Thursday, 23 February 2012

Pretty Pettles

The weather has been glorious in Gloucestershire the past couple of days. Headed off to Colesbourne Park yesterday. It's one of the most acclaimed snowdrop parks in the UK. We visited last year and were trying to go the other week when it was closed due to snow.

Had a lovely time wandering around in the sunshine. Tea and cake and all good things. 

I absolutely adore the Blue Lake at Colesbourne. They believe the colour is caused by colloidal clay in the water. It's incredibly beautiful.


 But mostly, people come for the snowdrops. Click on pictures for a better view:

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Hanging The Star

The night before we headed to Belgium, I coerced my friend Cathryn halfway across London to my cousin's album launch.

Halfway Across London

It was a pre-big-album-launch at an extremely cool venue called Bush Hall. Crazy family reunion. Unfortunately, Dad and Marilyn couldn't make it as they were off on a Valentine's sojourner to Cornwall. Lots of extended family were there. My other cousin Jim (Alx's brother) was playing the drums - mostly with his hands, because that's just how damn musical he is.

Was a fantastic night, full of double bass, saxophone, brass and strings. It was my first day feeling human after an horrific head cold. Shared a bottle of red, then heard the immortal lines: "Want another? It's only a bottle each." Had to be a good night after that! Also received a lovely little commemorative bracelet made by Beady Bea Bracelets - worth looking up for special occasions.

Alx looked stunning. There's a nice picture on the HtS website if you click 'Bush Hall', along with a review from The Upcoming. There's also a new music video which you can watch online. And you can purchase her Concussion EP from the gig. Follow along and give her a 'like' on Facebook

Also give Kristy Clark a 'like' - seriously talented Aussie singer, song writer and musician who was supporting. Love her song Dots and Dashes. Have a listen on MySpace.

Them done good. So proud.

Moon Over Shepherd's Bush

Friday, 17 February 2012

Beautiful Belgium

Excuse the previous post. T'was a little filler whilst I went through my pictures from Belgium. I'll try and keep the holiday snaps to a minimum - no falling asleep at the back there!

How fast time flies!

Started off with a gig in Shepherd's Bush, which I'll post about separately. Suffice to say: my cousin rocks, much was drunk and life is rosy.

More on that later.

Some highlights covered in the video above: Ma and Ra on catnip. So entertaining we almost considered smoking it ourselves. 

Ra, the morning after the night before...
Off to rehab.

The beautiful White Cliffs of Dover also featured. We were lucky, it was a gorgeously clear day and they were stunning against the setting sun. It was Baltic out though, so I literally took a couple of snaps and ran back inside.

Kitty in the Snow
We had one day of extremely heavy snowfall whilst there. Sooo pretty. And plenty of play with wee Noah, whose world currently revolves around Bumba, Rastamouse and Tinga Tinga.

Cheeky Chappie

Due to work commitments, Cathryn and I were left to entertain ourselves on Valentine's Day. There was no getting away from it!

On Valentine's morning, Cathryn inadvertently managed to butter her chocolate spread in the shape of a heart! Subliminal or wot? Well, she had thrown over her boyfriend to be with us, so I guess it was to be expected.

Rwandan fertility idols - and Bob Marley.
Sort of the same thing, really.

Another blast from the past came in the form of Primus. Once upon a time, you could only get two types of beer in Rwanda: Mutzig or Primus. It became our staple diet. They used gas from Lake Kivu (one of the world's three 'exploding lakes') to bottle it and there's even a Primus boat that sails from Gisenyi to Chyangugu. Cathryn and I went to their 50 year anniversary bash at Amahoro stadium shortly before we left. Guma Guma - shake it, shake it.

Rwandan Primus
(Image courtesy of Ludovic Hirlimann)

Naturally, when we saw it on sale in a bar in Torhout, we simply had to strike a pose!

Love is in the air...

Relying on Cathryn's internal Irish GPS, we managed to find just about every bar in Torhout. Entertainingly, we even ended up in a Sapphic bar. How romantic! Très funky wallpaper...

Rasta Beer?

Caught the final of the Africa Cup. Went to penalties - nine of them!

The never ending football match! But well done Zambia.

Also well done to the person who invented the fresh bread vending machine. I love it! Why do we not have these? It's my new most favouritist invention.

