30 April 2009

...with a Bang on the ear

um, yes, another week has gone by without a post, and yes, um, I have been on the road again doing my bit for global warming, this time traveling (not quite) the length and breadth of the UK to catch up with friends, enjoy some really good food, and hang out in the heartland of the Daily Mail enjoying really good music at BangFace 2009.

The trip began with a visit to Proper Chris, a friend from the Have' currently ensconced in Oxford with possibly the most amazing job in the world, encompassing sixteen hours of teaching a year and an almost miraculous lack of pressure to publish. He proved to be a most excellent guide to the city and environs, and took our constant exclamations of "how Hogwartsy!" in his stride. Oxford is a beautiful city, especially in the glorious sunshine that miraculously graced our visit. Highlights for me included the obligatory tourist visit to the Eagle and Child (the pub made famous as the home of Tolkein and Lewis' Inklings group in the 30's and 40's), picking up a 1946 Penguin edition of Pygmalion for the princely sum of £1.99 in Oxfam books, an amazing meal and pint at the vegetarian pub, the Gardner's Arms, and a fantastic tour around the city and colleges by Chris, tour guide par excellence.

Friday saw us travel down to Camber Sands near Rye for BangFace Weekender 2009. The event last year was for me a celebration of leaving work, and starting on a new phase of my life. This year saw a much larger group of friends attend, from the UK Netherlands and here, and while the music lineup wasn't as big a draw for me the luxury of 72 hours with good mates more than compensated. Noisia were the eyeopener for me that Modeselektor were last year, as in I had heard some of their stuff but was blown away by seeing them live. The other outstanding act was DJ Kentaro, possibly the best turntablist I have ever seen, doing amazing things with three decks and using them more like instruments, fiddling around with the pitch blend and reverse to force out individual notes from two records and playing a unique song with those notes. Simply amazing!

Saturday night was interrupted for me by a stupid sinus headache, but other than that the weekend saw me up till well past my bedtime, and normal folks getting up time, with almost zero alcohol consumption. The trick, mes amis, is a big pasta dinner at about 2am - carbohydrates are your friends! Sunday saw a pleasant afternoon spent on the beach wading in the sea and playing frisbee (one might almost be fooled into believing the whole thing to be a healthy experience) topped off by the narcissistic pleasure of cooking for 13 people. We managed to finish the weekend off by sitting everyone around a table to eat a final meal together before heading out for a last little boogie. All in all a good time was had by all.

Monday and Tuesday saw a trip to Brighton, with amazing lunches at Bill's Produce (Monday) and my favourite Veggie restaurant in the UK Terre a Terre (Tuesday), before heading up to London to visit my sister and her fiancee and have even more amazing food at Eat and Two Veg in Marylebone. As a consequence this week I will be mostly starving myself to return once again to my normal svelte and caribou like state.

It was really amazing to get away with the Very Understanding Girlfriend for the second time in three weeks, and escape the economic meltdown, atrocious weather and general doom and gloom that is the signature of an Irish spring.

Pity we seem to have come back to the dawn of a global pandemic though.

The Gardner's Arms, Oxford
Bill's Produce, Brighton
Terre a Terre, Brighton
Eat and Two Veg, London
DJ Kentaro

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