Saturday, 30 June 2012

Isle of Wight - Ryde & Sandown

A very early start to get to a 'gloomy and cloudy' Portsmouth to catch the 'Cat' across to Ryde on the Isle of Wight (IOW as it will be known from now on). There are two very noticable features at Gunwharf Quay. Firstly the majestic HMS Warrior (1860). It was the first iron hulled armour plated warship. Warrior was the largest, fastest, most heavily armed and most heavily armoured warship the world had seen.Warrior never saw battle in her time in service, although, when launched, she and Black Prince were the biggest and most powerful warships in the world. Naval technology advanced so fast that both ships were removed from the front line within ten years.
The second eyecatching feature is the Spinnaker Tower. Soaring 170 metres above Portsmouth Harbour and the Solent, the Spinnaker Tower is taller than the London Eye, Blackpool Tower and Big Ben. The Tower stands proud over one of the busiest sea passages in the world. There are amazing 350ยบ panoramic views of Portsmouth Harbour, the South coast and the Isle of Wight, with views stretching out for up to 23 miles. The Viewing Deck 1 boasts a glass floor, where visitors can dare to ‘walk on air’! I've never been to the IOW so the chance to escape for a couple of days was too good to miss. The 'Cat ' took about 20 mins and dropped us at Ryde Pier, a major gateway for passenger traffic to and from the IOW. Ryde Pier was made a Grade II listed building in 1976. In May 2011 existing lighting columns on the Promenade Pier were fitted with Victorian-style brackets and lanterns. It was still very murky but fine to walk along the coastal path and look back towards Portsmouth in the distance. Ryde is actually the most populated town on the IOW with 30,000.
One of the Hovercraft that operate out of Southsea/Ryde and quite spectacular. We continued our walk in search of a Tea Shop and spotted lots of 'Black Headed Gulls' searching for worms on the sand. Then who should we discover on duty but some of the Home Guard from Walmington on Sea led by Captain Mainwaring.
ARP Warden Hodges, Corporal Jones, Capt Mainwaring, Sargeant Wilson and 'Stupid Boy' Pike.
From Ryde we caught the Bus to Sandown where we were staying. 'Superbly situated beside the sparkling waters of Sandown Bay, the twin resorts of Sandown and Shanklin have delighted generations of holiday-makers for over 150 years. Not my words but those of the IOW Council. Must have caught it on a bad day as no sign of any sparkling waters here. In fact the High Street could have been any UK holiday resort with the usual array of tea shops, rock shops, novelty and souvenir shops and arcades. I've constantly got the Morrissey lyric 'How I Dearly Wish I Was Not Here" In the seaside town That they forgot to bomb' circling in my head. But this is what it is like, some drab childhood Sunday confined to play in the garden with only Songs of Praise to look forward to before school the next day... Maybe Morrissey was in Sandown when he penned 'Every Day is like a Sunday'?? Escaping the High Street and the obese ice cream eaters and Pensioners trying valiantly to look alive we made our way along Northwards past the Zoo towards Culver Down. A chalk down where chalk cliffs to the north and east are important nesting places for seabirds.opes over the cliff. It was also known for breeding Peregrine Falcons. It is believed that its name derives from "Culfre" - old English for "dove".
Looking back towards Sandown from Culver Down, well almost as it was a long walk and I was struggling with a mucle starin from playing cricket.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers -Royal Albert Hall

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, one of America’s great live bands, made a return to the Royal Albert Hall stage to perform in their first UK headline shows in 13 years. The Hall was a fitting venue for the band, as their last UK performance came here on 29 November 2002 as part of the George Harrison tribute, Concert for George. Tickets outside we being touted for twice the face value and the venue was a sellout for both nights. We were actually seated in the 'choir stalls' which were behind the stage! If it were a cricket pitch we would be at 'leg slip'. Support act for the night was American singer/songwriter Jonathan Wilson. Very much from the same mould as Tom Petty delivered a solid if unspectacular set to an increasing audience.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers don't go in for big stage sets and light shows , they don't need to with their back catalogue. In fact the stage was littered with Amps that probably dated back to the late 70's .

