Monday, 18 April 2011

Kieran I want...things I want to do before 30...ride a unicycle

Having a go on a unicycle could possibly the best £3 I have spent. I promise you it’s not easy but the giggles and comedy falls you do whilst trying make it all worthwhile. I took a friend of mine and in between fits of laughter resulting in strained stomachs we managed to progress from clinging onto a wall and a kind persons shoulder, peddling for a few inches to no wall, one shoulder and laps of the room. No Fit State Circus in Cardiff offer classes on a Thursday and I would recommend it to anyone.

I may have got a little bit over excited as the next day after a search on gumtree I brought one. After finding two for sale; one in Brighton one in Bristol (strangely both being sold by people called Gary) and a series of text messages and phone calls I brought a unicycle. I don’t think my sister has ever received such a random phone call; ‘Siobhan, I think I have just brought a unicycle’, ‘OK’, ‘Its in Brighton, but he can deliver it to you’, ‘OK’, ‘He can come round tonight, can you meet him and give him £25 for me’ ‘OK’

Siobhan sent me this message when he turned up at her door; Purchased!! It looks good! Battery very low, will call later on. Hilarious. He looked like a clown in a way…xx. Turns out Gary is a kids clown entertainer and parting with his back up of his back up unicycle. His final text to me read; The secret is to practice in a narrowed hallway. Enjoy!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Kieran I want…things I would like to do before 30…Visit John O’Groats or Orkney.

The Lonely planet guide to Scotland describes John O’Groats as:

“A car park surrounded by tourist shops, John O’Groats offers little to the visitor beyond a means to get across to Orkney…it serves as the end-point of the 874 mile trek from Land’s End in Cornwall”

I couldn’t have put it better myself, how disappointing it must be to anyone that has made the arduous journey of 874 miles to be greeted with such a depressing site; closed down pubs, a boarded up hotel and kitsch shops.

The sign is a private enterprise so you have to ask nicely to take your own photos if you don’t want to pay for their photographic services; although cheerfully enough the photographer waved us to go ahead and asked for a donation to a cancer charity they collect for.

I can’t see that anyone would want to spend anytime here at all, so Colin and I snapped away and then scooted off to catch our ferry across to Orkney.

Who would have thought that so many wonders of the world could be packed into such a tiny collection of Islands; Skara Brae, a 5000 year old prehistoric village predating Stonehenge and the Pyramids of Giza. Maes Howe; a stone age tomb also about 5000 years old and broken into by Vikings searching for treasure in the 12th century – those cheeky Vikings carved runic graffiti on the walls; ‘ Olaf was ‘ere’ and ‘Thorni bedded Helga’. Then there is the Tomb of the Eagles, an Italian Chapel, Standing Stones and Scapa Flow among other wonders and yet somehow a sign with the words Twatt on it is enough to make the journey worthwhile.

A week or so later when we were heading back to Cardiff and stopped off in Chester for an overnight stay we wondered into a local pub and started to play Deal or No Deal on the pubs game machine. No word of a lie but one of the questions that came up was what is the name of the village in Orkney called – you can’t make up coincidences like that.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Kieran I to re-ignite/get into METAL

I can’t go anywhere without my ipod and love it when people recommend music. I used to try and stop myself using the shuffle option as I used to think albums should be listened through in their entirety but who has time to keep up that conviction especially on their walk to work. So the majority of the time a track will come on and I won’t have a clue on the artist. I used to be quite curtailed in my choice of music; indie often melancholy, guitar based bands often four sweaty boys intent on inflicting their woes and sorrows on my ears for my musical appreciation.

Dan Kitson sums it up nicely:

‘I like a very specific sort of music, not too specific, I like various things but basically if all the music I liked met at a party it would all get on. Although it’s not really the sort of music that would go to a party…I like sort of fairly whimsical, fairly melancholy, fairly lyrically ambitious stuff, that’s what I like’

I remember saying to my cousin that I wanted music for every mood but then would go to a club and dance along to all those indie boy songs in my head rather than what was played. Thankfully over the years I have had a burgeoning appreciation for all types of music and although was still a devoted Melody Maker/NME reader way past the explicable time limit of late twenties (When you make the leap from NME to something like Q and then Q to Mojo; your passing years played out in glossy magazine format) indie provided the bedrock to this otherwise flourishing music appreciation.

So when Rich from work challenged me to:

Re-ignite/get into METAL (I’ll provide the CD) and

Watch the DVD Metal: A Headbangers Journey, best Heavy Metal Documentary to date (I can also provide) for my Kieran I want I loved the idea

The documentary is done by Sam Dunn a 30-year old anthropologist who decided to study the culture of heavy metal a culture he has been a part of since he was a 12-year old. He jets across the world to find out why 'his music has been consistently stereotyped, dismissed and condemned and yet is loved so passionately by its millions of fans'.

