guy on a guitar and another singing.  A great voice, singing hits by Paul Weller, Richard Ashcroft and The Rolling Stones.  They left the stage and the crew started readying it for the main event.  This seemed to take forever and it’s always something I wonder about,  why have they not made all preparations earlier so that the main act can get straight on with things?  Anyhow, after what felt like hours of waiting (about 30 mins), the band entered the stage to enthusiastic applause.  I found myself a little breathless to be so close to Bob actually :blushes:.  I managed to take three or four photographs before being told by the theatre staff that I was not allowed to do so :-(.  A great shame because I could have got some much better pictures later on in the show. 

 Opening up with Great Song of Indifference which is a lively Irish jig type tune to get the crowd in the mood, Bob then had his customary introductory chat in which he informed the good people of Lincoln that he had previously not known where the city was or even that they had a cathedral.  He said that Johnny Turnbull  Guitar and backing vocals,(previously of The Blockheads) who hails from South Shields had suggested it might be ‘somewhere near Hull’ which got a cheer from me of course.  They moved onto Sex Thing from the album The Happy Club, another lively track and then Systematic Six-Pack and Dazzled By You from the latest album How To Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell by Bob Geldof aged 58 and a half. Dazzled is most definitely my favourite song of the album and is a tribute to Bob’s partner of 15 years, french actress Jeanne Marine , the opening lines of “In abandoned empty rooms, lying naked in my ruin, I was dazzled by you” is just for starters, it’s simply a beautiful song about love.  A hark back to Rats days next with When the Night Comes from the album The Fine Art of Surfacing and then a tale was told of how the next song came to be.  Banana Republic was written by Bob and Pete Briquette following the band, on returning to Ireland in 1980 having achieved so much success in the UK, being banned from playing in their own country.  Bob was very scathing in his description of the corrupt regime ruling Ireland at that time and the song reflects that.  How I Roll from How to Compose was next followed by a cute little song called Harvest Moon, a bonus track on the album Sex Age and Death. I have to admit I didn’t particularly enjoy the next two songs very much, Scream in Vain is not my favourite song and performed live was a bit shouty and clashing instruments for my taste, as was One for Me, both from the Sex, Age and Death album (also not my favourite album coincidentally!).   A feast for Rats fans followed with Mondays, after which Bob announced that the audience ‘may as well go home now’.  To which I replied “not until you’ve done Love or Something”, a track I particularly enjoy as it’s very lively.  He didn’t oblige my request but was, I think, pleased that someone had requested a rather little know track instead of the more famous hits.  Joey’s on the Street Again, Rat Trap and Mary of the 4th Form concluded the main set, with the band demanding us to be on our feet and dancing by the time Rat Trap was underway.  Of course, we weren’t letting them off that lightly and the demanded (and prepared for) encore comprised of Silly Pretty Little Thing and Diamond Smiles.  The band left the stage to a standing ovation, rapturous applause and cheers all round and then the theatre staff opened the exit doors.  I commented to Patrick that this was unusual because the band always end with Great Song of Indifference, even if they have started the show with it too.  I felt there should be another encore to come and that the theatre staff had jumped the gun somewhat but the audience had started to shuffle towards the exits.  There was then an embarrassing period when the stage crew appeared to encourage us to demand another encore…..which we did of course and the band reappeared, laughing amongst themselves, to perform Here’s to You and finally, Indifference.  Of course we were all up and dancing, shouting and singing and personally I didn’t want the night to end….but it did strike me as a little ironic in an amusing way following the confusion over the final encore that the evening ended with The Great Song of Indifference!
 
A Bob Geldof live performance is great not only for the music but for the man himself.  He talks to his audience, explains song meanings, pokes fun at himself, has usually made an effort to learn something about the place he is in.  He is in my opinion, despite his brashness and outspokenness, a rather humble man.  He is aware that his records are never going to be best sellers – quote  “I mean, F***ing Hell, I’m almost up there challenging Adele!” Said whilst laughing ironically.  This all makes for a more intimate feel to his concerts and I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels that way.
 
I don’t have an excellent memory by the way and nor was I sad enough to go into the gig with a notebook.  I know the set order because the lovely Johnny Turnbull offered his copy of the set list as a souvenir and I grabbed it.
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Never too late.

To let the world know that you are still around that is.  I’ve been procrastinating on this blog for weeks now, it gets kind of where you have missed so much that you don’t know how to get started again.  I mean, do I attempt to back-track and  tell of the events that have taken place chronologically?  I think not, it would come out like a list rather than a tale. Or do I jump right in and start from now?  I suppose so, after all that’s how it started in the beginning, I didn’t attempt to go back over my whole life to get it down on record or anything!  You just have to start where you are at I suppose.