61 year old Petty demonstrated exactly why he remains one of the top live draws in the States with a dynamic set of material delivered with a passion and zest more associated with artists a fraction of his age. The songs performed encompassed his whole career, including his spell as one of the Travelling Wilburys, his take on a Fleetwood Mac classic, and a guest appearance from one of the English artists to originally influence him.
  Petty, originally from Gainesville, Florida spoke with a genuine warmth and southern charm when he acknowledged his absence from these shores with an ironic “Long time no see, it’s been a while!” Introducing “The Heartbreakers” he described how he had to “fist-fight” Jackson Browne to steal Browne’s then guitarist Scott Thurston and explained how he was the Heartbreaker’s “new boy” given he’d only joined them as recently as 1989. He told how bassist Ron Blair, now returned to the Heartbreakers fold had been his double dating buddy back in his high school days; how Brighton born drummer Steve Ferrone was the band’s English connection whose credentials included a spell with the Average White Band and recounted how he’d known keyboardist Benmont Tench since he’d been about 12 years old. Petty finally introduced Mike Campbell, the dreadlocked and youthful looking guitarist, as his the Heartbreakers, “co-captain”. The impressive set opened up with: Listen To Her Heart/You Wreck Me/I Won’t Back Down/Here Comes My Girl/Handle With Care/Good Enough/Oh Well/Something Big/Don’t Come Around Here No More. Petty thanked the audience saying how important England had been to him, and how many English musicians had influenced him as a youngster. One of the artists to have done so was then introduced, and entering stage left was non other than a spritely looking Steve Winwood who strapped on a guitar and stepped up to he mic to perform Blind Faith’s ‘Can’t Find My Way Home’. Winwood then joined Benmont Tench at his keyboards to perform the Spencer Davis Group’s ‘Gimme Some Lovin’ to complete a two song cameo that oozed with class. The set closed with a double whammy of ‘Refugee’ and ‘Running Down A Dream’ which elicited one of the loudest audience responses you will ever hear. A raucous encore pairing of ‘Mary Jane’s Last Dance’ and ‘American Girl’ then rounded off the evening in superb fashion. It had been an epic performance from a prodigiously talented group of musicians led by an iconic singer and songwriter

Thanks to Fiona Deighton from Hemel Hempstead we have some photos from the front of the stage.
Full Set List
  • Listen to her heart
  • You wreck me
  • I won't back down
  • Her comes my girl
  •  Handle with care (Travelling Wilburys cover)
  • Good enough
  • Oh well (Fleetwood Mac cover)
  • Don't come around here no more
  • Can't find my way home (Blind Faith cover with Steve Winwood)
  • Gimme some lovin' (Traffic cover with Steve Winwood)
  • Free fallin'
  • It's good to be king
  • Learning to fly
  • Yer so bad 
  • I should have known it
  • Refugee
  • Runnin' down a dream
  • Mary Jane's last dance
  • American girl

Monday, 11 June 2012

Edgbaston Test Match

Thanks to my knowledge of Rock music I managed to win 2 x tickets courtesy of Planet Rock to the Third Test match between England and the West Indies at Edgbaston Birmingham. In fact not just tickets but VIP hospitality in the Jaguar suite which included bacon rolls on arrival, Champagne and canapes, 4 course lunch and tea. Not forgetting of course the all important all day free bar and various dignitaries popping in throughout the day. Certainly beats home made cheese rolls and a thermos flask out in the cold ! Unfortunately due to the terrible weather the first two days were a total washout. So we were really lucky to see a full days play. From up on our balcony we had a perfect view looking down on the pitch. Got stuck into the Guinness early doors to help wash dowm my bacon roll which was very tasty. In fact the Guinness was used a while later to make a 'Black Velvet' with the Champagne flowing.

West Indies batsman Assad Fudadin takes evasive action.

Graeme 'Swanny' Swan bowling.
Had a good mixture of people on the 'Planet Rock' table. It was difficult at times to actually get outside to watch any cricket with all the free beers and spirits and food. I did pop out for an hour before lunch as I was already feeling the effects of several pints and double whisky chasers...... During lunch we had a few special guests. First up were ex England bowler Gladstone Small and West Indies legend Sir Viv Richards. We also had a visit from the ex footballer and first million pound transfer man Trevor Francis. Edgbaston is also the home of Warwickshire County Cricket Club and is the second largest ground in the UK with a seating capacity of 25,000. Of all England's Test Grounds Edgbaston is the least disrupted by rain - losing an average of fewer than 90 minutes of play per match between 1979 and 1988, compared to over 8 hours per match for the most affected ground Old Traford - well it is Manchester. Our tea-time guests were Ex West Indies and Kent cricketer John Shepherd with former Warwickshire Captain and dual Rugby and Cricket international MJK Smith. Also in attendance was the ex- breakfast TV presenter and Luton Town F.C Chairman Nick Owen. The drinking continued at pace and had my first ever 'Bloody Mary'which really is an acquired taste. Have to say I found it a bit 'peppery' but it did settle my stomach which was a bit up and down to say the least...... Who should pop up after the tea interval but 'Sir Geoffrey Boycott' who is never shy of an opinion. I got him to sign my mini bat. I said theres a space there next to Muralitharin, quick as a flash he replied ' he chucked it thar knows' 'but he did it well'. Had a very nice chat with 'Sir Geoffrey' about life at Yorkshire, Dickie Bird and Michael Parkinson and his wifes Birthday present. Close of play scoreboard and annoyingly enough the sunniest part of the day! It may have finished on the pitch but the bar was still open for another hour! It was good to meet up withe Warwickshire Chief Executive 'Colin Povey' who was my old team mate at East Haddon. He hasn't done too bad for himself. It was an absolutely fantastic day that will live long in my memory with great company and excellent hospitality. There was just time to finish with a drunken sing song !