The Ashes Day 4

We’re nearly there, we’ve nearly done it, the end is in sight, come on troops one more day and we’ve made it!!!

The Ashes Day 4; the day dawned bright and sunny, it’s going to be another hot day – we’ve been blessed with good weather, a hot a sunny bank holiday weekend in the UK, something that doesn’t happen too often – in fact, if I dare say it at times it was too hot. There, I’ve done done it I’ve achieved that great British tradition, a moan about the weather!

While I consumed excessive amounts of caffeine to prepare for the day I was informed the Motorhome had a flat tyre, now, bearing in mind the Van is a six birth 24ft long beast of a thing, changing a wheel is likely to be challenging! The first challenge was to find the jack a wheel brace, having eventually found it, and Roy having found a suitable bit of wood to but the jack on I set to it.

The rest of the campers went off to watch the Ashes version of just a minute – although I did say they should go and enjoy themselves while I sweated and swore! I am now going to claim bragging rights as I did it, I managed to change the wheel by myself, I am now officially a mechanic, bring it on!! After my second wash of the day and getting changed I could treat myself to a beer and enjoy the rest of the day!

I missed Millstone Grit, and Aye Vee, well, I’d been busy, it was sunny and I had beer on tap!

I did get to see Spam, who were great, an old school punk rock covers band, playing the Clash, Rezillos, and Only Ones, to name a few. Kept me very happy anyway, then again what do you expect from an old Punk Rocker.

Excitement of excitements it’s time for the Blyth Power fete! Stalls are set up by the festival punters raising money for charity, there’s Russell’s brilliant second hand book stall, always worth a root through. The tomboys of tat, I had a go but lost twice so not happy – I wanted to win tat, or was it the scrumpy Nikki had her eye on? Anyway, no contest, I DIDN’T WIN, not that I’m bitter or anything. Judy was selling fairy wings and bunny rabbit ears, I will confess I didn’t buy any. And a multitude of other stalls. There was also an impropriety performance by Spuke, an acoustic Ashes supergroup, three amazing musicians driven along by the amazing Nigel (8 C) on spoons, and Wob on vocals, this could be the start of something great!

We watched the dog show, but didn’t enter this year, we decided to lie fallow, we don’t want to win everything!

Missed the village sports, the thrilling tug of war, the sheer anticipation of the egg and spoon race, and the unbridled excitement of the three legged race. As we decided to get some grub, and throw rubber burritos at each other!

Then it was time for more music – music??

Will Gosling, a guy with a great voice who could actually play guitar, I think he got the wrong festival!

Missed Boy in a Cupboard, perhaps he’s still there, although hopefully someone will have let him out, as that would be mean otherwise!

Jerry Hellfire up next , tales of the Wild West sung with a West Country accent – perfect!

Lying Scotsman next, I will admit once I’d heard the hedgehog song twice I snuk out as I ‘allegedly’ needed a wee!

Listened to the skiffle bastards from outside the tent as it was a lovely evening with the stars in the sky going on forever. The skiffle Bastards were another Ashes supergroup, with a maniac on harmonica, and Devon cowboy on guitar and vocals, and 8 C on spoons!

Then the main event to finish the night Blyth Power playing one of their albums in full – this time I think it was Singles and B sides ( it had to happen!). The good thing about this performance is the book that is published with the full lyrics and stories behind the songs, leading to a jolly sing-a-long!

Fire POI, and fire pit time, the fire pit is another unique Ashes experiences, we sit and chat once the “music” has finished, while people pass around bottles of various alcoholic concoctions, the commercially made ones it may be safe to sample, but I would wholly recommend avoiding any home made potions, they can be deadly!

And so to bed – at last we made it to the end, it’s 2am on Tuesday at the Ashes, and we’ve made it alive to the end of this sorry tale of misadventure and debauchery. We all go home tomorrow and pretend it never happened, the only trouble is, we’ll do it all again next year – WHY????

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The Ashes Day 3

Got up to find Matt, Hannah and Emma had decided to go for a short run this morning, about nine miles worth of short run!! Far too enthusiastic for a festival.

The day was already gearing up to be hot, a sure sign of this was the appearance of “the Spa” or as it is more commonly known a blow up paddling pool. This year complete with sea snake!

Blyth Power started off the day with their matinee performance, I gave it a go with James in tow, but we soon beat a hasty retreat!

Due to the high temperatures, and the fact that this caused the marquee to quickly resemble a sauna, most of the acts, this being Saturday mainly spoken word, decided to perform outside in the shade of a tree. This worked really well and lent itself to a pleasant afternoon sitting outside listening to poets, Paul Eccentric, Dr Bongo and Rachel Pantechrinon. All different, all unique, some more unique than others!

It was burger time, it was essential to fuel up before the evenings beer consumption commenced. Some would say consuming copious amounts of alcohol is the only way to survive the Ashes is to drink lots, and lots, and lots – then it’s fine.

After food it was time for the main campaign, the troops gathered their nerves and went in to battle!

