Thursday, 13 July 2017

Get Better

Image result for the charlatans different daysImage result for phoenix ti amoImage result for lemuria get better

Earl Grey - Bissextile
I stumbled across these guys, whilst reading about the budding DIY Punk Scene in Honolulu, Hawaii on Bandcamp Daily. I love the dirty, noisy, crunchy, quality reminds me of the early Small Brown Bike recordings (See Collection) Some absolutely lush songs, some that just make me wanna pogo. More than anything, I just love the way Bandcamp allows me to stumble across DIY punk bands from the other side of the planet.

Cayetana - New Kind of Normal
The new record is even better than the last, if that is possible, a little more laid back and low-fi in places. Some of the lyrics are incred. I first heard Mesa the day after the general election and "Together we made flowers out of weeds" really struck a chord.

Toro Y Moi - Boo Boo
Again, I happily stumbled across this through the joys of bandcamp daily. It is a flawless slab of bliss. Although, musically it's really uplifting and makes me wanna move, the lyrics are really thought provoking.

The Charlatans - Different Days
The Charlatans are probably one of the most important bands in my life and this follow up to their career best, Modern Nature, was always going to be a hard act to follow, however, I loved this instantly too. It's far more laidback and airy.

Phoenix - Ti Amo
Summer has finally arrived, stick this on turn it up loud and try not to shake your hips, you will fail so many chunes, front to back side to side.


Lemuria - Get Better, Brissle Exchange 

I first saw Lemuria at Le Pub in 2007 on their first UK tour with the Ringers. I really enjoyed them that night, but I never really followed that up. Until I won Get Better on Vinyl in a raffle at a Swansea gig. I absolutely loved it and it became one of those quintessential albums that clearly defines a definite period in my life, as all great albums can do.

I've seen them a bunch of times since and even though they never disappoint, I find I leave wishing they'd played more of Get Better.

So when I saw they were going to be touring Get Better for it's 10th Anniversary, I grabbed a ticket for Brissle, despite not being a lover of The Exchange as a venue.

Also, it finally gave me a chance to experience the joy that is Falafel King. I have tasted the delights from the van many times, one of my highlights of a Brissle visit, but failed on many occasion to get to the sit down eatery. It didn't disappoint I went for Falloumi - Halloumi and Fallafel (genius) together in a huge Laffa with Salad, carrot, cabbage, Lime Mayo, Tahini, Hummus, Mango and a little hot sauce. I also had a Bath Ales Wild Hare to "wash that down". I sat downstairs in The Khan, which is incred decked out like a souk with a small sisha garden, loads of lush cushions and lanterns. I cannot recommend it highly enough and I had the place to myself.

On honourable mention goes to SweetPete aka Petedown Fury aka Columbian Phil who joined me for the escapades.

We also hit up The Apple cider barge, for some delicious ciders and the King Willy "You can't kill, what can't be killed" (see Predator 2) and Small bar.

It was finally the Lemuria gig I hoped for all the hits and loads of tasty Gin & San Pels and an incred Springer Spaniel T-shirt to boot. (see Sookie)

More than anything I just think we could all embrace that mantra

Get Better

Thursday, 15 June 2017


My third year volunteering on the wondrous isle of Skomer.

I had dinner at the Lobster Pot and drank some beautiful/lethal Old Crow Cider 7.4% lush Celtic
drawing of a crow on the bottle, I'm a sucker for an animal label.

The sticker always means happy times! No Puffin'

The now infamous Monkey and toy truck bedding

A different time of year to usual for me, the island looks completely different blanketed in Red Campion and Bluebells, the smell is amazing too.

Puffins at the Wick, again an increase in numbers and a better time of year to see them, as when I usually come they are all leaving.

I have tried the last two years, to see 50 species of Birds in the week, and failed at 49 both years. Here's the Bird log board from one of the days.

I finally however, got my Turtle Dove, after years of wanting to see one and failing. I had heard through the grapevine one had been seen that day. So after duties and a bit of dinner, I went for a wee walk, just as it was starting to get dark, down to North Valley Crossing, just as I got there, there was already a very confused Manxie about, really early still light. As I got to the willows on the crossing, the Turtle Dove was flushed and circled around long enough to get it in the bins for a few seconds. It headed back towards the farm so I followed, but lost it. Luckily, fellow volunteers alerted others who also saw it so I was chuffed.

They have these new swanky Gilets for the volunteers, so no more smelly t shirts Yay!

This is probably my favourite spot I have ever swam in.

This little guy got lost heading back to the boat.

Some amazing fellow volunteers this year, Homemade Bread & butter brioche pudding  by Rachel and Homemade 'Welsh Cakes' by an Englishman, some of the best I've tasted, good luck smuggling that recipe back across the bridge safely Mart.

Me in situe at the Wick waiting to greet the first of many boats.

 Larval web of the Lackey moth caterpillars.

A bee in a foxglove.

The sun setting in my fave place Skomer head.

Minotaur Beetle. 

Serious book envy Skomer island Library.

The best year ever for Short-Eared Owls, at least four pairs hunting all day, amazing views everyday. Flying overhead with a vole barking at you, chicks hissing from the undergrowth at dusk eerie.

As the sun sets on the last night drinking my last Old Crow, reminiscing on another amazing week, on my favourite Island, well-being fully restored.

We had a lift back to the car in the back of a farmers pickup truck, which Rachel found hilarious if anyone knows these two please share the pic as I don't have a contact for them, a wonderful couple!


Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Fancy Sauce Friday

On Friday night I drove to gig for the first time ever, it was at my favourite venue in the world Le Pub, which is under threat of closure due to the premises being sold, do not fear they are already looking for new premises so we wait with baited breath...

Anyway the gig on Friday was one of my picks for best newcomer last year Hot Mass.

