Blog Archives

2014

Sitting down in our local Tap House me and my fiancée were enjoying The Mills Winter Ale. The background, a buzzing atmosphere as many chatted away. It wasn’t long before we asked each other the standard New Years Eve question.

Now before I go into it, I must add that this was the first time since we’ve been together that neither of us were struck down with a cold and we were away from our house on New Years Eve.

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The question?…. “What are my highlights of 2014”

Immediately I dismissed it as a pretty standard year, 2014 appeared quiet and a lot calmer to that of previous years. It wasn’t until I thought a little harder about the question that it became apparent that 2014 has had its fair share of positives and some sad chapters as well.

In a year that saw a fantastic family wedding, an intimate In The Woods festival, camping trips and glamping in York, a birthday weekend away in Canterbury and many disappointing sporting woes from my beloved Leeds United it was hard to really answer this question with so much going on.

For those of you who have followed my blog since I started it in 2013, I’m hopeful that you’ve started to paint a picture of me and my life. I will always share what I feel comfortable with sharing and it’s because of this I feel that my followers understand how valuable I rate life. I will therefore answer this question honestly.

One of my main highlights of 2014 involved me and my fiancée moving into our first house together in February. I initially moved in with Lisa when I left Stratford and despite having a lovely place together then we made a decision to get a bigger place with our own garden. We have certainly benefitted from this and have spent most of the sunny days out in the garden cooking BBQs, growing plants and encouraging wildlife in to enjoy it with us. We have done many jobs to make this house our own and have just agreed an additional 2 year extension to our contract which is fantastic news.

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The bird feeder was one of my Christmas Pressies and despite the return of our resident scatty Wood Pigeon, it’s clear he isn’t afraid of heights and is giving it a go. Unfortunately he is just a bit too big to use the feeders. The scattered seed on the grass from other birds is his reward.

On a professional level 2014 saw me secure the biggest promotion to date in my working career. I became a Branch Manager in August and have been responsible in ensuring the Branch has finished the year in an excellent position. I work for a Builders Merchants and 2014 has seen the Banbury depot succeed at its highest level in recent history. Five months into my new job and I am fully aware of the numerous challenges that await, however it’s important at times like these to enjoy the successes and ensure I benefit from the welcome festive break. Time to recharge these batteries!

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With my new job I enjoyed my first Managers Christmas party and was very fortunate to be treated to a weekend around Cheltenham Races. It gave me the perfect excuse to get smartened up in a year that saw my fiancée improve my style and construct a far more fashionable wardrobe for me!

It is from this that 2014 sadly saw the passing away of one of my biggest influences in my professional career. In 2000 I started working in the Building Industry for a company called Underground Supplies. I was interviewed by the MD, a gentleman by the name of Andrew Bygate. I recall the meeting I had with the Recruitment Agency prior to this interview as if it only happened yesterday.

The lady at the Recruitment Agency advised me that Andrew was a positive man who admired forward thinking and driven individuals. I arrived with this in mind and following the interview Andrew simply said to me that he would be back in touch via the agency to let me know if I was successful. It was at this point I simply asked Andrew for the job. He looked at me, slightly perplexed by my forward nature before smiling and simply saying “ok then, the job is yours, well done”.

This was the start of nearly a decade working with Andy (Andrew was far too formal, once I started working for him!) Andy was diagnosed with a Brain Tumour in 2006 and undertook the biggest fight and challenge in his personal life. Andy fought hard and carried this on throughout 2014. Unfortunately Andy lost this battle in late 2014 but fought so bravely and inspired many people who crossed paths with him, this included me. Thank you Andy for inspiring me to succeed and play a major part in where I find myself today.

2014 saw one of my biggest personal challenges and one that me and Lisa were able to complete together. We had more than a few personal battles to overcome but on a bright dry day in Wales, we climbed and descended Mount Snowdon. If ever there was a challenge and one that needed team work of the highest order then this was it. Towards the end of the decent my legs packed in and I needed some heat pads and assisted stretches to keep me intact until the end. The important thing is we got through it and loved the breathtaking views and experience we shared together.

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So as we head into 2015 another book starts, one thing which is pretty certain is that we will be asking ourselves this same question again on future New Years Eves.

All I can say is I hope my readers and followers can take a moment to reflect and look back on 2014. It’s always nice when you can recall some stand out memories. Have a great 2015 and I look forward to sharing some more moments with you as I head into a big year!

Mark

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