Sunday, February 18, 2018

The last Wild Beasts in Hammersmith


I've blogged before about the band Wild Beasts but this is for the last time as yesterday evening they had their final gig in the Hammersmith Apollo before splitting.

This quartet have a unique sound which I described earlier as "as if they are the chamber music of rock, a falsetto voice over metallic chords". A common theme of their songs was, well, work it out for yourself from these lyrics:

All the King's Men:

Girls from Roedean, Girls from Shipley
Girls from Hounslow, Girls from Whitby

Bed of Nails:

Be blatant as a bailiff
I want my lips to blister when we kiss


We Still Got The Taste Dancin' On Our Tongues:

Trousers and blouses make excellent sheets
Down dimly lit streets

You don't have to be Sigmund Freud to work this one out.

It was a wonderful yet sad evening. Wonderful as the set list was packed with favourites but there was always the knowledge that it was the last time ever we'd hear these chords, these tunes, these songs.

It was a special gig, with confetti (above) and multiple encores plus a choir at the end. Some lead vocalists might have done a spot of crowd surfing but these guys are from the Lake District which is known for its walking rather than surfing, hence we got this:


There could only be one final, final song, the aptly named The End Comes Too Soon, which wrapped up the magnificent story of Wild Beasts:


To sing us out the choir gave us the poignant Cheerio Chaps, Cheerio Goodbye, and then it was over and we streamed out into Hammersmith and the night.

It was reminder that all good things come to an end at some point. So if you have a band you want to see and they are playing near you, grab the chance.

The end comes too soon.




Update: reviews in Guardian here, Quietus here, Telegraph here, Times here, DIY here, NME here, Standard here and finally the Independent here with this apt quote:

"It proved to be the wrong time for this extraordinary – almost definitely the most interesting British indie/art-rock outfit of the past decade – but their music will endure and this was a fitting last act"

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Delos tribe in London


I've loved watching those SV Delos videos and when the call came out on FB that there was a Delos tribe meet up I had to go.

London was wet, its streets and roads awash, winds biting cold, but the atmosphere in the Admiralty pub was fantastic, warm and full of great people.

I came prepared with some baking goods. For these deep sea sailors it had to be something blue, so came up with these Blueberry and Lime macarons:


A great evening!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Book Review: Swallows, Amazons and Coots: A Reading of Arthur Ransome by Julian Lovelock


I got this for Christmas and finished it within 2 days. But then I am a bit of a S&A buff.

This book looks at the series of novels by Arthur Ransome about those Swallows, Amazons and Coots from a more analytical viewpoint. It goes in depth into the background, considering how Ransome's own life is revealed (or not) in the books and how it connects or differs from the society in which he lived and times during which they were written, namely 1930 to 1947.

Those years, like Ransome's life, were packed with events and historic changes. Lovelock considers  how both England (in particular, rather than Britain) and Ransome related to women and the colonies, the differences and similarities, and how that affects how we read it today.

The book is structured as one chapter for each of the 12 books, starting with Swallows and Amazons and ending with Great Northern? with diversions as themes are picked up and analysed.

I found it fascinating though I didn't always agree with Lovelock, and looking at the reviews online can see there are others that disagreed with him. I have so many thoughts jotted down that I'm going to have to post them separately on another occasion.

An interesting buy to anyone who loves the books as much as I do, and there's even a foreword by Sophie Neville - a great pleasure as always to hear from this expert on all things related to S&A.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

London Boat Show: On The Waterfront


There comes a time when you've heard all the talks, checked out the interesting new boats, browsed the boat show and had a bite to eat when the day seems to have been rather long and the exit beckons.

Outside was the magic twilight in which docklands glowed, reflecting in the hotel-yacht nearby.

A quick peak out at the quay-side by the ExCel exhibition centre and it was clear there were no boats on display:


It was rather cold: time to take the DLR and head west.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

London Boat Show: Ladders


There're always some off topic stands at the London Boat Show.

For some reason many are basically the sort of thing you'd see at an Ideal Home Show, in particular kitchen and bedroom focused, with knive and pans sets or new beds. I did wonder if they never left but the stands stay there all the time.

This one make me immediately think of one of the Greendale courses on the TV show Community, namely Ladders:



Though they didn't describe itself as ladders but instead something about "Access Solutions".

Monday, January 29, 2018

London Boat Show: Two Cars and a Helicopter


At a boat show you expect to see... well... boats, though for some reason other vehicles seem to creep in.

The amphibious car (above) did sort of make sense but this one less so:

Though maybe if you're buying a massive white gin palace you might as well colour coordinate the Bentley while you're at it.

But then what happens if your helicopter is charcoal grey???


That's done it! Cancel those orders!!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

London Boat Show: Rowing the Indian Ocean


At the London Boat show saw another of those cross-ocean rowing team expeditions things. I know its all for a good cause (*) and terribly hard work but really can't get that enthusiastic - sorry guys!

I just can't see why you'd row when you could sail. Maybe I've seen too many SV Delos videos but they seem to be having a lot of fun while this just seems like making life hard for yourself.

Also, wasn't that the route that the debris from that the Malaysia flight 370 aircraft crash followed, washing up at Mauritius too?

Anyhow, there's a web site about there voyage here.



(*) raising money for to support those with Parkinson's Disease which really is horrid so worth funding

Thursday, January 25, 2018

London Boat Show: Kraken Travel



A couple of years ago I went to a talk by Skip Novak at the Southampton Boat Show (as blogged here).

Afterwards wandered around looking at boats with two chaps I'd met at the talk called Henry and Emil. It turned out there were planning to charter a Challenge 72 to sail to high latitude destinations such as Jan Mayen island, home of the mighty Beerenberg.

