Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Looking ahead somewhat, we have a great few days in store. Staring tonight with the Calexico gig, then we have another 3 day weekend to look forward to. On Saturday Bristol City are at home to Port Vale in the last regular league match of the season, although our defeat at Chesterfield last Saturday means that we have a least one more game to watch this season, as we strive to get obtain promotion, via the torturous play off's.

On Sunday we are going to visit the brilliant Spike Island, which is open over the whole of the long weekend. For those of you that don't know, Spike Island is an old Tea warehouse which has been converted into artists units. From memory about 150 different artists have units in the building, producing an incredible array of work. Sculpture, video, paintings, printmaking, photography, conceptual art it's all there. Normally it's a working building which the public don't really have access to, but from Friday to Monday the public take the chance to view the work and some cases buy it as well. Whilst being able to talk to the people who are producing the stuff as well. Our friend's Anna Oliver (see links) and her partner John Pym will both have work on display. It's a great place to meet up with friends and the hours just seem to disappear when you are in the midst of all this creative energy.

On bank holiday Monday, the people of Redland hope for a dry sunny day, as the annual Redland fair takes place on Redland Green, just around the corner from our house. It's nothing special really, just a collection of stalls selling everything from home cakes to old household bit's and pieces, plus the occasional treasure on the 2nd hand books and records front. Although it has to be said that our DJ friends John Stapleton and Ian Green have normally snaffled all the bargains and are seen wandering into the distance with pile of rare 7" singles and LP's. All the stalls are set up in the area around The lovely old Redland church. When the sun shines it's a pretty good place to be. We normally end up back at our place with a few friends, having the inevitable Thomas tea and cakes whilst we admire each others plunder from the afternoons bargain hunt.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Thanks to the purchase of a new record player, current plays:
The Chills – Kaleidoscope World LP
Orange Juice – Texas Fever mini LP
Lloyd Cole & The Commotions- Rattlesnakes LP
LCD Soundsystem – Give it up 7”
Tamla Motown Presents the Isley Brother LP

Whilst on CD
LCD Soundsystem – Losing my edge (best song in the world at the moment!!)
Evan Dando – Baby I’m Bored
Yo La Tengo - Summer Sun

Saturday, April 26, 2003

We have had a very pleasant couple of days. On Thursday evening, we meet up after work and planned to have something to eat in Severnshed, however for some reason it was absolutely crammed full of people, so we popped next door to The Riverstation, to see Petunia and Simon, where we took advantage of the their early evening meal offer. I had a gorgeous meal of Skate wings with Capers. I’d forgotten how much I love Capers, that wonderful acidic zing really adds something to any fish dish. We then nipped over the river to see Orynthia’s dad as he has been moved back to the general hospital. He was in great spits, which was lovely to see.

Last night we went to The Croft, for John, Ian and Phil’s excellent Four Corners evening. Lots of our friends were about so we did more chatting than dancing on this occasion.

On Tuesday we are seeing Calexico, never seen them play live before. I’ve enjoyed the last couple of albums and am looking forward to seeing them. Once again quite a few friends are going so it should be a good night.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

So, every day this week, I have been getting up at around 6:20 am to let our roofing guys in. Must admit that it's making me very tired. I know lot's of people do this sort of thing all the time, but the earliest I get up normally is 7am, once or twice a week. I guess that because we don't have kids, and we both work pretty straightforward office hours, with minimal commuting times, we have been pretty spoilt on the sleep front. Orynthia has been ribbing me a bit lately, I have been waking up at around 8:30 - 9:00 am on some weekend mornings, which she takes as a sure sign of old age. It's a well known fact that young people can quite happily sleep all day. Whereas those nice old grandmums and dads have normally read the paper, watched "Gone With The Wind" on video, had breakfast and a mid morning snack, before the clock strikes 8:30 am. So in a way I'm quite pleased that I'm finding it so taxing. Proof that I'm not completely in my dotage!

