Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Cliffhanger lament...

Photo - Alex Messenger - BMC

After so much work by so many people it was gut - wrenching that the Cliffhanger Festival in Graves park this year was cancelled. The Friday morning start dawned with biblical rain and it was a very hard call to get things going up - or start taking them down. Unfortunately, the latter became the order of the day.

Yet the British spirit endured and we were determined that some of the show should go on! Thus ensued frantic rearranged logistics to make sure that the British Bouldering Championships went ahead despite the ghastly weather and the BMC were dogged in their travail and despite being wet to the bone - the team got the comp on...

With an impromptu gig  at the Showroom  on Friday night following the cancellation of all the bands due to play - we managed to claw some comfort back & the bands that played showed true northern grit.

We may have been very down - but we were never out - testament to the character of many who in the face of adversity never gave up & decided to stick two fingers up at the weather and crack on... well done chaps...  

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Cliffhanger 2012 is here!

Cliffhanger is here! 6th, 7th and & 8th July 2012 - Sheffield Graves Park

Cliffhanger is the UK’s largest outdoor-pursuits festivals, based in one of Sheffield’s biggest green spaces. We're pretty sure that it's actually the UK's biggest outdoor festival for outdoor folk, with over 20,000 visitors in 2 days.
The aim of the event is to Inspire & Involve. Featuring elite competitions and / or professional demonstrations in rock climbing, orienteering, kayaking, mountain biking, running, mountain boarding, skateboarding, slacklining, adventure racing and more, visitors are able to watch incredibly talented sports-people of all ages at the top of their game, and then take part in the very sports they have just been inspired by.
Just a few days until Cliffhanger kicks off and the big top marquee's up and this year promises to be bigger and better than ever.    
  • NEW 50k Cycle Sportive + MTB slalom & X country
  • NEW 5k trail run
  • NEW live music stages on Fri & Sat evenings
  • NEW onsite camping village
  • NEW online advance booking
Cliffhanger - where else can you camp, climb, bock, bop, run and ride all in one weekend?

Organised by Sheffield City Council with Heason Events, we’ve teamed up with Rat Race Adventure Sports to put on a ‘Festival within a Festival’ at Rat Race Basecamp for that quintessential summer festival vibe with onsite camping and a live music arena on Friday and Saturday nights.

The move to a new venue - Sheffield's Graves Park, the city's largest green space - means even more of all the elite competitions and family-friendly have-a-go demos we're renowned for.

Once you've paid your £7 entry (£6.50 online in advance & free for accompanied under 16s) there's loads to do for free during the day including:

  • British Bouldering Championships in the big top marquee + 7 mobile climbing walls with free coaching.
  • Trials bike stunt displays, Welsh Bocking, Slack-lining, Bike Polo, Roller Derby, Cycle Speedway, Scuba Diving, Story Tent, Caving, Disc Golf, Skateboarding, Parkour and a Rope Course.
  • Plus NEW Mountain Bike Downhill Slalom and Cross Country Eliminator Races and three Orienteering Courses.

RatRace Basecamp are hosting an onsite camping village as well holding a 5k Rat Run trail race on Saturday and 50k Rat Ride Cycle Sportive out into the Peak District on Sunday.

And we can't wait for the chance to chill out with a drink at the beer tent, listening to the great line-up of live music on Friday and Saturday nights.  If you want to get in the mood, why not listen to the Spotify playlist of the bands on the line-up.

Want to get a taster of what's in store?  Check out this excellent video of last year's event by film-maker Dan Habershon--Butcher.

Festival co-organiser Matt Heason from Heason Events says:  “We’ve had a brilliant run of festivals at Millhouses Park but Cliffhanger’s become such a fixture on the climbing calendar and so popular with lovers of all outdoors and adventure sports that we’re aiming even higher this year with a bigger venue and even more have-a-go activities, demos and elite competitions.”

Jim Mee, Managing Director of Rat Race Adventure Sports says:  “When you’ve exhausted yourselves at Cliffhanger, come along to RatRace Basecamp and listen to some absolutely stonking live music and enjoy our beer tent and the rest. That’s not forgetting the Rat Race Store of course, crammed full of shiny stuff from bags to bikes; racks to ropes. Then pitch your tent in the BASECAMP village and enjoy a night or two under the stars.”

Find it all out here!


