Monday, 26 September 2011

A Pure Festival Review

Welcome one and all to what is a blog centred on just one topic this time, Pure Festival. Now for those of you that may need enlightening, I really enjoy my whisky! I’ve attended whisky tastings and events, visited distilleries and am a regular member/user of Connosr.com, a whisky-focused social networking site. And it’s through that last point that I come to the topic of this blog.

Whilst on a tasting with the guys behind Connosr (brothers Jean-Luc & Pierre), they mentioned that they were working on a music and whisky festival, looking to bring fans of both subjects together and introduce them to something they may not have experienced before. Well the idea took off and this past weekend at The Garage in Highbury Pure Festival was brought into existence. Bands were playing upstairs from 16:30 until 20:30, with the downstairs area filled with a whisky tasting from 16:00 until 19:00, and more bands from 19:30 until late.

Getting there early to lend a hand in any way I could, I began my Pure experience by handing out flyers to people walking by outside the venue for an hour or so before hand (on both days). It’s the first time I’ve ever done something like that, and although we got some dodgy looks, we were successful in a sense that all our flyers were taken! Then the real event kicked off, and that’s where the fun began! Saturday was extremely busy, with a couple of stands seemingly not stopping for the entire 3 hours that the whisky tasting was on. My job was to walk through the venue, with my blue “Here to Help” t-shirt on, and answer any questions people may have had about whisky, and the event in general. I had some great conversations with people through the both days, people who were both new to whisky and eager to learn, and  experts wanting to converse about the drams on offer.

Speaking of the whisky on offer, there were 10 whisky based stands at the show all offering some quality entry level and high quality whiskies. There were brand-specific stands from Cooley, Whyte & Mackay, An Cnoc, Ardbeg, Tweeddale and new guys Isle of Mull. They all saw good business as such, with both Mull and Mackay running out of stock before the end of the second day! The remaining stands all were unique, the first being the stand from The Whisky Exchange, who are one of the biggest online whisky retailers around, and they focused on bringing Talisker to the masses. Then there was Whisky 4 Movember, with The Whisky Guy Darren Rook helping promote the charity-focused bottle of Glenfarclas. One of the busiest stands over the weekend was run by a good friend of mine, Stuart Robson, and it was where Stuart used his incredible knowledge of whisky and chocolate to combine the two. Three whiskies and various chocolates were paired together in such a way to bring out the flavour of both! Last but by no means least there was the World Whiskies Review, run by a guy who I have been conversing with on Twitter for some time, acclaimed whisky writer Dominic Roskrow. Dominic had a wide range of whiskies from around the globe, and was also extremely busy over the two days. There was Amrut (India), Lark (Tasmania), St Georges (England), Santis (Switzerland) and loads more that were available to sample. It showed how busy the stand was when Dominic had to call for reinforcements as such for the second day, as he’d used most of his stock!

Once the whisky tasting was over, us helpers were called into action, clearing the main floor of the stands and stock so that the floor could be filled by fans of the bands due to start at 19:30. There was a few nerves at first, hoping that we’d get it all clear in the time we had, but there was no need to panic. On both nights the floor was ready for the bands within 15-20 minutes! This was then the time for us to relax, the music really took over and we were able to reflect on the success of the day. Sunday night we gathered in our green room for a celebratory dram, and you could sense that everyone was pleased with how the weekend had gone. I enjoyed a bit of the music, but due to the long journey home on both days I didn’t stay till the end, so to see a review of that bit you’ll have to go elsewhere! But in closing, Pure Festival, at least in my eyes, was a resounding success, plenty of people were there on both days, there was a cheerful and great atmosphere throughout the event, and it really looked like the hard work everybody put in had paid off. I sincerely hope the guys put it on next year as well, but only time will tell!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Wonderings Of A Weekend

Time once again for me to find an outlet for my thoughts and talk about shit i like, yeah that's right, its blog time! I know you've all been eagerly anticipating this moment!

So I've just had a pretty full on weekend, after 11 shifts in a row it felt good to get away from work! Friday saw my first darts match of the season take place. Regulars know i started in a team last year, and we lost more than we won. Well this season we play on Friday instead of Wednesday, and we have a couple of new players, but the first result didn't change sadly. We lost 6-4 on the night, but it got us started and game 2 tomorrow night should be fun!

