Glastonbury,  the largest all-field festival in the world – for me it was like falling through the rabbit hole and finding a whole new existence, one where you’re free to be whoever you choose.

I used to be one of the smug ones; I would watch Glasto on those muddy years sipping a chilled glass of white wine on my sofa, safe in the knowledge that the loo down the hall was clean and there was no queue.  Then there were the good years and I’d think ‘wow that looks amazing… but I’m too much of a princess to handle the crowds and the camping.’

Well I’m now back from my 1st Glastonbury Music and Contemporary Arts festival and my mind was officially blown.   I needed a week to ‘process’ and physically recover from the late nights and the um partying but I am a convert, on the band wagon and blowing the Glasto trumpet!

My friends had tried to tell me how cool it was but there really aren’t words to describe the amazing atmosphere and the magic of the place.

Even without the incredible range of music and the fact that all the bands and artists that play there bring their A-game, everywhere you look is eye-candied wonderment.  You could happily wander around, not see any music and still have a great time.

The crowds are alive with glittering festival wear, it’s like a human bizarre of every colour, creed, age and musical taste.   Being united with that mass as one of your favourite bands or DJ’s is throwing down, kicking off and exploding all over the place – well, it’s like your heart is bursting (in a good way) it’s face splitting smiles, unabashed whoops, jumping, dancing and punching the sky.  It’s the very best sort of madness and I got to share it with some of my oldest and dearest friends, along with so many new people I met along the way.

You could argue that most music festivals encourage a certain kind of abandon and to some extent that is indeed correct but I’ve been to a lot of festivals and it is true what they say “there is nothing like Glastonbury”  its uniqueness is tied to the setting and amplified by thoughtful design which adds to the heart and soul of the place.  If you give Glastonbury your all, you will be rewarded with the best time of your life, you will be challenged and you will be changed in a positive way.  Well, that’s been my experience anyway.

We got there on Wednesday, not because we had to rush in to get a good camping spot (oh no – we glamped the shit outta Glasto) but because as it was our 1st time we wanted to have a spell for it all to sink in.  I honestly think arriving on Friday would have been too overwhelming for me.  It took me a couple of days to just get around the whole festival and begin to make sense of the map.

Going in we had a strategy – the plan was to start slow and have a couple of reasonably early nights then build to a peak on Saturday and chill on Sunday – unfortunately the line-up had other ideas for us, so while we did manage to get those first two days right, I got home at 4.00am on Friday and 6.00am on Saturday and Sunday.  It was Epic.

For me Glastonbury was a series of personal journeys.  It shook me out of my comfort-zone, made me open up to new people, made me get over the need for daily showers (there is no way I need a shower enough to queue for an hour or two in the heat with fuck all sleep and a hangover) and it got me over my princess-like toilet requirements.  I am now down with the squat over a longdrop technique and the portaloo hover method.

Glastonbury made me appreciate my life more and it made me feel more connected, to my husband and the friends that went on the journey with me, to hopes and dreams and in a sense to the wider populace (but that could’ve been the Jeremy Corban speech); it also tested my stamina and I’m proud to say that I exceeded my own expectations!

When I started my blog, I knew this year would be a transformative one but now I am beginning to feel it, there is a hard but brittle protection I encase myself in which feels more pliant and loose, like I can breathe a bit easier and am more the self I want to be.  Who knows what another two music festivals, a road trip in Italy, a road trip in Iceland and 2 months travelling in Asia will do to round that off but I am sure as hell eager to find out.

I’m going to post this now, have been dipping in and out of writing it for a couple of weeks; there is so much more to say but I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking and if you have any questions drop me line.

Laters navigators. x

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Sometimes you need to remind yourself that you’re a singer and actually put something out there.

Hi everyone, so Ive just come back from a lovely couple of days visiting friends in the country. Last night we were having a ‘karaoke moment’ (don’t judge:-) and came across this Melanie Martinez version of Britney Spear’s Toxic. It’s my first ever You Tube video and this is just the 2nd take, so please be kind or kindly constructive?

I do recognise there I way too much nostril for comfort:-) but I kinda felt that I needed to get this song sung, get over my 1st time nerves and upload it before I lost my nerve.

Recorded my masterpiece *cough* on an iPhone that was resting against the computer (showing a karaoke website) with sound played through the monitor speakers – budget in a gadgety kinda way.  I know – totally selling it right?  You might prefer to listen with the screen blank?  Just saying.

