Check out my Finished Items on the second page

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Piglottie has new cards...

..... and they're awesome!

(If she wouldn't mind me saying, I have bought cards from her, and they are better in real life than the photos look - not that there's anything at all wrong with the photos, but they're just better IRL!)

It's so easy to order,
check the photo album,
get the PLxxx number(s),
leave a comment,
send an email,
and arrange payment (2 cheques, one for charity and one for p&p)....... go and have a look. It'll be worth your while!

So much to tell you!

Well I was such a lucky girl! My friends and family were so generous and thoughtful for my Birthday!

This first gift was for the Spring Birthday Exchange on the Crafty threads n yarns forum! - It was sent by Aknita, and comprised some amazing little chicken stitch markers (made by another forum member and available here), a ball of sock yarn for yummy walking socks, some gardener's hand repair (how did she know??) and the most precious cross-stitched card of a spaniel - Isn't that just perfect?

My sister sent me this little beauty to keep my eggs in, she is very handsome and is now pride of place in the centre of my kitchen dresser (and full already I might add!)
Mr Noo took me shopping to Reading! - I bought a few sleeveless T's and bits and pieces... some proper running trainers as opposed to the multi - purpose ones I've been using (they were in a sale - I love bargains!) and this....... yes it's a tool bag! - But just look how clever it is for us crafters........ loads of pockets for tools and bits and pieces..... and plastic storage box at the bottom with 20 compartments! I'm going to use it to tidy my card-making supplies up (which are currently in various strategic places..... on the floor!!!!!)
My wonderful friend Piglottie sent me these two skeins of Lorna's Laces colourway "Motherlode". The colour is just so me!!! - You are clever! I also got a beautiful bunch of flowers and some spending money, plus I have some Muskat on backorder from Scandinavian Knitting Design, so all in all I had an awesome birthday. And as I have already pledged that at 39, I don't want any more......... I couldn't be happier with this one, and feel so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family.

Finally, for the photo-show, here is the finished Sahara! - I had to change the pattern quite substantially as the tension was all wrong, but it gave me a good idea of what I wanted to do with the Rowan Chenille. I am kind of cross with myself for the way I have knitted it, as I haven't taken much care. This yarn is an absolute bitch to knit, there is no give whatsoever, and the little fluffy chenilley bits snag on the stitches and make it hard to knit. I knitted it on 2 sizes smaller needle than recommended, because that gave the best appearance. Thing is now it's finished - I love it!!! The colour is really beautiful, and although totally different from the Sahara pattern, it has its own charm! - Just wish I'd been more careful knitting it...... but I think only knitters would see all the bad bits!

So what else to tell you? Well firstly, when Mr Noo and I were driving to Reading the other day he saw in a field on our left (as is his way) a deer. Asking me if I'd noticed (yeah right, I swear he was the prototype for the Six Million Dollar Man's eye) I had to admit defeat (nothing new there then) and he turned the car around and we went back..... as luck would have it the deer was right by a layby. So we pulled in and watched her, and watched her and watched her! She was quite close to the road, maybe only 90 odd ft back and showing no signs of moving away. A little worried for her welfare Mr Noo told me to get out of the car and see how close I could get to her, without scaring her too much, but just to push her back from the road a tad....... so I did, gently, gently............. and as I got closer I saw at her side a tiny pair of ears and a pointed nose...... she had a fawn!!!! it couldn't have been more than a couple of days old, and that was obviously why she was showing no signs of moving - she felt happy where she was. I've never seen a deer so young, it was awesome, and on my birthday too!!!! :)

The other little thing to tell you about are 2 new visitors to my garden... I wish I had taken photos, although with just a normal digi camera I doubt you would have seen much. But yesterday I had both a greenfinch, and a male bullfinch visit the garden. Both such amazing colours, and although I have seen both birds in the area, I rarely see them in my garden, and they stayed long enough to show off for a moment before going home!!!

On the knitting front, I've just finished a small pair of socks in some leftover Karisma superwash, and am now embarking on a cotton cardi.... photos soon!!!!

Hope you all have a fab weekend. x

Friday, May 18, 2007

Back Soon

I was going to blog about my birthday and show you photos of all my goodies, but it's sunny for the first time in 10 days, so the grass needs cutting, the veggie beds need weeding, and the chickens need cleaning. So I'll be back later.... or when it's next raining!!!!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Photos from Bute

I'm afraid there are no photos of the jazz, because I go to all the gigs with the bare minimum in case we can't get a seat, or I get too inhibriated to remember to collect everything when I leave, and because I dance a lot, and a camera would really cramp my style!