…hope to see you there!


Monday, 4 June 2012


February 2012: The morning alpine glow of the sun kissed valley of Grindlewald greeted me as I threw open the curtains of our hotel balcony. The thin yolky sunlight was gloriously shuffling its way up the snowline flanks of the mighty, brooding Eiger North face.

I was pleased, that being in Switzerland, the satellite TV could at least pick up a slim slice of blighty in the shape of BBC6 music (thank god we fought hard enough for it) and along with the mix of garage & indie blaring we started to pack for our day in the Mountains.

I don’t know why, in that brushing ones teeth can be so personable and we deem it alright to strut about with our gobs foaming, raking toothbrush too & fro in mouth, whilst almost utterly being unheard as we slobber out the days plans or indeed more important, what the guy just said on the radio…

“Gugghh!!” I shouted to my dearest who was tending to the face slap. She didn’t flinch. The man on the radio continued to make my dreams come true, announcing that the best band in the world ever, CUD had yet again reformed & were starting a tour in Sheffield on June 2nd 2012. Then heaven. Next song up on the play list was the glorious CUD band anthem “Only a Prawn in Whitby”.

By this time I had taken the toothbrush from said mouth and was wailing like the Carl “sex god” Putnam banshee, finger pointing as is the law with me and dancing about like only a Space Cud – ette can do. My darling girlfriend thought I had gone quite mad at this point, and to all intensities & purposes, she would be absolutely right.

Fast forward 2nd June 2012 and in my haste to do everything else but get a ticket for the concert, I found myself launched into a dilemma after scouring the internet for a billet for the band I loved. Do I go down to Club Leadmill like a dirty skanky addict and try to “score”?

I cursed myself as I had made a mental note to get tickets for the 3 “Cs” – Cricket, Cud and… um … well it will come to me I’m sure at some point. So I resigned myself to failure, the night was foul weather and I tried to convince myself that 20 years way past their prime, they would be shite anyway.

Yet like the proverbial itch you cannot scratch or the moth at the light bulb, the nagging optimism would not go away, angel & devil arguing on the shoulders… the devil, as usual, won…

Arse. Just two bouncers, no ticket touts and a bloke getting stoned outside the club. “No returns?” I asked. Muscle man shook his head & told me to bugger off. The guy getting slowly baked shouted to me he has just given a ticket to some bloke that is in a pub somewhere. Thanks for that, very helpful. Which, infact as it turns out, it actually was.

As the pot head was so wrecked and with him shouting down the street, it seems he had alerted a rather fretful chap, whom appeared out of the door looking furtive and asked me how many tickets I wanted.  As he had lost all his mates before in the pre-gig booze up he seemed a tad desperate to offload them. “One” I said. “Just one?” he pleaded with sad eyes.

Now my answer would normally be “two” as my best buddy Dange has always been with me at our CUD gigs and indeed on some other CUD- esque journeys, more about later, and if Dange had been able to come with me to blag a brace of tickets, our grins would have been as wide as Park Hill Flats.

Still, I was very grateful for this lucky charm and I was only asked for the normal fee of £12.50. So I bought him a pint and later we danced to strains of 20 years ago. Thanks to the kindness of strangers.

Usually at gigs, I don’t head straight to the stage, or the bar, but the merchandise stand and at CUD gigs; it is religious to get a CUD T, for they are many and legendary. A fat bloke heavily dressed as a Pirate was not doing a very good job of selling his wares to the hoards of bank note waving fans. He seemed distracted and far from competent in his knowledge of merchandise. He sold me the wrong sized t- shirt, a play on scrabble (pictured) but sometimes that’s not unusual at gigs.

Then it dawned on me – it was lead singer Carl “sex god” Puttnam himself faffing about & getting it all wrong, typical Carl!

Missing the warm up band, time for a pint and a chat to the fans in the bar to see the demographic of the ages, the hairlines & the beer bellies. We were all reminiscing about the times gone past, the albums, the gigs and the t-shirts, when two of my friends who had actually got their arses into gear and booked tickets ages ago appeared. Joy! I can share the event with my mates, something always very special to me, never a loner for momentous occasions such as this!

The stage was tiny, the sound system crap, the crowd were drunk & smelly, the light rigging looked like something from a dodgy carnie waltzer, yet when the band came on, what a welcome.

