Archive for July, 2006

Four nights out

Its amazing what effect arriving back in Leeds has on my going out habits. It was only this morning that I realised I had actually been out for the last 4 nights in a row.

Wednesday saw myself and Chris meeting up for a drink in the Llama in Claire’s absense due to work tiredness, and although the Llama shut early we ended up in the Library and it was a good night.

Thursday we went to Claire’s house and had some great chat and discussion over some reasonable wine and if Claire hadn’t had work early the next morning we probably would have continued for most of the night.

Friday I met up with Dave Falcus and we headed into town to get a good taste of some real ale in some of Leeds’ less well known real ale pubs. We started off at the palace, but then went to Whitlocks, which for those who don’t know is a narrow but long pub serving a wide range of real ales, situated alongside the Marks and Spencers on Briggate, accessable only by a small allyway. Its well worth paying them a vist and is a pleasent place to spend a warm summers evening.

Last but not least, last night saw myself and a number of others at the Fenton for a few beers and a wide range of topical discussion.

I must say that spontanious nights out that sees me going out so much without the intention of doing so is one of the things I really like about being a student in Leeds. There is always something to do and be it with friends or alone, there is always something to escape from the house to of an evening. Today I’m going for Sunday lunch with Claire and Tony, so while its not really a 5th night in a row for going out, its certainly a 5th day of good company and good laughs. Let the good times roll 🙂

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Ok, now I know its not good form to blog about the weather, but I’m annoyed. I haven’t been caught out in it yet, but its been raining on and off all day here in Leeds and its really frustrating when its still warm and your main form of ventilation is a skylight which you can hardly open due to the rain. It might sound nice on the window, but as the temperature starts to rise and productivity starts to fall it becomes a real issue. Add to that fact that I’m going out this evening and don’t really want to get a soaking, I’d rather it just stopped raining. Overcast I can deal with, but rain, no thank you.

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Webcam back online

After a few weeks of no “out of the window” webcam it has now been reinstated. For a view of my own and surrounding streets from my new house, check out the link in the nav bar now 🙂

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How happy are you?

The BBC have published an online test based on research by a professor of psychology to ascertain how happy you are using answers on a range of questions. The article that follows is also an interesting read, although many of the points are more common sense than anything else; when it comes to happiness its about finding and drawing on whats good in your life and using that to enrich the areas of your life that are not going so well.

You can read the article and get your happiness score by visiting the bbc test site. If you wish to do so feel free to share your scores in the comments section!

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Back from the festival

Well the gap in the blog is over because I’m back in Leeds after visiting Rotterdam for the North Sea Jazz festival. I’m currently in the process of getting the pictures of the trip and reviews for all the acts and the festival as a whole sorted so I won’t say a huge amount in this post about it all other than that it was the most amazing musical experience ever and I’ve heard and seen some of the best in world jazz and I’m positively raving about it and will be for some time 😀

It would seem I took the weather back to the UK with me from Rotterdam as the sun is just as strong and hot here as it was over there. Still its nice to be out in the warmth, although my tendency to burn easily is slightly hampering in these conditions to say the least.

I arrived back in Leeds to find my stuff in the same mess in which I had left it. No surprise of course but it did leave me with rather a lot to do when everything else was factored in. I have my stuff to sort, North Sea to review, a couple of projects to complete, a few sites to upgrade and a load of goods people have purchsed from me to send off in the post. Add to that the heat that makes working upstairs at my computer impossible in the afternoon where the sun streams through my south facing window and turns my room into a sauna, its all rather challenging. Still I have massive amounts of time to do everything so its no big deal.

In true student spirit I’m meeting some friends tonight in our favorite (air conditioned) haunt for a few drinks, and if that wasn’t enough I’ve booked tickets to go and see Michelle in Jersey this August which is really exciting; I’m told its a wonderful place and if the weather holds its going to be just perfect.

