Adult & Freaky · Happiness · Randomness

International Beer Day

One of my favourite things in life is beer. In the past seven years I have come to learn about European beers, and the process that results in them. The different hops, herbs, spices and fruits that go into giving each a distinctive flavour, and I’ve also learnt to recognise a beer from it’s flavour. Of course there are thousands of different beers brewed in Europe, pilsners as well as craft beers, and some of you may know a lot more about them than me. I think craft beers are a thing of beauty and I thought I’d share a few of my favourites with you.

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Bosteels Brewery

Named after an 18th-century brewer, Pauwel Kwak is made by the Bosteels Brewery in Buggenhout, Belgium. It’s made with barley malts, mineral water, wheat, hops and white candy sugar. It’s 8.4% ABV, and is a deep amber colour. It tastes of warm caramel and liquorice, with a herby, bitter aftertaste. You might taste red fruits and yeast as well, and maybe a little sour banana. It very much depends on your taste perceptions, and flavour recognition abilities. I like this one for it’s warmth and depth of flavour. The colour is lovely, a deep transparent toffee apple amber that leaves very little residue on the bulb.

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The Half Moon Brewery

Brugse Zot translated means Brugge’s Fool, or Bruges’ Fool (depending on whether you’re English or not). Bruges Zot is made by the family owned The Half Moon brewery in Bruges, Belgium, and is one of only two beers brewed in Bruges, the other being Straffe Hendrik (below). My partner and I went to visit the brewery a few years ago when we spent a cultural weekend in Bruges. It was fascinating, and so interesting to see how and where the beer is made. Brugse Zot is made with four different varieties of malt, and two aromatic kinds of hop. It’s 6% ABV and tastes of citrus and herbs, it’s very refreshing on a hot day.

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Straffe Hendrik comes as a Tripel, which is light in colour and the much darker quadrupel. The Quadrupel is 11%ABV and has a full bodied taste of rich, ripe dark and red fruits. This is definitely a great Christmassy beer.

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Also brewed by Bosteels Brewery in Belgium, this tripel beer is made with barley, wheat and oats and a little Styrian hop, which is what gives it the creamy white head. It is brewed from a recipe that dates back to 1679. It’s an 8.4% ABV and tastes of spiced lemons and vanilla.

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Anders Brewery (in Dutch)

Brother Jacob comes in a number of varieties. My favourite is the Double Espresso, a strong coffee flavoured ale made by the Anders Brewery in Wezemaal, Belgium. It’s 7.7% ABV and made with Guatemalan coffee beans and cacao. It’s the only beer to be brewed with real coffee.

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Brasserie Caulier

This beer was brewed at the Abbey of Paix Dieu, and only brewed on a full moon. It is still only brewed when the moon is full, but now by Brasserie Caulier in Tournai, Belgium. Because it is only brewed once a month, each bottle has it’s own vintage. This beer is brewed using traditional artisan methods, thus is free from filtration and pasteurisation, giving it a spiced fruit and hops aroma and taste.

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Castle Brewery Van Honsebrouck

This has to be the very best cherry beer in the world. It’s made from Kasteel’s darker beer and cherry liquer. It’s rich and luxurious and a real treat. I used to drink Lindeman’s cherry kriek, which is basically alcoholic cherry juice, until I found this, and I’m never going back. It’s quite strong at 8% ABV, and the darker beer it’s based on comes through with slight peppery and chocolatey tones within the sweet fruity flavour. This is bliss in a glass.

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St. Remy Abbey, Rochefort (French)

This beer is to die for, but don’t because it’s made by monks. No really, it is. The Abbey at St. Remy, near Rochefort, France makes a 6 and an 8 beer, but the 10 is my favourite, and is considered the best beer in the world. It’s made from Pilsner and caramel malts, sugar syrups, styrian hops and coriander, giving it an intensely complex fruit, spice, caramel malty flavour that disguises the 11.3% ABV. This is a slowly drunk, comtemplative beer to be enjoyed and warmed slowly in the hands. It’s smooth and warming and like being wrapped in a fluffy comforter in front of a roaring log fire in mid winter. Perfection.

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Chimay Brewery

The very first beer I ever had in the Netherlands, and my all-time favourite dubbel beer. It too is made in a monastery, and is one of a series of Chimay beers. It is a Grande Reserve 9% ABV strong dark ale, and has a strong caramel flavour, enhanced with spices, and a malty finish. Considered one of the best dark ales, and a perfect accompaniment to beef, and cheese.