And concludes in a festival mosh pit that:

"Ever since I was 12 years old I had to defend my love for heavy metal against those who say it's a less valid form of music. My answer now is that you either feel it or you don't. If metal doesn't give that overwhelming surge of power that make the hair stand up at the back of your neck, you might never get it, and you know what? That's okay, because judging by the 40,000 metalheads around me we're doing just fine without you"

And 30 hard rocking, mind blowing and gut busting tunes for 30 years now happily on rotate in on my ipod as below:

ACDC - For those about to rock
Metallica - For whom the bell tolls
Megadeath - Peace Sells
Motorhead - Killed by Death
Slayer - Raining Blood
Saxon - Wheels of Steal
Black Sabbath - Iron Man
Dio - Holy Diver
Motley Crue - Dr Feelgood
Guns n Roses - Mr Brownstone
Iron Maiden - 2 Minutes to Midnight
ZZ Top - La Grange
Whitesnake - Still of the night
Alice Cooper - Welcome to my Nightmare
Ozzy Osbourne - Mr Crowley
The Answer - Come Follow Me
Danzig - Am I demon
Def Leppard - Armageddon It
Dragonforce - Fury of the Storm
Judas Priest - Hell Bent For Leather
KISS - Detroit Rock City
Poison - Nothin' But A Good Time
Rainbow - Stargazer
System Of A Down - Chop Suey!
Tenacious D - Wonderboy
Van Halen - Runnin with the Devil
Probot - Shake Your Blood
Slash (Myles Kennedy) - Back From Cali
School Of Rock Soundtrack - Fight
Rage Against The Machine - Know Your Enemy

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Kieran I want...the list so far

I started writing things I’d like to have done before I’m 30; Milk a cow, Learn to Eskimo roll a kayak, Have a go on a Unicycle etc But this all seemed a bit self indulgent. So I asked friends and family what they want me to do for them that I can add to the list…Kieran I want (read about it here)

The list so far….

Milk a cow
Learn to Eskimo roll a kayak
Have a go on a Unicycle
Learn to sign a full sentence in Sign language
Roller skate to work
Organise a Karaoke eve
Go to a Michelin star veggie restaurant
Walk Ben Nevis/Scafell Pike
Sleep rough/work in a soup kitchen
Watch Dancer in the Dark
Watch Last of the Mohicans
Clear out phone messages
Clear out e-mail inbox
Fix bike
Place a bet
Donate sperm
Be an extra in TV/Film
Be a life model/ get portrait painted/caricature
Make some money for charity
Give blood
Steer a canal boat
Go on the aqua bus
Go for a Ghost walk in Llandaff
Row a boat on Roath Park Lake
Start or join a flash mob
Visit lands end or Orkney
See l’Palace ideal
Organise a night out in Minskeys
Go to Edinburgh festival/Bristol Balloon festival
Take mum to Liverpool
Ride a Sedway
Go to Morocco

Suggestions for Kieran I want you too:

Write a blog post about this for the hackflash blog
Bake a cake for charity (Bobath)
Get the portrait done at the moulin rouge
Get a tattoo
Go to a dance class in Cardiff
Come and stay at my flat and have me treat you to breakfast
Get your hair permed again
Find somewhere to learn a flying trapeze
Pick a list of 'must reads' and try and read them all before you're 30
Go to digger land
Go to Glasgow
Throw a pot? Or pour iron; iron pour events are pretty amazing
Finish your book and let it go; either send it to a publisher or set it free on its own ceremonial voyage into the world
Come over and see my flat and then for us to go for lunch in Brighton which has always been something we have said that we would do - I have been living in my flat for over 4 years now, Hehe!!
Take me to see a cracking band of your choice (like that time we saw 'Seeing Scarlet'...i wonder what ever happened to them)
You to find a nice girl who appreciates you :-)
Go horse riding in the Gower
To have a colonic irrigation please.
Take part in capoeira classes
Option 1
Kayak trip down the wye valley - learning how to eski MOOOOOO roll with me and the Aber crew
Option 2
Come with me to Nepal in October to trek to base camp Everest for charity
Come and see me and Stu and watch 'Little Shop of Horrors'
Do a sprint triathlon, I can help if needed.
Instead of doing Ben Nevis and Scar Fell Pike; do the three peaks challenge which is doing those two and Snowdon with in 24hrs.
A sky dive? Finchy is trying to organise one soon so you could do it with him.
Come and watch the magnificent Daniel Kitson with me
Host a karaoke party with family and friends
Host a progressive dinner party for 4-8 people which involves 4 locations, only one of which can be at your home
Come to the Bingo
Organise and run a quiz evening at your local pub
Come and watch me and Em at an open mic night
Come to my stag do at Field Day festival
Do a stand up slot
Get in touch
Ride a horse
To come to Royal Ascot for my 30th
Attempt to break a world record (however silly it is)
Come to our gig in Swindon in July? It’s Saturday 9th July at the Swindon Vic.
Come support Buskers on Bikes gig somewhere near Bristol
Double your reading speed. Apparently we read at between 200-400 words per minute, and it’s not that difficult to get to 1,000 words per minute.
Learn to knit
Come see Daniel Kitson with me
Let me treat you to something you want:
A holiday
Drive a fast car for a day
Try golf lessons
Flying lessons
Record a song or poem at a recording studio
Be a alter boy for church
Plant a tree
Work in a zoo for a weekend
Grow and eat your own vegetables
See a classical concert
I wouldn’t mind having a cup of tea with you at all ;-)
Shave your head…or dye it
Eat mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
Sell your soul... and join Facebook (for at least a year).
Come along to see me at my treatment room and have a chest or leg wax
Document all your experiences or at least hear all about them sometime :)
Re-ignite/get into METAL (I’ll provide the CD)
Watch the DVD Metal: A Headbangers Journey (I can also provide) best Heavy Metal Documentary to date.
I would like it very much if you would come to the pub with me at some point in the future because you're so lovely
Become a litter champion
I want you to do a First Aid Course. It may come in handy one day. I believe St.John Ambulance used to run them.

