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Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Always loved 'em. Ther's a lovely one at Bewilderwood for the children's birthday parties.

Saw a couple at Towersey too. Wished my childhood attempts at woodcraft extended beyond stealing trees for bonfires and building rabbit hutches from straightened nails and pre-owned two by fours...

Towersey home...

I like sharing. As I've said before. At least once...

Towersey Village Festival is one of those things. Sure, there's other festivals that probably cater better for my eclectic musical tastes. And my age old love of things with wheels on.

No matter. Camp up, nice and close to friends of old, handy for the borrowed spot of whatever forgotten, a quick glance at the programme, and out around the sites to happen across whatever entertains. Some things remain cosily the same, others refreshingly new. Liquorice stall a-beckoning for a start! Different this year though - Towersey virgins in our party, kids older and more independent and...

I miss Kate.

Didn't realise it till we were on the road there at the turning to Woburn - our favourite route there in vehicles various. A quick flash, blink, flash, memory. And settled there, moments alone whilst kids in workshops of craft and melodeon, watching dancers practising. Laughing, joking, arms and legs twirling passionately, pulling faces at footwork mistakes...

Lovely reminders of Kate.

Hot this year. Ankles aching, walking to and fro as much as dragging a double bass allows. Our children circus skilling and making paper lanterns; some selfish time alone. Joining sessions at the beer tent and on the pub lawn beneath the tree shade. Enthralled in the Village Hall. Bumping into friends. Missing those I knew weren't there this year.

Especially my best friend.

Caught Sid Kipper, megostar of Norfolk. On walnut shells, violin, paper hankies. Brilliant. And David Holt, stories and music from the Appalachian mountains. Tales of Doc Watson's life. Player of whisky bottles, paper bags, banjos, guitars and more. Ticked every box like Them Harvey Boys I reckon; he even ended up story telling in the children's tent. Met him to say goodbye during the magical late night lantern procession. Kids old enough to take part this year. Tissue paper and sticks formed into giant feet, flowers, dragons, a double decker bus... Lit by soft candle light. Flash, blink, flash. Beautiful moments tinged with flecks of sadness.

Kate missing this.

Home again. Speeding fine - knew it was coming - laying on the mat. Down to earth with a bump. Nothing to pay it with, just twenty two solitary pounds to my name. Still, life goes on, van unpacked, clothes, cutlery and crockery washed. Photos slideshowed on the iMac - another hippy, happy Towersey. Lovely, gorgeous reminders of sharing the fun with friends. Evening with the kids watching Beetlejuice. Baths of mud. Bed. Alone in the house with melancholy and an IPA. Happy times shared.

But I still miss Kate.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Towersey Bound

A good few times - been to Towersey Village Folk Festival.
Remember the first time. Left at midnight with my friend Alex, tents, bags, a spare wheel, oh, and a Model B grille shell I had to deliver, tied all over the Trifid. Crystal clear night. Arrived at err-o' clock in the early morning, found Kate's tent and giggle pitched it beside. Eventually. After waking everyone.

Met various bits of Them Harvey Boys there too.

And over the years? Met friends, mud, wind, rain, burning sun, cracking thunderstorms, more sun. Many acts various, from all around the world. Danced my little toes off.

Even played there - ticked the box for everything. Village hall, dance tent, concert tent, arena stage, late night party tent. Ran around like headless chickens all weekend and still found the time to take over the sessions in the beer tent.

Happy times.

Ad hoc attendance, but Kate took the kids when she could. After she'd finished all her treatment, we went together a couple of years ago. My ears blocked the day before we left - deaf as a post. Skipped out to some very quiet drag racing for a day whilst we were there. Not a thing. Played a session with a Tex Mex gaggle -still wonder how it was...

Skylark is outside. Going again - party of seven joining the Hoxne crowd. All packed high. Tents, cooker, food. Tables, chairs, bicycles. Clothes for warm, wet, and cold. Cameras, batteries, torches. Hats, blankets, towels.

Bound to have forgotten something...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Double Bass days

Thursday. Out to Tibenham Greyhound, me and the kids, lovely relaxed session, beautiful singing (not mine...), Alice off to a friends across the road, Robert listening to Liam, Part-time Dan and me rambling far beyond the gone home early crowd.

