Tag Archives: Southwell

Billy Bragg

I can’t pretend that I was a huge fan, but I’ve always liked what I heard and always admired his politics and his passion. So when he played a gig about 2 miles from my house – well I had to go.

It was part of the annual Gate to Southwell Folk Festival (which lasts all weekend), but at times it felt like a strange mix. Playing to an inherently conservative (with a small c) audience of older (I was one of the youngest audience members) of folk music fans; in a strongly Conservative (with a large C) electoral area, it would be interesting to see how the politics and passion would play out.

Initially the set was very folky as Bragg talked about how he now embraces the folk scene – and how it will allow him to grow old and still be welcomed in the scene. He played his folkier tracks and also some Woody Guthrie numbers he’s been working on.

I can’t list the songs played as I didn’t know them to begin with, but even stood on his own on stage (apart from one person in the wings who was making him cups of herbal tea!) he held the audience’s attention throughout.

The second half of the set became more political and songs and talk of the unions and of keeping the faith and losing our cynicism to eventually overturn the Government were well, if not over-enthusiastically, received by the audience.

But then it was back to familiar territory and the encore finished with a good old-fashioned sing-a-long to New England.

The audience, young and old, c/Conservative or not, left humming along to themselves and probably musing on the fact that at the end of the day nearly all great music is about falling in or out of love.

I thought Bragg was excellent and I’m off now to try and find some of his CDs.



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Tri Hard Today

In about two hours time I’ll set off on a sprint triathlon:
– 400m swim
– 17.6km bike ride
– 5km run

After my disappointing recent swim I’m not setting any targets or aiming for a particular time – I just want to finish and enjoy it.

Considering I’ve not trained for the bike or run part it’ll probably be a bit tough. But nowhere near as tough as the Arch to Arc that a friend of mine is currently undertaking.

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Three miles, two swims

Last night I wasn’t sure whether I’d go swimming today. I’d had a long day in London (and some great meetings), but by the end of the day due to a couple of personal things it felt like a tough day. Friday is my night down the pub with a few beers and darts, yet Saturday was the only day I could do a lake swim this weekend (we’re doing a charity bike ride as a family tomorrow). So should I go to the pub and relax and unwind and have a few beers, or should I be a little bit more cautious so that I can have a big swim in the morning?

I had decided to have the beers, but in the end once I got to the pub I only fancied a couple. It was a good night, good fun and great darts (no quality, just fun) and I just didn’t fancy any more beer. So I woke up this morning feeling fit and raring to go.

I set off and got to the lake for 10am got changed and went in – it was beautiful.

Today's swim

Today’s swim

On the drive up I got into my head the notion that I should follow up the lake swim with a dip in the pool back in the village. I’m not sure why, it just seemed like a good idea.

After 2 miles in the lake I got out, got changed and set off. A flask of tea in the car helped to warm me up [a bit] and I got back into the village just as lane swimming was starting.

The first few minutes in the pool were tough. I hadn’t fully warmed up and was shivering quite a lot and it didn’t seem like such a good idea. Fortunately however I did start to warm up and really enjoyed a relaxing mile.

So, three miles, two swims in 1hr 43mins.

Today's time.

Today’s time.


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Terrible swim, great chat… Masters

On Monday I got into the pool just after 7am for my regular Monday morning swim session, but to be honest it was hard work. I was still really tired from the previous week’s work and hadn’t managed to catch up fully on my sleep. It really made me realise just how important rest is in regards to all of this training.

I plan to do mini 1km sets at a threshold pace when I’m swimming these sessions. The plan is to keep to a 1:54 / 100m pace (1 minute and 54 seconds for every 100m swum). I managed the first two 1km sets, but setting off on the third I just didn’t have the energy.

I could have pushed through it, but part of the reason for being tired was because I was busy at work – and there was still plenty to do on Monday. So instead of keeping going and wiping myself out for the day, I called it a day.

