Dear all,

Well here I am back on UK soil, finally. I suspect some of you probably think I make up half the travel crap that happens to me but I swear it is real! Here is the story of my return from Canada…firstly my initial plan was Fredericton to Halifax on the Sunday night then a quick turnaround before Halifax to London getting in at 9am on Monday morning. My flight from Halifax to London was of course cancelled so they rescheduled me for twenty fours later. Needing to get back for a day of banjo teaching at home on the Tuesday I asked if there were any other options and they said yes 0530 to Toronto (and a free hotel for the night) then onto London from there getting in for 9pm. Not ideal but ok. Then when I arrived at the airport at 4am the next day I was informed the 0530 was delayed by four hours thus my connection to London was not possible so instead I will now get in at 0630 Tuesday morning before heading to Stafford to teach banjo (and hopefully not fall asleep) for the day. So then I was at Fredericton for a 5 and a half hour stay (there ain’t much to do there…) and then in Toronto for the best part of eight hours (not much to do there either). The really bloody annoying thing is if I’d have just gone with the 24 hours later option I would have got back at roughly the same time, had a proper night’s sleep, maybe seen some chums in Halifax and been able to kill time in places that weren’t airports! And as if that wasn’t enough the crowning turd in the water pipe is Toronto is a further hour behind so I effectively lost another hour’s sleep!

Anyway all that nonsense was most definitely not enough to overshadow a thoroughly good time in Canada with some wonderful gigs, brilliant company and actually a little bit of much needed rest. I was fairly busy out there but had short drives and there’s something so relaxing about that part of the world that it rather reinvigorated me a little bit. First up was the Red Herring in St Andrews which was an awful lot of fun and what an amazing town! Relaxed is not the word…I arrived at my accommodation, the brilliantly titled Salty Towers to find all the doors wide open and a note saying the owner was out but to give him a call or head on up to the room. Then to Fredericton, a cracking little city and I had a cracking little gig at Corked. Next up it was onto Nova Scotia to play GPS concerts, a great little gig near Halifax with a really lovely audience although it did involve an unexpected drive to A and E in the evening as my host couldn’t move his neck! Thankfully he is ok now!

And then Prince Edward Island…ah Prince Edward Island. I do love you! It’s impossible not to adore this wonderful little place with its red beaches, lovely lobster, astounding music and simply delightful people. I felt honoured to be invited to the Small Halls festival for the second year running and I had a belting time from start to finish. Thank you thank you thank you PEI! Then to complete the tour it was back to New Brunswick to play the bloody marvellous Plan B in Moncton, a truly awesome music pub which has music of all types every night – I was sharing the bill with a soul band! Lastly it was to Parkindale Hall, a delightfully quirky little hall in the middle of bloody nowhere and the people there gave me the most wonderful time. Canada you are just awesome. I had toured there a couple of times with the brilliant Meaghan Blanchard but this was my first time solo and I just love the place!

Thanks to Air Canada’s incompetence I have been frantically dashing around trying to work since I got back. I was at a lovely school in Stourbridge for a couple of days for their annual folk fortnight –  a tradition created by my great friend Matt Price whose mum works there as the music teacher – which is basically two weeks of tutors teaching instruments, workshops and doing a ceilidh and a concert. It was a great couple of days as always and the concert was lovely. A rare Walsh and Pound reunion even happened – Will was one of the other tutors so we played our old hit Turkish Delight. Good fun.

So then. I have been deliberating over whether to comment much on the whole EU thing. I have concluded perhaps not in terms of my own personal view but I would like to say this. I think we as a society must learn to listen to each other, respect each other and above all stop placing ourselves in ‘camps’ where everybody thinks the same thing about every issue and doesn’t want to hear from anyone who deviates from it to any extent. It’s got to stop. As an example, I have frequently seen on facebook the status ‘if you voted Tory unfriend me now’ or ‘if you’re voting remain unfriend me now’. What, so you only want to know people who think the same way you do? You’re so scared of having a debate or hearing an opposing view that you are going to not be friends with someone who potentially you might actually be friends with? I don’t know why there seems to be this trend now towards ‘oh we’d better not talk about that in case we fall out’. I have never understood this. Is it not possible to have a debate with a friend and stay friends?! I lived with two devout Christians, a faith I do not share, and we discussed it a fair amount but never once did we ‘fall out’. A good proportion of my family are Tory voters which I’m not but we don’t ‘fall out’. I listen to views and understand the arguments and draw my own conclusions. Do you know what, sometimes I learn something from people who disagree with me. It doesn’t mean I shift over to their view neccessarily, just that I understand an issue more than I did. Don’t be so close minded and don’t dismiss people on the basis that they believe a fairer society can be achieved via a different means than you think. Research, listen and learn and arrive at a view but don’t refuse to listen to another one. We can do better than that.