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Damsons, Deer & Digital Dabbling

Its now been 8 months since Paddi passed away yet I still find my self up & out the door as I have been for more than a decade to wander the fields behind the house. As the seasons change so does environment so the view is never really the same twice & if I’m lucky I get to see wildlife too.

The wheat fields were a golden colour & the gentle rumble of the combine will be felt as the lane fills with tractor & trailers in a frenzied bid to get the harvest in.

Covid may have wreaked havoc on the wider world but not in these fields. I consider myself most fortunate to have been able to escape here on a daily basis to try & cling on to a sense of personal freedom.

Freedom like trust a very flimsy often underrated commodity until you no longer have it. Whilst lockdown had the feel of living in some sort of house arrest now our mobility is being governed by need to zealously conform to a myriad of conflicting rules & regulations.

So with no gigs to go to the answer was to set up a fund-raising project that led to hosting what I have dubbed a ‘micro festival’. In the role of ‘crash test dummies’ we live streamed a segment into an all day music event with a largely virtual audience. The scaled up version is likely to take place later in the year. This project is still ongoing but has been severely affected by the unpredictable announcements connected to covid concerns. More of that to follow as time goes on so be warned!

Then when out of nowhere came the chance to travel North for a live music it was too good an opportunity to miss. Daughter & I set off to Newcastle for a hotel I last stayed at back in the late 1980’s. With The Hunna headlining supported by Jaws & Bare Roots it was a total ‘no brainer’ to go especially as we could combine our visit with some sight seeing & meeting one of my daughters old ship mates.

Searching for our Pen

It was a curious set up but for all intents & purposes it mostly felt like a gig & the portaloos were the cleanest I had ever had the privilege to use. So may be some of the changes were for the common good! I certainly am glad I made the six hour drive to listen to those bands play they were all awesome in their unique way.

Sat in our ‘Pen’

The staff at the venue were lovely & I have never in all the gigs I have gone to been greeted by name when collecting my preordered drinks. My daughter & I joked that perhaps we were the only ones drinking Pimms but hey who cares it was a warm evening & that was the perfect beverage. We bought a mask to support the organisers in the hope they will get to run more & I was given a Hunna Hat as a thank you for organising the trip.

The Hunna

Live music lifts your soul especially when you can sing at the top of your voice & dance along even if a little self consciously in your own little pen. Quite a contrast to the gig I had attended in London prior to the lockdown where 10,000 of us had jostled together in an amorphous blob.

Not sure when we get to alight from the current crazy train but for now I have the memories of those few days to sustain me. The measures currently emplace seem to be designed to suck every ounce of enjoyment from peoples lives. As the dark nights approach coupled with the restrictions I can only wonder at the impact to the nations mental health. I now also have major reservations about the methods of data collection that inform these decisions. I am not convinced that young people are responsible nor is the virus spread just limited to social situations. The work place seems just as likely & it will be interesting to see how the incidence of sick leave rises with the approach of ‘cough & cold’ season where it will be virtually impossible to differentiate between the conditions.

Angel of The North

Newcastle we loved you, we had a fantastic break returning home to gloriously un-seasonally warm, balmy weather to catch up on some gardening. Bye for now & stay as safe as you can.

Fever Free Phone Shopping

Shopping as I recall pre covid was a pleasant activity especially if it involved coffee in a cafe & excluded buying groceries. So rashly I agreed to accompany my daughter to buy a new phone.

Driving & parking in was relatively painless to the point we nearly googled check that the shops were actually open, the streets were so empty. Approaching the phone shop we were met by a horde of employees armed with masks, wipes & thermometers who proceeded to quiz us of our intent. Kicking myself for my lack of preparedness in bringing a full hazmat suit I delved into my bag for my mask & wondering if we mistakenly trying to gain entry to some new form of ‘Escape Room’ where you had to puzzle your way in rather than out.

Unlike Noah going in two at a time wasn’t really encouraged but the assistant correctly sensing an impending ‘Karen moment’ aquiessed. Finally we concluded the deal after which I felt the need to seek caffeine preferably intravenously. Daughters predilection for a certain brand of cold brew meant a trek across the city to the only branch we knew of that was open & likely to have it. On arrival & expecting to just to get a take away we were amazed to be given the option of ‘drinking in’.

Yes the tables were spaced & the assistant was primed at the ready to decontaminate the minute any one rose from a chair but essentially they had managed to recreate something that felt relaxing. Refreshed we trotted back into the shops for round two. Honestly I have previously participated sparring sessions that have felt less arduous. Finally we took a deep breath & joined a 40 min queue to enter the shop that had systematic shopping down to a fine art long before covid to get a cupboard for . … yes covid cleaning equipment amongst other items.

I am now the self appointed queen of laminated covid warning signs having seemingly manufactured enough to deplete a small rainforest not to mention the plastic involved in the lamination process but we won’t go there. I have always considered myself quite public spirited & generally have always complied with rules but I must admit my limits have been sorely tested of late.

Well you will have to wait until next time. Meanwhile ‘mask up’ & stay safe.

On a brighter note I have as a bi product to all of this found myself to be on a steep digital learning curve in which I will be discovering how to produce content for digitally streaming live music. What could possibly go wrong?

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