By doing so it meant I had a few extra minutes to chat to someone who is a regular lane buddy. I see her and say hello, but even after all these weeks we’ve only just got onto first name terms – I’m usually too busy swimming and then rushing to work. But on Monday I had a few extra minutes and we chatted for a bit. Naturally the talk was about swimming and our stroke (I’m a bit choppy with my left arm apparently) and during that conversation she mentioned that there was a Masters session at my pool twice a week – I didn’t know that!

So last night I went down to my first ever Masters session – in fact it was my first ever swimming “lesson” of any kind. I don’t remember being taught to swim but I presume that my dad gave me the basics and I got on with it as a nipper, I certainly was never a member of a swimming club. So I was a little bit nervous at the start of the session.

In the end the session was a swimming club session for teenagers with one lane roped off for the old folk. It doesn’t sound like much, but as there were only three of us it was plenty. We started with a warm-up as the coach watched our stroke and then gave tips.

She actually said that my stroke was quite good – which was gratifying to hear – I just have to focus on reaching a bit further and rotating a bit more. Although I’ve never had any lessons I have watched swimmers and read a few tips and hints and tried to adopt the good habits into my swimming – it seems that some have sunk in. After the initial assessment we swam few drills (I’ve never used a pull buoy before, so that was interesting) and continued to receive hints and advice from the coach.

It wasn’t a particularly intense session, although the different drills helped me work on different aspects, but I really enjoyed it and got a lot from it. I’m going again tonight 🙂

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Rounding off Juneathon

So it’s the end of Juneathon and to round things off I went for a swim (yesterday) and a bike ride today.

I swam 2km in the pool and rode a lovely 18km around the local area, finishing off with a pint – a very nice way to spend a Sunday.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Juneathon and I’ll write a bit more about it soon.

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Quick Friday Night Juneathon

This post is only being written to gloat to LucyHG because I went out running this evening and I can safely predict that she didn’t!

Of course Friday night is SouthwellRun night and of course no-one turned up! Never mind, I still enjoyed it. This week I managed 6.74 km. It wasn’t very quick, but I did it – and I bet Lucy didn’t!


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Juneathon Working Week

The running (and other activities) may have been happening this week – but the blogging hasn’t, so I thought I’d do a round up of the whole week.

Monday – this one I did manage to blog about, but it wasn’t the longest run so far (not only for Juneathon, but of the year) at 7.07km.

Tuesday – the plan was to get a quick run in before my train down to London, but… well it didn’t happen, so nothing on Tuesday I’m afraid.

Wednesday – however, no run on Tuesday meant that I packed my kit to take it to London, so on Wednesday morning I went out from the hotel. I persuaded my colleague to come with me and being the complete gentleman that I am I used this as an excuse to race and comprehensively beat her. The fact that she didn’t know we were racing should take nothing away from my victory! So, a speedy 3.84km.

Thursday – the routine for a Thursday is to go to Pilates – it really helps to stretch me out after a week mainly hunched over a keyboard. However, it doesn’t feel like enough for Juneathon so I went for swim before hand and did 2km in the pool.

Friday – another running club session. The great news is that everyone that turned up last week was there again this week, with no drop outs. I was tired again, especially after a day that involved both cake and champagne (we decided to celebrate a successful week), but still pushed on which I was pleased about. The route changed a bit this week and was a bit longer. It turned out to be 7.7km, beating the previous record set on Monday, so not a bad end to the week.

Tomorrow will be a lake swimming day, so looking forward to that.

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Juneathon 10, 11, 12 – back to running

These three runs perfectly highlight the fact that if it wasn’t for Juneathon I wouldn’t have gone out at all.

Juneathon 10 – An evening run after work, but when I got home I just didn’t want to bother, however Juneathon inspiration to hand I went out anyway and of course, thoroughly enjoyed it when I was out there. Just under 5km at just over 5:30min/km, but perhaps more importantly a lovely evening run in beautiful weather.

Juneathon 11 – If the day before was a run I wouldn’t have done with Juneathon, this was a run I wouldn’t even have planned without Juneathon. Less than 12 hours after the previous run I was out the door again (at 7am). A very short dash around the block (less than 2.5km), but a good start to the day.

