My supervisor has been on holiday for the last couple of weeks, so I have been busy. There isn't much support from the rest of the "team", so I just have to get on with it.
I found out last week that the super was on leave for three rather than just two weeks last Thursday and today was told that he also has the first three days of the following week off. It could all get a bit intense!
The season has started, and my beloved Gunners are to be frank being a little inept. Still no defeats as yet (only 3 games played), so it is all good.
Cubs has been in Summer recess for about three weeks now. Since the break started we have had a Scouters Meeting (pub), a Pack Programme Meeting (another pub) and an evening of housekeeping at the Scout Hut to put kit back where it should be.
The first weekend in September means the annual Gilwell Reunion - three leaders and Akela's wife will be having a very sociable weekend setting the world to rights, checking on different ideas for Scouting Activities and Programme Ideas and enjoying a glass or two.
I am due to be cooking at a County Beaver and Cub Scout Training Course on the 13 September. It is good to give a bit back.
Had a great day out in Eastbourne with my pal, Charlotte. A nice catch up after meeting at the Hop Farm Festival in July.
A little sadly (for me any way), Charlotte is moving back to the north of England to work in Kendal. Good luck with that, my dear... but I am sure we will keep in touch.
And coming up...
Pleased to say that a couple of gigs are on the near and far horizon.
The lovely and talented Rae Morris (who I last saw as second support act for Noah and The Whale at the Royal Albert Hall in 2012) is playing the Green Door Store in Brighton on September 12. Here is the latest tune, Cold
And off in the distance, The Unthanks are playing at the Roundhouse on March 7 2015.
It has been a few weeks since my last regular update. I really don't know where the time goes...
The Hop Farm Festival exceeded expectations. The bill was great, the acts which I was more familiar with did not disappoint - special mention to 10cc, Squeeze, Billy Ocean and Bellowhead.
Friday night legend Ray Davies played an emotional set to celebrate his sister who had passed the day before. Although it was always likely to bring a tear, his rendition of "Days" was very poignant and yes, I had a serious blub which I could not disguise as the weather has lovely and dry.
Although Saturday's headliner Brian Wilson's band did play a good set of Beach Boy hits (in fact hit after hit after hit), Brian Wilson himself is very frail and was really only able to introduce the songs he had written. The nine band members (plus ex-Beach Boy Al Jardine) were great musicians and singers, so all was not lost.
It was interesting to see the reaction to James Blunt, who played an enjoyable enough set. I still don't buy in to the "Wide-eyed Posh Boy, eager to please, need to be loved, but shocked that I am this popular" persona that Blunt has, but there is no doubt he has powers over his fans - it he claps, both the ladies and men all clap dutifully, if he gestures that he wants them to wave their arms, they do that too.
On the Sunday, Peter Hook and the Light really ended my must-see festival wish list and played a very high energy set including versions of New Order's "Blue Monday" and best of all Joy Division's "Transmission" and "Love Will Tear Us Apart".
Acts new to me and deserving very honourable mentions are Ordinary Noise, Meadowlark, Timlin, The Dunwells, The Family Rain and my new band tip for greatness, Slow Club.
Met some nice people, temorarily lost my tent on Friday night and enjoyed the weekend a lot.
<My Hop Farm Festival Photos Here>
World Cup Brazil was really enjoyable, the only mar being the leniency of the Suarez ban after his third biting incident.
Put simply, the country with the best team won the trophy. Brazil, Argentina and the Netherlands all had great individuals, but Germany had the best team.
It looks like the Germans have got their footballing act together. The nucleus of the team have grown up together and I suspect will be a force for at least the next four years.
Work has been slack in the office, but yesterday there was a Family Day in the grounds at the Canon UK office in Woodhatch. Although I was in the reception area keeping and eye and checking the people in for about four and a half hours, the couple of hundred who attended all seemed to have a good time. There were some birds of prey, crafting, bouncy castles, soft play areas, Pimms and pizzas. It was nice to be involved in whatever capacity.
