Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Ilfracombe Holidays

Some friends and I were looking for a cheap seaside holiday back in November 2012 and decided we'd head to Ilfracombe in Devon. A friend suggested we go there, as they had been to a wedding in Ilfracombe recently at Tunnels Beaches. We looked for cheap accommodation online and stumbled across Watermouth Lodges. We loved the holiday so much, that we went back again and stayed in the same place in February 2013. 

For both holidays, we booked the Amberwood 39 lodge at Watermouth Lodges, for eight of us sharing. The lodge is owned by a family, who left a lovely little visitor book in the lodge, with a personal message from them. As we booked during term time and off season, the lodge was very cheap, costing around £300 between the eight of us for three nights. The lodge has three bedrooms, plus a pull out sofa in the lounge. The bathroom has a lovely jacuzzi bath and the kitchen has plenty of equipment. The living area is very spacious, with sofas and chairs and a large dining table.

ilfracombe seafront
Ilfracombe seafront

damien hirst ilfracombe

The Watermouth Lodges grounds are very well kept and has a zip wire, which we found to be great fun. We particularly enjoyed it later at night after a few drinks! There is also an indoor swimming pool, with separate jacuzzi on site, which is free to use when staying in any of the lodges. There's a bar and restaurant on site too, which we didn't use.

Just a few minutes drive away is Ilfracombe waterfront, which is a really pretty and well kept. It's not particularly tacky compared to many seaside towns and there are lots of pretty views. Damien Hirst has recently displayed a huge statue in Ilfracombe Harbour named 'Verity'. It's quite a peculiar looking thing, but quite impressive too! We also went crabbing in the harbour and visited the small, but lovely Ilfracombe Aquarium

seaside crabbing
Crabbing in Ilfracombe Harbour

zip wire
Zip wire at Watermouth Lodges

Whilst in the seafront area we also enjoyed playing Crazy Golf which is always a fun and silly thing to do at the seaside! Stefan even got a whole in one, which we thought was rather impressive. I bet he couldn't repeat it again if he tried a thousand times! We also went for a lovely Cream Tea and visited the amusement arcades while in the seafront area.

crazy golf beach
Max enjoying the crazy golf

crazy golf seaside
Stefan gets a hole in one on the crazy golf, unbelievable scenes!

There are a few different beaches ideal for surfing in the area, so we took a short drive out to have a surf one afternoon. It was rather cold in the sea in November as you can imagine, but definitely an exhilarating experience! There are a few surf hire shops in the area, from where you can hire boards and wetsuits at reasonable prices.

winter surfing
Winter surfing

cream tea seaside
Cream tea

We spent our evenings playing silly games in the lodge and took turns to cook dinners. We ate breakfast out each morning at a lovely little cafe on Ilfracombe seafront called Dolly's Cafe. Both holidays were great value and loads of fun and we'll definitely be returning again in the future for more seaside fun. 

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Roller Derby

Through running Mega Roller Disco events, I discovered the wonderful world of Roller Derby. Severn Roller Torrent are my local Gloucestershire team, who marshal the Mega Roller Disco events, helping keep the event safe and fun for all to enjoy. The Severn Roller Torrent ladies are super lovely and always keen to explain all things Roller Derby if you are interested. We've also worked with the wonderful Basingstoke Bullets Roller Derby team, for Mega Roller Disco events in Winchester. The whole Roller Derby world seem to be very lovely and willing to help.

roller derby game
The game in action

I'm going to enlist the help of jolly old Wikipedia to briefly explain Roller Derby: "Roller Derby is a contact sport played by two teams of five members roller skating in the same direction around a track. Game play consists of a series of short matchups ("jams") in which both teams designate a scoring player (the "jammer") who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team. The teams attempt to assist their own jammer whilst hindering the opposing jammer—in effect, playing both offense and defense simultaneously". 

The video below also explains a bit more about Roller Derby, including how it all started back in the 1920s...

Roller Derby is an exciting and fast paced sport. I went to my first game with very little knowledge of the rules and very quickly got into it, literally sitting on the edge of my seat, cheering on Severn Roller Torrent! There are Roller Derby leagues all over the UK and I'd absolutely recommend you find out about your local team and go along and support them. 

roller derby team
All players from both teams shake hands at the end of the match 
and then do a lap of honour, high fiving as many people as possible as they pass!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

NASS Festival 2013

In July 2013, I opened NASS Festival as a DJ for Headphone Disco, when we took over a warehouse on site for a lively party. I played Indie and Rock classic tracks for people to singalong to, whilst DJs Jova and Fringe played Dubstep, Drum and Bass, Electro and House music on the other channel. There was a great split of people listening to different channels. Even though the music I was playing was easy to singalong to, it was clear to see that there were a lot of people dancing to the other channel, along with loud singing when there were vocals in the songs.

