About Me

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Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, United Kingdom
Broadcaster, musician, song writer, tea drinker and curry lover.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My first U.S. Christmas

So my first Christmas in America turned out to be better than I could have possible imagined, and that's entirely down to the wonderful friends that God has blessed me with.

This morning I went to breakfast with Auntie Linda and her posse (Dan, Angie, their girls, Keri, Jesse and their family) and we hung out, watched some cool tv - including "A Christmas Story", and generally had a lovely Christmas morning.

I'm just back from seeing National Treasure 2 with another extended family; the Bowen's and the Holtz's and their inner circle. Great movie and great company.
I want to thank all the people who fall into the groupI've just mentioned for letting me into their families, and I also want to thank all those who have helped me feel at home these 8 months (to the day) I've been over here, including my Dove family.

Thank you all so much. I love you all, and God bless you.
Here's to 2008...!

Thursday, December 20, 2007


If there's one thing I've discovered over and over again that characterizes many people I know - some of them extremely well - it is that they are disappointed. They are living their life in a perpetual state of disappointment, with no end in sight.
It's mainly one of two things. Disappointment with the way their life pattern or career has turned out (or not turned out, as the case may be), or disappointment with themselves - perhaps the way they are, the way they look, or possibly with what they have done or failed to do.
If we were all honest we could probably point to at least one of these and identify closely with them, but how do we avoid dragging ourselves into a life in which the sense of "if only" is a dominating factor?
In the Bible, Jesus says that he has come that we may enjoy life to it's fullest extent (John 10 verse 10) and we have to somehow acknowledge that we will never live up to our own exacting expectations, let alone God's perfection, whilst still maintaining a positive outlook on life.
I may not know much, but I do know that disappointment sucks the life out of you until you are just a hollow shell, constantly looking back to the past and wondering what might have happened if....
Is that really the way you want to live?

Monday, December 17, 2007


After some time, I've just watched Shadowlands again. It's the true story of how CS Lewis met an American divorcee, married her for convenience, and then realized he loved her, only to see her die of cancer some months later.
It's such a sad and touching story, but so beautifully acted by Antony Hopkins and Debra Winger.
Having just been a part of a Narnia experience, the things of Lewis are being brought back to me, and I don't think that the timing is any coincidence, as I've been struggling with a whole raft of issues; things about me I want to change: doubts, fears even, but Lewis' writings provide a firm foundation to perfectly complement Biblical truths and revelations.
It has always amazed me how Lewis was able to articulate some of the true mysteries of God in ways I could totally relate to, and I guess I've realized that alongside what I read in the Bible each day, I need more of a conduit between me and that sort of profundity, and that's what Lewis provides.
No earth-shattering conclusions here, just a resolve. Another starting point perhaps. On the journey that leads...somewhere.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Jacksonville Christmas Parade

The annual Christmas parade in Jacksonville is pretty much legendary, and this year the theme was A Victorian Christmas, so of course, I had to go!

It was a cold cold night, but 4 layers made sure I survived - plus they were giving out free apple cider, which never does any harm!!

The parade went all the way down the main street in J'ville, and included local choirs, dignitaries, organizations, school marching bands and other locally themed participants.

The whole thing was rounded off with Santa, who led the ceremonial tree lighting, but just before Santa came 2 of the more surreal parts of the parade. First a group of six victorian-dressed characters on segways - weird! - and then 8 llamas from the local farm. The Christmas llamas; who would have thunk it!

Switchfoot in Medford

They are one of the biggest bands around and yet they were in Medford last weekend, amazing though it may seem. Switchfoot were in town along with Reliant K and Northwestern band Ruth on the "Appetite For Construction" tour which is raising money for Habitat For Humanity. What's so cool about this tour though is that each show benefits the LOCAL Habitat organization, so Saturday's show's proceedings all went to the Rogue Valley Habitat.

