Category Archives: Bloggers Log

This section holds the blogs that have been posted documenting the recent road trips I have undertaken along with updates of the retirement challenges that I have been set.

Bikes, beer & backpack brawling


This is a little late in publishing as I forgot to do it in the run up getting ready for my USA trip so my apologies.

Whilst chatting over lunch it was revealed some friends had developed the itch to go to a music festival & in the process to see it scratched hubby & I were invited along.

It was blues festival & required camping so this was quite a proposition as hubby not so keen on the prospect of either if truth be told. Still the weather was warm & with the promise of copious amounts of beer to numb the pain of sleeping on the floor plans were set in motion.

Home for the weekend

So it was we found ourselves heading to Upton on Severn to join our friends for a weekend of festival fun. By the time the coffees had been collected the tent was up & we all sat chatting & working out what to do.

Turns out that my lightweight little festival tent is a good fit for the top box of the motorbike & as we only had the weekend free this seemed like the ideal form of transport. The exceptionally hot weather led to me wondering what to wear as the thick armoured suit I normally don would be akin to riding in a personalised sauna. So it was I found myself scouring the internet for what turns out to be the most expensive pair of jeans I have ever purchased. This is because they are made with some clever fabric that outwardly look like a pair of skinny jeans whilst affording a high level of skid protection to skin should you be unfortunate enough to come off. As a former nurse I can still recall a biker brought into the operating theatre, the shredded leather clothing literally having saved his skin from the same fate. My helmet is pretty cool too as it has a built in tinted visor & the comms system enables me to listen to my favourite music as we blast along.

Wandering into the town to catch a few sets dotted around the various venues seemed like a plan & we spent a really lovely evening sat drinking in both beer & the music.

We were doing ‘camping lite’ so without a stove between us we set off in search of breakfast the following day & found a tiny place that served the most amazing bacon butties & mugs of tea. Fully repleated we pitched ourselves in a shady place to listen to the bands we had earmarked as worth a listen.

As festivals go for it was a bit of a change as for one I am normally working as a steward for part of it & the conditions considerably rougher. Neat rows of camper vans & fully functioning ablutions instead of the higgledy- piggledy mess of criss crossed guy ropes & dodgy toilets.

The other slightly weird thing was instead of the normal crush of people at the main stage they were all sat around in their deck chairs. Still we opted for a spot under the nearby trees where we could enjoy the music but still chat.

Like other festivals there were some tents supplying food & whilst not vegan I have found this to be the infinitely better option as its less greasy & usually contains vegetables.

Unlike other festivals the local historic flight did a fly by which considering the age of the aircraft was quite impressive.

Prior to the festival I was aware of blues music but if you had asked me to name a blues band I would have struggled & I certainly was unfamiliar with any of the artists mentioned in the programme. Still the musicians were really talented people & it was fascinating to listen to the various groups. I am no music historian yet it was evident how this style of music underpins so many other genres. Strangely as someone who loves rock & punk I have found playing the blues style pieces given to me by my guitar teacher the easiest and most enjoyable to play.

Now given the somewhat genteel feel of the festival & one of the bands were playing in the local church the chance of being close up & personal to a fight seemed somewhat remote. The closest I have been to a fight at a festival was in the crowd at Transmt but to be fair it was in Glasgow ! So was totally unprepared for the fracas that broke out when a bloke lifted what was his backpack from the floor near to us. A middle aged woman launched herself at him, grabbing the backpack & yelling to give her bag back. Fact is often stranger than fiction as what were the chances they had identical rucksacks & hence the confusion. Unlike the Glasgow fight in which the security appeared like ninjas to quell this relied on a lot of pointing & eventually embarrassed looks to resolve. So for the righteous judgey folk this was an example of those old enough to know betters turn to take a leaf out of the younger festival goers books about behaving in a crowd after clearly imbibing more than was good for you.

Big Boots & Buckets of Beer


The sun has been shining & festival season is underway so daughter & I set off for Slam-dunk a punk rock festival set in the grounds of Hatfield House. This year we went early as two of our favourite bands were playing the same venue a couple of days before so it was a ‘no brainer’ for us.

Youmeatsix were celebrating the tenth anniversary of an album supported by The Hunna. The tickets were worth it for these bands alone but on the evening a range of other bands had been added to the line up which was a bonus.

We spent the day in-between having a very chilled day in London revisiting Camden but this time travelling via a canal boat to Little Venice another corner of the city we had never been too.

The key thing I learned was not to try juggling an ice cream cone but thanks my newly acquired skills miraculously the ice cream did not land on the floor.

Saturday came & we headed for the arena & spent the day sipping cool beer & absorbing the atmosphere. The music was amazing & we discovered a few new bands in the process. I decided to be brave & wear my doc’s for the day which were amazingly comfortable making the hours breaking them in around the house worthwhile.

