Now this was pretty impressive. A classic car and motors show, right on my doorstep, in Hawarden, North Wales. Plus it was free entry! Organised by charitable organisation Deeside Round Table, with plenty to do and see.
There were vehicles on display from various places and of differing ages, all of them classic. Food and drink; music; stalls to browse; games for the kids – a nice, community, family event on a summer afternoon.
We got there late (I did warn my crew of the potential issues) and some of the cars were already leaving – including a beautiful gold Trans Am that I missed getting a phot of. A word to the wise: when it says the event is on till 4pm, don’t turn up for the last hour.
Any readers of previous Motors blogs at the Virtual Hot Tub will know that I’m a big fan of American classic cars, in particular, muscle cars from the late 60’s and 70’s. There were a few of those types of vehicles on display, plus a healthy showing of British classics from over the years (plus many other countries).
I did manage to take a few photos of the cars on display – hope you enjoy. It’s been a while since a Motors update on at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub, I’ll try harder to update more often.
February 2022 saw the long awaited return of Pentre Fest. After falling victim to the pandemic, this local metal festival was revived and came back harder than ever. Two days of metal/rock, hosted in McLean’s pub in Pentre, Deeside, North Wales – I was over joyed to revisit this fantastic event.
Friday evening was headlined by Raised by Owls, with appearances by In Depths and my old mates Ryuko, amongst others (see the reviews below).
Saturday saw the largest audience ever at Pentre Fest, not surprising considering the legendary Blaze Bayley was headlining. Add performances from Absolva, Cadence Noir, Reaper, plus many more and it all equalled a spectacular day’s entertainment.
Despite a few of the advertised artists having to drop off due to the plague, there was a legit feast of music of various hard rockin’ types, spread over two stages. It was so good to be back: a feeling everyone seemed to share, bands and gig goers alike.
You can read the full review on the Ever Metal website here. Just for the hell of it, here are the bands that I reviewed personally.
The first band I caught this year was Navnlos, so that was a pretty good start! These guys deliver some heavy groove metal, powerful and relentless. I also detected something of a nasty grunge element, like Tad jamming Pantera songs in Venom’s garage. Navnlos feature evil riffs, primal rhythms and ogre like vocals – it’s the sound of a rampaging army of berserkers storming your tea party. Bloody great way to kick things off!
Some may have wondered how a psychobilly band would go down at a metal festival. Well, turns out that Hellfire Devilles fitted in snugger than Tommy Lee’s underpants. A raucous, rock’n’roll three-piece trading in high energy, foot on the gas music – these guys wrought crazy voodoo all over the outside stage. Thumping drums, frantic guitar and slapping upright bass – along with monster movie lyrics – the set was an absolute joy. This was freaky tiki, cocktail chaos a go-go: Killerbilly has arrived! Do not miss Hellfire Devilles if you get chance to see them. Main stage next time, please.
Although happily installed as Pentre Fest regulars, Bad Earth have had anything but a comfortable couple of years. With the band reduced to just founder member Geordie at one point, the addition of new members Karl and Ben has reinvigorated this band beyond belief. Big, fast, dirty, non-stop biker rock that would make my old mate Lemmy very proud indeed, Bad Earth played brilliantly and performed a highlight set. The term “power trio” does not do justice here: more like “annihilation trio”. I wore my Bad Earth t-shirt ‘cos I’m a fanboy, you can fuck objective journalism sky high.
My first experience of these guys and they were intense, with a capital “fucking hell mate, who just punched my teeth out?”. Originally slated to appear earlier, Wrath of Man were delayed due to a horde of Visigoths on the A55 (Bad Earth moved their own set to accommodate). The Wrath encapsulate a steaming metal cauldron of brutal riff and thrashy ferocity, topped with growling vocals that suddenly bloom into melodically sung choruses. Uncompromising, surprising and you should check them out, like now.
