home of andy's occasional rambling

email AndyHello and welcome to Andy and Diane's bit of the Internet where - if you can be bothered - you can find out a little more about the stuff we're up to, the menagerie we live with and the things that we and our chums in Frisby-on-the-Wreake get up to. In the scheme of things it's not necessarily the most important website on the planet; however, we quite like it... and hopefully you will too.

so what's been going on recently?

Rebecca and Megan Lovell - great musicians and rather noce poeple too6th August 2013 - and we decide to be wild and crazy rebels hell-bent on anarchy (aka gig-going on a school night). And so the shiny new Nissan Juke sallies forth to the big city and the rare delights of Calhoun, Georgia's finest exports Larkin Poe. The band comprises Rebecca & Megan Lovell, Chad Melton on drums and Robby Handley on bass and collectively they make a fairly damned impressive noise, which made for a totally brilliant evening. With support coming in the shape of Paul McClure (a resident of Rutland and therefore a near-neighbour, it transpires) this was one of our better plans for a Tuesday evening and hopefully one that we'll be repeating in the very near future. The Musician is the way forward!

Temperatures in the high thirties and humidity in the low eighties percentile. Just what you need on a business trip.23rd July 2013 - this message mainly as a post-script to the WPC 2013 story below. Note to self: hide all debit & credit cards, cheque books and any other form of mechanism for your partner to effect financial transactions in your absence. Diane decided that I was having far too much fun in the USA and so cheered herself up by buying a new car. Surely a DVD and a takeaway would have sufficed?

Temperatures in the high thirties and humidity in the low eighties percentile. Just what you need on a business trip. Still - at least there's Lenny Kravitz!13th July 2013 - WPC 2013: Houston. Time once again to dive into a week of furious racing back and forth into endless briefing sessions and business meetings, liberally interspersed with dinners, drinks and parties of all shape and size. A busy but rewarding time in what has to be said is hardly the greatest city on earth but which nevertheless afforded a few chuckles - Lenny Kravitz as the entertainment at the convention party being the highlight. It's a filthy job but someone has to do it.

Yet another blissfully happy week at No. 7, Prawle Point.7th June 2013 - just back from holidays in Devon and once again we have our chums Georgie and Mark to thank for the loan of their beautiful cottage by the sea - cheers chaps! As always, there's very little of note to report - these trips are always about sloth and gluttony for us; however, there was one bit of drama during the week, when a walker sadly took a nose-dive off nearby cliffs. Luckily not a fatal conclusion to the story but there was rescue work to be done in retrieving said party, plus the added spectacle of a couple of helicopters zooming around the place just to make our idle nosiness that little more exciting (as you can see from the snap on the left). More photos of our week [here].

Twenty years to the day and we've not changed a bit.29th May 2013 - They say that time flies when you're having fun and this couldn't be more clearly demonstrated than by the fact that it is precisely twenty years to the day since Diane took the (some would say rather dubious) step of becoming the current Mrs Clayton-Smith. On the one hand it seems like no time at all has passed since the big day but on the other we've experienced so much together in that time. Anyhoo, I guess the important point is that it's all been splendid so far and so long may it continue!

Say hello to the girls of the 2013 batch18th May 2013 - Contrary to popular opinion we haven't emigrated... it has just been a painfully long, cold and generally miserable winter/spring with very little activity of any real note to report from the Clayton-Smith household. However, today marks a potential turning point, with the arrival of the 2013 batch of weaners. As you can see from the picture to your left, spots are very much this season's look, with four Oxford Sandy & Black / Gloucester Old Spot crossed gilts now bumbling merrily about the pig-pen. Here comes another summer of pig-based entertainment - hopefully with less rain this year.

Merry Christmas to all - particularly us!25th December 2012 - Merry Christmas everyone! Despite a less than brilliant run-up to the event, the yuletide is nevertheless truly upon us and so it's time to kick-back and relax for a couple of days. This year, the plan is to go for a pretty low-key celebration with the accent on rest, relaxation and settling down in front of the fire with a bottle of half-decent plonk and a tin of Quality Street - not everyone's cup of tea but it's working well for la famille Clayton-Smith, as you can see in the image to your left!