I am not a good blogger, I don’t plan what to write, I just start writing and see what comes. Don’t get me wrong, I do read it through and make changes, it’s not completely ad-libbed but when I start, more often than not I don’t know where it will take me.

So, I’m going to jump in and start from now, if I track back and tell you about my summer, then all well and good.  Summer haha…try to cast your mind back, summer fell on one day in June this year I think 😉

Right now, we’re in the midst of selecting Universities with my youngest son, who will be applying this autumn to go next year.  He wants to study Maths and is looking at Nottingham, Lancaster, Leeds and York in the main.  Of course mum gets the fun job of driving him to open days but I believe it is important to make the right choice based on your feelings when you visit a place and not just from reading marketing blurb in a prospectus so I’m not complaining about it. 

On the needles ATM is a hat that I am test-knitting for the wonderful Knitting Kninja.  It’s a nice watch cap with just enough pattern detail to forestall the boredom usually involved in knitting hats for men (Why do they always want dark colours and stocking stitch or ribbing?)  It’s called Horatio because  it has a nautical look to it, I had a hand in naming it so I’m feeling quite proprietry about it :-D.   I’m using the Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran in Navy that I have left over from my FLS and I’m please with it so far.  Also OTN, I’m knitting baby things 🙂   I have a lovely work colleague who after many years of trying, is pregnant and expecting triplets!!  I’m knitting three identical layettes from a Sirdar pattern book but I won’t be posting pictures on here, that would spoil the surprise.

image

Well, I say FOs…there’s actually only one Finished Object which is the very lovely (if I do say so myself) February Lady Sweater as pictured above.  Please excuse the crappy photo (the white dots are light shining through the holes in the lace pattern I think), I will post a better one after the weekend hopefully but I am just so happy to have finished this never-ending project that I just had to share it.  Knitted in Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran in Navy blue, the yarn shows off the lace pattern really well and the stitch definition is really crisp and suits the garter stitch yoke very well.  I did enjoy knitting this but just got side-tracked so many times that it took much longer than it should have.  I’m sure I will wear it a lot, it is very comfy and cosy as well as looking quite stylish I think.

As for startitus, well I just haven’t been able to make up my mind what I want to do, so I’ve cast on for several projects and have been matching yarn to projects with no thought to how much time all of these things are actually going to take!  I had tried to continue with my Dreamy Ishbel, the Ishbel shawl in the gorgeously soft Dream Lace but I really am going to have to be in the right mood for that.  I don’t think Laceweight yarn is going to be my thing unfortunately, as beautiful as the results are, I’m not enjoying knitting with something that is as fine as sewing thread.  I know this will be a beautiful shawl someday but I’m just not in the mood for it right now. 

So with that in mind, I started on no less than three different projects in one night!  A lacey keyhole scarf in some beautiful Louisa Harding Grace hand-dyed which was a raffle prize for Patrick’s sister Coral.  There is such a small amount of yarn, only 100m, that Coral said she had no idea what to do with it.  I have always wanted to try this particular yarn so said I would look for a pattern and knit it for her.  I think I may be able to do a small version of this scarf which will look pretty.  Other options were fingerless mitts or headbands and believe me, Coral is not a fingerless mitts or headband kind of girl!  Next up was a shawl in my grey Shetland 4ply, I chose Willow (Rav Link) by Vikki Harding because it looks to be a nice simple pattern.  I had a copy of the Yarn Forward magazine featuring the pattern so away I went.  The charts in the magazine are so small though that I was soon going cross-eyed with the effort of following them so I gave up on that (I have now enlarged the charts on a photocopy so can continue….at some point!).  Rightio, what to do next…..continue with the lacy scarf or one of my other WIPs?  Don’t be silly, startitus is a control freak and it made me cast on Ysolda’s Cloud Bolero (Rav link) in the Marble Chunky that I have in stash.  It was a tricky pattern to get my head around at first because there is lots of counting and stitch markers involved.  However once you get going it’s fine and amazingly fast!  I’m almost finished, in fact if it wasn’t that I’m doing it slightly longer than the pattern states, I’d have cast off by now.  I think it’s going to be very pretty and I’m sure I’ll be knitting more of these in different yarns.  I now have a use for the two skeins of Rowan Summer Tweed that I have in stash that I’ve been struggling to marry up to a project! 