Plant a tree I'm sure there must be a scheme available somewhere.
Volunteer to help out at either Cubs or Scouts.
Have a photo taken with Nanna
Teach me how to use my camera and how to upload photos
Take me to a golf driving range

Any suggestions...cardifference at

Kieran I want to watch Dancer in the Dark

I started writing things I’d like to have done before I’m 30; Milk a cow, Learn to Eskimo roll a kayak, Have a go on a Unicycle etc But this all seemed a bit self indulgent. So I asked friends and family what they want me to do for them that I can add to the list…Kieran I want (read about it here)

On more than one occasion I’ve gone into the library with the intension of hiring a movie, walked up and down, round the aisles, scanned the spines, circled the library, picked up, put back, but eventually ended up shrugging and leaving empty handed. Some of the same titles now leap out convincing me that I’ve seen them just because I’ve picked them up and read the backs so many times. 

I once read the Paradox of Choice which promised to ‘explain why too much of a good thing has proven detrimental to our psychological and emotional well being’ a bold statement some might say and the conclusion was equally disquieting ‘As the number of choices we face increases, freedom of choice eventually becomes a tyranny of choice’. Which seems a bit dramatic when relating this to looking for a movie but the back of the book told me: ‘he makes the case that eliminating choices can greatly reduce the stress, anxiety and busyness of our lives…he offers practical steps for how to limit choices…and derive greater satisfaction from the choices you do make’

Now that sounds a bit too much like self help but kind of makes sense when I’m staring blankly, overwhelmed, facing rows and rows of film titles and not one I end up hiring or buying. It’s the same at massive supermarkets; all that choice but I can’t think of anything to cook, huge book stores or looking on amazon; I have to leave or click away after a while scared rigid at the thought that I will never have time to make even a slight dent at reading lists or when I find myself stuck at a restaurant with a menu so long that there can’t be any ingredients left in the world (it helped when I turned veggie which reduced choices overnight). I remember trying to choose a tent to buy once; after two hours the patience of family and the guy serving had warn inextricable thin.

And so with all great 21st century inventions there is a label for this; consumer hyperchoice so it’s always easier for me to take recommendations than go blindly into searching for a movie; Dancer in the Dark was such a recommendation.

A little bit of a person comes with the attachment to the movie/book or whatever when recommended. Their character and proverbial fingerprints come with it; what did they like/dislike about it, when and where did they watch, read, see it; how did they find out about it. It’s a little window to the soul. I love it when second hand books are inscribed so come with an unknown history and when someone gives me a recommendation. Having gone through the whole look of distain with Last of the Mohicans, admitting that I’d never watched Dancer in the Dark was like sticking pins into Hannah so it was put on the list through a strong recommendation.

And thank you for the recommendation; Bjork was incredible, the impromptu musical numbers a surprise, the best quote being when Bjork is talking about loving musicals but annoyance at the last song: “Because you just know when it goes really big... and the camera goes like out of the roof... and you just know it's going to end. I hate that. I would leave just after the next to last song... and the film would just go on forever” that felt (rightly or wrongly) like a fingerprint or window. I was braced to cry as the film had been described as the saddest movie ever made that only took the opening credits for Hannah to reach for the tissues but thanks to the warning I was ready and so the tissues laid dormant.

Kieran I want to ride a Sedway

I started writing things I’d like to have done before I’m 30; Milk a cow, Learn to Eskimo roll a kayak, Have a go on a Unicycle etc But this all seemed a bit self indulgent. So I asked friends and family what they want me to do for them that I can add to the list…Kieran I want (read about it here)

When we turned up for the horse riding in Scotland the centre had just brought and set up a Sedway track. I retrospectively put riding a Sedway onto my list as this was definitely something I would have wanted to do pre 30 had I known. The machines had only recently been brought in but they agreed to take Colin, Ben and I out.

It’s the closest thing to back to the future hover boards that you can get, absolutely bizarre looking and feeling. Its undeniable we looked like complete idiots rigged out in helmets and high vis jackets and going around the course like we’re floating.

You couldn't wipe that grin away if you tried

It wasn’t as expected in that the controls are through your toes and heels not through the column; that is just the steering wheel, not accelerate/break as we’d assumed. The movement feels a lot like skiing or that type of balance. They cost about 10p to fully charge and each Sedway costs £5,000.

