Sunday, 30 June 2013

musical interlude

For my own record as much as anything else,  I wanted to write about two very different gigs I went to this month. First was the long awaited Neil Young gig at the O2 Arena in Greenwich. Fantastic of course, the old-timer still thrashing it out on his guitar with Crazy Horse or solo with his acoustic guitar or on piano,  singing with "a shaky shaky voice that's as real as the day is long".
The venue was overwhelmingly huge and luckily the monitors showed what was going on on stage but I still think we had great seats.

He sang a good mix of early stuff (Comes a time, Powderfinger, Hurricane etc) as well as new songs from his latest album Psychedelic Pill. So glad I went!

Last night was a very different evening but still pretty amazing! 
Went to see Melange Collective in a tiny, tucked away Centre for Peace & Reconciliation in Bishopsgate. Everywhere you look are these massive glass and concrete towers shutting out the light (unless you're in them, high enough up for a great view and far enough away from the dirty grey street and us little people below). St Ethelburga's has a secret garden and a prayer yurt surrounded by mosaics and flowers.
Melange Collective are 7 people playing middle eastern and North African music with jazz influences. They are fantastic musicians.  Oud, cello, double bass, guitar, percussion, accordian, saxophone. 

Saturday, 29 June 2013

'Imagine Watford'

We saw some of the of "extraordinary open air moments" of Watford festival. One of my favorites was 'Glisssssssssando Opus II' - a troupe of musicians who played great music whilst gliding smoothly in formation, puffs of smoke rising from their funnels. Surreal and wonderful. 

There were roaring dinosaurs loose in the street (sorry Simon ;-), which certainly livened up a damp day in town.
The skilled stilt walkers (try saying that after a couple of ciders) made it look easy but it must have been exhausting performing in huge swaying costumes. Heads swooped to peck at children and forage in the flower displays, a grocer's stall and among drinkers outside a pub. Made people laugh though you had to watch out for the wildly flapping tails!

The dinosaurs were commanded by an elegant witchy figure.

There were other really good performances and experiences, such as the onboard show 'Tug', which Simon has written about here

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Growing things

It's great to see everything growing on the boat (apart from the rust, that is), after such a slow start. The rooftop plant's aren't suffering from my sporadic watering but are getting regular showers and thriving so far.
Inside, I have two more 'gardens' that I'm excited about as they're first times for me. I have a sprouter from a charity shop and here i have sprouted alfalfa lentils and radish seeds - yum.
And most exciting of all.. (drum roll) are the mushrooms! I bought some mushroom starter compost from Poundshop and doubted it would work, to be honest. Look!
You just cut them as needed and they keep springing up! They seem to like the dark cool of the engine hole but you have to remember to get them out when you run the engine ;-)

Monday, 17 June 2013


Looks like Silvercross are still making these amazing prams. Great suspension,  loads of room for shopping underneath, a weather-proof hood. My mum had one for us three kids and there was an extra seat installed for me on the front when my little brother came along and ousted me from the pram cave.
We used the wheels as a go-cart when we were bigger. Wonder if the baby in this pram will grow up with the freedom and death-wish we clearly had, to ride it down the street :-)

Monday, 10 June 2013

night-ride home

Blackbird is moored near the Ebury Way, which is a former railway line linking Rickmansworth with Watford.
(photo borrowed with thanks, from
 The path is wide in some parts as shown in this photo; passes lakes and fields before it joins a windy section at Rickmansworth where it's very narrow and dense with bushes and trees. It was delighful to cycle along to the station. I went to see my son and daughter in south London before my son heads off back to his job in France and got back late last night. For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to cycle home the way I'd come! Of course, it was completely dark, thick with trees and no moon to be seen and my only light was the bike's dynamo, a little yellow beam that disappeared if I slowed and stopped. At the narrowest part of the path, a frantic rustling and branches breaking close to one side, told me I'd disturbed something large, maybe a fox but it was so close that I wobbled to a stop and of course the bike light went out. In an electric moment of fear and exhiliaration, I felt fur brush lightly against my bare leg in the dark and then the creature was hurtling away. The rest of the ride home was uneventful and so quiet after the racket of London travelling. I'm very lucky to live on a boat.