Category Archives: Entertainment

In The Woods 2014

After a truly magical and breathtaking experience last year, we were very fortunate to have friends join us for this years most beautiful festival. In The Woods Festival oozes mystery, tranquility and brings a small gathering of people together in the most surreal environment within some of the most picturesque woodlands.
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Putting last years memories aside in an attempt to be surprised again, it was clear to see a new theme without altering the dynamics previously enjoyed. The woodlands beautifully laced with colourful flowers and bright golden lights leading you along the magical footpaths.

At the entrance there were some bright pink, yellow and blue cactuses positioned amongst the natural green plants. A couple of footsteps later there were trees graced with the largest material letters spelling out ITW14.

There were cardboard masks hung by wooden pegs on strings hand painted for people to wear. The pathways winding with many other areas to explore. A material filled tree designed to look like a flowing waterfall was one of the most eye catching pieces. Our friend we met at last years festival had designed a sign that spelt out “But I Love Hymn” a fitting reference to the music we enjoyed during the weekend.

Last years record playing corner was replaced with a lovely little record shop which sold music from the bands playing. You could listen to them on Vinyl and I bought a CD from the band
Francobollo which had a hand drawn cover, a lovely little momentum of the festival from a new band I discovered.

On the first evening we participated in the Pub Quiz which was highly entertaining. Despite accruing a team of ten people we still managed to avoid winning. Either way it was a great chance to mingle whilst drinking some of the local ales they had on tap.

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Later on we went into the Silent Disco, this is a new concept for me. I’ve always wanted to try one and was unsure what to expect. It transpired to be one of the weirdest yet enjoyable experiences I’ve known. I was presented with some headphones that had 2 channels on them. Whilst listening to the music you could hear the people around you singing either the song I was listening to or the one on the other channel. One things for sure I can’t get Junior Senior or Shanks and Bigfoot out of my head!

The music was amazing and some of the bands I really enjoyed discovering were Francobollo, Juffage, Ichi and Febueder. The styles and genres on both sides of the spectrum gave the pallet a mixed variety. The stages are called The Quarry and Laurel Lounge, one is surrounded by trees and slopes that you can perch on a log whilst the others in a clearing within the lush green trees.

During the Saturday there was a chance to experience hands-on craft. We created a vinyl print which was cool to print whilst others were making garlands from plants and greens acquired from the woodlands. There was even the opportunity to draw a naked person. Art, Craft and Its diverse nature combined to offer a beautiful cocktail of opportunity for people like me to have a go.

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The Spinney is a part of the woods where you can sit down on hay bails listening to musicians play and sing whilst wearing headphones. It creates a spooky and chilling atmosphere because without wearing them all you can hear is the vocals and key presses on the keyboard. We heard Sivu play and his style encapsulated the surroundings beautifully.

The curtains for ITW14 drew down on Saturday evening with the most anticipated bonfire spectacle. A large plunger with sticks of dynamite were the decoration for an impressive effort. Within minutes the flames were dancing high into the dark sky flicking off fireflies and angels to keep the stars company afar. It was the surreal and comforting end to a beautiful event.

Thank you once again for making it so special and I haven’t even mentioned the amazing food on offer! Another portion of Cauldron cooked Beef Curry was enjoyed and we managed to sample the cakes in the Coffee, Tea & Cake hut before they sold out on the Saturday Morning.

One criticism and I hate to make it was the increased allocation of tickets taking the event over 1,000 people. This is too much, you could tell the strains this put on certain parts of the festival, please go back to how it was in 2013.

DarcyB

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My Blog is 1 Year Old – Happy Birthday

A year ago I decided to start my blog, over 80 posts, 5,000 views and 70 followers later I have never felt more accomplished than I do right now.

I must once again place my thanks on record to my friend Jaki Jelley whose similar minded approach to her blog gave me the final push I needed to start my own. So what has happened this year and have my random ramblings really entertained my readers or drove you to despair? I’d personally like to think it’s been a mixed ride with many different topics covered.

