Beautiful Norway

Dear all,

I have returned to the UK once again from a foreign jaunt and I’ve a few gigs and home time to look forward to in July before heading to France with Urban Folk Quartet. I have returned from the wonderful Norway which is a beautiful country and one I particularly enjoyed this time. Norway is breathtaking in its beautiful views and phenomenal expense but the former far outweighs the latter. Upon arriving last Saturday it was straight to Nystua Bluegrass Festival, about an hour outside Oslo and the setting was absolutely lovely. The Norwegian sun shone down on some terrific music outside during the afternoon before the evening’s entertainment moved inside to a delightful old barn which was packed to the rafters. My set was in the barn and I had a wonderful time and the audience were certainly up for it! A good party was had afterwards too so all in all a delightful gig. There followed the rare luxury of a few days abroad not gigging so after a day in Oslo I headed to Bergen to see chums Mark and Gillian and enjoy a city I think is great. We even had a drink out in a record shop…that has a bar. That is genius and should be replicated much more often. Then to the beautiful islands just outside Bergen where Gillian resides and I had a wonderful time taking in views such as the one below. It’s great when on tour to experience these fantastic places and few I’ve seen rank alongside this area of Norway, though the view reminds me a little bit of New Zealand. Finally, it was back to ‘work’, whatever that means, and my other Norwegian gig which was in Meland Jazzkafe and it was packed with lovely people who gave me a wonderful night and were very understanding when I managed to choke mid-song and lose my voice for a little while. Thanks Norway, it was great.

But hang on…I’ve missed a bit haven’t I? Firstly, I must thank the wonderful people of Canada for a cracking couple of weeks there including the final gig at Prince Edward Island’s festival of small halls which was possibly the finest of all my gigs out there. A standing ovation was a lovely and unexpected surprise so many thanks indeed to you all. Prince Edward Island is one of the most special places on this earth – I’d recommend it to absolutely anyone. After Canada it was a flight home and off to rehearsals with Urban Folk Quartet for our live session on Mark Radcliffe’s show on BBC Radio 2. It was a great experience for us all and we had some great feedback. I listened to that show religiously during my teens and discovered much great music there so I find it a quite surreal experience to actually play on it! Many thanks to Mark for having us. Then just to bring you up to date, before heading to Norway I played the National Forest Folk Festival in Leicestershire which is always a favourite of mine and didn’t disappoint.

And so here I am, in a Costa in Ipswich where I stayed last night prior to heading to Maverick festival in Suffolk today. It should be fine then it’s a week of Live Music Now with Nic Zuppardi first in Oldham tomorrow then up in Cumbria for a few days which means I get to see my folks which is always great of course. We’re even doing a gig, rather unexpectedly, in Tirril Village Hall on Wednesday!

And so I have a bit of a story for you as ever. It follows on from the ridiculous Subway story – it turns out McDonalds are equally not brimming over with commonsense. By the way don’t judge me I don’t often eat at these outlets. It’s simply that on PEI it was raining and Subway was next door to my hotel and last night McDonald’s was the only thing still open at the service station on my way from Gatwick to my hotel. On which subject, people do move phenomenally slowly don’t they?! My plane landed at 2010 as scheduled and owing to people’s overwhelmingly slow speed of getting the hell on with getting off the plane and moving towards customs, baggage etc it was a fair old while til I got to my car. I decided to head straight off but quickly realised I’d made a mistake not picking up some food. So McDonalds it was and this is where this thing happened. It was all a bit chaotic in there with one very cheerful man talking to customers while other staff members grumbled, argued, moaned, went on breaks etc and it all took rather a long time. So when the cheerful man handed me my big mac meal in a takeaway bag he said ‘sorry for the delay’ (which I should add really wasn’t that long), ‘as recompense I’ve put a cheeseburger and a chicken burger in there with your big mac’. I was too stunned to say this at the time, but why on earth would I want three burgers?! Frankly one was bad enough. It was nice of him and all but seemed a little over the top. I discovered he also did the same for the people after me so was basically just giving away free stuff. Nice. I ate one a half burgers but simply couldn’t manage any more so I gave my last non-started burger to a homeless man I passed when I drove through a town. It’s a strange world.