In other news, we went Elderflower gathering last week and have 3 gallons of Elderflower wine fermenting nicely in Patrick’s kitchen.  Along with the Dandelion and the Hawthorn Blossom we’ll be having a merry old time of it next summer 🙂 .  I think that’s us done with wine for now until the brambles ripen in August when we’ll be gathering enough for a nice lot of Blackberry wine (and bramble and apple pie of course).

A few weeks ago Patrick and I decided to go on the Real Ale Trail in West Yorkshire again, we did this last summer and enjoyed it immensely.  Patrick’s two friends had expressed an interest in going with us ‘the next time’ so we tried to arrange it around them.  In the event, neither of them could commit to a date so we went ahead on our own, on Good Friday.  We stayed at the same hotel as the last time, The Cambridge Lodge, not far from the station.  The Ritz it certainly ain’t but clean, tidy and cheap at £45 double room including cooked breakfast does for us.   We had decided that our first stop would be the West Riding at Dewsbury station, having seen a blackboard advertising their famous sausage sandwiches on our last visit. 

West Riding, Dewsbury

Famished, having only eaten a slice of toast before leaving Hull…in anticipation of said sausage sandwich, you can imagine our devastation to be told ‘We’re not doing food today’!  We had a couple of wonderful beers anyhow and got the train back to Huddersfield, to a fantastic Fish and Chip shop by the market (had it been a market day that is!).  This Friday malarky wasn’t proving too successful!  After Fish and Chips, we made our way to the station to catch the train to our next destination.  For some reason my memory of the order in which we visited the pubs along the trail is a bit hazy 🙂 .   So in no particular order, we also visited: The Station Buffet Bar on Stalybridge station.  This is an absolutely fascinating place, being the original station buffet.  A huge selection of ales but a strangely remiss attitude to glass collecting!  On our previous visit, the place was heaving so I put the vast quantities of empty glasses and bottles all over the tables, bar and any other flat surface down to the fact that they were rushed off their feet serving.  On this occasion though, it was relatively quiet, yet they still didn’t seem in a great rush to clear the surfaces or wash the glasses.  The Riverhead at Marsden, we had a less than satisfactory time in here and didn’t stay for a drink due to the lack of service and terrible attitude of the staff.  The Railway Inn at Greenfield, we managed to arrive right on the tail end of a very large party of drinkers from the same train as us and with seemingly only one man serving behind the bar, had quite a wait.  Theakstons Old Peculier more than made up for the wait though.  The pub interior itself is a bit grotty quite honestly so we sat in the beer garden, overlooking Saddleworth Moor.  I checked the timetable for the next train.  In my, by then, hazy state of mind I misread the timetable and told Patrick that the train was in 2 minutes.  We rushed the rest of our OP (criminal) and dashed across the road to the station.  It didn’t seem to occur to us that if the train was really due, the pub would have emptied and the station platform would be full.  We had rushed the Beer by which all others are judged in order to sit on a station platform for 7 minutes!  The Commercial in Slaithwaite, which is pronounced Slawit apparently so do take note and don’t make a fool of yourself should you ever want to visit the place.  Actually, from what we saw of it, whilst walking to the pub (here is where the ale trail goes a bit awry, the pubs in Slaithwaite being substantially further then a 2 minute walk from the station and up and down hills to boot) it seemed a nice enough town.  The Commercial isn’t very memorable really, being one of these refurbished jobbies, you know the kind..all the interior ripped out to make one huge room which is then decorated in ‘contemporary’ style.  Decent selection of beers though and we sat outside, me making a fuss of a couple of whippets whilst we both tried to decide what the hell the wasps that kept dissapearing into drilled holes in the stone window frames were doing.  The holes were clearly drilled for drainage purposes in the solid stone so there would be no hollow behind them, no room for a nest.  Not even enough room to turn around I wouldn’t have thought, yet they kept flying in and out all the time we stood there.  I found myself wondering how they had turned around in this little tunnel, why didn’t they have to reverse out, in fact could they do such a thing?  Time to move on!!  Back to Huddersfield where we headed for the Kings Head.  The second of two pubs situated at either end and within the old station buildings at Huddersfield station.  This place is the polar opposite of the Commercial and clearly hasn’t been cleaned in decades never mind refurbished!  It is in what was the old waiting room and has a fireplace at either side of the room.  I don’t think they are in use though but having only visited in warmer months, I don’t know for sure.  The selection of beers in here is massive, 12 I think it was and it was a hard choice by that time of evening.  

The Head of Steam - Huddersfield Station

We then decided for one more in the Head of Steam before heading into the heart of Huddersfield night life (ahem!) for a kebab at a wonderful cafe/takeaway called Kebabish, these are proper kebabs and not the rubbish you see at some places.  We ate here on our last visit and it was as good again.  Back to the hotel and a good night’s sleep.