Saturday night i decided to spend my winnings from a football accumulator the week before, heading out on the lash with Ben, for our mate James' sisters birthday. It was a good laugh, a lot was drunk and fun was had, although with hindsight i admit i may not be able to binge drink like i used to and like my youngest brother can! And we both paid for it the next day that's for sure! Speaking of the next day, that was when both me and Ben went to see Lee Evans at wembley! Normally Lee tends to re use old jokes here and there, but this time the whole thing was fresh and new, and had the audience in stitches throughout! Ok we were still a bit fragile from the previous night but we still enjoyed it all the same!

Work has got me thinking again, which probably ain't a good thing! I've been away from c2c and part of London Overground for nearly 2 years now, the time has quite literally flown by with a lot happening. At the moment i work in the control room, after spending just over a year managing stations in south London. I am still enjoying it, don't get me wrong, but being a part of a more operational environment has made me wonder if its worth heading that way. I tried to be a train driver years ago but messed up the antiquated tests, so control is the other way in to that department really. I've picked up a lot more operational knowledge since being in control, and it's been a great experience, and still is! The options are there though, and after over 11 years in customer services, maybe its worth considering something else?

No decisions are made, so i ain't changing shit just yet! Just a thought process that's been in my head a little while i guess!

There's a lot of stuff going on out in the world to worry about, i try to remain positive about everything as otherwise i think you'll go completely mad! There's the recession, earthquakes, corrupt leaders, oil wars and a hell of a lot more that i can't remember this early in the morning! The trick is to keep smiling, things may look like hell at times, but with family, friends, and a bit of optimism here and there, it ain't too bad! Thanks for reading if you've made it this far, its appreciated!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Reading, and finding The Dark Path

Reading, an essential skill that we learn very early on in our lives, and yet as we grow older too many of us leave this skill to dwindle and just do the basics in every day life. I was like that a long time ago, after leaving school I read only what needed to be read, instructions that were put in front of me, things I had to sign, bills etc. But thanks to a colleague at work who pretty much thrust a book into my face and said I should read it, I began to read for fun again, and I continue to do so to this day! There is so much that you get from reading a book, whether it’s a thriller, fantasy, biography or crime. There are all the emotions on the pages, and you almost can visualise and feel what is going on within the story. It’s a pastime I enjoy and loads of others do too.

I’ve been called a “book snob” before by a member of my family, as she was under the impression that I only read books by a select few authors, and refused to open my mind to new (or old) writers. Well in a way she was right, I tend to stick to what I know, legal thrillers from John Grisham and John Lescroart, the Reacher novels from Lee Child, and autobiographies of the sportsmen/musicians I am a fan of. The three authors I mentioned have always been solid, I’ve enjoyed pretty much every book I’ve read from them, and have nearly read everything they’ve put out there. There have been a few slips here and there, Child didn’t impress me with one of his latest, and both the Johns have had slumps, but given how well they have done, they are bound to have one sooner or later!

Things have changed though in the past few years, starting with a chance encounter on the social network that was MySpace. As part of my profile I had mentioned I was a fan of the three authors above, and I then received a message from a guy called Barry Eisler. At first I thought it was a bot, but after a bit of conversation I found that this was an author who had started his own series of novels about a guy called John Rain, who was similar to Reacher but seemed to have more finesse, more subtlety and was more of an assassin for hire (at first). After talking to Barry, I decided to read the first of his books, and since then have become as hooked on them as I have the other authors already mentioned. So there, my dear aunt Lesley, I ain’t no book snob!

Of course back on MySpace, when one author added you, others followed hoping to promote their works and get you to buy them. The trick is to weed out the rubbish and focus on the guys that are worth reading. Another one that got to me through MySpace was CJ Lewis, I’ve read a couple of his novels now and have been quite impressed.

