Winchester Cathedral

Over the last weekend I was fortunate enough to visit Winchester Cathedral. I don’t think I have been here before, or at least if I have, I have no memory of it. Winchester is the oldest cathedral in England, and, when it was first built, the city was the capitol, which is a strange thought in itself. Winchester city is small. Not that that is a bad thing in any way. I quite like it.

The cathedral itself is rather beautiful. Whilst there I was lucky enough to go on two tours around the building. Both of these tours focused on the history and politics of the building, which, whilst very interesting, seemed to miss the essential purpose of the cathedral, as a place of worship. Now I understand that these kinds of tours are aimed at tourists, that’s a given, but I still consider that at least some mention of why it is there and what its core purpose is, would be not just relevant, but really quite essential.

Whilst I was there I also listened to a rather beautiful performance by a choir. It was only 20 minutes long, but thoroughly enjoyable. If you’re interested in it, you can find it on my podcast.

Bristol Full Court Press

I was in Bristol over the weekend and had a chance to visit an old favourite. A coffee shop called Full Court Press. The last time I was there was in 2019, before the pandemic. The coffee was excellent back then, and yesterday it was still great. It seems to be so hard to find really good coffee where someone cares about how to make it. There is so much average coffee around.

If you ever find yourself in Bristol city centre and you like really good coffee, I can thoroughly recommend this place. It is superb. The picture is from their window, and it amused me.

Winchelsea Beach

I don’t think I have been to Winchelsea beach before. But the day I went it was beautiful. Very peaceful and calm.

The calm was literally before the storm. So my time there was a little limited. As you can see from the sky it was a dramatic scene, but strangely peaceful and still.

Why is it that waves are so calming? Why is it that the sound of the sea is so peaceful. I seriously think that I could have stayed all day in that moment. Longer probably.

But the tide was coming in, and the rain was about to fall in a rather dramatic way. But the moment was still perfect.

I hope to go back again.

Knoops, hot chocolate

I have been to knoops before, back in 2018. The hot chocolate was amazing. Both excellent and very different. As I was back in Rye just last weekend I thought I would pop in and try it again. I looked up the knoops website and was interested to find out that there are now four stores. The one in Rye is still there, but there are a couple in London and another opening soon. When I had visited a few years ago I had no idea it would franchise out into a chain. Somehow that just didn’t seem very likely.

But I was wrong. Now knoops is a chain and the Rye shop is just one of the outlets. But, most importantly, was the hot chocolate any good? The short answer, yes, it was. It was very good, but there was one thing missing. Something not as it was back in 2018. When I had originally visited the Rye shop was run by the owner and he was brilliant at explaining everything about the different percentages of cocoa and what that meant.

This time round it was just like going to any other chain. Perhaps a bit nicer, but it didn’t have that local feel, that independent feel. I guess that is the price you pay for things expanding. The loss of the personal touch. The loss of that feel of something truly unique.

Knoops is still good though. The hot chocolate is still good, and I would still recommend it to anyone who likes hot chocolate.

The Windmill at Rye

It has been a long time since I was last in Rye. I think it was 2018 actually. It is a lovely little town. Full of Character and history, and, over the years, I have spent many happy times there.

I was due to go back in 2020, but like so many plans, that had to be put on hold. So it was wonderful to get back there again. Just for a few days, and with the intention of doing very little indeed. In fact, just being somewhere other than at home is a blessing these days, and I’m sure that many people feel the same.

The last time I visited Rye I stayed in the windmill, and it was so lovely that I had to go back. In many ways I am just glad that it is still there. So many places and businesses have vanished through the pandemic and I am very happy to say that the windmill in Rye is not one of them.

The actual windmill suite is the top two floors of the windmill itself, and as such is fully self contained. You might wonder why I wanted to stay there again. I think that I just like windmills. This one is obviously not a working mill. I don’t think it would be quite as comfortable a stay if it were working, but from the outside it is still obvious what the building was, and inside is very comfortable indeed.

As a place to stay it is very peaceful, and more than anything, that is what I needed. As my stay was just prior to a number of lockdown restrictions being lifted it was a slightly different stay in Rye to previous visits, but that was okay. I didn’t mind. Also the weather was particularly horrible, but again, I think at the moment I can forgive a great deal just to be somewhere other.

As a location I can commend it in every way, and, if you are interested in staying here, you should take a look at this website. I am sure that I will go back again. Perhaps not this year, but certainly in the future. Even in poor weather it is a lovely place to just be.

Berlin Musical Instrument Museum

I visited the Berlin Musical Instrument Museum at the beginning of December last year. I’d never been before, but I do love to visit museums of this kind. Whilst for the most part it was largely concerned with traditional instruments, it did have a little corner tucked away for electronic instruments, and that was nice. Not huge by any means, but nice.

Overall it was a fun place to visit, although, unlike some similar museums, I probably wouldn’t go again.

Robyn’s Rocket at Cafe Oto

On Wednesday I had the rare privilege of playing live at Cafe Oto with the amazingly talented Robyn. She is a gifted trumpet player and had a whole night of acts at Cafe Oto. I’ve been there many times and seen some amazing artists, so to play there myself was incredible.

It was a really great night too. Robyn was, of course, amazing. My small part was to bring some improvised electronics in the form of a couple of Bastl Instruments Kastle synths. To be precise a 1.0 and a new 1.5 Kastle. These little synths are amazing and incredibly versatile. There’s so much you can do with them.

Hopefully I’ll be able to get some of the footage and sound from the gig. When I do, I’ll be sharing that.

Museum of Human Rights, Winnipeg

I didn’t have much time on my visit to this amazing building. But it was worth every minute I was there. I really enjoyed it a great deal. The architecture is amazing and very beautiful, as are the exhibits and everything about this place.

I’d love to go back, but my guess is that’s probably not very likely.

Spending some time at the Art Gallery of Ontario

This is a beautiful place. I was only in Toronto for a few days but this was on the top of my list of my places to go. My visit was back in July and it was really hot and humid, which was another great reason to go to the gallery as it has great air con!

I wasn’t really interested in the European art there, and much keener to see that First Nation art on show. I wasn’t disappointed. There are some stunning pieces there, and the volunteer guide who showed a group of us around was very good and had a lot of information on hand.

The Rebecca Belmore exhibition was stunning, and at times, disturbing. Whilst I can’t say that I enjoyed all of her work, I can say that it gave me more insight into First Nation issues.