The next day, weather being beautiful again, we decided on a walk along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal to Standedge Tunnel.

Huddersfield Narrow CanalHuddersfield Narrow Canal

 
It was a very pleasant walk and the Standedge visitor centre at the end was very interesting.  You could go on a boat trip through the tunnel but I couldn’t really imagine that being too fascinating so we skipped on that.  All in all a very good weekend.  The weather was fabulous for April and I now find myself hoping that wasn’t summer!!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Don’t worry, not The Rapture again but instead, my February Lady cardigan.  Yes, I have actually cast off the body of this long running saga and made a start on the sleeves so the end is indeed in sight for this project.  I have enjoyed knitting it, once I got into the lace pattern it has gone fairly quickly.  I expect to finish the sleeves over the next couple of weeks but here is a progress picture to be going on with.

I haven’t made any more progress on Hampton though because I got caught up in a shawl (more of that later) and a couple of items I needed to knit for a swap I took part in on Ravelry.  I really enjoyed this swap, it’s the first one I have ever taken part in and is run by the Outlander fans group on Ravelry.  For the unititiated Outlander is a series of books by Diana Gabaldon about Claire, who after walking into a stone circle in Scotland in 1945, comes out the other side in 1743, her subsequent adventures and relationship with highlander Jamie Fraser.  They are the most compelling and addictive books I have ever read, they just completely suck you into the lives of the characters.  Jamie and Claire have legions of fans who are now anxiously awaiting the completion of book 8 in the series.  Anyhow, this swap as I say, was fun to do, we had to ‘stalk’ our spoilee (the person we are giving gifts to, hence spoiling) to discover the things they like to wear, eat, knit, other hobbies, favourite colours etc.  The parcel we make up for our spoilee  had to contain certain types of items, a handcrafted gift, some yarn, small things like stitch markers, tape measure etc and any other treats.  For my hand made gifts, I made a cowl and some cotton face cloths.

Nemetona's Cowl

Facecloths

 These were both fairly quick and easy to do and I enjoyed choosing the colours that I knew my swappee liked through my Ravelry stalking!
The aforementioned shawl is the other reason I haven’t made any progress on poor old Hampton and so, here it is.

Summer Flies Shawl

The pattern is Summer Flies by Donna Griffin of HollyandEllaknits.com.  I knitted it in Sirdar Just Bamboo which is a bamboo tape yarn.  I had my doubts as I was knitting because it seemed to bulky a yarn for a shawl but I have to say that I am delighted with how it turned out.  It is fairly heavy and drapes beautifully, the shape is quite a wide crescent so the fronts of the shawl are fairly long which makes it look lovely from the front as well as the back.  I wore it to go out on Saturday night with a beige/brown patterned dress and got lots of compliments on it so I was thrilled about that.

In other non-knitting news, Patrick and I had another trip down the Real Ale Trail on the train in West Yorkshire a few weeks ago, we have some wine brewing and I have started going running!!  More about that lot in another post I think, so that’s about all for now folks.

..is a river which makes for a very pleasant Sunday afternoon stroll and an impromptu picnic.  So that is what Patrick and I decided to do on Sunday afternoon, having availed ourselves of Tesco’s finest scotch eggs and pre-packed sandwiches, a bottle of Leffe and a blanket to sit on. 

Hull is built on the junction of two rivers, the mighty Humber, at the other side of which lies Lincolnshire, and the meandering River Hull, which the city itself straddles.  Despite living here all of my life  and spending much of my childhood mucking around where I shouldn’t be and, well, trepassing I suppose, at the industrial section of both rivers in and around the city centre, I confess I hadn’t previously ventured this far up river, well not along the riverbank itself anyway.  I drive across a bridge over it at this point everyday on my way to work and say to myself “that would be a really pleasant walk to do one day”.  So finally got around to it.  The weather was glorious and a lovely day was had.

River Hull

River Hull, looking towards Industrial Estate

  I work somewhere over there!

Patrick

 See those Dandelions?  I’ll be collecting some of them this week to make Dandelion Wine 🙂

You’d think looking at these pictures that I lived in some lovely country village with lots of green space around not right in the middle of a very industrial city like Hull.  Just goes to show, there are hidden gems if you are willing to get out there and look for them.

Not blogging is the obvious answer here.  So much for a post a week, I haven’t posted for what…5 or 6 weeks!   It’s that old thing that we never have enough of again – time.   So, what have I been up to?  I can’t honestly remember a lot, that’s what happens if you don’t blog it you see.