Vending Machine for Fresh Bread!

Co-Pilot Percy Rabbit also got to meet up with his cousin. Returning to the place of his birth... Torhout mini mart.

Reunion: Percy (R) with Noah's Bunny (L)
Bought on the same day at same supermarket.

A lovely visit. Might not be long before we return, but therein lies another story. Will explain all shortly.

Murabeho - Tot Ziens - Au Revoir - Goodbye

Thursday, 9 February 2012


Co-pilot Percy Rabbit Reporting for Duty

Right, last post for a few days. I'm donning my travelling hat and hitting the road with co-pilot Percy Rabbit.

Heading over to London for my cousin Alx's album launch. Bush Hall, 7:30 Friday night - tickets available online. Check out her site: Hanging the Star.

Then on to Dover, Dunkirk and Torhout with Cathryn, for our annual Valentine's visit to see Lies, Kassim and li'le Noah. Collectively known as Team Turikumwe (Kinyarwanda for 'we are together'). We all met in Rwanda and this is our time to catch up. Cathryn and I were 'protocol' at their wedding back in 2009. It was one of the best weddings I have ever been to. 

One of my most memorable days ever involved going to see Shaggy (Mr. Lova Lova) in Kigali with Lies.

Lies' picture of Mr. Bombastic in Kigali

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


After my posts on the postcards of Mrs. J. Green from the Memory Chest, I had a little look online and was blown away by what I found:

(click to enlarge)

This is where I grew up, taken in 1909. It's like everything is the same, except - in the space where our home now stands - there's a tiny thatched cottage!

I still can't quite comprehend that this sleepy little village was once important enough to feature on so many cards. Wonderful to own one. Also interesting that it's from 1909 - which is the year my character Heath was born in Angorichina. I know a lot about what was going on in Australia at the time. It's fascinating to look through the 1909 Wikipedia entry, wondering who that little girl in the photo is, and how much of all that she was aware of. There's actually a specific entry for May 1909 when it was posted. On 30th May, the very day:

  • For the first time, an airship remained aloft for more than 24 hours. Zeppelin II, with ten on board, flew 400 miles (640 km) from Friedrichshafen to Bitterfeld.
  • Sri Aurobindo delivered what is now called by his followers as the "Uttarpara Speech", in the West Bengal city of that name.
  • Born: Benny Goodman, American musician and 1940s pop star known as "The King of Swing", in Chicago (d. 1986)

Isn't it amazing that, with the click of a button, I can know all of that!

Sunday, 5 February 2012


(Card design by local artist Carla Steen)

Yay and ugh in equal measures.

Got a yucky cold that everyone seems to be coming down with. Currently snuggled up in a warm dressing gown with Lemsip. 

Had a lovely outing today, though.

It started snowing yesterday! There are some lovely pictures on the BBC:

I feel a little guilty being so excited about it, since it killed more than 200 people in Europe :(

When I woke up this morning, all the snow had disappeared. We didn't get as much as they were predicting, but there was some. So I'm happy. 

Started out with a full English breakfast this morning at our favourite greasy spoon - Trojan Cafe. Then headed over to Colesbourne Park to look at the snowdrops. Can't believe it's been a year since we were last there! How fast time goes!

Sadly, the snowdrops were closed due to...err...snow.

The further into the hills we went, the thicker the snow got. Even saw kids on sledges! Was great. Truly beautiful. All things winter wonderlandish.

Not to be beaten, we headed to Painswick Rococo Garden. Weirdly, there was hardly any snow there at all. A few snowdrops though :)

Other cool things included:

Snowdrop Inspired Fashion

150 year old tree - each ring marking an event in history!
Clever idea.
Lambs' Tails
Completely Frozen Lake!
Folly from 1748!
Ancient Tree Roots

Sadly, the beautiful nekkid lady by the pool was missing from last year. Guess she got too cold and went home.

There was some wonderful art in the café by a local artist called Carla Steen, but - as with so many of the talented crafts people of the region - she doesn't seem to have a website. Also picked up some yummy bubblegum lip balm from Slimbridge Soaps, who do have a website. Bit like the Costwold Perfumery. Love to support local businesses, especially when they make such lovely stuff.

I'm currently pumping it up with Elvis Costello. My plan is to dance the cold out of me, or die trying. It may be a short-lived venture.