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Yes, I’m saving the best until last. The Barista chocolate quadrupel by Kasteel. OMG.! If you like chocolate and beer, it’s perfection in a bottle. The only chocolate beer worth considering. I love this 11% ABV beer. As with all Kasteel beers it’s made by Castle Brewery Van Honsebrouck, in Emelgem, West Flanders, Belgium. The Barista is made with three different roasted malts, four different hops, water, yeast, candy sugar, coffee and chocolate. It’s smooth, velvety soft, luxurious, but not too sweet. My all-time favourite chocolate beer.

Happiness · Life

Life’s Light

Seven years ago today, I met a man on Facebook who I thought had a great sense of humour. Little did I know he was about to change my life.

I was in a very dark place at the time, and he became my light. My faith in humanity was almost gone, and he gave me something to believe in, and when I couldn’t face the nightmare I felt my life had become, he gave me strength and offered me everything he had. Despite having no job, no home and no car of his own, he drove nearly 600km to save me, and bring me home.

In the past seven years he has come to mean everything to me. He gives far more than he takes, and has ensured that I never feel the desolation and despair that I did before meeting him. He truly is the most amazing person I’ve ever known.

Happiness · Life · Randomness

10 Things I Love About My Partner – The Non-Aesthetic Edition

I could go on, and on, and on about the aesthetic attributes of the big guy. From his 6′ 6”, 250 lb frame, to his pale blue eyes, cheeky grin and shaved head, that when he lets it, sprouts dark coloured, natural corkscrew curls (git.!), to his naturally curly dark beard that turns ginger down the centre, and only the centre. But, I’m not going to do that. 😉

I thought I’d tell you about the things that make me happy, and make him the one man I want to spend the rest of my life with. (Yes, okay, go grab your sick bags, I’ll wait…) 🙂

