Archive for July, 2011

StoryCamp is happening!


I’ve been very vocal about this on twitter, so it will be news to no-one. From initial  StoryCamp musings came a twitter conversation, some further discussion on a specially created Posterous Group (which is a darned good tool that’s worth playing with, if you haven’t already) and from there an Eventbrite page for the event itself on Saturday 1st October 2011 in the lovely town of Ludlow. I’m really rather excited.

The StoryCamp image is an unabashed emulation of the title sequence of everyone’s favourite storytelling TV show, Jackanory. I hope you can make it. If you can’t but would like to keep track of StoryCamp goings-on, there is a StoryCamp blog and the twitter hashtag is, unsurprisingly, #storycamp.

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The Guild of Bloodstone Feast of Fools

I was a bit down when poor old Flosscat passed away, but was cheered up immensely the following day by Friction Arts’ Sandra and Lee, who took Carl and I to the rather strange but brilliant Guild of Bloodstone Feast of Fools in the grounds of a Warwickshire stately home.

The weekend-long festival had a steampunk edge, Victorian travelling circus feel and the most beautiful, sunny setting. Highlights of the day were picnicking in paradise,  the nicest ice-cream cone I’ve ever tasted, watching old friends from the Nomadic Academy of Fools perform Richard II and a battle reenactment of the ‘Second Battle of Hastings’ between mods and rockers at Brighton in 1964.

As you can see, I took a fair few photos. The ones at the end of the set are a little strange – the cute toddler got hold of my camera and I didn’t have the heart to take it off him.

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A lesson in ale drinking at the Long Itchington Beer Festival

I was unsure what to get the man in my life for his birthday, so was relieved to discover the Long Itchington Beer Festival came shortly after the event – ‘1 village, 6 pubs, 4 days’.  Carl’s a big real ale drinker, so it was the perfect thing for him.  A few clicks and a phone call later, I’d booked us into Marton Road Farm B&B for a night so we could go and get merrily drunk on the finest ales the festival had to offer before collapsing into a conveniently nearby bed for the night.

The B&B is on a campsite, so those not wanting to pay the price of a (very lovely) room might like to consider sleeping the ale off under the stars.  Keen cyclists might also be interested to know Long Itchington is roughly 30 miles from Birmingham along the Grand Union Canal, so one could easily cycle up in the morning, enjoy a few drinkies before bedtime and then cycle off the fuzzy head the following day.

Now I’m not as much of an ale-drinker as Carl, being happier to drink inferior, pop-like lagers.  So it was quite a lesson going to a real ale festival like this.  Carl told me of the real ale geeks you get at some, who note down their thoughts on each ale and have empty Panda Pop bottles handy for storing samples of real ales they want to save for tasting later.  I tried to jot down notes of my own of ales I tasted during the day, here they are:

Wye Valley Dorothy Goodbody’s May Queen – oats part coffee
Blonde Bombshell American pale ale. Light, refreshing, strong at 5.2%
Darling Buds – v flowery. Nice but strong aftertaste which made more than half difficult to down
Hecks Angel – slightly hoppy pale ale with fizz
Town Mill Lyme Gold – slightly hoppy and golden
St Austell Tribute – slightly sharp and citrus, nice
Greene King Alepril Fool – dark yet light and refreshing
The Ball Stitcher from Warwickshire Beer Co. – dark, sweet and malty
Newby Wyke White Squall – pale, sweet and flowery
Brew Dog Rip Tide – heavy and dark with a hint of coffee
Thornbridge Jaipur IPA refreshing slightly tart

Now although I very obviously don’t know much about real ale I know a few people who do and have picked up a few tips from them. The Wellington, The Anchor, The Barton Arms and The Black Eagle seem to be the best Birmingham pubs to go to. If you’d rather enjoy a few drinks in the comfort of your own home, be sure to buy them from Stirchley Wines – they have a brilliantly broad selection of beers and ales and the friendly proprietor really knows his stuff.

If you’re on twitter follow @tania_nexust.  I know this lady and find it hard to believe there’s a real ale she hasn’t tasted, although she assures me different.  She’s fanatical about the stuff and tweets her knowledge and findings with equal passion.  Also follow @beerbeauty, who loves to share her love of real ale online (which includes some great hashtag lobbying of BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen show) and in the real world with Beer Beauty events.


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Notes From Midge

Notes From Jo by Keith Arnatt

Notes From Jo by Keith Arnatt

I’ve always liked this note left by photographer Keith Arnatt’s long-suffering wife Jo, which made up the Notes From Jo collection. So was I was delighted to come home from a recent holiday in Bulgaria to find something similar left by Midge, who had been house and cat sitting for Carl and I whilst we were away.

Note from Midge

Note from Midge

Midge has a way of putting things which never fail to make me smile, especially on twitter. His imaginative hashtags make for some great narratives – whilst Carl and I were away we followed his #citylivin adventures in our apartment with glee and his more recent #paulinespens updates of a ridiculously soul-destroying Jobseekers Plus ‘Fast Track to Employment’ course with a mixture of anger and amusement.

@Midge_UK: 'No birds fly here, Stallag 13 #paulinesPens'

@Midge_UK: 'No birds fly here, Stallag 13 #paulinesPens'

He followed these tweets up with an insightful blog post on the whole experience, which I wish I could force Iain Duncan Smith to sit down and read.

If you’re on twitter make sure you follow Midge for his brilliant way of punking things up. And ladies – word on the street is he’s single. Form an orderly queue, please.


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RIP Flosscat


Flosscat very sadly died this morning aged fourteen years, after suffering from an aggressive, reoccurring mammary cancer for quite a while, which I’m told is quite common in female cats of her age. Very many thanks to Fivelands Vets in Moseley who handled both her illness and death brilliantly.

It’s made me reflect on her life, from when I got her as a feral little furball to her growing into a very big (she liked her food) and very loud and affectionate bundle of love.  Midge has captured her motor-like purr for posterity:

Floss liked eating, sleeping, licking human hands, catnip, having her fur brushed and lying on laps purring.  She disliked milk, ear drops, going outside, the vacuum cleaner and wearing a cone.  She led a largely quiet life but enjoyed a spell of hyperlocal fame as the face of the DiGpuss Shop.

I will miss Floss. She brought me much enjoyment, comfort and love over her fourteen years and I can only hope I repaid her in kind.  Rest In Peace.

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Arise, You Gallant Sweeneys! comes to Birmingham


I love it when a plan comes together! 🙂

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