Just had breakfast – despite me choosing this place because they claimed to be able to cope with different diets, and, having emailed them to remind them that I am Vegan, the guy who is looking after the place had forgotten to get any soya or plant milk, and hadn’t got any veggie sausages either. So while he went out to get some soya milk he left me sitting there without any juice or coffee. He is the relief manager and he’s a really nice bloke actually – he’s a bit of a thesp and keeps bursting out in songs from the shows. Because of that, he got behind with everyone else’s breakfast. The award-winning landlady is away in Spain apparently.
Off to explore Oxford today, I have a tour starting at eleven a.m. and shall consult my guidebooks too. Wouldn’t mind finding “The Alice Shop”, which, in view of Lewis Carroll being a Professor at Christchurch, sells Alice in Wonderland stuff.
Oxford is Quool – once you get there – I’m off in search of some decent coffee now, hope to catch you later. :)
Rang up the taxi firm again and got a “that will be at least three quarters of an hour”. Fortunately, the nice stand-in landlord offered me a lift as he was going into town – to get something for my breakfast hopefully. J
Got into town and tried to find the tourist information office. Asked a couple of people who got me to the opposite end of town between them, actually, the first kid had given me the correct directions, then an older bloke sent me back where I had come form – only for me to have to walk back again! Anyway, got to the Tourist Information Office and went on my official tour. The guide was fabulous, a very nice mature lady who knew her stuff. She took us round many of the colleges and sights – beautiful architecture. That lasted two hours, and then she pointed us towards the river for lunch. I had lunch at “The Head of the River” outdoors. Very good food and beer, good place. Whilst I was there, I had a phone conversation with Blurb and then, shortly after, Anders rang. Anders had just arrived, so I told him where I was and he found me. We did lunch together and then we went to Christchurch College to see the dining room and staircase used in the first Harry Potter film. (OK, we didn’t just go for that.) When we had finished there, we went on a quick sightseeing tour of Oxford and I revealed the pub that I had been at the night before, where, naturally, we had a pint. Then it was back to the guesthouse via taxi to get ready to meet the others coming tonight and prepare for our meal at Chutney’s later.
Just off to have a shower now. I have posted a very small sample of some pics I took today.
People leave broken Bicycles all over Oxford - It's quite charming really :)
Gifts and presents make a fine example. We want them to be pristine. If the box or the packaging is battered, we feel that it does not make an appropriate offering - even though we know that within moments of handing it over those bits of card and plastic will be consigned to the rubbish. We want the wrapping paper to look right too, yet it is the very first thing to be removed and discarded. This weekend, you must be careful that you don't value presentation more highly than content.
So, here we are in Oxford for the 2008 UK Kate Bush Fan Gathering.
The story so far...
I overslept this morning and didn’t wake until 9 am. This Meant I had a huge rush to get myself ready and get all my gear packed. Last night I went out for a meal to celebrate a friend’s birthday and was talking to another friend when I remembered that his brother now lives in Oxford, so I rang him first thing. Turns out, he is well up for it for coming to the gig on Saturday, and he has invited me out tonight to a local pub that has an acoustic music night and poetry recital on a Thursday night! How quool is that? Anyroadup, I digress, so there I am packing my suitcase, a HUGE one, and realising that I am going to have to take my photo gear backpack and my Laptop case too, when the doorbell rings and it’s Tegan, bless her, come to pick up loads of posters that I have cobbled together. So they, hopefully, will be arriving for the gig with Tegan and Blurb.
Travelled down by train, first train was London-Midland – no complimentary food or drink in first class and not exactly “plush” either, no idea how they can call this first class – just glad I wasn’t in standard! Second leg was with Cross Country trains, freebie food and drink, if only sandwiches, but no Vegan option for food, so completely useless. Travelling by train is a complete rip-off, but still the best way to travel if they could only get it right.
Arrived at Gables Guest house, nice, clean, and tidy, but my room is minute. I’ve been in bigger cupboards. Can’t even open the door properly because my suitcase is in the way – the only place I can put it. L Took a while but finally got the Wi-Fi Internet connection going.
