You Don’t Belong…

I’ve written about music a lot on here, about how much it means to me, and how making music really helps with my mental health. Well today, I finished off an EP of harmonica jams that I started on a few weeks back.
When I got to college back in 1987, I was an indie loving Smiths fan, and dressed accordingly, but the crowd I fell in with were all metal heads, lovers of Slayer and Metallica. Well, before you knew it, I was growing my hair long, dressing in skinny jeans and Hi-Tec boots, and listening to a lot of metal. I bought a lot of the same stuff as my friends, but the two bands that stood out for me, and which I discovered for myself were Suicidal Tendencies and The Stupids.

It wasn’t just the music that got me, both bands had strong connections with the skate scene, and I was skating a lot at the time, amongst college work and drinking Newcastle Brown. Both bands seemed like a natural fit to me, so I bought everything I could by them. Fast forward 30 years, and I still love Suicidal Tendencies and The Stupids, and have been buying up their back catalogue on CD. Heck, I’ve even started skating again! 

So, making music… I’ve been slowly returning to playing harmonica again, as my mental health has improved, which has really helped with my recovery, and is really good fun too. I started working on the idea of a new EP a few weeks back, and have been playing the pieces more and more, getting the sounds I wanted. I demoed them in Garage Band first, then got a lovely new Pignose amp and a new Tascam recorder, getting the sound quality just how I like it. 

Today, I played all the pieces again, and did some minimal mastering in Adobe Audition to get the sound just right. These jams are inspired by The Stupids and Suicidal Tendencies from back in the day, and Gurt from more recently. Oh, and the EP title is a Stupids song. I’m really happy with how they’ve come out… quite simple pieces, but played with gusto and energy. I did some artwork, and put them up on Bandcamp this afternoon. 

Getting this EP done and dusted means a lot to me, as it’s a good indicator of where my mind and health is. I really enjoyed putting them together, and hope you enjoy listening to them. Hey, you could even download them if you want, as they’re free!

https://ruke.bandcamp.com/album/you-dont-belong

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BMX!

IMG_0019I blummin love BMX. Riding, bikes, culture, style, the whole shebang… I’ve been riding BMX on and off since I was 12 (There is that age again…), and cannot imagine not riding it in some form until I drop!

I started riding Flatland BMX (standing on your bike spinning around in circles and not falling off…) back in 2008, and you think I would be good at it by now, but the fun of mucking around on little bikes rather than worrying about new tricks and fads makes me happy and puts a smile on my face.

I had an ace time riding with my eldest grandson (he is a natural!) at the weekend, and getting a new sprocket (I snapped my old one in competition) for Christmas means I will back out there before you know it…

Grow old gracefully? On your bike! (Ha!)

Mini Pocket Dump! 6/11/2015

Pocket-Dump-12-11-2015
Mini Pocket Dump 12/11/2015

1.A6 notebook (always useful); 2.KEYS!; 3. Papermate propelling pencil (why hadnt I been using these before? No sharpeners, writes anywhere; 4. Ancient wallet; 5. Reusable carrier bag (helps save the planet, and you have to pay for carrier bags in the UK now…); 6. Business card holder, containing cards for our art and design business.

Pocket Dump! November 2015

Completely nicking this idea from Thomas and Elise More Than Just Surviving, as I think it is a really good one. Onwards to exploring, learning and growing! This is what was the pockets of my cycling jacket today…

Pocket-Dump-2-11-2015

1.Eco batteries for front bicycle light; 2.Ancient wallet (gift from my wife); 3. Alcohol wipes liberated from KFC; 4. KEYS!; 5. Student ID for my L4 Counselling Diploma; 6.Random Scout woggle found in canal fields; 7.Business card holder, containing cards for our art and design business.

When I put something up that I really like, I will share links to manufacturers where possible. Get out there and explore!

