Nozstock 2015 headliners announced

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One of the mainstays of our summer holidays is our now obligatory trip to the Nozstock Festival in Herefordshire. It’s a boutique festival, attracting around 5,000 visitors, so you don’t have to worry about watching the main act on a big screen about half a mile from the stage- it’s small and perfectly formed. In the last couple of years we’ve seen the likes of Roots Manuva and the Fun Loving Criminals as well as Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer, La Galaxie Molotov Jukebox and Dizraeli and the Small Gods.

The line up for Nozstock 2015 has now been announced and there are some corkers:

  • Wu Tang Clan
  • Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
  • Hollie Cook
  • Beardyman
  • Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer

It does leave some tasty potential team ups:

Reviews: 100 Family Adventures by the Meek Family

IMG_20140927_124219[1]We’re an outdoors family and as such, when we were offered the chance to review a book written by a like-minded family called 100 Family Adventures, we jumped at the opportunity.

100 Family Adventures is a book for the whole family, by a whole family. It’s divided up into different sections like Woodland, By the Sea, and Exploring, with a number of different activities or “adventures” in each. Some of them require a bit of pre-planning, some a lot of pre-planning and others you can just jump headlong into.

Each Adventure is set out in the same way with a description, some practical tips and tricks, input from Amy (one of the kids) and a joke from Ella (the other daughter). They’re easy to follow and there are some great ideas for enhancing a trip out or actually basing a trip on altogether.

The majority of the adventures give enough detail for you to get on with doing something fun outside but what would have been helpful is a glossary of legal rights- for example, with floating down a river, what happens if you don’t have right of access to the river bank where you get out? What about making camp-fires on the beach? Lots of places we go to in North Norfolk seem to explicitly forbid fires, and the same goes for sleeping on the beach overnight. These activities look fun but I’d be a little bit nervous about getting in to trouble doing them without a lot of effort to find out what I was and wasn’t allowed to do first.

IMG_20150301_110613[1]The vast majority of the adventures though do look great fun, and we can probably tick off almost half of them already, which shows the Meeks are in tune with our way of thinking (or vice versa if you’d prefer). I think the one thing I’ve taken from the book is I need to be more adventurous with my outdoor cooking. We have a good camping stove and a selection of pots, so it’s something we can easily do.

It’s also good to be reminded that a day out doesn’t have to be expensive and the best resource we have to play with is the great outdoors. It’s good to be able to get the kids away from the TV and the iPads, and a book like this is a valuable addition to our library of stuff to do.

100 Family Adventures is out on 5th March at a recommended retail price of £14.99.

Why I still think you should vote


The general election is rapidly approaching and yet again the news is full of depressing vox pops with people who seem to think they’re somehow gaming the system by not voting, people who think they’re being big and clever by not exercising their democratic rights. I’m here to tell you you’re not big and you’re not clever if you don’t vote.

A quick Google throws up some interesting market research by Survation on behalf of  Lodestone Communications. The biggest reasons for voter apathy are:

  • don’t believe vote will make any difference;
  • parties are all the same;
  • not interested in politics;
  • not enough information to make an opinion;
  • my views aren’t represented by any party.

These are a completely unsurprising set of reasons and each of them is really flawed if you only spend a couple of minutes thinking about it:

don’t believe vote will make any difference

Really? I can’t quite bring myself to answer this one earnestly because I’m afraid it’ll come across as patronising. Instead please watch this biting piece of political satire:

parties are all the same

It’s no secret that Labour have been moving more and more to the centre over the past few years but branding them all the same is more than a little facile. Yes, politicians as a breed are generally quite similar and fit into several different categories- the Eton boys who’s want to run the world for each other, the career politicians who aren’t particularly interested in anything other than their career in politics and the backbenchers who, if they’re Tory have a weird obsession with Europe, or if they’re Labour probably spend half the day publicly eating bacon sandwiches to show it can be done but generally care about their local constituents and work hard.