The owner maybe made the mistake telling us that there were two modes; so we switched from ‘turtle’ mood to ‘rabbit’ to go off road. They can get up to 12mph and one nearly ended up crashed against a telegraph pole when Ben tried to race and get them up to their full rabbit speed. Back on the track we tried the ramp which we mastered after Colin had a slight tumble and cautious Kieran just made it over.

Off road here we go

Fair play though, the owner is going to send herself to any early grave with worry, with constantly checking over her shoulder and asking us to behave, not overtake and fret about any crashes but we reckoned it was a fine investment; her machine could do with wing mirrors to help lead groups and save her a heart attack but if you get the chance you should jump at the chance to have a go. All of us came off wanting one, you couldn’t get the smiles off our faces for the rest of the day and the girls got stitches with laughter just watching.

'Are those two brothers?'

Kieran I want you to go horse riding

I started writing things I’d like to have done before I’m 30; Milk a cow, Learn to Eskimo roll a kayak, Have a go on a Unicycle etc But this all seemed a bit self indulgent. So I asked friends and family what they want me to do for them that I can add to the list…Kieran I want (read about it here)

Both Cassie and Claire wanted me to go horse riding for Kieran I want. Although Claire first of all said Kieran I want you to find a nice girl who appreciates you :-)

... failing that I want you to take me to Barbados ;-)

But after asking for some achievable ones her further suggestion was:

Kieran I want you to go horse riding in the Gower

Cassie’s was also: Kieran I want you to go on a horse ride.

So although it wasn’t in the Gower (still keen though) and although I’ve ridden before it was years ago, so the chance to have a go in Scotland, see Colin on a horse (never been on one in his life) and take a trot around was a must.

Colin's first time on a steed
Ben provided the highlight of the experience when his horse Mr Giddy described as a racehorse was brought out, thinking this was for me, he started to laugh but quickly reigned that in (get it reigned in) when it turned out that the poor excuse for a horse was his. His feet nearly touched the ground, the horse had a beer belly and wouldn’t move and when he rode past a hedge you could barely see him bobbing alone.

Ben and the not so Mr.Giddy
I had Max who is ‘what is known as a horse’ not donkey, so while Cassie cantered off, Colin overcame his fear and had a great dismount, Jess tried to egg her horse to get into the grove and I had a bop around, Ben had to pick his feet up to stop them dragging along the floor. ‘What as known as – Classic’

No comparison really Max vs Mr. Giddy - only one winner

Kieran I want to watch Last of the Mohicans

I started writing things I’d like to have done before I’m 30; Milk a cow, Learn to Eskimo roll a kayak, Have a go on a Unicycle etc But this all seemed a bit self indulgent. So I asked friends and family what they want me to do for them that I can add to the list…Kieran I want (read about it here)

Admitting to Colin that I had never watched Last of the Mohicans generated the same look of despair that greeted Kat years ago, who studying film and TV and English at university admitted to never watching Top Gun.

A wave of bafflement, a shake of the head, a muttered tut tut or look of bewilderment; having missed some seminal pieces of cinematography and being greeted with looks of distain has happened to me before; never seen Lord of the Rings, are you insane, didn’t get round to watching the Kings Speech, how? missed Titanic; where have you been?

I even pretended to having seen the original Tron when the remake came out to avoid similar accusations; then never got around to watching the re-make anyway. I hadn’t seen Easy Riders until recently, never watched Dark Crystal or Labyrinth as a child, I’m sure I will get around to watching some of the classics; Ben Hur, When Harry met Sally or Gone with the Wind someday (I can hear the sighs and cries of blasphemous scorn though my computer screen) and Dancer in the Dark and the Little Shop of Horrors are on my list. It’s fair to say my film habits are erratic.

I can barely recall the last film I saw, can’t answer film trivia, forget actors and actresses, am bad at describing films and try and avoid being asked what my favourite film is because my mind goes blank. I end up turning over in my mind the only film I happened to have seen the most (about 17 times)…Gremlins 2 which is the first film I brought and a staple watch at all sleepovers during my childhood years, I can’t hear New York New York without picturing dancing and melting gremlins, that or I end up panicking and saying Point Blank, thanks to boyhood crush on Minnie Driver.

I find it amusing that you somehow suddenly become alien when your film tastes or watching habits don’t measure up. I’m suspicious of people that have massive film collections but love going to the cinema, rarely watch a film twice (Gremlins 2 aside), had my first date to the cinema to see Beauty and the Beast, get giddy when watching a good comic book film, finally got round to watching the notebook and pretend there was something in my eye, think 3D films are a bit rubbish and still chuckle to think I caught Ben with ‘It’s complicated’ staring Meryl Streep.

When a copy of Last of the Mohicans posted from Guernsey with no indication of who it was from landed on my door step I thought I had a DVD admirer. Unfortunately that copy didn’t work but the re-issued one coincidentally with a stamp from Enterprise video in Brighton came I watched it (Thank you Colin for sending me the copy and being the DVD mystery sender). I even remembered a line from the movie ‘The whole world is burning’ but don’t ask me to review it for you – it was good, I enjoyed, it’s worth a watch and now it’s ticked off my list.

