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2017/06
Monday 12th June, 2017
Category: 2017/06
Tags: festival

The news has been overtaken recently by the doom and gloom of election results and terrorist atrocities, the latter being particularly prominant in local news as the three perpetrators lived not many miles from here. In fact, two days after the attack on London Bridge, I was awoken at about 4am by the sound of an explosion followed by continuous gunfire for several seconds. It turned out to have been part of a police raid on a garage in association with the attack. This is all a million miles from laying awake at 4am in Gostilitsa and hearing continuous birdsong punctuated by the odd volley of barking from a distant dog.

So it came as a great uplifting antidote to it all when my sister and I attended the annual Barking folk festival on Sunday.

The festival is free to everyone and takes place over two days, in and around the grounds of Barking Abbey (the ruins of which date back to 966ad).

We got there at around noon on a windy but gloriously sunny day, and spent the next few hours browsing the stalls and activities, watching the performances, and eating! Just look at this delicious selection of Indian street food:

There were lots of creative activities out for children and adults such as den building, writing poetry, story telling in a yurt, and drumming, but we restricted ourselves to a fierce game of swingball and a round of crazy golf:

(My sister claims to have lost count of her score but I know I won!)

The performances were at a couple of locations around the place. Under a marquee there was dancing by Slovakian children and an Irish dance group, then several folk bands, and out in the street there were other dance groups and a guy who unicycled across a rope whilst being battered by the gusty winds:

Some people were dressed up to entertain the crowds including these two gorgeous butterfly stilt walkers:

At about 4pm there was a parade lead by a group of drummers and children who had been rehearsing earlier, and we all made our way into the abbey grounds themselves:

In here people sat on the ancient walls and grassy slopes facing the staging area, and to the sides there were more stalls selling food and drink (a big fuity cider and pepperoni pizza were devoured as the evening wore on).

The folk groups performing were brilliant and included 'Beans on Toast' and 'Lucy Spraggan'. They were great at involving the audience and played a big range of styles with some songs on very current themes such as the elections and acts of heroism in past terrorist attacks.

I would have loved to have stayed till the end but unfortunately hadn't planned very well and was only dressed in shorts and t-shirt, and as the evening clouded over it got intolerably cold, so we came away at about 7pm.

If I'm in the area for it next year then we'll go better prepared as it really is an event not to be missed.

Thursday 1st June, 2017
Category: 2017/06
Tags: Ryan Air flight London Thames

Guess who dressed as the brace position man on a recent Ryan Air flight?

He must have been sitting in one of the extra leg room seats, as there's no way my head would have gone any further than being mashed against the fold-down tray attached to the seat in front.

Usually I fly back from the UK with Easy-Jet and their unlimited hand baggage weight allowance, but this time it's with Ryan Air who only allow 10kg. However, in true Baldrick style I have a cunning plan. Ryan Air also allow an extra bag - 35x20x20cm - and the website doesn't specify the weight content of said bag. So I've now purchased a bag of exactly those dimensions from Ebay, which will be crammed with all the heaviest non-liquid items I can pack in. I might get in the Guiness Book of Records with the most boxes of Bisto seized on a short-haul flight.

One of the things I love at the moment is that I can often hear seagulls (amidst the buzz from the A13 and the planes taking off from City Airport), a sound that takes me straight back to childhood when we'd arrive at Thorpe Bay (one stop along from the more glitzy Southend) and as you walked up the long road from the station you'd start to hear the gulls and know that very soon you'd catch the first glimpse of sparkling sea. Well even this close to London there are now some really nice spots along the Thames, and one of them involved taking the little ferry across from Tilbury to Gravesend.

If I appear to be holding on tight it's with good reason as there were no safety chains below this bar, just a whopping big gap for sliding into the water through.

And this is the view approaching Gravesend with its cobbled backstreets, historic buildings and small beach area complete with sizeable flock of swans. Don't bring bread to feed them though. That's very much frowned upon nowadays as being of no nutritional value and encouraging the birds to develop a couch potato lifestyle of feet up in front of the nest instead of foraging for their own food. Bags of duck food are often available (at a price) wherever there are fowl to be fed and very tasty it is too. Like rock hard wholegrain branflakes. The birds look a bit glum when they see it though. Must be pining for the glory days of leftover jam sandwiches.

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