Event: Tramlines 2017

On Friday we travelled over to Sheffield for the first of three days at the Tramlines festival. The poet didn’t take his camera, so these pictures are all from his mobile phone (apart from the nabbed poster).

Tramlines 2017

There are mixed feelings about this annual event. We think it’s great for Sheffield, and the taxi drivers and businesses agree that it’s a lift for them once the students have all gone home (there are two universities in Sheffield and a huge student population) and before the football (soccer) season starts again (they have two football teams too). Others think it should be a free event, as it was when it first started, and will boycott it, insisting on going to only live gigs that aren’t included in the program.

Whichever your opinion, it really does have to be good for business and for live music.

We got off to quite a bad start because we headed over to City Hall, where we thought we had to exchange our tickets for wristbands. We queued up there for over half-an-hour – apparently, they ran out of wristbands! – but when we got to our first main event, we then discovered we could have gone straight there.

Ponderosa at night (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We wasted quite a lot of time and additional taxi fares doing that. And then, to add insult to injury, they didn’t even check our wristbands at the main venue. And they were only checking women’s handbags. They didn’t seem too bothered about rucksacks or duffel bags.

The headline act we wanted to see was over at the Ponderosa main stage, the Libertines. And yes, he really did turn up. The weather was very kind to us – it didn’t start to rain until we were ready to leave. The sound wasn’t great, and the band were pulled off mid-song at one point. But the crowd didn’t seem to mind.

The Libertines, Tramlines 2017 (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

On Saturday afternoon, we went back again, again to the Ponderosa, this time to see Toots and the Maytals. We didn’t get any pictures of these because we were there with family and when we weren’t listening to the music, we were chatting.

Toots was my favourite part. They’ve been going for such a long time, yet he had so much energy and a fine, fantastic voice. Again, nobody checked our wristbands, but we did see armed police today.

Waiting for Toots and the Maytals (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Sunday teatime we were back again, this time to see the poet’s godson in his band the Kavaliers. They were playing the Tramlines fringe at the Rocking Chair.

They did a short set, which gave us time to have a quick chat and then make our way to Devonshire Green, where the next and last band we wanted to see were playing.

The Kavaliers, Tramlines fringe (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We arrived about 45 minutes early and decided to nip into Pizza Express for a quick tea. The waitress said it could be a 30-minute wait, but if we knew what we wanted and got our order in before a hen party that had not long arrived, she’d see what she could do.

She managed to serve us within 15 mintues … but within that time and the time it took to eat a quick salad, a queue had formed outside the venue that trailed all the way up the road.

We waited for 25 minutes in this queue, in pouring rain. The Coral were due to start at 7:45pm, but they held on until 8pm. We missed the first two songs, but landed a nice spot with a good view.

The Coral, Tramlines 2017 (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

What a mistake the organisers made in putting the Coral on at Devonshire Green and not the main stage at the Ponderosa. Some people we queued with said there was hardly anyone over there when they left, and here were we with the queue still snaking up the road long after we finally made it in.

We had a great time at this year’s Tramlines. I do think it could have been slightly better organised in places, and security should have been much, much tighter. Next year, however, if it clashes with the crime writing festival at Harrogate again, as it did this year, we might give it a miss.

Day out: Leeds Christmas Market

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Leeds Christmas Market, November 2016 (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I love Christmas and, once Bonfire Night is out of the way, I quite like to go to Christmas Markets.

I don’t care how big or how small they are, I just like to go and mingle, look at the pretty lights and interesting stalls, and occasionally sample the wares.

Sometimes we even buy something. And this time, apart from a hot dog, some chocolate marshmallow on sticks and some mulled wine, we also bought hats. And a gingerbread heart.

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Leeds Christmas Market, November 2016 (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Last Saturday we went to Leeds for their Christmas Market. We got there for about 4:30pm, so it was just dark enough to take pictures of the lights.

And there were lights everywhere – on the lampposts, around the stalls, even for sale on the stalls.

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Leeds Christmas Market, November 2016 (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Several stalls were selling Christmas decorations. Some of these were baubles and tree ornaments, some were tea- and night-lights, and some were just traditional wooden toys and ornaments.

The Nutcracker is my favourite ballet, so it was nice to see some wooden nutcrackers there too. But we didn’t buy any.

It was already very busy, and we knew we were headed in the right direction as we fought through the crowds coming back from the market. (We’d taken the train in and parked the car at Barnsley Station.)

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Leeds Christmas Market, November 2016 (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

When we first arrived, it was still empty enough to relax, stroll around, take pictures. But by the time we’d had something to eat and done a couple of circuits – it wasn’t one of the biggest Christmas Markets – it was starting to get too crowded for stupid even.

One of the reasons for the trip was so that the poet could try out the new lens for his camera. He’s not snapped lights at night before, really. Or not since he’s been learning to be a “proppa snappa”. So these were his first.

He’s getting quite good at the bokeh, though – even if he does say so himself! This is where the foreground – or any part of the subject – is in focus but the background blurs. For those who want the scientific explanation, I think you can find it here.

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Leeds Christmas Market, November 2016 (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

The hot dog he bought was a bit big for just one of us, although I’m sure he would have managed it all had I wanted a whole one too.

But he put ketchup all over it, and then mustard on his (big) half. It was very nice, and just spicy enough.

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Leeds Christmas Market, November 2016 (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

Aside from the chocolate marshmallow on a stick (each), we also bought some fudge, some vanilla fudge for my dad (for being a big brave soldier and going to the hospital last week), and some clotted cream fudge with jelly babies for me (so that Dad didn’t have to share his).

We took the gingerbread heart home to have with a cup of tea later in the week.

Before we left he had one last practice with his camera, taking moving shots of the carousel and the other roundabouts. There isn’t room for all of the pictures here, though, so I saved a static of the carousel for the bottom.

We had such a good time, and the weather was very kind, so we’re thinking about going to another Christmas Market later in (what’s left of) the year. There’s one at York this weekend and there’s one at Sheffield at the end of the month. They’re all probably the same market, but it’s nice to see them in a different place, and Leeds, York and Sheffield are all close enough that the dog isn’t left on his own for too long at home.

And now he has a brand new camera as well (courtesy of his recently late father), he’ll want to be trying that out soon too. Plus, he has another new lens coming on Monday, so that will be another excursion.

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Leeds Christmas Market, November 2016 (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)