Picked up a couple of CD's yesterday. One of them is a compilation of bands on the Output label called Channel 2 , including older singles from bands like The Rapture and LCD Soundsystem plus lots of new stuff by bands which are new to me. Most of it is the new electro vein, which is all pervasive at the moment. The other CD is the new one from Yo La Tengo - Summer Sun , only had a chance to give the first few tracks the skimpiest of plays last night, but track 4 "Season of the shark" is just lovely. Looking forward to more plays of this album.

We have actually had some rain here today, for the first time in absolutely ages. It felt quite strange to be holding an umbrella again.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Yeah City won 2-0 last night, so we are back up to 3rd place in the league with only 2 games left. We could still finish 2nd and claim one of the automatic promotion places, and we are now guaranteed a least a playoff place. It was a pretty tense game and to be honest Cardiff had the best of the 1st half, after the break, we played with a lot more pace and deserved the victory. My Friend Steve, who now lives in Madrid, had a text message advising him of the final score and he was so excited he called me at about 11pm to chat about the game, as no one else in Madrid would really share his enthusiasm for a lower level English team. Also pleased to say that there was no crowd trouble at the match at all (from what I saw anyway). The fixture has seen some of the worst excesses of football hooliganism over recent years, and some of the games have been pretty horrible. Thankfully nothing of that nature occurred this time, although I may have injured my voice whilst shouting with joy, when the 2nd goal went in!

Monday, April 21, 2003

Not too much going on here over the course of this long Easter Weekend. We have both been on the verge of going down with colds, so we decided to have a much rest as we could and just take things easy. Apart from yesterday, when we caught up with a lot of family, it worked out pretty well.

Bristol City picked up a couple of draws in the last 2 away games. Tomorrow night is the big game against Cardiff. If we win, we will go up to 3rd place in the league, if we loose, we will be in the last playoff place looking nervously over our shoulder at The team in 7th place. Games against Cardiff are always volatile affairs, so who knows what will happen?

I finally got round to finishing my mix tape for the tape swap being arranged by Tally Ho Sulky (see blog links), it should be winging it’s way to New York tomorrow. It’s a mixture of songs, spoken word, radio samples and all sorts of oddities. I can do a copy for anyone else that wants one, if you do a tape for me!

Orynthia has been working on a new website, which she hope to have up pretty soon. Not going to give away any more away, but once it is finished I’ll have a link to it.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Well this morning all the tiles arrived for our new roof. Which meant that I had to dash downstairs and move the cars out of the way to allow the lorry to get close enough to load them onto the platform which has been erected over our front garden. Apparently the guys are going to start work at about 6:30 am on Tuesday morning. So no chance of an post Easter holiday lie in! The weather has been glorious here over recent days, just hope that we don't get lashings of rain and wind for the few days when we don’t have a proper roof!
We don't have too many plans for the 4 day Easter break, mind you we don't normally do anything special, it's good chance to sit back and relax for a couple of days. I've been thinking about previous Easter breaks and one really stands out. In 1998 we were lucky enough to go to the wedding of Orynthia's Australian cousin Sorelle and her chap Craig. Now going to a wedding in Australia would have been exciting enough, but luckily for us it got even better as they decided to get married in Malaysia! People from all over the world congregated in the beautiful Marang Resort & Safaris, a remote destination near Kuala Terengganu in remote north east Malaysia. We flew into Kuala Lumpur were we were able to meet up with some other relatives before taking the short flight north. Once we arrived at Marang, we met up with the rest of the wedding group, friends and relatives from Australia, Asia, Europe and the USA. The place was amazing, Mangrove swamp and river at the rear, the beautiful South China directly in front of our timber framed chalet. The wedding itself was gorgeous and several of us spent the small hours sitting on the beach, watching the twinkling lights of the fishing boats in the distance, just talking and thinking how lucky we were to be there. It was real treat to able to spend lots of time with friends old and new. We saw some incredible sights in and around Marang, it was a really wonderful time. To top it off, on the day after the wedding I received a fax from a friend of mind confirming that Bristol City had been promoted (only for one season unfortunately). It was quite a way to hear the news, although with the exception of Orynthia, everyone else was completely baffled by my excited state. The link above appears to indicate that the place may not be as well looked after as it once was, indeed it may even be closed, which is a shame.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Last night we went to the Louisiana to see New York band Radio 4 in action.
First up were two guys from Seattle called Plan-B, one of them keyboard crunching whilst crouched behind an i-book, the other playing a slimed down electronic stand up bass. Fairly pleasant noodling in a Boards of Canada type vain for the most part, although Orynthia had to move pretty quickly to avoid the i-book guy, as he leapt into the space between audience and band to give us his best B-Boy moves for a couple of minutes (very nimble they were too!).

