Posted on 15th February 2012

Cold Air

I am just air
A breeze of coldness
Hold me if you dare
I have travelled far, I am breathless

This a poem written by Ethne, aged 7.

Considering she had no help with the words, it's quite a profound first poem. She wrote it on her MagnaDoodle, so Nicole managed to preserve the effort before it got erased :)

Well done Ethne.

File Under: ethne / family / people / poetry

Do You Remember the First Time?

Posted on 4th October 2011

YAPC::Europe 2011 Survey Results

During August this year, in Riga, Latvia, YAPC::Europe brought together 285 people to learn, discover and discuss Perl. As previous attendees know the YAPC conferences are a perfect opportunity to introduce yourself to the Perl community. YAPCs are now held all around the world and each is very different another. Each has their own charactistics, and they all get better and better thanks to the feedback from attendees old and new, which is why the YAPC Conference Surveys are well placed to concentrate that feedback for future organisers.

For YAPC::Europe 2011, the survey results are now online.

Although the responses where down from previous YAPC::Europe events, we still had over 50%, so thank you to everyone who took the time to respond. Interestingly of those who took the survey, none recorded themselves as coming from Latvia. I suspect this is in part due to the language barrier. As the surveys are in English, those that don't feel quite comfortable with the language might feel less inclined to feedback their thoughts and experiences. I'd like to be able to have the surveys available in different languages, but accumulating some of the responses, particularly the free text ones, may prove difficult. However, this is a goal for the future.

Unsurprisingly these days, we saw a large number of people attending who are regulars either to the YAPCs and Workshops or to the Perl community generally. At the conference itself we did ask how many attendees were at their first YAPC, and it was quite significant. However, we are still seeing roughly the same numbers, so we are not necessarily able to keep those new attendees coming back as regular attendees. In this survey however, no-one stated that they wouldn't attend another event in the future, so hopefully next year we should start seeing more familiar faces.

This year I plan to get the free text feedback sections online, and may well provide these for previous years too. I normally only provide these to the organisers (both current and succeding), but I think everyone could benefit from the thoughts and ideas, whether a YAPC organiser or an organiser of any other technical event.

Many thanks to all those who took the time to respond, both to the Conference Survey and all the Talk Evaluations. Your time is very much appreciated.

File Under: community / conference / opensource / people / perl / survey / yapc

Who Knows Where The Time Goes

Posted on 27th March 2011

Alvechurch Acoustic Roots Review
Friday 25th March 2011
Alvechurch Social Club

Since Alvechurch's very own Slim Pickins was put on indefinite hold, there was still a desire to do something on the last Friday of the month. So in January the very first Alvechurch Acoustic Roots Review took place. The night is quite different from the previous Roots & Blues Club, but does feature some familiar faces. The biggest difference of the night is that everyone is there to listen to some interesting performances, rather than just out for a night of music. It's created a very different dynamic within the audience, the most noticeable affect being that everyone stops talking and listens to each act. As most performers only play two songs each, it allows for a lot of variety.

To beginning the night, as per usual is Paul Chamberlain, who was then followed by Pippa Morley opening with Black Velvet and Angie O'Rourke performing a very pared down version of Dancing In The Dark. Next up were The Withybed Poets. While most of the performers tonight are singers or musicians, The poetry readings from The Withybed Poets added a nice flavour to the night. The first set ended with a change to the planned roster, with Nicole performing a song she had written with Graham Higgins (the act she filled in for), but which has yet to receive a title.

The second set featured a band put together for the night, Public Sector, featuring Graeme, Paul, Keith and Tony. The highlight of their set has to be their own unique interpretation of The Erie Canal, reworked as The Worcester Canal, with the Captain Pugwash theme tune tagged onto the end. The Withybed Poets came back for a second stint, adding Sam to their line-up. Of all the poems they performed The Doctor's Waiting Room by Meg was a personal favourite, which together with her earlier ode to Rugby Players, proved Meg has quite a talent for the comedic poem. Next up was Katherine, featuring a rendition of Joni Mitchell's Marcie. Last act of the second set featured Iain & Nicole. The first song was one penned by Iain, The Snowflake Song, with their second song Who Knows Where The Time Goes by the Sandy Denny, who Iain admitted before playing the song that he only discovered recently, while Nicole has been a long time fan, and has performed a few of her songs solo at the Roots & Blues Club.

