"for the happy, the sad, I don't want to be, another page in your diary"

Thursday 30 September 2021

The Subways

Without an album in five years, although working on their fifth, in March 2020 The Subways started re-touring their debut album 'Young for Eternity' on its 15th anniversary. Then, like everyone else, they had to stop due to the pandemic. Now, eighteen months later, they are picking up where they left off and finishing off that tour.

Alongside them, also celebrating 15 years since their first album (well 16 now obviously) are old friends of mine Art Brut. I haven’t seen them for a while and I’m delighted to say they haven't changed one bit. Well Eddie Argos hasn't anyway or perhaps he’s just grown into his age. The band play themselves on with Guns N’ Roses 'Welcome To The Jungle' and proceed as if they are headlining. Which they probably think they are.

That debut album 'Bang Bang Rock & Roll' doesn't get the album in full treatment, and we instead get treated to a mix of all five of their albums, but they do open (of course) with 'Formed a Band' and then follow this with an updated version of 'My Little Brother'. It turns out his little brother, who 15 years ago had just discovered Rock N Roll, is now nearly 40 and a teacher e.g. not so out of control now. Cue updated and extended monologue that goes on almost forever.


As usual their show is part music, part stand-up comedy and part Jackanory. Delivered particularly excellently tonight. Can I take back what I said about them not having changed? They are usually pretty shambolic but tonight they are actually pretty slick once they get going. It’s probably the best performance I’ve seen them do. While the band, and particularly Argos, are clearly having a blast.

They play for almost a full hour, although 'My Little Brother' was most of that. As I said, they probably thought they were headlining.

Art Brut Setlist Rock City, Nottingham, England 2021

I may appear biased (and I’m also a big Subways fan) but I fear the Subways are going to have some problem topping that and I’m right. Upgraded from the smaller Rescue Rooms last time, due to the pre-pandemic lure of the classic album I suppose, it’s not that busy. On the upside though that leaves plenty of room for everyone to get lively, which is made good use of.


‘Young for Eternity' is delivered in full and in order. The music is as good as ever, it’s lively, it is delivered enthusiastically by the band and received just as enthusiastically by the crowd while Billy Lunn delivers some interesting stories of his own but... it all still seemed a bit flat.

Perhaps that’s what happens when what was going to be a brief look back at your debut album takes over 18 months to complete. On top of that Lunn and Charlotte Cooper are now officially without drummer Josh Morgan, Billy's brother, who has struggled with the touring for some years and has now left the band. His place tonight is filled by the Ramona's Camille Phillips.

With the classic album delivered the band play just five more on top from their other albums, which seemed a bit stingy. This included a track from their upcoming album, their new single 'Fight'. I think they desperately need that new album.

Then they finish by playing 'Rock & Roll Queen' for a second time. I'm not sure we needed it twice given the decent back catalogue they've got but Billy thought we did. They are off stage after only 75 minutes. Perhaps they also thought Art Brut here headlining?

(Thursday 30th September)

Wednesday 29 September 2021

Its All Been Happening

While we were away Derby County go into Administration and are deducted 12 points. That is alongside my company being taken over by new owners (my boss did call me to warn me) and one of our staff changing sex. Meanwhile the colleague I now travel in with is stuck at home all week isolating after all his family tested positive for Covid, everyone that is except him. Its all been happening.

So I have no company on this week’s cycling which is only on Tuesday and I get soaked in the process.

L announces that she wishes to move to Wales and live by the sea. Spoiler alert - she almost always wants to move to wherever we've last been on holiday.

She also plunges straight into another health kick which includes a run with Daughter from a Garage in town. Daughter has yet another tyre to fix, that is if she’s got enough petrol to get there. All the petrol stations either have huge queues or have closed completely having run out. It may be more of a car push than a run.

Meanwhile they seem to be rebuilding the temporary vaccine centre on Forest Fields with real bricks and mortar. So not so temporary now unless of course they’re building yet another Aldi.

I’m on a health kick too (sort of) and go to the gym to do my weights workout. Which wasn’t simple obviously. As expected reinstating my cycling membership had obliterated my gym membership. So I’ve had to sign up to the gym all over again. which has again obliterated my cycling membership. They are looking into it... but I’m not holding my breath.

The Lad may be missing his beaches but he’s delighted to get back at dog training.

L is also feeling a bit rough and goes to the Covid test centre. I’m disappointed to hear that these PCR tests are just as reliant on you doing it correctly yourself as testing at home is. The supervision is apparently a teenager telling you which plastic bags to use for everything. Supervision clearly wasn’t on their remit as they changed over shift while she was busy swabbing. No wonder we’ve made such a mess of it all.

She’s concerned when her result takes ages to come through and she’s sitting with my Mum on Wednesday while I take my Dad to the match. My Mum gets her drinking whiskey presumably to kill any germs.

(Wednesday 29th September)

Sunday 26 September 2021

On Tour In Wales

On Monday we got back from the Great North Run, then after I spend an evening in the company of the Vaccines we head off on holiday on Tuesday. 

The first stop on our tour is in Ludlow, which is a place that’s been on L’s ‘to visit’ list for a long time. We are staying in a dog friendly pub called the Wheatsheaf Inn that won't feed us. Which is annoying as everywhere else is booked up. Finally we find a Thai place that will feed us if we eat immediately, which we do. Then when we return to the Wheatsheaf we find it is almost empty, so who knows why they turned down the money they would have got from feeding us.