  1. He is not dramatic in any way. He’s so laid back, he may as well be horizontal. Nothing is a big deal, and every problem can be resolved, regardless of how long it takes. I was married for 19 years to a guy who made a massive drama out of everything.! Having man-trums, slamming about yelling, stomping and punching walls and doors. To call life stressful would be the understatement of the year.!
  2. He is minimalistic, neat and tidy. If it’s not necessary, it doesn’t get bought. If he doesn’t really want it, he doesn’t buy it. Our home is a haven to minimalism, no mess, no clutter, no stuffed shelves, and piles of ‘stuff’ anywhere. Everything has a place, and it gets put back every time he uses something. It’s bliss.! After spending those 19 years living in houses that got filled more and more with junk, clutter and needless stuff, I became suicidal and was diagnosed with OCD. I had developed it through the stress of living in homes that resembled obstacle courses, and the mental anxiety of knowing I could do nothing about them. I still have OCD, and I still get anxiety attacks, but over completely different things.
  3. He doesn’t socialise with his work colleagues. His work relationships stay at work. Nobody he works with is a part of our small social circle. He goes to work ‘do’s’, and if he sees a work colleague when we’re out he’ll go and say hi.! and occasionally introduce me, and tell me who they were, but he never encourages or invites anyone to join us or to come over to ours for the evening. I lived with the British Army for 10 years, and was expected to be openly friendly with, and socialise with, everyone on base. We were expected to be one big happy, supportive family. I hated it.! I hated the gossiping, the back-stabbing sniping from other Army soldiers and their wives. I hated the expectation that when someone decided they were going to have a barbecue with you, and knocked on your door on a Saturday morning, pulling their barbecue behind them, and with arms laden with bread, burgers, sausages, spareribs and salad bowls, you would happily greet them with enthusiasm and waste no time in setting everything up, and offering your crate of beer. I hated that when a kid told his parents he would be at your house, you had no option but to let the brat in. To not do so made you a pariah, and as much as I loved being the pariah, I suffered the man-trums that followed my daring to turn away a child who had decided they were going to play with my kids, even though my kids were busy doing other things.
  4. He is non-violent. He would rather talk a problem through than have to become physical. He can become physical if he absolutely has to, but he would rather solve things calmly and keep the peace. I am very aggressive. I was born into a military family, and had to bring myself up. I was a fairly wild child and had no issues solving problems with my fists. As a teen, I was permanently angry, and as a young woman had learnt to be verbally sarcastic and vicious. In the seven years I have been with my partner, I have calmed considerably, and whilst still a little aggressive, I’m more likely to deal with things calmly instead of lashing out. Until I’m pushed too far.
  5. He is honest. He never says anything because he thinks it’s what I want to hear. If I ask him something he will answer me honestly. He is diplomatic, but he won’t say something that will give me a false impression. There is nothing worse than being told you look great, when you really look like a bag lady, being told that pencil skirt doesn’t make your ass look big, when it makes it look like it belongs on an elephant, or being told the bright green hair colour you think looks fantastic, but makes you look like a washed out alcoholic, looks perfect on you.
  6. He loves me exactly the way I am. He doesn’t try to change me, doesn’t make me feel like I’m not good enough, that I need to be more capable, intelligent, funny, sociable or classy. He likes that I like sports, butts, beer, cake and his friends. He loves that I let him go out when he wants to, that I look after his children (when they’re with us) so that he can, and that I tolerate his addiction to the internet. He doesn’t care that I cut my long, chestnut brown hair off, and then shaved my head, despite knowing he loved it long. He doesn’t object to my weight gain, or complain about having to look after me, or do household chores for me, when my health issues mean my mobility is limited, even though he’s worked 10 hours that day and is exhausted.
  7. He is a major nerd. And I do mean MAJOR NERD.! This guy can quote Terry Pratchett, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Monty Python, Star Wars, Star Trek, Bill & Ted, Wayne’s World, Samuel L. Jackson and any cult movie, going back to the mid-1970’s off the top of his head. If you reference a movie, he’ll be able to tell you which movie, what the quote was, who said it and the context. He blows my mind with how he can recall which character was played by what actor, and in what movie, what number of the series that movie was, if it was in a series, and how long the series ran for. Who the Director was, and what else they’ve directed. 😮
  8. He is highly intelligent, but doesn’t brag about it. He is knowledgeable on a plethora of subjects. He can discuss the political situation in any country across the world in detail, debate the finer points of those countries societies, and tell you about their traditions and histories, both political and cultural. He can talk about the sports he loves (football, rugby, handball, road cycling, track cycling, F1, Speed Skating, Formula E, hockey, boxing, Glory/MMA, basketball, baseball, American football, skiing), the statistics involved, who the top athletes/players/riders/drivers are, and who they used to be, and when and who established the sport in the first place and where. I kid you not.! He’s read the classics, and loves to watch the TV series/movies after he’s read the books, and has a crazy amount of knowledge on a wide range of books and authors. He taught himself to speak English, and speaks it fluently. He taught himself to speak French, German, Belgian, Italian, Spanish and Russian. He even knows some Greek, Polish and Arabic. He has the same ability with movies and music as he does with sports, and writes for a review website. He loves hip-hip, ska and punk rock, and he can mosh with the best of them.! 😀 He loves philosophy and psychology, science and space exploration and has extensive knowledge of them. But does he make you feel like a brain dead moron.? No, he doesn’t.
  9. He is funny and has a ‘Dad’ sense of humour. Farts are hilarious in our house, and anything that can be construed as a Dad joke will be met with almost gut-busting gales of laughter. “What do vegetarian zombies eat.? GRRAAAAAIIIIINNNNNSSSS”. If you think that’s bad “What’s Forrest Gump’s Password.? 1 Forrest 1.” and for the Dad’s amongst you “Did you hear about the circus fire.? It was in tents.” Seriously bad jokes like these will cause belly laughs, and the kind of hysterics that would have you rolling on the floor, crying with laughter. Sometimes I have to check he’s still breathing while he’s almost peeing himself. He’s spectacularly quick with one-liners too, although they can sometimes be very politically incorrect in content. Just yesterday, we were watching a fire-eater, and I remarked on how the guy must have some sort of flame retardant in his throat to keep from burning himself… sharp as a knife he quips “So, would that make him a flaming retard.?” I couldn’t decide whether to give him ‘The Look’ or laugh my ass off.
  10. He’ll try new things. I don’t mean like food and drinks, the guy eats vindaloo like it’s korma. I mean D.I.Y, gardening, cooking, that kind of thing. He’s never done any tiling, but when I asked him to tile the kitchen once our new units were installed, he tiled from one edge of the counter top all along the length of the kitchen, tiling the window sill and hob splash-back, and under the electric sockets, around to the edge of the counter top on the other side. Perfectly straight, perfectly aligned, he broke only two. He’s never done gardening, or grown anything, but when I told him I’d like to get the garden sorted for the summer, he went outside, dug the whole thing over with a spade (50 square feet), separated it into 4 sections, and grew rhubarb, parsnips, peas, carrots and red cabbage over 2 seasons. He baked the first birthday cake I had after we moved in together, despite having never baked a cake in his life. I love how he’ll turn his hand to anything, despite having never done it before, and having no experience. This past autumn, he drove an English car in England, despite having spent his life driving left-hand drive cars on the right hand side of the road. Granted, he scared the crap out of himself when a rose bush jumped out at him, but otherwise was perfectly fine, and got the hang of it quickly.
Happiness · Randomness

Weird Wednesday: Child Substitute

In the beginning, there was Buddy, who was considered so attractive, he was popular with pretty much everybody. He survived only until the harsh winter temperatures cracked his pot and he froze to death on the balcony.

