Friday, 26 August 2016

Spirit beings of the golf course

I don't know how many golf courses in the UK feature totem poles, but one of the courses local to me does.

Dewstow Totem Pole
This is the totem pole that stands on what was the Park Course at Dewstow golf club. As you probably know a totem (Ojibwe dodaem) is a spirit being, sacred object, or symbol that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a family, clan, lineage, or tribe. I do wonder why a golf club would consider squirrels, rabbits and owls as sacred objects or spirit beings, but the pole is quite interesting and I guess a bunch of golfers might be considered a tribe...

Squirrels and Rabbits
The totem pole was carved by Bob Davies from a dead 60 foot Sequoia back in 1993 and is looking a little worse for wear now.

Squirrels and Owls
The base of the pole has become overgrown with ivy and bramble so much of the lower detail is now covered as is the commemorative stone, a bit of a shame in my opinion.

Best not to forget the Buzzard and the Seagull!
So, does your local golf course have a totem pole? No? Perhaps a few helpful spirit guides would help your swing!

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Goose Green Invasion Force?

Back in 1982 British forces were involved in the Battle of Goose Green and while I certainly wouldn't want to belittle their efforts (or those of the defending Argentine forces) I just wonder how our guys would have coped if faced with this lot?

These are, mostly, Canada Geese who have adopted Magor Pill on the Severn Estuary. Quite why they've turned up in such numbers at this time of year I'm not sure, unless migration is early this year?

Watching them massing and making their way along the shoreline reminded me of a full-blown invasion force... hence the post title. Whatever the reason for their presence, Tilly and I enjoyed watching them for a while.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Me and my shadow

Walking Tilly and found it hard to resist capturing this image...

Mez follow ewe everwhere Grand Dad!
I'm not actually convinced Tilly would follow me everywhere if I didn't have pieces of doggy sausage in my pocket!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Work in progress at Chez Usky

Some renovation has been going on at Chez Usky in the form of outdoor living space... in essence a new patio area. Sounds simple said quickly, but in truth it hasn't been and the work that started on 8th August is now nearing completion.

The old patio was way past its sell by date and the bay tree we planted back in the early days of our residence here had become unmanageable. Also some of the bricks in a retaining wall were crumbling and the wall was in definite need of rebuilding.

So this was what we started with...

Not exactly eye-catching was it?

Ripping up the old slabs was easy enough, but removing the Bay was something of a chore to say the least, but this is what it looked like when that was done.

Slabs up and Bay removed
Once the new slate slabs started going down things looked considerably better, especially given the extra light thanks to the removal of the Bay tree.

In true dog fashion Tilly found a nice warm sunny corner to claim as her own.

Let sleeping dogs lay
We're almost at completion now I'm pleased to say and here's how things are looking...

Rebuilt wall with slate capstones 
Patio Chez Usky
Old 'Bay' end
There's cleaning to be done and once the slabs have had time to 'settle' we'll seal the area to preserve the surface. I'm really looking forward to finding some nice furniture and firing up the Weber to char some steaks!

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

T.C. Ellis guitar dumped - what a cruel waste!

Cardiff based luthier T.C. Ellis makes some really great guitars, believe me I know and I'm not just saying that because I own one... Phillip Campbell (Motorhead) plays one and while on the subject of Motorhead, Tim Ellis was Lemmy's luthier of choice.

So here's the thing... while out walking Tilly this morning I spotted a guitar floating in a drainage reen. Being me, I hooked it out and guess what? It was a TC Ellis!

TC Ellis found dumped in a reen
The weight is beautiful the neck looks straight and true and despite having been dumped in deep water the woodwork looks in reasonable condition. Also, judging from the lack of fret wear, I doubt the guitar has ever been played much.

In need of a bit of tender loving care 
No doubt about it this axe is in need of some TLC and wants (deserves) to have some cash spent on it to restore it to its former glory. I'd love to know what arsehole thought it was a good idea to dump this high class musical instrument in a drainage reen!

You won't find one of these in Ikea

How's this for an interesting 'bench' seat?