First up was The Boatless maniacs from that little known northern port, Hull. They claim to be a father and son duo, they claim to be musicians too. They sing sea shanties of a sort, and the only way they can cope with listening to their own songs is to drink shots of whiskey half way through their set – the audience remained sober and suffered!

Commie Faggots next, some say they are indescribable – so I’m not going to attempt any sort of a description, it would hurt too much.

Pog next, Pog are awesome, they should be huge, their songs are perfect for a sunny summer afternoon. They should be on everyone’s playlist during the holidays, in fact everyday! Pog are ace. I like Pog.

The next combatant was Verbal Warning good time old school punk, with ducks – don’t need to say anymore than that.

The Antipoet, beat poets in kilts, fishnet stockings, and stiletto heels. Poems about “tights not knickers”, playing for food, not haribos, and gimp masks! They are awesome, they need to be seen live to get the full experience, you won’t regret it.

Which can’t be said about the next band, if you see them you will regret it, no doubt about that. Another Hull band, the band who influenced the vocal harmonies of the House Martin’s and the Beautiful South, the band who taught Mick Robson how to play Ziggy Stardust – Cracktown.

Cracktown are unique, there is no one else like them, thank god.

A manic partially sighted harmonica player, and a tall supervisor from the Deep on guitar. Together they sing songs about flowers, bees, and walking down country lanes in the summer. They played outside because others had done it as it was hot! It was getting chilly when they stepped out of the marquee but undeterred they bravely soldiered on, the late summer evening perfect for their summery pop sound.

Some fire poi from Frances, and we had survived another day at the Ashes, no major casualties, which is always a plus.

The Ashes 2019 Day 2

Day 2 Saturday – day 2 of the Ashes raises its head with an early start – Nikki and Frances, along with Matt, Hannah and Emma decides to do a 5k park run ( as you do when you’re at a festival consuming copious amounts of beer and eating crap food!).

The run started at 9 am, so off they went!

I didn’t, I stayed to guard the van – someone had to, and I volunteered to make the worthy sacrifice!

The music started at 12, just when the athletes got back with bags of charity shop bargains – I thought they were running!

Anyway, back to the music, if that’s how you like to describe some of what we go through every year at the Ashes – I’m not sure why we do it really, it is a bit of a trial ( a lot actually), with an occasional interesting act thrown in. Some of us bravely gave it a go – although a reasonable amount of alcohol does help matters!

There was a cricket match too, if I remember rightly, although cricket looks a lot different at test match level in comparison to what I had just witnessed. I am reliably informed that Matt pulled off an amazing catch, but I missed it as I took the dogs for a walk with Nikki. We got back in time to watch the cricket finish, I’m not sure who won, but often that doesn’t seem to matter.

In fact at the Ashes festival, sometimes very little seems to matter!

Anyway after the cricket there was moe music, kicking off with On Trial Uk, who I quite like as they play old school punk rock, and that keeps me happy!

Up next was the Lovely Brothers, some say they’re indescribable, I’d agree! We’ll leave it at that!

Fortunately the evening is somewhat redeemed by the Metatrons, who I’ve seen before and play excellent pop punk music to dance happily to.

Another new name next, and a pleasant surprise Dog of Man, a brilliant punk band lead by an accordion player who gets the accordion to make amazing noises that it was never designed to make – accordion through an effects pedal, who’d have known!

Alcohol Licks next up, a good time punk ska band who always deliver lead by the ever bubbly Sam.

Then it’s time for the main event, Blyth Power playing to their home crowd they pull in an appreciative audience, but they are an acquired taste, and I’m afraid, despite trying hard, it’s a taste I have yet to acquire! Perhaps one day I’ll get it!

So, you may ask, why come to the Ashes? They company is awesome, there’s some wonderful people who come here every year, and it’s great to see them and spend quality time together. There’s beer! And it’s cheap – £30 for five nights camping at the back of a pub – it’s tough, but someone must do it!

The Ashes 2019

Day One

Last night we went to see some real musicians, Frank Turner supported by Beans in Toast and Gaz Brookfield played in Cottingham Civic Hall as part of the folk festival, and what an excellent night of music it was – songs that made you laugh and cry, what more do you want?

Today we travelled down to Tewksbury, to the epi centre of a Badger Culling zone to attend Blyth Power’s Ashes Festival, a crazy mixed up festival run by one of Anarcho Punks long time survivors, Blyth Power.

The thing about this “festival”, if it can be called that, is that the music quality is a little to be desired, quality is probably not the right word, I don’t actually think there is a word to describe most of what happens here! I’ll have a go at describing the music, actually I’m not going to attempt a description, it’s started off quite badly and I fear, no, I know, there is worse to come, although the signs are that it may improve later. Currently, sitting in the campsite, I can hear either a poor Norwegian Death Metal covers Band, or someone has been killed, i fear it may be the latter!

On the positive side, I’m camping at the back of a pub on a bank holiday weekend over five days, for the princely sum of £30, there may be beer on tap too, what could go wrong??

Some intrepid folk actually came to set up camp last night. We didn’t!