Then there was Viola, of the beautiful, velvety skin, who decided after 8 months that she didn’t love me anymore, and died just to spite me.

When we moved house, Sylvia was there. She only needed her hair trimmed in the autumn to keep her looking beautiful year round, and only recently passed away thanks to a fungal infection nobody saw coming. 😥

We were so happy that Sylvia was happy, that we had another Buddy. Jr. this time who is so well-behaved and does exactly as he’s supposed to without me even having to ask. Although he suffered a terrible accident last summer and needed to be supported until he could stand up by himself again, but he recovered quickly, and is as good as new.

With Buddy Jr. came Connie, who’s attitude and determination has seen her through a drought, a flooding, a mini monsoon, and a near death experience. She’s a girl after my own heart.

Unfortunately, Blossom (Buddy Jr.’s sister) didn’t fair so well. She recovered after almost dying of thirst, but was not the same again, and after last year’s mini monsoon which saw her thrown over the garden wall, and smashed against the cellar steps, she passed away peacefully after a half-hearted attempt at reassuring me she would be fine. We both knew the truth. She will be remembered fondly.

After Blossom came Bob, who was disabled and very sickly to begin with, but he went rapidly downhill despite our best efforts and passed away just a few weeks later.

Last year, we had Wilma, to keep the postman on track, who grew rapidly and is currently trying to get into the house through our bedroom window.! And Phoebe, who is so beautiful and blooming way ahead of her peers.

And now there’s Bert, Bob’s cousin, who has grown far taller than I believe he really should, and is now showing signs of fatigue, and being in need of support. Ace, who doesn’t have long to live, despite our efforts, after a horrible sun burn that has left him dry and crispy, and the Ivy quins, who are hopefully going to find their feet soon and start creeping up the wall to keep Wilma company.

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Buddy. A beautiful Buddleia Davidii “Black Knight”.

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Viola, who committed suicide, just to spite me.

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Sylvia, the almost 20 year old Hakuro Nishiki salix willow, who died this past Spring.

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Buddy Jr. who is now 10 feet tall, and 4 feet wide.

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Connie, my Ceanothus ‘Concha’ tree, who’s battled through so much over the last 4 years, and this year blooms again. 🙂

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Blossom, the Buddleia Davidii ‘Lilac Chip’, who was flung over the garden wall by a mini-monsoon last June, and smashed to pieces.

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Bob, the Phalaenopsis Orchid, who’s roots withered and rotted away within weeks of purchase from a local Garden Centre. 😦

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Wilma, the rapidly intruding Wisteria. Who started off a thin little stalk with a few even thinner branches last year, and has become a major contender for World Domination.

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Phoebe, the hibiscus tree. Who blooms beautiful powder blue flowers that last for months.

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Bert, who has survived seven months so far.

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Since I stopped being a hands on Mother back in 2010 (long, nasty horror story), I have found myself substituting my two children with plants. I talk to my children on a weekly basis, one way or another. The joys of technology mean Facebook Messenger is now our ‘thing’, so they don’t have to worry about spelling their colloquial use of the English language wrong, or in the case of Facebook posts and status updates, using any English at all. 😀

 

Adult & Freaky · Happiness · Life

A Life of Music – This Is Where It Gets Freaky

WARNING: Please be aware there is Adult content and bad language in this post. 

At the age of 37, I found myself going through an amicable divorce, and in a different country, childless and devastated. My new partner, who wooed me with Elbow ‘Starlings’ was my only support, and having a shared love of music, introduced me to some Dutch artists, and bands that he liked. Gotye ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ was so relevant at that time, as was Elbow ‘Grounds For Divorce’, an English band I had never heard of before. He took me to see them live in Amsterdam. He also took me to see Roger Waters ‘Another Brick In The Wall’, and although I knew of Pink Floyd, and The Wall, I never really ‘got it’. Seeing it live, I finally understood what it was all about.

When he surprised me with tickets to a concert by a Dutch band called Blaudzun ‘Elephants’, I fell in love with their music, folk rock really appealed to me and I have become a lifelong fan. We have seen them live in concert four times. Blaudzun ‘Promises Of No Man’s Land’. In the past seven years, I have been to more live concerts and music festivals than I dreamed I ever would.

While at a summer music festival, I heard Racoon ‘Love You More’ and Racoon ‘No Mercy’, a Dutch band, who sing in English, as a lot of them do. The singer sounds Irish which is quite confusing. We saw them in concert in our home town a few months later.

I saw Stromae ‘Papaoutai’ on the TV, and although I couldn’t understand the lyrics, being in French, I liked the tune. I have since learnt the lyrics and what they mean, and become a fan. Stromae ‘Alors On Danse’.