Next to squeeze onto the tiny Louisiana stage were Outhud. Now a friend of mine who owns a record shop, was telling me on Sunday that he had been listening to an album by the band recently, which he described as mainly instrumental, dubby, electro. So we were both surprised (he was standing next to me at the gig) when it emerged that the band had 3 singers. I really liked them, they reminded me of either The Slits or Delta 5 (if you know those old, late 70's and early 80's bands?) mixed with early electro like Africa Bambaataa or maybe "Confusion" era new Order. I loved them. Great bass player, cello and loads of staccato keyboard riff's cut through the crowd like a rapier. One of the band gleefully announced that they were selling a CD at the gig but that it did not feature any of the songs that they had been playing (which may explain my friends confusion about the sound of the band.) After taking the stage to general audience indifference, they left it to much applause. I'm going to keep my eye's and ears open for this lot!

By now the tiny confines of the room were packed, indeed after nipping downstairs to use the restroom facilities, I could not get to Orynthia and our friends, so I decided to head towards the front stage area. Because of the strange layout of the room, (the dressing rooms are actually behind the audience, meaning that bands have to walk through the crowd to get to the stage!) the band were already on stage chatting amongst themselves. I got myself into a decent spot, just in time for the band to dash headlong into their set. I'm hopeless with song titles and whenever I rely on memory I'm normally wrong, but I'm pretty sure that they started with Our Town, followed by Start A Fire and I thought that maybe they were just going to play the album straight through. At first the sound was a bit muddy, so the crispness that defines the album was somewhat lacking, although the band were tearing into the songs as though their lives depended on it. Suddenly we got to Save your City and everything just clicked into place with the sound. From then on, the band could do no wrong, and the audience were really starting to appreciate these razor sharp songs. They played a couple of songs which were new to me, at least one of which was off the 1st album (which I have never seen or heard). The set built to a climax with Eyes Wide Open and Dance To The Underground leaving the band looking as though they had swum across the Atlantic to play the gig. As mentioned previously, to get to the dressing room the band would need to force their way through the crowd before coming back for an encore, they quickly realised that this would be a pointless thing to do, so after a quick chat a brooding and menacing version of Pipe Bombs, preceded the final charge through a cataclysmic New Disco. Orynthia is not really a fan of the album but she enjoyed the gig and was even spotted having a bit of shuffle around towards the back of the room. They certainly seemed to be a band that know that they are on top of their game at the moment and they are aiming to make the most of it.

Monday, April 14, 2003

What a great weekend! Started on Friday really when our upgrade to ADSL Broadband went amazingly smoothly. So now can actually watch music video's and listen to streaming radio without the gaps pauses and drop outs which we have become used to over the years.

On Saturday I watched a really entertaining game of football as Bristol City beat Mansfield 5-2. The win moves us up to 4th place in the league. Tomorrow we are away at 2nd placed Crewe and on the following Tuesday we are at home to 3rd placed Cardiff. So by next Wednesday we should have a pretty good idea if we have any chance of finishing in 2nd place and getting automatic promotion, or as I think is more likely we will end up somewhere between 3rd place and 6th place and will have to endure the nerve shredding play off's.