Ruth are pretty much a young Switchfoot with perhaps more of an Americana edge to them. Reliant K were more poppy than I was expecting - but not in a bad way. Switchfoot played a mix of songs mainly from the last three records, and were quite awesome.

Habitat got a very good level of publicity from the stage in all three sets, and the kids had fun, so all in all, an excellent evening!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Operation Christmas Child

Today is the last day for delivery of shoe boxes and theDOVE is a drop-off point.

It's been so encouraging to see so many boxes come in over the last few weeks, and we have over 100 cartons filled with show boxes ready to go all round the world, so thanks to everyone who has filled one.

This will really make Christmas special for some boy or girl...somewhere.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Persistence Pays Off

To illustrate this fact, let me tell you about a friend of mine called Doug Walker.

I first met Doug back when I worked for Youth For Christ in the UK back in the early 90s. He was an aspiring actor/singer with a fantastic voice, but a lot to learn in life (I'm sure he won't mind my saying that). He basically decided that singing was what he wanted to do - and how God had gifted him - and set his heart on making it as a singer/songwriter.

All these years, he's been plugging away, writing and gigging, and not taking "no" for an answer. Back in August this year, he took some CD-R's of his latest offering "The Mystery" and stood outside the BBC Radio 1 studios in London from 6am, handing it out to anyone who looked influential.

One such person was Chris Moyles, presenter of the Radio 1 morning show, and as such, about as influential as you can get. As Chris stepped out for a cigarette break, Doug pounced, and the rest is history.

Chris listened to the song and then played it three times that morning on the air. As Doug listened in, incredulous, Moyles proceeded to rave about the song, and Doug had picked up management and record company interest (from Warners) and filmed a video for the song within 48 hours or so.

As I write, Doug is in New York working on mixes for his first album, and he begins more recording in December. Proof if ever it was needed that persistence pays off.

Truth is indeed stranger than fiction!

Check out Doug's MySpace to hear the song, see the videos and taste the vibe.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dan In Real Life

Well here was a nice surprise. I guess I expected the latest Steve Carell movie to be one long line of laughs, but instead I got a warm, endearing, clever and ultimately feel-good film about a widowed father of three daughters who writes an advice column for newspapers, but who could really do with following his own advice.

Taking his kids away to his parents' for a vacation with his very large family of brothers and spouses and children, he meets on the way a fascinating and alluring lady (Juliette Binoche) who turns out to be linked to the family in an unexpected way.

In the course of the movie, Carell's character Dan has to ask himself some serious questions to do with moving on after his bereavement, what his career ambitions are, and how much of a priority he should make his daughters.

Steve Carell really surprised me with his ability to play a "normal" guy, and to really draw you into his hurts, fears and insecurities, and you cannot help but warm to his character and to that of his girls.

Juliette Binoche is excellent as are the entire extended family, who you believe really ARE a family. Great ensemble playing.

So I laughed, cried, and ultimately felt a warm sense of well being out of "Dan In Real Life".

I wouldn't necessarily describe this as a chick flick, but it's definitely one I'd recommend for all manner of reasons.

Missing Marmite

I've just found a whole load of online stores that sell UK food - things like Marmite! real sausages! Weetabix! Mince Pies!
Okay, so they all cost a SMALL FORTUNE, but I'm going to have to get an order together. Just a minute while I take out a mortgage!!

Bee Movie

So with Bee Movie, you get the best of both worlds; something for the kids, and something for adults - but not adult humor.

Jerry Seinfeld is the main voice as a bee who wants to escape the drudgery of hive life and get out into the real world. In doing so he befriends a human (Renee Zellweger) and together they hatch a plan to get back the hard earned honey that the bees produce, but which has been stolen by humans.
To be honest, the story isn't too important, although it does make one or two good points. What's so good about Bee Movie is the voices and the interaction between them. Some great cameos too from the likes of Sting and Ray Liotta, both sending themselves up, and there are also some priceless one liners, especially from Chris Rock, who has one at the very end of the movie that all adults will appreciate!
So well worth checking out. It won't tax the brain too much, but Bee Movie is certainly the funniest Pixar-type movie I've seen to date.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Carving my first pumpkin

Okay, so I've never done this before, but it's a tradition here so yesterday was pumpkin day. I spent all afternoon carving away like a madman along with my life group family, and as you can see from the pictures, we made a LOT of mess, but also had a LOT of fun!

