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4667872158_44e574c355_bA natural extension of bookish activities in the Welsh border town of Hay-on-Wye, the Hay Festival is now replicated in Ireland, Bangladesh, Colombia, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico and Spain. So what is it about this local celebration of literature that’s attracted the tag ‘Glastonbury for books’ and led the Hay brand to take the world by storm?

To begin to understand, you have to start with Hay the town, which has more than 20 bookshops for a small population of around 1,500. The original Hay festival, conceived around a local kitchen table nearly thirty years ago, is a natural extension of this love of the written word, so is curated from a place of genuine enthusiasm. It’s directors invite the writers they most admire, the greatest contemporary practitioners and the most exciting new voices, with the acknowledgement that great writers work in all media, not just print. They consult publishers, writers and many other experts including the festival-goers themselves, and celebrate great writing not just from novelists but from poets, lyricists and comedians, filmmakers, scientists, environmentalists and politicians.

So this year, for example, the hundreds of talks and discussions on offer feature writers and thinkers including Stephen Fry, Kazuo Ishiguro, Germaine Greer and Michael Morpurgo, and there are gigs by King Charles, Frank Turner, Texas, Tinariwen and The Unthanks. Don’t pretend you’re not already tempted.

But if the Glastonbury comparison reflects the international respect for this remarkable event and its joyous, art-for-art’s-sake ethos, it doesn’t begin to hint at the unique flavour of a glorious intellectual free-for all that’s centred on a tent village but takes over the entirety of this picturesque little town on the edge of the stunning Brecon Beacons National Park.

While most of the high-profile events are individually ticketed, there’s no admission charge to the ten-day meeting of minds, and plenty of free events to entertain you as you browse the bookstalls of the tent village soaking up that unique Hay blend of powerful stories, transformative ideas, thoughtful laughter and moving music. Perhaps that’s why the organisers prefer ‘The Woodstock of the mind’.

It’s great for families, too, with a whole section devoted to toddlers and parents, and the Hay Fever kids’ festival-within-a-festival which this year features Jacqueline Wilson and How To Train Your Dragon author Cressida Cowell. For lovers of Young Adult fiction the Hay YA programme features Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman, Neil Gaiman, Patrick Ness and Geek Girl creator Holly Smale.

And if your brain ever starts to feel overloaded, you can always nip off for a walk, swim, ride or paraglide in the gorgeous Welsh countryside nearby.

21 -31 May 2015 , in a tented village in Hay-on-Wye, admission free, Early Bird booking for individual events currently open


5710285365_b9e336f2fa_oEmily Eavis has taken the unusual step of blogging in response to the online petition recently launched against Kanye West’s booking as Glastonbury 2015′s Saturday headliner, which has received more than 100,000 virtual signatures.

Acknowledging a policy of eschewing comment on such matters of opinion, she said she had felt compelled to respond to this because of the scale of international news coverage.

The festival organiser said in her post for Guardian online: “We think the story this year should not be: “Why is Kanye coming?” but: “How amazing is it that Kanye is coming?” One of the world’s biggest superstars and a music legend, always interesting, never boring. He has agreed to play a festival where headliners get paid a fraction of their normal rate.”

The petition, on Change.org, read: “Kanye West is an insult to music fans all over the world. We spend hundreds of pounds to attend glasto, and by doing so, expect a certain level of entertainment. Kanye has been very outspoken on his views on music….he should listen to his own advice and pass his headline slot on to someone deserving! Lets prevent this musical injustice now!”

Eavis went on to admit she had been moved to “question the dark underbelly of the web”, adding “Who are those people silently shouting in disgust, throwing out threats from behind their screens?”

Neil Lonsdale, who originated the campaign, told NME: “Glastonbury is an institution. It is expected that it has the biggest names. The biggest performers. Kanye does not represent that,” going on to exclaim “Two years ago we had The Rolling Stones playing the Saturday night, and this year we get Kanye West? It’s an outrage!” before admitting he’d never actually been to the festival.

Meanwhile, just four of the 135,000 ticket-holders asked for refunds following the headliner announcement, while wags have countered the petition with another demanding organisers ‘Cancel all acts at Glastonbury other than Kanye West’.

