Festival Season is Over. . .

Thats the festival season over for another year for me.   I was quite late in getting to festivals, mainly because I was normally more interested in going on holiday around the summer months and so missed out on them.    Over the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to be able to visit some of Scotland’s best offerings as part of my job in music.

I’ve came to know Belladrum quite well – The Tartan Heart Festival in the glorious highlands of Scotland.   A nice family vibe with plenty to see and do, a real feast for the senses all around with some great bands through the years.    We’ve also been lucky enough to be able to give some live opportunities to some of the young artists we work with on the music project.

We’ve also become regular visitors to The Great Escape in Brighton, another wonderful festival that is actually overwhelming with the amount of talent and bands on offer everyday, I’ve saw some incredible bands and music industry panels at this festival.   An absolute gem.

This year I managed to secure some tickets to take the family (Joan, Amélie, Leo, Nina and Myself) to Electric Fields in Drumlanrig Castle Estate down in Dumfries.   This felt like a much smaller affair but with some excellent acts and a real cool family vibe and we met some absolutely lovely folks there enjoying the festivities.   I hope to go back next year.

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Nature

I’ve been meaning to update this since the turn of the year into 2016, and, to be honest haven’t found the time.   But in the interim.   Please enjoy some photographs i’ve taken over the last few years.

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Belladrum

Our annual trip to Belladrum – The Tartan Heart Festival as its affectionately known to all who travel up to Beauly, just outside Inverness.    This year we had real difficulty securing accommodation within our budget, and so jokingly suggested hiring a camper van.   As it turned out, it was the best option and we decided on a Rollerteam 694 which was perfect.

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One of the great parts of my working life is that I get the pleasure to work with and meet some very talented young musicians, singer songwriters, performers and people who are keen to be involved in the music industry in some capacity.    This year I had the pleasure to invite some of the acts to play at Belladrum.   I could imagine being 16 years old and being on the receiving end of that email and being asked to play my first festival.   It was great to offer this opportunity to these talented young folks.

We set off from Ayrshire, and took to the road on a beautifully sunny day and as we approached Pitlochry we had a stop with some coffee and switched drivers.   I took the spell into the highlands as we headed through Inverness into the site where we picked up our production passes.    An evening of cards, and beers as we listened to the end of the set by the Proclaimers.

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Over the weekend we managed to catch so many acts, all of the Music Plus acts included Hollie Atkinson, Alice Bentley, Michiel Turner, Jemma Tweedie, Beautiful Expectations, Chainsaw Tea Party, Something Someone, The Elephant Sessions, Josephine Sillars, Aylee and many more.   We caught Prides, Fatherson, Man of Moon, KLOË, King Creosote, The Mirror Trap, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, Neon Waltz, Honeyblood, Hector Bizerk, Findlay Napier, and Model Aeroplanes.

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Leaving the site on the evening of the Saturday after the mighty show by Fatherson was a wise and calculated decision and allowed us to get all the way down through Aviemore to spend the evening on the banks of Loch Morlich before heading home in the morning to return the motorhome.

The Curse of Free Wifi

We’ve yet to have a summer in Scotland, and so we have just returned from an excellent 11 day trip to our second home in Kefalos, Kos.    A relaxing mix of sun, sand, and great food for us, and we’ve came home suitably relaxed.   One of the things that we’ve noticed after visiting Kefalos over the last few years is the dreaded ‘FREE Wi-Fi’ signs that are around all the restaurants and bars.   I fully understand and appreciate how useful so-called ‘smart’ phones and tablets are, but at dinner?  or when you are supposed to be spending time with family or friends?    We need to put them down, its time to be present.   We are too busy to share things with the people around us because we are all too involved in sharing what we are doing with people who are not even in the same room.

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,