Archives for category: Events

 

Today my awesome daughter received two certificates from her College – one for her efforts in Health and Social Care, the other for Female Student Of The Year.

Well done, Kat – both your Dad and I are immensely proud of you and love you lots. Keep up the good work xx

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Wishing my gorgeous daughter a very happy 18th birthday xx

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Vlad wishes everyone a safe and Happy Halloween xx

Don’t let those horrid clowns get you ….

 

My husband Phil is giving up alcohol for September, with the proceeds going to Cancer Research. Please support him by donating to:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Philip-Hockley-dryathlete2016

Many thanks xxSupporting Phil

My daughter Kat’s NCS team are raising money for The Blue Cross animal charity. Please show your support by sponsoring them. Kat is second from right in the picture. Many thanks xx

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This was the second year running the new Ramblin’ Man Fair was held at Mote Park in Kent, a vast and lush green area not far from Maidstone. Child friendly, with immaculate toilets, free drinking water and not too far from the car park (great when lugging around tents and other camping equipment!), the gorgeous weather provided a great setting for a weekend of music, beer, food and fun.

As with all new festivals, however, Ramblin’ Man wasn’t without its teething  problems. For starters, the website was very unclear about the car parking tickets, initially implying they were valid for the entire weekend. Then, after we’d bought them, my husband Phil discovered that they only applied to daytime festival goers, and not the campers, which would mean we’d have to park elsewhere after the alloted time was up (this prompted us to leave on Sunday night rather than Monday morning, to avoid unnecessary faffing around). The queues to get in were huge, and it didn’t help matters when the stewards gave the parched crowds incorrect information regarding where they were supposed to line up. Thanks to all this mayhem, Phil and I missed Inglorious; I was gutted to hear the intro to Holy Water  whilst we were still queuing. Still, at least I saw them at Download 🙂 Once inside the venue it turned out to be quite small, and the stages were so close together that you could hear the music from all four simultaneously.

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The official merchandise tent had limited stock; I couldn’t obtain the original T shirt of my choice as they’d run out of women’s ones, despite a large sign saying they stocked both men’s and women’s sizes. The one I’m wearing above was £25, and they also had a green version with dragons which had been my preference.

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The line up had something for everyone, from Family to Procul Harum for the ‘Proggies’, Black Stone Cherry to Whitesnake for the rockers, Hayseed Dixie and The White Buffalo for those who liked Country, and Walter Trout and King King for those who were into the Blues.

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For me personally, Uriah Heep stole the show; these guys really rocked, despite some of them being in their late 60s! Their set was so full of energy and they had the audience in the palm of their hands, getting them to participate in the songs either by singing along or clapping/waving their hands in the air. It was hard not to be carried along by this great atmosphere. Well done, UH!

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I love Tax The Heat, but it was impossible to listen to their set as the bass was way too loud. Playing in a tent didn’t help, either, and lots of people left after a few numbers. I wasn’t too thrilled having the bass vibrating through myself as well as my beer, either. Why a rock band were situated in a Blues area I don’t know.

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I’ve been a massive Hawkwind fan since Silver Machine was released when I was nine, and although they clashed with Airbourne I had to go and see them. A few minutes into their set, their sound briefly packed up (Dave Brock just shrugged)  – Phil missed this as he went to the loo – but things quickly resumed and there were no more glitches. Being small, I was able to weave my way through the crowd to get – for my little camera, at least – some pretty good shots whilst trying to avoid the sun’s glare. Throughout their long and illustrious career, Hawkwind have released some good – and not so good – stuff. The first song was from the latter batch, but they also played some gems like The Golden Void and the rather unusual Hassan I Sahba.

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One mature rock chick in a long grey dress was having a whale of a time dancing, and her whole demeanour was so infectuous I just had to take a couple of pics (if you’re reading this, I hope you don’t mind!)

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I think, with time, the Ramblin’ Man Fair could become a big hit. The organisers just need to iron out the creases, ensure the stewards are reading off the same page, provide clearer info on the website, and make sure there’s plenty of merch for everyone. Oh, and perhaps a bigger venue would help.