RIFF OVERLOAD! Quick, pals – jump on Al’s Master Charger fun bus, we’re starting a club for MC fanboys and I’ve saved you all a seat! I’d listened to Master Charger before, but never seen them live – and oh, what beauty I did behold. Sludgier than a dirty bath, doomier than the Goat of Mendes, we sold our souls for Master Charger and they gave us a blinding set of fuzzy, scuzzy rock. Seriously supreme, this trio destroyed all before them – afterward, I destroyed their merch table because yes, I bought bloody everything! I’m not pissing about, Master Charger were AMAZING.
And that’s it. More soon, I hope. As always, major respect to Fozzy, Beany and crew for making this happen. Please check out the bands above and share the love.
I’m sure everyone who was there will agree that this year’s Pentre Fest was the best yet. The bands were fantastic; the were more people; the vibe was magnificent.
Held at McLean’s in Pentre, Deeside, North Wales, this festival features underground, unsigned rock and metal from near and far.
I attended the full two days this year, and saw most of the acts performing. I only wrote up a few though, so if you want to read the full review, visit the Ever Metal website here.
There were many highlights. Witchtripper had been on my “must see” list for a while – they didn’t disappoint. Old favourites Impavidus and Lullaby for a Unicorn were superb as always. Cry for Mercy, Stormrider and Womenowar were some of the newly viewed bands that I was very impressed by.
The whole weekend was unmissable and I was genuinely sad when it was all over. A brilliant, positive experience – well done to Fozzy, Beany, Frank and all the McLean’s staff.
You have to be there next year!
Ryuko presented a couple of surprises on Friday night’s acoustic stage. First off, they were fully plugged in and electric. Second, they play more of an alternative rock sound, which was something of a contrast to the majority of other Pentre Fest bands. Readers may not be aware, though, that I am in fact King of Grunge, with my 90’s credentials well proven. Ryuko’s set included some melody and even jangly pop along with heavier riffs, which was an enjoyable diversion in a Dinosaur Jr/Nirvana style. Well performed, Ryuko just need to test their audience further and throw in additional surprises in either a “Negative Creep” or “About a Girl” vein.
Rhiannon and Rachel
Sadly Pentre Fest suffered a few casualties this year. One such example was on the acoustic stage, where half of duo Rhiannon and Rachel was hospitalised and (obviously) unable to perform. But the show must go on: and Rhiannon performed a short but enjoyable set on the acoustic stage. Admittedly out of her comfort zone, playing guitar as well as singing, she soldiered on and won plaudits for her effort. Only a few minor mistakes were noticed – and easily forgiven. A beautiful singing voice that even managed to add a ghostly, ethereal sheen to a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” – making it sound good for the first time ever.
If the connection between metal and outlaw country isn’t obvious to any readers, I can only pity you. I’ve never witnessed Mike West before, but his amalgamation of southern rock, dusty country and swampy blues was a delight to my old whiskey-soaked soul. Mike delivers his songs with a hard rockin’ swagger, as if he’s just busted out of Tombstone jail and is riding across the plains, lamenting women and fortunes lost. A great voice and an outstanding presence, Mike is one to catch when you can. Has anyone done a “Wild West” gag yet? If not, there’s a headline for us there!
On the main stage, OMV entered dressed like a bunch of West Coast gangsters in masks and bandanas. Introduced as “hardcore street metal”, these guys definitely showed some great musical skills and energy. Somewhere between Bodycount, Suicidal Tendencies and Biohazard is where I’d stack them. Either way, OMV delivered some brutal songs and bounced around with massive crossover riffs. OMV were very entertaining, although hugely confrontational onstage – I wasn’t sure if they actually were going to pistol whip the audience into submission. The music has enough intensity and power to speak for itself.