I heard De Staat ‘Down Town’ at the Booch! festival in 2012, and have followed them through De Staat ‘Sweatshop’ and De Staat ‘Witch Doctor’. Another firm favourite. And at every concert you go to… no matter where, when this song comes on, De Staat ‘Witch Doctor’ Live everybody moves.

Triggerfinger ‘I Follow Rivers’ a Belgian band, were playing at Pinkpop in 2013. I was watching it on TV that year, as my partner had to work. I was hooked immediately, and raved about them when he got home, and made him watch a repeat of their act when it came on. Triggerfinger ‘My Baby’s Got a Gun’ and Listen: Triggerfinger ‘All This Dancing Around Again’. I loved the singer’s voice, their look and their music, Triggerfinger ‘It Hasn’t Gone Away’ have become an all time favourite for me, and the release of their recent Triggerfinger ft. Method Man ‘The One’ just confirms how brilliant they are.

Knowing of my liking for all things unique and unusual, my partner put Die Antwoord ‘I Fink U Freeky (And I Like You A Lot)’ on the TV, streaming it from his laptop. They’re a South African group, who sing in English, Afrikaans and South African dialect. O. M. G.! I had never seen anything so freaky, and I loved it.! 😀 Die Antwoord ‘Baby’s On Fire’Die Antwoord ‘Ugly Boy’ were played a lot after that, and I’ve introduced them to friends of mine, who love them too. Left to my own devices, I discovered Cuir Bleu ‘Pleasure & Pain’Recoil ‘Breath Control’, and Whip Culture ‘Turn Me On’.

My partner likes Monster Magnet ‘Monolithic’, and plays it all the time, Monster Magnet ‘Powertrip’ has kind of grown on me, I wasn’t sure at first, but Monster Magnet ‘Negasonic Teenage Warhead’ helped me get into it. Then came all the best rock bands Rage Against the Machine ‘Killing In The Name Of’, Pearl Jam ‘Alive’ and Pearl Jam ‘Porch’ Live (a legendary performance, my partner was there.) System of a Down ‘Chop Suey’, if you don’t finger drum, air guitar or at least sing along to such an epic tune, there’s something wrong with you. System of a Down ‘B.Y.O.B.’ and System of a Down ‘Toxicity’ are among Serj Tankian’s best works.

Then came Hozier ‘Take Me To Church’, a seriously catchy tune, that I listen to all the time, my partner has it as his ring tone.! 🙂 My partner is a huge fan of ska and hip hop, and while I like some, I wouldn’t say I was much of a fan, until he took me to see The Slackers ‘Old Dog’ live in Germany, at an underground bunker.  And then to a Mexican-style Cantina called Ernesto’s in Sittard. The Slackers ‘Married Girl’ play there annually, and the first couple of times I saw them there, I loved it. Then I had a bad experience with a drunken lad, and refused to go back there. I saw The Slackers ‘Sarah’ again at Tivoli in Utrecht, last year.

We both progressed to Progressive Rock, him far quicker than me when he decided to get tickets to a local venue where Birth Of Joy ‘Make Things Happen’ were playing. A Dutch band who incorporate an organ into their rock music. It was like psychedelic rock on steroids, such a unique sound that I loved it straight away. We saw Orgel Vreten ‘Jenny’ in our home town. A Dutch Hammond organ-playing band, with a unique sound, it also helped that the sousaphone player climbed up into the eaves, dangerously, with his instrument, and played it from the lighting rig. Such a memorable night.! 😀

My partner took me to see Stickmen ‘Soup/Super Collider’ in our home town, a group he liked, but wasn’t sure I’d enjoy. He was pleased when I told him I really liked them, and we play them a lot at home. He also likes Fleddy Melculy ‘T-Shirt van Metallica’, who sing in Dutch, but this song, about music fans who go to rock and metal concerts wearing Metallica t-shirts, is so funny, you can’t help but like it, even if you don’t understand it.

Delinquent Habits ‘Here Come The Horns’ are a hip hop group from the USA, which I surprisingly found so good, that by the time the gig we went to recently ended, I was a firm fan. They did a cover of House of Pain’s Jump Around that had the whole place jumping, including me.! 😀

This recent hit Rag ‘n’ Bone Man ‘Human’ has become a favourite too.

Happiness · Life

A Life of Music – Early Adulthood

I met my future husband when I was 16, and found him to be a super-scale 1980’s fan. He wore denim shirts, and plain white, muscle-enhancing t-shirts and Biggles-style fur flying boots, with his hair slicked back a la Spandau Ballet. I was smitten.