Kieran I want to help at a soup kitchen

I started writing things I’d like to have done before I’m 30; Milk a cow, Learn to Eskimo roll a kayak, Have a go on a Unicycle etc But this all seemed a bit self indulgent. So I asked friends and family what they want me to do for them that I can add to the list…Kieran I want (read about it here)

As most of you probably know I don’t need a lot of persuasion to go on a little jaunt around the country so when Iron and Wine tickets came up for Leeds, a place I’ve past through and been too on a number of occasions on a day trip but never been for an eve, I jumped at the chance.

Leeds has all the charm and character of Cardiff with its arcades and markets, is city that you can easily walk around and as we were out on paddy’s day was full of plastic paddy’s celebrating the event sponsored by Guinness.

The gig was ace, the night out brilliant. Highlights include:

Real ale at Whitelocks – an old world, real ale pub a world away from its bizarre location – just down an alleyway off the busiest shopping street in Leeds

When Iron and Wine played ‘Women King’

Bad dancing in the bars on Call lane

Trying to explain to someone what a falafel is (they don’t exist in Leeds apparently)

Joel trying to get Colin to suck the corporate nipple of McDonalds and get chips

And the vintage shops filled with delights (but it’s too easy to fall foul to sensory overload and end up leaving with nowt)

Anyway as Colin and Joel drove up further north for a stag do I went down to Manchester to visit Hayley. Ironically this timed in nicely with Hayley’s regular soup kitchen volunteering as feeding the homeless is on my list, so Friday night we went down to a charity to help out on their soup run.

I have never buttered so much bread or seen a kitchen so well organised and slick; we loaded the van with an assortment of hot and cold foods and went to their usual spot under the railway arches where a crowd had already started to assemble.

Aside from a minor scuffle at the start the people were polite and grateful and sometimes surprisingly picky. We perched on the edge of the lorry and dished out sandwiches and had a chat to those who wanted to talk. Some take food and disappear back into the night while others hang around for a natter.

What ever people’s thoughts or perceptions on the homeless it is startling to realise how close we all are to being on the streets – apparently its less than three missed mortgage payments away from homelessness, how being made redundant, an unexpected tragic situation or change in social circumstances can see you on the streets. No one knows how we react to future situations; how losing work can knock you out of society, a break up can tear your world apart, a death can make you fall off the tracks, or an illness becomes a barrier or reducing you to being incapable to support yourself. All issues that people talked openly about. Introducing myself to one chap, he visibly took a step back. He had a neck chain with Kieran on it, his little boy, a twin, died of cot death and he hadn’t recovered from his death. How may of us can honestly say that if we found ourselves faced with some of the problems or issues that these people have been through that we wouldn’t find ourselves in the same situation; guys and girls my age, older and younger each with a story about why and how they ended up on the streets.

It struck me how importantly I would rely on family and friends if faced with becoming homeless. But then if those social structures are not in place or have been dismantled due to disagreements, breakups, abuse, or whatever then what do you do? Its support structures like this and many other charities that are essential.

For the last ten minutes I really started to feel the cold, until then as stupid as it sounds I didn’t think about where or what people would do after collecting sandwiches, fruit, some curry or drinks. A small gang of the group were talking about the village or the garden, in any other context on a Friday night you could imagine that those are names for pubs and we were all off for a Friday drink together. But I assume these are not pubs but gardens were they would spend the eve. As we were walking back my hands and feet felt chilly, I cannot begin to imagine what nights on the street really entail.

Yes, many seemed to be on something or filled with drink but again how many of us can say that if we were in a similar situation and had to go through the night on the streets that we wouldn’t take to something to numb the pain, not just of the cold but of whatever problems made them take to the streets in the first instance.

In total we probably saw about 30-60 people, the charity said that they are seeing more and more as the recession bites. I know I am simplifying the evening and helping out once isn’t making a huge difference, but back in the flat with a roof and friends around its hard not to get overly sentimental about the simple things in life.

Each week I try and buy the Big Issue. I have a regular lady that I buy from and she explains that it is a way to help her back on her feet, through it she has been able to go to job interviews and is trying to find work. The Big Issue exists to offer homeless and vulnerably housed people the opportunity to earn a legitimate income. Vendors buy for £1 and sell to the public for £2, keeping £1 for themselves:

‘We believe in offering ‘a hand up, not a hand out’, but we also recognise that earning an income is the first step on the journey away from homelessness. The Big Issue Foundation is a registered charity which exists to link vendors with the vital support which will help them address the issues which have led to their homelessness. The Foundation works exclusively with vendors, offering support, advice and referrals’.

If you are interested to know more about their work visit

Please support their vendors.