For the third set, Pete Gates featured some traditional blues songs on quite a unique brass guitar. Adrian Perry then took us back to the early seventies with rendtions of Ruby Tuesday, and the great sing-a-long Strawbs' Part Of The Union. Interesting to note that most of the audience knew all the words, especially the chorus! Adrian then added backing to final act of the set, Sue & Fiona. Their second song introducing us to some great "Gaelic mouth music".

For the final set, the Acoustic Roots Orchestra take to the stage, with most of the participants having already played during the night. The Orchestra is a result of The Workshop run by Paul to nuture talent within the village, and give those who might not otherwise feel brave enough to play on their own, a chance to meet others and work on ideas and songs.

It was a great night and a great selection of performers. The mix of music and performance worked well as did the idea of having several sets with breaks between. If you like quality acoustic folk, then you'd be a fool to miss future nights. The next Alvechurch Acoustic Roots Review will be on Friday 6th May.

Acoustic Roots Review featured:

Paul Chamberlain
Pippa Morley
Angie O'Rourke
Withybed Poets
Nicole Perrott Hughes
Public Sector
Withybed Poets
Iain Howarth & Nicole Perrott Hughes
Pete Gates
Adrian Perry
Sue Resuggan & Fiona Holmes
Acoustic Roots Orchestra


File Under: gigs / music / people / review

Close (To The Edit)

Posted on 8th March 2011

On Saturday March 5th 2011, a neighbour of ours, Kate Angel, took part in a sponsored head shave for Cancer Research UK. Her friend Angie was diagnosed with breast cancer last September and with Angie living in Blackpool, Kate felt she needed to do something to help her. Shaving her head to raise money and awareness seemed to be a positive and inspiring way to do it.

Cora Flowers, a professional hairdresser and neighbour, offered to shave Kate's head, and David Le Marchand, "another Dad", worked on the posters and flyers for the event. Having a video camera, Nicole offered my services to record the whole event as "The man across the road".

Having recorded the event, I then spent Saturday and Sunday having fun editing the video. The full edit came to 30 minutes, but I also managed to make a shorter edit at just over 12 minutes for YouTube, featuring the main highlights.

So far the online donations and the money raised on the day has raised nearly £1,500 (and is expected to be more with all the promotion of the videos). If you would like to donate an amount, please visit Kate's JustGiving page, and donate as little or as much as you can to a very worthy cause.

To see the event itself, watch the YouTube video.

File Under: family / health / life / people / rubery

The Funeral Party

Posted on 28th January 2011

There is something fascinating about graveyards. Rather than being creepy or eerie, I find them quite peaceful. It can be interesting reading the headstones to see how long ago people were buried and some of the dedications.

Recently Dan and I visited the Warstone Lane Cemetery in the Jewellery Quarter, and previously we've visited John Bonham's grave near Droitwich and Ian Curtis' remembrance stone in Macclesfield Cemetery. I've always wanted to visit Highgate Cemetery in London and Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris too. I'll confess that its partly to see where famous names are buried, but I'm also intrigued to see some of the not so famous gravestones, tombs and memorials too.

While attending a funeral several years ago in Cheltenham, I happened to be looking at the headstones as we walked along the path to the crematorium. One stopped me in my tracks as I wasn't quite sure whether I was seeing the resting place of the person I thought it was. The headstone was for Brian Jones and the dates on the headstone did seem to match.

For those who are music fans of the 60s, you will probably remember that Brian Jones was once the guitarist in The Rolling Stones, who died in 1969. My later investigations revealed that the grave was indeed the final resting place for the Stones guitarist.

It's surprising what little parts of history you can discover wandering through a graveyard.

File Under: life / people / sightseeing

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