A really fantastic set was delivered by Mr Luke Appleton on the acoustic stage. In truth, this was a duo performance with Rishi Mehta (of Babylon Fire) playing too, and it was a genuine highlight of Pentre Fest 2020. Dubbed “acoustic metal”, the songs were both suitably laidback, yet delivered with a metal edge. Expertly performed, we had tunes from Luke’s solo “Snake Eyes” project, plus of course some Iced Earth and Absolva numbers. Not to mention a bit of Dio and Tenacious D for good measure! A real class act in every sense of the word, and both very talented and down-to-earth gentlemen.
Son of Boar
They have a cool name, and they looked pretty cool on stage in matching denim battle-vests. And from the very first notes of the bass rumbling on the very first song, I had a feeling that Son of Boar would be something special. I wasn’t wrong. These Bradford bruisers have everything in spades: they’re unfeasibly heavy; they have slow, doomy riffs with a Sabbath-like infectiousness; they have a sludgy, swampy groove that can pack an aggressive punk punch. The best band of Pentre Fest 2020 as far as I was concerned, Son of Boar were superb. I even bought a t-shirt.
And lo, the marauding hordes converged once more, reconvening from their travels far and wide. In the Great Hall they would gather, trading tales of daring and adventure, as they caroused with rebellious abandon. Much ale would be drunk, for tomorrow many a skull would be split asunder.
So began the revelry of Pentre Fest, wherein the brave and mighty warriors celebrated their many victories and remembered comrades long fallen.
The first of the tribes to address the throng were The Forgotten Age, young but mighty in their conviction. Hailing from the Western Shores of Bangor, their stories were exciting yet accomplished, embellished with some fine melodies. An exceptional and heartening start to the evening’s merriment.
Next to command the stage were Obey, who were indeed a revelation to behold. Their immense riffs were sheer brutality, heeding no compromise as they delivered tales of destruction. Obey were champions of the event to my ears; voraciously did I consume their merchandise (CD and patch!). May the wind fill their sails and carry them to successful conquests aplenty.
Our next heroes were Torqued, a merciless crew who had engaged in a gruelling voyage from the far kingdom of Devon to regale us with their musical fables. The clash of metal was devastating, the battle cries rousing. A superb performance. Safe voyage home, brothers – for ye shall be missed for now and welcomed warmly again.
The night’s final victors were the relentless, uncompromising Foetal Juice. Looming over all with a malevolent thunder, the band decimated all in their path. With grim intent they vanquished the unworthy, leaving only the gratefully redeemed in their wake.
Thus was the first part of Pentre Fest concluded. Sadly I would embark on a personal quest of my own the next day; therefore being unable to rejoin the ceremony.
Regardless, though our warriors’ hearts were sated, for yet more metal majesty do we crave. Till the next Pentre Fest, my brothers (and sisters) – stay strong and may your adventures be praised in Valhalla.
Last week I spent a wild evening desperately trying to escape from a horde of zombies. For fun!
ScreamAcres is a live action event where people can run around being chased by the undead. By day GreenAcres is a farm park with animals and playgrounds for the family to enjoy. By night, however, we were launched directly into the midst of a zombie apocalypse – with soldiers losing their grip on a ramshackle shelter and all hell breaking loose.
I found myself first hauled around who knows where in the dark, in the back of an army truck. Then we were scanned for signs of the contagious virus inside the base by the soldiers. After this the hazy grip on civilisation was lost, and we were over run with zombies.
There followed an adrenaline fuelled race through the dark, trying to avoid the undead. Lost amongst disorientating smoke and lights, crawling around a maze and navigating various horrific rooms – all the while avoiding the swarming creatures.
I couldn’t help but get sucked into the whole scenario and whole heartedly become an active participant. It was very easy to be absorbed into the ScreamAcres world, with dozens of actors creating the roles.
Though nerve-racking, I found myself working out how to avoid the zombies like I was right in the middle of an episode of The Walking Dead. How do I get past this zombie? Do I make a noise to distract them? Crazy thoughts such as these became normal in my attempt to escape.