So what have been my highlights? Well this year I’ve written about Leeds United on quite a few occasions, I am still hopeful that I will get a piece published by one of the fans pages this season. I’ve had some fun adventures and holiday trips with my awesome fiancé, mainly involving the tent.

I’ve written about my travels, gardening and nature stories including our ever so near attempts to get a blue tit nesting in our garden right through to creating a hotel for our bee to lay it’s eggs in. I’ve cooked pickled Beetroot, attempted to grow tomatoes and even written up a couple of my favourite recipes.

I’ve managed to get an article on the Autumn Towcester Beer Festival published on the about my area website and have written further blogs about my love for local ales. There have been some exciting pieces on Music Festivals including the surreal In The Woods Festival.

I’d like to thank you all for taking that little bit of time out of your busy days to read my blog and I promise that this second year will see even more stories from my crazy world and the life I lead.

On one final note I’d like to share some awesome news with you all. I secured my promotion at work and have finally become a Branch Manager. This is something I’ve wanted these last three years and from the beginning of August I’ll finally be there. This is a big deal for me and I am so proud of myself and also would like to place on record my thanks for the support my fiancé has given me throughout my career.

So as we embark on another adventure this weekend in Snowdonia, I can already feel my next piece formulating together in my head. Here is to the future and the exciting times it promises to bring.

Thank you.

DarcyB

Midsummer Music 2014 in Towcester

Towcester hosted it’s annual Midsummer Music event this weekend. The town was transformed into a showcase of local musical talent as various buildings, pubs and restaurants became stages for the acts to perform in. The weather was delightful once again as a sunny Saturday evening provided the perfect backdrop for this popular event.
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We started our musical adventure at The Saracens Head where Krissy Matthews and his three piece band performed in the courtyard. All of the tables were full as locals enjoyed his mixed playlist of self written and covered blues inspired tracks. Krissy was very vocal and despite joking that he had smoked something he shouldn’t have, he produced a set which kept the crowd going and opened up the event with punchy energy and style.

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We headed to the town square to see the Mayor officially open the festival at 7.15pm before quickly heading to St Lawrence’s Church to watch the Towcester Choral Society perform. This was truly breathtaking as the Choral Society performed famous songs from the movies which included Raindrops keep falling on my head (Burt Cassidy & The Sundance Kid) Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera and a selection of songs from Mama Mia. St Lawrence’s Church is a beautiful building and the tall ceilings and open halls created an acoustic delight.

As there were many acts performing in the evening it became apparent that we would be rushing around nipping in to see various parts of acts. We quickly made our way back to The Saracens Head to watch the Giocoso Concert Band in the Pickwick Room. From Swanbourne in Buckingham we heard them play the theme from Star Trek before they took a break. Once again we were back on foot to The Dolphin Cafe to watch Nathan & Katrina.

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Katrina Harris certainly delivered with her powerful vocals including a pitch perfect cover of Katie Tunstalls classic Black Horse & A Cherry Tree. Nathan Digby & Nial Hoggarth completed the three piece act who went down extremely well. Their songs were original, exciting and fresh with a mixture of classic and modern blues, soul, pop and rock pieces.

The next destination was Towcester Mill to watch Craig sing and play acoustic guitar. Craig was extremely quirky and delivered a high energy filled performance which included a couple of amazing covers including Crowded House – Weather with you and Queens – Don’t stop me now.

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We spoke to Craig after his performance and found him to be extremely pleasant and slightly humbled by the compliments we paid him for a fantastic show.

The Midsummer Music Festival then held it’s Firework Display on the Mount which lasted around half an hour and was typically exciting and didn’t disappoint.

The music didn’t stop there as we headed to The Brave Old Oak to watch The Band Isabelle. This six piece edgy pop and rock band are from Bedford and were the highlight of an amazing day/night. With a twist of funk and soul the lead singer ended a high temp medley of music with a flawless performance of the hit by Moloko – Sing it back. The place was filled with people enjoying the fresh vibes produced as the music went on past midnight.

