Sunday, July 23, 2006

Wickerman Festival 2006

The Wickerman Festival is held slap bang in the middle of our local stomping ground, so we couldn't really not go could we... especially as we went last year and enjoyed it. It's an event that invites people to arrive on Thursday and leave Sunday morning, but we had Saturday tickets only so arrived early afternoon with our new improved (i.e. slightly bigger) tent. We wouldn't have been ashamed with the old one here though as there were lots of folk with little tents.

Some tents were arranged like Wildwest Wagon Circles, but instead of the campfire these had disposable foil barbeques as the centrepiece!

We followed the rules and parked in one section and camped in another, although we wished we'd been a bit braver and camped where we landed... but our patch wasn't too sloped, although we regretted our decision not to blow up that airbed...

The fields the festival is staged on are not far from some rock art so Blokey kept one eye on the outcrops during our visit!

The toilets were already quite ripe but if you looked hard enough you could usually find one that you can squat over (I think festival toilets should be of the old "French-style" and be done with it)

The atmosphere at the Wickerman Festival is great, mostly I think because they try to make it family-friendly, and even the boistrous Glaswegians down during their "Fair" holiday would respect this. I swear that there were some people that didn't leave their tent huddles the whole time we were there.

We made our way to the stalls and shops, my favourite bit of the festival! There's loads of things here from crafty stuff to facepainting (no, I wasn't brave enough) to poetry-reading to first aid to haggis pakoras... and the fun fair which included a spacehopper rodeo and the big bungee, which was £15 a shot or we would have been on it.
There was also a kids' thing going on involving some sort of dragon thingy.

Oh yeah and the music... well I have to admit here to not knowing anything about anyone so usually casually drift around and between the tents and stages with no particular intentions, this is a plan which usally allows us to chance upon some great stuff we wouldn't otherwise hear. This time however I think our timing was completely off and we kept missing things we wished we'd seen!

There are a few other blogs with reports about the Wickerman Festival, this one's quite good and talks about the music in a way that I can't.

Part of the wandering explorations took us past the Wickerman itself, which looked a bit like a Wickerwoman to me. This year they were letting people get close-up but not too personal, so I got some good shots of it.

We met up with some friends and sat about and chatted and drank and ate and larked about, at one point we got waterbombed but no-one minded, in fact we pinpointed the source and cheered when we saw them target some other poor unsuspecting lads on the other side of the mound.

We spotted this guy - complete with classy outfit of Scotland shorts and coordinating trainers; special mention to the wonderful map tattoo but please also note the St Andrews cross shaved into his head!

We did some more wandering, then headed back to the top of the mound to get ready for the finale - the burning of the Wickerman. I was freezing last year and had learned my lesson, so I was wrapped up this time, also the show was mercifully shorter than the last one (glad to see the organisers also were learning from their mistakes).

We went back to our tent and I slept OK thanks to my sensory-depriving mask and ear-plugs ;)

The next morning we went on a hunt to find the porridge stall, but failed miserably so had a fried egg roll instead and wandered about the field, there were still a few poor souls finding their way home, and I found £3 that folk had dropped (thanks)

The main reason I like a good festival is because I am a Peoplewatcher. There was prime peoplewatching here this year, some great outfits and I was playing a game with myself trying to decide who was a bank manager or headteacher.

Looking forward to Solfest ...

Friday, July 21, 2006

Salmonella Cadbury's Link

Just heard today that it's likely that 36 recent cases of Salmonella montevideo infection were linked to eating Cadbury's chocolate. I suppose there's quite a good chance of a person who is ill having eaten chocolate in the days leading to it... but hopefully they're basing this theory on more than just circumstance!

Latest BBC story

Announcement on Food Standards Agency Website

Will this put people off eating chocolate? Well personally speaking, Cadbury's wasn't my favourite by any stretch. I'd only eat if it it's wrapped around a Crunchie bar or Caramel.