RIP, Daisy-cat. A splendid animal to have known22nd December 2012 - and a less than fantastic start to the yuletide season, as a key member of the waterlane collective throws a seven. After managing a rather amazing innings which spanned twenty years, we're sad to report that Daisy-cat passed away today. This said, her departure was a peaceful one, surrounded by those that loved her most, which is a fine way in which to shuffle off this mortal coil. A very small cat but one who will nevertheless leave a very large hole indeed in the lives of those that were lucky enough to have spent the last two decades in her company.

Oliver and Gordon Giltrap getting down with their bas selves12th October 2012 - and pleasant surprises abound in the Clayton-Smith household as our old chum Oliver Wakeman calls to let us know that he's playing in our neck of the woods. Next thing you know we're on our way to Grantham, where we're delighted to find tickets and backstage passes awaiting our arrival. Snugly ensconced with a glass or two of half-decent plonk, it's time to enjoy an evening of top musical entertainment from Ol and his pal Gordon Giltrap, who are touring with an instrumental version of their new collaborative project "Ravens & Lullabies" (due out in March 2013, check Ol's website [here] for further details) . All in all, a brilliant night spent in the enjoyment of work from two truly talented musicians - ho hum, it makes one feel like a totally useless lump by comparison. Ah well, never mind - the point is that it was a real treat which came entirely from out of the blue... and Oliver, you're a splendid fellow for thinking of us - many thanks, once again!

People-watching in the Plaza del Popolo8th October 2012 - Arrivederci Roma! Home from a few days in The Eternal City. Well, in point of fact, a refugee camp out by Fiumicino airport actually, where Microsoft (for reasons unknown) held its annual "industry solutions university". Good to catch-up with some familiar faces and, despite being out in the boondocks, several trips to the city centre were made and a couple of rather lovely meals polished-off in good company. Extremely nice to leave behind a rather cold and rainy Blighty to spend a couple of days soaking-up the rays and a spot of high twenties/low thirties weather. It's a filthy job but somebody has to do it. If you're in town try the rather lovely Ristorante Matricianella and slightly swankier Enoteca Ferrara - both well worth a visit.

Frank looking forward to going home8th September 2012 - and finally, summer decides to put in an appearance for 48 hours and so it's time to pack everything bar the kitchen sink into the back of the (almost as trusty as the Trooper) Terracan and sally-forth once again to New Hall Farm for a spot of weekend R&R. This was highly likely to be the only camping trip of the year and even then it was only a short-haul affair; however, it was nonetheless a belter, with glorious sunshine and pleasant surroundings in which to sit about reading, consuming sundry tucker and quaffing copious amounts of G&T, as you can see [here]. All this and a few gentle trots with the hounds made for what turned out to be a pretty damned splendid weekend.

Boar in full straw camouflage25th July 2012 - one of the major projects of 2012 has been the extension of allotment gardening to include the subtle craft of pig-husbandry. Since April, the Frisby Allotment Association has played host to three new residents, in the shape of a boar and two gilts of the Pedigree Welsh variety. So typical that the weather has decided to be as difficult as possible since then, and so the poor little blighters have basically been wearing water-wings just about since day one. This was the case up until a few days ago, anyway - since which time it's been as hot as hell, and so the pigs have gone from nearly drowning in mud on a daily basis to suddenly discovering the delights of sunburn (they're Welsh remember... not geared-up for sunshine). This has required much attention and copious daubings with factor 50 sun-tan lotion; however, it hasn't stopped them being generally contended fellows, which has been directly reflected in the ample girth they have attained in recent weeks. As we end the first cycle of pig-keeping thoughts turn to sausages, chops, joints and acres of crispy crackling... could there be a better way of spending a rainy summer than in generating a long winter's worth of fine grub? Take a look at a few snaps taken over the past few months [here].

Toronto skyline at sunset14th July 2012 - sees the return of a certain well-upholstered chap from yet another far-flung corner of the empire - this time Toronto, where those fine folks at Microsoft have been holding their annual global partner gathering. A baking-hot week, with temperatures in the high thirties, and a busy week too, with long days spent traipsing around the combined and cavernous halls of the Toronto Metro and Air Canada Centres, pressing the flesh and catching-up with old chums. Nevertheless, there were also some splendid leisure pursuits to be had too, as can be witnessed [here], so it was far from being all work and no play. Funny old town Toronto and somewhat quirky inhabitants too... all with a penchant for ending every single comment they make with the word "eh?", which is slightly unnerving. Still, a friendly bunch, and so a good time was had by all.