Kieran I want to clear out phone messages

I started writing things I’d like to have done before I’m 30; Milk a cow, Learn to Eskimo roll a kayak, Have a go on a Unicycle etc But this all seemed a bit self indulgent. So I asked friends and family what they want me to do for them that I can add to the list…Kieran I want (read about it here)

Without a doubt one of the things I wanted to do before I was thirty was to clear out my inbox not just e-mails but also on my phone. I’m overtly sentimental when it comes to keeping messages and e-mails hence the reason my inbox at this moment (9th March 16.20) contains 1537 e-mails (136 unread) and 3016 sent items that I seemingly can’t delete. A good spring clean and purge is something I often attempt but it inevitably leads to a similar hypnosis I get when I start looking at photos – I start daydreaming and suddenly hours have flashed by and I’m no closer to making any progress on the job at hand.

So when I had to take a train trip to Leeds and back in a day (phew wee what an early start and long day that was) for a conference it seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up to clear out my phone.

Apparently I have received 12390 messages but only (!) sent 12176 so first off apologies for the 214 messages that I didn’t reply too, secondly my phone doesn’t tell me in what time scale this wealth of communication was undertaken so I can only assume its since I had the phone. If you have seen it, it is more suitable for a museum and people still laugh when I take it out – I have no clue when I brought this but thirdly that is a lot of messages/time, if I was going to characterise my phone usage I would classify myself as a low usage but that figure has freaked me out. I am still very much of the side of my phone isn’t an extension of my arm, I would rather see you face to face or ring for a chat, Maybe I will reply to a text but No my time keeping for messages isn’t great and yet here I am faced with a reality that I’ve sent 12176 messages.

What my phone might look like

But when I try and purge stuff I often get overtly sentimental and wistful. Part of the problem of not being able to press delete all messages is that I like those messages, they are little prompts, small injections of the past; miniature time machines if you like. I can’t see what I sent back so it makes me remember a time, a place, a situation. So at around six in the morning en-route to Leeds I started writing down the ones I wanted to keep and then pressing delete.

I guess writing them down is no better than keeping them in my phone in the first place but the phone is now clear and no longer greats me with ‘No space for new messages’ every time I try and use it.

The oldest message was at 18.26 on the 27.06.06

He he he thank you very much for my wonderful game, just found it, but only got two words so far. You shouldn’t have but thanks x x x

Some phone hijack and funny ones:

It happened again dude, another wet dream about my mum! I keep doing it and can’t seem to stop. Running out of bedsheets. Any Advice? 20.37 15.01.09

I wish U peace, love and health…Blah Blah Blah F**k that S**t! I wish you lots of sex, alcohol and orgasms and hope you win the f**king lottery. Happy New Year 02.28 01.01.10

Others timely:

Emilia Grace Edwards was born this morning at 8.51, weighing in at 6lb 6oz, and is the most beautiful things we have ever seen. Mum and daughter are doing fine and dad is over the moon! 10.28 03.01.11

Some archived seemingly for no reason:

831849835 09.57 07.05.10

Hey sorry whos this x 19.06 10.02.11

2 words…True legend!!! 09.57 07.05.10

Morning pudding, I had to (banana) split otherwise I would have been in a sticky toffee situation but I don’t want to be trifle I’m back in the gateaux a little bit sorbet after the journey but had a ice scream and more than a raspberry ripple of fun x

07.50 13.07.10

And some characteristic:

Hey K K, snowed in on my first day back at work. We hit the anchor what a blast from the past! Had a fab New Year thanks so much for joining, believe you offered to impregnate my mother which has made her year already! Much Love xxx 18.24 06.01.10

I’m so on fire at the moment it really hurts! But in a good way – Lovin it. Did you get a full house 23.49 23.02.11

Pina Colada 1,2,3 A little bit of Malibu, sounds good to me. Baileys in mugs nearly as lovely as hugs 20.33 19.03.10

Hey how goes it? You seem the type who might enjoy pirate themed festivities. There’s a ceilidh on saturday at the ‘roath park’ on city road. Fancy dress optional…x 16.15 18.10.10

The phone spring clean is the first time I have seen –no messages- it’s a purge I can recommend and I hope to keep control over this. I cleared all message counters on the 17.10 09.03.10 and will see how many I send and receive from then till my birthday writing down the ones that I can’t completely delete into the ether.

Kieran I want you to bake a cake for my charity event

I started writing things I’d like to have done before I’m 30; Milk a cow, Learn to Eskimo roll a kayak, Have a go on a Unicycle etc But this all seemed a bit self indulgent. So I asked friends and family what they want me to do for them that I can add to the Kieran I want list

Kieran I want you to bake a cake for my charity event

As a bit of a useless cook I am quite astounded how successful this cake came out for this Kieran I want you to bake a cake for my charity event and so wanted to share the recipe below. I also made flapjacks but more for selfish reasons as they’re my favourite.

Thanks for the recipe Mum.

Anne from work asked me to add a cake to the selection that she and others bake for a Bake for Bobath event. She could be found covered in flour and eggs for four days previous, furiously baking and as you can see the spread was amazing.

Thankfully the donations were very generous and Anne raised £220 for the Bobath charity. I am pleased to say that all my cake and flapjacks got sold and no reports of food poisoning from them were reported.