Juneathon 12Juneathon 12 – Another early morning start, another short run, another great start to the day – this though, the same route as the day before, but 15 seconds/km quicker. Yay me.

Tomorrow is a rest day – and it feels like I need it – and then on Friday if anyone local wants to join me I’d love to see you there.

Juneathon 10, 11, 12 – 9.38kms, 50:58mins

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Southwell ad-hoc running (and drinking) club

I had a thought tonight while out running – I wonder if anyone would fancy joining me? So for the next few weeks I’m going to do the following:

– Friday evening, 7:30pm – gather on the Burgage
– Friday evening 7:45pm – set off on a just under 5km run – starting by running down to the Final Whistle and then along the trail.
– Friday evening 8:15pm (ish) – finish the run
– Friday evening 9:30pm (ish) – have a pint at the Coach House

It anyone from Southwell (or around) fancies joining me for either bit of it – I’ll see you there. If you’re coming for the run, I’ll be the guy in a red t-shirt and glasses who doesn’t look much like a runner!

PS – this is the route I suggest and as you can see, I’m not very quick.

run route


Filed under Running, Thoughts

Any Questions?

On Friday night I was lucky enough to go to the recording of Radio 4’s Any Questions programme – for those of you that don’t listen to it it’s a radio version of Question Time (for those of you out of the UK – it’s a political debate programme). It was recorded at the Minster School in Southwell, where I live.

I really enjoyed going, it was interesting to see how it is all set up and how it happens, but in the end I left a little frustrated – mainly because it’s not actually a political debate programme, it’s a political shouting match and name-calling exercise. I don’t think that this problem is anything to do with the programme itself, instead, unfortunately, it is the nature of modern politics.

The time and space to have reasoned debate seems to have disappeared and with a media (not to mention a Twitter audience) that is hungry to dissect every utterance then politicians always have to be “on-message”. The problem is that they focus on being on-message to the detriment of actually producing a coherent message.

Most issues in modern life are complicated, complex and interlinked – there is rarely a simple or easy solution and there is rarely a single solution. The issue of the economy, or of international terrorism, or of the environment need people to sit down together to work through, they also require everyone to make difficult choices and accept some things that they might not like to create a greater good.

Instead what we seem to get is an almost involuntary dismissal of anything that the other side proposes.

It is childish, silly, unhelpful and in the long-run if it continues is a far bigger threat to the very future of politics than the expenses scandal or any other similar expose.

To bring it back to Friday, here are my “scores” for the participants (from left to right as the panel was sitting):

– Ruth Porter – seemed nervous and slightly out of touch with real life, a little too keen to state her rehearsed point
– Ken Clarke – played the relaxed uncle role well, his demeanour and approach impressed me even if I didn’t always agree with him
– Keith Vaz – toed the party line, but had nothing of real interest to say, I really can’t remember him saying anything of interest
– George Galloway – a non-stop showman which ruined many of his points, I agree with him about Iraq and the start of that war, but he can’t concede a single point which ultimately makes him easy to ridicule and ignore

On a side note, George Galloway actually disappointed me the most. A couple of times he got Ruth Porter’s name wrong during the debate, but instead of acting like a human being and apologising to her after the show, he donned his fedora and swanned out of the auditorium. A human touch would have made me like him, would have made me understand that his aggressive approach was an act he felt necessary to make his political points. Instead it made me think that it’s the limelight and not the politics that he cares about.

I may change my mind on this when I listen again (as you can here) and I’d still happily go to another recording, but all in all it just made me a little sad for the state of politics.

UPDATE – 7th Feb

Not too long ago the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, announced a new policy for exams, recently he changed his mind.

Now I’m not to comment on whether the original policy was good, or the change of mind is for the best, but when a politician does change their mind and nearly all the reporting is about a “humiliating u-turn” you can understand why they don’t do it more often.

This tribalistic approach to politics is why we don’t have more debate, consensus and generally working with the other side. This approach is what makes people stick to bad ideas, want to win no matter what the cost and attack good ideas just because the other guys thought of it.

This is why we can’t have nice things people.

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