Thursday, 30 May 2013

Copenhagen Here We Come!


Well I really feel like the original 'Travelling Man' at the moment as I'm busy packing for our much anticipated trip to Copenhagen and this weekend's Copenhagen Comics festival!

The show is the revamped and re-named show that we've been proud to be part of since its inception in 2004 - gosh is it really that long ago - and we've attended every one since. The shows normally a bi-annual one but slipped its slot from last year so its now 3 years since our last trip there and we're getting quite excited.

Yes it really was 2004 - The original Accent DK Team, Colin, Dave & Chris say Skal!
We've had many, many special moments at these shows and have met a great bunch of folk there over the years, some of whom we see elsewhere on our travels in the UK or at MoCCA in the US, but the majority we only see in Denmark so its always good fun catching up and seeing more of the sights - providing Soren our tour guide is available!

The Rio Bravo - one of Soren's cultural recommendations in 2010!

The core of this year's committee have been involved with the show since its start and it promises to be a good one with a great mix of global guests, featuring the UK's own Charlie Adlard, Melinda Gebbie and Frazer Irving plus from the US, Brian Azzarello, Jaime Hernandez and Jill Thompson and lots more European guests- see the lists here and here!

Right, still a bit of packing to do so I'll leave you with a few fun vintage snaps - Skal!

A toast with Bryan Talbot at the inaugrual 2004 show
A youthful Leah Moore & John Reppion guest star at the AUK table 2006
Colin and Sussi Bech at the sunny 2008 show!
The Accent UK / DK 2008 Team up!
Heads down at the AUK 2010 table as Col n Dave let Pedro Lopez,
Fanny Bystedt and Matrtin Flink do all the hard work!
Dave and Scott at the 2010 show
Copenhagen's famous little mermaid in 2010
(Really, the original was on tour in Tokyo!)

Monday, 27 May 2013

Moments in London!

Just back from a few enjoyable days in London and for once the trip had nothing to do with comics - apart from catching up with those fine folks at Orbital comics and re-stocking them with our latest titles that is - no this trip was a pure 'touristy' one where me and Mrs M caught up with a few attractions.

Bowie in Station to Station 'Archer' pose as seen at V&A
(picture by John Robert Rowlands 1976)
The main one, for me anyway, was the much heralded David Bowie exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum - the V&A - which I'd really looked forward to. Already well into its extended run, the show is still selling out and we'd been unable to pre-book on t'internet, so took our chances with an early start and after a 45 minute wait had our tickets for a timed slot an hour or so later. This wasn't a problem as the V&A is simply a wonderful place to hang out in and the time flew past.

The 'Bowie Is..' exhibition itself was everything and more that a fan like me could have expected and is certainly the most innovative and enjoyable museum show I've ever been to! You're given a clever audio guide which triggers a specific music track as you walk around the gallery, providing your own personal soundtrack to the exhibits. This works really well to keep you entertained while you patiently queue to see the treats on display.

Bowie self-portrait
(David Bowie archive @ V&A Images)
Among the many costumes are videos displays, props, movie clips and, best of all, handwritten lyrics and sketches by the man himself illustrating his imaginative ideas. His artwork is really quite expressive while his handwriting is usually neat and ordered, although seeing casual lyric changes to favourites such as Five Years and Oh You Pretty Things.

Best of all is towards the end where these giant cinema screens show the same song clips from different tours, encouraging you to sit or stand and just drink in the spectacle and like most other people, you can't help but move, dance or sing, just as you would at a concert!

It took us almost 3 hours to go round it all which itself was amazing the time just flew by, thank you V&A for a fantastic voyage!!

Inside The Chapel at The Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich
We also saw a few London sites and attractions which, surprisingly, we'd not been to before, including Westminster Abbey, The Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich and revisits to The National Gallery and The British Museum. All good stuff with many fine moments which would fill several blog posts, but of special mention must be seeing a certain David Livingstone's memorial plaque at the Abbey - no photos allowed of course - and sadly the wreath recently laid on his bi-centenary by Joyce Banda, the President of Malawi was nowhere to be seen, but it was still a very special and reflective moment being there.

President of Malawi lays wreath
(photo from Westminster Abbey website)

It really was a perfect London trip despite the patchy weather, as well as the many sights, (and Bowie!) we caught two of the most popular and famous West Ends shows, The evergreen Agatha Christie's Mousetrap (Performance #25,211!) and The mighty Phantom of The Opera (over 11,000 performances and counting!). Both were great fun, the Mousetrap did indeed keep us guessing - although I did correctly name the culprit during the interval (along with 2 other strong candidates!) and The Phantom is the crowd pleasing beast you expect, a true spectacle.