Friday. 40th birthday party, then away from the disco and on to Walsham le-Willows. Sleepy Six Bells. Big John, Neville, Steve and all. Another session, all bluegrass, kids having a scream playing cards. Alice can't shuffle, and watch her - she deals her cards from the bottom...

Saturday. Built a giant parcel shelf for the Skylark - our minibus - somewhere safe to transport the double bass now it's seeing more use again. Bloody great thing. Why would anyone learn to play one!!!? And on to Ipswich, tank running on empty, driving around in rain cloud darkness to find the huge lawns of Chris's place. Caravans, tents, playing in a handful of marquees. Banjos by the half dozen, even two more bassists! Loads of old friends, new friends from all over the country. Barbeque, toasted marshmellows. Lovely.

Sunday. Later on today. Another meet up with them "one night only" boys. Really looking forward to this one - a no plans thrash through anything we know! And more.

Feeling alive this weekend. Oh to bottle the passion for all those dark times. To drink down better times and paint the world bright.

edit Gig was really good. Getting double flashed by a speed camera leaving Norwich - far less so. Driving rain, following traffic in the old Sedan, 77 year old speedo ain't all that...

Sitting here silently screaming "aaaaarrrrggggghhhh....."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sharing fun

Well, through a catalogue of rushing around errors, I ended up home from the Hayride in the Fordor.

So - it's been running well, and with no other choice, drove down to the Suffolk coast to see the kids who have been staying with friends in their caravan.

Cursory glance at a map, top up the tank - a wise precaution now the 77 year old cork on the end of the guage has decided to lose it's ability to swim - and the previous weekend 3 lane blacktops are swapped for winding country roads.

Sunglasses on, decide to go a different B road route now I'm rolling...

Along the A143 towards Harleston, dipping over a humpback, blind bend, narrow, red brick, bridge across the Waveney. South of the river? This time of night?

Pick up the B1118 heading to Hoxne, heavy sedan rolling on the tight bends, heady smell of fuel from the overfilled cowl tank wafting in through the open screen. Roads untravelled in a while, a dogleg crossroads in Stradbroke, church to the left, quaint old shops ahead, and back into open countryside. Big old four cylinders pounding away as each bend is steadily picked off. Getting in the way of nobody - me and this ol' girl the only thing on the road. Summer evening heat. Everyone indoors for tea.

Join the B1116 south at a T junction, down into Dennington. Left turn onto the A1120, some faster swooping bends heading out of the village, a sharp ninety degree left and onto to a long rolling roman road straight towards Peasenhall. Faster is a relative term - this is no nestled in the machinery, pin sharp handling roadster, just a ponderous, lurching, top heavy mix of wood and iron. At the far end of the charming, beyond my pocket, village of Yoxford, a left turn onto the A12, before nipping across as smartly as the A can manage onto a single track, high hedged lane, - pass at the bucket of apples for £2 - onto Westleton. A left through the village green followed by a right turn across the gorse bushes of Dunwich Heath.

And rest. Cous cous and curried vegetables, skimming stones and a game of Boule on the beach till twilight hid the jack...

After a one for the road cup of tea, time to try the lights! Retracing my steps winding back through the unlit narrow country lanes. Feels fast, heading into the two pools of yellow light no more than a few yards past the radiator shell. Staggered junction across the A12, late night lorries bearing down, and back onto the A1120. Screen still open, bringing in the fresh cut harvest barley smells, lights in the field as farmers take advantage of the dry night - corn trailers the only occasional fellow travellers on the road home.

Feeling alive, mildly tense, heart beating. No-one knows where I am, it's full black dark, ancient car, no torch, phone. No idea of the time. Nothing but a penknife in my pocket and three copper coins.

But the old Sedan didn't let me down. All the familiar noises amplified in the dark, no filter carb roaring, cheap silencer joining in, occasional rattle in the bearings, jangling mixture screw, squeaking door locks, protesting heavily laden tyres on tightening bends, throbbing beat of each cylinder finding it's way home.

Don't know how long it took. Don't care. Wanted to go on some more.

But most of all, wanted someone to share it all with. It was fun, but as with most things in life - so much better for sharing.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Driving, chatting, chilling. At the Hayride.

Missed a few events I'd planned this year. Money, kids, but mainly laziness. That, and actually doing other fun and life important things.