I spent a day at the Canon Europe office last Tuesday.
5th Reigate (Gibson) Cub Scouts - we have had a meeting themed around the 2015 Jamboree in Japan, we tried to navigate the orienteering course on Redhill Common last week, and have a wet games evening planned to end this term on Monday.
NASA and Apollo 11. I cannot stress this enough - those guys were heroes, but I cannot believe it is 45 years since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon.
THE MOON - I am still in awe.
I did publish a separate blog about that.
'Til the next one...
Brazil 2014 - FIFA World Cup
Only two games left in the group stages and they have produced some great matches : unpredictability, fabulous goals and the predicted sad performance by England.
My hit rate of correct results is less than 50%, but that has not spoilt my enjoyment.
The only annoyance for me has been that the ban of Luis Suarez is only 4 months. The man clearly needs help to control his biting problem, but he could get this during a year's ban, and seriously reflect on his behaviour.
I will be able to see the knock-out stage ("Round of 16") during this week, but will miss the Quater-Finals as I am away at the Hop Farm Festival next weekend
Following a couple of pointers from my sources, I have become acquainted with a couple of new musical "friends".
Emma Stevens is a "self funding DIY singer songwriter". I have contributed a little to the funding of her "Album 2" after hearing and getting my hands on her first CD, Enchanted. Here is a track from that - Riptide.
Nice pop music from a great talent.
Courtney Barnett was brought to my notice by @sankles, one half of my favourites Summer Camp. She is another singer-songwriter, this time from Australia. Her voice is perhaps a bit reminicent of Alanis Morrisette or Sheryl Crow. Her CD, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas is real good and very interesting. Try History Eraser.
The 2014 Glastonbury Festival of Music and Comtemporary Arts kicks off on Friday 27 June. Of course I would love to be there, but no ticket means I will have to see what I can from the comfort of my armchair. At least 4 of "my" people are performing this year -
The Tuts, Billy Bragg, Summer Camp and Courtney Barnett - but I doubt that any of them will get coverage.
I am having a festival fix the following weekend, at the Hop Farm Festival in Kent.
The bill looks good - Ray Davies, Brian Wilson, Bellowhead, Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott (Beautiful South), Deacon Blue, Lightning Seeds, Squeeze, The Full English, Chas and Dave and many others on the music stages and an accomplished list in the comedy tent.
Hope the weather is good for both Glastonbury and Hop Farm !
It is here and I am glad that it is.
I love the World Cup, but not it's governing body whose corruption seems to hold no bounds.
1966 and all that. I remember watching this with my Uncle and Aunt in Staffordshire
1970. Brazil at their peak in Mexico. That save by Gordon Banks. Two of the best, Bobby Moore and Pele showing mutual respect
Johann Cruyff & Holland.
1978. Archie Gemmill's goal against Holland
Toni Shumacher (West Germany) - notorious foul vs Patrick Battiston of France
Zinedine Zidane good (1998) and bad (2006)
As I say, I love this 4 yearly extravaganza.
Thus far, there has been drama and magnificence - cite the Netherlands hammering Spain 5-1 and Costa Rica beating Uruguay 3-1.
I think that for the first time, expectations for England are minimal.
This might help them actually get a good result.
As always, I hope that the team puts in performance and doesn't make me shake my head and tut.
I am writing this before England's first group game against Italy.
I am not sure how this will pan out, but in my predictions in March 2014, I thought a draw
IF (it is a big 'if') my predictions come true, Brazil will beat Spain 2-1 in the final on July 1st.
With Spain's result yesterday, this does not look likely at the moment.
In Ian's predictions, England don't get through the Group Stages, but who knows ??
I am sure that many of my predictions will be way off mark, but I think that Brasil 2014 will produce much more good drama and excitement.
I can't wait...
I have had a smile on my face since Saturday, when the Arsenal beat Hull City 3-2 in the FA Cup Final.
I have been told from several quarters that it was a great final, and after the event it feels great but during the game I was going through the mill.
