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Friday, 31 December 2010

2010 A YEAR OF MEMORIES

2010 A Year of Memories.

January started off very cold and many friends followed the life and death of Frostie on facebook!

Frostie in his prime.


The cold spell was not just in the UK, it was extremely cold and stormy in Nyon, Switzeralnd too!
Ice Sculpture by 'Nature'


And a freezing stormy Lac leman (Lake Geneva).

But it wasn't all cold, Pauline Black warmed up Club-85 with her amazing Ska band.


In February, Chris Ripple & I supported the amazing Lika Sharps at Club-85.

Before going off down to London to perform at the Pullens Poetry and Spoken Word Festival the following week.

In March, we met a miniature Camen!


In April, we had Rainbows!


And visisted Standalone farm to see the new sheep etc.


In May we were rocked by Pendulum & Sub Focus at the Wembley Arena.


In June I attended a residential training course at the Node.


In July we did several things!

The Prodigy at the Warriors Dance Festival, Milton Keynes Bowl,


Rhythms of the World Festival at Hitchin,


And of course, Sonisphere at Knebworth.


In August we had our splendid family holiday in Happisburgh, Norfolk.


August was also a good time for the garden.


September was quite busy too:-
Space Ritual & Gong at the Forum in Kentish Town, London.

Nik Turner's Space Ritual


Gong

A visit to Church Farm in Ardely, near Walkern.


Walks along the river.


And, Larry Miller for the second time this year!


October saw us out and about too!

The ducks at Ware.


The Dragonfly at Datchworth.


And Focus at Plinston Hall, Letchworth.


And of course there was Halloweeen.


November saw us at the first of four gigs by InMe at the relentless Garage in London and of course the trip to Antwerp, The Astronauts at Club-85 and Fireworks.

InMe


The four Musketeers!


I also met some statues in November!


The Astronuats in action at Club-85

Fairlands valley Firework Display.

December saw us seeing out the old year in style, there was 30 Seconds to Mars & Enter Shikari at the O2 Arena, The Disturbed with Papa Roach & Buckcherry at Wembley Arena, Hawkwind at the Forum, Kentish Town, more of the 4 InMe gigs and it snowed! And finally, Club-85's gig of the year, The Pink Floyd Dimension.
Snow in the woods nearby.
Hawkwind at the Forum.

The Pink Floyd Dimension at Club-85.
Yes indeed, a year full of happy memories, I also managed to scribe several poems throughout 2010, many of which I've been quite pleased with and I performed at Club-85, Pullens Poetry & Spoken Word Festival and of course Rhythms of the world, so I'll leave you with this:-
A conversation between two Herring Gulls

Morning mate, been fishing?

No not me, I’m learning to be urban, better pickings!

You mean, you’ve not been down to the shore, not had a paddle at the waters edge, seafood galore?

No, the car park in town, that’s where it all goes down, chips and burgers, curry & rice, bread rolls and cake crumbs, all very nice!

But there are Starlings, Pigeons and nasty Crows, Magpies and Rooks, why, even Sparrows!

Yeah, great isn’t it, like everyone can see, a multi ethnic, multi racial, avian society!

But you are a seagull, you’re supposed to soar, spend your days above the ocean’s roar, feeding from the bountiful sea, it’s a great life my friend, just look at me!

Oh I did, and I’ve listened but I’ve been an urban bird now for weeks and I can’t stand the prattling of you health food freaks.

What, no Sprats, Eels, or tasty Shore-Crabs?

No, I prefer Pizza or Pasta, KFC or Kebabs!
A very Happy New Year to all,
Grant

Sunday, 19 December 2010

NIGHT OF THE HAWKS - YOU'VE GOT TO HAND IT TO KEV'


It seems to happen every time, whenever we’re out and about, when I’m with Kevin, Chris & Paul, someone will do something spectacular that triggers a response in me to capture the event in verse, oh; they’re such an inspiration to me!

