27 July 2014

A Week in Pictures: Ahoy There!

This week I’ve been out on the road for Mad River visiting four RNLI lifeboat stations across England which are due to receive a display re-fresh to help drive visitor engagement. To spice things up on Country Bumpkin Chic I thought I’d share some of my snaps  courtesy of my iPhone 5 with you from my visit to four beautiful coastal areas: Aldeburgh in Suffolk, Hastings in Sussex, Lizard and Padstow in Cornwall. Obviously half are from the west country, but the rest are truly beautiful too and worth sharing.

Westleton Crown Inn hotel - where Kate & Will stayed the night before their wedding anniversary.
I stayed in the aptly named 'Wren' room... was very Country Bumpkin Chic.
Aldeburgh Lifeboat Station in the sea mist.
Apparently Aldeburgh is the new Chelsea-on-Sea.
Through the port hole.
Big, bright and blue - Hastings Lifeboat Station.
Lizard Lifeboat Station.
Lizard Point.
Panoramic from Lizard Point, the former Lizard Lifeboat Station on the right.
A former Lizard Lifeboat Station built in 1914.
Trevose Head Lighthouse near Padstow.
Trevose Head and lighthouse.
Padstow Lifeboat Station basking in glorious sunshine.
Panoramic from outside Padstow Lifeboat Station.
View from Padstow Lifeboat Station across Polventon Bay
Gorgeous Country Bumpkin café who made me a delicious ice-cream milkshake for the road.

13 July 2014

Interview: Sheelanagig at Behind the Castle Festival 2014

It was festival founder Ian Lyster who gave me the top tip to make sure I watched Sheelanagig perform and according to my Bristolian friend’s they’re mad! In the name of research I Google’d the band name ‘Sheelanagig’ and instantly knew from the search results my interview was going to be a lot of fun!
I had the pleasure in interviewing both fiddler and vocalist Aaron Catlow and double bassist and vocalist Dorian Sutton in the cosy wooden press hut.
As we’re here at the first ever Behind the Castle festival, what was the first ever festival Sheelanagig played at?
Dorian:  Ooh, that will be Bath Fringe Festival about 10 years ago. Was a great festival, although I can’t remember a lot.
So, what festival essentials would you not leave home without?
In unison: Cider!
Any particular cider?
Dorian: Ashton Press.
Anything else you’d make sure you pack?
Aaron: Wellies and instruments!
Any advice for a festival virgin?
Dorian: Turn off your phone and just wander around. Go with the flow, get lost and discover new music. No tweeting!
Any random or bizarre festival experiences?
Aaron: Yes, it’s a little bit naughty though. We were at Fire in the Mountain Festival, in Aberystwyth. Which I must say is one of my favourite festivals, it’s pretty small with about 1,000 people making it lovely and intimate. Anyway, back to the story. There was a late night bar and I decided to sit up on the beam with my pint. What I didn’t expect to see was two people butt naked getting very intimate. Now that was a pretty bizarre moment!
If you could curate your own festival, who would play? Apart from yourselves of course!
Dorian & Aaron: Music wise: The Destroyers, Moulettes, and Nuala Honan. There’d also be a mix of poetry and comedy. Elvis McGonagall is a great stand-up poet. And Peter Clifford is a wicked magician from Bristol.
Where would you host your festival?
Dorian: At the Tobacco Factory in Bedminster, Bristol as you’ve got everything there and don’t need to worry about the weather.
Now for some quick fire festival questions….
  • Camping or glamping? Camping.
  • Wellies or flip flips? Wellies.
  • Where will we find you during the festival: moshing at the front, dancing in the middle, chilling at the back or at the bar? Dancing in the middle.
  • Favourite castle? Dorian: Alnwick Castle in Northumberland. Aaron: The one from Highlander! (Eilean Donan Castle).
And finally, can you sum up Behind the Castle in 3 words? Idyllic. Acoustic. Cider!

Sheelanagig went on to perform on Stage 2 at 20:30, the warm up act before headline act The Levellers. And they certainly did that!

I asked Dorian and Aaron what the audience could expect from their set. They painted a very vivid image with their response.

Madness, lots of dancing, frenzied Balkan music, bad medieval puns. Make sure you have you’re dancing shoes on!

The below photo taken at the end of their set, capturing the madness perfectly.

I’ve never seen so much energy, musicality, and comedy oozing from a male folk band. At times it was almost like watching a Benny Hill sketch show with the flutist Adrian and fiddler Aaron doing comedy kicks up the bum, and tapping their watch whilst one of them had a solo piece.