It certainly was a success and I can’t wait for Midsummer Music to return in 2015.

DarcyB

Yorkshire Phoenix Blast Away The Steelbacks

Friday 13th was the day I went to watch my first live 20/20 cricket match. Not one for the cricket purists, 20/20 cricket is designed for those who enjoy attacking cricket. The promise of big shots, high risks and fast ticking score boards it certainly promised to be entertaining. The game was between my local side and defending champions the Northampton Steelbacks and my home team the Yorkshire Phoenix. As soon as I got into the ground my Yorkshire roots took control and there was nothing stopping me from cheering on Yorkshire.
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The atmosphere was good and before the game started we walked down to the end where Yorkshire were preparing and spoke to a couple of our players. Had it not been for someone’s inability to take a photo correctly, I would have had my photo taken with Ryan Sidebottom who is one of my favourite Yorkshire players. I am still hopeful that another opportunity will present itself before it’s too late. Disappointment aside, I was very much looking forward to the game.

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Yorkshire batted first and after losing 3 early wickets, a 90 run partnership between Jonny Bairstow and Adam Lyth saw The Vikings post an impressive 181-3 off their 20 overs. Some lovely bit hits saw the crowd subdued and me going crazy applauding each one with as much enthusiasm as the last. It was at this moment I realised there was probably only a handful of Yorkshire supporters in the ground.

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Northampton needed to start fast and despite also losing 3 wickets early their South African batsman Levi was in fine form. He hit numerous boundaries including a couple of long sixes before a breathtaking catch deep on the boundary by Lyth ended his innings and with it Northampton’s chances of chasing down the runs needed. Rightly applauded for his 76, the Steelbacks regularly lost wickets and fell short on 165-9.

It was a fantastic nights entertainment which looked visually stunning in the dark under the floodlights. I was extremely happy and it showed what a fantastic effort it was by the Vikings. I will be back again for sure!!

DarcyB

York City Adventure – Part 2

Bank Holiday Monday promised a day of sunshine and dry weather, this was the reason for deciding not to pack a jacket with me on our second day exploring York. I cooked us a couple of sausage sandwiches to ensure we started the day with a full stomach, the sun was out as we left the campsite to head back into the city.
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Today was going to be another day of new adventures, one that started by walking around the first part of the city walls. 75% of York is surrounded by the original Roman walls and these have been modernized in parts and repaired to allow walking access along them. The turrets with arrow slots paint exciting Images in my mind as I could see the Roman Army defending York from these points in history. This is when the weather decided against following the forecast and the first light showers hit us. I was determined not to allow these showers put me off as we left the City Walls and headed towards York Minster.

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York Minster is an impressive building, whose walls contains a lot of stories and historical events. Richard the Thirds young son was buried within these walls decorated with numerous examples of breathtaking interior design work. We decided not to visit the tower but that didn’t dampen the experience. There is a display that shows the work that is currently being undertaken with one of the largest stain glass windows. They are removing the panels one by one and cleaning them and resetting the panels. Each panel can take up to 1,000 hours with a cost of over £10,000 to repair. York Minster costs £20,000 per day to run and operate which is hard to imagine but after exploring it you can understand why these costs exist.

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York Minster has had to have some major foundational restoration work carried out. The East wing started to sink with cracks appearing in it. The Minster was saved with hard work and over £250,000 raised to carry out the emergency work required. Some of the bolts driven into the foundations are visible as we walked under the basement of the Minster.

We grabbed a drink in the Guy Fawkes Hotel bar which is another historical landmark in York. Guy Fawkes stayed here before his involvement in the failed gunpowder plot. I learnt so much about the story of what happened, I didn’t realise he was Catholic and wanted to lead the revolt to put a Catholic head of the monarchy in place. We “plotted” our next part of the day before deciding to head into Stonegate.

At 35 Stonegate there stands another haunted house. This place has had some convincing reports and reviews so with some gentle persuasion I managed to persuade my Fiancé to join me. The woman who managed the place gave us a brief introduction before our tour started and we were left alone.