There may be a couple of acts later that will grab our attention, maybe…

Project Adorno – eighties style tinkly synth pop with an image and dance moves all of their own. They sing of Coalhole covers, and ‘Basic’ computer language, they should have been number one in 1983, they weren’t, and probably never will be.

The night was closed by Wob, a bouncy bundle of energy with a massive voice. This guy could put Pavarotti to shame when it comes to vocal range. He’s brilliant, there is no more to say.

So there we go, we survived the first day, this in itself is a massive feat of skill and endurance, only surpassed by climbing Everest in less than 2 hrs! It’s an annual ritual, a trial by endurance, some people will fall by the wayside, others will be lost never to be seen again after the weekend.

Will we make it to the end – who knows!

Roadtrip 2018 Day 7, Sydney the Spider stays with the van while her people find a waterfall.

Another day, another waterfall!

We were off to find West Burton falls today, we don’t think it’s been found before, so that’s good.

We set off from the camp site and picked up a track that looked like an old drovers road, then cut up through the fields into the village of West Burton. A lovely quiet spot with houses spread around the village green and a pub. There is even a pottery specialising in Ceramic Cats, called, funnily enough, “The Cat Pottery”.

We followed a sign tucked into the corner of the village saying “waterfall”, we considered this a small hint, so followed the lane.

And there it was! We had found it, the lost waterfall of West Burton, how special are we to have discovered a lost waterfall. We waited for the elderly couple on the bench to move so we had a better view, and then enjoyed our discovery, taking lots of photos so we could prove we had discovered the waterfall!

No resting on our laurels for us, after our picnic we set off to see what else we could find. We passed through the village over a bridge and down the road a bit before we discovered an unknown track leading to the village of Thoralby, we had a chat with one of the undiscovered tribe of “locals” who explained he was cutting back brambles alongside the land he had an interest in, obviously some sort of local religious cult ceremony. ( We’ll leave this one for the Anthropologists to work out). And continued on to the undiscovered village of Thoralby, so undiscovered in fact that the pub did not open till 6.30pm, we were there at three, so defeated at our last gasp, we retreated back to the campsite for suitable refreshment. Happy in the knowledge that we had discovered a waterfall and an ancient trackway to add to our historical records!

Sydney the Spider had had a nice day fixing her web and trying the locals!

Roadtrip 2018 Day Six ( Sydney gets to see yet another waterfall)

It’s Wednesday, and time to leave the Howgills behind. 

So breakfasted and packed up it was time to move on, as far as Sedbergh two miles down the road to stock up on supplies and gas.

The next stop was the Green Dragon at Hardraw, a good pint of Old Peculiar was had in the pub followed by a visit to Hardraw Force, this is a straight drop of 100  feet into a natural amphitheatre and very pretty it is too. Sadly the waterfall is no longer owned by the pub, as it used to be, and has been taken over by private owners.

From here it was a short, but very scenic drive to Street Head Caravan Park in Bishopdale, not far from West Burton and Aysgarth where we were staying for the next couple of nights.

Once set up l decided to take the dogs for a stretch up what looked on the map like a decent moorland path. As me and Frances found out, maps can be deceptive, as the path quickly disappeared and we ended up following a wall, where the path should have been, through knee high sedges (bog grass). Fortunately due to the dry weather the ground was not boggy otherwise we would have had real problems.

Once off the moor we breathed a sigh of relief and littered back through the pretty village of Newbeggin to the campsite. ( By village I mean five houses, two farms and a cow barn!).

We were quite knackered after our yomp over the moor!

Sydney did make an appearance as we drove towards Aysgarth to remove flies trapped in her web and to fix the web, it’s good to know she is having a nice holiday too!

Roadtrip 2018 Day 5 (the continuing adventures of Sydney The Spider)

The day awoke misty on the hill tops once again, but being intrepid explorers we decided to hit the hills. Sydney the Spider opted to stay and guard the van in the hope a nice big horse fly comes along.

As the theme for the road trip was turning out to be Waterfalls we set off for the nearby Cautley Spout, the highest overland waterfall in Britain, with a total drop of 650ft down a cliff face from The Calf in the Howgill Fells. The path followed the 220m contour giving great views of the Rawthey Valley.

We then dropped down to Cautley Holme Beck and followed this up the gentle valley  to Cautley Spout. We stopped at the bottom of the waterfall as the mist was still obscuring Cautley Crags, so we decided it was too risky to climb up the steep slippery path to the top. 

We found a pretty little glen at the base of the fall, the path was a bit steep going down, but Frances found sliding on her bum was the perfect answer. The glen with the waterfalls was the perfect spot for a picnic. Before setting off back down the valley in the rain. Once we got to the bottom of the Rawthey Valley the rain was easing off so we chose to follow a path back to the campsite alongside the river, through lots of fields of sheep. This caused great excitement for Rhubarb as the Collie instinct kicked in and she knew she had to do something with them! She pulled poor Lottie all the way back down the valley!

We got back to the van tired but happy we’d had a good walk and the photographers had some good pictures. This walk was a massive contrast to the Chaos of Ingleton, lovely and quiet, we only passed six people in six miles!

Back at the van Sydney had also had a lovely day, which was nice!