Thanks for reading xx

 

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I can’t believe it’s a week since this awesome event. Despite the pouring rain – and early departure of some revellers – my friend Rik and I had a great time.

This was my first ever festival, and if I return next year then getting there a day early would be wise – unless I  again want to kip in a concertina-style tent because there was no room to expand it fully!

The lineup was awesome; Rammstein headlining on Friday, Black Sabbath on Saturday and Iron Maiden on Sunday.

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Most of the time I had to contend with seeing the backs of peoples’ heads and watching bands on the big screens, but I was fortunate enough to get quite close to one of my favourite bands, SIXX AM. I had a good view of the stage, and at one point when the camera scanned the audience it latched onto a young boy of about nine perched on his dad’s shoulders. When he saw himself on the big screen (twice) he looked noticeably shy and embarrassed, poor lad.

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I’ve been a massive Black Sabbath fan since the age of 12, so I was thrilled that they were headlining on the Saturday night. They played all the classics (yay) and there was a huge drum solo during their set. Ozzy was in fine fettle, although he looked a little stooped and appeared to have trouble rousing the crowd. ‘Let’s hear it for Tony Iommi!’ was met with a rather weak ripple of cheers. A second attempt was a little better, but every time a band member was introduced the crowd response seemed more feeble than you’d expect for a headlining act.

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I was surprised that quite a lot of people left during their set – perhaps they’d seen Sabbath before, or were simply fed up with standing out in the rain, I don’t know. It certainly chucked it down over the weekend, and I was practically living in my wellies and raincoat. On the Sunday morning a lot of people packed up and went home, but Rik and I were determined to see Iron Maiden.

We weren’t disappointed.

Again, I couldn’t get near the stage, but Iron Maiden delivered a blinding set, and I didn’t want to miss a single minute.

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Rik went off to buy some beers, and couldn’t find his way back. I began to wonder whether I’d find him lying face down in the mud somewhere, along with the discarded shoes and people hobbling around on crutches trying to navigate their way through all the mulch.

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The Download grounds are HUGE. I reckon we must have walked at least twenty miles during our time there, especially since some of the signs were confusing. Security varied; sometimes we were just waved through the gates by a very bored looking steward, at others we were searched. I was asked whether I had a grenade in  my diddy little bag. ‘You must be joking!’ I replied in disbelief.

The toilets were gross, and I was thankful for my Travel Johns. They certainly came in handy during the downpours. There were massive queues everywhere. Some cubicles had no toilet paper, others had discarded underwear covered in shit. I lost the head of a portable torch I was carrying down one toilet, and there was no way I was going to retrieve it! By Monday morning you had to queue for an hour to reach the one functional toilet in the block, the rest didn’t even flush properly, if at all, and the stench was overpowering.

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The general atmosphere was great, though, and everyone was really nice and friendly. Rik and I had help erecting my tent, and people looked out for one another with a real community spirit. There was always someone around to talk to, you were never alone.

If finances permit, I’ll be back next year. Until then, I’ll have some wonderful memories 🙂

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My husband Phil has become a great uncle for the second time in less than a year. Congratulations to Jenna and Ryan Frizelle on the birth of Louis James on 15th March, weighing in at 7lbs 20z.

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Also, belated congratulations to Grant and Zandra Hockley on the birth of their daughter Wrenna in July 2015 xx

 

Wrenna and Zandra

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This was our second Rally visit.
The first time we were here – back in 2009 – it was to find out more about the wonderful Samoyed breed, as we were on a waiting list for our very own pup. Now we were back with 3 1/2 year old Skye in tow.

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There were lots of Senior Sams this year – in the 10-13 year old categories – as well as a few non-Sams. We met a beautiful young Husky, a couple of Jack Russells and a cute little Pomeranian to name but a few. All were friendly and well behaved. 🙂

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The dogs took part in various competitions, such as the Water Race, Fancy Dress and Musical Statues. My favourite was the Obedience. Samoyeds are very wilful and don’t always take kindly to instructions, as one dog, Freya, showed. While they were trying to get her to do a few simple things, Freya had other ideas; she trotted out of the ring and headed straight for the cake stall instead!! Somehow I don’t think she won on this particular occasion ….

