Commonwealth Games and Other Short Stories.

Its been quite a while since posting anything really, well except the frequent 140 character tweet, random Facebook post or mildly humorous youtube clip, so I thought it was about time I did a proper catch up.   This is really for me to mark time, and simply take stock, but its cool if you’re interested too.

So, I’ve just returned from taking Amélie (now two and a half years old) for a wee walk around our neighbourhood and now enjoying the smell and taste of a 12 year old Highland Park complimented by warm string sounds on the fantastic new album ‘Lights in the Sky’ by Peter Gregson.   Its a good time to post something.

// Commonwealth Games

Firstly, the Commonwealth Games have now left the wonderfully proud city of Glasgow.   What an excellent time we had.   We were lucky enough to catch the rhythmic gymnastics on day one, and then see my good friend and colleague Louise Mather compete for Team Scotland in the weightlifting.   Over the two weeks of the games being hosted here, we managed to get out to see loads of great events during the festival that surrounded the sporting events.    We visited the newly refurbished Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow Green, and some events further out in the city.   Some of the best bits were; Remember Remember, Rachel Sermanni, James Grant, Commonwealth Youth Dance Festival, James Yorkston, Errors, and Admiral Fallow.   And all for free.

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// Music Plus

Many of my closest friends and even family members often ask me that dreaded question everyone who works in music is terrified of, “So, what is it that you actually do?”

Over the last year, I’ve been more involved in the national music mentoring project that I work on as a coordinator.   Through hiring someone else to take on most of the admin side of the project, it has allowed me more time to do some of the actual mentoring, and throughout the year I’ve come to realise that its that part of the job that I love the most.   Hearing the music and ambitions of young people becoming something.   Offering advise and a helping hand.   Listening to problems and difficulties whether music related or not.   Its been a great time of learning for me as well as the talented young people I work with.   I have the unique opportunity in my job to programme some excellent events and workshops and have the privilege to have met and worked with some wonderful people throughout the last few years of doing it.

“So, what is it that you actually do?”, Did I not answer it?

// Two Men on a Boat

Another piece of work I am proud of taking part in was the recent album by Findlay Napier and Chris Sherburn.   I was asked by Findlay if I would be able to design the artwork for the album, and the theme was all based around a boat, well the album is called ‘Two Men on a Boat’, so I used the photography they had from the recording sessions and turned it around for them.   I was proud to see the final result, and the album is great too.

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// A Beard?

Yes, I had given into the trend and decided to grow a beard.  A belter you might say.   It didn’t go down as well as expected with family and friends, Joni didn’t mind it, Amélie liked it i think, and I loved it.  So its off just now for the summer holiday to Kefalos in Kos we are preparing for, but I’m sure it will be back in time for winter.   It turns out I shave more when I have a beard too, mainly to keep it tidy and be absolutely sure that people understand that its a BEARD, and i’ve not just been lazy with my shaving routine.

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Lastly, I’m still keeping up with cycling to work everyday, its a 15 mile commute (return) so it keeps me fit and saves me a fortune on bus fares.   I also love the way cycling makes me feel, I have more energy, I can go at my own pace, I feel the sun on my face and the rain on my back.   Also, over the last few months I’ve been exceptionally lucky.   I’ve won a track pump from the Glasgow Bike Station, and a Tokyo Bike.   Both are very handy.

Well, nearly lastly. .  We’ve also started listening to vinyl at home.  I can highly recommend it, it keeps you in the same room and forces you to listen and not watch TV or skip tracks on your CD or iPod.    I’ve also began reading a great book on the early days of soul called ‘Sweet Soul Music’ by Peter Guralnick.   We’ve also been really enjoying the TV series of Fargo.

Oh, and I’m voting YES in the Independence Referendum.

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 Until we meet again. . .

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L’Eroica Britannia

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My alarm rang on my iPhone, it was 5am, I climbed out of my sleeping bag and out of my tent (leaving my wife and two year old still asleep).   It seemed ridiculous, bent over, applying sun cream to my legs, arms and face on this cold, fresh summer morning in Bakewell before donning my vintage cycling jersey and tight fitting shorts.    Welcome to L’Eroica Britannia!

Having agreed to meet with a few riders from London, I met them at the Jamaican flag next to their tent.   We caught up and made our way to the starting line where we were waved off by the enthusiastic people of Bakewell.

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Ten miles in, we stopped in Tidewell for the best bacon roll I have ever tasted, it was a flat ride along the Monstral Trails and myself and Will caught up and spoke about his plans for the year ahead.   After our breakfast and coffee, we were off again and into some climbs, particularly the Mam Nick – a two mile stretch that tested us and our vintage bicycles.   So much so it was too much for Will’s, and his back cassette gave in and was rendered broken with no tools to fix it.   He had to pull out of the ride.   We were all pretty down with the prospect of leaving him to try to hitch a ride back to Bakewell but we had 12+ hours in front of us and some serious climbs.   We ploughed on.

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As we passed through the next stretch, we had some excellent views and more climbs,  only to be greeted at the stop with the phrase, “Sorry, there is no food left” (first of my small complaints about the ride).   It was over to the Rapha coffee stand for some of the best espresso I have ever tasted.   Water bottle filled and on the road again.