So here are a few photos of the fishing trip! and a Saturday morning walk......

Isle of Bute Jazz Festival 2007. 20th Anniversay.

Isle of Bute Jazz festival 2007.

(This review is really for Jazz fans, and because I feel the need to write down the disappointment of the programming for the weekend. I don’t think it’ll make much sense to anyone else who doesn’t know the bands or the Isle of Bute, so I apologise to my regular readers for that!)

I love Jazz!!! I love the energy, the fun, the emotion, the party (and the beer!) The first time I heard my dear friend Christine Tyrrell sing, I cried….. she sung “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” which we used to sing at school…. I don’t know why it made me emotional, there was no reason behind it, and I wasn’t sobbing like a baby…. just had tears falling down my face.

The reason that we decided to go to Bute this year was that a) it was the 20th anniversary of the festival and b) the band line-up was excellent:-

Trad Jazz was covered by Savannah Jazz Band, Phil Mason’s New Orleans Band with Christine Tyrrell, Ivan Henderson All-Stars, Freetime Old Dixie Jass Band, (that link is a youtube vid 'cos the website is in dutch!!!) and the Second Line Jazz Band

Rhythm and Blues was covered by TJ Johnson and his band (with the adorable Adrian Cox and Sky Murphy)

The Jonny Boston/James Evans (can't find a link for James) Quintet played slightly more modern jazz

And the posh stuff was done by Kenny Ball, and the Pasadena Roof Orchestra.

(I should add that there were other bands there that I don’t know, I am limiting this review to the people that I wanted to see, and that I know!)

Generally, I wanted to try to see as many of the above bands as possible. – All of the trad jazz bands are awesome to watch, and provide not only an amazing musical set, but generally also a set of good entertainment value (the Second Line band only have to get on stage to be entertaining, they are all gorgeous!!!!!)

We arrived on the island at around 4:30pm, in time for a cup of tea, a rest, a chat with friends, a glance a the programme with a pen to mark what we wanted to catch, and a quick change of clothes for the first evening’s gigs. There is only one event on the first night, which is held in the Pavilion (which is reminiscent of a huge school sports hall) There is a very large dance area, and plenty of seating (I think it holds around 650 people). This first night is normally a good intro to the weekend; it finishes at 12, so not too late a night, and has three bands. The last of the three bands this year were the Savannah, who were great! And that was one off my list of must-sees! We drank too much, danced hard, and giggled like school-children, it was good!!!!

On Friday we got up and went fishing for the day (well I have to placate Mr Noo too you know!) We got a row boat and headed off to Loch Quien. The weather was good, I had a book, and the fish were biting. Not much more you could ask for really!

Now Friday evening we had the choice of TJ and the Savannah in the Glenburn hotel,(alternate hour stints from 8pm to midnight) or Freetime and Deep River Quartet in the Pavilion.(9 to 9:45 Freetime , 10 to 11:45 Deep river, 12 to 1am Freetime ), (There were other gigs, but these were the bands I had wanted to see, plus they were in venues with dance floors! And I need to work off that beer somehow!) My preference had been the pavilion gig, but unfortunately Mr Noo and I fell asleep after our day in the sun, and didn’t wake up until 9pm, so by the time we would have got to the pavilion the Freetime’s first stint would be over and I didn’t want to go all the way to the other end of town to see a band I may not like. So a quick re-hash meant TJ and the Savannah in the Glenburn until 12, then hot –foot it down to the Pavilion to see the last set of the Freetime. It didn’t quite work out, as the walk from Glenburn to Pavilion was 15 mins, so we only saw the last 20 mins of the Freetime. Hmmm this was the beginning of the way things were going to go.

I’m not going to carry on going into every band we saw and where we saw them, but I am going to make some observations on the programming of the festival. These are observations, not necessarily criticisms, but I know I was not the only person at the festival making the same remarks!

