The week has been uneventful due to the abundance of germs but was brightened considerably by the announcement of Billy Joel performing in the city next June and very conveniently just before my birthday! This was closely followed by The Foo Fighters declaring they would also be coming to celebrate my birthday - performing at the Etihad the same week. how kind but two concerts in one week – are we up to that? We will try!
Despite being poles apart Dave Grohl and Billy Joel are very similar in their approach to live music – obviously, both being extremely talented helps but their interaction with the crowds and the ‘show’ they put on makes their concerts unmissable. We are a family of eclectic music lovers – we love the music not any specific genre and watching performers live is the ultimate treat. Time to enter the stressful world of purchasing tickets.
The first time I saw Billy Joel I was aged 18 or 19 and had to travel to Birmingham NEC – I successfully did that on a work night – probably wouldn’t even consider it now! Back then you had to telephone for tickets or even more shocking go to the venue or a ticker seller to purchase! Who remembers Piccadilly Records and the giant sheet of paper they would pull out with the available seats on! Once you had purchased your seats they coloured them in! How times have changed. Now you sit nervously at your device watching the clock tick down to on sale time. If the website doesn’t crash on release then you pick your seats trying to work out what sort of a view that will be - If you don’t like the tickets they offer you go to the back of the queue – only 5 minutes to complete this section – what’s the password for my card verification…. hard to believe we ever manage to get any!
Once had a holding page for the Royal Albert Hall which informed me I was 4638 in the queue! Two hours later and I managed to get us tickets so maybe don’t give up! Course the joy of managing to get some tickets is then slightly dissipated as you see £8 added on for admin followed by £2.95 for postage or even if you have then emailed. How can it possibly cost £2.95 to email tickets for you to print yourself? Still its pay up or give up so hopefully we will be successful and fingers crossed for a musical June.
Being of a certain age its sometimes hard to tell if I have a temperature from a current bout of coughing and sneezing or it is indeed one of those "moments". But it has been a tiring and sickly week. Working every day – a cold is certainly not grounds for any time off – with the evenings spent slumped on a chair or very early to bed. Thank goodness for the new Sky Q allowing me to browse hundreds of channels until it’s time to sleep (being particularly indecisive I’m not sure I fully watch anything - I’m like a cat distracted by a ball of wool – ooh what’s on the next channel….).
There have recently been discussions in the house about moving away from Sky but the draw of Game of Thrones and Walking Dead have always stopped us. Imagine our delight when Sky informed us that we had been designated as a "Sky Black" customer having been with them for 24 years (where has that gone?) and to reward our loyalty (and heaps of dosh from our subscriptions) by offering us two great deals on Sky fibre and Sky Q. Being techy geeks we signed up straight away. Not noticed too much difference yet with the fibre (though Chris says uploading photos is very much quicker) but the Q box is a revelation.
We can record 6 programmes at once and watch a 7 – amazing (have we got time to ever watch them though – not sure, but we can store whole series and make plans to spend an evening binge watching!) Programmes recorded downstairs can be watched upstairs - very useful this week and most excitingly the remote control has a tracker so it will never be lost again! Combined with Netflix and our Amazon Prime subscriptions, bought to support the kids when at Uni, it is hard to believe we could ever watch everything that interests us. The Netflix "to-watch list" is lengthy and oh the stress when you see one of your favourite programmes is restarting next week and you are still on episode 2 of the last series!
If only being a "Sky Black" customer gave you access to a time machine.
Viv & Chris
We fully appreciate how fortunate a family we are having all our parents still with us. September 17 was a milestone birthday for my Mum who has now reached the grand age of 80 although she looks and definitely acts much younger! Despite being (in our daughters words!) a ‘socially awkward’ family, we decided to throw our party- hating Mum not one but two parties (but definitely not surprise ones!). Thanks to our favourite butcher Graham (Taylor’s Butchers, Derby House) we celebrated her actual birthday with Graham’s battered chicken goujons and all the trimmings – if you’re from Wigan that means barm cakes to make your butties! We produced our ‘decade’ boxes which had taken weeks of planning and arguments (and money) and contained presents to reflect the different aspects of her life from childhood to being a Nan. We celebrated in the rain with sparklers – continuing the Northern spirit of carrying on in all measures of torrential rain – and are pleased to report that she had a great time! Phew! It was touch and go particularly when Lucy’s lovely German Shepherd Navi took too much of an interest in the Airedale puppy cuddly toy!
For our second treat we gathered our most special people together and shared picnic tables at the Paddock Restaurant in Wrightington. A delicious version of an afternoon tea containing mugs of soup, buckets of fish and chips (battered courgettes for the veggies) chicken ceasar salads and some yummy cakes. We finished off with a very special birthday cake made by the extremely talented Debbie Binder who is second to none for producing exquisite sugarcraft figures (frighteningly lifelike – the journey home from Debbie’s with Mum’s sugar head peering at me through the box was very unsettling). Candles, two renditions of Happy Birthday, lots of hugs and kisses and photos and Mum had had a lovely time.
Emma Davies – A Year with my camera
Surprisingly, recently I have actually felt the need to learn about the different things my camera can do. Chris is great, but maybe not the best at teaching as he is completely in the ‘zone’ and fully immersed in any task he is doing – I’m like the annoying five year old tugging at his arm for attention! In order to remedy this I have signed up for the free email photography course run by Emma Davies – A Year with my Camera. It started in September and as usual I am already 2 weeks behind so have now bought the accompanying workbook to ensure I keep up! Two lessons in and I am now somewhat of an expert (!) in aperture and managed to obtain the correct results with my f2.8 setting – large aperture – small depth of field – blurry background – I was really impressed! Lesson 1 was a revelation – who knew the tricks your camera was up to! It looks like it is going to be a great tool to help me improve and as so many people who are doing the course feel the need to share all of their attempts it is a big help in assessing how you are actually doing. Check Instagram for the #ayearwithmycamera hashtag (although you won’t find any of mine!)
As a family we attended the ceremony at the Cathedral to announce the winners and although Chris was unsuccessful (this time!) we were all very proud to see his two images displayed alongside the other shortlisted entries. Like any art, photography is very subjective and I have to say I didn’t agree with the overall winning entry for multiple reasons, but my personal highlight of the evening was the winner of the Cathedral at Night category– Let there be Light and Lasers by Becky Ryding, who had taken her entry at a concert held in the cathedral. The delight on her face to be named runner up was completely infectious and her excitement was a joy. A very worthy winner.
To have two entries shortlisted out of over 300 initial photographs is a real honour and Chris was proud to be a part of such a talented group of people. I am quite sure we will both be having a go next year!
Life and other