Luckily, my pumpkin wasn't too big, so it didn't take too much effort. I am handicapped by artistic inability and a fear of anything sharp (as it usually manges to lodge itself somewhere in me, narrowly avoiding cutting something off), but despite all that, I managed to get the thing open and clear out all the gunk - MAN what a lot of gunk... Quite how you make the leap from this smelly stringy gloop to wonderful pumpkin pie I know not...

It was great watching the kids go at it, and in the end I was pretty happy with the way mine turned out. Now all I need is a candle and I'm good to go!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Two reasons why I want kids!

So here are some pics of myself with the 2 little ladies, Maddie and Maisy. Six years old and cute as can be. They make me feel very broody every time I see them, but they're great!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Family Force 5 - LIVE!

It has long been an ambition of mine to see FF5 live as their on stage show is pretty much the stuff of legend, and after last night's show at Main 1 in Medford, it's easy to see why.

This was a 3-band package tour, and I arrived in time to see some of the excellent Jonezetta, who reminded me a little of early Prince & the Revolution, with their funk fuelled electro pop.

Main act though was FF5 who are renowned for their live energy, and they certainly owned the small Main 1 stage last night. It was non-stop movement and 110% commitment to the groove from start to finish. In between songs, some really cool and groovy samples kept things flowing, and the crunk was well and truly with us.

Highlights would be the breakneck "I Love You To Death", the brutally funky "Kountry Gentlemen" and deafening closer "Earthquake". Equally entertaining were bassist Phatty's increasingly creative ways to play his guitar (including backwards, upside down and behind his head) as well as Soul Glow's gradual morphing into a Transformer.

Top show!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Best Football Game of the Season (So Far)

Finally! This is what Monday Night Football is all about! A game to remember - and yet ironically, it wasn't supposed to be that way. The as-yet unbeaten Cowboys visiting a Bills side that had just won their first game of the season, with a second-string rookie QB making only his second start. It was a recipe for one-way traffic. But I guess that's the beauty of football; sometimes it throws out an unexpected classic like last night's.

Things looked a little different right from the start with the first of Tony Romo's 5 (yes, 5) interceptions, and the Bills defense & special teams ran in a total of 21 points.

Unfortunately, the Bills' offense could only manage 3 points all night,and maybe if rookie QB Trent Edwards could have got more going there, Buffalo might have been able to stretch further away from the Cowboys, but you always got the sense that despite Romo playing like my 96 year old gran (God rest her soul), Dallas were always much closer to turning the game round than they should have been, and of course we all know what happened in the 4th.

Okay, so Cowboy haters would have been very disappointed with the final outcome, but to the neutral, coming down as it did to a career-best (and twice attempted, due to the current trend of last minute field goal timeouts to ice the kicker) 53 yarder from Nick Folk with 2 seconds on the clock, finishing a great Cowboys comeback - it made for the best of all finishes.

Now the Cowboys host the similarly unbeaten Patriots, and there is EVERY reason for that game to be as good, if not better. Roll on Sunday afternoon!!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Casting Crowns Concert Pictures 10-4

Hope you enjoy these Casting Crowns, Leeland and John Waller shots from last night. Also included, a few shots of Dove staff meeting various bands...

Casting Crowns Concert 10/4

We've been preparing for this show for as long as I've been in the US (just over 5 months) and it's finally been and gone.

Rarely have I seen a promotor looking as happy and relaxed as I did last night. The hall was sold out, stuffed to capacity. There must have been getting on for 4,000 people crammed in there, but more than that, they were there to WORSHIP, and not just to get entertained.

