New Year, New waffle.

I have an indeterminate amount of time to post, it may be as much as 20 minutes but most likely will be 5. These tiny windows are usually my opportunity these days to get some general tidying done, but I am missing writing and Yoga to the point that I’ve considered getting by on a couple of hours sleep to make time for them.

I was once told I would be watching lots of box sets on maternity. I wish I could remember who that person was and condemn them to a list of untrustables. I do manage to get a peek at other blogs on the odd occasion, it usually requires me to shut out whoever is around to hold Hazel for 5 minutes. It might seem rude but it’s necessary for my sanity. I’ve stopped buying papers as the heap of unread Guardians didn’t seem like a wise investment. When I finally got an unexpected chance to pick one up the news was history – literally. I was still reading about the potential repercussions of a Yes vote in Scotland long after the margin had been exposed as a crevice as opposed to the hairline fracture in distance it had purported to be.

News is also a major problem, every time I turn it on there is another hostage taking and it becomes consuming in a way that the working day prevents. There is no one expecting me to turn my mind to anything other than the basic (yet exhausting) needs of a baby and so my brain eats itself up with devastation. Of course I’ve found coping strategies for this, it is essential – and I wonder about the thousands of other mums in their homes doing the same thing. At least the impact of old news is lessened by the knowledge of the final outcome.

Well, I’ve had more than the expected time to at least say a few words, I hope to be back soon and in the meantime I may not be involved in comments and discussions but your blogs are a little lifeline for me and I read as many as I can keep up with.

Oh and the garden was a great success (plant rescue) and perhaps one day I can update with a few pics. In the meantime, back to my cheeky little madam… just – waking – now….

The A-Z is complete…

But the Bikram isn’t. I wish now that the A-Z was longer, it wasn’t just an outlet to share the experience but a way to shape my thoughts and look at it from a different perspective to make the ‘A-Z’ happen. Even now during classes I have the odd regret – ‘Japanese sandwich’ should most certainly have been J as, on reading another yogi’s blog she rightly pointed out that this isn’t entirely helpful “you should look like a japanese sandwich from the side“. If you don’t know what a Japanese sandwich looks like…

I found an entire community of inspiring Yogis across the WordPress world and a couple of counter-views, clearly, Bikram Yoga is not for everyone. That aside, I found a host of blogs with all manners of topics that I enjoyed searching through and following. Of course some of the Yoga blogs had an immediate impact, but I also enjoyed stories written around each letter, food blogs, comedy blogs and some totally random compilations as others muddled their way through the alphabet.

The content on my reader is now far more diverse than I could have imagined, and I seem to have shaken some of the spam that was coming through (I’ve never had spam on my blog before, that’s almost exciting!).

The picture gallery on my computer is utterly eclectic, after all I did go on the occasional tangent.

It’s been my favourite blogging experience to date and I hope I’ve given as much as I’ve got from it this year. Very much looking forward to the next!

Apparently I’m not the only one confused about Japanese Ham Sandwiches…

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Maybe I’m Crazy

I’ve given the lowdown on the website – (Music Hunters GB 😉 ) in which I told you about a growing obsession to review unsigned bands.

Well that, it turns out wasn’t the half of it. I have, in recent weeks made some life changing decisions and am now navigating my way around the routes – which seem to involve a number of quirky bars and pubs in locations as far away as Guildford! 😐 I suspect that won’t seem so far upnon reflection in a couple of years.

So I have discovered that this new-ish hobby is utterly addictive and forces me up out of bed in the mornings, generally after a sleepless night brooding over some band I have seen or am planning to…

Did I tell you about the venue? Stratford is gearing up for a hell of a music scene and there’s a fab joint up for grabs to the right person. I, evidently think I AM the right person but my bank balance begs to differ. Anyhow, from the front it looks like a pimp joint, but the two night clubs and restaurant within are only a tiny fraction of the rabbit warren of opportunity. Not so keen on the pole in the ex-strip joint but the bars are sparkling and the beer garden – well I’d happily spend an evening or two out there! The fish, apparently have resided there for over 12 years. Much like, I imagine the radio show that runs throughout the day. With 6 bedrooms everything in me was screaming ‘buy it’ to which my head retorts ‘any bank manager would laugh me out of their office’. Some things are just there to be dreamt about.

So, daily I walk past my dream venue and I plot sideline schemes to help me achieve it. So far I’m not doing terribly, I have a night at the local pub to do with what I wish (Bands, obviously – lots of bands) and the OK to get access to the Steamship in town if it works. Wow.