One thing I do remember is that Patrick and I went to see the wonderful Gordon Giltrap at the beginning of March.  He was playing in the area again at a charity gig organised by a friend of his, we saw him last summer for the first time and I wasn’t really familiar with his work before then. The only track I knew of his was his most famous hit Heartsong, which was the theme of the TV show Wish You Were Here.  I have to say I was completely awestruck during the performance.  The skill with which he plays is amazing.   He is an incredible guitar player and a very humble and entertaining man and we thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

In knitting news, I have finally finished the green jumper.  But…and it’s a big but after about 5 weeks of knitting, I’m not happy with it :-(.  It doesn’t fit quite as well as I would like, being a little bit loose.  I could live with that but the main problem is that I cocked up on the tops of the sleeves and the shoulders stick up a little.  I think it can be fixed but at the moment, I can’t face it.  It is in the naughty corner until I can be bothered to unpick the offending bit and re-do it.  I will, at some time, because it was an awful lot of time and yarn to have wasted if I don’t….but not just yet.  I’ve picked up my Hampton Cardi again, that of the 4 row, 9 stitch pattern that had me flummoxed a few weeks ago.  That worked out fine first time when I had another go at it.  Sometimes it pays to just put something aside for a while until it learns its lesson and decides to behave :-).  So, that is on the go at the moment but will be a few weeks in the making yet.   I have also made some progress on my February Lady cardigan and am knitting that as well as Hampton.  I’m enjoying both of these projects a lot now.

Patrick and I had booked a couple of days off work this week and had decided to go to York for an overnight stay.  We love to go to York, primarily because of the huge number of fantastic pubs to visit.  On the York Camra website, there are mini-guides to download and the one for York centre has no less than 82 pubs selling real ale from independant breweries.  I do love to try beers that I haven’t tried before and to visit pubs that I haven’t visited before and there are opportunities in abundance to do both in York.  Arriving on Sunday afternoon in glorious sunshine, we checked in the Travel Lodge in York Centre and set off for a little walk towards the first of our target pubs.  I took this picture of the beautiful daffodils around the walls on the way

Daffodils in York

Our first pub then was The Rook and Gaskill.  Just outside the City walls and named after two 17th Century sheep thieves who were the last people to be hanged at the St Leonard Gallows nearby. A real beer lovers pub with a selection of 12 beers and a friendly barman.  It was a struggle to just have the one in there I can tell you!  We had more pubs on our radar though so we next crossed Hull Road to visit the Waggon & Horses, a pleasant pub with 3 distinct rooms, sun beating through the windows at the front made for thirsty drinkers.   Back to the hotel after this to freshen up for the night ahead.  The very convenient Posterngate pub right next door to the Travel Lodge was our first stop for a meal and a beer.  A Wetherspoons pub, where you know you are going to get value.  I am a huge fan of Wetherspoons pubs.  The food may not be gourmet but it is good value and their commitment to Real Ale is second to none in the pub chain industry.  After that, we visited a further four pubs that we hadn’t been to on previous visits to York.  The Punch Bowl just outside Micklegate, which is another Wetherspoons,  Brigantes, a cafe bar type establishment, then Ackhorne, tucked away down a little cobbled street.  We would never have found it by accident and now we’ve been in, we certainly won’t be finding it again on purpose anytime soon.  After trying out one more new one, Maltings, in the shadow of Lendal Bridge we finished up with two of our favourite pubs, The Yorkshire Terrier and Ye Olde Starr, both down Stonegate.  A catfood-like burger on the way back to the hotel finished the night off nicely!  Monday dawned bright and sunny again and we had a little wander around before heading off to the Castle Museum.  Neither of us had been there for years and we had a good day.  I had a strange experience in one of the police cells in that as I stepped in the door, I got an overwhelming feeling that I just shouldn’t be in there.  I can’t explain other that it was a kind of panicky feeling and I just couldn’t bring myself to go right inside, I hovered near the door as Patrick went in.  Later, speaking to one of the staff in another exhibit, the sweet shop, he was telling us about ghostly goings on in the place, including the time that a child who was visiting the museum had said that he wanted to go back into the police cell to talk to the lady who was in there!  Needless to say, Patrick then wanted to go back and see for himself.  We went in, I was a bit apprehensive to say the least but the feeling wasn’t there on the second visit.

I’ll leave you with another couple of pictures from York,  the first, a lovely little old building, I can’t remember for the life of me where it was but I thought it looked very pretty with the blossom trees outside and the second picture is of Clifford’s Tower.  Just look at those daffodils!

Blossom and Beams

Clifford's Tower, York