Sheelanagig most definitely got the festival party going, the audience were properly bouncing and throwing shapes in the tent without a care in the world. You have to admire a band who can control the audience to make them sit on the floor. You’ve got to love a bit of festival craziness and these guys had it in buckets. Hand on heart, these guys are probably one of the best bands I’ve seen live in a very long time and I ‘need’ to see them again just to experience those 40 minutes of pure hedonistic bliss.
Sheelanagig Festival Selfie

Pop over to Sheelanagig’s website to see where you can catch the madness next and why not have a read of my Behind the Castle review here.

06 July 2014

Interview with Andy Jordan

Most people on a Monday night are usually having a quiet night in on the sofa watching Corrie and EastEnders. Not me I was down at The Old Fire Station in Bournemouth getting ready to watch Made in Chelsea star, fashion designer, surfer and now musician Andy Jordan.
This was Andy’s second tour, and I was lucky enough to get some time with the man in question before his performance thanks to his lovely manager Jon Franks from Insanity.
Sat in a back room which could only be described as a bit of a dive. A far cry from some of the luxurious establishments featured in Made in Chelsea, but we weren’t here to talk reality TV, we were here to chat music.
What I wasn’t expecting was the lovely Andy Jordan to be even easier on the eye in the flesh and a pretty top guy. It must be noted for the ladies, that he had beautiful eyes and amazing skin, not bad for someone who’d been touring for nearly three weeks straight. As ever the professional, I was there to talk music and find out more about the Andy Jordan vibe.
Andy, congrats on your 2nd sell out tour - that’s pretty impressive. How does it feel?
Thanks, yeah, it’s really exciting and actually very humbling. I didn’t expect it to do so well, but the guys thought it could sell out and it did which is an amazing.
Can you tell us how you got into music?
I used to play in my room at Uni and taught myself to play guitar. We did a bit of a piss take video sketch on MIC and the guys told me I could sing and it just went from there.
For those who might not be familiar with your music, can you describe your sound?
It’s hard to really box it up at the moment, as it’s still early stages and my music takes on lots of inspiration. However, it’s consistently guitar based. I co-produced my latest EP Geography with Phil Cook.
What influences you to write music?
I’m a big fan of The John Butler Trio. Reggae and country music, as well as Michael Jackson. It’s a bit of everything. But definitely The John Butler Trio has really inspired me.
Tell us a bit about your set tonight and what can we expect?
Well, it starts off with a reggae vibe. We get the slow songs out the way and build up with songs from the EP: Geography, On My Own, Seasons Goodbye and Nobody Else. We’ve also got three covers including a Leona Lewis mash up which should be fun.
Have you had much of a chance to see the towns and cities you visit?
Not really, tour has been 3 weeks and a day long and we’ve been squeezing in lots of radio station interviews. We’ve been pretty lucky staying with friends and family along the way, as we have the most unglamourous motor home.
What’s next music wise, is there an album on the way?
We’ll we’ve got about 6-7 tracks to be recorded and hopefully there will be something out before Christmas whether that’s another EP or album, we’re not sure yet.
You’re a very busy man with your own clothing label JAM (Jordan Andy Mark), the Lyndon Wake surf school in Croyde & of course MIC. Will you get chance to have a rest this summer?
I’m going to be spending the rest of the summer in Croyde, Devon. I’ve got a little shed tucked out the way on a cliff for writing. And of course will have a cider down The Thatch.
Where’s your favourite spot in the West Country?
I love Croyde and very loyal to the area. I’ve spent lots of time in Polzeath growing up and there’s a fantastic secret surf spot in Mawgan Porth.
So, I have one more question, slightly un-music related from one of my Country Bumpkin Chic readers – Out of all of the MIC girls, which one would you most like to date?
Hmm, well, I’m not interested in any, but if I had to choose it would be Louise.
And, will you be returning to the next series of MIC?
I really hope so, I enjoy it.
I’m looking forward to seeing what Stevie does next.
Ha, I’m really looking forward to seeing what Stevie does next!
And one final question, can you sum up the Andy Jordan vibe in 3 words?
Chilled. Soulful. Vibrant.
Andy Jordan Selfie
Andy Jordan Gig Review…
Set List
Andy was supported on tour by his friend George Taylor – who I sadly missed in exchange for a hotdog and cider! He was also supported by boy band Room 94, who I must confess hadn’t heard of, but the crowd had. Now at the age of 32 I’ve seen a lot of bands, been in the heart of many a mosh pit, but nothing prepared me for the crowd’s reaction. They went mental, it was as if 1D had just descended on The Old Fire Station, there was screaming, mobile phone recording throughout and lots of plaques! To be fair, they were pretty good with a slight Emo vibe and they did some good covers of 5 Seconds to Summer, Taylor Swift and the classic Wheatus - Teenage Dirtbag.
Room 94
Thankfully by the time Andy came on stage the audience had calmed down – well a little! He opened up with Whole Lot of Water on guitar, joined by female vocalist Georgie Baugh who really complemented Andy’s tones. The hour set included his own take of Leona Lewis’ Keep Bleeding, Avicii’s Wake Me Up and Alex Clare’s Too Close as well as other tracks from his EP. Interestingly the track On My Own wasn’t about being single, but starting out on his own. This is probably my favourite track, having gone through a recent career change I could really relate to this, and I’m sure there’s a lot of other people who did too. There was a great mash up to finish with the Outhere Brothers – Boom Boom Boom into the John Newman – Love Me Again.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Andy Jordan’s gig, I’m a fan of MIC, had listened to the EP and love the acoustic style, so was keen to see what he had to offer. Up on stage it’s not hard to see why his second tour has been a complete sell out. It’s not just about the music, and playing new tracks to a crowd, he’s got the entertainment side down to a tee and really interacts with the audience giving that little bit extra. Definitely one to watch for the future and I look forward to seeing what he releases later this year.
To keep up to date with all the latest Andy Jordan news, here's all the key social bits and bobs you need to know:

05 July 2014

Wedding Gift Inspiration from Mollie & Fred

You’ve got the frock, dancing shoes and sparkly jewellery, you’re almost set to go for the wedding of the year. There’s just one snag, what are you going to give the happiest couple you know? They have a wedding list, but you’d prefer to give them something a little bit different and special. Or even worse, they don’t have a wedding list at all!
Well, panic not. Country Bumpkin Chic has teamed up with MOLLIE & FRED to bring you some top wedding gift ideas and an exclusive MOLLIE & FRED 15% discount during July for readers, see below for all the details.
MOLLIE & FRED is a gorgeous online boutique specialising in stylish homeware and design-led gifts from brand favourites Gisela Graham, Lisbeth Dahl, Sass & Belle to Cath Kidston based in sunny Weymouth, Dorset.
They have a really handy section on the website called Gift Ideas where you can search by occasion, whether you’re looking for help selecting a present with a twist for an Anniversary, New Baby, Birthday or in this case a Wedding Gift. MOLLIE & FRED are on hand to help!
We caught up with Owner and Buying Director Natasha Hicks who shared her top 5 Wedding Gifts this summer from MOLLIE & FRED.

This is a fabulous idea for a romantic couple to show off their favourite pictures from the big day. Perfect for hanging on the wall in any room in the house. Just make sure they include a photo of you in your posh frock!

2. Enchanté - Gabrielle Afternoon Tea Set by Maxwell & Williams - £44.99

A stunning gift for a sociable couple to serve up afternoon tea in style to their visitors. Designed by Claire Chilcott for the delightful Enchanté brand, you won’t want to part with it.

3. Lisbeth Dahl - Crystal Glass Bonbon Jar - £29.99
A beautiful and unique glass jar with an elegant stem from Danish brand Lisbeth Dahl, this is an ideal gift for storing sweets in the kitchen or cotton wool in the bathroom. Why not fill up the jar with some retro Love Hearts to add a romantic touch for the blissful couple.

4. The Bright Side - Girl Meets Boy - Boy Makes Tea Mug Set - £18.99
These super cute Girl Meets Boy – Boy Makes Tea Mug set from the comedy genius brand The Bright Side is spot on for couples with a good sense of humour. They even come in a gift box with the funky Bright Side typeface, so no need to get stressed out over wrapping awkward shaped presents.

5. East of India - Wedding Square Keepsake Box - £21.99

This gorgeous Wedding Keepsake Box from East of India is a fabulous idea for storing those treasured mementos and photographs from the big day. Why not pop in a congratulatory note for the couple to read once they’ve recovered from their big day.

*** Exclusive July MOLLIE & FRED 15% discount on
Wedding Gifts for Country Bumpkin Chic readers***

All you need to do is shop from the Wedding Gifts section and pop in the following code at the checkout to receive your exclusive 15% discount:


Plus, did you know that if you live close to the MOLLIE & FRED HQ in sunny Weymouth, Dorset you can pick up your order from the HQ and benefit from free delivery? Simply select ‘Collect from M&F HQ – Weymouth’ at the checkout. Plus, you’ll get to meet the lovely team at MOLLIE & FRED and see all the gorgeous product stocked online. Win, win!

For all the MOLLIE & FRED social bits & bobs you need to know - click on one of the links and add, like, follow, bookmark etc.