To make it work I am resting on the good will of a few bands I’ve reviewed… there have been many so I hope for some fruition there. We have a provisional pencil in for the Smack Hamptons who I love so good start. I’m yet to buy a PA system and my housemate is working hard on a shiney new logo for us to get some merch printed up … which leads into the business complexities.

This insane idea will have to be registered the minute money is involved and I’m good with that – but that means registered with my work too. Usually, it would give me no issue. But my work may not be my work in several weeks if I get voluntary exit. And the date jumps back a week every time we approach decision time. Painful, very painful.

Imaginative bids for escape were dangerously fuelled by an image of a narrow bold emblazoned with ‘Iron Maiden’ to which I mindlessly noted ‘want one’ before hitting share. It was only when the little blue FB thumbs began to appear that I realised I meant it.

I’ve found some fabulous canal boats to spend my payout on…

There are disputes in the home-place about that at the moment and in reality if I do swap bricks and mortar for the rivers of London I will sit tight until next winter and get some ice-cold experience before making that kind of commitment. See, I can be sensible at times!

The Rex is due to re-open in Stratford, very jealous of the owners but it looks awesome, worth checking out online if you have any association with the place. Somewhere for more music and comedy! Perfect… now I just need a place of my own.

We have banded about from pub to pub meeting a bunch of new bands. The standards are incredibly high, not really quite what I originally expected so – bonus. I’m loving meeting new people, writing and watching the stats incessantly but mostly I love the way everyone I know wants to be involved. I am genuinely happy from the heart out and don’t see this ride stopping any time soon… many adventures to follow.

Underneath it all: Reading 2012

The Pandemonium at Reading Station is an unfortunate reminder that we never do really learn. In it’s 41st year, even the American visiting bands know the extremities of the crowds now. Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl talked at length about the increasing crowd numbers and notoriety of Reading Festival, yet as I sit on the tube scrambling my way home it’s not the poor facilities on site that have left me a stinking mess, it’s the challenge of escaping the site itself.

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Trying to leave train station!

Arrival at the town is a more amenable memory as numerous stewards and helpers navigated tens of thousands of visitors onto £1 busses and right up until this morning I have been in the fortunate position of remaining clean and refreshed throughout. I appreciate this isn’t everyones experience as I do have the perks of press camping and facilites, the price of this paid through unnecessarily rigorous security checks. As you can imagine, I wasn’t delighted to have been forced to miss a good 10 minutes of Kaiser Chiefs because the woman at the press office pressed the metal bar on my wrist band three times instead of twice and the guard obviously saw me to be some kind of security threat.

Guard: “When did you get this band? why do you have three stamps?”
Me: “Friday, I don’t know, I didn’t stamp it”
Guard: “but they are only supposed to stamp it twice”
Me: “I don’t know why it’s stamped three times. I only went out to get some food!”
Guard: “Do you have ID on you?”
Me: “No, I dont generally get asked for ID at the burger bar”
Guard: “Ok, I need your name and the name of who you are guesting for. I need to check this out further”
Press Lady: “Oh yea, she’s been around the press tent all weekend, I stamped her band”

And STILL the guard goes on! In the back ground ‘I Predict a Riot’ is hitting it’s peak and I’m going to bloody miss it over a band!

So the grass isn’t always greener – just incase you were wondering 😉

Reading is a big one for me. Aged 15 (nearly 16) my b/f took me there as my first ever festival, from memory I think Deftones and Marylin Manson headlined but really, I was pretty drunk for most of it but the experience was awesome. Within about five minutes we had made new friends full of crazy stories. Having forgotten my tent poles a scour of the woodland area provided me with a suitable improvisation in the form of fallen branches and the tent got graded second worst on the Orange field. Yes, there was another worse than mine!

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Reading 2000

Several rounds or Reading/Leeds in the following years gave me the bug for watching some of the biggest band names in the world – early days these were all up close as we were well up for reaching the front barriers, in later days following a bad experience at the Dandy Warholes set I opted for a little more distance and the advantage of looser crowds. Although not as serious as others experience I can not only confirm that sexual abuse does occur at festivals but that security are (were?) completely unwilling to deal and at the time I was left in a very vulnerable position surrounded by the initial aggressor and a suitably intimidating number of his friends. Now days I’d confidently land a pretty strong strike somewhere unpleasant, such is the glory of hindsight.

