Monday, 26 January 2015

An Evening With Bernie Keith - Derngate Northampton

It speaks volumes as to the popularity of BBC Radio Northampton's Bernie Keith that this show was sold out in less than 2 hours. Also that he should wish to share his Birthday with his listeners. Not only that but the biggest house in the history of this wonderful old theatre turned out for this one off extravaganza. I struggled for a ticket and rather fortunately procured a seat at the back of the Upper Circle. I say seat it was more of an eyrie perched on the north face of the Eiger! My companion Kevin lives in Oxfordshire and found it difficult to imagine any of the radio presenters in that area receiving the same kind of adulation and following as Bernie. We did take the opportunity to pop onto the stage for a quick photo against the safety curtain backdrop. The atmosphere was building nicely as 7:45 approached unfortunately it all got a bit too much for the lady on the row in front who had a funny turn. She managed to get to the end of the aisle before being violently sick! Perhaps it was the excitement of seeing Bernie or maybe as I suspect a case of altitude sickness we will never know. But the show must go on as they say and by the second half, after the interval you could hardly smell anything after all the foot traffic. Bernie had mentioned on the radio in the run up to the show just how nervous he was getting at the very mention of the show. He had even had a strong word with his underwear warning that they were in for a busy old night. He need not of worried as from the word go he had the rapturous crowd in the palm of his hand. Regaling us with tales from his childhood and his love of the radio and broadcasting right through to a graphic account of his recent prostate examination... It certainly was a full and frank no holds barred 'warts and all' account of his life and the crowd loved every minute of it. Also on stage with Bernie was another Radio Northampton Broadcaster 'Rob Adcock' who was Ernie Wise to Bernie's Eric Morecambe. We were promised the odd unexpected guest and certainly got one in the shape of 'Benedict'. Certainly caused a bit of a stir with the ladies and not least Bernie.. Not to be outdone we also got to see 'Riley' Bernie's Miniature Shcnauzer. It was a lovely gesture that everyone also got a cake during the interval as well. The second half was an open house of audience questions with priority given to those willing to stand up and ask. Naturally I had one up my sleeve and thankfully a microphone was soon on hand to assist. Quite often when Bern mentions me tongue in cheek on the show he tells me that i'll never get anywhere with two Christian names. So I asked him long with the likes of Elton, Cliff and George how having two Christian names had enhanced his career? Not sure he totally answered the question but who cares. It was a hilarious night and Bernie got a thoroughly deserved standing ovation and everyone went home very happy.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Frosty Summerleys

Summerleys Nature Reserve is always worth a visit whatever the weather. Although this particular early January day was particularly cold with an air frost. It did make for some interesting photos though. The circular route is about 2 miles and only takes about an hour or so. One of the bird hides in particular is always well stocked with feed and attracts a good variety of hedgerow birds. Today we saw many Chaffinches, Tree Sparrows, Blue Tits, Great Tits, GreenFinches, Reed Buntings and probably best of all six Bullfinches both male and female.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

The Cotswold Way -Dursley to Wootton Under Edge

Nothing better than to blow away a few Christmas cobwebs and get some healthy fresh air down in The Cotswolds (although I have done 2 x 20 mile plus bike rides, been swimming and to the gym). An 'old' cricketing friend of mine Geoff 'Biff' O'Dell is walking the entire 102 mile stretch of The Cotswold Way, although not in one go due to time constraints. In fact it is turning into years rather than days.. It was back in the Summer that we planned to do stretch together and was something I was much looking forward to. It is a 102 mile journey starting (or ending) in Chipping Camden and ending in Bath but mainly covering the county of Gloucestershire. It closely follows the scarp of the Cotswold Edge, with views mainly to the north and west; starting in the south with the Severn Estuary and Severn bridges the Forest of Dean, the Welsh hills of Monmouthshire and the Black Mountains on the Welsh border to the west. Today's walk from the Golf Course at Dursley to Wootton Under Edge is approximately 7.3 miles. Although we planed to do a circular route back to the car purely for interest. Leaving Dursley, the Cotswold Way climbs steeply up onto Stinchcombe Hill. The best views here are to found by taking the longer route around the perimeter of the hill. The Trail then descends through woodland into farmland and follows a track into the village of North Nibley. From here there is another steep ascent to the Tyndale Monument. The Tynedale Monument is the sort of thing I love to discover. Not least because it has a spiral staircase of some 121 steps that you can climb to the top to admire stunning views. The Tyndale Monument is a tower built on a hill at North Nibley. It was built in honour of William Tyndale, a translator of the New Testament, who is believed to have been born at North Nibley. The route levels out across grassland and through woodland leading onto Wotton Hill. There you will find a curious walled enclosure surrounding trees planted in 1815 to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo, the Trail then descends into the town of Wotton-Under-Edge. A perfect place to sit, relax and enjoy the view, something of a Zen moment you might say. Admittedly on the route back we went a bit 'off piste' some might even say lost. But id didn't matter at all, it wasn't cold as such and the scenery was breathtaking. What struck me was the amazing late afternoon light that had a reddish hue against the backdrop of the woods. It was there that a young Fallow Deer ambled out into the open country.