The Great Escape 2015 – day 1…

Its that time of year again. Time to put a wristband on, grab a programme and spend three days queuing running around Brighton trying to catch as many of the 450+ gigs as possible. This year is The Great Escape’s 10th birthday, and my sixth consecutive year. Year one was a failure, I had a day ticket and didn’t understand the queuing so saw a total of two bands. Year two I worked at the wristband exchange, told Fyfe Dangerfield’s wife I loved him more than she did and fan girdled obsessively over the Guillemots. Years 3, 4 and 5 we successfully partied and so I’m excited for what this year will bring. 

The wristband exchanged has stayed at its new Spiegeltent home and this year features an inside exchange area (perfect for today’s weather!) leading into the Spiegeltent area. Felt like a proper festival and was worried I hadn’t bought my sleeping bag. Grabbing a programme I ran back through the rain to the downstairs of Komedia for the end of the Australian Showcase. I arrived in time for Fraser A Gorman, a lad with a mighty head of hair (not that dissimilar to my fathers hair in the 70s) hailing from Melbourne. Considering it was 3pm on the first day, the room was packed and from the cheers arising from the crowd as song names were mentioned, he clearly has a following here in the UK. He kickstarted the set with “Better take your washing off the line because it’s raining” – very apt for the rain sodden city outside. Featuring catchy riffs, harmonicas and brand new tambourines, his set was good fun and got me in the mood for the weekend. Uplifting and highly bop-able. 

Deciding against going back out into the rain I stayed inside for Holy Holy, which the programme describes as “huge, full band builds and crescendos, mixing distorted duelling guitars with warm, close harmonies and wild percussive rhythms.” Certainly a mouthful. As the room filled up around me and the buzz started to build, I started to think I had picked a winner. Hearing them for the first time reminded me of when I first saw Prides. Slightly blown away by the noise, and intrigued as to how much sound could come from so few people. They did indeed have full band builds and crescendos. They also had a bassist so tall I thought he would hit his head, and a guitarist that looked like Jesse Bradford in Bring It On but with Jon Snow’s hair (GoT Jon Snow, not channel 4 news Jon Snow).

The plan for this evening: Jagaara, Tenterhook, Astronomyy, Fismoll and Jack Garratt (if I’m still awake). Blog to be updated, probably when I get in tonight. 

Don’t forget I’m on Twitter for random updates of who I’ve seen. 


Tarquin’s Gin – a review

I spent most of March unemployed. This meant I was pretty bored and feeling a bit down. So my Dad decided he would try to cheer me up and sent me a present. A box bearing the marks of Southwestern Distillery arrived. Underneath a mountain of packing chips was a bottle of Tarquin’s Gin and a card.


IMG_5013I had mentioned this gin to my Dad before as he lives down in Falmouth and I knew it was made nearby. Only after receiving the gin did I look it up – it is made 36 miles from his house. Good local gin. For those that don’t know, Tarquin’s Gin is made by Southwestern Distillery in Wadebridge on the north(ish) coast of Cornwall. They make their gin in batches of no more than 300 bottles at the time, each bottle corked, sealed, labelled and waxed by hand. Each bottle comes with a unique batch number and information about that batch’s individual tasting notes. The key botanicals in play here are hand-picked Devon violets and orange zest. These aren’t my favourite things in the world so I’m a bit cautious about what I’m about to drink.

IMG_5016Now the best part – drinking it. Peeling off a wax seal is one of the most satisfying feelings. The first smell that hits you is a strong citrus note – good start in my books. I pour out a measure with an equal amount of water. It smells like flowers, the citrus notes dropping off for the violet to come through. It smells quite sweet, which I’m not used to experiencing with a gin. I take my first sip. It’s very easy on the tongue for want of a better phrase. It doesn’t taste harsh or too strong (bottled at 42%). The zest comes through at the front of the mouth, giving way to the aromatics. It’s one of the most flavoursome gins I’ve ever had, there’s lots of tastes going on in my mouth. To quote my brilliant notes that I wrote: “Good hit to it. Definitely drinking gin. Not so powerful it’s overwhelming.” I clearly have a career in drink tasting ahead of me.

Deciding that I shouldn’t just drink straight gin, I mix a new drink with some tonic – because the real test of a gin is how it works as a G&T. To quote my rather brilliant notes again, “lovely stuff”. A hint of palma violets (can be added to the list of drinks that taste like sweets alongside Southern Comfort and Lemonade). My batch (104) has the tasting notes of candied oranges, and there is certainly a hint of it at the back of the throat. Not so much it is overpowering – which is good because (as we all know) I’m not an orange fan. But this tastes nice, the bitterness cuts through the sweet violets and balances quite nicely. It produces a very distinct flavour which, on first tasting I wasn’t super keen on. But I always believe in giving things a second chance, and once I had got used to the taste I found myself rather enjoying it.

Aside from the taste, the other thing that makes Tarquin’s Gin unique is that they have launched Taste with Tarquin.


To celebrate the unique tasting notes of each batch, they played with Apple’s FaceTime code so we can have a chat with Tarquin (sort of). I tried calling when I first tasted the gin but couldn’t get through. On my third attempt the call connected. Then the connection dropped. Twice. But once it finally worked it was good fun. It starts with Tarquin talking about Southwestern Distillery and what makes them different. Then you battle with voice recognition software to tell them your batch number. Tarquin (who, by the way, is rather beautiful) finds your bottle, pours a glass and tells you – well, pretty much what it says on the bottle. He told me my bottle tasted of orange. He wasn’t wrong. Then you have a chance to leave a video message. I think I accidentally left one going “your gin tastes like sweeeeeeeeeeetiiieeeeesssss thanks!” You’re welcome Tarquin.


Slightly disappointing FaceTime adventure aside, it’s a bloody good gin. If you’re into floral, aromatic gins then this is for you. According to their website, Tarquin’s isn’t available in Brighton yet, but is widely available around Devon and Cornwall and some places in London – you can find stockists here.

Southwestern Distillery are also on Twitter and Facebook.

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