Asides from that I got my first ‘Ash’ experience at the main stage and was blown away by headline act Muse and their magnificent light display into the summer night. Those moments do have a way of creeping into the recesses of the mind, but as the years have gone on and I’ve explored other festivals with completely different music focuses much of the feelings experienced are committed to the moments of photographs captured at the time.

So to return, to see the set-up nearly identical to all those years ago (11 since the most recent visit) and wander about the fields and the mash of different sub-cultures has brought about a wave of mixed feelings. Being there alone, for instance (technically part of a team but only in passing) is and absurd way to re-live the weekend. The fear of wash-out seems so much worse stuck on your own, using the wrong poles to erect the tent (apparently I have a thing with poles!) and, under watchful eyes make the call to dismantle and start again, to go on a hunt for food and make the toss up between sitting alone in Tobys Carvery or grabbing a burger – none of these are reasons that drive me to work these events!

Arriving on the Friday was a peculiar experience – I had woken at midday on Thursday afternoon and failed to fit in any sleep before my nightshift. I completed the nightshift and went straight to the festival – although my rucksack felt far heavier than it should have done I didn’t feel too worse for wear! I met the team and headed out to the main stage for Coheed and Cambria, You Me at Six and Paramore, all on my review list. All were awesome and I was in my element. The reviews were all in on time before headliners The Cure were on and, as my writing partner was down for that review I could happily kick back and watch.

Coheed and Cambria Review

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Paramore – totally converted!

Paramore Review

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Santigold – Bonkers!!

Santigold Review

During this time I met a fantastic guy from Leeds whos’ girlfriend works in PR and didn’t want to leave the VIP area. We talked at length about the excitement of actually being in front of the stage as opposed to luxury pens, band types, eras, work and the music industry. Before our goodbyes we danced to Love Cats – these are the little things that make festivals so wonderful. These random people that you will only ever meet once – but that make moments in time fantastic memories.

Over the days I took refuge in the press tent to get things written up and avoid the torrential downpour. The press tent is always an interesting experience, a cross between various companies claiming space, the access to power (really, utterly de-hydrated and desperate for water I STILL found myself prioritising charge for phone / computer first!), a splash of hospitality and bands wandering in and out for their interview and photo slots. There is always and element of regret involved as the professional side gives way to allowing the bands their space and to get on with it and the missed opportunity to introduce yourself. The most frustrating experience of this weekend has to be when Dry The River were in for interview – as the review covers, bassist Scott gave away his shirt tagged with twitter name @scottoftheriver – after a cheeky text I got a response to say he would get a shirt for me. Having learned they are local to my home I replied to suggest delivering in person… then ran into the press tent to collect my phone and literally nearly ran straight into Scott! Seeing they were with an interviewer I could but give a cheeky grin and go about my own business.

That particular experience was on the Saturday, by far the most challenging day for me as I had six bands to cover. This translates literally to timing toilet breaks in accordance with bands and locations. Dashing across the fields to reach various fields can be tricky and so I did a quick early morning rekki of the field to get my bearings. That’s the best move I have ever made in my life. Preparing to settle in front of the front stage I took a final wander to a neighbouring tent when I saw a sight that I desperately would have loved to have filmed if only I had the battery. Thousands, literally thousands of people running through the arena entrance and heading to the NME tent to the rear of the field. (Rear, from my perspective, front to most). It took a minute for the penny to drop – Green Day. This is something I’d chatted about to PR girls’ b/f. The rumours we all knew to be true, Green Day were going to make a ‘secret’ appearance. This had been announced as cancelled due to security risk and the replacement rumour was 12:30 – here I was at 10am, most of the camp still fast asleep and my legs were spinning cartoon style as I propelled myself across the full length of the green into the centre of the tent. I’ve never felt so F*king lucky about a sequence of events as I did then. Later reports emphasised that luck as the barriers were erected and only a limited number made it anywhere near the tent. Now, another of our team in the know covered the review – which is just as well as I had no way of making notes and my headspace was full of buzz, but I will update WordPress with my own as it was truly extraordinary.