I hope that other chocolate manufacturers are reviewing their own procedures; this certainly won't have been a case of "any publicity is good publicity" for Cadbury's.

What's next? Coronation Street sponsored by Diocalm Ultra?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Brighouse Bay Campsite - a small victory!

We've had the tent for almost a year now... the blow-up bed, the lamp, the fridge... but we hadn't tried it out. It's only a two-man tent and was very cheap - hopefully OK for beginners to see if camping is their style.

The weather forecast was for sun, sun and more sun, so we booked a place in the campsite at Brighouse Bay; we'd been to the beach recently and liked it, so it was just the very place. We set off stopping on the way for provisions, and arrived at about 2pm. Set up camp after choosing the plot carefully (at the back next to the hedge - nice and private). All the other more seasoned campers had enormous palacial tents, we felt completely inadequate... was quite funny seeing just how small ours was!
I took a sneaky pic over my shoulder, so as not give them the satisfaction!

We spent some time at the beach, looking for crabs and brightly-coloured periwinkles, paddling in the outgoing sea and building a little grass-covered house. B spotted a standing stone in a field nearby.

At tea-time B went to get a Chinese takeaway from Kirkudbright, which was nice. We sat on our little mat with our back to the sun (and the other residents who were cooking BBQ Banquets!)

Well it started to get chilly and dewy about 9pm and I retreated to the tent - but really there wasn't much room to do anything inside so I lay with my head poking out, reading a book!
Finally gave up about 11.30 and settled down to sleep. Others were coming back from the Golf Club and we fell asleep listening to their giggles and stage whispers about our little tent! That and the cacophany of crows roosting in the trees near the beach.

Woke at 4 then at 6, birdsongtastic. Got up quickly and rescued our stuff from the condensation. Had breakfast, showered and packed up and were offsite for 8.30!

Our conclusions were that next time, we need a bigger tent (!) and a table.

We were at our first site early enough to use the low sun to bring out the wonderful carvings. We were being watched and squalked at continously by what we think was a buzzard. She presumably had a nest nearby.

Second site was hot too... but worth visiting for the wonderfully-preserved carvings, you could see the little peck marks.

It was a blisteringly hot day, thankfully a little breeze too. We drove up to a TV mast and considered walking down to a carved panel but I chickened out. Maybe another time.

Driving out towards the coast again, we found an unusual church in Kirkandrews, resembling a castle.

The floor of the vestibule was a pattern of pebbles, also used in some of the nearby gardens.

There was a ruined kirk in the same village which has some fantastic gravestones and those fantastic windswept trees!

One of the gravestones was gorgeously naive, with and angel and flowers and a picture of an adult and a child, bearing an inscription,
"Weep not for us, Our Race is Run, It Was the Lord, His Will be Dun."

This Angel motif was used on a few on the gravestones, as if carved by the same mason.

Later we went to Kirkcudbright Wild Animal Park - just had a cuppa tea whilst being entertained by a pair of Macaws (I think their names are Polly and Molly)

We then changed in a carpark (we are well practised at this now) and heading down for a meal at the Nith. Nice!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Southern Upland Way - Part 2 (with beach)

Today we went around the Solway again, heading towards another section of Southern Upland Way near New Luce. The weather was a bit dodgy but we gambled it.

After passing it so many times we decided to stop at The Cream o' Galloway farm, and it was worth the small detour to have one of their beef sandwiches and sample the ice cream. I had honey and ginger with a second scoop of heather cream; B had caramel shortbread flavour with a scoop of cinder toffee. Yum!

The Cream o' Galloway farm at Rainton has loads of kiddy things to do - there was a childrens' birthday party just starting so we didn't hang around long! The gardens were nice though and the rain stayed away so we could enjoy our ice cream outside. It was quite spooky hearing the shrieks coming from the trees where the enourmous adventure playground was hidden - we could just see it through the branches, looked brilliant!