While Kanye West (unquestionably big enough to merit the headline slot) is probably of interest to more music-lovers that ‘heritage’ rock acts like the Stones anyway, savvy ticket holders who don’t particularly enjoy his music are already sighing with relief at the prospect of one less heartrending programme clash.

It is a bit dispiriting, though, that we have to have this dubious outcry every time a black American hip-hop star tops the bill, when what makes Glastonbury so uniquely wonderful among festivals is it’s joyful all-inclusiveness.

We’re with Micheal Eavis, photographed recently holding up a banner reading “Yeezy does it!”

 


14389307807_0f21cdbf2a_nWe all love a pop-up gig – the more creative, the better. Town squares, libraries and even launderettes have been pressed into service at many an urban festival, and you can now regularly see major artists in a forest or with an Eden Project biome or the Jodrell Bank transmitter in the background. British Sea Power have made a career of it, playing everywhere from an oil platform to the highest pub in the UK.

Ever since The Beatles’ played their farewell gig on top of Apple music’s office in London’s Saville Row on January 30, 1969, to alfresco (and shivering) lunchtime crowds on both neighbouring rooftops and the street below, bands have been challenging themselves to play in unusual places. We’re just wondering – how far is too far in the search for a novel venue?

Higher and higher
Taking a leaf out of the fab four’s book, the Party At The Palace for Queen’s Jubilee in 2002 was launched with an electric guitar performance of ‘God Save The Queen’ from Queen’s Brian May, on the roof. In 1997 Spiritualized outdid both, in altitude at least, by playing the 144th floor of Toronto’s CN Tower. Singer Jason Pierce later called it “the best show we’ve ever done. The building was moving 12 feet in either direction. We were literally floating in space.” In 2007, Jamiroquai played at 35,000 ft gig on a Boeing 757 to promote their hits compilation album ‘High Times’. It remained the highest altitude gig ever until James Blunt performed at 41,000 ft in 2010.

A sweatbox
As part of a London exhibition called Sculpture in the City last year, Portuguese artist Joao Onofre created a sculpture called Box Sized DIE, which involved death metal band Unfathomable Ruination playing while locked in an air-tight, soundproof metal cube in a street in The City until they ran out of oxygen. Three times a week throughout July they started playing with the door open, then were locked inside the hot, airless space by a security guard for between 15 and 20 minutes. The artist saw the featureless box as a symbol of the blank ‘boxy’ offices inside which people work invisibly in the financial district.

The coolest place on the planet
Nunatak, a five-piece indie band made up of British Antarctic Survey research scientists took time out from investigating climate change and evolutionary biology to play two songs in the snow outside Rothera Research Station in Antarctica as one of the concerts on all six continents organised by Al Gore’s Live Earth in 2007 to raise awareness about climate change. With an on-site audience of just 17, the gig was broadcast live across the world via television, satellite radio and the internet.

Down and dirty
Katie Melua broke the world record for the deepest ever gig in 2006 when she played 303m beneath the North Sea, on an oil rig. Richard Hawley chose the even less friendly atmosphere of the Devil’s Arse cave in Castleton, Derbyshire in 2008, presumably because he liked the idea of playing the worst toilet gig ever. In May 2010 London ska-punks King Blues went one better, playing the sewers under Brighton Pier – actually a popular tourist attraction. No kidding!

On the way home
In 2004 indie-rockers The Others surprised commuters on a Hammersmith and City tube train. While touring Winnipeg in 2007, The White Stripes played a set on a local bus. Last year’s impromptu aeroplane gig from Kanye West proved this strategy is not always the best way to win new fans.

Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever seen a band play?


We all know the qualities of two of Britain’s favorite tipples: beer’s malty or hoppy character, and dark rum’s luscious vanilla and syrupy flavours. At some point these two quality drinks met and crossed over; the result is something truly extraordinary.

Combined, these beers are craft-quality and something to truly savour. Packed with flavour, higher in alcohol and bit of spicy complexity I highly recommend giving beer and rum pairings a try.

To give you a place to start, I’ve picked two excellent and widely-available beers. The first, Scotland’s Innis & Gunn have added their oak-aged flagship beer to a rum cask, soaking up rich flavours of rum into its ruby, fruity body. The second is from the famous brewery Wadworth, who brewed the stunning Swordfish beer to support the 100 year anniversary of the Fleet Air Arm.