On Wednesday, we move to Carmarthen for a couple of nights where we stay in the Ivy Bush Royal Hotel which does happily feed us. There is also a nice pub across the road. We undertake a coastal tour down as far as Tenby the next day before returning for a meal booked at a rather nice local restaurant called Warrens.

One thing we notice in Wales is that mask wearing is still very much a thing and compulsory in shops. In addition a lot of cafes aren’t allowing you to eat in or in some cases even eat out in their outdoor areas although pubs don’t seem to be bothered at all where you eat, in or out. We are however powerless to free the anti-mask squirrel who gets trapped in one of the shops overnight.

On Friday, we move again and drive up the coast to a cottage we have booked for a week in Llan Ffestiniog which is next door to the more famous Blaenau Ffestiniog. With not much available locally, as everywhere seems to have shut down, we eat in with a sausage and pasta dish which was about all that was available in the local shop. Whether the shut downs are due to Covid or date to before the pandemic, I’m not sure.

The cottage is on four stories with the bathroom at the top, then the bedroom, living room on the ground floor and then kitchen in the basement which also opens out onto a small garden. There’s one problem, for MD at least, and that’s the highly polished and steep wooden spiral staircase. After a few initial slips the Lad soon gets the hang of and is bombing up and down with ease but MD hates it, can’t get any grip, and has to be carried unceremoniously from floor to floor all week.

On Saturday, we do a Parkrun because you don’t you (at least in our house). Unfortunately Pont y Bala doesn’t allow dogs, like many Parkruns in Wales don’t seem to and like almost all North Wales beaches, so both dogs have to wait in the car. Also, sadly it isn’t on the banks of Lake Bala despite said lake being also being within spitting distance of where we are. We are instead asked to run two out and backs on a footpath, which looked incredibly dog friendly to me. So not the greatest of Parkruns and this is perhaps why just 53 people turn up.

We then do visit the lake and watch The Big Bala 9k Swim before heading back to the cottage and another night in with Chicken curry made with ingredients from much better stocked Co-op in Blaenau Ffestiniog due to lack of opportunities for eating out. We do though visit the local pub Y Pengwern, that doesn’t do food.

Sunday sees a coastal trip to Porthmadog and Pwelhii while also taking in Harlech castle. Sadly at Pwelhii we lose one of the dogs’ balls in the sea. The Lad just watches it bobbing out towards Ireland. In the evening we finally find somewhere to eat out in the form of a small local Indian restaurant called Red Chillies which is excellent.

The next day we visit Beddgellert Forest for a forest walk but lose the marked trail almost immediately thereby turning what was supposed to be a circular walk into an out-and-back. Then we visit Beddgelert itself, which is an old haunt of ours from many moons ago before heading off to Caernarfon and then on the way back Waunfawr, were we visit the Snowdonia Parc pub (another old haunt) for a pint. Later we visit the local pub again and eat in again.

Tuesday is the excitement of bin day. It’s great to see that recycling is collected every week here and has to be pre-separated while the main bin is only collected once every three weeks. How refreshing and something like what I’ve been asking for in Nottingham for the last 20 years.

However it doesn’t appear that the previous renters have followed the memo on this judging by the amount of empty alcohol bottles we have to put out which are definitely not ours. Honest.

In the afternoon we take a ride on the Welsh Highland Railway which originally closed in 1936. After decades of wrangling, restoration was started in the 1990’s with the first section reopening in 1997 and the whole line becoming operational in 2011. They were still building it when last visited the area, which shows how long ago this was, and the section we ride from Porthmadog to Beddgelert wasn’t open. MD as usual hides under the table while the Lad spends most of the trip on my knee trying to see out of the window and panting more than the train is. Afterwards we eat at the Oakley Arms in Maentwrog.


The next day we visit Barmouth for beach and ice cream, although there has been plenty of both over the last week. MD gets a new ball to replace the one we lost one in the sea. It’s about four times the size of the old one and he’s loves it. Then we return to Red Chillies for another curry in the evening.

Thursday sees us walking in Betws-y-coed without getting lost, then a visit to Swallow Falls and the pub opposite it. After a visit to Lamberis we head back and visit the local pub again before eating in again with a bottle of Welsh wine. 

On Friday we move on and head towards Anglesey where we will stay for two further nights in the Valley Hotel in a place called Valley. On the way we stop off at Bangor where we visit Bangor Pier (who knew?) and Holyhead, the once thriving port whose impressive road links are eerily quiet post-covid, post-Brexit. Both our nights on Anglesey we eat in the hotel.

L finally goes in the sea after prevaricating about it all week. However her hope that the Lad might join her are dashed as he seems terrified at the thought. Clearly he takes after me on the swimming front.

Saturday is (of course) Parkrun which we do at Newborough Forest which not only is an outlier in Wales in that it allows dogs but it also has a dog start and attracts 139 runners. It’s a great one lap course which is perhaps similar to a local of ours at Sherwood Pines.

Then it’s time to travel all the way home via a shopping trip in Conwy and after filling up with fuel. Apparently why we’ve been away a shortage of HGV drivers combined with ridiculous panic buying has caused petrol shortages and more than half of petrol stations are out of fuel.  

(Sunday 26th September)