Thursday, 27 December 2012

A Coyote and Roadrunner Christmas

Hello, folks!  We hope you all had a lovely Christmas - and that you're slowly making a dent in the mountain of leftover turkey in the fridge.

Our Christmas was fun.  We drove down to Cardiff on Christmas Eve because Coyote had to do some of that 'work' stuff.  The studio was nice and warm, and I pottered about looking at all the pretty and tempting buttons while he did his wizard bit; cueing everything in and fiddling with faders.  Then something caught my eye.  Something so wonderful, so brilliant that I just have to share it with you.  It was the chair...THE CHAIR!

Yes; they have BOF chairs at the BBC!  Excellent.  *Chuckle!*  (For the record - they're great for whizzing about in.  Nice coasters.  Brakes are a bit dodgy, though.)

Several hours passed and I got a kiss from Derek Brockway, which was nice.  Coyote tried to explain to me what all the different bits of the mixing desk did, but it was like trying to explain quantum physics to a chimp. Here's the pro in action! 
Then we drove over to Swansea where we collapsed into bed and fell asleep to dream of cheese twirls and 4ft orange windsocks. We then had a gorgeous Christmas dinner (with epic gravy that was epic) courtesy of Coyote's mum...and put a Santa hat on a very unimpressed Maisie:

That evening it was back to Cardiff for more radio wrangling.  I spent a while swearing at a vending machine that didn't want to part with its goods and then we watched Eastenders while scoffing Celebrations.  Other chocolates are available...but not in POTS 1 because we ate them all.

Then we drove back up north.  Dear reader, something incredible happened on that trip back.  We didn't see ONE BOFmobile.  Not a single one.  We were on the road for about 2.5hrs and didn't see a single glint of chrome.  It was blissful.

It's been a great Christmas.  Next up - the New Year!  Let's hope 2013 is a lucky one for all of us :) 

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Waltzing Warriors

It's nearly Christmas.  At this time of year, people are usually running around like blue-arsed flies, trying to find a bottle of perfume for Great Aunt Edna or guiltily opening Christmas cards from people they've forgotten to send to.  Not us, though.  Oh no.  

Earlier this year, an opportunity far too good to pass up presented itself to us.  If we went through with it, we could infiltrate the BOF community on levels we'd never imagine in our wildest dreams.  We could see BOFs, their BOFWAGs and their BOFspring during leisure time!  Dare we...?  Dare we step into the lair and order tickets to see André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra?!  It was a big gamble...

So we spent half an hour chasing down £200 worth of tickets - all in the name of fun.

December the 18th arrived and we jumped in Minty.  I wasn't sure if I was allowed to take a huge, in-your-face lens with I popped a baby lens onto Auntie Pentax and hid the big bugger in my bag - ready to snap on when the house lights went down.  I'm a bit cunning like that.  Like a fox...only less hairy.  Wax strips are wonderful things.

But I digress.  The first obstacle we had to overcome was crossing the border.  It was ok for me because - although I have a Welsh soul and would fight to the death to defend our daffodils - I was born in England to English parents.  Coyote, however, is as Welsh as a rugby match in a slate mine with leek soup at half time.  It wouldn't be easy for him.  I watched him closely as we crept past the sign for Englandshire.  His pulse raised a little and a small sweat broke out on his forehead...but it would seem the gradual exposure to my Worcestershire ways had made him immune enough to survive.  We could relax.

It was easy enough to get to the NEC.  We parked up and walked towards the fleet of shuttle buses that were to convey the audience to the LG Arena.  It was then that we realised what we'd got ourselves into.  We were suddenly cast adrift in a sea of beige and purple; a cloud of Chanel hung over the gathering crowd and I got smacked in the face by a Hermes scarf as we boarded the BOF bus.  But there was no going back.  We would see this through no matter what happened; no matter what fate would befall us, we were going to face it head-on with a grin.  

£4 for 2 bottles of water later (it was Radnor Hills water.  That was just taking the piss, frankly) we wandered into the arena and found our seats.  Surveying the scene, a shiver traced down our spines...

Look at them.  BOFs.  BOFs EVERYWHERE.  We were sat in a room with 11,998 BOFs.  I started to shake; Auntie Pentax rattled in my hands and Coyote had to steady me as my breathing became erratic.  'It's ok,' he soothed.  'They can't see us.  Just don't make any sudden movements and for god's sake don't mention bacon.'  I hunched down in my seat and swallowed hard; the bitter taste of extortionately expensive water sliding down my throat.

André and his orchestra marched through the crowd to the tune of 'Seventy-Six Trombones' and suddenly the atmosphere changed.  The BOFs began to applaud and some of them even stood up!  Yes - they actually creaked to their feet and - with a cacophony of approving 'beough!'s - they watched as the Dutch violinist strode towards the stage, grinning smugly in the knowledge that he was making about £400,000 an hour.  I toyed with the idea of asking him if he'd lend me a tenner, but I didn't want to risk drawing attention to us...we were doing well.  I nearly blew our cover when a beige-clad BOF behind me dropped his water, though.  I reached down and picked it up, dutifully lifting it back to him.  He thanked me and said, 'I thought it was my wallet!' I grinned and replied, 'If it had been your wallet, I wouldn't have handed it back.'  I blinked...and quickly added 'sir' with a sickly-sweet grin.  That was a close call. 