CUD didn’t disappoint, and all the old classics were belted out to some old school crowd surfing & people invading the stage. Shedding 20 years off themselves, the fans were suddenly living the great indie era again and so was I. This was no polished, theatrical, pyrotechnical stadium rock concert. This was a sweaty, heaving mass of fans throwing beer at the band with a “Sheffield Welcome” (You fat bastard) arseing about like we used to, tonnes of feedback, poor sound, duff notes with the obligatory sticky floor. Like it used to be. No need to be nostalgic anymore, CUD had created the greatest invention of mankind, a time machine!

When rock climbers do a new climb (route) that no one else has done before, they get the privilege to give them a name that gets written into international guidebooks. It’s a great honour and usually people spend quite a while thinking about a name that will go down for all time in history in the national library.

Not me. Nearly all the new routes my bessie mate and Cudette Dange and I did on the Eastern Gritstone edges of the peak district got a CUD reference. Our favourite being “Slack Time”, not the best of songs, but there is a great line “there is a time to be tight and a time to be slack and that’s the time to die”. Was fatty boom boom Carl a climber? We nearly went back stage to ask him, I think he would be proud.

After two raucous encores, the crowd eventually spilled out of the dimly lit Leadmill doorway, I swear everyone had a mile wide grin on their faces and fire in their eyes.

As we made our way to the taxi, I danced a little jig, thought of the sunny morning in Switzerland and could not resist a high pitched wail of “Only a Prawn in Whitby”.

One day my Girlfriend will visit Whitby, stop thinking I am mental, and one hopes at some point will witness the best band in the world…

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Molster & Her Free Kicks...

This is our Mollie dog, who we are looking after at the moment as she has been playing far too hard & ruptured her cruicient knee ligament.

As with any good footballer with this injury, after major surgery we are keeping a good eye on her with numerous trips to the (V.E.T) post surgery. She may not take a penalty again in the United / Wednesday derby we fear…

Miss Mollie Collie is feeling pretty bored, depressed & frustrated in the fact she can’t be up & about sniffing other dogs bums in’t park as she is pretty much queen of the profession and commands her manor accordingly…

However she is a tough old girl and has a nice new bright blue & white lead to match her collar, so she must be feeling better already…

Get well soon our Mollie Collie… we love you…


Monday, 5 March 2012

Sheffield Adventure Film Festival - 9th - 11th March 2012 - Music!

ABC are playing the Rotherham’s Women’s institute, Richard Hawley’s putting up shelves, Joe Cocker’s off surfing and the Arctic Monkeys are washing their hair...

However if you want to catch some of Sheffield’s other great artists, they will all be down at the Showroom from Friday 9th – 11th March at The Sheffield Adventure Film Festival.

Full line up is here:


and this year we have a Song writing workshop for the first time!


What is it?

The songwriting workshop is an event to bring together people with an interest in songwriting in an informal way and in a supportive environment with a focus on helping you find other ways of gaining inspiration for lyric writing.

Who is running it?

Fiona Hughes. Fiona writes in the tradition of guitar based singer songwriters. Her songs are simple and from the heart. Her forthcoming album 'Everything I Am' includes collaborations with Iain Archer (Snow Patrol/Tired Pony) and Paul Statham (Dido) amongst others. Fiona also writes for other artists under the banner 'The Avantia Project' and is currently completing an eighty song multi genre, multi media project for release 2012. She has studied Music Production, including scoring for film, at ATM studios in Bristol and has an MA in Songwriting from BathSpa University. Fiona will be running a songwriting workshop 10th/11th March in association with SHAFF. Spaces are limited so book now. For more detail click here. Samples of Fiona's music can be found at


Who is it for?

Anyone who is interested in song writing and particularly in developing their lyric writing

I've never written a song before, does that matter?

Not at all.

How much does it cost?

The workshop is free, you will need to pay to see the films. See ticket prices.

What do I need to bring?

Pen and paper for writing down all those inspired thoughts.

Do I need to bring an instrument?

You can if you like. The focus is on lyric development so it's not absolutely necessary. You don't need to be able to play an instrument to attend.

Where is it?

We will meet at the Rutland Arms pub, www.rutlandarmspeople.co.uk which is just down the road from SHAFF at 13.00 on Saturday 10th and then again at the same time, same place on the Sunday.