The Bake for Bobath event aims to raise funds for Bobath who make a difference to children in Wales who have cerebral palsy which is ‘a permanent disorder of posture and movement resulting from brain damage occurring in the baby or young child’ and that ‘Every 6 hours a child is born who will have cerebral palsy’.

So without further ado the recipe for a Pineapple fruit cake is;

¾ lb Mixed fruit

8oz Self Raising Flour

4oz Margarine

8oz Brown Sugar

1 tspn Mixed Spice

1 tspn bicarbonate of soda

13 ½ oz tin of crushed pineapple

2 beaten eggs

Pinch of Salt

Boil the mixed fruit, margarine, sugar, spice, bicarbonate of soda and pineapple for 3 minutes and let it cool

Then add to it the flour, salt and mix well

Add the eggs and mix well

Bake in an 8” round or square tin for 1 ½ to 2 hours 325f/160˚C/Gas Mark 3


Anne said of the event:

‘Every year I organise a bake sale within my team in the Council. Raising funds makes a difference to children in Wales who have cerebral palsy. When you realise every 6 hours a child is born who will have cerebral palsy you realise it is an important charity to support. This year my team and other colleagues in the building surpassed themselves by gorging themselves on cakes and savouries, and helped to raise £220!’

Kieran I want you to come to the Bingo for my Birthday

Kieran I want...

One of my first replies aside from writing a blog post on my ‘Kieran I want’ idea which you can read about here was ‘Kieran I want you to come to the Bingo for my Birthday’. To recap I started writing things I’d like to have done before I’m 30; Milk a cow, Learn to Eskimo roll a kayak, Have a go on a Unicycle etc But this all seemed a bit self indulgent. So I asked friends and family what they want me to do for them that I can add to the list

Kieran I want…(your suggestion here)

Here are some thoughts on the first

Kieran I want you to come to the Bingo for my Birthday

What ever happened to:

Two little ducks, legs eleven, made in heaven, you and me, Clickety click and all those other old school bingo calls made from a revolving metal wheel. When I used to play bingo with my Nan along the seafront on a typically stormy British day in Bournemouth there was a sense of the ridiculous to the game which made it so appealing.

Not now. Wednesday the 23rd February as part of my list of ‘Kieran I want’ challenges Kat asked that I go with her and friends to Bingo. With images of quaint frivolity I readily agreed.

But what greeted us was an intensity that I’ve never experienced. With casino lighting, no clocks on the walls, slot machines lining the walls and serious expressions normally reserved for a jury we brought our tickets for the 7.30pm game and found seats in the packed out gladiator arena that is the bingo hall.

And wow it’s fast, furious and slightly intimidating. As soon as the caller starts; silence. A silence you wouldn’t even get in church overcame the room. I don’t deny with six cards per game to mark off I lost track on a number of occasions as my mind started to wander. Everyone is eyes down and locked in concentration, and with some big money to be won there is no messing around. A few false calls electrified the room with excitement as a few games had to be re-started and the link up for major money gripped everyone.

In my naivety I half expected it to be A. empty for a Wednesday eve and B. Filled with little old ladies perhaps with a selection of blue and purple hair rinse.

Neither of which it was. It was filled with people of all ages and I mean filled. It was packed out. I don’t deny it was fun but with no talking during games and the need for extreme concentration it brought out the hot sweats in us. One of our group struggled with breathing due to the need for fast thinking; having to hold his breath during games turned him a lovely purple colour throughout. Plus I’m not sure any of us would have even had the temerity to call out Bingo if we had a line or full house as the majority of players seemed to be regulars who were intimidating in their intensity.

But it’s when you catch sight of the few people cutting a lonely figure, sitting on their own that you remember it’s gambling through and through, basically scratch cards in disguise with its own associated addictions. Computerised and efficient, even the ‘Bingo’ call sounded stunted and unenthused. It’s not like on the old sea front days when a win was greeted with cheer and a pat on the back (excuse the nostalgic recollections I’m sure it was as serious back then) but now it’s tut tut, an envious look and cards thrown down that hails the winner.

Next time I think a birthday meet up might revert back to the usual meet for a drink so that we can actually talk. I don’t think we will rush back to the fabled full house.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Student Bucket List

Each week on the on xpress radio show we have been compiling suggestions for our Student Bucket List - what should you do before leaving Cardiff?

Here is the updated list thus far....

Experimental travel around Cardiff by asking bar staff what they drink and where they would drink it then going there and so on and so on

Partake in the Photo marathon

Have photo taken under Brains advert like in Super Furry Animals album

Go to Barry Island and act out some Gavin and Stacey scenes

Take a Roald Dahl book to the Roald Dahl Plas or the Norwegian Church where he was baptized and have your photo taken

Go to Splott Market

Buy a Love Spoon and send to a stranger

Go to the castle dressed as a king or queen and pretend to be royalty

Take the Jaffa cake challenge – eat as many jaffa cakes (or chosen confectionary) on the Bay train – Queen Street to Cardiff Bay lasting no more than 4 minutes.