The next hour or so (10+miles) were lost, as we missed some junctions due to poor signposting (the second of my small complaints about the ride).   We had freewheeled down some of the best rolling descents I have ever been on before realising and asking a nearby farmer and his son, that we had to climb back up them all to get on track for the next stamp and stop of the ride.   By this point, the guys I was with; Martin and Matt had resigned to not finishing the ride and were thinking about making the quick route back up to Bakewell.   I had other ideas, I thought it better to crash on with pace and make the time back.   We pushed on and managed to get lost a couple more times, as you do when there is a lack of signage on the route and you are solely dependant on sheets of A4 paper with turn by turn instructions.   Difficult navigations.

We were now over halfway and had a beer and a scone at the stop in Tissington before we aimed to get back on track.  On the descent that followed, I passed three very stylish riders in full vintage peugeot kit, Avoiding a dog, I took a tumble and had a go at the reckless owner who was too busy on her phone to notice me avoiding hitting her dog with my front wheel, and then a grown man (in vintage peugeot kit) came tumbling over the top of my back.   We were both fine. Further down the white gravel roads we pedalled and now on the high peak trail leading us to the 78 mile stop at Cromford.  Tea and Biscuits.   Water, Water, Water. . .

With the end in sight, I sent a text to my wife to go to the starting line.   We had some more brutal climbing still to do, but I didn’t want her to miss us coming through the finish line.

Next stretch took us through the Chatsworth Estate and once again they had run out of resources, (Pimms and Prosecco).   So, it was sandwiches and potted meat for us, and more water.   10 miles to go.  Mostly uphill.

All in all, it was a wonderful ride, festival and I met some great people.   The guys I rode with were great throughout the ride and we all managed to keep each other going at the tough moments.   Would I do it again?  Definitely.   Just need to sort out the signage and the food stops.

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More photographs here, 

2013 : Moments

Well, that was 2013.   A quick year in our household, Amélie appears to grow a little more every day and in every imaginable way.   As I write this I’m battling a cold and have conjunctivitis.   So, not on the finest form, and pretty much feeling sorry for myself.    I thought however, that this was an ideal time to stop and look at the moments that shaped our 2013.   These simple moments that follow are in no specific order at all, except really the order in which they came to me as I thought of the past 365 days or so.

One of the great advantages of keeping a photo diary on great websites like Blipfoto mean its easy to look over your year(s) to see what you actually did and when you actually did it. .

  • We decided to visit our favourite little log cabin in Canonbie near Dumfries for the holidays at Hogmanay and New Year 2012.

one

  • We took Amélie to Edinburgh Zoo for her first birthday on the 6th January.
  • My good friends Chris and Jennifer had a little baby girl on January 7th called Simone.

two

  • I managed to get back to boxing training this year for a while.
  • I took my Dad to our first ever experience of a 5 nations International Rugby game, we went to Murrayfield to see Scotland beat Italy.
  • I had two whole weeks with Amélie in February as Joni had decided to work full-time for a month.
  • I was involved in filming a piece for Vito Dance Theatre called Withdrawal.
  • The Catholic Church has a new Pope, Pope Francis I.   Amélie and I watched the election on television live from the Vatican.
  • I was involved in a 5 aside football tournament as a fundraiser for Callum’s Cabin and managed to really damage my left foot in a tackling incident.

three

  • I finally had the opportunity to see Icelandic musicians: Sigur Ros and Ólafur Arnalds
  • Our garage was broken into and two bicycles were stolen, thankfully the police retrieved one and managed to catch one of the people involved.
  • I was lucky enough to have my first photograph placed in an exhibition in gallery.
  • Attended some bicycle maintenance classes as part of the Glasgow Bike Station.
  • Margaret Thatcher died.

four

  • I attended two stag parties: we travelled to Bolton to enjoy a day of hospitality to watch them play Blackpool for my friend Paddy’s and then had a day at Auchentoshan Distillery (2nd visit) and greyhound racing for my brother in law Liams’.  
  • We had a trip to Morecambe for Joni’s Grandmother’s 80th birthday party.
  • I visited Glengoyne distillery (2nd visit) with my good friend Sace and we spent the night in his hut in Carbeth.
  • I had my very first rides on a Brompton folding bike, a  Dahon folding bike and even a Penny Farthing on the Harris Tweed Ride.
  • My Dad retired.

five

  • I was asked to host the Refugee Week end of week showcase.
  • My brother in law Liam was married to Lyndsey.

six

  • My good friend Paddy was married to Nicola.

seven

  • My good friend Findlay’s had a daughter called Lucy.
  • We had our first family cycling / camping trip to the outer Hebrides, to Barra.
  • I toured Arran twice (by bicycle), once with my good friend Alasdair and once on my own.
  • We had plenty of time in the garden, eating outside, playing with Amélie and enjoying whisky by the chiminea.
  • I had a few experiences of up-cycling, I created a pallet bookcase, a pallet mirror, made a gate and also made some fencing around our plants.
  • We enjoyed another Harris Tweed Ride.

eight

  • My good friend and I had a tour of the Glasgow Velodrome.
  • The Clydebank Town Hall has a new exhibition space, so we enjoyed visiting the Jolomo exhibition and the Harry Papadopolis exhibition.

nine

  • I rode 110 miles for the Glasgow to Edinburgh Pedal For Scotland.  (3’350 miles this year)
  • Amélie got her very first passport and we had our first fortnight trip abroad to Kefalos, Kos.  It was Amélie’s first time on an airplane and she had a great time.

ten

There will be many many things I’ve missed.   Until next year!