Monday, 13 October 2014

Right from the start

One of the best gigs I've ever been to last Friday night in Warrington (first time there too!!) at the beautiful Parr Hall, for part of Joan Armatrading's final tour of small venues, and also her first solo tour - just her, her guitars and her piano and it was sheer magic from start to finish.
I snapped up the tickets a year ago when they first came up and managed to get front row centre stalls - so it felt like she was just singing and talking to us.
Of course, no photos during the performance but these were her guitars lined up ready
and, yes, she was that close to where we sat!

She even gave us all a slide show of pics of her since the 70s which were amazing, and talked us through her musical life - getting special applause for her meetings with Nelson Mandela, who used to listen to her music while in prison.

She showed a shot of the type-written programme from Bob Dylan's Picnic at Blackbushe Airport in 1978, where we first saw Joan perform, below blue skies with pink balloons overhead, brought back some memories - here are some (forever faded!) snaps from my scrapbook, with my original £6 ticket:
 again, we weren't far from the front
 and the crowd stretched way back

Ahhh, happy memories . . .

Anyway, this Friday, Joan played all the old favourites and a sprinkling of new blues material which was incredible.  Just her, solo on the stage - piano and guitars - and that powerful voice as good as ever.

I savoured every note of my favourite - "The Weakness In Me" - take a listen
and we filed out into the night - moon high in the sky -
and drove right up the length of the Mersey - had the dock road all to ourselves  - heads still buzzing with the final song - Willow - lovely clip here from a rehearsal studio:
and if you're wanting more - try Rosie - she sang it with as much vigour and enjoyment as she always has:
Oh I could go on and on - just an incredible and amazing concert - such a maestro.  Singer, song-writer, guitarist, pianist and altogther a lovely warm person with the best smile I've ever seen.  Total privilege to have been there.

Friday, 5 September 2014

home and dry

Yesterday something triggered me remembering this wonderful Pink Floyd track and now I can't get it out of my mind!

Resulted in my getting my old vinyl Atom Heart Mother out and reminiscing on my happy first year in Sheffield . . .  and thankful to say many many happy years followed and I'm still here - and happy!

If Youtube is to be believed, this was the only time they played this track live and it was September 16, 1970 at the Paris Theatre in London.  Enjoy 


If I were a swan, I'd be gone.
If I were a train, I'd be late.
And if I were a good man, I'd talk with you more often than I do.
If I were to sleep, I could dream.
If I were afraid, I could hide.
If I go insane, please don't put your wires in my brain.
If I were the moon, I'd be cool.
If I were a rule, I would bend.
If I were a good man, I'd understand the spaces between friends.
If I were alone, I would cry.
And if I were with you, I'd be home and dry.
And if I go insane, will you still let me join in with the game?
If I were a swan, I'd be gone.
If I were a train, I'd be late again.
If I were a good man, I'd talk to you more often than I do.

Friday, 29 August 2014

wheels on fire

The excitement was tangible for weeks and the route home from work through Worrall and Oughtibridge, climbing the now famous Jawbone Hill, was bedecked with yellow
Sheffield was getting ready and Grenoside did its bit too  . .

Even Sheffield Design Week featured a yellow t-shirt competition
Where my poem made the final round in the Dear Sheffield opening exhibition
Worrall has it's legacy bike wheel sculpture

and this is where we chose to stand on 'the day' - strangely quiet a few weeks beforehand
Bradfield getting ready
and Oughtibridge - what was all that about??!!
and we got sewing and decorating ourselves
my "Le Tour" garden
and with a little help from our trans-Atlantic friends we were soon ready to party
 freebies and party bags were prepared
 guests arrived
friendships re-forged
 breakfast was a mass production
worth the wait (why don't we possess a set of matching plates!!)
third sitting round the table
then some of us scoped the route the day before
wahooo - exciting or what
 and barbecued well into the Saturday night
ate ourselves silly
and when the big day dawned on Sunday - up we went towards Jawbone Hill to join the throngThis was of course the point at which I realised my camera battery was dead - so you'll just have to imagine the incredible atmosphere of around 27,000 folk crammed between Oughtibridge and Grenoside on the narrow, steep Jawbone Hill.  Absolutely amazing!!! 
and finally they came - preceded by 4 gigantic helicopters rounding the hill like in a James Bond movie.
This could well be somebody famous zooming past me, I know nothing about cycling, but it didn't really matter - it was all about the fun, the hype and the happy crowds.  An unforgettable day.
And from here they rattled across the north of Sheffield and up the now famous Jenkin Road in Wincobank - steepest climb of the whole race, including the Alps.

And it happened HERE in Sheffield!!!  Brilliant!  

A grand day out for Yorkshire - did us proud!!


Great coverage and pics on this Le Tour Yorkshire website 

Some great videos here too:

After the slow crawl at the top of Jawbone hill, nice to see all the crowds heading home at the end on this usually quiet stretch of country lane:

and a bit further round near where we were standing:

Sunday, 24 August 2014

beside the sea

West Kirby,looking towards Little Eye, Hilbre and Wales


Was just listening to Johnnie Walker's Sounds of the 70s on Radio 2, while battling with weeds in the jungle of our garden, when he played this oldie and the opening lines just reminded me of last weekend

"I had a friend who had friends by a river ....."

and I had to dash in to share this:

as a coda to last weekend's idyllic time on the Solway Firth (it's almost a river!!) with 7 wonderful friends.

And even if you're not sentimental you'll love the 60s outfits!!!

Enjoy x x x

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

you take the high road

Strictly speaking I need to post up my photos of our wonderful Tour De Yorkshire extravaganza here in Sheffield and our amazing holiday in Portugal and Spain last month - but before that I must mention our fab, fun-filled spree north of the border this weekend, while it's fresh in my mind!
and so we arrive in beautiful secluded Carsethorn
our lane with view of the Criffel (1800ft)
and our view over the Solway Firth to the Lakes and another country!
Next day the gang assemble at Dumfries House
in the back row surprise surprise . . doesn't that take you back a few years!!
and a great little news item here if you're interested to know more about the house - this was made in 2007 before it was open to the public:
taking the air on the John Adams' bridge
Three little maids in the Summer House
A tour of the veg patches full of prize specimens
 of cabbages and kings ( oh I still love the Walrus and the Carpenter !!)
Loved the education garden best of all - complete with Bill, Ben, friends and flora
 wonderful grasses and teasels (is that what they are?)
then to another of the beautiful greenhouses
decked with colour

statuesque, or so they think!
 but finally to the pub - the wonderful Steamboat Inn
for a feast and a half
and the next day - 'I see no ships' but great views across the sea
Then it was off to Kirkcudbright for the fascinating exhibition of work by the Glasgow Girls
and a glimpse of Jessie King's house
Then all too soon, after lots of laughs, happy reminiscences, amazing food and even more amazing company, the four days had come to an end . . .
and it was farewell to the Criffel, the estuary
and, last but not least, our wonderful hosts
and as we sped south we caught a silvery glimpse of the wonderful Carsethorn
Will we no' come back again? . . . . I hope we will !!