You've Got To Hand It To Kev'

Weatherspoons in Stevenage, and a lunchtime pint or two
To wash down the ham egg and chips as you tend to do
Then another final pint of ale before jumping on the train
Yes it’s that Yuletide London visit and Hawkwind once again

Paul, Chris, Kevin and I get as far as Kings Cross, St Pancras
Where we visit the Sir John Betjeman, we couldn’t just go past
For they brew their own beer here and sell other real ales too
It’s handy from the station because by then we also need the loo

After begging for a handful of bread to soak up some of the beer
We head on down the London tube full of Christmas cheer
I don’t think some the tourists, despite trying as hard as we might
Were too keen on our renditions of Christmas Carols & the like!

We emerged in Camden town, and popped into the Elephant’s Head
Another beer was needed, you know what I mean, come on, enough said
And the table that we sat at had a crack and a hole as big as can be
Big enough for Kev’s hand to emerge and grab the beer off me!


While we sat in the Elephant’s Head for a drink a laugh and chat
Who should appear already full of cheer, of course it was Mel & Stratt
So now we were six we headed off to grab some Camden grub
A big Chinese was sure to please and only three quid a tub!

Camden market was still buzzing despite the cold and time and all that
We danced our way through Cyberdog & Mel got a Red Bull hat
Kev bought something in Cyberdog that here I can’t describe
If he does give it to his wife as stocking filler she’s in for a little, big surprise!

We couldn’t pass through Camden without stopping at the Camden Lock
But only for a quick one (or two) after glancing at the clock
We headed off for Kentish Town so as not to be late
But we did call in to one more pub on the way to The Bull and Gate

The Bull and Gate was heaving as we squeezed our way inside
Tribute band ‘Hoaxwind’ were playing, “They’re pretty good” Kev cried
And there propping up the corner bar was our good mate ‘Beluga’ Barry
But we couldn’t stay inside for long, oh no we could not tarry

So we all dashed into the Forum for a night of Psychedelic rock
I won’t say much about the support bands, no sir, not a lot
But Hawkwind were on fire again and for what it’s worth
Their best album for many years has to be “The Blood of the Earth”

Kev got mashed in the mosh pit he should know better at his age
But he wanted to see the lovely dancers really close up by the stage
And after the gig was over we did the traditional post gig thing
It was hello to the Halal Chicken shop for chips and breasts and wings

Then at last I noticed that our party had grown somewhat small
Poor Mel had morphed into Ciderella and had missed the final Ball
So we traipsed our way back down the tube and off to old Kings Cross
We even caught the last train home and that was good enough for us!



So, until we do it again!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

TALES OF OLD ANTWERP PART 2


Antwerp really is a truly beautiful city, there is so much to see and do, so many wonderful old buildings to visit and admire (We didn't really spend the whole weekend sampling Belgium beer, or did we?) .
Anyway, in this short 'part-2' I offer a more serious poem that I hope captures some of the overall feeling 'Antwerp Christmas Cheer' and a humorous recalling of something that really did happen 'The Giggling Pizza', enjoy.


Antwerp Christmas Cheer

We wander through the cobbled streets
dodging the trams that rattle past
whilst all the while above our heads
Gothic buildings point spires heavenwards

Between the street-side shops facade
winding alleys lead us through
archways into narrow paths
to open squares once hid from view

Ornate civic buildings adorn
these secret hidden places
carved stonework and iconic signs abound
with moss covered statues, weathered faces

Back once more into the busy streets
we mingle with the bustling throng
shoppers, tourists and locals too
our journey continues on

We seek out the glorious Belgium ales
and places of character in which to sup
in Antwerp’s fine old city bars
let the good Trappist’s fill our cups

We warm ourselves from winters chill
beside a crackling open fire
and find a fine camaraderie
beneath the Cathedral’s mighty spires

Antwerp is a beautiful city
full of character and steeped in history
there is so much to see and do
it has captured the very heart of me

So raise a glass of fine strong ale
and a Yuletide toast to those we love
to have good friends is to be blessed
praise be to God above.