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The Water Race

Skye didn’t seem sure what to make of it all. She said ‘hello’ to a few dogs, and sniffed bums here and there, but she didn’t seem particularly excited at seeing so many dogs in one place. Taking a stroll through the grounds and doing lots of sniffing appealed to her a lot more. Thankfully the weather had cooled down to a more bearable 24 degrees centigrade than of late, otherwise a lot of dogs would have overheated.

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This dog objected to having his picture taken, it seems

I decided to watch the dog grooming exhibition. A Samoyed was hoisted up onto s grooming trolley before being duly flipped over onto its side, like a pancake. The demonstrator showed us how to comb through the thick fur properly, using a special comb, despite the dog emitting low growls throughout the process. His owner assured us it was his way of showing pleasure as he’d been groomed many times before and was used to it (although he did look as though he was going to bolt a couple of times).

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I had a go at grooming the dog myself, and suddenly became aware of something nibbling at my pocket. Looking down, I saw an enthusiastic-looking Sam, who turned out to be the 13 year old father of the one being groomed, having a good go at the treats I’d brought along for Skye, rather like an excited child grabbing at sweets. My pocket ended up all wet and slobbery, but the treats survived. 🙂

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Sadly, this is the last Rally at Mollcroft. I have no idea where it will be held next year, if at all. It’s a wonderful chance to meet lots of gorgeous dogs, swap stories with their owners and, of course, help support Samoyed Rescue and all its good work.

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As the saying goes, ‘Happy is the bride the sun shines on ….’

Well, they certainly couldn’t have picked a better day. The sun came out in full force when Phil’s second eldest nephew Grant tied the knot with the wonderfully artistic Zandra. The emotional ceremony was followed by Pimms on the lawn in the lovely grounds of Crockwell Farm, Northants, amid an endless round of photos, with both the Rolfe and Hockley families taking turns to pose with the newlyweds.

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I wore a 1920s style dress I made myself for the occasion, couple with a pair of genuine 1920s shoes I’d picked up from a vintage fair earlier in the year. The white feather boa draped across my shoulders, as well as the flowers from Cayenne’s beautiful summery dress, shed so much throughout the day that any extra confetti wasn’t really necessary,. Anybody wondering about our whereabouts simply had to follow the trail of feathers and petals!!

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The food was nouveau cuisine – buffalo Mozzarella with sliced tomatoes in a herby sauce for starters, chicken and crunchy bacon bits, green beans wrapped in a leek strip, carrots and dauphinois potatoes for the main course (the veggies had spinach and ricotta in filo pastry), and for dessert we all enjoyed creme brulee with a macaroon-cum-brandy-snap type of biscuit.
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The seating plan was designed by Zandra

The guests were a colourful bunch of rockers and ravers, young and old alike (Zandra herself was the immaculate Foxy Redhead) and I couldn’t resist photographing a lady with bright blue hair. Apart from the stunning bridesmaids, there was also a bridesMAN (thumbs up for originality 🙂 ), and both Grant and his dad Richard wore nifty little waistcoats with jeans.

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The bridesman is on the right of this pic

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We were entertained by various musicians and singers during the afternoon, my favourites being sisters Jenna and Steffi who both have incredible voices (Cayenne declined to participate in any singing on this occasion, preferring to tease cousins Harry and Sam instead; you can catch her video on FB, by the way).

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Breaking away from tradition, there was no cutting of the cake per se – more like Dishing Out The Doughnuts, courtesy of Krispy Creme. To my surprise I found they werw alright, not quite the American OTT tons-of-sugar-with-everything you’d expect from ‘the other side of the puddle’. Still, at least I didn’t have to worry about bits of raisins or whatever getting stuck between my teeth, lol.

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Phil: Look, no booze – just coffee!!

Grant & Zandra, thank you for sharing your special day with us.
May the sun always shine for you xxxx

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