Arsenal started slowly and Hull went for it from the kick-off. The Gunners defence being slow to react to Hull's pressing cost them a goal after 3 minutes. The defence's failed in clearing danger from a cross and paid the price when Chester scored from close quarters.
#AFC 0 Hull 1
Worse came 5 minutes later when Hull's free kick (from 9 yards farther upfield than the offence occurred) was once more not cleared. Goalkeeper Fabianski made a good save onto the post but Davies scored from a tight angle.
#AFC 0 Hull 2
Kieran Gibbs needs a special mention for clearing off the Arsenal goal line shortly after this.
Arsenal needed to react and began pressing. On 17 minutes, Steve Bruce's son Alex gave away a free kick outside the penalty area. Santi Cazorla hit the ball superbly passed McGregor - an absolute quality strike and glorious.
#AFC 1 Hull 2
In their swing, the Arsenal continued to press but could not take any of their chances and Hull looked as though they also meant business.
No more breakthroughs for either side by half time, but to me the Arsenal did look as though they could at least draw level as long as they percevered.
This pattern carried on - both Arsenal and Hull creating chances.
Arsene Wenger sent on Yaya Sanogo for Lucas Podolski.
I was more than a little concerned that the Hull defenders were getting away with all manner of holding in the box.
Karma stepped in and a corner was awarded to Arsenal after Gunner Sanogo was last to touch the ball.
When this ball came in Laurent Koscielny showed he wanted to get to a ball in the goal area more than anyone else and put the ball in from close range on 71 minutes.
#AFC 2 Hull 2
As a partial fan, I was so happy that Arsenal had drawn level. It had been a hard fought game, now the Gunners needed to steady things again.
Into Extra-Time and more of the same. Still
2-2 after the first period.
Last roll of the dice for Arsenal. Wenger replaces Ozil and Cazorla with Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky.
Their added pace and menace leads to more chances.
On 109 minutes, the oft-maligned Olivier Giroud back-heels in the box to Aaron Ramsey who scores with a very nicely taken shot.
#AFC 3 Hull 2
Now Arsenal, just hold on. It has been a great comeback.
Per Mertesacker slips and Fabianski sells himself. The Hull striker flashes the ball towards the Arsenal goal.
Kieran Gibbs is dashing towards the Arsenal goal as the ball rolls towards the goal along the goal line -- somehow he swings his foot at the ball and misses it, but the ball goes just wide of the post.
The final whistle goes and it is smiles for everyone except the folks from Hull who had contributed such a lot to the proceedings.
At this point, I began to realise how important this win has been not only to Arsenal Football Club and Arsene Wenger, but also to the fans and more surprisingly to me.
They had won against the odds and after such a long time showing such great promise but always finishing just a little short.
I did shed a tear of joy just after the whistle.
I thought it was a great game, but the result skews my view.
I make no apology for loving the Arsenal Football Club. They are the only club I have only truly followed. I have seen others and gone to other clubs but Arsenal is special and I wear my heart on my sleeve when I talk about them.
In April, (only a couple of weeks ago) we have Easter and it's associated Good Friday and Bank Holiday weekends. Hot on the tail of those we have what before Mrs Thatcher's interference was known as the "May Day Holiday" - the Bank Holiday on Monday is now unimaginatively called the "Early May Bank Holiday".
With the bank holidays, and a few days leave plus a couple of days sick, it seems like an absolute age since I last worked a full week - it is probably four weeks at least. A chap could get used to that.
We are having a Cub Scout meeting tomorrow on the Bank Holiday - a bit of fire making.
Been a little 'busy' this week on the music front. I have received a couple of CDs through the post and "collected" a couple of others.
On Thursday (May Day) I enjoyed a great evening at the Hammersmith Eventim with Billy Bragg. The atmosphere was like school "end of term". Good support from Seth Lakeman and Phill Jupitas. <<photos here>>
On Friday, tickets for the Seasick Steve gig at the Royal Albert Hall on 23 May dropped on the doormat. Unusual one this, as it is for a Dog Charity and I will be going with James and his girlfriend,Tara. I am looking forward to that one.