And now for the best piece of graffiti!


And of course, the tale of the Giggling Pizza.

THE GIGGLING PIZZA

Now food's not intrinsically funny
as every good gastronome knows
some indeed might be funny peculiar
but that's just the way that it goes

Now pizza is known for it's varieties
it comes in all shapes and sizes
providing it's topped off with cheeses
there should be no hidden surprises

There's an old pizza restaurant in Antwerp
just off the Cathedral square
it's a friendly and welcoming place
you can even take your own drinks in there

So after a copious ale session
and loud music to waken the dead
into this pizza place somewhat noisily
Paul, Chris, Grant & Kevin did tread

Now three of us all went traditional
you know, round pizzas flat on the plate
but Kevin went for the Calzone
and we didn't have that long to wait

The pizza's arrived all quite quickly
considering the time of the night
we were hungry so tucked in with vigour
Kevin's Calzone was a special alright

He asked us what pizza's we'd ordered
Chris's seafood I think was one choice
I can't quite remember what Paul had
but I said with a somewhat loud voice

"I've got a large mushroom pizza
and they call it fungi in here
'cos I'm such a fun guy to be with"
and this remark, well oh dear!

Kevin had just started his calzone
when a giggle arose it was plain
he giggled and giggled and giggled
until he doubled over in pain

Now it couldn't have been due to the beer
we weren't that drunk as I do recall
and my remark wasn't really that funny
it must have been the calzone that's all

So if ever you're out in old Antwerp
and a late night pizza is your desire
please avoid the giggling calzone
because the consequences can be quite dire!

Until the next time, cheers m' dears, Grant.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

3 BOLLEKE'S AND A BLOND


De Rots Rock Concern, the finest old music venue, bar, hostel, CD & T Shirt shop in Antwerp.

Why was I there? The answer is simple, at the invite of my good friends Kevin & Chris.

The Gnomes of Antwerp, we went with the Langford Crew (Langford is a small village somewhat north of Stevenage) to support two local bands who were playing at De Rots.
On Friday it was Cheezy and Z Helmitz and on Saturday, Sharp'shooter.

Thanks to Kev & Chris for a couple of the photo's in this blog.

We also went to sample some of the splendid Belgium beers, including the famous 'Bolleke'


So, firstly, the story.

The journey began, by coach, fairly early on the Friday morning, several people had already been 'In the pub' in time to sink a couple of breakfast beers before setting off, which, by some quirk of nature, they did manage to set off on time but had to take a detour to pick up Cheezies passport, but they still picked me up as planned!

The journey itself, a drive down to Ashford to catch 'Le Shuttle' to Calais and then on to Antwerp, was punctuated by frequent toilet and smoking stops which probably accounted for why it took something like 8 hours to get there!

Being on the coach with Cheezy and Z Helmitz, Sharps Hooters & the 'Langford crew' was somewhat akin to travelling in a mobile pub, lots of drink, loud music, loud but good natured banter, it was an experience in itself.

We even entered Antwerp illegaly as the coach took the cars only tunnel under the Schelde, however, we arrived at De Rots Rock Concern in plenty of time to unload the coach and for Cheezy & the boys to set up, they weren't playing until 8 so there was plenty of time for drinking as well.

Antwerp is a lovely city, there are so many places to see and so much to do (Apart from sample several of the 800 + splendid Belgium beers) but more of that later.

Friday night Cheezy and Z Helmitz played a storming set of the most unusual covers and good old Punk & Oi, the locals and the staff seemed to love it as much as we did and everyone had a splendid time, afterwards some of us chilled out in the Heavy / Black metal lounge before a late night pizza and then crashing out for the night at De Rots.

Cheezy and Z Helmitz in action.

Saturday morning started in a style that was to set the theme of the day, after a sensible coffee & croissant from the shop next door it was on to the Duvel for breakfast and then a quick trip with our bags to check into the hotel that would be home for the next two nights.

