Another busy month slips by – this is how it looked to me.
The World at Large
There was a lot of scary stuff going on in the world this month. Trouble rages in the Middle East with the tide of popular opinion appearing to turn against Israel as they indiscriminately bomb civilians in the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, in Ukraine a Malaysian airline, MH17, was shot down, apparently by pro-Russian separatists, killing all 298 people on board. This is not a good year for taking a flight with an MH prefix.
Closer to home, David Cameron completed the biggest cabinet reshuffle since he has been in office, axing those who had caused trouble, embarrassment or were simply too ‘male, pale and stale’. I’m sure that the upcoming election next year has nothing at all to do with the influx of women into the cabinet as that would just be cynical…
Staying with Westminster, allegations have been made about paedophiles in parliament as the horror of celebrity child abuse moves onto politicians. Files relating to historic allegations of sexual abuse against children appear to have mysteriously gone missing.
I can’t believe that I’m talking about sport here again, but there has been a lot of it going on again this month: the World Cup finally came to an end when Germany beat Argentina – most Brits didn’t know who to hate the most! The Tour de France kicked off in Yorkshire, but British hopes were dashed when Chris Froome crashed out of the race leaving Italian Vincenzo Nibali to win it. The Commonwealth Games also kicked off in Glasgow; there are a few days left to go, but amazingly England is currently leading the medal table. Enough sport now!
A largely glorious hot and sunny month again here in Gloucester, but with some notable exceptions: Friday 18th and Saturday 19th saw amazing lightening storms over night (which I managed to sleep through) and torrential rain. Westonbirt was named the wettest place in Britain with a month’s rain falling in 24 hours. Several events were cancelled and the Summer Sound event planned for Gloucester Park had to be moved inside to the Guildhall, although in the end the sun came back out for the afternoon.
The weather put a bit of a damper on the start of one of Gloucester’s big events of the year: the Gloucester Quay’s Food Festival, with celebrity chefs including Paul Hollywood and James Martin. The weather did improve greatly though and it didn’t stop a reported turnout of more than 100,000 people over the weekend.
The annual carnival took place the following weekend; I didn’t manage to go this year, but it looked well attended from the pictures and the weather was certainly kind.
Excitement was caused by news that Johnny Depp is heading for Gloucester to do some filming at the Docks. Early reports speculated that it was to film the latest in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise – a reasonable speculation based on the plan for five tall ships to sail in for the occasion – but it now seems that it is actually for scenes for Through the Looking Glass.
As if that wasn’t enough, Homeland star Damian Lewis is also heading for the city to film scenes for the BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall at the Cathedral.
Some potentially good pub news, with reports that the former Fusion was bought for £190K in June and, although there are no details on plans yet, the Citizen are speculating that it will be re-opening as a pub.
Speaking of pubs, The Brunswick has had an impressive make-over as part of the Paint Jam festival which starts properly at the weekend, so more about that next month.
And, of course, the Gloucester Blues Festival started, but its finale is also at the weekend, so more about that next month too.
Our charmed barbecue season continued with two more barbeques: the second of the season at Philo and Sonja’s, and one at Reg & Deb’s. For both it poured with rain all morning then, just as the barbecue started, the sun came out and it was a beautiful evening. Rumour has it Philo has sold his soul, but I’m not convinced it’s worth that much. Reg put his success down to a strategically placed tub of Damp Trap, which must be good stuff as that was the weekend of the thunderstorms.
We also managed to attend the Quay’s Food Festival, although I was more interested in the liquid refreshment than the cooking demonstrations and spent much of the day enjoying the Gloucester Brewery Beer Festival. I also discovered the joys of the onion bhaji scotch egg – true fusion food!
My motorcycle mileage continues to rise with a trip to Biker Loft in Belgium – a total trip of about 575 miles. We went with our usual group of friends: Andy, Jane, Biff and Kate, but also met up with some of Andy and Jane’s friends from the Suicide Jockey’s bike club – a great weekend. A bit of a hit on the wallet though: not just the big bar bill, but also a new rear tyre required for the Honda prior to the trip.
I also managed to get along to three of the Wednesday Bike Night meets during the month: The Plough at Cold Aston on the 2nd, the Courtfield Arms in Lower Lydbrook on the 16th (which involved getting a little damp on the way home) and Croft Farm at Bredons Hardwick on the 23rd. All were excellent and very well attended and the latter was an especially big event, raising over £1500 for the air ambulance.
The Gloucester CAMRA social was at the York House and England’s Glory this month: a bit of a walk from the centre, but both were very good and well worth a visit.
The final week of July saw the start of Gloucester Blues Festival. My favourite week of the year in Gloucester. As I write this the week is only just over half finished, but drinking every evening was already starting to take its toll by Wednesday, so I was glad of my foresight in booking Thursday and Friday off! More on the Blues Festival next month.
A combination of a busy social calendar and lovely sunny weather means that my blogging output has been particularly pathetic this month with a meagre five posts. My hit rate was better than I deserved considering though, with 1065 hits.
Four of my five posts made it into the top ten for the month, with Cassington Bike Night 2014 in the top slot, although that’s a bit of a cheat as the stats include hits on the photographs. Almost Got the Blues came in at a creditable second place and was also picked up by the Citizen for a guest blogger slot in the paper. It also gave me the opportunity to plug an old and little-read blog on the Pub Rules, which is possible my all time favourite post, and came in at ninth place for the month.
Fighting Political Apathy came in at third, so still not yet vanquished!
My review of June came in fourth, but still not getting enough hits to be worth the effort. The days are numbered, but I’ll try to stick it out for the rest of the year.
So that was July, bring on August!