With only one game left in the season, my beloved Arsenal have managed to secure 4th place in the Premier League and so are in the Champions League qualifying knock-out stages next season.
Just hope that they don't gag when it comes to the FA Cup Final against Hull City in two weeks time.
I have been a bit annoyed by criticisms of the Arsenal set up this season. I agree that after being on top for so much of the season, maybe - just maybe - they should have finished stronger. I think however that people's expectations needed to be brought back a bit.
At the start of the season, pundits expected nothing from the Gunners - in fact, even as they topped the table at Christmas, nobody tipped them as Champions.
As has been proved right, they could simply not cope with games at the "top" clubs.
I resent the "I told you" from the smug pundits - there are lot of Arsenal-haters out there. They expected nothing of the Gunners. The bubble has burst.
If that is actually the case, tell me why they are fourth in the table ? The beauty of a league is that the team who finishes top deserves to be top - no more, no less.
In their defence, it was a close-thing. I wonder how close they could have come if Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Lucas Podolski and Jack Wilshere had not suffered long-term injuries when their form was excellent.
I do enjoy a fan's "what-if" and "if-only".
I think in honesty that Arsenal's squad needs increasing to improve it's strength in depth. The nucleus of the team is great, but lacks injury and rotation cover. A couple of players out and there is just no players to come in and do a job.
From a personal point of view, Nikolas Bendtner needs to be replaced and Yaya Sanogo needs experience at another club. In particular, I cannot see what Arsene Wenger sees in Sanogo - he does not seem to have a clue.
Relegation is now certain for Cardiff City and Fulham, if results go as expected Norwich City will join them in the drop.
To this armchair pundit, I think that Manchester City will get the results they need to win the title.
Web site - I have tried to tidy up some of the pages.
Until the next one...
As probability dictated, the ticket resales for Glastonbury 2014 resulted in an epic fail.
Still, I noticed a Twitter / Facebook notice for a fairly local alternative. I have signed up for a weekend at the Hop Farm Festival based in Paddock Wood, Kent.
Acts include: Ray Davies (of the Kinks), Squeeze, Deacon Blue, Bellowhead, Brian Wilson (of the Beach Boys), Nick Lowe, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Lightning Seeds, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Billy Ocean, The Full English and The Feeling on the various music stages and also Rich Hall, Josh Widdicombe, Andrew Maxwell, Katherine Ryan in the Comedy Tent.
Last Friday was a busy but good day.
Although the comedy script read through was a bit hit and miss, the production company did buy me a drink.
On the way back to central London, I stopped off at the Science Museum and took in the fabulous Collider exhibit. I learnt some stuff about the Large Hadron Collider. VERY interesting.
I was in the BBC Radio Theatre for a recording of two episodes of the old-school Radio 4 game show "Just A Minute" hosted by the 90 year old Nicholas Parsons. Great entertainment.
Back to Cub Scouts yesterday with the Reigate District St George's Day Event. Promises were renewed after a morning's activities.
This evening we had the first Pack meeting of the Summer Term.
Football results over this weekend seem to be pointing towards Arsenal getting 4th place which would mean Champions League football again next season.
Apart from that possibility, other results in the Premier League have made predictions almost impossible. It is going to be a nail-biting next few weekends for supporters of Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea at the top and Cardiff, Norwich and Fulham at the bottom.
I love this league.
Wow, time flies Pop-Pickers. Over a month since my last blog post.
Essentially, I have been coughing, tinged with another cold on top of that. I have had my third and fourth days sick this year. Then a couple of days in the office on short-time : I really was ill. Luckily, I think the bugs hold on me is waning and losing the battle.
We are on a break from Gibson Pack Cub Scouts until 28 April because of the Easter holidays. Not being idle, we have put up the new dining shelter and sorted out next term's programme.
Reigate District St. George's Day event is being held on Sunday 27 April.