ScreamAcres was a total thrill; a real life role playing game with genuine frights. It really made me think too, as I tried to work out the best way to survive the adventure. The experience is extremely well put together, with a large cast all contributing to the scares and action.
A family gathering provided a recent opportunity for my second trip to Quay Fine Dining. The restaurant is located at the top of Connah’s Quay near Morrison’s supermarket, on the site of what was once known as the Top Kwiks.
Also, incidentally, very near where a young Platinum Al (only aluminium in those days) spent some of his childhood years.
The casual bigot may be confused at the idea of “fine dining” in Connah’s Quay. However I will proudly declare that this town deserves some respect, and indeed a quality restaurant. The first thing that strikes the eager food lover when entering Quay Fine Dining is just how smart the interior is: up to date, modern, clean and luxurious. It’s really quite spell binding.
The menu is largely Indian, with Thai and Greek options available also. On this particular visit, I opted to stick to an Indian theme. This began with the classic, if obvious, couple of popadoms (together with the usual chutney accompaniments).
Before taking this gastronomical journey any further, I should point out that Quay Fine Dining is not a licensed restaurant. But you can take along your own booze (which the staff will very kindly keep cool for you if desired). This means that the night out can work out reasonably cheaply, but you must plan this well! More on this later…
For our starters, Mrs Platinum Al chose chicken chaat puri, which was “lovely”. I tried some and can confirm that is was very good indeed! My own choice was chicken pakora, not something I have had very often. I made a good choice, it was excellent.
There was quite a wait between courses, unfortunately. As we were the only group in there at the time, I’m not sure why this was. This also meant that I ran out of drink before my main course arrived. Yes, I had somewhat underestimated the amount of booze required; though regardless the time between courses was a bit much.
Eventually the main courses arrived, and Mrs Platinum Al was very happy with her choice of chicken tikka shahi. This is one of my favourite Indian dishes, though I had picked something different.
My choice was chicken shashlik, a dish I have enjoyed elsewhere in the past, but not ordered for a very long time. I just felt that this would be a good choice. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s an impressive meal, brought sizzling to the table. The side salad/garnish was a bit limp and superfluous, but the dish was very tasty and highly recommended. My only mistake was ordering keema rice to go with the meal, there was plenty enough to eat without it (the dish is also served with a very nice curry sauce).
In conclusion, Quay Fine Dining not only offered a wide variety on the menu, it was also able to deliver a superb standard of food. Plan your drink right and you’ll be rewarded with a very fine dining experience indeed.
Food Quest Test
Food: a massive choice, and from experience – great quality food without being over faced.
Drink: not licensed, so take your own. No problems if you plan ahead.
Service: slow between courses, but the staff are exceptionally helpful and friendly.
Environment: visually impressive, modern and – dare I say it – extremely elegant. Classy.
Cost: regardless of whether you save a few quid with the drink situation, the meals are very good value.
Quay Fine Dining, Ffordd Llanarth, Deeside Shopping Centre, Connah’s Quay CH5 4UP
Welcome to the frontier, the Wild West of Connah’s Quay. No, the Quay isn’t that wild – but there’s a taste of the Big Country at The Palomino.
Once it was the Wepre Inn, now it’s reborn as The Palomino. A Western themed bar and restaurant that’s decked out in all manner of cowboy paraphernalia. There are life size statues of cowboys and Indians (including a full size John Wayne on a horse); dreamcatchers and pictures on the wall; plus numerous models of Native Americans and what not all over the place.
I think it’s very cool. The very first time I went there, they even had Clint Eastwood classic Hang ‘Em High showing on several television screens around the room.
There’s an extensive menu that covers a wide range of steaks, burgers and hearty meals to fill up any gunslinger. There are of course salads and vegetarian options for the weirdos. Plenty of drink choices too, though sadly no Sam Adams or Brooklyn lager – they would’ve been more suitable. I tried Kozel, a Czech beer, which was very nice (though sadly not cold enough!).