Mea culpa!1st July 2012 - more than time to get back into the habit of updating this website. The lure of the (much inferior and yet so childishly-simply-to-maintain) Facebook account has led to a rather prolonged demise of any kind of activity here at waterlane.com - a shocking abandonment of duty that ends right now! This said, it'd be an Herculean (and, to be completely candid, rather odious) task to "back-fill" all the various stuff that's been happening to Clan Clayton-Smith in recent months, so let's draw a veil over this whole shameful lapse and carry on as if nothing had happened. That alright with you? Yes? Splendid!

Roses flowering in November at Cwm-y-Gerwyn7th November 2011 - sees the trusty Trooper wend it's weary way homewards from yet another blissfully relaxing few days in Radnorshire. This said, the trip wasn't entirely without its fraught moments, as the recent ill-health of veteran waterlane squad member Daisy-cat (19.5 yrs old and counting) led to the unscheduled inclusion of moggies in the away party. Safe to say that dogs travel a damned sight more easily than cats do and this will be the first and last time that they're included in a visit to Wales. Nevertheless, wailing, spitting, scratching, widdling and crapping aside it was still a top few days, spent doing absolutely nothing of an even vaguely productive nature. A great warm-up session for the forthcoming yuletide visitation which we have planned - Christmas this year is going to be totally great!

Prawle Point24th September 2011 - and with the bucket & spades packed it's off to sunny Devon for a few days R&R at the splendidly isolated No. 7, Prawle Point. As is usual with vacationing Clayton-Smiths the gameplan is one based ostensibly upon sloth, with only the most gentle of exercise derived from frequent walks down to Langerstone Point where Charlie, Bert and Frank eagerly practice the doggy paddle. Other than that, and a very brief sortie to Kingsbridge for refuelling (i.e. gin, tonic, lemons, etc.), the only other place that received a visit from Clan C-S was The Pigs Nose Inn - possibly one of the finest drinking establishments in England and always a mandatory part of any trip to this part of the world. And talking of top boozers, a gentle trundle home took in the delights of Exeter and the magnificent Double Locks Hotel - an old favourite that has somehow managed to retain all of its charm and appeal, despite a gap of well over a decade since the last visit. A hearty lunch on the banks of the Exeter Ship Canal on a blazing hot September afternoon provides the perfect end to an absolutely lovely week - many thanks to Mark and Georgie for the use of their gorgeous holiday cottage! Holiday snaps a-plenty [here].

Diane and the boys paddling25th August 2011 - sees an impromptu day's holiday and a mad dash to the seaside for a break from the monotony of the standard working week. Despite travelling through some fairly grim weather, the team finally arrives at Brancaster beach to find the sun shining and the azure blue sea sparkling - a far better plan for the day than sitting at a desk typing away and chatting with people that really can't be arsed to listen to what you have to say. So - up go the windbreaks and folding chairs, and out comes a rather substantial picnic, accompanied by a half-decent drop of Saint-Émilion... and suddenly, all's very much right with the world. A healthy work ethic is clearly not a bad thing to possess, however, knowing when to kick-back and enjoy an unsheduled day on the beach is very definitely the way forward, as any fule kno.

Wear your Fristock crew tee-shirt with pride!9th July 2011 - after many months of planning, it's time to unleash Fristock 2011 onto an unsuspecting world. Actually, that's entirely untrue - there has, in fact, been quite a lot of anticipation building around this year's event as, despite almost doubling in size, the thing completely sold-out almost two months in advance. And so, somewhat earlier than scheduled (primarily due to a massive line of Fristock-bound traffic blocking one end of the village) the gates are thrown open and what appears to be approximately nine-tenths of the East Midlands pours in to grab themselves a spot in which to set-up a tent, gazebo, picnic blanket or whatever other sundry accoutrements seem necessary for a musical day out in the country. Without doubt, this was by far the toughest gig we've organised thus far - both in terms of the planning and execution. However; despite the entire team being completely exhausted by close of play, it would seem that for the most part Fristock 2011 was extremely well received and so it can justifiably be called a success. Take a butcher's at some of the stuff that went on in the earlier parts of the day by clicking [here].