Innis & Gunn Rum Cask Oak Aged Beer, 6.8%resized

A ruby red ale that’s been matured in oak and finished with a selection of “specially-selected” rums, this is rich, full-bodied and delicious. It’s dark caramel in colour, with toast aromas on the nose.

In the mouth it’s immensely rich, with lots of dried fruit flavour such as prunes, dates and raisin. On top of this is smooth, yummy vanilla from the rum cask and an oaky, wood-like layer that makes the beer even more seductive. A few bubbles but not gassy.

Great quality brewing.

DSC_0256--resizedWadworth Swordfish, 5.0%

A little lighter than the Innis, but still that full bodied and caramel colour. It’s also a lot more still, with the bubbles fine and smooth in the mouth – this does make it a little richer though.

It’s a mix of delicious Wadworth beer with Pusser’s Navy dark rum. The end product is a bready, raisin beer that’s smooth and with hoppy – rather than oaky – complexity.

Incredibly yummy beer that’s much better off the tap than in the bottle, so go visit your nearest pub that stocks it and give it a try.

 

By Ben Franks -www.benfrankswine.com

Photos By: Niamh Harkett

Edited By- Laura Thompson

 


Want to plan the perfect party?shutterstock_93416938

Planning the perfect party takes more than buying some fairy lights and ordering some cheap wine, here are a few points to consider to create that memorable party!

Theme

A themed event is the perfect way to get people talking and get your guests excitement for the party. Working with a theme can also be helpful for the event planner, you can then incorporate the theme throughout every aspect such as styling, entertainment, food, drink and decorations. Festival themed parties have become more and more popular over the years, why not try and recreate a mini Bestival in your back garden?

Invitations

Make sure your invitations work with the theme you have chosen, the invitation can serve as a glimpse of the night itself and can be used to generate excitement. Think carefully about the design and format to ensure a consistent theme throughout your party, from start to end.

There are certain things you don’t want to miss out on the invitation; no one wants to get the date wrong! Here are a few suggestions:

  • Time and date- stick to these, there’s nothing worse for your guests when they’ve booked work off, arranged babysitters or put other plans on hold and you decide to change the date, time or just cancel the party altogether
  • Location- include directions or a map if it’s hard to get to and include information regarding parking or nearby public transport for those who won’t be driving. Also, adding the local taxi company could be a nice touch so that your guests can also begin making their own plans for the night.
  • Contact information- this will ensure you get RSVPs in plenty of time, but also gives your guests the opportunity to ask any questions they may have

Beverages

The most important part of the party, the drink! There’s nothing worse than running out of alcohol half way through the night, a sure way to get people leaving early. First of all you’ll need to have plenty of ice, you can never have too much ice at a party! Consider the age range attending and the occasion to help you decide how much wine, beer and spirits to buy. Include soft drinks among your purchases too to ensure that there is an alternative available for those not drinking (…and for those who have had too much).

Alternatively you can consider a mobile bar company to avoid the stress of  how much drinks to buy and what your guests will be looking for; Peppermint Bars can take all the pressure away so you can enjoy your party carefree.

Entertainment

When considering entertainment you should again coincide this with your theme, depending on the scale of your event you can have anything ranging from DJs, live bands to dancers and circus acts.  The Corporate Entertainment Professionals offer a complete range of entertainment for small or large events with so much to offer. Complete with costume and the wow factor you can quite literally set sparks flying from your event!

 


Belgium is famous for its stunningly complex, fruity and utterly luxurious high-alcohol speciality beers. The best of them are wheat-based “blondes”, where the texture balance of fizz and smoothness nears absolute perfection.

But how do you choose? There’s so many of them around now and each one has its own unique character. Most of them only have the smallest amount of English on the label too.

Luckily, I’ve had the pleasure to taste a whole variety of these beers and I’ve put together a shortlist with some tasting notes below.

Enjoy!

Blanche de NamurBlanche de Namur - NHarkett

World Beer Award gold-medal winner. Unique, sherbet-like texture with pronounced wheat flavours that are incredibly smooth and drinkable. Notes of sweet citrus make it a very interesting buy. Lemon yellow in colour, great head, and a full, yeasty length that’s almost fruity. One of the few Belgian beers at popular alcohol levels here in the UK (4.5%). Serve lightly chilled.

