Yesterday was mainly filled with preparations for the St Clement’s youth camping trip to the final Soul Survivor event. I think it was about 1996 when I first went as a youth leader to this annual event and I’ve done most of the last few years.
You’d think I would have it down to a fine art but each year has a new twist. Last year, I took on the role of cook for the first time. This year, I’m reprising that but the group is twice as large so we’re going to discover (later today) how long that larger volume of bolognese sauce takes to heat up on a camping stove!
This year, I haven’t prepared a set of blog posts in advance, so expect a break for a few days and normal service to resume around Thursday / Friday next week.
I’m not in the market for a new guitar but I’ve got a friend who is wanting to buy one as a gift. The recipient plays a number of instruments, including ukulele, but the other ones are things like keyboard and trumpet and so guitar purchasing is a bit of a mystery to them. Unfortunately, they are too far away for me to easily pop along in person so I’ve been helping over Facebook. We’ve narrowed it down to an electro-acoustic guitar, probably with a cutaway design, being the ideal choice but now they need to visit some guitar stores and I’ve offered to come up with some questions to ask.
Cosmetic details are not unimportant. People have different tastes and I think there is value in selecting something you can see yourself playing. Beyond that though, there are practical matters to consider. I did actually try some of these in a guitar shop in Lincoln last weekend, so I’ve done some “research” but I’d be interested in anything I’ve missed:
Does it play in tune up and down the neck (intonation)?
How does it sound compared to cheaper and more expensive models (tone)? What else does it offer compared to cheaper guitars or miss out on compared to (realistically) more expensive ones?
Is the hardware going to last under reasonable usage? What support do you offer if something malfunctions?
What do the electronics do and can I hear it plugged in? (nb. a lot of electro-acoustic instruments now have built in tuners. Otherwise, a clip on tuner is useful although a mobile phone app will do)
How high is the action (distance of the strings from the fretboard) and can that be adjusted?
What kind of strings come on it (make and gauge – lighter strings are easier on the fingers but are more prone to breaking and slipping out of tune)? Is it worth replacing them at the start?
Do you provide a set up service or where would you recommend? How much would that cost?
What else comes with the instrument (I’d suggest that at least case / gig bag, strap, stand and plectrums are pretty important for looking after and making the most of the instrument although they don’t have to be top notch examples of each)? What could you offer to provide a good bundle within my budget?
Oh – and don’t forget to suggest a budget a bit less than you’re actually willing to spend. It is amazing how often the store assistants (even the ones who give you no reason to distrust them) find something ideal that is just a bit more than you said you had to spend!
Bonfires don’t normally happen until the autumn but we went to one tonight. St Clement’s had a work party, to gather up some piles of wood from thinning done over the last year and dispose of it safely. Of course, a church yard is a bigger area than a back garden and, with a few of us combing through we soon had a pretty big pile.
Fierce flames but, once they had died down, a chance to roast some marshmallows on the sticks we had set aside. Atypical for an August evening but still very enjoyable.
I was surprised to discover that The Best of British Fantasy 2018 (editor: Jared Shurin), which I got a review copy of from the LibraryThing Early Reviewer programme, was the first volume of this collection. There has been a long tradition of British fantasy writing, so it was probably about time and I think this anthology serves as an excellent start.
Swords and sorcery? This collection has it all, although not necessarily in the same tale. Two particular stories that stood out in that respect were The Dance of a Thousand Cuts by Liam Hogan and The Prevaricator by Matthew Hughes. The former is the sword tale – almost science fiction but spiralling towards a tragic and poignant ending. Meanwhile, the latter is the magic one and a more salutary fable all round.
As with any anthology, it is unlikely everything will be to your taste, but Shurin has pulled together a varied repast and it certainly meets the essential goal of such a volume, to plant a few names that might draw attention again in future. Fantasy and gently fantastic.
It has been a long time since I last took a self-portrait (although I did draw one recently – after an even longer gap). However, a friend was interested in possibly borrowing my easel so, after measuring it up, I decided to take a photo as well:
The after-effects I added with The GIMP to produce a painterly style, which you’ll see if you zoom in, are partly to match the subject matter although, if I’m entirely candid, it also covers a certain lack of tidiness!
If you look hard, you’ll see Magnus in this sketch from a couple of Sundays ago at St Clement’s, although he gets a bit bit lost on the left hand side – more of a framing element than the main subject. In the middle of the image you can see some of the clutter of the music area, where he was helping me out with some guitar playing.
It is a bit on the scribbly side but I think I managed not to work it too far.
I’ve had a blogging break for a couple of days as I’ve been up to Lincoln to help Leo as he moves out from there and prepares for more overseas adventures.
Fortunately, the driving back turned out to not be too bad. There were above average winds along the whole length of the journey and few short, sharp showers but traffic was generally lighter than expected.
Anyway, probably back to regular service tomorrow.