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The tour lasted around half an hour as we were led around by audio commentary around the rooms. Some of the rooms were in darkness as I tried to take photos with my phone. There were a couple of instances where I felt a strange sensation. When I sat down on the bench in a room surrounded by old masks and various artifacts I felt a sharp cold sensation on my back.

The tour carried on up narrow stairs and darkened rooms. In the attic I thought I saw a golden sparkle in the corner of the room where a child’s cot sat. It was very obvious and something else that added to the feeling I was being watched. The final room had a large table with leather seats positioned around it. The table was set up for a seance with a glass globe positioned centrally on it, this room felt wrong. As we left Lisa my fiancé felt a bit faint as we made our way to The Punchbowl pub to grab some dinner. A couple of delicious cheeseburgers later and we were back on our way to explore York Gardens.

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York Gardens have some amazing ruins and colourful plants within the grounds. We had a lovely walk around and couldn’t help but be amazed by how some of these arches were still standing. The sun came out as we enjoyed the calming atmosphere that these gardens brought us. We walked through them to the other side before we rejoined the City Walls to finish off our day in the city.

The final night chilling at our Campsite was enjoyable as we ate cheese and crackers whilst finishing off the film American Hustle. The weather during the night was terrible as the heavy rain bombarded our tent, fortunately for us this stopped in the morning. Getting the tent packed up in dry conditions was a relief and we were soon off on our way home.

Thank you York for a truly amazing long weekend, we did so much but have so much more to come back and do.

DarcyB

York City Adventure – Part 1

We decided to take advantage of the late May Bank Holiday break and packed up the tent for the first camping trip of 2014. The Destination was York, to revisit a city I fell in love with in my early teenage years. I’d hoped to study at Askern Bryan in York for my Diploma before a change of events put that dream to bed. Despite this disappointment I have always loved this city and couldn’t wait to explore it properly with my fiancé.

The weather forecast was mixed which suited us perfectly. This kept changing as we drove up the M1, M18 and finally the A1 as we were greeted by Wagtail Park and the hardest of grounds to pitch our tent on. We were asked to bring Rock Pegs which on first inspection seemed like overkill. It wasn’t until I cockily hit a standard peg into the lush green grass that I discovered it was merely a topping. What lay under this welcoming layer was a silt filled, rocky mixture of quarry type material. After a dash to the local camping shop we had enough rock pegs to erect our tent and canopy securely.
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By the time we’d pitched the tent and got camp set up it was too late to wander too far away. There was a lovely fishing lake close by which we walked around and after we’d cooked some chili and drank a couple of beers we watched a film and called it a night. It wasn’t the coldest of nights, however as it was our first camping trip in nearly 9 months we needed to acclimatize. We survived the night and after a late breakfast which comprised of a bacon roll we headed into York.

The Park & Ride is quite simply excellent value for money. To park the car and get a return ticket cost £2.70 each which is far cheaper than parking in the city centre. We used the Sunday afternoon to explore the streets of the city as well as sampling some of the local food and ales. We walked up the Shambles which is a quaint cobbled narrow street lined with shops on both sides. The hustle and bustle of the bank holiday crowd evident and we were caught on a wave of visitors.

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We had our Sunday Beef Roast at The Golden Fleece which is the oldest pub in York. It is also the most haunted pub in the city, a claim backed up by the Most Haunted crew, who spent a weekend filming here in the pub/hotel. The place itself is typically quirky and feels very welcoming. There are a couple of skeletons that sit at the bar on a stool and also in the pub garden. All of the floors are wonky and slanted, so much so that my pint of ale was slanted and the gravy was trying to escape from my plate. A quickly constructed defensive wall using my mashed potato prevented any casualties. When we sat for dinner my fiancé did feel a cold sensation next to her side which hung around for a few minutes. It certainly backed up the claims of the owners and many guests who have stayed there.