Just been reading Benedict le Vay’s “Eccentric Oxford” on the train and it recommends loads of places to go. So, this evening I hope to go to Samad’s Indian Restaurant, which gets rave reviews – so how can I resist that one? Moreover, I want to find The Turf Tavern, which is apparently, a brilliant, very old, Real Ale pub that was the setting for a Thomas Hardy novel where Jude in the book courts Arabella the barmaid. Its apparently Oxford’s worst kept secret, but is very hard to find. However, Bob Hawke, and more recently, Bill Clinton both managed it apparently. Bob Hawke downed a yard of ale (two and a half pints) in 11 seconds. It doesn’t say what Bill Clinton did, other than he didn’t inhale it. In addition, I have to fit all this in before I meet my friend at 8pm. Busy, busy, peeps. You really ought to be here you know...
So here we are Monday morning SWELTERINGLY hot, I am sitting in the foyer of Oxford station waiting for my train. I have been drinking water constantly since I woke but I am still feeling incredibly dehydrated as my clothes – supposedly made to cope with these kind of conditions are just plastered to me – nice! Everywhere around me, people are huffing and puffing whilst wearing the minimal amount possible. Mugins here however, has an enormous heavy case, a photo backpack that weighs a ton and laptop bag crammed with stuff to cart about. I’m doing something wrong aren’t I? Apparently, whilst I have been in Kate Bush Gathering mode, and therefore cut off from the world’s media, the country has decided, according to my paper, that Gordon Brown is rubbish as prime minister. I can only guess that this is because the country is in such an awful state. It is, and Oxfords transport and refuge systems are great examples of this, but it is hardly poor old Gordon’s fault is it? Maybe it’s just me then.
Spent a very enjoyable night in Quod – bar/restaurant type of place – in the high street , about 2 mins walk from the Vaults and Gardens where we where earlier in the day. I met up with an old school friend and his wife. I hadn’t seen him for thirty years but it really didn’t seem so at all. It is amazing how so much changes over the years and yet quintessentially, we are the same people. We had loads to catch up on and as we unfolded our life stories to each other in this great centre of learning, we traced back as to how we had arrived in the same Oxford restaurant at the same time in history. It became apparent that none of us had arrived where we are today through any great learning and academia, but rather, just by being the people that we are, meeting the right people at the right time, being unselfish, and working hard. It was truly refreshing that people with this outlook on life had received the rewards that they deserved. A meal in company such as this is more inspiring than all the beautiful architecture and libraries that surrounded us.
Just sitting here, in the conservatory of my guesthouse post breakfast but whilst Anders takes a post breakfast nap. Last night was quool, met up with Mike, Connie, Syl, the Punki brothers, Chemode, Darkly Noon, Coops, and Monkey Man for a really good curry at Chutney’s. Chutney’s is a non-pretentious place, but the food is excellent and so is the service. Anders and I where second to arrive, Syl had beaten us, and as we had not met before I wasn’t sure who she was and plumped for Darkly Noon – Oops. Coops rang to let us know that they would be 10 mins late, and once I had got the restaurant manager to phone Hannes, he was able to give his party directions, which soon found them joining us. Everyone got along well, some meeting for the first time, some old friends, and some of us veterans by now.
After the meal, we all went in search of the Secret Pub, which I managed to lead us to, with a slight detour. Not everyone went to the pub, Syl and Connie dropped out, but those of us who did make it had a drink and a chat before disappearing to our accommodation. Coops handed over a devious set of questions for the quiz, thanks Coops, you put a lot of hard work into them, and you’ve done us proud!
Do you know what? Kate fans are a really great friendly bunch – this is going to be fun!
I am preparing myself for the tour this afternoon and trying not to think about tonight too hard. Hope the tour is as good as yesterday’s.
I’ve tried to create a gallery in my blog for pictures from last night – no names, see if you can work them out.
There seemed to be a bit of confusion regarding the start time of our picnic, about half of the people turned up at one o'clock when it started, and the other half turned up at two o'clock. This presented some problems as the ones who were there on time wanted to get off and do some sight-seeing – or cheese tracking. The staff at the Vaults were brilliant and put out loads of tables joined together for us and we actually did get people together at about quarter past two to have a chat with Venus who rang us and chatted to us all individually – apparently, she has lots of free minutes – or did have. Then we all had some excellent food and did some photos before the early sitting started to leave. It was then that someone remembered that I hadn't got Kate's card out to sign. I had to run off after them, but fortunately, they had not gone far. They came back and we all signed the card, which this year, in accordance with the Oxford theme, had Kate dressed as a student, see picture if I remember to take one later. After the eager-to-leaves had gone, I played a song that Lissa had recorded specially for Kate's birthday the night before. She has done a version of "The Kick Inside" which I think she now has on her My Space page. With that, we all went off to join the others at the secret pub where we had good bear in good company and planned next year's event.