On Sunday afternoon we had an afternoon party to celebrate Orynthia's recent birthday. I took care of the house work, whilst Orynthia baked a multitude of splendid thing. A scrummy cheesecake, huge carrot cake covered in cream cheese icing, enough chocolate caramel slices to feed most of southern England a couple of loaves of bread! My main culinary contribution was the precision spearing together of cheese and pineapple chunks. Loads of our friends turned up and a small army of children set about the task of relocating our possession around the house. Gallons and gallons of tea were drunk along with the occasional glass of wine. Over the past couple of weeks Orynthia has put together a couple of tapes of her favourite songs from the soul and reggae of her youth to heyday of scratchy guitar indie heaven of the early 80's and onwards to the present day. All bases were covered and I'm sure that those tapes are going to be in pretty heavy rotation in the car for the next couple of months.

We are going to see Radio 4 and a couple of other bands at The Louisiana tonight. I think that it's going to pretty hot and sweaty!

Saturday, April 12, 2003

Well, It looks like most of the site is back.Whew! Gone for a new look as well!

Friday, April 11, 2003

Well, at least the blogs show now. I'll have to put comments, links back on. We have just upgraded our service to ADSL (nothing to do with my blog problems) so it's all a bit mad on the computer front today! Just noticed that my archives have come back!!

Oops! Look's like I've messed up this page, help!

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Some recent CD purchases from Paris and Bristol:
Alpha – Stargazing (made in Bristol, purchased in Paris). Howe Home – The Listener (Howe Gelb of Giant sand under another name). Ignatus – Le Physique (laid back French noodling). Dynamo Productions – Analogue (Top Bristol DJ duo, one of whom is part of the Monday night football gang, finally get their sampletastic album out and it’s great!). Freddy Fresh presents B-Boy stance (26 old school hip hop gems for only £4.99!! I had to ask the staff to check the price, way too cheap, but why complain?).

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Forgot to mention another interesting meal which we enjoyed whilst in Paris. On the Friday evening we thought we would head off to the Place D'Italie in the 13th Arrondissement. The area around Les Halles, where we were staying for the last 2 nights, is very touristy and we had a feeling that we may not eat as well in that part of town as we had done in the Rue De Rome area. We read that the Place D'Italie had lots of Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants and as it was a part of town that we did not know, we thought that it may be an interesting place to walk around. Many years ago, on a previous visit to Paris, we stumbled across a tiny but delightful Vietnamese restaurant in Montparnasse. Ordering the food was quite good fun as neither us or the lovely couple spoke much French, which could be understood by the other party. However the food was delicious, so as we settled our bill Orynthia decided to use one of those handy phrases that you find in the back of the guide books, this one basically meant "The meal was very good, thank you". As soon as Orynthia mentioned these words, our hosts became very animated and suddenly produced a bottle of Saki (or something similar), and poured out two large glasses of this potent brew for us. Neither Orynthia or I were sure of the correct etiquette for this sort of drink, so we decided to bite the bullet and knock it back in one swig. This produced even bigger smiles on our host's faces and our glasses were instantly replenished! We could see ourselves being quickly flung into an alcoholic maelstrom and a potentially tricky journey across Paris as our ability to read (or even see!) the metro sign disappeared into an alcohol induced haze, so we decided to take the cowards way out sipping the drink slowly before shaking hands and leaving the restaurant. Anyway I digress, the idea of eating Vietnamese appealed so off we went. The Place D'Italie is basically a huge roundabout with about 8 roads leading off it. Not knowing which road to look for we headed off in the direction of the most neon lights, normally a good indication of a "Chinatown" type area. As we later discovered, we were on the wrong side of the roundabout for Chinatown, but we did discover a very picturesque little area around Rue De La Butte Aux Cailles. We walked around for around 30 minutes, being tempted by various restaurants before we walked past a tiny little African place in the Rue Du Pere Guerin. I guess that the place would hold about 10 people at the most and that most of the trade would be of the takeaway variety rather than eat-in. We had a quick chat with the guy behind the counter, who explained that this place served food from Senegal, it looked interesting so we thought that we would give it a go. I had a fish dish called "Tiebou Diene" which the guy behind the counter advised me is the national dish of the country. It was a rich and tasty dish, which included a huge portion of cous cous, sweet potato and some exotic vegetables which were new to the pair of us. Orynthia had a dish which was a sort of beef curry which was called either Maffe or Yassa. Very filling and very very cheap.