Andy's 2011 Le Mans ticket - woohoo!14th June 2011 - sees the return from La Belle France of Messrs Clayton-Smith and Lovesay, tired, grubby and just a little deafened by a weekend of petrolhead mania at this year's Le Mans 24hr race. The photographs [here] will hopefully convey the excitement of this year's event, which was a full-immersion job with tents at Karting Nord (only a stone's throw from the Prost Karting HQ and the track) and a full weekend spent wandering aimlessly here and there in blazing sunshine and the deafening scream of Aston Martins and Chevrolets. Thanks to Captain Lovesay's skills as a native tracker, a splendid spot at the end of the pit lane was found for the start of the race and similarly, twenty-four hours later, a rather superb position just by the chequered flag was skilfully acquired. High point of the weekend was clearly the Audi win (despite atomising two of their three cars in the process) which caused actual physical pain to the several hundred thousand strong army of French spectators at the event. Also, it was brilliant to see the Ford GT complete the race successfully on it's debut. Low point? Well the khazis, naturally - however, even these weren't too bad this year and so, in the final analysis, this was pretty much the perfect away trip!

Frank in his mobile kennel30th May 2011 - and whilst it seems the weather in Happy Valley hasn't been all that kind to the locals over the Bank Holiday weekend, the same cannot be said of those residing in the picturesque setting of Woodside Farm near Thurne, Norfolk. Despite a blustery wind the sun shone on a clearly righteous famille Clayton-Smith as you can see from the pictures [here]. This was Frank's first spell under canvas and (somewhat surprisingly) he reacted splendidly to his new surroundings - in particular, with the discovery of a major new innovation... the North Sea. It is safe to say that he has now earned his place alongside the rest of the Frisby-on-the-Wreake Springer Spaniel Synchronised Swim Team (aka Charlie and Bert) and is also considerably cleaner and more sweet-smelling than he was before the weekend began. A right result. On a slightly separate note and as an additional point of potential interest to our readership, this weekend marked the eighteenth anniversary of the Clayton-Smith's nuptials. A clear testament to Diane's levels of patience and perseverance, you'll undoubtedly agree...

Peter Poisson R.I.P>13th May 2011 - would appear to prove that triskaidekaphobia is more than just a useful word to come up with in Scrabble... particularly if you're of the piscine persuasion. We are sad to report the loss of a key member of the waterlane crew, namely Peter the goldfish (pictured left, in the foreground and a little blurred) who - after what has to be said was a pretty decent innings - threw a seven on Friday afternoon. Fair enough, it could be said that he was only a blinkin' goldfish; however, he was a rather friendly little fellow nonetheless and he will be sorely missed by us all - particularly Ronnie-Cat, who will have to find some alternative method of wasting several hours of the day now that his beloved "fish tv" has ceased broadcasting. Ho hum - he was a fish, take him for all in all, we shall not look upon his like again. Biggest damned goldfish on the planet.

The magnificent Decemberists7th March 2011 - and in a subtle change to the original crew roster drawn-up for this sortie (Frank-sitting duties generously volunteered-for by the current Mrs Clayton-Smith) Wing Commander Jonny "Hemel" Lovesay takes to the navigator's seat of the trusty Trooper as we head off for deepest, darkest Birmingham and the dreaded HMV Institute, for an evening in the company of The Decemberists. Despite a more than liberal smattering of ignorant Brummies and inebriated students, imbued with the sudden urge to noisily debate the pros and cons of Old Holborn over Marlboro lights (throughout the entire performance), it was a top gig from a band that deserves to be far better known to a far greater audience - which will only be a matter if time, in your humble author's opinion. With tracks from the new album "The King is Dead" liberally mixed with some of their older songs, this was a real treat - as were the two encores, the first of which ended with an absolutely cracking rendition of "The Mariner's Revenge Song", hammered-out by the remarkable Colin Meloy and complemented with the delivery of a tragic death-bed scene (Jenny Conlee), some superb co-ordination of "audience lustily screaming as if swallowed by whale" effects (Chris Funk) and a rather bewildering "rolling around the deck in high sea" manoeuvre, performed by both band and audience alike. A truly great band - can't wait to see them again!