Big kid…

I write another blog about my comics projects (http://anywereonline.blogspot.co.uk/), so won’t go on too much about the projects I’m working on here, as you can find out more there…

I’ve loved comics since I was tiny, my Saturday morning treat (if I’d been good) was a comic of my choice, usually one of the Marvel UK reprints, Planet of the Apes being a particular favourite. It stood to reason that I’d start writing and drawing them eventually. I had my first strip published at age 12.

12 was a pivotal age for me. It was when I decided what I was going to do for a living, to be a graphic designer. I loved drawing comics but thought it would be hard breaking into the industry, and graphic design was an easier route to follow that would allow me to be creative for a living. It was a practical decision. More recently, I wish I’d stuck to my gut instinct and become a cartoonist. Ahh, regrets…

So, after a lifetime of drawing and reading comics, I finally published two of my own last year. It’s the best thing I ever did, art-wise. Sure, they’ve not sold loads, but they have sold, and I have a fan base building. This year, the challenge is to release a new comic (PDFs to start for £2.00/$2.00) bi-monthly, with the hope of getting a small print run later in the year. My first title should be ready for the end of this month. It’s written, and I’ve drawn the first five of twenty-four pages. They’ll be six issues in this series, alongside six other titles which will be separate stories, probably stand-alone. I’m done waiting for the big break, and am making it myself. Life’s too short right?

Catching up…

Morning! (Well, it is in the UK as I type this…)

Revising for a counselling exam (today…) meant little time for anything else other than our business last week, so I’ve been unwinding with drawing and reading comics. The knee is still a little problematic, so physical activities have been gentle, mostly walking our lovely German Shepherd, Fizz. BUT, I did get out to ride BMX for a short while while with our grandson at the end of the week.

I ride Flatland, while is kinda like gymnastics on a bike. Flatlanders are sometimes seen as the outcasts of BMX. I’m not very good at it, but it’s a wonderful mix of fun, meditation and skill. When I’m riding, I don’t tend to think about anything else, just zoning out and being in the moment. But I love it, it makes me happy. It’s amazing to me that I still ride when I’m 45… I thought I’d stop at 40 for some silly reason. I don’t want to quit. The knee wasn’t even an issue either, which was a nice bonus.

I’ve ridden BMX on and off since I was 12. I bought a cheap BMX again in 1997, and it’s my favourite form of cycling. I have a really nice bike now, worth silly money, but it fits me like a glove, and is part of me. Flatland has led to making some amazing friends, travelling around the UK for comps and jams (I even won a prize at one!), writing for websites (www.global-flat.com), and meeting fellow riders from all over the globe. When I go to comps and jams, it’s like being with family. It’s another part of me.

I could write so much about what Flatland has given me, in fact, I used to have another blog about it, but I’ll just go out for another ride. I’ll be the older dude in the car park, rolling in circles on a BMX with a big smile on my face.

Northampton Flatland - Edited

Busy weekend…

Evening offliners… It’s been a busy but lovely weekend this week, hope your’s has been good too.

Saturday morning was spent with my sister at North Evington Children’s Centre, taking part in one of their fab awareness days. There were smoothies being made, keep fit sessions, face painting, arts and crafts and loads more. My sister was hiding in the trees, making stars, mobiles and more from fallen branches, twigs, string, tinsel, and lots more… Me? I was making badges indoors in the warm!

I seriously lost count of now many badges I made… I must have made well over 100, and had to turn folks away, as I ran out of parts to make any more!  At one point, I was just cranking out badges non-stop for an hour. It was crazy! It was really good fun though, as most of the badges were being created by kids between 2 and 11, and seeing their faces after their art was turned into a badge they could wear was a lovely reward for all the work! The time just flew by!

That afternoon was our granddaughter’s 3rd birthday get together, a wonderful afternoon spent with family, with lots of cake, party food and balloons. We were stuffed and tired out by home time! I spent a nice evening with a few cold beers and drawing hip hop legends of the 90s… nice!