Saturday nights choice was the Pavilion: : TJ 9 – 9:45, Pasadena 10 – 11:45, TJ 12 – 1am. Glenburn: Jonny Boston/James Evans 9 - midnight. St Andrew’s Hall: 8 – midnight Phil Mason and Second Line alternating hourly

Firstly whoever thought of putting Jonny and James in the Glenburn really wasn’t thinking (Jonny was actually not there as he was ill, and I am not sure if he had been there if it would have made a difference?) But the kind of jazz that these two play is listening jazz….. They are both incredible musicians, really awesome…. But in all honesty it’s not generally the kind of thing you get up and dance to, so the Glenburn with it’s dance floor was really a bit of a waste of a venue (there probably weren’t more than 50 people in there) Listening to Jonny and/or James is a bit like reading a Booker Prize winning book…….. if I can say it, I feel it’s the slightly more intellectual form of jazz. You listen to it, you immerse yourself in it, you close your eyes and feel it, you generally don’t get up and jive to it!!!! Meanwhile I understand that both the Esplanade and St Andrews Hall were full to capacity and turning people away. We had also been in the Pavilion, but had left due to the fact that it was also full, and although more people were being allowed in, it was uncomfortably hot and crowded. So three venues full and one empty….. and that one was the only one that had one lone band playing??? Hmmm.

Sunday was in all honesty more of the same: It rained (hard) so jazz was the order of the whole day. Lunchtime in the Pavilion was awesome – the Second Line for 2 hours !!! Perfect! Then TJ should have been doing a picnic outside in a castle ruin, but that was moved to the Pavilion because of the rain, and Jonny/James and the Bobby Wishart band should have been in the Pavilion, and this should have been moved to the smaller café next door…. That would have been fine….. but for some unknown reason, they decided to keep all bands in the Pavilion main hall, and just cut down their sets. Now TJ is a groovy piano player, he can play a mean Ray Charles, or Fats Domino, as well as jazzed up Bob Dylan or Jonny Cash….. perfect for a young (and in a fair few cases toddler aged) audience. They were dancing (and fighting) and having a ball. But the set was cut down to around an hour (instead of 2) and the two following bands were really not suitable for the audience. As already mentioned Jonny/James band, and although I didn’t know it, Bobby Wishart, are both more “grown up” Really not a suitable replacement for a picnic afternoon, and to sit in a venue that holds 650 odd people and watch people leave to the point of there only being around 40 left is heart-breaking, and was unnecessary if they had kept the programme as it should have been.

Sunday night wasn’t too bad. We saw Second Line and Phil Mason in the Pavilion (although each set was only 45 mins which was a bit short), then left before Kenny Ball (sorry but I’m too young to appreciate him!) and saw Ivan Henderson at the Glenburn……that was proper stomping!!!!!

Basically this festival had all the makings of being the best ever line-up. It is the 6th time I have been to Bute, and this certainly was one of the most diverse and well balanced line-ups I have seen. But the programming was just all wrong, and it totally spoilt the weekend. Maybe there were too many good bands so it would always have been wrong. If I’d been doing it, (because you can’t make observations like this if you can’t make suggestions for improvements) I would have changed all Pavilion evening gigs to be 2 x 1 ¾ hour sets with a half hour break. To have a band play for 45 mins then basically hit the bar for 1 ¾ hours whilst waiting for their final hour set at midnight is not sensible!!!! (They are jazz musicians!!!! They drink A LOT) It also would have made it easier to see who you wanted…when your band is on they are on for a long enough set to enjoy, and for them to get warmed up!!! (I personally spent far too much time getting between venues and missing half of the sets). On Saturday I would have split Phil Mason and the Second Line and put one of them with the Jonny/James quintet in the Glenburn, so that at some time during the night the dance floor was in use. Sunday afternoon should have been left as per the programme; Bobby Wishart and Jonny/James should have been left in the café, with TJ doing a full 2 hour stint in the Pavilion. Sunday night: well again the dance floor in the Glenburn was wasted during the sets of “swing Guitars” (very nice music but again you can’t really jive to 2 guitars!) and the other band Ivan Henderson were proper stomping New Orleans Jazz, so I’d have left Ivan Henderson there and put “anyone else” with them!!!!

I dare say there are loads of reasons why it was the way it was, and why my thoughts wouldn’t work. Rothesay is a small place and the venues each have a personality of their own. Maybe the downfall was that there were just too many good bands and it would never have worked, a victim of it’s own success? But £45 (and an 8 hour drive) is a fair amount of money to spend on a ticket that leaves you permanently walking between venues and missing half of the set that you’ve gone to see (there is a free bus, but it’s never there when you want it, in fact in 6 years I think I’ve only seen it twice!) It’s probably around a mile between the Glenburn and the Pavilion (which are the main 2 venues) The music was fabulous though, and it was a great weekend. It was lovely to catch up with old friends, and to dance the night away. The Isle of Bute is a beautiful place, and well worth a visit. It’s only 15 miles long and I think 5 miles wide, and it very special in its simplicity.

I think, however, we may try Abersoch next year!!!!!

(Photos form the fishing and a walk will follow shortly!)