Meet Frank5th March 2011 - there are times in one's life when potentially unwise decisions need to be weighed-up. They must be considered carefully, thoughtfully, in an adult manner and with a level of intelligent, mature detachment. One such decision would be any proposed introduction of new family members into what is, with the very greatest of respect for the place, not exactly the largest household in England. Even the most casual observer will have gathered that Clan C-S is already "blessed" (delete/amend where applicable) with the inclusion of two rather high maintenance cats, a brace of entirely mental dogs and one monster goldfish. As a consequence, the sensible course of action to be taken when encountering scenarios that involve puppies about to be made homeless, from those with whom we have only the most ephemeral of connections and to whom we have absolutely no obligation whatsoever, is totally, if not blatantly clear... it should be to avoid getting involved, at all costs. And so, obviously, we went to see him. And fell immediately in love with him, and brought him home the same day. Meet Frank. Springer Spaniel number three and a rather splendid addition to the waterlane collective.

A sober New Year's Eve... not.31st December 2010 - yes, we're here again. Before you know it, the year draws to a close and is sent on its merry way with a liberal application of alcohol and lascivious behaviour, as can be witnessed in the image to your left. This year, the plan was to go back to basics - no grown-up, black-tied, dinner & dance nonsense this time around. Instead, the great and the good of Frisby-on-the-Wreake opted for a right good knees-up around at Casa Clayton-Smith. As you can see from the snaps [here] (which, by the way, were kindly provided by our resident paparazzo for the evening, Deb Lee) it was a pretty good bash, with grub and grog in abundance and music played at an ear-bleedingly loud volume (apologies to fellow residents of Water Lane not in attendance). Midnight saw a general exodus to the village cross for a very drunken rendition of "Auld Lang Syne" accompanied by a 21,000 party popper salute that seemingly used up more gunpowder than the bombing of Dresden. Bomber Harris would have been proud. From there, it was straight back to the partay and continued chaos, which rolled on into the early hours. All in all, a great way to put the full-stop at the end of 2010 - good times, great chums, lots of laughs. That said, one important point learned from this episode is to avoid placing huge party gazebo thingies against an open back door... wobbling around the garden, taking down a ton of collapsible aluminium and canvas, in the dark and whilst off one's pickle is not the best way to see in the new year.

Bi, BIG noise from Faithless3rd December 2010 - sees the trusty Trooper dragged from its sick-bed (badly tattered exhaust sustained on the return leg of the Cwmygerwyn trip mentioned below) and pointed in the general direction of a rather snowy Nottingham, for yet another night of terpsichorean tomfoolery - this time at the Trent FM Arena with popular skiffle combo Faithless. Despite initial misgivings about the rather pensioner-style seated accommodation (way up in the gods and just left-of-stage) the positioning - both in terms of getting a good butchers at the stage and watching the loons in the mosh-pit - was absolutely brilliant. Needless to say, so was the band... big, BIG, BIG bass-driven sounds, hammered through a truly immense PA system and accompanied by a light show that totally blew the audience away... lots and lots and lots of lasers, as you can just about see from the combined ACS/DCS-mobile snaps [here]... woohoo! So, the evening was spent jumping around to all the classics - "Mass Destruction", "Insomnia", "Salva Mea", "Muhammad Ali", "Bring My Family Back", "God Is A DJ" et al. This was interspersed with some absolutely cracking stuff from their latest album "The Dance" - tracks like "Sun To me", "Tweak Your Nipple" and "I'm Not Going Home"and then rounded-off with a huge encore version of "We Come 1" - obligatory crowd participation included... obviously. An incredibly talented band and genuinely good fun to watch live... all in all, an evening to be long remembered.