It was a tricky first half.  While we were protected by our bubble of natural BOF loathing, something started to happen to us.  While the kettle drums boomed and the violins washed over us, we found ourselves swaying to the music.  Not only swaying, but clapping and stamping our feet, too!  What was going on?!  We're seasoned BOF Warriors!  How could we be behaving the same as them?!  The interval arrived and we hastily beat a retreat, searching for a small oasis of calm where we could gather ourselves and mull over the happenings of the first half.

Taking our seats for the final leg, we braced ourselves.  We wouldn't get sucked in this time.  We would sit quietly and observe.  We had been tricked once - and once was too many.

But...but...the soloists!  The tenors!  The bagpipes! The sweet, sweet music and the theatre of it all...!

People were dancing in the aisles; smiles on every face as the music filled the vast arena.  We couldn't help ourselves - we were swept up once more in a sea of festive joy.  And do you know what, dear reader?  We couldn't care less.  We let ourselves be drawn in by the spirit of the occasion; allowed ourselves to be at one with the BOFs...just for three hours.

And then the moment came.  Seven encores later, the man himself looked straight down your humble narrator's lens:

That knowing look.  He was fully aware of what he'd done...and he was proud.  We should've loathed him - seen him as King of the BOFs...but we couldn't.  This was André Rieu - a man who had, against all odds, succeeded in making Coyote and Roadrunner enjoy an evening of beige.  He'd brought people together.  He deserved, and now has, our respect. 

"What I have never understood is this.  If ceasefires can be held on Christmas Day, then why can't they be held all the time?  If I was Prime Minister, I would give all the soldiers violins instead of guns.  But then I am no good at politics." 
~ André Rieu, December 18th 2012. 

Thursday, 13 December 2012

A Strange Phobia?

I'm a water baby.  One of my earliest memories is of being plucked out of the freezing harbour at Aberdyfi and swiftly shoved up my dad's jumper to warm me up because I'd made a beeline for the water.  I learnt to swim at an early age and won quite a few awards at school swimming tournaments.  My family and I used to go canoeing and sailing on a regular basis and, now I'm older, I'm a keen boogie boarder and kayaker.  It may seem odd, then, when I tell you that sometimes I simply can't approach the water. 

The sea, estuaries, rivers, canals and lakes are all beautiful places to me.  I feel most relaxed when I can hear a bow wave splashing nearby or the pinging of ropes against masts.  Put me in a wetsuit, chuck me in the water and I'm in my element!  But add a large, man-made object to that equation and things change dramatically.

Take this for instance:

The rotting wreck of the RV Sarsia in Birkenhead's East Float.  I went there earlier this year with Coyote and I couldn't get anywhere near the wall to which she was moored.  My heart raced, my palms got sticky and my throat constricted.  I had to stand back far enough to know that even if I stumbled and tripped, I would be nowhere near this horrible thing.  I was so scared, in fact, that when Coyote approached the edge of the wall - showing no sign of fear at all - I almost begged him to step away from it.  Just looking at the photograph now makes me feel physically sick.

I've never had a scary experience in the water.  I've never been on a ship that sank or been tangled up in anything near or in I can't explain this fear.  Basically, it's anything large and man-made in water that sends me into a complete panic.  I'm bad enough just looking at them from afar; but the thought of being in the water next to them fills me with such a fear that I can't even think straight.

It's not just boats.  Finding myself bobbing up and down next to any of these would paralyse me:

I trawled the internet trying to find a name for this phobia.  It's not megalophobia because if any of these were on dry land I'd be perfectly happy to bounce all over them.  It's the fact that they're partially submerged.  If I was in the water and knew there was a shipwreck several hundred feet beneath me, that wouldn't bother me either.  This, however, does bother me:

The very thought of my feet touching that sends a chill down my spine.  The water's beautiful...but that vile hulk lurking just under the surface petrifies me.  (Trawling Google for these images was hell!)

I guess what I'd like to know is if many others out there share this phobia...and is there a name for it?  Loving the water as much as I do, I find it bizarre that I should be so scared of such things.  It's not just an 'I don't like it' fear, it's an 'oh my god I'm going to die' fear.  

So if anyone can shed light on this - or if you have experiences to share - please get in touch via the usual channels.  It's be great to hear from you!

Thanks :)
PS - I'm also scared of Huw Edwards.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Y Mochyn!

Just up from HQ, on a slate-topped wall in front of a stone cottage, sits a concrete pig.  Ever since Coyote and I have lived in the Dulas valley, we've been rather amused by her frequent transformations.  

The other night, we thought we'd bring her a little festive we crept up the road in the dead of night, armed with a silver tinsel garland.  Like two completely inept ninjas, we slipped it around her neck and hastily retreated into the darkness.

The following day, we discovered that the owners had not only left the tinsel in place...but they'd also added a Santa hat to complete the look!  This made us smile - it was a little bit of local teamwork ☺

Back at The Ranch today - where there are workmen currently cutting holes in the floor - I decided to search for this pig online.  Surely somebody else had noticed this charming little character?

They certainly had...

Introducing our local celebrity: Y Mochyn!

All photos © David Coleman

We'll be snapping Y Mochyn in her current festive garb at the weekend.  In the meantime, we wish you all a lovely week ☺ xx