There are some pretty fundamental differences between parties at a basic level though. As I wrote in my God vs Politics post, if international charities and the Church of England are taking the unprecedented step of criticising social welfare policy, then there is definitely something different between the two main parties. The problem really lies in the vicious circle of news reporting and press releases written for news reporting. We now live in a society where if it can’t be said in a catchy soundbite, it’s not said or reported, which means plenty of political difference just isn’t reported.

not interested in politics

I’ve never understood this one. Not interested in politics? Tax levels and VAT rates affect everyone on a daily basis. Who decides them? What’s taught to our kids in schools, the schools admission process and cost of further education, all decided on by politicians. Grumbling about your bins not being collected every week? At some fundamental level that’s down to politics too.

not enough information to make an opinion

Find it then. Stop being so lazy and expecting everything on a plate for you. There are plenty of free resources to read at your leisure online that can educate you. Get off your apathetic backside.

my views aren’t represented by any party

That’s probably because the country isn’t run for the sole benefit of you. Sorry if that sounds harsh but nobody can be all things to all men. What you have to do is act like a grown up and weigh up the pros and cons of each party and it’s policies, and then take a big breath and consider whether any of their election pledges will be ditched if they get in to power (Lib Dems, we’re looking at you here). Once you’ve done that, you should vote for either the party you most agree with or against the party you disagree with the most. Just vote. Please.

Voters are important. Incredibly important. How important? Well for example the government has just spent £300m to make the lives of pensioners better by issuing Pensioner Bonds- a way for the well off elderly to get a good return on their savings that the market can’t/won’t provide. (£300m is the estimated cost to the government of running the scheme). Any demographic analysis of Tory voters shows that their largest group of supporters by some distance are the over 65’s. Voters are so important the government have just spent £300m to remind their core voters that they still need their support. Make no bones about it, Pensioner Bonds are completely against the free market ideology of the Tory party.

Is it a coincidence that the age group that votes the most gets the most?

Haven’t quite got this parenting sussed at the moment

I’m very busy at work at the moment. That’s to be expected in the world of accountancy at this time of year- lots of December year ends to deal with and all that jazz- but I’m finding it hard going at the weekends too at the moment. Whether it’s the pressure at work or something else, I’m finding the constant intrusions and demands from the kids very irritating. Even I as I write this, I can hear a voice hollering for me from 4 rooms away, demanding my attention. This is no different to usual of course and for the most part it’s normally water off a duck’s back- I just turn on the inbuilt filters and ignore it. Currently though, I feel excessively tired and more than a bit grumpy when the kids kick off.

And this starts at around 6am, through until 9pm.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the time the kids play happily by themselves but as soon as the phone rings or I try to talk to wifey, as if by magic a child appears to make it almost impossible to have a grown up conversation. The only time they need adult interaction is when they perceive the adult is doing something important. It’s uncanny.

It’s not just their presence during adult conversational moments that is wearing, it’s the incessant repetition. “Can I have a biscuit? Can I have a biscuit? Can I have a biscuit? Can I have a biscuit? Can I have a biscuit? Can I have a biscuit? Can I have a biscuit? Can I have a biscuit? Can I have a biscuit? Can I have a biscuit? Can I have a biscuit? Can I have a biscuit?” until you just wish every biscuit factory in these fair isles suffered a catastrophic failure three months ago and there was now nothing named “biscuit” available in this country. The kids have even learnt to speak on the intake of breath so there is literally no pause in the relentless barrage of repetitive demands.

Last night we finally managed to get them all gone at 8:40pm. You know what? I’d turned the lights off and was asleep by 9 o’clock as I’d just thoroughly had enough.

I thought I’d conduct an experiment today. We’re having a roast for Sunday lunch and I thought I’d see how many interruptions could happen in the 5 minutes it takes to peel the potatoes. You can see for yourself in this video (boring bits sped up X4, don’t worry, you don’t have to watch me peeling spuds in real time):

That’s not too bad- only 3 interruptions and only one leave the kitchen moment at that, in the five minutes it took to peel the spuds. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m just a grumpy old man now I’ve turned 40…