Support came in the form of KvsD who you can hear here:

There was something very Wayne's World about the whole thing, but I enjoyed it thoroughly the drummer was hilarious like Peter Kaye, the wrestling mask was the end.

I fully supported the diy ethic of walking around the venue giving people stickers of ball bags and fancy sauce which will have pride of place on my fridge and selling demos which no one does anymore.

In the middle was People and Other Diseases, who I thoroughly enjoyed, elements of Wire, Gang of 4 with a dash of Sleaford Mods.

Hot Mass headlined they sounded awesome they covered Fugazi, Full Disclosure, which is no easy feat by any stretch. Control was my stand out track I love it!

If you haven't heard them check them out here:

Their debut album Nervous Tensions came out last year on Brassneck records it's awesome you can get it here:

They also had awesome t-shirts featuring an image of a feminist Science Icon! Punk points + for naming her? ...

Even better was the People and other diseases t-shirt which features Dorien from Birds of a Feather maximum punk points!

Superb night and I can remember everything from a gig for the first time ever, don't know what all the fuss is about I'll be driving to more gigs in the future if you need a ride bro X

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

"All of my prophets were singers of sad songs..."

First new tick of the year in the bag within the first week, and my oh my was it a beauty! I've been wanting to see Waxwings for years. Not only are they absolutely captivating and stunning there is also an excellent band from the 90's  I absolutely loved by the same name (see One For the Ride and For Madmen Only). Also, they look pretty damn punk rock too!

Needless to say it was probably the most undignified bit of birding ever when they report came through via twitter that there was a small 'Museum of Waxwings" in the rowan trees outside KFC on Newport Road of all bloody places.

I sat in work crying into a cuppa knowing they would be gone by the time I could get away...

Luckily I managed to knock off a bit early and get there just in time to see them in all their glory before they vanished.

I can now finally dust off my RSPB Waxwing badge I have been avoiding wearing as I hadn't yet seen one.

There's an epic video of the occasion on YouTube here which isn't mine.

Friday, 9 December 2016

" I wish I was Household Name..."

I'm sat in my late Grancha's reclining chair, that he left me when he passed, I have the new Cutups record The Nerves on the gramophone, having just seen them last night and I'm reading the liner notes, something I always like to do on my first listen to a new record.

In the past two weeks I have been lucky enough to see The Cut-ups and The Take live, two bands who are extremely important to me. I got into both bands around the same sort of time, late nineties early noughties, they were both being touted by Household Name records, at the time I believe.

I first met The Take boys at gigs in Cardiff, at the old Capillary Life (Jawbox) gigs downstairs in The Oz bar. I met Jon from the Cutups at around the same time when he was in Shoe! and I think they opened up for The Take and Douglas, at the Cavern perhaps...

One of my fondest memories of seeing The Take on my 21st birthday in TJ's supporting Bluetip, (New Shoe! Premonition) a birthday I happen to share with Charlie from The Take, Bluetip got him up on stage, sang Happy Birthday to him and made him do shots, my brother had the whole thing recorded on a Dictaphone as well.

Later, I put on The Cutups at Le pub, I believe probably their first Welsh gig perhaps... Anyway they played a bunch of gigs and became great friends especially Reza, as he later studied in Cardiff and I later managed to persuade him to fill in on drums for my band and fulfil a life long dream of playing at the Cavern.

I also somehow managed to persuade Charlie from The Take to fill in on bass for a while too.

Anyway they are both immensely important bands to me personally, excellent musicians and great people. I am truly thankfully I ever got to see them live, listen to their records, let alone make an absolute racket sharing a few members.

To The Take and The Cutups and all who sail in them!

Long live the Cavern!

You can get The Take - Dolomite here for fiver:
You can get Propeller here for £4

You can get The Cutups The Nerves here:

You can hear Bluetip here:
and Jawbox here:

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

No Puffin

This summer I got to once again be utterly captivated by being transported off for a week's residential volunteering on the most spectacular place I have ever been... Skomer Island.

I swam in the sea with Puffins, they are really inquisitive and come quite close, as they can only see your head when you are in the water. When they look under the water and realise how big you really are they are off pretty quickly. We also had some excellent flybys with beaks full of sand eels, whilst we were swimming off the landing.

On one day a very inquisitive seal who we christened Neil, also checked us out very closely, whilst we were swimming.

I set a target of getting 50 birds in a week, whilst my fellow vols had done 50 in two weeks.

I managed to get 49 species falling frustratingly one short for the week.

However, I did finally manage to see the Little owl, on at least three occasions on the gorse bushes near the trig point. So I commemorated the sighting with a little Crudely Drawn Birds Sketch.

My heart was once again stolen by Doris the Fulmar though, easily my fave seabird, so pretty on the wing beautiful little faces.

One of the highlights of the week for me was weighing the Shearwater chicks with the Oxford researchers. I think this picture shows how happy I was.

I also had awesome views of the Short-eared Owl hunting at dusk, which is amazing.

However, I think my fave experience this year was doing a Sea watch in the evening on a particularly stormy day, where the sea was really churning up and the Shearwaters all came in closer to the island, doing what they do best shearing the water in their thousands, an unbelievable spectacle and one I will never forget. I also managing to see two Sandwich Terns passing the island another first for me, thanks to the ever keen eyed Jason.

Doing a Greater Black Backed Gull nest site pellet transect in the pouring rain was also memorable for all the wrong reasons shorts and wellies Rookie mistake!

Once again the Annual Volunteer Kubb tournament was another highlight and I once again "Had my eye in" whilst enjoying a Rev James from my bestie Joe.

Another great week with a truly fabulous team whom I think all benefited in some way from each others company.

Left again heavy-hearted to be going home and leaving my fave island, but with my personal well-being fully restored from an awesome week.