We had a walk around Parliament Street which is the widest most open street in York and also had a tour of the York baths. This was conducted by a very knowledgeable Canadian historian by the name of Ryan, who not only told us about the Roman Baths in York, but also covered wars, deaths, Christianity and many other topics. By the time we left this small room which gathering heat the longer we stayed down there we were gasping the fresh air to celebrate our freedom. Joking aside it was well worth the £3.50 it cost plus a small contribution to Ryan’s education costs!

By a friends recommendation (thanks Aimee) we went to an off license called The House of the Trembling Madness. Above this there was also a bar which quite simply oozed class and style. The decor comprised of stuffed animals and randomly placed gothic designs framed by some stunning timber open framed roof trusses and beams. The place was busy and the small number of chairs and tables filled. The bar was small and quaint and the food smelled delightful. We helped ourselves to a couple of IPA’s and shopped till we dropped as I was reunited with some of my favourite Australian beers imported in their shop.

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We returned to camp just before the forecasted rain and had a very chilled out Sunday night. We ate some cheese and crackers and watched Taken 2 and the first half of American Hustle. Following on from last nights shock chill factor I put on an extra layer in an effort to get a warm comfortable nights sleep to get me in good stead for Mondays day of adventure. Historical visits, walks, haunted sightings and more local pubs awaited us, we certainly had a lot planned!

One final York related story before I bring this 1st Part of the blog to a conclusion. There are cats all over the city on various buildings. It is said that any building that is graced with the presence of a cat, is a happy place. We spotted a couple of these cats with one been on the front of The Golden Fleece Pub. Based on this story, I think it’s safe to say that my fiancé encountered a good happy spirit!

To be continued…….

DarcyB

Infamous

Sporting his new shaven head and less prominent pointy beard, Derren Brown is back for his 6th live show Infamous. I was treated to this show for my Christmas Present and it has to be said that it was worth the wait.

I am a massive Derren fan and have watched the majority of his TV shows. Zombie Apocalypse is still my favourite to date, however I am totally in awe of his memory and suggestive powers he possesses. This was the first time I’ve seen him live in the flesh and the seats been slightly off centre and at the front of the second slightly raised section were perfect.

Derren is keen to protect the content of the show whilst it is being performed live. Because of this I will not go into any specifics but I will give you a setting and flavour of what it contained. The stage was a cold dark deserted area with a wooden floor and single chair, the chair lit up by the eerie moonlight created through a small window.

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The frisbees were present with numerous attempts to get involved in the show. There was one moment where I was down to six people but sadly not chosen. Despite this disappointment our close proximity to the main events within the show made me feel like I was involved none the less.

Parts of the show were well written and presented and Derren ensures he covers all angles to prevent you from working out how he managed to solve the unknown. There are far too many variables within each piece he acts out and because of this the mind hurts.

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It is apparent that parts of Infamous were written a couple of years before it’s taken to the stage and this makes for some pretty jaw dropping spectacles. One part of the show involves a person from the audience picking a number between 1-52 whilst another selects a card from a face down deck. Without giving away exactly what happened, the fact that Derren successfully predicted this exact combination of number and card a couple of years previous in a sealed envelope with the letter he wrote back then is crazy.

Derren successfully studies the complete works of Shakespeare and is able to recite a passage from any page selected by random choice. The detail including paragraphs and punctuation shows how trained his brain is to photographically store all of this information. It is because of this that it is impossible to question or understand how what he does is anything but genuine.

The crowd involvement including somebody close to us being selected in a state of trance was amazing and the way the show moved along was smooth and flawless. Derren has every tool in his bag and where he claims he is not a mind reader or spiritually skilled he demonstrated ways of finding information from people without even asking them leading questions.

The shows finale involved randomly generated numbers obtained via 8 rolled dice and two ten digits written down by frisbee selected individuals combining to create a mobile number that matched a ladies in the crowd….. Simply impossible!!

I thoroughly enjoyed this show in Milton Keynes and would recommend it to anybody curious enough to want to see this live.

DarcyB