Agatha Christie's new Mrs Marple? 
So we were very lucky with many highlights this trip and a resolve to return again and perhaps better explore Greenwich that we had a little taste for. For any dithering Bowie fans out there though who haven't yet been to the V&A exhibition, just go, go, go you'll be missing out if you don't make the effort to see this unique and 'best-selling' show!   

Looking for Bowie?

Monday, 13 May 2013

Manchester Moments - Champ20ns!

Fergie Waves Goodbye 13th May 2013
Well today Scott and I finally had a chance to add our voices to the chorus of congratulations and farewells to Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United, following his announced retirement and the team's clinching of a record 20th League title!

Fergie of course has been in charge at Old Trafford since November 1986 after enjoying unprecedented success with Aberdeen, my local team. I followed shortly afterwards, moving south in March 1987 at a time when United had the likes of ex-Dons players Gordon Strachan and Jim Leighton so of course there was only one English team I could possibly support!

Skipper Willie Miller with Aberdeen's 1983 Cup Winners Cup triumph!
With a young family and living in North Wales, I was a committed armchair fan although we had enjoyed the Old Trafford stadium tour a couple of times. It was though shortly after moving to the Greater Manchester area that, in November 1997 with the boys, we attended our very first match, a Champions League game against the mighty F C Kosice of Slovakia, with the likes of Schmeichel, Pallister, the Nevilles, Beckham, Giggs, Scholes and Sheringham.

The match finished 3 nil to United and we were away! We've been lucky to have gone to a few matches most seasons since and have never seen United beaten! Highlights include seeing the thrilling 3-3 Champions League draw with Barcelona, attending matches from each of the 1999 treble winning competitions, Ronaldo doing his stuff and of course Fergie giving us a wave!

There's many, many more memories of course but with Fergie's retirement we were keen to attend tonight's victory parade and salute both the team and arguably the greatest manager this country has ever seen. As you'll see in the pictures, Old Tafford and the parade route was totally packed, the atmosphere electric and despite the threat of rain in the air, this was the place to be. Scott and I had attended the treble parade in 1999 which was very special but this was another level altogether.

So Congratulations United and Thank you Sir Alex for all the wonderful memories!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Moments in Cheshire!

The truly picturesque Little Moreton Hall 6 May 2013
Well its been a bank holiday here in the UK and rather oddly the weather was great which doesn't happen very often so Mrs M and I embarked on a wee trip into darkest South Cheshire using our National Trust membership to visit Little Moreton Hall and nearby Biddulph Grange Gardens. A great little 'double-header', neither of which we'd been to before so happy to do a little exploring.

Little Moreton Hall is described as probably the best known example of timber-framed architecture in England which you can well believe, but when you seen its rickety higgledy piggledy tumbling frame for real you really wonder how on earth it can still be standing, I mean just look at it!

500 years old and still standing!!
Its earliest part dates from 1504 and its last extension around 1610, so depending where you are its between 400 and 500 years old which is just staggering - remember Columbus only discovered America in 1492 ! My imagination runs away from me when you think of everything this house and its occupants witnessed over that time, amazing. In fact the house was (I believe - not read all the guide yet!) almost singly occupied by the Moreton family over that period, until left to a second cousin in 1913 who lived there with his family until leaving it to the National Trust in 1937.
Little Moreton's 'Knot' Garden
The garden, grounds and house are not huge but interesting enough for half a day or so with a wonderful tea room and cake selection - so good we went back a second time after visiting Biddulph Grange - and the free tours are recommended as an informal informative way to hear about the family and the hall's history.

Bidduplh Grange
I can't tell you quite so much about Biddulph Grange, not being that knowledgeable about gardens and flowers etc, but its only a 15 minute drive from Little Moreton and houses a wonderful eclectic collection of plants, trees, flowers and shrubs from around the world.

It belonged to a James Bateman, a renowned Victorian horticulturist who over a 20+ year period developed the grounds to house a remarkable collection of landscaped gardens in themed global areas including China, Italy, Egypt, Woodland walk and even a Scottish Glen with many of them tucked away so part of the joy is discovering them for yourself as you walk around.

I couldn't help thinking it was all like the setting of an Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple adventure, just waiting to discover a body in the summer cottage or some secluded lawn!

Yes the body was found in the pyramid garden!
He Knows You Know!

The gardens are in the grounds of the large imposing Victorian mansion but with the exception of the obligatory tea room and gift shop this didn't appear to be open which was fine as it was such a nice day weather-wise. 
Daffys in the woodland walk
I don't think we quite saw it all as there's so many interesting little sidetracks and paths taking you away and doubling round but we had a very enjoyable afternoon walking around, with the site being large enough to absorb the busy bank holiday crowds.

We're very fortunate to have so many varied properties close by and maintained by the National Trust with these both recommended for a visit but Little Moreton's tearooms appealed more!

Big Urn!