I recruited a brilliant crew to distribute the headphones, who all worked very hard and made it run like a dream. Check out the crew photo below, of everyone looking very snazzy in our bright yellow Headphone Disco tees! 

Sadly I had to leave straight after the set, to drive straight to Wireless Festival in the early hours of the morning. You can read my blog post about Wireless Festival here. The rest of the crew stayed and partied for the rest of the weekend and said they had an absolutely incredible time. There's a great mix of live music and DJs at NASS, along with BMX shows and lots of other entertainment. 

The NASS Festival line up for 2014 is already looking great, with Cypress Hill, Netsky [live], Noisia and Reel Big Fish heading the bill. Hopefully I'll be returning for another incredible show this year.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Paint It Yourself Pottery

Back in my mid teens, I worked in a lovely little paint it yourself pottery shop called The Crockery in Southampton. I ran the shop on Saturdays and during the school holidays, helping people paint their items, glazing the pottery, emptying the kiln and generally helping the shop run smoothly. 

There's a similar shop in Cheltenham called Paint It Yourself Pottery, which was on the same road as my flat. My lovely girlfriend Emily and I went there for one of our first dates. We've been back since and I've also taken my Mothership there, who also likes to get a bit arty.

You can choose from dozens of different items to paint, but I always enjoy painting something useful like a mug or a plate. I've also painted a lovely little plant pot for Emily, which we have a cactus in now. See the photo below of this artistic masterpiece! It generally costs around £10-£15 to paint most items. 

There are lots of different paint colours to choose from, all displayed as the finished colours on handy little colour wheels. I find it best to draw the design on the item in pencil, which burns off during the kilning process. Different pottery shops recommend different numbers of layers of paint, but I find it best to put at least two layers on and sometimes three, in order to get a good solid and bold colour, without patches. 

Perfect for wet weather days and for making personalised gifts for friends and family, I'd highly recommend giving this a go. The Crockery in Southampton and Paint It Yourself Pottery in Cheltenham are both lovely little independent shops, but there are also lots of other similar shops dotted around the country, if you fancy giving it a go.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Disney Silent Cinema in Hyde Park

In July 2013 I spent four days at Hyde Park in London, managing the distribution of headphones for a silent cinema. The silent cinema showcased Disney films, screening four times each day, in association with Sky Movies. The silent cinema was part of British Summertime in Hyde Park; a series of big concerts running throughout July, with a huge entertainment area open to the public throughout the week between events. Concerts at the weekends included The Rolling Stones, Lionel Ritchie, Bon Jovi and Chic. 

People enjoying The Great and Powerful Oz

Sky Movies provided complimentary blankets for guests each evening, as it got a little chilly as the sun set each day. We were very lucky with the weather, with glorious sunshine throughout every day and only the slightest glimpse of rain on one day, which thankfully never arrived.  

Throughout the week there was a fun fair and lots of food vendors and the whole area was open free of charge to the public. There was a small fee for the cinema screenings, which covered the booking fee and use of the headsets. The daytime screenings had fairly small crowds, with lots of families. The late afternoon and evening screenings were hugely busy and popular, with lots of people coming down after work to enjoy something a bit different. 

British Summertime returns this year, with huge concerts including McBusted and Backstreet Boys on one date and Neil Young on another, with lots more dates to be announced soon. Find out more by clicking here.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Disco Josh at Wireless Festival 2013

In July 2013, I drove directly from a fantastic show at NASS Festival in Bath, Somerset in the early hours of the morning, to set up Headphone Disco at Wireless Festival, at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, London. Wireless Festival boasted a huge line up of chart-topping acts, including Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg and Emeli Sandé. 

Myself and two DJ friends performed on each day of the three day festival, in the Yahoo! experience area. We entertained around 300 people at a time, with a constant rotation of party people dancing along to our tunes and making requests. In total, the number of people we entertained would have run in to many thousands. We got several 'dance-offs' on the go, which went down really well and got a lot of attention from passers by. We were supported by a great crew, both working directly for Headphone Disco [see photo below] and the production team hosting the area. 

With a great line up already announced for Wireless Festival 2014, along with the festival expanding to a second site in Birmingham, I hope to return to perform for thousands more people this year.

 Party people enjoying the Headphone Disco show

 Dance off

More party people