After checking in at the hotel a little group of us set off on a walking tour of Antwerp taking in the sights and sounds and cramming in as many of the 'Must visit' pubs and bars and slurping away through as many strong Belgium beers as our senses could take!
The Cathedral

The old City Square

We did fit in a splendid meal and made it back to De Rots in time for Sharps Hooters, who are, I must say, one of, if not the best, Prog & Hard rock covers band I've ever seen.

Sharp'shooters in full swing

De Rots was packed and they played for three hours non-stop going well past the 10:00pm live music 'curfew' in force in Antwerp's old city area, of course, there was still plenty of time to sample more fine beers as many places stay open until 3am.

Sunday started slightly (but not that much) more slowly than Saturday, this time we headed off in a slightly different direction to take in some more of the must see places and try yet more beers, one of the most charming and surreal places was the Cafe Beveren otherwise known as 'The Dancing Bar', average age of clientele 60+, one lovely old Wurlitzer Juke Box and a full sized fairground organ, it was so quirky and fun, one of those 'must do' experiences.

The Cafe Beveren


The castle on the banks of the Schelde


A very well laden barge

We ended up at The Amadeus Restaurant, famous for it's Ribs, once you finish your rack of ribs they bring you more, and more, and so on, coupled with good beer, nice wine, great company, it was another splendid experience but I was shattered after so much walking that I, & Chris, returned to the hotel for Country File, Antiques Road show and the Strictly Come Dancing results, how rock and roll is that?
We missed the Gay Bar and the several visits to De Rots in between other bars, I can't say I'm that sorry!

Monday morning, after checking out of the hotel, we had plenty of time to do yet more sightseeing, beer drinking and shopping but only after starting with a very civilised Hot Chocolate, Rum & Cream.


Just one of the many passing trams

At mid day the coach arrived and, between passing trams, we got it packed, and set off on time. The journey home was a little less noisy and far less alcoholic than on Friday, it was of course still great fun, would I do it again? Of course I would.

An now, why not enjoy beer or two before the poems?





There will be many more poems to come from this trip but for now, these three that follow, were all inspired by the De Rots experience.


The Old Child Catcher of Antwerp

Above the sound of rattling trams
And cars on cobbled streets
Inside De Rots Rock Concern
Play Cheezy and Z Helmitz
Cheezy berates the eager crowd
As they play loud punk and London Oi
We dance, we drink, we sing along
As a group of young Belgium metal-heads
Dance a conga by
But who’s that joining on the end?
A sinister drunker figure
Could it be?
Yes it could
It’s Kev the old child-catcher!


Crashing with the bands

Bodies sprawling
Drunken snoring
Clothes scattered
Silence shattered
Bright lights
Sleepless nights
Hung-over mornings
Tired yawnings
Music playing
Bodies swaying
Sweat smelling
People yelling
On tour
Once more
Just crashing with the bands.
..........................
And finally.
.....................
Sharp Shooting in De Rots

It’s Saturday night and De Rots is heaving
SharpsHooter are playing and hearing is believing
Without question the 10pm curfew is broken
The music turned down a notch just as a token
But the band plays on

Everyone is dancing, everyone is singing
Everyone is drinking, the place is really swinging

Happy mayhem somehow has a way of ensuing
When rock fans of all ages are happily pursuing
Drinking heavily and steadily into state like a trance
To a hard rock beat that just makes you wanna dance

Smithy ‘swallow dives’ from off of the stairs
Kev catches him on his shoulders up in the air
And proceeds to spin Smithy round and round
Then sets him down like a spinning top onto the ground
Where he scatters the punters like 9 pin skittles
Until at last he himself settles
In a heap on the floor
And the crowd shout out for more!

And the band played on
And the beer it flowed
And we just kept on going
Until we reached overload
So here’s to the next one
Before we hit the road
Here’s to the next one
Let’s hit the road.
So, until the next time, it's goodbye from me.