It’s been a while since then though, my MySpace account is dead and buried, and I’ve been through Facebook and now on to Twitter. The latter social network is a haven for bots and spam, so it’s tough to sift through the crap and find the decent bits that are out there. However recently another author started to follow me on there, and after reading some of his blogs and fairly random tweets, I thought I would take a chance and read his book. Now it’s a supernatural, fantasy type book, which normally I steer clear of, not normally the kind of book I would pick up in a store and buy. However as I said, there was something entertaining about the blogs and tweets that made me think it was worth a shot and couldn’t hurt. Luke Romyn is the guys name, and the book is called The Dark Path, I finished it this morning and although I got through it very quickly, I really enjoyed it. Extremely descriptive and vivid, it was great to read and brought a smile to my face on a few occasions! I would recommend reading it if you ever get the chance, well worth it.

That’s it for this time around, so whether you read hardbacks, paperbacks or using a kindle, keep reading and enjoying it. The world would be a worse place without books like the ones above, make the most of them!

Friday, 9 September 2011

A Bit Of A Catch Up!

Hello one and all, welcome back to my blog, which will once again be vague on my emotions and far too detailed on the sports that I follow with a passion! Add in a couple of bits about work and that’s pretty much it! I’ve covered everything there so you don’t even have to read the whole thing!

I write this as a weekend begins which is quite literally full to the brim with sport. First off the NFL regular season started Thursday night, with the Green Bay Packers beating the New Orleans Saints by 8 points (winning me a little bit of dosh). The team I follow, the New York Jets play on Sunday night/Monday morning at home to the Dallas Cowboys. This morning the Rugby World Cup kicked off with New Zealand beating Tonga fairly easily. England start their campaign tomorrow morning at 9:30 our time, and I’ll be at work keeping an eye on it! The Championship is back as well after the international break, so my beloved Hammers are in action at home to Portsmouth. We’ve not had a home win yet this season, so fingers crossed that tomorrow sees the first one come our way! Add to all of that the ODI cricket that’s been going on today and the F1 Italian Grand Prix over the weekend, and there really is more sport than you can shake a stick at. It would be perfect viewing with a bottle of whisky, couple of cigars and takeaway food, but I’ll be working through it, so I’ll have to wait for another great opportunity like this!

Speaking of work, I’m on an eleven day run of shifts at the moment, as one of my colleagues is off and we struggle to cover at the moment. No big deal, it happens to all of us so I ain’t complaining! I just know that I am going to make the most of the 3 days off I have when this stint comes to an end! Friday night will be our first Darts match of the season, so it’ll be great to finally get back into that as the season ended way back in February. I’ve played a fair bit over the summer, but will be thankful to be playing in matches on a regular basis again! The big night though will be on the Saturday, as for the first time in a while I will be heading out on the lash with Ben, James and a few others with the sole intention of getting slaughtered! Sunday will be about recovery, and heading off to Wembley to see Lee Evans live for the 2nd time. The tickets were bought for me last year, so it’s been a long time coming! Just gotta make sure that a) I have someone to go with, and b) that I wont be working the early shift on the following day!

On the topic of gigs, that brings me to a couple of things I’ve spent my money on recently! I’ve decided not to go to the NFL game at Wembley this year, after being the past 3 years and really enjoying myself, I didn’t want to go this year and see a team I’ve already seen. I’m sure I’ll watch the game on the TV though! Instead I’ve got tickets to 2 upcoming gigs, first is in December when Steel Panther, Motley Crue and Def Leppard play at Wembley, I’ve not seen any of these three live so it will be a great experience! Secondly I got tickets for myself and Ben to see Ian Anderson, the man behind Jethro Tull, live at the Hammersmith Apollo next year. I’ve been lucky enough to see Ian play once, when he made a guest appearance at a Joe Bonamassa gig and performed “Locomotive Breath” and “A New Day Yesterday”. This time Ian is doing his own thing, playing the entire “Thick As A Brick” album and other Tull classics. That is something I am really looking forward to!

That’s enough from me for now, got some annual leave booked towards the end of October and beginning of November which should also be filled with activities, including my birthday, a mates stag do, and another friends (late) Halloween party! Great stuff! So on that note, thank you for reading my fairly quick update on things, got plenty of whisky stuff to mention but that’ll be for next time!

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