Back in August 2003 I attended The Leeds Festival, the equivalent of The Reading Festival but held in northern England and easier to get tickets to. Unfortunately, the evening we were supposed to drive to York to stay with our friends before the festival began, I suffered an eye injury.
Although the eye doctor had reluctantly agreed that I could attend the event, her conditions were that I shouldn’t drink or be physically active. Drinking and bouncing around are two of the numerous things that make music festivals fun, so although I put a brave face on things it wasn’t the experience I hoped for.
On Friday we saw a few good bands and paid fleeting attention to the one album wonders making up the numbers. All the while I felt like I was there in a somewhat observational role, even for bands I was a fan of, like Sum 41 and Good Charlotte. (Don’t judge, this was the early naughties!)
The next day followed a similar pattern with a long wait for the headliners, Linkin Park. Then, as dusk approached, Placebo took to the stage and just absolutely blew me away. I didn’t have to be drunk or jump around to enjoy their performance. It was more than enough to lean back, fill my ears with the music and let it all soak in.
As the sun set it was suggested we pretend it was daybreak instead, while the band played their anthem; Pure Morning. It was a feast for the senses and an absolutely magical moment that made me a fan for evermore.
On an afternoon in early 0ctober 2016, I was having lunch with my friends, George and Adrian when we came up with the idea of travelling to see one of cycling’s spring classics. We usually enjoy a ride together to coincide with the classics, the gather in the pub to watch the race, but venturing to mainland Europe to see one in person was new territory for me. By the time we’d emptied our plates the idea was gathering steam, so I booked a table in Blackfriars for that evening where we could have a planning session.
Later, gathered around a table by the window, we checked our calendars and quickly decided upon travelling to Maastricht for the weekend of the Amstel Gold Race. As quickly as the beers flowed that night, Operation: Amstel took shape.
I took an unlikely organisational role, setting up the Trello board and filling it with to-do’s and ideas as they came to mind, George booked the appropriate flights, and Adrian found us quality bars to visit and a place to stay on Air B&B in the days that followed.
In fact, the whole thing came together so quickly and was so far ahead of us that, over the winter, it was easy to forget that we’d be kicking off the spring in style.
Earlier, whilst playing Elite: Dangerous, I got to enjoy one of the most surreal gaming experiences I’ve ever had, courtesy of a Red Cross chugger knocking the door in the early stages of an epic 28 jump journey.
When I got back to the controls, I activated the frame shift drive countdown to jump to the next system on the route and just as it engaged I looked at the fuel gauge in horror. I was supposed to stop in the current system to refuel and just had gone one more jump than I meant to.
As soon as I completed the jump I dropped out of super cruise and scanned the system. Yep, it was an empty, unpopulated system and I was kind of boned.