I was introduced to most of the ’80’s bands and groups I’d missed in my youth. Starting with Kylie Minogue ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ and Rick Astley ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ (I was even taken to see him in concert), with Jason Donovan ‘Too Many Broken Hearts In The World’, who along with Kylie, had a sickeningly sweet hit Jason and Kylie ‘Especially For You’.  I quickly passed them by, and found some relief in Erasure ‘A Little Respect’Pet Shop Boys ‘It’s A Sin’ and Alison Moyet ‘All Cried Out’.  Finding my own way to Culture Club ‘Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?’Cyndi Lauper ‘Time After Time’ and Eurythmics ‘Sweet Dreams’. I guess it must have been the easy listening capabilities of the music, and the fact they were easy to sing along to, because he certainly wasn’t as fascinated by the glamourous images of the bands and artists as I was.

The Human League ‘Don’t You Want Me, Baby?’ had the kind of image I liked, and I was constantly playing their music, and Dead Or Alive ‘You Spin Me Round’Soft Cell ‘Tainted Love’ and The Communards ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’, dancing around the living room, singing loudly. The neighbours would knock on and complain when I hit the high notes, probably because I couldn’t hold a tune, never mind the right key. 😀 Bronski Beat ‘Smalltown Boy’ was a favourite, and then I discovered the very controversial Frankie Goes To Hollywood ‘Relax’, being gay was fine… singing about gay sex was definitely frowned upon. There were so many complaints about it, it was banned in countries around the world. I thought they were amazing.! My then boyfriend liked New Order ‘Blue Monday‘,  Spandau Ballet ‘Gold’Thompson Twins ‘Hold Me Now’ and Tears For Fears ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’. I moved on to INXS ‘Devil Inside’Billy Idol ‘Rebel Yell’ the ultimate bad boy, and Alice Cooper ‘Poison’.

There came a point when our music took an unexpected turn after he discovered Rondo Veneziano ‘Casanova’ and I loved the rock style of their music so much it was all we listened to for months, along with Vanessa Mae ‘Aurora’, mixing it with ’90’s Country music, Travis Tritt ‘Tell Me I Was Dreaming’ sad songs, and Tim McGraw ‘Please Don’t Take The Girl’ love songs, Garth Brooks ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes’Alison Krauss ‘When You Say Nothing At All’, Shania Twain ‘You’re Still The One’ and a brilliant song, from the soundtrack to movie ‘Coyote Ugly’ by LeAnn Rimes ‘Can’t Fight The Moonlight’ but then Kiss ‘I Was Made For Loving You’ grabbed my attention, and I returned to what I really loved, good old Glam Rock. 😀 Aerosmith ‘Dude (Looks Like a Lady)’ led the way to Meatloaf ‘Paradise By The Dashboard Light’ and he in turn to the unbelievably great The Rocky Horror Picture Show ‘Sweet Transvestite’ having a part in the movie.

The ’80’s and ’90’s mixed, with Michael Bolton ‘How Am I Supposed To Live Without You’Richard Marx ‘Waiting For You’Heart ‘Alone’Whitesnake ‘Fool For Your Loving’Duran Duran ‘Girls On Film’ and strangely The Clash ‘Rock The Casbah’ mixing with David Bowie ‘Let’s Dance’ (may the great man Rest In Peace), a few great collaborations with David Bowie/Mick Jagger ‘Dancing In The Streets’ and Queen/David Bowie ‘Under Pressure’ brings me to my greatest love to date, Queen. Freddie Mercury was the Master Performer, and I couldn’t get enough of him. Every album Queen ever produced, I had. Queen ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is the greatest song ever written, and I was devastated when Freddie died. Queen ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ I was always a Blur ‘Parklife’ fan, and loved Damon’s new band, Gorillaz ‘Clint Eastwood’.

I liked The Blues Brothers ‘Everybody’ after watching the movie. Turning to Dire Straits ‘Sultans of Swing’Toto ‘Africa’ and Ultravox ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’ when I spent time alone. Phil Collins and Genesis ‘In The Air Tonight’, became a favourite, I was surprised I’d missed them in the ’80’s, and only heard about them in the late 1990’s. Genesis ‘I Can’t Dance’Genesis ‘Land of Confusion’

 

Happiness · Life

A Life of Music – The Teenage Years

Most of my teenage years were spent listening to Iron Maiden, Bon Jovi, Guns ‘n’ Roses and Van Halen, thanks to my brother and his friends.

Watch: Iron Maiden ‘The Number of the Beast’ official video and Watch: Iron Maiden ‘Run To The Hills’ official video

Watch: Bon Jovi ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ live in Moscow (this video is 8.5 minutes long, but it’s so worth listening to, as Richie Sambora’s guitar playing really sets the atmosphere, making the whole performance an experience, even watching it on a video. It still gives me goosebumps.)