But the Hayride. Missed the first two. Had to make No. 3. Didn't look likely for a while. Plan was to travel light in the Modified. Failed MOT. Passed MOT. And then? Clutch started to slip. Years of zero maintenance finally taking their toll on the thrashed little 21 stud flathead. Oil pumping out into the bellhousing, water leaving by the same and other routes. Too late for another plan. Angst building at the thought of a long motorway trip in the ol' Odeon Shag Sedan. Disappointment running high. So wanted to take to the dirt oval track. Sedan not gonna cut it as a substitute...

But. Not so bad. Left mid afternoon, missed the traffic that plagued everyone else, packed too much, forgot everything. Jen, me, childless for a weekend. In the prettiest, bizarre place we could imagine. The Hayride. Hotrods, and rock and/or roll pressed into the surroundings of Bisley Shooting Centre. Where corrugated tin appears to have gone to retire and every place had a veranda.

Dust, cloudless sky. Relentless sunshine. Beat us in the end, but watching the period stockcars, and fun-to-be-had hotrodders out on the dirt and flint oval. Priceless times.

Warm evening sitting outside the Pavillion, talking about anything and everything. Brilliant. Catching up with friends. Happy.

Against the advice on the packet, happy enough to add a beer or two to the tablets I'm on. Felt fine. Then, late night panic rising, surrounded by smoking friends, hate to lose them, thoughts mixed up. Hopped in the car to run off and panic alone.

Real friends care. Came looking. Sorry an' all.

Spent a while chatting to a drunken real friend. Hugged me, brought me down. Cheers bud, I did listen, just tiredness overtook me. That ol' Sedan is a weary motor to drive...

Back to the tent, Jen's ill. Bless.

Decamped in the morning, packed before the drizzle, easy drive home. Rolling with the traffic. Out again to pick up friends and family from the airport. More driving! Tired, happy, hungry, scruffy and unshaven, off to bed.

Highs and lows are all real life. And the highs from this weekend? Gonna last a long, long time.

Monday, August 06, 2007

But when the sun shone

Moaning minnie that I am in my last post - the sun shone bright on Saturday. And I loved it. Beautiful day for beautiful people. Spent the day getting filthy. Fixing the car, sawing firewood. Helping Robert with the raking of the lawn. Or meadow as it had become...

And the evening? Rush, rush, rush. Last minute visitors, bass into bus. Off to play at a dance for a civil partnership. Hot setting sun, lounging in the welcome shadows, lovely food, strawberries and cream, choral singing on the rolling lawn. My Robert dancing in the warm night air with Jenny's Charlotte.

We all felt gorgeous. Still do.

Traditional English Summer

Been a damp one so far. Up until last week.

Now, for me at least, it's about 20 degrees too hot.

Sitting in my darkened room, sweat building between fingers that feel as fat as prime porky worky sausages, I can just about make out the fact it's bright and sunny by peering through the crack in the door into the front office, through the bars on the window, and catching a reflection off a parked car. Just about. Sometimes. Unless the blinds are closed. Like they usually are.

And in the distance I can here that damned "You are my Sunshine" icecream van, circling the estate. Taunting me as perspiration builds beneath my hair. A bill for a new pair of glasses has wiped out any potential '99' purchase for this month!

It may have only been summer for two days. But it's two days too many for me and the water needing tomatoes. I'll change my mind once I have the T modified back on the road though...

Friday, August 03, 2007

Help you can do without

I've felt lucky in some respects over the last year. Plenty of people have done so much to ease us through. Looking after the kids so I can get on with things has helped.

Summer holidays are the worst. Six hot weeks. Well. Sometimes hot.

Took the kids over to stay for a week with Kate's parents. They're always desperate to help, but live a distance away. Long story short - Tuesday evening I hear from them. Sad little voices on the phone, they'd been rear-ended on the motorway by a lorry. Car's a write off, but they're OK. Bruised, battered, but OK. Chatted a while, they miss me. Wondered what the hell to do. Rush over? Why? What could that fix? They needed a hug, but they had their grandparents to do that. Not quite dad, but. I needed a hug too.

Call it delayed shock. Or whatever. That sudden sinking feeling coming over me now as I plan to go and pick them up after there week away. I nearly lost the rest of my family. A split second here or there. It's all it would have taken.

I am so desperate to see them again. Ticking clock.