 

 

 

Tripel KarmelietTripel Karmeliet - NHarkett

Numerous award-winning triple style blonde beer. Fizzy, pale copper-yellow that’s high in alcohol (8.5%) and rich in flavour. Sweet mango and banana notes mix with a prolific brioche character in the mouth. This is a complex and unbelievably seductive beer to enjoy slowly. Serve chilled.

 

 

 

St. StefanusSt Stefanus - NHarkett

Best served lightly chilled and pretty dark for a blond beer, this mature “1295”-inspired beer from St. Stefanus is a treat of creamy smooth fruit. Currently 5 months old since its cellar release, making it 8 months old in total, it’s halfway between fresh and fruity and pungent complexity. Again fairly high in alcohol (7%), there is a certain luxury attached with the beer; while the finish is not quite as long as Tripel Karmeliet, the flavours and texture are perhaps even more characterful.

 

 

Written By – Ben Franks  Blog- www.benfrankswine.com Twitter- @Writer_Franks

Photo credit to: Niamh Harkett

Edited By- Laura Thompson


New_products_700_245Innovative mobile sports arena specialist PopUpArena has announced two brand new products for April 2015 at this month’s Event Production Show at London’s Olympia. Used together they offer a viable way to temporarily transform a tarmacked playground or car park into a playable rugby arena. The Portable Rugby Pitch and Lightweight Mobile Grandstand may not be used for Rugby World Cup matches in October, but their release couldn’t be better timed for the surge in interest in playing at all levels that’s bound to be inspired.

The unique PopUpArena system consists of modular elements designed to be used independently or together to create an instant sports arena, which to date has been arranged around a portable interlocking tiled playing court or track made of 11mm high density EVA foam with a 7mm textile playing surface and suitable for athletics, football, hockey, tennis, cricket, volleyball and basketball. New for the rugby version is a realistic four tone polyethylene tufted textile synthetic grass surface on a 20mm XPE foam shock pad which meets the stringent World Rugby head impact criteria. The company believes it is now able to supply a portable rugby pitch which is not only IRB regulation 22 compliant and easy to transport and deploy, but also closely matches the experience of playing on a permanent pitch.

PopUpArena was already able to supply both player and audience seating units to complete the stadium experience, but has now created a new, slightly smaller, all aluminium, lightweight 125 seats version specifically designed to be towed by a 4×4 and fit into even the most awkward spaces. These portable grandstands are already proving useful not only with the pop up pitches for one-of events like school sports days or local match fixtures but also to add flexible audience capacity at permanent facilities. Surbiton Hockey Club, for example, which has two first class pitches, uses one PopUpArena portable unit with 120+ seats to meet shifting demand for seating, regularly repositioning it using a mini tractor. We can imagine these handy units being equally useful for creating pop-up open air theatres or concert bowls in parks or woods, on beaches or in urban spaces like pedestrianised city centres.

So, if you’re planning a one-off beach volleyball tournament or hope to establish a local friendly rugby league, check out PopUpArena’s range of hydraulic spectator grandstands, team seating, stages and pitches, floodlights and perimeter banners, which can be either bought or hired.

Where would you like to stage a pop-up rugby match?


Noel_Gallagher_at_Razzmatazz,_Barcelona,_Spain-5March2012_(7)It’s nearly spring and we at Peppermint are already looking forward to another season of musical fun in the sunny outdoors. With several major European festivals having announced acts for 2015, we thought we’d take a look at some of the bigger names already on offer for this summer.

Holland’s Best Kept Secret
No, that’s the name of the event. This coastal weekend greenfield festival near Tilburg offers access to a forest and a beach, while a nearby bungalow park means you only have to take the tent if you really love camping. Already on the incomplete new-music-obsessed bill for its third outing are Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, The Libertines, Alt-J, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Death Cab for Cutie and Royal Blood, among many many more. We’re thinking they may have to change that name soon!
19-21 June
Beekse Bergen, Hilvarenbeek, Netherlands
Tickets, at €147.50 euros with camping, €125 without, or €69 day passes,  from Eventim