Monday, April 07, 2003

Well, so here we are back at home after our Parisian jaunt. What a fine time
we had. First thing that I should say, is that if anyone wants to have a
real Parisian experience rather than the usual overpriced small hotel room
that most of normally end up with then I would really recommend the great
place on the Rue De Rome that we stayed in. It was so great to be able wake up at what ever
time you want to (no one knocking on the door, to see if they can clean your
room at 9am!). Even better was that most mornings Petunia went off to the
local shops, to get in out breakfast goodies. The croissants, pan au
chocolate, brioche, baguettes, fresh eggs, cheese, ham and yoghurt all
flowed. The area was packed with all sorts of food related places, a
brilliant daily food market, any number of restaurants and more wine and
champagne then you can imagine. The property is located on a fairly busy
main road, but as you enter through the huge wooden double doors which all
these marvellous old apartment buildings have, you enter the tilled hallway
before walking through to inner courtyard, where this ground floor apartment
is located. Consequently the setting is incredibly quiet and peaceful. In
the same way that our stay in the New York apartment benefited by being in
Chelsea, a residential area rather than a tourist one, the same can be said
for the area around this part of the Rue de Rome.

So what did we get up to? Well as mentioned earlier, lots of leisurely
breakfast's where the plans for the day were decided. Then around noon we
head off to our destinations. These included the amazing market at Porte De
Clignacourt (so many wonderful pieces of Art Deco furniture, if only we
could afford to ship it home!), the high rise glory of La Defense (with it
breathtaking view back towards central Paris, along the Champs Elysees), an
interesting walk from the apartment to Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur (which
gave us all the chance to pretend that we were part of the film Amelie,
which we watched on DVD in the apartment later that night), the incredible
Philippe Starck exhibition at the Pompidou centre, The best free view in
Paris from the top the Samarataine depart store, a visit to the slightly
neglected feeling Modern Art Museum in the fading Art Deco beauty of the
Palais De Tokyo, finally managed a boat trip along the river, a visit to the
great market at Place de Batignolles, seeing some inspiring artwork in the
exhibition of advertising from 1920 -1950 including some fascinating world
war two material and lots and lots of sitting around with a glass of Pastis!

And the food, a great meal at the resonant next door to the apartment, a
spectacular 8 course chief choice meal to celebrate Orynthia's birthday at
the tres chic l'impatant, an enormous cassoulat in a hale and hearty
restaurant celebrating the regional cuisine of south west France, hot roast
Chicken & vegetables from the market eaten with amazing bread and a
sumptuous prune tart.

We love the way that a city that can be so manic, can be so relaxed as you
turn the corner into a tree lined side street, with cute cafes and bars.
Also love, the way the market stall holders, take time out to sit down and
eat lovely looking meals from fine China, rather than just grab a sandwich
as they would do in England. Sitting on the steps of a church in the
sunshine watching the world go by. The incredible array of food and drink
that is available, the good grace of the Parisian's who helped us around
their gorgeous city. Never having to wait for more than about 3 minutes for
a metro train to come along. The fact that I could buy a CD by Bristol band
Alpha more easily there than I could here.

Along with New York, it is a place that I feel instantly at home in, it's
safe to say that we will return again.

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Well we are back in Bristol. Will right more on the splendid trip to Paris soon. Pleased to see that BCFC managed to pick up a trophy during our trip.

Saturday, April 05, 2003

Well, what a great week! Don't think that I'll write too much here, mainly because - that's the wonderful streets of Paris out there, so why would I want to sit in a windowless room typing? And also because this keyboard is really strange - nothing is where I expect it to be, but you do get lots of bonus keys, such as €,ç,à,°,é,and~what fun!
We have eaten so much great food and seen too many wonderful things for me to describe now. I'll do that when we ge home. Will just say that the apartment was fantastic, great part of Paris, any groups of people going to Paris should check it out. We are now in the Les Halles area for a couple of nights before our journey home on Sunday.