Grillstock 2013, Bristol Harbourside

 

Article first published in The Bite Magazine http://www.thebitemag.co.uk Image

A rather wet and grey weekend in May in vibrant Bristol plays host to ‘Meat, Music & Mayhem’. Grillstock Festival, a celebration of Barbeque culture, is now in its 5th year. Combining a variety of mouthwatering food stalls, competitions, bars, demonstrations, BBQ craft and great music it really brings the deep south to the southwest. If you managed to miss it Manchester hosts their own Grillstock on 8th & 9th June, details can be found on http://www.grillstock.co.uk

 

I attended the Sunday so I didn’t get to see the festival in its full swing and I feel the damp, cold weather probably diminished the footfall considerably. However the spirits of those there remained high and there was a real party and community vibe. The James Hunter Six and Seasick Steve providing my musical favourites for the day on the Jim Beam Stage. Such laid back, soulful sounds kept the crowds warm as they swayed their hips and clicked their fingers.

 

As we wondered around eyeing up all the amazing local (and not so local – zebra, crocodile, camel etc) produce we were tempted with enticed aromas from everywhere. It was a tough choice but I eventually settled for a pulled pork fajita with peppers, onions, salad, cheese, sour cream, guacamole and jalapeños from Los Amigos (http://www.losamigoseventcatering.com ). Fiery, filling and bloody lovely! Of course I followed this up with some Churros and chocolate from Churro Garcia (http://www.churrosgarcia.co.uk) For those of you that don’t know Churros are a Mexican snack, kind of like a donut, they are made from a rolled pastry stick that is deep fried and sprinkled with sugar and often cinnamon. They are usually served with melted chocolate.

 

Drinks were in no short supply with Brooklyn Brewery’s, who sponsored the Dive Bar Stage, Red Wolf Vodka and Orchard Pig around. Fine ale’s, craft beers, ciders, vodka and freshly squeezed juices, what more could I need. We particularly enjoyed ‘Summer Ale’ a fruity, floral number that our friend Simon said tasted like they had ‘hopped the shit out of it’.

 

One of my favourite stalls was blues enthusiasts Drummond and Hammett (http://www.drummondandhammett.com )  from Bristol who have made an unusual and quite beautiful Box Guitar. They even sell ‘build your own’ kits for a mere £65. They are gorgeous instruments with a traditional sound, a must have for the muso in your life!

 

Weber master griller Dan Cooper demonstrated cooking methods and recipes in the BBQ Academy and the bravest (stupidest)  visitors entered the chilli eating competition. But the real star of the show is the ‘King of the Q’ competition, sponsored by Mac’s BBQ and judged by master certified judge Dr BBQ aka Ray Lampe. Seven rounds are formally judged by a team of foodies including Matthew Burgess Head Chef at Jamie’s Italian, Ben Bartlett, author of The BBQ Manual and Levi Roots.

 

The rounds are Cook’s Choice, Ribs, Lamb, Brisket, Chicken, Dessert and Pork Shoulder with a winner in each category. Four key rounds (chicken, ribs, brisket and pulled pork) give a cumulative points total to the winners. The overall winner is then crowned ‘Grand Champion’. 27 teams competed and only one won, they were Bunch of Swines – repeat winners, defending last years title. The prize includes £1,000, a qualify into the prestigious American Royal World Series of BBQ ‘invitational’ in Kansas City and an invite to the World Food Contest in Las Vegas.

 

Belly full, feet sore, hair wet and smiling I headed home, ears still ringing with hillbilly sounds and taste buds still tingling from smoky low n’ slow BBQ meats. We loved our day out to this piece of America right here in Bristol’s harbourside and I can’t wait till next year! My only consolation now it’s over is that St. Nicholas’ market has a Grillstock stall where I can fill up on pulled pork, slaw and corn bread on rainy English days.

 

Not giving an EXPLETIVE!

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I am entering my thirty second year of life this year. It’s come around pretty quick! When I was 29 I spent a majority of the time worrying about turning 30. I told anyone who asked my age that I was 30, just so I’d have time to get used to it…I know. I felt like leaving my twenties behind was some kind of death knell of not only youth but the essence of my life. I’ve always gone to gigs, had a touch of punk sensibility, had tattoos and piercings, dressed and dated inappropriately. In my late twenties however my mother took these things as signs I was having an early mid life crisis and struggling to accept my age. She was right in one way, I was struggling, but actually the only constant was my ‘alternativeness’.
There was a small period where I tried to not be these things, tried to be the image of me I thought my job and friends and status needed. But that person was not me and that made me very unhappy. Then 30 happened, I embraced it with a grim smile and an 80’s themed birthday party. It was drunken fun and my family made the night superb. Good costumes by all too!

LIFE BEGINS AT 30

It really does. Suddenly I found myself transformed. I was there, I hadn’t died and nothing massive had changed. A calm descended upon me as I finally grew in to myself. My life started to take direction, I moved away from the faltering bad choices of my youth to clear and self assured life decisions.

