Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Tuesday, 20 December 2011


Welcome to England my little beauties, enjoy your stay however brief.

Monday, 19 December 2011


Ghetto style longboard gloves. Not pretty but cheap.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Filling Station

The driving rain sucked away my enthusiasm a little and, if I hadn't actually had a destination already decided upon, I'm fairly sure I would have stayed at home. The grand opening of a new biker cafe was the lure and I was determined to get there. I would be lying if I said I wasn't showing off when I pulled up on the Harley but I thought it would make a better spectacle to have ancient american iron parked up outside among all the other bikes. The owner seemed pleased if a little surprised that I would ride such an old machine in such bad weather. I brushed it off nonchalantly but nearly regret it as I set off just a little too late, loaded with caffeine and nicotine and jittery as hell. I am aware that the sparto tail-light is little better than a reflector on bicycle so I made my own space in the spray on the twilight road home. It all passed totally without incident but I made a mental note to either leave earlier or drink less coffee.

The new cafe is great. If you are ever near Keswick drop in at The Filling Station.

Friday, 2 December 2011


It's hard to be silent when you read contentious issues debated badly on a public forum. I would hope that my voice would shine out like a beacon of reason but I feel it would get lost in the morasse of random, pointless shit-talking. So I stay silent, repeating the mantra; It's better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. It helps a little but I wish other internet pundits would entertain the same thought. 

Dream on.






Tuesday, 29 November 2011

New Wheels

New wheels arrived today after skimming the "excess" cash from the sale of Ol Blue the camper van. It's huge- an expanse of contoured ply and bamboo pintail, wide trucks and jumbo wheels. All I can do is look at it lovingly in its cellophane wrapper cos it's raining without mercy here today. Hope to get out on it if the clouds break for a few minutes some time later this week.

Thursday, 24 November 2011


... Ol Blue has gone. Sold on eBay and I reckon I just broke even if I don't think too hard about what I spent. Might throw some of the money back into a vehicle... "might", ha ha; who am I kidding?

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Rollerburn- the event.

 I'll let the pictures do the talking. It was a great day and a stroke of genius to combine skating with bikes in the presence of bands and beer; I mean what could possibly go wrong? It was a great success and I had a great time- stayed up til 3 talking with friends. Didn't feel so great this morning.

Roller Derby

Ben Part


Mmm... Rollergirls....
 Guy Martin
Penny Farthing Fun
Conrad launches Johnny the Wasp

Friday, 18 November 2011


  Viola lee blues by Tcordastanley

I've got frustrated with the Internet recently. I go on, check my emails, check my Facebook, read my blog subscriptions. I do this every morning. 10 minutes later I'm sat staring at the screen thinking that there should be something else I should be doing. Oh yeah, shopping! All that technology just so that everyone can shop for anything, anywhere in the world. I mostly don't get it except when you come across someone doing something very cool in an artisan manner. This T-shirt arrived safely and lovingly wrapped from Patrick.

Thanks a lot Patrick, I love it.

Thursday, 17 November 2011


I headed out towards the blue hole in the grey sky pushing some tall gears on my road bike. My beloved mountain bike has been sent away after the back brake finally and completely failed once I'd crested the top of a mountain last Tuesday. It's gutting when you have to walk the long way down after the hard slog up- zero reward apart from the wholesome feeling of health for having completed the climb. Today there was absolutely nothing in the diary until band practice later so I thought I'd seize the moment and get out to feel what I could of the paltry heat of the low autumnal sun. The roads were greasy and covered in mud from farm vehicles and fallen leaves, the sort of shit that gets up in every part of the underside of a motorbike so i was happy enough to be on a bicycle. I had the Black Keys plugged straight into my head and a direction purely dictated by where the clear sky was. I passed an angry old man driving too slowly in a big car and wondered what he what he got out of being so angry. I got home and squashed a handful of minced beef into a hot pan, melted some cheese on it and stuck it between two slices of home made bread.

Thursday, 10 November 2011


The smoke of the fire mingled with the typical smog of bonfire night spreading the coloured explosions of the fireworks into more of a blur than sharp scattering of sparks. Most of the crowd seemed to be heavily laid back and getting into pattern and colour by that point of the evening. The sound of the double bass carried remarkably well as we experimented with different instruments, different styles and different wavelengths. It all worked well leaving everyone with a warm glow.

Monday, 10 October 2011


Screw the bikes... I'm going for the chicks on roller-skates.