Behind the scenes I also had the pleasure of meeting the PunkTastic team and Jake Thomson from Kerrang Radio, not to mention my own team (always great to meet others from Virtual Festivals) including the editor! Amazing to be able to put an actual person to the e-mails. Some of our 5-strong team are pros in the industry, myself and the other writer are just passionate music fans working in the real world. Both public sector, incidentally. Unfortunately Kai was pick-pocketed during one of the sets – I can’t emphasise just how lousey this is when you’re part of a writing team. As is the nature of what we do, all of our notes get stored on phones until the opportunity to forward it etc. I’ve got a small degree of backup (when the press setup is as good as it was at Reading) as iphone and ipad communicate with each other as long as they are both online. This means that all of my notes back-up at regular intervals. Unfortunately Kai lost the lot with his phone which was painful for him and downright depressing for the entire team as that’s we all felt that pain. Worse still it took one of our team completely out of the loop, meaning that flash news and meeting points could no longer be communicated.

Throughout the Saturday I managed to complete my quota with Blood Red Shoes, Dry The River, Santigold, Jaguar Skills, Katy B, and Kasabian. There is often an element of bias in my review selection, I have admittedly reviewed Blood Red Shoes before, I just love them. For two people to hold a stage like that is amazing, their crowds were tremendous and they were genuinely excited to be there. Dry the River is a band that I caught at IOW but didn’t have enough knowledge to get a review squeezed in (it’s pretty essential to know the songs otherwise remembering the music/descriptions is difficult and time consuming). Jaguar Skills, I was just curious?

Blood Red Shoes Review
Jaguar Skills Review
Dry The River Review
You Me at Six Review

I had a terrible experience at Katy B which I can’t fully explain, however I managed to get something totally wrong and mail my editor who swiftly got it out as a news story. As the realisation of my mistake took hold I felt pretty sick and dizzy, I genuinely wanted the ground to swallow me whole. I felt techy at the tight crowd, at Katy B and the festival as a whole. Thankfully the set was SO great that I managed to put it to the back of my mind (after painfully having to admit the error) and got on with what I was there to do – watch the goddamn show. This was further helped by Kasabians’s set which was pretty kewl. The last time I saw Kasabian was not that long ago and to no more thatn 30 people including their mates. Somehow they propelled to this – crowds as far as the eye can see. I felt a little despondent at the fact Kaiser Chiefs got shafted with 3rd from headline on Sunday nights bill, personally I think they deserve as much as Kasabian however the show was pretty awesome.

Katy B Review

For a headline act I don’t think my review was one of my better ones, re-reading the next day it felt a bit wooden.

Kasabian Review

That’s not a great feeling as a writer but I had more to be getting on with – so I thought. My Skint’s slot had been duplicated by the Leeds team (can hardly blame them, anyone catching The Skints are bound to want to shout about them). With The Gaslight Anthem I moved past this only to discover half way through the set that this had been covered by out Metro reviewer. Gutted. At that point I realised that I do this as much for the love of writing as I do for the music. Without the review to compile I lost the edge I was looking for and excitement waned.

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Despite all my misgivings at that point in time, headliners Foo Fighters were still to come. I felt genuinely nervous. I want at this point so badly for this to me a memory of a lifetime, but the Leeds review was a damp squib at 7/10. I won’t relay the entire review here, but they didn’t disappoint. Imainge, Grohl stated “This is just about the most important night of my F*cking Liiife” – to be there, part of it only a matter of meters away for a whole 3 hours of songs that invoked some memories from obscure recesses of the mind…

This is it. This is the feeling I do it for, nothing else in the world makes me feel as alive as being stood in front of a main stage watching history be made. I know most people aren’t quite as sentimental about these things but really, there is probably something else in their life that they are. This is it for me. I furiously typed for about an hour back at the tent which was utterly therapeutic. Struggling with the final line I had a quick break to mull it over. As it happened the editor had something up her sleeve already to round up the review with – reference to Neil Armstrong. What a way to go out.

By Monday morning I was the last remaining member of the team. I lay awake listening to the conversations surrounding me and decided I really didn’t care much about getting out before the crowds or getting home early. This changed, obviously, as the patter of rain saw me pack my tent in record time (I swear it was less than 3 minutes which isn’t bad given my stuff all needed packing and I’d opted for the sturdy, heavy tent). Running into the mass crowds at the station was painful, but I did discover that arriving without a ticket was a much faster route in and somehow ended up on an empty train back to Paddington, full of Burger King goodness.

I am now at home, listening to Kerrang Radio as Jake Thomson is on from 3-7. I am in chatter with Scott from Dry the River on Twitter and am planning my first feature article in years. The quirks, the perks – they might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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The Foo Fighters and fireworks!

Foo Fighters Review

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