I decided to move away, a fresh start perhaps but also as work in my area was scarce. First came a relationship, a non toxic, safe and sensible relationship with a really nice guy. Then came the decision to move to his city, as I already have friends here. Finally I found myself in a new job, a few pay grades lower than I’d like but enough, in an entirely new industry. My health both started to improve but also was treated and diagnosed properly so now I am able to move past previous issues. New but good friends have come into my life and strong bonds have been formed, the distance has tested the bonds of older friends but those that remain I know are true and real and the people that deserve space in my life. I got engaged (something I’d previously thought I’d never do and didn’t want!) and am happily planning a wedding for next year. I guess good things come to those who wait! I am careful to remind myself every day how lucky I am. Work wise I have gained confidence again and gone from strength to strength, learning lots and being promoted until I have landed myself an excellent job. I couldn’t be any happier.

These days I find I cut a more confident swathe through a crowd. I know who I am and I don’t care what you think. When I wore ripped tights, safety pins and caked black eye liner I thought I was punk. I thought I got it. I thought I was free. But now I work for the man, technically the government, because I genuinely believe I can make a difference from within. I wear what I want to wear, some times it’s rockabilly or rock chick, sometimes I wear suits, sometimes I wear hoodies and jeans. I listen to music from every genre with an open ear and absorb art from every artform with an open eye. I’m both more selfish and yet inclusive than I have ever been. I do what is best for me and if something is making me sad or uncomfortable or angry I let it go. I realise how short life can be and I don’t want to waste it. But conversely I am more tolerant of others and accepting of their faults and quirks. I listen to every side of the story and look to compromises when there is no right or wrong. I live my life for me and I try to make it a better place for all those who come along for the ride with me.

I genuinely couldn’t care more if I tried and what could be more punk than that?!

Work/Life Balance

Poem Three – http://www.napowrimo.net/

“Want to go out this weekend?”
Same old story, got to work my friend!
Saturday night but Boyfriends with another,
Ah well, I’ve inevitable lost my lover.

Young people everywhere playing hard & fast,
But I’m studying chapter one before last.
Socialisation chapter five page sixty nine
No that’s ‘Life Changes’ it says so third line.

Head in the books I fall into slumber,
Thinking of stress, now whats the page number?
Heads throbbing, close to a nervous breakdown.
Now what I need is a good night on the town.

“Cure for over work, whats in this glass”
Says my best friend bold as brass,
Out with the work and in with the fun,
It’s about balance when all’s said and done!

Beginnings

Poem One – http://www.napowrimo.net/

Let’s begin at the beginning, a very good place to start.

I need to begin.

Somewhere, somehow, I need to find the strength.

Why is it so hard you may ask?

Because to begin I need to

Embrace the end.

The point of a beginning is that it will end.

There is no point starting 

What you won’t finish.

And there’s the rub.

I’m not sure I’m ready to end.

To let it in,

To say what I need to.

I owe you those words that catch in my throat.

I owe myself a chance

to say goodbye.

No matter how hard.

And so to get to my destination, I will need

To Begin.

How many Sunday baths

Will it take?

Soaking away the dirt

And the past.

Until I vow to be reborn, clean and baptised

Into a newer version

Of the same old story.

By: Becky Bite

Living for Today

A quick, furtive glare at the hourglass
is a must I decide as I plait my hair
and shovel on the face I keep for lunching out.
My subtly brown lips smirk as I catch myself
in the mirror. The picture of elegance…I wish.
But as I prepare to leave I consult
my hourglass and stop dead in my tracks.
Where has all the sand gone? I have just half
left but where’s the rest?
Surely I cannot have lived for so long?
Surely I would have noticed life slip by somehow?
I scan the photographic memories on the walls,
searching for an answer,
searching for a hint of time passing, something,
anything, which might make sense.
But the attempt is futile, its nowhere to be found.
No answer, no hint, just so many questions.
And I wonder why the present, which is here, now, this minute,
is all too suddenly yesterday, before, gone.
As I ponder this I notice the black writing of my past
crouching in the corner, waiting to pounce,
perhaps I should leave now say my gold shaded eyes.
I pass by the hourglass and pay it no heed.
For this is today and I live for now.

By: Becky Bite

Pretend you don’t see her

You pretend you don’t see her
when she stands there in front of you,
when she strips off her layers of dignity
and paints herself with pretence.
You just don’t see it.

You pretend you can’t hear her
as she screams her quiet protests,
and when she throws your memories off the dresser
you try to ignore it.

You pretend you won’t speak to her
so she questions her answers
and when she puts on ideals for you
you fail to notice them.

You pretend you don’t see her
when she applies sensuality and lip gloss
and as her body sings its rhythms for you
you just won’t listen.

By: Becky Bite

Virgin

There is a girl who cries herself to sleep,
There is a girl who sings and dances in the summer
rain and laughs in the winter sun.
There is a girl who slashes her wrists with daisy
chains and jumps from rose petals.
There is a girl who shoots a shot and watches her
life fall around her feet.
There is a girl who wears long flowing skirts, she’s
caked with thick black eyeliner.
There is a girl who drowns in her own mind
and flies into the moon each night.
There is a girl who stands tall and straight
and wades into the sea.
There is a girl who reads poetry and
understands the world but cannot understand herself.
There is a girl who knows how to be sad
and how to be happy but cannot feel.
There is a girl whose hands bleed with
every breath she takes.
There is a girl who slowly climbs the stairs to
womanhood but hurries towards the ever after.
There is a girl who kills herself with every
word she utters.
There is a girl who can’t see anything as
she crumbles.
There is a girl who is always on my mind,
But only in MY head.

by: Becky Bite