13.00 -14.00 Introductory discussion on the basics of songwriting and the ways of gaining inspiration. Issuing of 'Inspiration Toolkit'
14.00 Make our way to SHAFF and watch some of the amazing films available to put our 'Inspiration Toolkit' to work.
17.00 Regroup and compare notes.
17.30 Finish and either go home to work on our songs or stay around to gain more inspiration/work on songs/watch more films/support the live acts.


13.00 - 14.00 Playback and feedback.
14.30 - 15.30 Songwriters will be paired up to collaborate.
15.30 - Return to SHAFF for more film and live music.

How Can I Sign Up?

Drop us an email.

*Format and timings may vary depending on the needs of the group.

Please come along and show your support, bring an instrument, play and jam, sing if you want to, you never know we may find another Jarvis…

…or Tony Christie…



Watch the trailer at:


Friday, 3 February 2012

Captain Jack Sparrow Meets Human Resources...

After a corporate night out with a meal and a few drinks with work, who do I meet on the way to the Taxi's busking on West Street? None other than my mucker Captain Jack Sparrow Busking in full regale with crappy guitar, well, well out of tune as usual.

One fettle & tuning sesh later and I got the thing in tune for us to perform "Bad Moon Rising" with me in my work suit on the gob iron (Harmonica) and Jack growling his way through the tune as usual... he very politely offered to pay me a quid for the performance - which I thought was far too much, so I offered to pay him for subjecting him to the shrilling squeals of the gob iron.

Although he did insist I take a swing of his rum for payment and I had the honour of being first mate for a few songs and somehow passing students and the good people of Sheffield tagged us as legends. . .
Nah I said, I'm just a wanderer that meets with Jack now and again to play some tunes, albeit out of tune most of the time. Captain Jacks the Legend playing into the late freezing hours & being gracious and friendly to his public & admirers.

After our song he was swamped by scantily clad pretty young things and after a blues jam in the bitter cold night and more swarming giddy girls we parted a pirate plundering the shores of Sheffield.

Every time we jam Jack always bemoans his guitar is f*****g shite and yes it really is, its a beaten up piece of crap that never stays in tune, yet it gets battered back into working order to a certain extent.

I wish I could give Jack a decent plank, however I don't really think he would take it , the instrument and the man gives the performance which carry each other.

As for tonight, a Pirate and a pin striped Human Resources man bonding on a typical Friday night in Sheffield?.. Why hell not? here's to you captain!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Every Picture tells a story number 6: Happy Christmas!

6am, and I languidly rise from my lightly, dream dusted slumber...

Kicking the bedpost, an act of habit never learned from, despite the pain of yet another stubbed toe, I raggedly dress in the dark so as not to wake the rest of the household.

I have never been able to sleep in on Christmas morning, as a young lad so exited to see what Santa has brought or a flaky student staying up at some digs until being kicked out in the early hours.

These days it’s more of a hope that the snow has come and with it a fantastic sunrise may occur…

Christmas 2010 and the westerly winds had blown in fat, white flakes of snow covering the peak district eastern edges, blanketing the crest of harsh grey/black gritstone edges and the knarred trees that grow out from the frozen earth.

The smell of winter filled my senses in the dull light as I made my way, with skin shuddering in the razored wind to the aptly named Windy Corner at Stoke near Grindleford.

Altogether it made a perfect setting for the white cold moon hovering in the dark sky, which made way for the yolky sunlight to appear and illuminate the land over Curbar Edge.

The magnificent grit edges of Froggatt and Baslow peeked out from the top of the cold mist, which rose from the streams and rivers like some large primordial phantom of romance. The church bells in Calver began to peel and the twinkling lights of the local villages appeared in the valley as people were waking up to their Christmas presence.

A fellow early riser appeared from Jacobs ladder from Stoney Middleton, on a lone walk towards Eyam and we nodded and gave our Christmas morning greeting.

The sun was being lazy, disinterested and troublesome, however I managed a capture of the buttercup-hued skyline with the breathtakingly Christmassy scene scape.

The biting wind on my face and licking cracked lips, with the picture in the can, meant I decided to start back down the icy road to Mum’s house then Dad’s for the rest of the Christmas day, safe in knowledge that I had spent time being that early rising as a giddy, excited kid again…

…Happy Christmas all! Si x