On our most recent visit, Mrs Platinum Al opted for the Chicken Espetada. Never heard of this before; it’s pretty impressive. Two large chicken and veg kebabs hang vertically down from a metal support over the plate. Served with chips and salad, It looked great and the smell was enticing. Luckily I got to try some. I loved it, one to try next time.
For my own choice, I went for the full rack of ribs. A massive plate was served to me, with chips, salad, coleslaw and corn on the cob. The ribs were extremely tender and fell apart nicely, delicious sauce too. Despite the vast amount of food, I made a valiant attempt and finished nearly everything – leaving just the corn half eaten…
Speaking for myself, I really enjoy going to the Palomino. The food has always been good, with large portions and a good choice on offer.
Of course, what makes The Palomino unique is the decor. You can see from the photos here what the place is like. Unfortunately, I hear that the place is having a make over soon – so there’ll be no more Western memorabilia. This makes me very sad. Like a cowboy who’s had to shoot his lame horse.
I’m sure the food will continue to be great. It’s just a shame that such a fun, different venue won’t be the same. If you want to experience The Palomino as it is, better saddle up soon.
Food Quest Test
Food: a wide range of American style food, plus trad favourites, and large portions. How about a Man vs Food style burger challenge?!
Drink: good range of beers, American beer like Samuel Adams and Brooklyn Lager would be great though.
Service: good, not perfect, but cheerful.
Cost: good value for large portions.
The Palomino Bar & Restaurant, Wepre Lane, Connah’s Quay CH5 4JR
Not too long ago, Mrs Platinum Al and I went for a meal at the White Bear in sunny Mancot. I should say “another meal”, as we’ve been there many times. Here’s a quick round up of our experience.
The White Bear is a great little village pub. There are numerous events throughout the week – every week – making it a lively, welcoming place. Drinks are affordable – no-one’s getting ripped off. The food is also affordable – but unlike many other local boozers, the grub manages to be damn good stuff.
Our starters were mushroom and brie bake (for her, you must know what I think about mushrooms by now); and chicken wings for me. Both great. The wings were tasty but no overkill on the spice, a commendable job. My only suggestion would be to provide a finger bowl for this, and other messy food such as ribs.
Despite the pub being very busy on the evening we visited, the staff were very helpful and attentive. You can buy drinks at the bar, or one of the waiting staff can bring them over for you. They are battle hardened and ready to move tables and seats around, provide advice and attempt any task to help their customers.
The main courses were The Legendary Fish and Chips for her; and Kick Ass Chicken for moi. The fish and chips are indeed the stuff of legend: you get three substantial fish goujons plus chunky chips and good ol’ mushy peas. Highly recommended – I can speak from experience.
The Kick Ass chicken is not a pretend superhero. It is in fact a dish consisting of chicken and bacon topped with cheese, in a tangy barbecue sauce. What’s kick ass about that? I forgot to mention the JALAPENOS. Served with chips and peas, this meal is pleasantly spicy, but soon warms up. By the end, the Kick Ass chicken totally kicked my ass. But in an “I’ll be back for more next time” way.
For dessert, Mrs Platinum Al went for a brandy snap basket with ice cream and toffee sauce. I indulged in toblerone cheesecake – never before experienced, my mouth soon forgave me for the jalapenos.
Personally, I cannot believe how the White Bear manages to provide such excellent food – consistently, I might add – for a reasonable price. There’s plenty of choice on the menu, the surroundings are warm – I can’t recommend it highly enough. This is pub grub, done the right way – and so much better than the local rivals*. Good size portions, great taste – the White Bear ticks all the boxes.
Food Quest Test
Food: Great taste, large portions
Drink: Affordable = good. A mid strength quality lager would be great (ie bring back Stella 4%!)
Service: Friendly, helpful
Environment: Traditional pub, busy later on
Cost: Very reasonsable
The White Bear, Mancot Lane, Mancot, Deeside, Flintshire CH5 2AH