The view from the lounge at Lodge Cottage28th November 2010 - the winter seems to have put in an early appearance as la famille Clayton-Smith returns from an away-trip over the border into glorious Radnorshire, where they enjoyed a few days of R&R at their favourite hideaway in Cwmygerwyn. As you'll see from the photos [here] it was a tad snowy and the Sunday papers were full of news that the previous evening saw this very spot officially becoming the coldest place in the UK, weighing-in at a rather chilly minus eighteen degrees. Still - not to worry, as the trusty wood-burner at Lodge Cottage got a damned good thrashing and so all concerned were as snug as the proverbial bugs in rugs. As per usual, there was little real activity to report upon (the main vibe for these visits is extreme sloth) other than, of course, the opportunity for a spot of retail therapy at the famous Harry Tuffins, with items purchased ranging from kilner jars to christmas crackers - a suitably eclectic mix of tat, which HT's is so very good at delivering. Of particular note for one of our more portly holiday-goers was the small supply of "Cleric's Cure" from the splendid Three Tuns Brewery that was discovered, raided en-masse and quaffed with gusto a little later... splendid stuff. So - another lazy weekend spent pretending that the rest of the world no longer existed. Anti-social? Yep - possibly so. Best thing in the world to do with a few spare and snowy days? Without a doubt, yes!

Motorhead - woohoo!18th November 2010 - and after a rather protracted break, it's time to post a waterlane.com update. This evening was all about sending a crack squad of middle-aged drunkards into the very bowels of depravity (i.e. Leicester) to lurk around with several hundred other misfits and enjoy an evening in the refined company of one L. Kilmister Esq. & Associates, otherwise known to the hoi-polloi as Motörhead. Safe to say, a classic night was had by all, starting with a suitably noisy session, enjoyed from the bar - where all right-minded gig-goers take-in the delights of the support act - from bizarrely named hun-combo, Skew Siskin. This was then followed-up with high-camp comedy a-plenty from the crashingly abysmal Michael Monroe Band (Hanoi Rocks meets New York Dolls... say no more). The eponymous leader of said troupe spent 45mins or so mincing about the stage, dragging a seemingly redundant saxophone around with him (Lead singer? Saxophone? Why?) and generally looking like a low-rent remake of Bad News Tour. There's a word for this sort of music, and the word is NO. Nevertheless, having endured the usual torture doled-out in the lead-up to the main event, the last act of the night was really very, very good - even if, after a while, one rather lost track of where a song ended and another began. Simply unimportant in this case - the main thrust of the gig was to aurally assault punters and leave them profoundly deaf for several days afterward. In this respect, the evening was an outright success - two days later and there's still a ringing in the ears. Smashing!

Dogs even more bemused than humans at Goodrich Castle30th August 2010 - after a pretty dismal August, the bank holiday weekend is surprisingly cheerful weather-wise - which is extremely good news, as there's a camping trip in the offing. This time, the venue is the Wye Valley and la famille Clayton-Smith is accompanied by chums Simon and Fiona, along with their Japanese Fighting Dogs, Bramble and Sky. Despite the fact that their chosen campsite is choc-a-bloc with howling munchkins, zooming around on bikes and generally being a right-royal pain in the backside, the weekend is still a major success with food and drink a plenty and lots of R&R to boot. The homeward journey on Bank Holiday Monday includes a whistle-stop tour of Goodrich Castle, where all and sundry are scared absolutely witless by a band of rogue historical re-enactment types, seemingly hell-bent on the destruction of several hundred ear-drums with the use of considerably too much gunpowder in their dummy musket and cannon fire. Safe to say that this particular faux-skirmish sounded rather more like the nuking of Hiroshima than the New Model Army's overthrow of a minor-league border stronghold, which begs the question Does English Heritage do an awful lot of background checks into the general sanity of the entertainers it employs? Nevertheless, despite the ringing ears and the no-doubt widespread papperings of attending infants' napkins caused by this band of geriatric psychopaths, it was a great way to end a very pleasant break.

Diane strutting her funky stuff at Villiers Farm17th July 2010 - sees another musical evening, this time at Villiers Farm where budding rock legend Tommy Chandler brings together his two bands The Locks and The Muntjacks for a bit of a jump around after an evening of mass barbecuing and extreme communal "refreshment". As you can see from the picture to your left (kindly supplied by fellow partygoer Carley Chutter) the motley crew assembled for this bash really went for it and the evening was, not surprisingly, a huge success. Thanks once again to Tom and family for inviting the Fristock team along - a night to be remembered (although only in short snippets and edited highlights, given the amount of alcohol that was consumed).

For older news going all the way back to 2001 head toward our [archive] page.

 

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