Thank you…

If I should die, think only this of me;
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
Rupert Brooke. 1887 – 1915


A visit from Supawal

Supawal my brother was over for a visit last weekend. We had a great weekend. No cycling, but plenty of beer and music. Here’s a couple of compositions that we put together….I hope you like them.

Funk 15, from an original idea by Supawal with Tim Bragg on Flute, and Serge Baudot on Bass….

F NIK2 with Supawal on Drums, Dave Purple on harmonica and bottleneck guitar. From and original idea by stratobiker :-)….

UK MTB Golden era….???

MTB Golden Era

Was there a golden era in UK MTBing? Shane Lawton thinks so. He started a facebook group and invited people to post their memories, and pictures. It’s really taken off, and so many names from the past have joined in.

Here’s Shane’s description…..

“Welcome to this community page for middle aged and old gits that want to back pedal in time! If you love shiny purple parts, white tyres and Etto helmets your in the right group…neon lycra is mandatory. If not, please vacate!
This is a page for everyone passionate about the old school in UK mtb from former pro riders, team staff, media and plain crazy enthusiasts. “

You’ll find the group page here.

Take a ride down memory trail! 🙂

A new watch!

watches

I had to buy a new watch, because old faithful, pictured centre, deceased. Old faithful was in her turn a replacement for my original ‘old faithful’, pictured left.
So, from left to right….

  • Old Faithful 1 – Bought in 1975 while working on the construction of the Thames Barrier in London. I was a diver, did I ever tell you that? She bears the scars of those days. She even has burn marks on her glass from working with oxy-arc cutting gear. I lost her once while working in Scotland on the ill fated McAlpines sea tank. That’s a story in itself!
  • Old Faithful 2 – A £49 bargain bought in 1983 as a replacement for Old Faithful 1. She went on to give 32 years service.
  • My new watch – Sadly. both Old Faithfuls have stopped and are beyond repair. I sent them to Seiko.co.uk service department who couldn’t fix them. but offered me a replacement at a very attractive price. I chose the one from the current range that looked the closest to what I had. Big, chunky, robust, and easy to read.

So there you have it…..40 years of watches. Time to go….l8trs 🙂

A 3 gig week!

3 in a row!

Three gigs, three different line-ups, three different sets!
1. Thursday 25th June @ the Soleil Couchant. Bennetti’s Jazz n Blues Club.
Playing outside on the terrace, a mix of Jazz n Blues, with a mix of musicians. We’ll be playing all sorts, and it should be a great night.
2. Saturday 27th June @ Nuit en Fete Exideuil. The Sugaree Band. The new band, but missing the other new guitarist as he can’t make it!!! We’ll be playing opposite the Rivage Restaurant at the top of the town from 9pm. 3eme Div, a French punk band are on before us, and Je Dis Jazz, an ex-pat Jazz band are on after us. There’s fireworks at midnight, and festival happenings throughout the evening.
3. Sunday 28th June @ La Charrette, Benest. Jazz a la Carte, playing on the terrace from 2pm. Jazz a la Carte is the Jazz trio that I joined. There’s Lynn Garner (vocals), Brad Lang (bass, vocals), and me on guitar. I joined them a little while ago. Didn’t want to mention it too soon in case I couldn’t cut it. Lynn and Brad are fabulous pro’ musicians, it’s a real treat for me to play with them.

Then top all that off with a party on Sunday night at a musician friend’s house……the life of Riley eh?

A Ride South To La Rochelle

I love to encourage bikers (motorized or otherwise) to take the time to explore France; it’s so varied and much of it is incredibly beautiful. The food is (of course) wonderful, and the country is generally extremely friendly for two-wheeled types. Here’s a round trip idea from Calais to La Rochelle, passing through some amazing spots. The quickest route is just under 700km, but venturing off the main roads will both save money in tolls and allow you to see some stupendous sights.

Why La Rochelle?

The ancient port of La Rochelle is a great destination, with brilliant nightlife including a variety of seafood restaurants, buzzing bars and a decent casino. If you’re new to the pleasures of the roulette and blackjack tables, it’s not a bad idea to practice first; French folks tend to be pretty good at it! Playing for free online is a good way to get your head round the rules. Choose a trusted site – http://www.jackpotcity.org for example – and you’re good to go.