Go for a Ghost walk in Llandaff

Streak at a sporting event like Varsity

Take a trip on the aqua bus

Have an impromptu rave under the Tempus Fugit sign which - launched on Saturday 22nd January 1994 at the Coal exchange – Time Flies

Stop walking past Wally’s deli and go in

Spend a lazy Saturday buying an antique gift from Jacob’s antique market

Get a spillers t-shirt

Become a food expert at the Riverside/Roath food markets

See a film of someone else’s choosing at Chapter

Row a boat on Roath Park Lake with an umbrella as sunscreen

Walk/cycle/ride to Castel Coch

Go to an international game

Get your stethoscope out with the Aneurin Bevan statue – founder of the NHS

Start or join a flash mob

Be caught doing the walk of shame in fancy dress

Go and watch the Cardiff Devils play, buy a foam hand for the occasion

Shhhh…go to a silent disco

Visit the Manic street preachers plaque at the library bearing the words ‘Libraries gave us power’ – a line from their 1996 hit A Design For Life.

Take a Doctor Who tour and see the who’s who sights

Further suggestions? Please send to


On Friday’s show we talked with Bethan, Cardiff’s newly appointed Nightline coordinator.

Cardiff Nightline is a confidential listening, emotional support and information service for members of Cardiff University, UWIC, RWCMD, and Glamorgan University.

Run by students for students you can ring them about anything from wanting a pizza or taxi number, to feeling lonely, feelings of depression, emotional issues or exam stress.

Nightline is totally confidential, non-judgemental and non-directive. We won't try to solve your problems, but we can help you to do it yourself.

02920 870 555

8pm - 8am term time.

Find out more at:

OR on Nigel the Nightline bear's facebook:

Bethan said ‘Nightline is a great service to help you vent any thoughts, concerns, worries or if you just need some advice. With the forthcoming exams people often use the service if things are getting on top of them and we are here to help. We are run by students for students so we can listen to you; it’s anonymous and confidential and we’ll listen, not lecture. If you are interested in helping with the service we are always looking out for new volunteers across all the universities to keep the service open, training will be given and will begin at the start of the new academic year in October’

Friday, 8 April 2011

Today on the show.....

On today's show we will be talking about the forthcoming BigLittleCity exhibition (see below), talking with a guest from nightline, which is a listening, emotional support, information and supplies service, run by students for students, chatting about some great new ideas for our Student Bucket List and telling you about some fantastic charity events that are coming up this weekend and next week.

So tune in to xpress radio 12-1 to bring more of this beautiful sunshine into your life, through your ears and into your soul.


BigLittleCity will be having its grand opening on Thursday 14 April, 5pm til late.

After that We Are Cardiff will be exhibiting and inviting you to interact until 22 July


BigLittleCity is a celebration of Cardiff and Cardiff’s creative talent for photography, art, film, writing, music and performance, animation, illustration, painting and graffiti. BigLittleCity is about the city and the experience of its residents. The team has been invited to stage a four-month exhibition to help launch Cardiff’s prestigious new people’s museum The Cardiff Story at the Old Library building, The Hayes, in the heart of our city. The BigLittleCity exhibition will showcase everything that is special about the Welsh capital and is set to attract tens of thousands of people.

So where is it?

The Cardiff Story is a new city museum for the capital of Wales, situated in The Hayes (between House of Fraser and St David’s Hall). More here The Cardiff Story

We Are Cardiff is a storytelling project in which the citizens of Cardiff are invited to tell their story of the city.

What’s special about your neighbourhood? What do you love about living in the capital, and what do you hate?

We Are Cardiff will be exhibiting a selection of stories athte BigLittleCity exhibition gathered since We Are Cardiff launched in 2010. They will also be inviting visitors to the exhibition to write their own Cardiff story, which they will be adding to their storyboard throughout the course of the BigLittleCity Exhibition.

Cardiff Students represented in new museum

A new museum dedicated to the history of Cardiff has officially opened in the city; The Cardiff Story Museum shows how much the city has changed over the last 200 years. The Museum focuses on telling Cardiff’s history through the eyes of those who made it – its people. was asked to contribute to this exhibition and highlight some of the positive influences of students on the city. You can explore a number of photos and quotes from the cities student liaison officer and on the digital screens related to the ‘Changing face of Cardiff’ section in the exhibition.

An example of student volunteering

“As well as the financial benefits students bring to a community they volunteer hours of their time using a wealth of skills to help within the community. It’s my job to encourage good relations between new and existing residents, by educating students about social responsibilities and finding ways where we all can contribute to a cleaner, greener, safer, healthier and more optimistic city.” Kieran McCann. Cardiff Council’s Student Liaison Officer.

The new Museum provides an introduction to the city for visitors and a community resource for residents. The Museum is open seven days a week on the site of the iconic Victorian Grade II* listed Old Library. Entry is free.

Museum Manager, Dr. Kathleen Howe, said: ““It’s been a unique opportunity to start a city museum and collection from scratch – a mammoth but very enjoyable task! I know that The Cardiff Story team has found it a real privilege to work with the community groups, individuals and organisations across the city and county, to gather objects, information and stories that will represent Cardiff’s long history for generations to come.”