Enjoy!
Laters Navigators x

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URBAN BEEKEEPING AND CRAFT BEER TASTING

 

Last weekend the Jetman and I were lucky enough to not only taste test delish London brewed honey beer by Hiver but also get some hands-on experience learning about urban bee keeping – it was bloody amazing and I don’t use that word lightly.

Despite the heat wave I donned denim and trainers and headed over to Kennington park for our 3.30pm start.  The Bee Urban centre is easy to find via google maps and right next to the café in centre of the park. 

At the appointed time we got suited-up and taken around to the hives.  I expected to be more nervous but actually the experience of getting up close and personal with the bees was really relaxing, you need to be chilled and take things slowly – also they’re all zonked from the smoke.  Apparently it’s an instinctive reaction to smelling smoke, they gorge themselves on honey in preparation to move the hive in the instance of fire.  So basically, they’re feeling all mellow and nappish after a big feed.

I can’t tell you how cool it was to hold a plate of brew chambers up close as they’re crawling with a thousand bee’s going about the business of making honey and raising young.  The faint smell of bee’s wax and the humming eddying masses are natures magical kaleidoscope.

Which brings me to the wonders of bee biology.   It turns out that bee biology is astounding, did you know….. the worker bee’s make another Queen if she’s sick/old and not laying well or the hive is getting too big  and they need to split the hive?  They take a normal worker bee (female) larvae and pop it in a special roomy queen cell then feed her royal jelly and vwallah hey presto when she’s cooked 16 days later a queen bee emerges, theeeen the virgin queen takes off and leaves the hive, she flies as high and as fast as she can, being chased by the lazy arse male drone bees (their only job is eat and wait for the queen been to get frisky, which only happens once) so there she is like a big lush trophy that only the fastest drones can win to mate with her.  So the lucky Drones then proceed to shag her until they die,  at which point their peckers fall off inside her, and off they go to bee heaven, job well done.  Queenie mates with about 20 drones and that will keep her going with sperm for up to 5 years, she can lay up to 2000 eggs per day, it only takes her 20 seconds to pop one out.  That’s impressive don’t you think?!  

Anyway, I digress – once queenie has had her shagfest, she goes back to the hive and rests up for a bit, then if the purpose is to take over for an old queen she get’s on with the business of producing young or, she takes off with who ever wants to join her (it’s called a swarm) and they go find a new home.

Another of my favourites bee facts was that the lazy arse drones don’t have it all sweet; they get one free-loading summer then at the end of it the women worker bees kick them out into the cold and seal off the hive so they freeze to death. How terribly pragmatic.

We were super lucky, there happened to be a swarm while were were beer tasting.  There I was concentrating on listening to Seb (our charming tasting guide) when the intense sounds of bee buzz filtered in to my consciousness, our bee keeper then jumped in with jazz hands and told us to look up – there high up in the trees silhouetted by a beautiful blue late afternoon summer sky were thousands of bees swirling in a living pulsating vortex-like mass. It was truly mesmerising. Then just like ‘that’ they were gone again.

It was pretty hot in the bee suits so were all dived in gratefully to the beer tasting.  Naturally this was also fun (swam upstaging aside) we tasted 2 different beers along with the honey used in them, both were soooo different and that coupled with toasted and non toasted barely has me beginning to understand the complexity of craft beer brewing.

Hiver use honey from the hives in Kennington park and around London in there Lager and heather honey for their ale if you’re curious to try it but not into the bee thing I hear Ocado sell it and if you’re in London and want to experience this for yourself or even volunteer to help at Bee Urban in Kennington Park check out the links below.   I have a lot of good days out but this is one I’ll never forget, I can’t recommend the experience highly enough – educational, captivating and fun.

Bee Urban

Laters Navigators. x
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I’ve just got back from London Sculpture Workshops 3 hour ‘Introduction to Welding for Artists’ class.  It does was it says on the box and demystifies the art of welding. What an awesome experience!

It’s funny how quickly you adjust.  At first even the safety helmets were foreign feeling, they have a weird light-reactive bit that you look through, so when the arc is formed (that big-bang-like light) the visor goes black and all you can see is a green lava-like glowworm, flying sparks and a sizzling storm of a sound that is kinda like death metal cooking bacon – know what I mean?  Probably not.

I’ll admit to being a bit freaked out and thinking something along the lines of “shit, oh shit, what the hell am I doing here, if I continue to stand here watching I’ll lose my nerve, let’s get this over with…”  so I volunteered to go first.