Drove on towards the intended start of our walk. We passed the Abbey and decided to come back later. There was a mysterious roadsign which I presume was an exaggeration - although we were a bit disappointed not to see a passing circus or something.

Parked near the Loups of Barnshangan (but didn't visit). Walked up the hill to the burnt mound and after investigating this continued up and onto the moor. There were some nice wild violets near the mound.

Even though it had been raining it wasn't too boggy.

The target of the trip was the Caves of Kilhern - megalithic burial chambers, four in total and one still had a capstone! We must have spent about almost an hour there, first waiting for the drizzle to stop so that B could get his whizzy camera out. We could see over to the same wind farm we'd seen the last time we were on the Southern Upland Way

I started to get chilly so took shelter in one of the chambers.

On the way back we passed a nice ruined cottage with ferns growing in the remaining gable-end

We stopped at the Abbey to eat some of the packed lunch we'd brought and were entertained by both the Oystercatchers and the warden, waiting for us to go so he could lock the gates! Some lovely honeysuckle and juniper berries in the hedge nearby.

I had a hankering for a beach. B took me to Brighouse Bay, again somewhere we'd passed many times but not been to although B had been a few times as a child. The path down the the beach gave a tantalising peek of sand... then woo! very cute little bay with sandy beach and lots of wonderful pebbles. Someone had made a fantastic sandcastle complete with walled town!

We spent a lovely while here, taking photos and beachcombing. I found what I think is one of my favourite pebbles - looked like it had a pink ribbon wrapped around it.

Passed the Wickerman Festival site on the way home, preparations well underway!

Then, home in time for extra time in the World Cup Final - just in time to see the Zidane headbutt!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Salmonella on a stick

I've been following the Salmonella in chocolate story (BBC report) with a sideways glance up to today, presuming it's the media getting its knickers in a twist over nothing.

Now I've read this report on the foods standards agency website I can't believe what they're saying.

The paragraphs which caught my attention were:

Cadbury’s risk assessment does not address the risk of salmonella in chocolate in a way which the ACMSF would regard as a modern approach to risk assessment.

In the ACMSF’s view, using the MPN approach to assess the risk of small levels of salmonella contamination in a product like chocolate is unreliable.

Basically, the MPN method is one used for water and milk testing, where the sample can be mixed thoroughly before and during testing. It uses statistics and different sized samples to assess the probability of the presence of the organism in the whole batch, based on a small amount.

Basically, they're saying it's like checking a handful of horse's hay for a needle instead of not letting needles come anywhere near the haystack in the first place.

Salmonella loves lactose. nice warm melty summer lactose in cadbury's kids bars... yummy... wrapped in nice protective fat and then kept at incubation temperatures in my pocket with a long shelf life... hmmm...

Well anyway, I think for once the company in question deserves to be publicly humiliated.

I'm just glad I'm not the company's microbiologist ...

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Race For Life - mission accomplished!

Dressed for action!
(what do I look like!)

I did the Race For Life today, together with cousins and daughter and auntie and uncle and about 4000 other people (not to mention hangers-on!) . Length was 5km so a walk in the park (literally) for most people. But there were plenty for who it was a much bigger deal. We were very proud of Auntie Kath who found hidden energy reserves to push her own chair round most of the course!

I asked people for sponsorship back in April when I signed up. I reckon I've made about £130 altogether, from family and friends, and folk I haven't even met, which is wonderful!!

News and Star Report

My report:

Aimee blowing bubbles while we wait to start

Warm-up exercises - unbelievable considering it was about 30 degreesC!

The frontrunners are already halfway round the first field...

The start Line!

The winner was almost finished just as we completed 1km...

Michelle's back banner

Walking under the castle walls (whole park was totally flooded last year and I took pics from that path up the side!)

Almost at the finish line...

Yay! Finished! Goody bags, medals and free cranberry juice!

Doing the Fosbury Flop

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