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City of Rotterdam

With the musical feast of the jazz festival behind us, Monday, as well as being the day we flew home, was a day for exploring the non-musical areas of the city of Rotterdam, of which there are many.

Rotterdam is the largest port in europe and one doesn’t have to travel far to find evidence to support this. Huge marinas and harbours streaching as far as the eye can see on one side of the city, not to mention rivers and channels with banks on which you can sit and watch the huge container ships steam past. it was amazing to see the diversity of the city’s industry and innovation balance. On the one hand you have the means to transport vast quantities of goods and on the other an search and innovation capital no doubt producing some of the great ideas that go into the very products inside the containers.

The shipping links don’t just stop at the modern day vessles though. All along the banks of the harbours are pieces of evidence that do more than hint at Rotterdams sailing roots in the golden days of barges and other cargo vessles. A martime museum provided an ample insight into Rotterdams sailing past, not to mention a real traditional ship that you could walk around and inspect at close quarters. It was certainly a very worthwhile addition to the trip.

Away from the hustle and bustle of Rotterdam’s busy port are a collection of shops and restaurants not disimilar to those found in many other European cities and they provide ample relaxation for a jazz enthusiast who is all jazzed out. The relaxed atmosphere of the various bars is really nice, and with outisde seating provided us with a great place to recap on our feelings on the festival.

All in all, even without the festival, Rotterdam is a great place to visit and an enjoyable weekend break is sure to await all those who choose to pay it a visit.

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Maria Rita

Maria Rita PerformingLatin jazz wasn’t originally on our list of must see things at the festival but we are certainly glad we ended up seeing the huge star of Brazillian music, Maria Rita. The atomosphere was perfect and soon chased away the sounds of the previous act that was still strong in my ears as we settled down in what must have been one of the largest seated arenas at the festival.

The band came on stage first and set the scene with some cool sounding latin rhythms and then Maria Rita was welcomed to the stage. The first thing that struck me about Maria was the way she carried herself in front of the crowd; she truely respected her audience and the music she was about to perform. Introducing herself she mentioned how she hadn’t ever performed at an event of this size and that she was thrilled to see so many there.

It was at this stage I realised that this was probably going to be one of the best acts I had seen and I wasn’t wrong. Maria’s voice carried really well and instantly had you listening intently with foot tapping being the least amount of movement observed in the room. Starting with some more generic pieces to warm the crowd Maria soon moved up to some much more adventurous pieces making full use of the band to superb effect.

Two thirds of the way through her set, after a particularly spectacular track which captured the imaginations of eveyone present and really reinforced the definition of latin jazz music she became the only artist I saw at the festival to recieve a standing ovation which lasted for a good 5 minutes. Clearly overwhelmed Maria got the crowd to remain standing and dance to some further superb pieces of music, two of which feature on her new album soon to be released.

From her performance at the festival it isn’t hard to see why Maria Rita has become an icon in the Brazillian music scene. Missing out on listening to her music is just not an option.

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North Sea Jazz Festival 2006

North Sea Jazz Festival 2006

A collection of photos taken when I was in Rotterdam for the North Sea Jazz festival 2006

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Burnaby Bunk

We had a few disposable cameras developed today that had been sitting in the kitchen and a great shot of me waking up in the morning on board Burnaby was on one of the films. You can tell I haven’t been awake long by the ruffled hair and mug of tea in hand. Thought I’d share it with the world and give a bit more insight into our sailing trips.

Kieran in a bunk on board Burnaby

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Blogging North Sea Jazz

Tommorrow morning in the small hours I’m flying out to Rotterdam to take in the best bits of the North Sea Jazz festival 2006. I’ve decided that I’m going to blog the whole event, but retrospectively when I get back so I have a chance to enjoy all the events to the full while I’m there. I’ve got my digital camera sorted so I’ll have photos of all the events too. Comments from jazz fans will be more than welcome, and if any other readers are going to the festival then reviews of events I have been to or otherwise will be more than welcome, just send them to me and I’ll publish them.

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