Setting up the MIG welder calmed the nerves, as did our lovely tutor who serenely talked me through the safety procedures again, then walked me through setting up the machine again, and was at my shoulder explaining the good, bad and ugly of my efforts.  OK so my 1st attempts at welding weren’t pretty, pretty shit would be more accurate, but each oops teaches you something until there are moments of ahhh, when I could see how cool it would be to get a whole heap better and work on a bigger piece.

Dreamscape: I imagine finding ‘the rhythm’ with your vision tunneled on the molten drop you’re zig zagging smoothly along the steel while the crackle, spark and zap of the instrument your holding sings it’s spiky serenade; its like taming lightening in your hand. Artisan Welders you should swagger, you are cool as shit!!!

So back in the real world,  6 of us took turns at the 2 MIG practice bays which meant that when you weren’t welding you could be cutting up bits of steel plate and piping on the cold saw or trimming and polishing your pieces with the angle grinder, or just watching and helping where needed, I learnt a lot from my fellow students struggles, we were all happy to share our lightbulb moments.  A couple of people made things vaguely resembling sculpture but mostly we just practiced welding bits together at different angles and trying out the zig zag and reverse E methods.  There was also a demonstration of TIG welding and a few people had a  go on that too.

It was fabulous fun working with all the machinery and taking the 1st step in developing this creative technique (with the added bonus of meeting lovely new people), stomping all over that fear of flying hot spark (turns out that they’re not that hot and if you wear appropriate clothing you can’t even feel them) was just an added bonus.

I would totally recommend London Sculpture workshops, they have loads interesting courses, I’ll defo be signing up for more. I should  also mention the fabulous Obby website, they’ve got a course for every whim and I found this workshop via them.

For more good tips on rut-busting websites (including Obby) check out my earlier post ‘Never Be Bored Again’

Laters navigators

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My time at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck Restaurant is one of those never-gonna-forget-it days, though it’s a tricky one to write about because you might want to go there yourself and part of the magic is in the wonderment and surprise of it all.

As a self-confessed lucky cow, I am fortunate to have dined in several Michelin starred restaurants.  Before I went I was struggling with the justification of this one – it’s a lot of money for one meal….but I must confess, 2 courses in had me grinning like a Cheshire Cat and taking the ribbing my friends were giving me about my ‘lost morals’ on the chin.  Also, there is soooo much attention to detail, breadth of skill, imagination and creative flavour/ texture combinations involved that I feel the costs were justified.

From the minute you enter you get the sense that this is something a bit quirky; we walked from the bright sun outside into a small dim and fully mirrored cupboard-like hallway where we were greeted by one of the very friendly team of staff.

24 small courses of wonderment and WOW ensued and when I left, five and a half hours after arriving (it flew by!) I had been taken on a journey through Heston’s childhood excitement of summer holidays at the beach and in doing so had revisited innocent joys from my own childhood that I had forgotten – the wonder of picking up a shell and hearing the sea, juicy peaches that drip down your arm when you take that first bite, car trips to Nana’s with 4 kids in the back of the Ford Falcon, my stepsisters prickly legs as we were crammed together in the back seat (pre-teen years), running wild all day and only going to find your parents for lunch and dinner, exploring rockpools…..

I have nothing but praise and admiration for team at the Fat Duck, our service was professional and attentive yet playful, the incredibly knowledgeable staff noticed the things that fascinated us and went out of their way to explain elements further when questioned.

If you are lucky enough to be able to go to The Fat Duck, may I offer some advice?

  1. before you go you receive a questionnaire, fill it out! Be thorough and thoughtful – you will get more from your experience if you do.  My friend and I shed a nostalgic tear at one point as our heart strings were pulled.
  2. Go easy on the bread, it’s awesome but remember you’re in a marathon and not a sprint.
  3. Our party of 4 shared the 2 wine pairing’s with the meal and it worked well, I think a whole one each and we’d be too hammered at the end to remember what was eaten – we did have a bottle of champers to start though.
  4. Go to the Toilet – seriously, it’s an experience in itself, check out the glass to the wine area on the way.
  5. Get someone else to pay for the bill if at all possible, it’s so much less stressful that way. LOL
  6. When finished, there’s a lovely pub a minute down the road called The Crown (also owned by Heston), gorgeous beer garden out back and perfect for a post-fest tipple.
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