See you later alligator...

I'm off on my travels soon, so I'll be taking a little break from reading and posting (to be fair, I haven't exactly been posting very regularly). I have a few blogging ideas I'm going to think about when I'm away, so hopefully I'll come back fresh and full of blogging enthusiasm...

See ya!

Charity shop haul: John who steers the boat...

Last weekend I went to visit my Mum and Dad in West Somerset. One of the highlights of such visits (apart from seeing my delightful parents, hi Mum) is visiting Watchet's craft and charity shops. There's one charity shop that's a very rare breed these days; you can still find some absolute bargains. No Primark tops for £5 each here, oh no. Here's my mini-haul:

Brown leather (I think) Antler bag. Really high quality, looks hardly used. I love the colour, and I'm thinking it'll make a great laptop bag.

I'm a massive travel/transport geek, and I particularly love trains. I'm going to read all about the Trans-Siberian express and fantacise about future trips.

Yes, it's a duck. Not just any old duck though, it's a replica of Rosie and Jim's feathered friend. Altogether now: QUAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!

And the best thing about this haul? The price: £3 for the lot. Now that's how charity shop shopping should be.

First love, last love...

When I got a Discman for my 13th birthday, I went out and bought three albums to accompany it: James' greatest hits (which still features on my playlist), Free All Angels by Ash (which also still features on my playlist) and S Club by S Club 7 (which, erm, definitely does not still feature on my playlist, ahem). Anyway, my early love of their music meant that I was very excited about going to Ash's 20th birthday gig at The Garage in North London, and I wasn't disappointed.

The venue was much smaller than I was expecting (I guess it's because Ash just aren't that big anymore) but that was actually really great because it felt properly intimate. I've seen them before, but only at festivals and supporting in arenas, so this venue made a nice change. The other advantage to them not being so popular anymore meant that everyone there was a die hard fan who sang along to everything. And a good audience really makes a gig, in my opinion; even though I'd gone alone (sad, I know) it felt like I was among friends because the atmosphere was so electric.

Naturally they played a greatest hits set (including, bizarrely but brilliantly, 'Girl From Mars' twice). They had lots of special guests, most excitingly Charlotte Hatherley for the encore. The whole thing was incredible, although I think the real highlight for me came after the gig when a man on the tube felt the need to enquire about whether or not I was having an allergic reaction. Nope, just sweaty.

In contrast to the hotly-anticipated Ash gig, the week before, I went to see The Maccabees with pretty much no expectations at all. During the last couple of years I'd really gotten out of the habit of going to gigs, which is something I'd consciously decided to try and rectify. I bought two tickets for this gig way back in February (I think), having only heard a couple of songs (I know, like I said, I was out of the loop) but deciding to give it a try.

I did my revision before I went, listening to Colour It In and their latest album, Given to the Wild. Listening to the albums I started to feel pretty sure that I'd made the right decision when buying the tickets, and boy was I proved right. For the first time in years, we fought our way to the front (through hundreds of over-excited teenage girls) and joined in with the crush. I came away with bruises, which is always a sign of a good gig!  The older songs (particularly Latchmere and Toothpaste Kisses) went down really well, and their newer stuff really came to life when played life. A lot of the songs on Given to the Wild are much slower and more atmospheric than their earlier offerings, and I appreciated them much more at the gig than I had listening to them on my Mp3 player. Pelican was obviously bloody brilliant.

Getting back into going to gigs? Definitely one of my better ideas.