Watch: Guns ‘n’ Roses ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’, I was so in love with Slash. 🙂

Watch: Guns ‘n’ Roses ‘Welcome to the Jungle’, I blame these guys for my love of long haired guys and tattoos. 😀

Watch: Van Halen ‘Jump’, and I blame David Lee Roth for my liking for glam rock and metal. Those sexy, dark brooding looks had quite an effect on a teenage girl.

There was a little Black Sabbath, but because my parents had decided we were going to be religious, it didn’t last long.

Listen: Black Sabbath ‘War Pigs’ animated video

When they weren’t around, Metallica, AC/DC and Motorhead could be heard across the neighbouring gardens. 🙂

Watch: Metallica ‘Enter Sandman’

Watch: AC/DC ‘Back in Black’

Watch: Motorhead ‘Ace of Spades’ official video, R.I.P Lemmy ❤

Transvision Vamp, Catatonia and Blondie became the new thing, as the lads discovered girls.

Watch: Transvision Vamp ‘I Want Your Love’

Watch: Catatonia ‘Road Rage’ official video

Watch: Blondie ‘Atomic’

I liked Fleetwood Mac, Taylor Dayne, A-ha and UB40, and some Madness and Bad Manners when the lads were playing it on their walkmans.

Watch: A-ha ‘Hunting High and Low’, I liked Morten Harket’s dark, brooding looks and voice. I had 3 of their albums.

Watch: UB40 ‘Kingston Town’, my first taste of reggae music, and I loved it, especially in conjunction with the early Ska, Watch: Madness ‘Baggy Trousers’, and Watch: Madness ‘Our House’

Watch: Bad Manners ‘Lip Up Fatty’.

Watch: Fleetwood Mac ‘Everywhere’ was the first single I ever bought for myself, on vinyl. Followed by Watch: Taylor Dayne ‘Tell It To My Heart’.

My parents played Cliff Richard’s religious records, probably trying to get us interested in that, and away from all the anti-semitic rubbish, as they called it. When I learnt what anti-semitic meant, I wondered what my parents thought we were listening to.

Watch: Cliff Richard ‘Why Should the Devil have all the Good Music’. Personally, I preferred his show tunes.

I used to listen to the Top 40, on the radio and try to tape my favourite songs on the cassette recorder. Setting the tape to run at the exact right moment was a nightmare, having to rewind constantly to keep from getting a split second of chat from the dj. Thank goodness for the Now! Albums. Most of you will probably have no idea what I’m talking about… Walkmans (?), Vinyl (?), cassette recorders (?). Those were the days. 😀

Happiness · Life

A Life of Music – The Formative Years

My entire life has been filled with music, something I will always be grateful for. I really cannot fathom how people who don’t listen to music, or are not really into music get through the day. I mean, how can you not be into music.?!  I couldn’t spend a single day without listening to music, either through my laptop, or the TV, or headphones plugged into my tablet. My parents were both big music lovers, my father played rock and roll greats such as The Shadows, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Haley and Little Richard while my mother liked Donna Summer, Diana Ross, Anita Ward and Sister Sledge. There was always music in our house.

Watch: The Shadows perform ‘Apache’ in 1969 Hank Marvin is a legend.

Watch: Vintage copy of Jerry Lee Lewis perform ‘Great Balls of Fire’

Listen: Buddy Holly’s ‘That’ll Be The Day’ The world lost so much the day the music died, February 3, 1959.

Watch: Little Richard perform ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’ Unfortunately, there’s 30 seconds of King Ralph at the beginning of this, as it was part of the film, but it’s an amazing performance by Little Richard, even though he’s getting on in age, his voice is still fantastic.

Watch: Bill Haley perform ‘Rock Around the Clock’ with his Comets. Bill Haley & His Comets were together from 1952 until 1981.

I love the old vintage versions of these songs, as the sound quality is very similar to what it was on the radio when I was a little girl. It brings back good memories.

Watch: Anita Ward perform ‘Ring My Bell’ in 1979

Watch: Diana Ross ‘Chain Reaction’ from 1980 I heard this so often at home, I sang along at every opportunity, even in public.

As I grew, the music in our house evolved to include boogie and groove, as well as disco tunes. Earth, Wind and Fire were a staple, as was Kool and the Gang, and The Bee Gees.

Watch: Donna Summer perform ‘Hot Stuff’ in 1979

Watch: Earth, Wind & Fire perform ‘Boogie Wonderland’

Watch: Earth, Wind & Fire perform ‘Let’s Groove’ I remember this used to be a track on an Olivia Newton-John exercise routine tape my stepmother used to workout to in 1981. 😀

Watch: Kool & the Gang ‘Celebration’ and Watch: The Bee Gees ‘Night Fever’ in 1977

My stepmother was a big fan of Kate Bush, and I had Kate’s ‘wow, wow, wow, wow, unbelievable’ down to an art. I even had the same hair by that time. LOL 😀

Watch: Kate Bush ‘Wuthering Heights’ and Watch: Kate Bush ‘Babooshka’

And we both had the hots for this guy… Watch: Adam and the Ants ‘Prince Charming’

My father thought men in make-up and dresses was very strange, and was playing country music by then, John Denver and Johnny Cash became weekend favourites, as he worked all week.