Rouen

If you’re arriving in Calais late, it’s not a bad idea to book a hotel before you arrive, especially in high season. For those unused to driving on the right, learning the ropes in the dark is not such a great idea! Otherwise, our first port of call (OK, so it’s not actually a port) is going to be Rouen, 215km to the south via the A28. Most people’s highlight is the cathedral, at which it’s possible to stare in awe for hours, despite the fact that quite a lot of it has been restored since the last war.

Rouen is a great spot for a leisurely lunch; take a wander around the old town and see the half-timbered buildings that survive on most streets, then try the fixed-price lunch menu at Pascaline on the rue de la Poterne. Delicious, typically French bistro grub at reasonable prices.

Le Mans

Next we head towards Le Mans, where race fans can visit the Bugatti Circuit which has played host to the French Moto GP, as well as actually riding on the public-road parts of the Circuit De La Sarthe (the more famous track). That’s not all there is to see in Le Mans though; there’s plenty of history in the town, including Roman baths and a beautiful old town known as the Cité Plantagenêt. Le Mans is 210-odd kilometres from Rouen; the E402 passes through the Forêt d’Écouves, an important site for cycling events including the Trans Écouves, held in September.

La Rochelle

The final stretch to La Rochelle is around 275km, so you may want to stay in or near Le Mans overnight; there are plenty of stopping points along the A11 southwards though, including Angers with its amazing, striped city walls, and the 850-year-old Tour St Aubin.

If you’ve had a typical Northern France shower (or downpour) to contend with earlier in the trip, the glowing sunlight of La Rochelle will raise your spirits. Accommodation-wise, it’s possible to camp in the summer, or there’s a selection of decent 2-star hotels from under €50, depending on when you go. Wander around the historic arcades and pick somewhere for dinner; Bistrot Remi Masse is just one of many great seafood spots, on rue St Jean du Perot. After a few liveners you may well start to feel like a trip to Casino Barriere – it’s at 15 allée du Mail. Good luck!

I didn’t know it was on!!!!…..

Music ICI logo

Why “musicici.com”?

There is a thriving flourishing live music scene in France. In the summer especially there is so much to see and do it’s hard to keep track of it all. We got fed up of hearing, “we didn’t know it was on”, and, “where do you find out about these things”. We found that people living in the Haute Vienne had no idea what was happening in the Charente or the Dordogne even though they might be just a few kilometers over the border. We decided to do something about it. This is it – ‘music ici‘!

To start off with we are just going to focus on our little corner of France. Using Confolens in the Charente as our hub, we’ll report on what’s happening within a two-hour drive. We’ll tell you about gigs, concerts, festivals, we’ll report on artists, bands, and venues. We want to share with you some of the vibe that’s happening here.

We want you to get involved. If you went to a great gig, tell us about it. If you are a band, send us your dates, we’ll publish them. If you are a venue, let us share your calendar.

From time to time we’ll invite guest writers, and reporters. We’ll arrange interviews and photoshoots. If your mother comes from Russia or has a black handled knife, we want to know!

Contact Music Ici here

Another first for me!!!!

My very first older person’s illness. I’ve had shingles, and it stinks. Here’s the gruesome evidence…..

shingles calendar

I’d been feeling a bit low for a while, starting end of Feb really, but as lots of people were getting colds/flu, I thought I’d maybe go the start of something like that. Next I came out in a rash. Nothing new for me, as I often get a slight rash just before I’m ill (ever since I went to Turkey in 82!). Things seem to be getting worse by the day, and I come out in blisters. A trip to the doctors confirms I have Shingles. There isn’t really anything you can do apart from rest, and take painkillers if you need then. I’m thinking i’ll be over it in a few days, but 5 weeks later I’m still not clear. I’m feeling much better, the pain has turned mostly to itching, I’m healed enough to be able to wear a cycling jersey, and I managed an hour on my bike yesterday, but that wiped me out.

Anyway, not complaining…..onward and upward! 🙂