Nice gig by Summer Camp at the Islington Assembly Hall on 26 March. I love the venue and my thoughts about this band are public - they are wonderful.
The Tuts released a new EP - "time to move on" - some previously released stuff and a remarkable remix of "Worry Warrior". Good stuff
Glastonbury is calling me again. The bill is good.
The ticket resale is coming up on Thursday 24 April.
I hope I am lucky...
Billy Bragg's DVD/CD set of his 2013 show at the Union Chapel has come through. Need to make a bit of time to re-live one of my favourite gigs of 2013.
Not such a good month for my beloved Gunners in the footie.
To my mind, I think that Arsene Wenger could well walk at the end of the season - I would be very sad to see this, as there is no obvious qualified successor. For the good of the Arsenal, I hope he signs the contract renewal.
I "celebrated" my birthday on 15 April (that would be 56, if you must ask). Very quiet and understated this year, but I received many messages and texts and phone calls from around the Ratcliffe Universe - but before the violins come out, I have enjoyed meals with James and Tara, lunch with Jo and promises from Chris (who is on-call until after Easter).
I have been surprised how many of my friends have birthdays at this time of year - it is surprising what information Facebook gives you!
It also seems that my niece Emma's daughters were born on 15 and 17 April (Iris is 9 and Isobel 11 years old).
I have been on R&R this past week and it is Easter this weekend. No entertaining at home, but I went up to London to see my Mum on Good Friday.
Apart from the Bank Holiday on Monday, I am also on leave on Friday of next week.
It was going to be a half day as I had landed a ticket to see one of my favourite old-school radio shows recorded at the BBC Radio Theatre in Langham Place in London. I am quite excited to get to see "Just A Minute" after listening on Radio 4 since the 1970s.
I saw something on Twitter about a TV show being recorded with Isy Suttie. It turns out that Frankie Boyle and Miles Jupp are also signed up for a pilot show called "Wild Life". There is a read through by the cast on Friday afternoon, so I am off to the Tabard Theatre in Turnham Green to check it out.
Hence changing the half to a full day's leave and a 3 day week.
The following week is also a 3 day week because I am going up to the Hammersmith Odeon to sing along with Billy Bragg on May Day.
Happy days a-coming, I mustn't get too used to it !!
Adieu, mes amis...
I am still annoyed that the Arsenal put in such an inept and lack-lustre performance at Anfield yesterday. Five Bloody One - just shocking.
Still, the bad results make the good ones seem so much sweeter. They now need to perform against Manchester United on Wednesday, and then again at home in the FA Cup against Liverpool on Saturday.
And then there are upcoming Champions League games against the mighty Bayern Munich.
Sadly we have lost one of our Assistant Cub Scout Leader due to family commitments. Now starts the big search for a replacement.
Cooking Competion practice week 1 on Monday, fingers crossed.
Mum's 81st birthday on Wednesday. I should be going up to town for a celebratory lunch with Mum and the boys next weekend.
I have been trying to research my grandfather's WW1 service and have drawn a blank. Unfortunately, we do not have any of the right details at the moment to drive accurate searches. Hope we can come up with something.
Onward, my friends...
Been a strange Holiday Season this year for a few reasons.
Christmas fell on a Wednesday and so the two day public holiday break was just that - two days.
For the first time in a few years, I was not able to have any leave from work to boost the time out, so in truth it was not worth dragging my Mum down for just the two days.
That taken into consideration it was quite a good one - I did traditional lunch for Chris, James and Tara on Christmas Day. I enjoy that and it always goes down a storm.
On Boxing Day, I went south to East Grinstead to get a train to London to visit my Mum. We had a nice and relaxed few hours.
Back to the factory on Friday, and tomorrow and 31st January working with just Stuart. Essentially to sort some post, bite my tongue and fill in some of my leave forms for 2014.
It has been a better break than I had dare hope for the Arsenal. Into the New Year on top of the Premier League. Currently Happy Days!!