A lot of this was down to the artists. John Waller set the tone, concluding his (too) short 3-song set with a sung priestly blessing.

Leeland need no encouragement to worship. That's what they're all about, and they were just wonderful. Leeland Mooring himself is so much more confident as a person and frontman since last year's visit with Third Day, and he led the band through a mini greatest hits, including a new song based around Mephibosheth ("Carried To The Table"), which I imagine will be on the upcoming second album. Leeland were totally wonderful!

Casting Crowns are a great bunch of people who prepare in prayer assiduously by praying over and around each venue before concerts. Last night would be no exception. You definitely got the impression that this was more a worship service than a concert, and yet everyone had a great time.

With such a great mixture of songs from what's now 3 records, there was no shortage of diverse material, including some deft and wicked violin from Melodee, and of course, thought provoking and uncompromising lyrics from Mark.

The audience were with all 3 artists from the get-go and this was definitely a night to remember. Next up in the same venue, Switchfoot on December 1st. Nice!

Tree63 - Sunday!

Been waiting for this record for AGES, and although it weighs in at only 38 minutes, it's pure gold!

John Ellis has never been backward in coming forward and so this record is another combination of hard rock and heartfelt worship, but this time there are some killer ballads too. "Alright" is a superb anthem, while "Foolishness" takes a look at how the foolish things of the world shame the wise, over a gorgeous musical progression.

My favorite song would have to be the extremely rocktastic "New Creation". We can never remind ourselves enough that we're one of those, can we?!

Instant classic!!

Monday, October 1, 2007

My most embarrassing blog to date

Before I go any further, please bear in mind that I've only been in this country for 5 months and in the UK we are a little bit behind you.

I made a new discovery yesterday. One of my kitchen sinks has had the water draining away a little slower than usual, so I mentioned it to my landlord, who I know well and who is great, and he said "Why don't you try switching on the garbage disposal?".

I said, "The what??"

I didn't even know what one was, let alone that I actually HAD one!!!
Of course, once I used that, everything was fine.

People, you HAVE to tell me things like this. Next you'll be telling me my apartment has air conditioning!!

(okay, I actually DO know that!)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Paul Steel - "Moon Rock"

Even though it's been pushed back to a 2008 release (the man himself told me that this was due to unspecified technical issues) I have managed to get my hands on a promo copy of this elusive gem, and what I can tell you is that this is one of those instant classic albums.
It's been well documented that Paul Steel is a big fan of Brian Wilson, and clasic pop bands such as Jellyfish (remember them? what a band!), and "Moon Rock" is soaked in those influences. Take the opener "In A Coma" with its intricate harmonies; the album's complex and mysterious title track; the wonderful "Oh No! Oh Yeah!" which takes ELO's "Mr Blue Sky" to a new level of brilliance.
Perhaps the album's focal point is the richly orchestrated and quite beautiful "The Way You Are" in which all those Beach Boys influences really flood out.
There are moments of humor, pathos, good time rocking (single "Your Loss"), wackiness (closer "Emo Joe" ) and sheer unadulterated beauty ("Summer Song" and "Cry Away"), all making up what is just about a perfect pop record, and a quite extraordinary debut.
Dare I say it, "Moon Rock" could easily be a "Pet Sounds" for the 21st century, so beg, steal or borrow a copy...NOW!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Butte Creek Flour Mill

Found a real local treasure over the weekend. The Butte Creek Flour Mill is in Eagle Point (around 20 minutes away) and we found it whilst checking out the brand new Eagle Point Walmart Superstore.
The mill began operation in 1872 and was restored by owners Bob & Debbie Russell 2 years ago.
It now has an antique store alongside as well as a General Store which sells the mill's own flours, baking mixes (notably pancake and waffle mix, bran muffin mix and cornbread mix), whole and rolled grains and cooking cereals.
You can even shop online, and the produce - apart from being very healthy - is already gathering a worldwide audience of fans.
We happened to arrive at the same time as owner Bob was giving a tour of the mill to a lady writer, so we were invited to tag along, and got a full working guided tour of the mill, which was superb. Bob even fired up the machinery for us.
Just down the street is a covered bridge which is well worth checking out too.
Have a look at the mill online at http://www.buttecreekmill.com/

Fantasy Football - 2 and 0!!