No sooner had I returned home but it was time to pack all the kit & head to Derby for Download. My shift buddy & I decided to travel together & this made the journey fun & all was going well until we discovered she had left her tent poles at home! Eventually a solution was found and we settled into festival life which was certainly challenging as if felt like our campsite was at the bottom of a runway so sleep was in short supply.

I love rock music and so this festival had much to offer however one aspect that does disappoint is the fact that some of the headline slots are still dominated by the bands of yesteryear. While I accept this is just my point of view ( probably a minority view judging by the initial response to it when I was brave enough to voice it aloud after being asked) but why are these bands allowed to hog the lime light? My problem is not that they aren’t talented people but rather some haven’t released any new music for many years & the narrative & stage performances haven’t moved on either. Therefore they are perpetuating in some cases very mysogynistic ideology & for me I would much rather go listen to the newer bands like the ones featured in the photos with a much more inclusive message & approach in general.

The highlights of the festival for me were Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes ,Biffy Clyro & Wargasm who were amazing but equally entertaining were those bands tucked away in the tents dotted across the site who are patiently awaiting their chance to shine on the big stages such as Boston Manor, The Hara & Meet Me @the Alter.

The surprise find was Bimini on the recommend of our camping neighbours who was best mates with the drummer.

All too soon it was time to pack up the gear & head for home which proved interesting as I had to charge my electric car at a service station which proved a bit more time consuming than I would have preferred. The UK service stations do really do need to step up their game when it comes to providing adequate charging facilities. Two is not enough given the increase in EV’s & the time it takes to recharge.

Nailing it in more ways than one


Infection control issues mean that nurses seldom have long painted nails as its neither practical nor cost effective. So whilst over the years this became my ‘norm’ it didn’t mean I didn’t secretly covet the idea of beautifully manicured hands. One of the few memories of my paternal grandmother was her (what seemed to me at the time) impossibly long red nails. They seemed to me strange and exotic for someone who was neither rich or famous yet today they would we considered pretty ordinary.

Habits tend to form over time often influenced by circumstance & others opinions but the effects can have many & varied insidious effects. Often we are not always aware to the extent these can affect us & therefore we fail to challenge ourselves & question why we continue to practice them.

Such has been the case for me & I am grateful to my daughter for enthusiastically encouraging to question & change my choice of clothes & beauty regime. I still may never be one to use lots of make up or have super long elegant nails but at least I can now have them regularly & professionally painted.

Personal experience with super long nails proved incompatible with playing my guitars, gardening & DIY projects so short are the only way forward for me but at least they can now be sparkly! I think I must be one of the more challenging clients for the lovely patient Alice who now keeps my nails in such good condition despite my best efforts.

Shovelling sand & cement into the mixer the similarities between this process & cake baking sprung to mind in the same way plastering walls remind me of icing cakes. Which led me to consider the whole gender stereotyping of ‘jobs’ really as really the skills are learnt & its not clear exactly when these tasks got assigned. Social media has featured recently a growing number of videos & commentary which demonstrates the fact that gender really shouldn’t play a part in job allocation anymore & I find myself more & more in agreement.

For example my niece very competently refitted a camper van & recently built a small wooden house all of which was very impressive. I will own up to the fact I am not keen on plumbing or electrical stuff as they are just things that are outside of my personal interest or skill set. I still have mild PTSD episodes when I recall trying to purchase an end stop in a DIY store – admittedly it was in the Netherlands & neither my command of Dutch nor plumbing terms was really up to the task. They gave my son back his flat deposit money so I can only think that the thing I bought & bound with cling film to the cold water outlet once we had removed a washing machine did the job for long enough!

Walling is more my kind of thing from the ‘flemish double bond’ retaining wall at our first home nearly forty years ago to the fifty odd metres of dry stone wall where we currently live I find the challenge rewarding. The images show the most recent walling to make a new flower bed and extend the existing dry stone wall to fill the gap where a gate had been. The net result is to create a small patio for the guests to our holiday cottage to enjoy. I particularly enjoy the dry stone walling which I taught myself to do as it is like trying to complete a 3 dimensional jigsaw with no picture to follow. It is very therapeutic and immensely satisfying as each stone has to be chosen to fit whilst keeping an eye on the shape and taper of the wall as it grows. At over a decade old the wall is still standing and now slowly being encased in moss so looks like its been there for considerably longer.

My Dry Stone Wall

However I am sure there are still sections of society who believe that neither of us should be dabbling in what would traditionally considered ‘man’s work’. Whilst there is evidence that the narrative is changing its still seems that sadly women who work in these roles still come under attack. Whilst I have only had to endure the odd sarky comment & raised eyebrows over the years it makes me quite mad to think of the capable women now working in construction might still be ridiculed for wanting to pursue this type of career if they also like to visit a beauty salon. My hope is that as male skin care etc becomes more the norm this type of thing is consigned to history for good.

In the meantime I will continue to indulge in all manner of lovely treatments & coloured nails while working towards completing the next DIY task on the list.