Alas that sailing trip didn't work out due to complicated reasons and it was to set a pattern for the next few years where I'd get all excited about an adventure sail only to get sick and not go.

Anyhow, I met Henry again at the London Boat Show where he and his company Kraken Travel had a stand. They do just the sort of exciting sailing to interesting places that I'd like to be doing - see the video above (gold stars for those that spot Henry in it) - so had a good chat and catch-up.

Here's hoping at some point will be able go on voyages like these again.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

London Boat Show: Golden Globe Race Anniversary & Susie Goodall Racing


I used to go round the boat show visiting the yachts on display and imagining sailing away in them. But now there aren't that many boat builders at the show and those that are on display are usually either plastic gin palaces or the potter round the Med types with fat beams.

However this one did catch my eye: a tough, go-anywhere Rustler 36 and it really is going on an adventure as Susie Goodall is racing it around the world as part of the 50th anniversary of the Sunday Times 1968 Golden Globe Race.

The new Golden Globe Race will leave on the 30th June 2018 from Portsmouth and re-create the classic race, avoiding modern designs and technology. As this web site puts it "iPhone, no mod cons, just solo with the sun stars and horizon".

Sounds fascinating!


Sunday, January 21, 2018

London Boat Show: Emma Bamford


I'd met Emma Bamford at last year's boat show and bought her two books about her cruising life, Casting Off & Untie the Lines, which I'd read, enjoyed and reviewed (see this post).

But they left me with the inevitable question about what happened next, so went along hoping to hear there was a third book out that would give answers.

Alas it was just the two books I'd already read available but I had a quick chat afterwards as to what she was planning.

Apparently she is working in sailing journalism in the UK and is writing a novel about yachties in the Indian Ocean arriving at Chagos Islands where there's a baddy and the plot thickens (so to speak). One to look out for ... whenever. Not sure when as it sounded like it might not be available for next year's boat show.

So I left the Boat Show without picking up another book.... ah well, I have a good stack at home.


Friday, January 19, 2018

London Boat Show: Sam Davies and Tracy Edwards


I arrived particularly early for the Legends sailing talk with Tracy Edwards and Sam Davies (above) and that was just as well as it was really popular - with good reason.

Tracy Edwards, MBE, was of course skipper and driving force behind Maiden, the first female crewed yacht in the Whitbread Round the World Yacht race (now the Volvo), which won 2 of the 5 legs and ended up second overall.

She has inspired many others to follow her footsteps and helped them directly, including Sam Davies, inviting her to join the crew of the multihull Royal SunAlliance.

Both have mega projects they are working on. Edwards has rescued Maiden and is now planning a global voyage to raise funds for charities that support female education. Apparently there will be berths available in return for contributions - worth looking out for that later this year. You could even sail with Edwards, though I get the impression she could be a bit of a tough cookie.

And Davies is off again on another Vende Globe! Must admit to be rather thrilled by this one in particular as she really lit up the 2008-9 circumnavigation. She really seemed to be not just relishing the challenge but actually enjoying it, and you can see why France has taken her to heart with her natural girl-next-door charm:


Her new boat is being upgraded to the latest foils and then she'll have a good long period to get familiar with it before the race. Bon courage, Sam!


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

London Boat Show: Navigation Tips with Stokey Woodall


My chat with Conrad Humphreys touched on navigation techniques but later there was to be a whole talk about it from Pete "Stokey" Woodall (above).

I'd seen him at a previous London Boat Show when he'd described the star clock (below) for which the answer was not 42 but 41.5. I'd even gone off and done a bit of maths to work out that it was really 41.58 which I guess is close enough.


It was a very entertaining talk, including such gems as rolling up a chart into a cone and using it to locate fog-horn directions to within a few degrees (apparently that really works). Also a metal frying pan can be used to shield an AM radio so that the direction of the transmitter can be identified from the two possible directions 180 degrees apart.

There was also some more celestial navigation tips based upon one of the stars in Orion, Mintaka, that rises or sets due East / West:

Fun and informative!

Monday, January 15, 2018

London Boat Show: Conrad Humphreys and C4's Mutiny


Last year Channel 4 broadcast a programme called "Mutiny" in which they re-created the voyage of Captain Bligh after the Mutiny on the Bounty in which he was cast adrift in the Pacific in small boat.

The programme showed 9 men sailing a 23 foot open wooden boat 4,000 miles from Tonga to Timur and there was plenty of drama on the way. The boat itself was on display at the last boat show (as blogged here).

The channel's notes can be found here and it can be seen that there was only one named crew member, namely "Anthony Middleton, of SAS: Who Dares Wins".

There is a difference between a non-sailing commissioning editor and a sailor, because from my viewpoint the crew was round the world sailor Conrad Humphreys and some bloke from the marines (apologies to Anthony Middleton for that lack of knowledge).

In most cases there was perfect agreement between the two apart from the final leg where a lack of wind and water meant there was a discussion about whether to row towards wind patches.

TBH, if I'd been on that boat I know which of the two I'd have listened to the most carefully, namely the one that had sailed round the world and knew a thing or two about how to keep moving when trapped by a high pressure, but the episode was cut by someone who shared the channel's view that saw first and foremost a TV personality from the SAS.

Anyhow, it was great to meet Conrad Humphreys at the London Boat Show and hear about the voyage first hand and see some of the photos on his iPad. He also showed some of the ship's biscuits they survived on and if they were only eating a couple of those a day its no wonder they lost a lot of weight.

We also had a brief chat about navigation and the techniques they used which was pure old school techniques like dead reckoning and celestial navigation. I asked about whether he'd read Tristan's "How to Read Water" book and he hadn't but knew about Tristan and was wondering if he should reach out, to which I said yes, as that sounds like a great combination.

It was all very interesting and I look forward to hearing what he does next.