Watch: Vintage Johnny Cash from 1958 ‘I Walk the Line’

Watch: John Denver perform ‘Country Roads’ One of the best country songs ever written in my opinion.

I had a real child crush on Johnny Cash, I loved listening to his voice, I didn’t care what he sang, even now his version of NIN’s ‘Hurt’ I consider to be the best.

Watch: Johnny Cash cover Nine Inch Nails ‘Hurt’

Then came Tina Turner, who’s dulcet tones were heard blaring across the neighbourhood thanks to our next door neighbour. While the other neighbour liked Status Quo. What a mix. I learnt to do the ‘Fist Angel’ dance… although I’ll deny it to my dying day… 😀

Watch: Tina Turner ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’ and Watch: Tina Turner ‘Private Dancer’

Watch: Status Quo ‘Whatever you want’, Live. R.I.P. Rick. ❤

I wasn’t much of a Michael Jackson ‘Smooth Criminal’ fan, but a childhood wouldn’t have been complete back then without knowing of Michael Jackson ‘Thriller’.

Such amazing talents, natural performers, and artistes of their genre. I feel so lucky to have been young enough to enjoy them at the height of their popularity, instead of watching them fade away, as children these days are doing, not knowing who and how great they were.

 

 

 

 

Happiness

13 things that make me happy

  1. My partner, who was my knight in shining armour when I most needed one. Despite having nothing at the time, he hired a car and drove three hours to come for me. He loves me unconditionally, and shows me every day.
  2. My sons, who are the most amazing people in my world. They have been through so much in their lives, and are loving, helpful, respectful young men. They don’t drink, smoke, do drugs or get in trouble with the police.
  3. Corned beef mash, mmmmm.! The best comfort food there is. Creamy mashed potatoes made with milk, butter, seasoning and mustard mixed with microwaved mashed down corned beef. Pure heaven.!
  4. My long dresses from H&M, bought for my birthday a few years ago, they are floor length, voluminous and so comfortable. I can just throw one over my head after a shower, and I’m covered head to foot, no underwear required. Fantastic for the summer.
  5. Genealogy, I’ve been fascinated by family history since I was nine, when my grandmother showed me a long scroll of parchment covered in names all connected, and at the bottom of the page was my name. I was fascinated by all those other names and the thought that because of them, there I was.
  6. Books, I am a grand scale Dean Koontz fan. And a slighter lesser scale Stephen King fan (Sorry Stevo, but Dark Tower… meh.!), I like psychological thrillers, crime thrillers, and anything that makes me think. Room and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly are among my all time favourites.
  7. Music, is my life. Bass that vibrates through the house, power bands and anything weird and wonderful. Triggerfinger are my current true loves, De Staat, Die Antwoord, Delinquent Habits, Stickmen are all awesomely good. I still like Slipknot, NIN, 5FDP and Muse though. 🙂 I like classical too, but keep that to yourself…
  8. Writing, I find very therapeutic. I’m currently writing the story of my life, leaving out the boring bits and the parts I don’t really remember that well, which are very few. It is emotionally exhausting, but good for the soul. And seeing it in writing makes it seem like it happened to someone else, and far less horrific.
  9. Jelly Beans, nuff said.
  10. Socks, stripey, rainbow coloured, thigh high socks. Worn with shorts, skirts or under jeans. There’s something so good about curling up on the sofa of an evening, in your comfies and stripey socks. Bliss.!
  11. Coffee, that first heated sip in the morning that turns all your lights on and revs your engine ready for the day, blows the cobwebs away and does the filing, so that you can instruct your body to move, unobstructed by fuzziness and lethargy… a genius invented coffee and long may praise and gratitude be heaped upon them at whatever ethereal destination they find themselves in.
  12. Architecture, having not one iota of creativity in my body, I appreciate the beauty of others’ works around me. There is something amazing about the gravity-defying structures a person can make with bricks and mortar, steel and marble, concrete and wood that have the strength to cope with tonnes of weight and are exquisitely detailed and so beautiful.
  13. My life, in the past nearly 7 years has been better than it has ever been. Who says divorce isn’t good for you.? I can do what I want and go where I want, knowing it will never be a problem. *Contented sigh*

And why 13.? Because it’s my lucky number.