Friday, September 30, 2005

Tintern Abbey

This is photograph taken on a mirky Easter morning at Tintern Abbey, an area possibly best imortalised by the poem of William Wordsworth Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey... This photo was one of two good pictures taken in black and white that day. It was exceptionally hard to get a decent angle on the Abbey itself. Note also my love of lens flare!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Daniel Rachel et al @ Moo, Leamington Spa

Okay then, so the official billing was Budapest, Daniel Rachel, and then Slybob. My feelings would have seen the order of this gig re-arranged to something like this; Slybob, Budapest and then Daniel Rachel. Heres why.

Whereas the apparent headliners had the flashy website to try and promote themselves shamelessly, Rachel sold himself by standing alone on stage, with his guitar, and playing songs that where no-where near as pretentious as Slybob. Simply speaking walls of sound disguising overt self-belief were demolished by the short and skinny sound of acoustic honesty.

Rachel comes across as an intellectual observer of events that surround everyday life, as well as events that may have happened in the past (his own or the more distant). In many ways his last number of the night, 'Bucket and Broom', exemplified this perfectly with its Dylanesque musical and lyrical delivery spliced with a distinct Brummie lilt.

I will not take anything away from Budapest, the opening act, who's eclecticism of sound eclipsed that of the headliner's also. Their unique sound, something akin to an edgier version of the emotional 'indie-rock' of Embrace. The depth of musical talent (Cellist, Multitasking keyboardist et cetera in addition to a regular rock four-piece) made for a very strong sound in amongst the hubbub of the Sunday-night drinkers at Moo.

Rachel is well worth a listen if you get the time. His new single, 'Pearl', (which I blagged at a cut price due to a lack of change) is also well worth a download if you have iTunes - if not catch him on tour.

Daniel Rachel online: http://www.danielrachel.com/

Fairbourne and Barmouth Railway

A picture of a steam locomotive on the Fairbourne Railway called 'Beddgelert'. In the background is the famous (and incredibly long) Barmouth Harbour bridge. The picture was taken in September 2005 at what has affectionately become known as 'Taffstock'.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Teatime Islands by Ben Fogle

I actually finished reading this book in May, but have taken my time updating this blog.

This book is by the now-renowned posh bloke who first appeared on BBC's Castaway 2000 reality TV experiment on the remote Island of Taransay in Scotland. I am unsure what originally attracted my attention to this book as I didn't really hold anyone from that particular TV series in very high esteem.

When I actually sat and read a small piece of the book in Heffers bookstore in Cambridge I was captivated not only by how well Fogle conveyed his story of journeying to these locations, but also the way in which he relayed his innermost thoughts about Islophilia - his addiction to islands. It came as a bit of a shock as the writer was known only really for getting upset on national TV when his dog got ill.

Ultimately the main thrust of the book is Fogle's attempts (mostly successful) in discovering for himself some of the remaining outposts of the British Empire. Included are Tristan da Cunha, St Helena, The Falklands, The Pitcairns, British Indian Ocean Territory and another that escapes me.

There is the slight sense of elegy, mainly for the once mighty British Empire, detectable in Fogle's narrative. Reassuringly there is also the comfort found in the thought that the sun still never sets upon the Empire. A worthy read from the most unlikely of sources.
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