So my fantasy team improves to 2-0 thanks largely to the exploits of the Cardinals' Anquan Boldin. Jake Delhomme had a good outing Sunday, so now we're looking ahead to next weekend and trying to go 3-0. Come on Kipology!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I'm never eating again!!

Sometimes it really does pay to have this job!

Today we road tested one of our upcoming giveaway prizes. Silver Ridge Outfitters are doing a dinner/wagon ride prize along with a pair of tickets to the casting Crowns show in October, and they offered to cook us lunch so we could sample what the prize winners will sample.

Needless to say, we all jumed at the chance and eralier tucked into Tri-tip roast shredded marinaded beef with garlic/butter potatoes and green beans.

To say it was divine is an understatement of epic proportions. To say I am full and need a nap is also a huge understatement!

And to think, I have to workout later. I'll never eat again!!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Southern Oregon Coast Trip

Finally I can talk about our work/sightseeing trip to the Southern Oregon coast last weekend. This week has been so hectic that there's been little time to deal with it until now.

We headed off at 7am and drove north west to Florence, via Roseburg and Elkton, checking Dove frequencies as we went.

Florence itself is quite pleasant, but we were heading further north - by a few miles - to Seal Caves. This place is amazing. You head down over 200 feet in an elevator, right down into this incredible natural cave which is around 125 feet high. There you can watch the seals hanging around on rocks from a viewpoint around 100 feet away. There are several great views through natural fissures out into the ocean.

Before the elevator was fitted in the 1960s, there was a rickety stairwell type thing, most of which doesn't survive any more - unsurprisingly.

Next we headed a mile or so north to the Heceta Point Lighthouse, which is just lovely, as you can see. It was only 11.30 at that point, so we then headed back to Florence for a sandwich.

The rest of the day was spent heading south along the coast checking more frequencies. We stopped in Bandon, which has an old town where you can get fish & chips on the boardwalk. Not quite British-style chips, but pretty good none the less. Of course, I should add that there were numerous coffee stops along the way too!

We went south along the coast - which was shrouded in fog, as it so often is - through Gold Beach and Brookings (which is a really nice place) before heading up and home via the edge of the giant redwoods north of Crescent City on Highway 199.

Got in at 7.30pm and I have to say the coast is spectacular and very pretty. Must see it again!

The old homeland isn't so bad, is it?

My brother has been away on vacation on the south coast of England and took these shots. It's really quite a nice country when you think about it!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lunar Eclipse

Well I'm ashamed to say that I was not awake to take this shot of last night's lunar eclipse, but along with the meteor shower the other week, it NEVER fails to remind me of how small we are and how amazing God and his creation are. There's something comforting about being reminded of my insignificance, and yet that God in his infinite wisdom chooses to call me friend. I don't understand it, I probably never will, but I'm eternally grateful!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Happiest Bride.....EVER!

So this weekend it was the society wedding of the year, Braxton and Nicole (or, if you will, Nicole and Braxton). I promised the world that I would bring the blow by blow, so here it is.

Gotta say that this wedding would really work as an example of what the occasion is really all about. Not too long and formal a ceremony, just a delightful powerpoint slide show at the start showing the bride and groom from birth up til the present, along with some great music. There was also a lovely song performed by the cream of our Worship Team.

Half an hour later it was all over, but here's the thing; Nicole did not stop smiling the WHOLE DAY! I've never seen a bride so excited and happy. I'm more used to seeing people really nervous before a wedding, but there was none of that here.

You couldn't ask for two nicer young people, and I'm sure God's hand will be heavy on this marriage, as two science nerds unite to become...one Supernerd!!

Have a great life together guys, you richly deserve it!!