Today (Sunday) was a proud day, as our eldest grandson was having his latest film shown, along with his fellow performing arts friends’ films too.  Our grandson has been going to a performing arts class on Saturdays for 4 years now, and appeared on a West End (London) stage last Summer. He’s a natural performer, with serious charisma and talent. Sure, we’re biased, but he seems so comfortable on stage and screen… We really hope he does something with his talent when he gets older (he’s almost 11…), as he’s so gifted. The range of talent and ideas we saw from the ‘kids’ at the screening was fantastic. We’ve been to all of his screenings and performances, and seeing how the groups have grown and matured over the years is incredible. The icing on the cake was seeing everyone walk down the read carpet in their finery… so cool.

So… with all this activity, has there been time for running you ask?  Yup. I’ve been quite concerned about running over the last few days, as I tweaked my knee pretty badly on Wednesday’s circuits. I’ve been able to get my distance and pace up this week, which I’m really proud of, even managing a sprint finish to my laps on Friday. But my knee’s been quite painful since Wednesday.

I slammed really badly on my knees when I was a 19 year old skater, I went one way, the board went the other… My knees have never been the same since. Pushing through for extra distance and speed has clearly hurt my knee joints, even with running on soft mud and grass. When I put in laps on Friday, the pain eased with each circuit, as the joints were warming up, and I felt lots better.  It’s been quite stiff and achy since.

I wrapped my knee with a sports support bandage before today’s run, and it felt much better. (There’s a dull ache now, but not too bad.) I also took our German Shepherd, Fizz along for the run too, which is always fun. (She’s snoozing in her basket now!) We took my route up through the canal fields and up the wooded hills, which was quite magical in the fading sunlight. Not quite dark enough for torches, but enough to keep you on your toes. I got a good run, as did Fizz, and the bandage seems to have done the trick. I’m concerned, as I’m really enjoying running now.  I mean, I couldn’t wait to get home today to get out into the open air and run, even worrying about how my knee feels. It’d be a shame if I had to stop now I’m hitting my stride…

Joss StarBadge making kit Badge making aftermath 2 Joss Mobile Woodland materials

Muddy bangers

Nice weekend with a change of scenery… Down in Hampshire with very old, dear friends and their lovely kids.  There’s been plenty of activity, even some running!

I have an annual pilgrimage down to Hampshire for the Unlimited National Banger UK Open at Ringwood, which for the uninitiated, means taking beaten up old wrecks of cars around an oval circuit as fast as possible and crashing into the other cars on purpose. We’ve been going since 2001… It’s a grand tradition, and I love spending the weekend with some of favourite people on the planet.

Friday afternoon saw me and my mate Rolf out at the lakes, trying to catch Carp and stay warm!  Sadly, the carp weren’t in the mood for biting, but we could definitely see they were out there. It’s always good to spend time with Rolf, as he’s one of my oldest friends and a lovely bloke.  Even with it peeing down at one point, it was a nice afternoon, just being out by the water, chatting and watching the wildlife. Next time carp, we’ll get you…

Saturday was Bangers, apart from the fact that Georgie (Rolf’s wife) broke a tooth the previous evening, and had to go to the emergency dentist before joining us at the track… she was only six hours late in arriving at the track!  Still, we had a great day, even with two poorly four year olds, spending the afternoon checking out the cars, drinking coffee and pigging out on greasy burgers and cakes… I have run them off, honest!  This year’s meet was more racing than banging, even the Demolition Derby, where you’re supposed to annihilate the others was, shall we say, lacking in contact…  But it’s always a great day, complete mayhem, bad food, smoke, crashes and mud.

I got a really good run in this morning in Farnborough park (which was full of dogs!), which given the lack of laps on Friday, was much needed.  There is a good mix of mud, roots, leaves and fallen branches, making longer circuits great fun. Considering I hadn’t run since Wednesday (laps), I made good time of two circuits around the park.  It’s a nice mix, as it runs uphill into light woodland, then back down through leaves and bushes.  Very glad to have got my longer run in after a fun weekend with good friends.  Now, where’s my roast dinner…

farnborough trees

yorkshire