It was generally agreed that next year we will rent a large house for the weekend, which we are all really excited about. Stay tuned to the forum as we will have to book it soon and places in the house will be at a premium, although we are also looking for somewhere where we can accommodate camping too.
Thanks to everyone who came this year, it was wonderful to spend time with so many lovely people, let's see how many I can remember: Mike H, Tadge, Coops, Monkey Man, Darkly Noon, Tegan, Blurbvurt, Anders, Chemode, the Punki twins, Fats, a guy from the USA who's name I couldn't hear properly - sorry, Sam Guberman, Dave Hall, Nat Hall, Smill, Sharon, Syl, and Connie who joined us for the Friday night meal. Did I miss anyone? It's all a bit of a haze. The 2008 UK Kate Bush Fan Gathering rocked – here's to 2009. B)
OK, have to do a very brief blog entry today as we are short of time. I have posted just a few images to let you see what we've been up to. The tour was terrific but sweltering – ugh, I hate the sun – well, it hates me anyway. The lady guiding us had extensive knowledge of Phillip Pullman and his work and she took us to many places of interest. A few of us just couldn't stay the pace of two hours in the sun and by the time we got to the Magdalen Collage part of the tour only seven of us wanted to continue. We were running late, so I could only manage the briefest of tours around the college. However, we did manage to see where the choir sing, which was perhaps where they were recorded for Lyra. I am really suffering from dehydration this morning, drinking as much water as I can.
Last night at the Jericho seemed to go down well, nice natured crowd and wonderful performances from Dave Hall, Simon, Paul, Nat, The Vogueabonds, and Lucy, AKA, Fake Bush. Lucy and her friends had done SO much work rehearsing special songs and arrangements for us and it showed – Lucy we were so honoured that you did this for us you are a gem and anybody who has not seen you has something to put on their list of things that they must do before they die. Rest assured my dear, you will be invited back... :D Anders has a sound recording and video of the event, which may surface depending on whether the artists agree or not. I think everyone enjoyed themselves – they seemed to. I had the chance to press flesh with a good number of people I had not met before – thank you all for coming; it was wonderful to be in the same room as you guys. Sharing an appreciation of Kate's work with other fans is what we are all about and it is fantastic when we can do something like this. I am sure many new friendships were made. I'm sure many people will post on the forum about their experiences, so that will be fun to read in the next few days.
Oh well, off to brave the sun again now at the Vaults and Gardens, where we will have an offering Lissa has just sent us, and a birthday card to send to Kate.
Just back from Oxford (Where I am staying is outside Oxford by quite a bit which is a bit of a bind to say the least – it's costing me a fortune in Taxis. By the way, it's hard to get taxis here, I phoned one to go, and the guy said he couldn't do it for half an hour. (When I phoned from the restaurant later, they said they couldn't do it at all – the restaurant staff got me one.)
When I got to the Indian Restaurant, it wasn't there – this after me ringing them first to check they had a space for me. It turned out that the restaurant had been converted into a kebab shop – so much for rave reviews then – but had kept the old phone number, and as they had seats inside, they assumed I meant them. Anyway, I asked them for a recommendation for an Indian Restaurant and they sent me to one called "4500 Miles from Deli" Which was modern, but very good service and good food too.
After a meal there, I went to Carfax to meet my friend. He then gave me a brief tour of the city – it's stunning! It's amazing how compact it is generally. Breathtaking buildings, great people, most of whom speak foreign fluently, because they are tourists – no students here at this time of year. We then went to a secret pub, which is simply brilliant – I'm going to take you there if I can find it again – the perfect pub! Low wood beams, Real Ale, beer gardens – need I say more?
My friend took me to The East Oxford Community Centre where "Catwhezal" was happening. Catwheezle has been going for 25 years – it is an acoustic evening, where people get up and play songs, read poetry, or tell stories and it takes place every Thursday evening. They have a website I believe. They even publicised our gig on Saturday for us. Good atmosphere.
Note: Oxford is full of people on bikes who ride around at night without lights – which makes them even more of a nuisance than in the daytime.