Park Bench - Belle Vue Park, Newport
It's actually very comfortable to sit on too :)

Monday, 8 August 2016

Celebs spotted at Caldicot Castle

One very recognisable face among the crowd gathering for Saturday's Quo concert at Caldicot Castle was former Wales captain and back-row player, Colin Charvis.

Status Quo fan Colin Charvis at Caldicot Castle
Were you there? Did you spot any other celebrities?

Quo rock Caldicot

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I'd see the legendary Status Quo playing a live gig in this sleepy part of the world. Indeed when I first noticed a poster advertising the forthcoming concert at Caldicot Castle I assumed I'd misread and it would be a Quo tribute band playing the venue. But no, on closer inspection the poster really did say Status Quo and what's more they would be supported by Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel... obviously this was going to a night too good to be missed!

Tickets were obtained and the date eagerly awaited.

The evening kicked off with local band The Bug Club warming up the audience in what must have been for them a dream come true.

When Cockney Rebel took the stage the atmosphere kicked up a few notches the crowd really began to buzz.

Then this happened...
Status Quo take the stage at Caldicot Castle
We all knew Quo would be without Rick Parfitt who had suffered a heart attack during a concert in Turkey in early June, but that didn't detract from the crowd's excitement when the band appeared on stage. Hope the recovery goes well Rick!

Rocking all over Caldicot!
Bassist John 'Rhino' Edwards' son Freddie has stepped in to fill Rick's shoes and the lad certainly didn't look (or sound) out of place.

Freddie Edwards
The atmosphere at Caldicot Castle was now akin to that experienced at any major music festival where the audience sing, shout, dance, clap, wave inflatable guitars and generally have a lot of fun and why wouldn't it be? After all, we were enjoying some excellent music at a great location.

Francis Rossi the Grand Old Man of Rock
The Grand Old Man of Rock may be no spring chicken, but age hasn't slowed down his on-stage performance or detracted from his charisma; Rossi's lead breaks are as cutting now as they ever were.

John 'Rhino' Edwards and Andrew Brown
Rhino's driving bass lines and Andrew Brown's solid fills round out the Quo's sound while youngster Leon Cave sets the time on his skins.

Leon Cave
Playing a selection of their classic tracks, Status Quo lived up to everyone's expectations... I could witter on and on about the performance, but if you know Quo you know what we enjoyed under the night sky so I'm going to leave it there and just share some more images with you.

Just before I go, how about a couple of silly facial expressions?

Pain or Pleasure?

What're you thinking about Francis?

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Coming next on Usky's Images - Status Quo at Caldicot Castle

Just an appetite whetter....

Francis Rossi doing his thing
The Main Event so to speak...

Status Quo rock Caldicot Castle

Made me smile

I'm enjoying my twiddly-umpty fourth birthday today, but the celebrations actually started yesterday with an open-air concert held at Caldicot Castle. The headline act was the inimitable Status Quo, but I think the warm-up band was arranged especially for me... a band I've listened too for years on end, but never had the opportunity to see live... the excellent Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel!

Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel at Caldicot Castle
Sadly of course the band members, like me, are getting on in years and showing signs of age/wear and tear. Indeed there are only three of the original line-up surviving.

Steve Harley - Founder and band leader
Robbie Gladwell - Guitarist
Stuart Elliot - Drums
Of course band members come and go as musicians follow their own career path, leave for family commitment, or whatever.

Barry Wickens - Violin, Guitar, Backing Vocals
James Lascelles - Keyboards, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Bassist - I'm embarrassed to say I don't know his name
I'm sure I should know the name of the bass player who is currently replacing Marty Prior, who I believe died last year. Whoever he is, his bass playing last night was excellent.

The band played all the old favourites of course; Judy Teen, Mr Soft, The Best Years of Our Lives, Sebastian, etc. and rounded off their performance with an encore performance of Make Me Smile - and I most certainly did when I wasn't singing along with them.

Here are a few more of the images I took during the performance:

Thank you Cockney Rebel for a very enjoyable set.