Reading & Leeds
The UK’s twin August Bank Holiday shindig is also all about the music, so any announcement from Melvyn Benn is bound to cause jubilation. Anyone who witnessed their storming set on the second stage in 2010 will already be dancing a jig at the prospect of Mumford & Sons as 2015′s main stage headliners. Metallica, Jamie T, Royal Blood, Bastille and Deadmau5 have also been confirmed, but expect many more big names to follow.
28-30 August
Little Johns Farm, Richfield Avenue, Reading and Bramham Park, Leeds.
Weekend camping tickets at £205+ booking fee already available from SeeTickets

Festival No 6
The chin-stroking aficionados who choose this late season boutique event in and around the intriguing Welsh island village of Portmeirion were delighted to learn that Grace Jones and Belle & Sebastian will be headlining this year’s gathering of the discerning and adventurous. Also already on the bill are Young Fathers, Kate Tempest and Ghostpoet plus DJs Andrew Weatherall and Justin Robertson, with plenty more still to be announced.
Thursday 3-6 September
Portmeirion, Gwynedd
Four-night early bird camping tickets are currently available at £170 from the festival site

Forest Live
If you fancy sampling the greenfield festival vibe before you commit to a weekend’s camping, why not check out one of The Forestry Commission’s annual programme of gigs? Each staged in a beautiful forest clearing, discrete gigs already announced for 2015 include Robert Plant & Sensational Space Shifters, James, The Script and Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott. Paloma Faith and Tom Odell will each play all seven venues. Look out for further bookings to suit all musical tastes.

Various dates between 19 June and 12 July, in forests across seven English counties
Tickets, at various prices, are currently available from the event’s website.

Who can’t you wait to see live in a field this summer?


k2BUiZbSAle connoisseurs and lager lovers rejoice – next week (16 -22 February) marks the annual London beer week! LBW have teamed up with Craft Beer Rising to celebrate everything beer, from craft producers to great brands, ales and lagers and even cider. Read more…


Jameela_jamilMedia personalities Ade Adepitan, Alex Brooker and Sophie Morgan, and musicians including Tine Tempah and James Blake are among those pledging support to BBC Radio One DJ Jameela Jamil’s new initiative, Why Not People? The new company will allow people living with a disability the full gig experience via a season of gigs, by artists including Ed Sheeran, Coldplay and Mark Ronson, specifically tailored to their needs. These exciting events will launch a new campaigning and educational organisation and a private members club for gig-goers with disabilities.

It was Jameela’s own experiences as a young music fan that inspired her: “There was nowhere for me to go where I could just go out and party; nowhere that I felt equal; nowhere that was made for people who needed just an extra helping hand without being treated like an alien or a burden. I am horrified to say 10 years later there still really is not a place in the entertainment world for the disabled.”

While most large venues now offer reasonable access, fans with disabilities find it often fails to provide a genuinely inclusive, dignified experience. You’d hope large venues would be better placed to respond to demand for a more equal gig experience for people with disabilities, yet across the UK’s biggest concert venues, fewer than 1% of seats (and often 0% of standing areas) are accessible to wheelchair users.

At too many venues, wheelchair users are strictly restricted to a designated viewing platform, isolated from the rest of the audience, sometimes including the friends they came in with. A reviewer for hipster website Blue Badge Style was threatened with ejection from the Brixton O2 Academy for leaving the platform (at the side) to move closer to the stage. Another, at KOKO in Camden, reported wheelchair users restricted to the balconies, well away from the dance floor, and commented, “Watching other people have a good time is not my idea of fun”.

While these rules are clearly motivated by more general safety concerns, one London venue has proved there is another way. Visitors to the thoughtfully restored Roundhouse in Camden are free to roam throughout the hall, craning their necks for a view along with their mates.

Why Not People? plans to educate the world about disability, promoting inclusion, demonstrate the huge demand from people with disabilities to venues, promoters and artist’s managers and highlight new technologies and creative solutions to enhance every gig-goer’s experience. It will also curate areas catering for gig-goers with physical, sensory or learning impairments at other promoter’s events.

The club will be a social community with an exclusive online portal where members can blog, share access info and tips, catch up with mates, discuss fashion and personal styling and arrange to travel to gigs together. Members will receive a regular newsletter and have exclusive access to tickets (for themselves plus up to 3 mates) and other special offers.

Membership costs £15 annually. All applications will be reviewed by the Why Not People? Chief Medical Officer.