Wednesday, August 31, 2005

feeling like a tourist in your own city

had a great time the last couple of days, post-Greenbelt, hanging out with karen Ward from Seattle who has been our guest here in Oxford. yesterday we had coffee with Pete Ward (no relation!) and then i showed Karen around the sites of Oxford. She was obviously very excited to see some of the locations where they filmed Harry Potter and practiced her english pronounciation of the word 'Potter' (you don't pronounce the T's - well at least you don't if you're doing a London accent). we also drank some nice Belgium beer and smoked some nice cigars, but then you probably wouldn't have expected anything less.
Ian Mobsby turned up today to accompany karen on the next leg of her tour round the UK to see Maggi Dawn in Cambridge. Before they left we had time for a canoe down the river to the local pub for lunch - Ian in front, me at back, and karen in the middle like the Queen of Sheba (all that was missing was a couple of slaves wafting her with big ostrich feathers!).

Greenbelt Pics

had lots of fun at Greenbelt. highlights were Richard Rohr, the two COTA services (the Marvin Gaye Service was fantastic!), hanging out with lots of friends old and new - lots of laughs with Ian Mobsby (Moot, London) and Karen Ward (COTA, Seattle) in particular. see my flickr album with a few (but not many) pics from Greenbelt.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Greenbelt tomorrow

Pip and I are off to Greenbelt tomorrow along with 1 or 2 other homies. really looking forward to it mostly for connecting with people - old friends and hopefully some new ones to. there are some people who i have connected with over the web and it'll be great to meet them in the flesh.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Scottish Holiday II - rain stopped play (temporarily)

found this Peanuts cartoon and it's hard not to feel like this sometimes! we were on the Isle of Mull looking at the weather forecast and it seemed like everywhere in the UK apart from where we were was sunny. so, partly due to the miserable weather and partly to save a bit of cash, we gave up on our idea of taking another ferry out to the islands of Coll and Tiree and we headed instead up to Skye which neither of us had visited before. it's supposed to be really beautiful - that is if you can see anything through the low cloud and drizzle. after staying one night in a very creepy, deserted, hostel (complete with creepy warden and NO other guests) that reminded me of a movie set for some sort of 'I know what you did last summer' type of horror movie, we checked into a hotel where we holed up for 24 hours till the rain passed.
then we decided to cut our lossed and head down to Edinburgh where we have some very good friends and where the festival was in full swing. Our friend Wendy Ball put us up for 5 nights and almost singlehandedly salvaged our very soggy holiday.
by this time the weather had changed for the better and we had some really good sunny days. we saw a great comedian - Demetri Martin - (pictured above): anyone that makes a joke about a guy who paints icons for agnostics is ok with me. you can find some quotes here (if you like Steven Wright you will like Demetri).
With the good weather we even managed a day on the beach on Saturday. the East Lothian coast west of Edinburgh has some great beaches. Pip and I even donned the wetsuits and braved the scottish sea.
after spending some time with our good friends Kenny and Bridget Macaulay and their kids we headed back to Oxford via my parents in N Wales and got back home today. altogether we'd driven 1700 miles.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

a city boy in the country

ok - so i thought i had some dial up internet access in the cottage we are staying in on the Isle of Mull but this turned out to be false and so i am writing this quick update in a hotel on the Isle of Iona (cradle of xianity in the UK - where Columba set up base around AD 500) where we've just had lunch. today - Sunday - is the first sunny day we've had since we got to Scotland on Wednesday. I realised what a hardened city dweller i have become when i freaked out for the first few hours after we got on to Mull. i just thought 'this is just too remote and there is so little in the way of human culture, there's no internet, no teletext on the TV (yes there is a small TV in the cottage) and hardly any mobile phone reception' - i felt like i was in the back of beyond. so all of those romantic notions of doing an Andrew Jones and relocating to the middle of nowhere in some sort of monastic wanderlust have been blown right out of the water.
you'll be pleased to know that I seem to have acclimatised a little more now and am having a good time.
tomorrow we get the ferry back to Oban and then out again on Tuesday by ferry to the island of Coll and then on to Tiree on Wednesday.
don't expect any more blogging - we're going even more remote!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

holiday time

well, Pip and i are heading off to Scotland this evening. breaking the journey at my parents in N Wales and then arriving in Oban tomorrow evening. Catching a ferry from there on Thurs morning to the Isle of Mull where we will be for 5 days or so and then we're going to catch another ferry to Coll and then on to Tiree which are two beautiful (apparently) small islands even further out from the mainland. Tiree apparently has more hours of sunshine - due to its westerly position - than anywhere else in the UK and it also has some good atlantic surf so we're taking our wetsuits.

i will have some dial up internet access while we're on Mull so there may be some blogging happening but probably not a lot.

we'll be back just in time to go to Greenbelt which we're really looking forward to.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

yesterday: a day of jazz and fish

yesterday was a good day. i got my original vinyl pressing of John Coltrane's 'A Love Supreme' through the post via eBay in the morning. then in the afternoon i borrowed some fishing tackle from my neighbour and sat at the bottom of my garden fishing. considering i hadn't fished for around 23 years i was quite pleased to catch 3 beautiful roach - using Babybel as bait!
i do wonder whether i am turning into an old man though - fishing, jazz, golf, and i even smoked a pipe recently! what's happening to me!!
last night was Jim's birthday party - a good end to a good day.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

control arms

the night before last i managed to squeeze in two hUBS in one night: our campaigning hUB and our poetry slam hUB that serves the Oxford performance poetry community, in particular 'Hammer and Tongue' which is one of the leading poetry slams in the country.
i really enjoyed both of them and i find it really stimulating to see such a diversity of mission going on.
the campaigning hUB focussed this time on the 'control arms' campaign which is being run jointly by Amnesty, Iansa, and Oxfam, to try and get an international treaty in place to control the sale of small arms to countries and regimes that have a poor record when it comes to human rights etc. apparently someone is killed by small arms (which include machine guns and all kinds of crap) every minute and small arms kill far more people than 'weapons of mass destruction' but are not subject to any kind of international regulation. so the campaign is to try and get an international treaty in place. the idea is that you take a photo of yourself (like the ones above) and upload them - they are trying to get a million photos which will make it the largest photo petition ever. you can get involved and add yours here.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

island hopping

next week Pip and i are holidaying (great word) up in Scotland for a couple of weeks. we have free use of a cottage on Mull and we also plan to take a small tent and do some island hopping around the Western Isles. does anyone have any suggestions as to where we should visit?