Monday, 3 October 2011

The Moon

I'd love to spend my whole blog talking about music and motorbikes but the plain fact is that I do many other things besides.
A huge portion of my time is spent on a bicycle. I live in the mountains so mountain biking is a bit of a no-brainer; it keeps me fit and it's a thrill buzzing down hills at speed. Mountain bikers are also a good laugh. They're not completely obsessed with fitness and they like a drink- my kind of people.
I've just come back from a week in southern Spain in the Alpujarra mountains. Its a crazy area of winding hairpins, precipitous gorges and the best mountain-biking I have ever done. I was a bit annoyed that I had to put gears on my bike (even though I could only get 6 on) but after the first day I was glad of it... before every amazing downhill there is usually a punishing climb.
This picture was taken after a gruelling 10k road climb from a ski resort to the top of the Valetta pass. I managed it without a stop but it nearly killed me, not least because the air was quite thin at the top. The payoff was a 40k downhill from the moonscape at the top, through sweeping double-track, into rocky medieval roads and finally to fast single-track through forests, scrub and farmland. I was shaken to bits by the end of it but was high on endorphins. Cooling off in the pool with a beer was the perfect end to the ride. There were four other days of equally awesome riding and a day spent abseiling through a canyon. I would recommend it to anyone... www.ciclomontana.com.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Part of the Process

Part of the Process by Morcheeba was playing on the radio as I got in at 1am.
I'd just returned home from a refreshingly different night playing my new cigar box guitar through my old pignose amp while drinking Old Jake alcoholic Ginger beer (nice). All I could hear surging round my head as I was playing was the rich and fat slide sound on the album Big Calm. That sound must be hard wired into me after listening to it over and over for years and now I have an instrument that makes that noise.
I'd messed around on it since Monday but wasn't really getting anywhere so I've no idea why I would take it to a jam but take it I did. Alongside the other instruments it rapidly found it's place in the mix. Sometimes right at the front, sometimes towards the back and sometimes totally out of it. It amazes me that I can't play slide guitar for shit but bolt a 3 string neck to a cigar box with a pickup on it and I get inspired to throw myself at it. The broken bottle slide was a freebie that made the purchase viable of course. Fair play to Chickenbone John for taking these lesser worthy items and transforming them into objects of fascination and value to the likes of me.
All my mates knew I'd buy one before I did. I'd even forgotten that they would be at the annual guitar show. I walked in with a stinking hangover having gone to an after-gig party with a madman. We played funk til late after a good, full-on rockin gig. I peeled myself away as he started telling me how much he loved me- however innocent it was I wasn't up for a bromance so I drank all his raki and split.
The moment I saw the cigar box guitars I knew I was off to find some scarce cash and make one mine. I left almost immediately afterwards and found myself walking home along the railway siding. I felt like a proper hobo having spent what little funds I have left on an oddball instrument. I had somehow managed to justify it to myself so I was pretty sure my girlfriend would see the sense in it. Not so... but she's coming round.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011


Johnny the Wasp came round with a Tiki he specially carved for me. It's based on my own design, includes elements of Von Franko and the rest was left to his artistic devices. I love it. I'm going to seal it to better survive in our northern latitude and find a quiet corner in the back garden for it to watch over. I think he's going to have quite an industry on his hands once it gets out he carves tikis to order.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Emergency Barbecue #1

I threw the tarp off Ol Blue and sent a text to Johnny the Wasp- down tools; weather's too nice to sit inside so lets get out for an emergency barbecue. Quick pitstop for meat and fizzy pop and we went to an out of the way place to stoke up some embers and fry some flesh. Rapidly ate far too much so lay around bloated for a bit before jumping back in the van and heading home.
It seems the boy just can't help himself; not content with creating some Andy Goldsworthy style art he's creating more photo art from it. Nice.

Friday, 29 July 2011


Couldn't go to the Hotrod Hayride for one reason or another so spent the day doing some wholesome stuff. Climbed Blencathra. It was one that I had said for a long time I needed to walk but so far have only been up it on my bicycle. It's a different beast when you walk it. We didn't take the scariest ridge but it's always a challenge to scramble these ridge-lines. The descent pumped my thighs til my kneecaps nearly exploded but left me feeling nicely worked out. Who needs hotrods, booze and rock and roll when you have mountains? Don't answer that.

Thursday, 28 July 2011


Once again my tiny little PA strode into action like "The Little Engine That Could" and performed faultlessly despite my own lack of confidence. The power amp is a MOSFET, which is almost indestructible- so I'm told. You could cook a meal on it by the end of the gig and the thermal fan still hadn't kicked in.
The main band was eventually defeated by sub-standard guitar strings which was a shame because they were pretty good. I was a little disappointed that the crowd let them off so easy but I obviously don't understand the stresses on the modern-day touring band or for that matter the stresses on the modern-day mid-week music audience.
The band had made the Mercury Music Prize long list and as such had some kudos. The sound-check could have been easier if the musicians had a clue about what they wanted to sound like but I got the feeling they would have rather been anywhere else than right here, right now. Eventually intervention was appropriate and with a few minor adjustments the mix came right; loud does not always equal good. My ears are just about shot to bits from too much loud music and motorbikes but I can still hear the difference between a good and a bad mix.
The band picked up and split like there was somewhere they had to be.
The drummer took a moment to say thanks and that was very cool.
I wished him well on his quest for fame.
He seemed tired.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011


Went for a cycle around the beautiful sunny Lake District on the other side of Windermere from all the tourists to watch a Vulcan Bomber slowly and gracefully dance over-head.

Followed by the Red Arrows weaving their intricate lattice across the sky.

Ending up back at home firing up the home-made chiminea, drinking beer and eating meat.