Thursday, 30 December 2010

No Longer Dreaming Of A White Christmas

In the words of Gilbert O' Sullivan I'm Not Dreaming of a White Christmas... I've had quite enough of the snow for this year thank you!

The steady trickle of rain which began on Monday evening has gradually washed the remaining bundles of ice away over the past few days...

On my trip into work this morning I couldn't help but think how beautiful and quiet the streets of Newport looked - until I got to the Duffryn - Maesglas subway and found where all the melted snow had gathered - it was either swim for it or cross the road - so as I didn't have my flippers it was over the top!

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Newport Scenes: Christmas Eve in Newport

Following some of the snowy images from earlier in the week here's some pre-Christmas scenes taken from the bridge on Cardiff Road on my way into work this morning - showing that occasionally Newport can look quite beautiful in places!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Happy Christmas!

Weather disruption this last few weeks forced Rachel and I to rethink our Christmas card sending as many people we felt would not receive their cards before Christmas.

So, we decided to give the money we would have spent on the cards to a family we support on a regular basis and instead I've drawn a card which you can enjoy online here...

Christmas love and wishes

Andy, Rachel, Seren, Jon & Tom

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Convert Your Audiobook Cassettes and Vinyl To Digital Format

One of my side projects this year has been converting some of my old vinyl and cassette recordings to audio format.

This has been known to be a bit of a laborious task in the past when finding over complicated software programmes or computers with lack of memory don't always deliver the results you would like to achieve.

Thankfully the Audacity programme is very useful for this task and so far to my experience is very useful for converting audio and vinyl to digital format but also for editing and cleaning up recordings.

I've produced two guides how to convert your old records and tapes to vinyl on Suite101:

  1. Converting Your Cassette Audiobooks To MP3 Format
  2. Splitting Your Audiobook Recordings Into Chapters

Frozen Newport

Well, it looks like the snow over the weekend hit us pretty bad in Newport, Gwent.

Monday started off a bit slippy with icy pavements as there was no snow over the weekend since the heavy dollop we had on Friday.

Around 9am, the snow started to fall again, it soon became apparent on Newport's Cardiff Road (outside my workplace) that all the traffic was pretty much at a standstill.

This image of an Out Of Service bus carrying worried passengers (hopefully) to their destinations was a common sign yesterday. A couple of my colleagues who live furthest away managed to get half a mile up the road in their cars in about two hours!

Tesco was deserted when i got there at lunchtime - people even forsaking their shopping to get home. Note To Self - expect a stampede on Christmas Eve!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Bend Me Shape Me At Burger King

Writing Christmas Cards with the Children this evening, my wife Rachel put on the Vintage TV music channel which plays those great tunes from Nineteen Hundred and Frozen Stiff. (I should know, I love all of them!).

Bend Me, Shape Me that classic 1968 track by Andy Fairweather-Low's band Amen Corner came on the TV and on hearing the lyric "You can make this beggar a king, a clown or a poet", my youngest son, Tom misheard the lyric and asked me "Why are they singing about Burger King?".

I had to chuckle thinking that Amen Corner had maybe sung "You can make this Burger King, a clown or a poet..."

Oh well, maybe not...

Further Reading:
Review: Andy Fairweather Low and The Low Riders In Concert
A review Of  Andy Fairweather Low's Concert at Newport Riverfront in 2008

Review: Andy Fairweather Low and The Low Riders @ Newport Riverfront 
Review of Andy Fairweather Low's Concert at Newport Riverfront in 2009

We Didn't Meet At Debenhams (But I Still Met Santa Anyway)

Here's a little story about a badge I discovered in my old badge box tonight. Badges probably have lots of stories... I guess it depends if you want to tell them!

Way back around 1975, a boy in my class at Richard Hind Primary School, Stockton-On-Tees called Paul Campbell - I think it was him anyway! - gave me this Father Christmas - We Met At Debenhams badge.

I don't know if Paul did meet Santa at Debenhams, but I seem to remember meeting Santa at a Church Hall just off Yarm Road a couple of times around 1975. I remember the long queue and how magical the Grotto seemed. On that occasion Santa gave me a Domino set.

Happy Birthday Father Christmas!

The next time I saw him was in Johnnie Walker square, in Stockton On Tees around 1977.

On this occasion I wished him a Happy Birthday and he looked rather puzzled.

Okay I know, it's meant to be Jesus' birthday, but I was still getting the hang of Christmas when I was 8. 

Anyhow, back to The Debenhams badge - I took it home and proudly showed it to my Mother. "But you didn't meet him at Debenhams did you?", she said. No I didn't mother, but some 35 years later, I still have the badge!

Christmas Musical Memories:

I've recently written a few Christmas related articles.

If like me you love Christmas music you might like to check out my list of essential Christmas albums: From Bing To Elvis - A List Of Classic Christmas Albums while the retrospective show Christmas With the Rat Pack reminds us of those great Christmas tunes that Sinatra, Martin and Davis provided us with for many years and brings them firmly into the 21st Century!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Remember: John Lennon 1940-1980

It's 30 years since the passing of John Lennon.

To many people, such an event is one of those moments you remember where you were when you heard the news of his death.

I was 12, and actually ill and off school that day.

I remember sitting in the kitchen of my Grandad's Yorkshire Dales shop full of cold and tucking into a bowl of hot soup. The TV was on but the volume turned down. Glancing up to the TV screen I noticed the screen was full of images of John Lennon.

Turning up the volume I couldn't quite believe the news as it unfolded. 30 years later it all still seems ridiculous. On the verge of a comeback John had recently released a new single and album. His death caused (Just Like) Starting Over to hit Number One the following week and within weeks Woman and Imagine would give him three posthumous Number Ones.

Lennon Legend

Lennon has become legendary status now, something he would rather not have done, according to former girlfriend May Pang this week. Commenting on seeing Eric Clapton referred to as Legendary in the 1970s, John apparently cringed at the thought.

Thankfully, we still have the legacy of his music and it's always great to see Yoko keeping his memory and work alive.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Our Missing Cat Interview and Review

Besides listening to lots of Christmas music this last few weeks my iPod has been giving regular plays to Nine Lives, a brilliant album by London Electronic/Acoustic duo, Our Missing Cat.

The album is a cool fusion of electronic and acoustic music with elements of punk,country, rock and flower power making the mix.

It's difficult to say which are my favourite tracks as I think the album is a wonderful piece as a whole (a very rare thing in these times), but particular stand out tracks are the indie sounding Something Going On and the poetic Lizzy. Check out the Our Missing Cat website for information on the album and sound bytes and follow the band on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.

I have reviewed Nine Lives for Suite101 and Our Missing Cat vocalist, writer and musician Andrea Webster spoke to me about the band and the album.


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