31 March 2017



Once in a Blue Moon, you'll get a Supermoon! An event that in 2017 will only take place in April, May, June and December. On the face of it, relatively rare. A couple of weeks back I witnessed a Supermoon of a different kind, one that will hopefully be less rare than the natural event, and become a part of your life as much as it has mine. Before we come to the main subject of this post, let's tidy up exactly what a supermoon is. 

The term 'Supermoon' was coined by astrologer Richard Nolle and is named as such when a new or full moon occurs and it's at its nearest orbit to the Earth. Did you know that these supermoons can cause some real physical effects? For example higher than usual tides. So is the Supermoon we're discussing here a perfect metaphor? Can this Supermoon cause a tidal wave of musical emotion? Quite possibly! 

So please, for our new post lets welcome - Supermoon the duo.

Picture courtesy of Oliver Cross Photography

At the Blue Moon

Before we get into the logistics let's firstly go back to a chilly Saturday night in The Blue Moon, Cambridge. The venue where Supermoon plied their musical chops and introduced themselves into the musical landscape, officially.  

The stage was set, neon lights adding to the ambience. The room filled with guests, expectant at the launch night of their first EP. Cambridge may have never seen two moons collide in such a way before! Or will again for that matter. 

With their vocal harmonies mixing beautifully among a set list of their own self-penned numbers and cover versions, the evening was a delightful musical mash-up of genres. Guitars and violin, with added beatbox sounds and double bass. Midway through there was even time for a bit of a folk hoedown! It's not often you'll see that and then a Guns & Roses cover on the same bill! It was a splendid event, a great way to launch their EP. 

Who is Supermoon?

Griff and Hannah make up the group. The project originally started out as a solo effort for Griff but clearly, Hannah's talents caught Griff's eyes and the project soon changed course. The duo is one-third of Said the Maiden, that's (Hannah Elizabeth) and one part of Freds House, that would be (Griff Jameson), of Freds House. With Hannah's folk background and Griff's quirky mix of pop and rock, it's a collaboration that's certainly an interesting mix. 

Picture courtesy of Oliver Cross Photography

Hit that Perfect Beat!

Their first batch of songs have just been released as an EP, so to give you a little taster, here's their first video (below). The other numbers follow in a similar laid back, acoustic way. It's simple but pleasantly sweet. Don't believe me?  Well, if you would like to purchase their EP you can go to Freds House website fredshousemusic.co.uk. and purchase it yourself. I'm sure they would like that very much!

Supporting Fresh Talent 

As you know, there is an abundance of fresh musical talent out there to discover. Whether it's from the folk world or the pop sphere. It's collaborations like this that help to show the depth of this talent. People are trying to make thoughtful music that isn't just bland pop music. That should be celebrated, shouldn't it? I do hope you will take a look, and hopefully, you'll carry on discovering other talented musicians and bands. If so then please tell me. Oh, and if you want to give Griff and Hannah a kind message, then you can always let them know on their facebook page! Supermoonduo

Thanks as always and keep a lookout for another collaboration group very soon. 

20 March 2017

travel trumps guide to st albans

Travel Trumps: City Series

Welcome to the first in the City Series of Travel Trumps. To begin we've visited the closest city to our home; St Albans. Set in the commuter belt land of Southern Hertfordshire, the city is only 30 minutes outside London but is barely mentioned in travel guides or for that matter visited. 

That's a shame, as this is a city which offers delights on every street corner. The UK's oldest pub, check. A majestic Cathedral, check. Restaurants, bars, cafes, check. Beautiful parks, Roman relics, check. So the next time you're heading South or visiting our shores, you'd be silly not to add a day trip or stopover here. 

Would you like to be featured?

Are you a restaurant, visitor attraction, cafe or any travel related business? Would you like to be Travel Trumped? If so why not get in touch. As we develop this series we will head into different areas, not just destinations. That's the idea! 

Many thanks as always for your support. 

10 March 2017

where eagles soar

Where Eagles Soar

They soar on the thermals, wings spread wide, gliding effortlessly across the cloudy sky. Sometimes alone, other times accompanied by a friend or two. Often with their heads pointed towards the ground below, searching out their prey, or in this birds case, scraps of dead animals or a beetle or chick. You might spot them battling with a crow or other large bird. Fighting duels in the sky. The more you observe, the more you admire these majestic creatures of the sky. 

I'm talking about the Red Kite, a member of the Accipitridae family, which count eagles and buzzards among their raptor friends. A bird that is now as familiar to the Chiltern skyline as an aircraft departing from Heathrow or Luton Airport! Ok, not quite as common as that, but it won't take you long to spot one.  

The Red Kite reintroduction project in the Chilterns has been a conservation success story, so much so that it's spreading its wings (pardon the pun) across greater areas of Britain. A common site for birdwatchers up and down the land. 

red kites


The story behind the Red Kites reintroduction is well worth mentioning here. The website www.redkites.net will give you a comprehensive guide, but to summarise. 

Between 1989 - 1994, the Red Kite was re-introduced, having originally been almost made extinct by persecution. Apart from a small area in Wales. I can attest to that because I was always looking to the sky in my youth; planespotting and cannot ever recall seeing them. The reintroduced birds were bought over from Spain, and released into the Chiltern landscape. This got my warped brain thinking, 'I wonder how long it took them to get down with the 'English-lingo!?' Them being of Spanish origin. Picture the scene.

A Blackbird to a Red Kite - "Welcome dear chap, spiffing day for flying isn't it?

The Red Kite to the Blackbird - "Q?

They must have settled well since there has been a population explosion. Recent estimates suggest there could be at least a 1000 breeding pairs, they don't know for sure because there are so many of them! After breeding (which is around this time of year) chicks are then sent out to other parts of the UK to help bolster the countrywide population. I will mention here that they always leave at least one chick in the nest. Would be a bit unfair to take them all away. 

Again my warped mind got thinking. I wonder what those chicks think about being moved to somewhere like; Grimsby? 

It's an incredible success story, one to cheer and cherish. I wanted to observe them closer, more observantly than just a fleeting glance. So that's exactly what I did. Observe them. 

the chilterns

Searching for the Red Kites

I'm no Bill Oddie or Chris Packham (bird watching and wildlife experts if the names don't sound familiar.) And I'm not very good at capturing them on a camera (see above). In fact, although I enjoy watching birds, I'm terrible with remembering which species is which, other than say a robin, blackbird and perhaps a bluetit and sparrow! 

I'm the same with cloud spotting! I'm member 25,400 and something of the Cloud Appreciation Society. Lifetime member I may add.  Watching clouds scud across the sky, perhaps warning of impending rain is one of our life's great pleasures, you should try it! I've studied the books, tried to remember the formations, but no! Always, rather frustratingly having to refer back to them to be 100% sure. Maybe I'm just stupid? Observing and recognizing a Red Kite though is not difficult. Thankfully! Here are the facts from the Chilterns AONB site: 

60 - 65 cm long
Wingspan is 175 -195cm
Colour - head: white/grey, body: russet

You don't need any specialist equipment, nor visit a wildlife sanctuary or other such place. Arrive anywhere in The Chilterns, look up and you'll spot one quick enough. Really, it's that easy. It doesn't matter if it's in a town or the backend of some remote village, you'll see them. You could watch for hours as they go about their daily business. 

Feeling Special

In some ways it makes you feel quite special knowing these large birds are flying across your patch of sky. 'Look we've got eagles too!' you can proclaim if someone tells you they have Vultures or Golden Eagles in their neighbourhood. Which I'm sure people do on many occasions! 

So if you come to our fair islands, then make sure to look to the skies, because the eagles are soaring! 


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