Well it’s been a while since my last blog since when I’ve moved house! It’s great to be in anyway and things are beautifully organised…again (more to follow). Coming back from Norway I was straight back into gigging action with an appearance at Maverick Festival which was a whole lot of fun! It was particularly great to meet the great Billy Bragg who was an absolute gentleman and very entertaining with it. My gig was a lot of fun too with a standing crowd so a very energetic set!
Next up was a week of Live Music Now work with Mr Nic Zuppardi on the mandolin. First up was the Manchester area where we played at a youth centre in the morning then a home for former service men and women in the afternoon. Both were really rewarding and one girl who attempted to play eleven percussion instruments at once rather stood out! Then came four days in Cumbria playing at day centres and schools which really was an absolute joy and seemed to have a profound effect on those there and ourselves. We even found time to do a village hall gig in Tirril one evening as well and a lovely time was had.
Next up it was down to Shropshire to play a couple of gigs firstly in Ludlow at the Charlton then at the Willow Gallery in Oswestry. Both were great and the latter particularly was packed with very lovely people. I must also say the organisers of both gigs were an absolute delight and very helpful with many things including a lost ipod…don’t get me started. Then it was just down the road from my house to play the Great British Food Festival at Shugborough where I seemed to make a few new fans which is always nice!
Then, horror of horrors, came four days in one place! This coincided with my birthday and moving house and a bit of teaching – well you didn’t expect me to just sit at home and rest did you? Yes I should probably do that some time…
Then after those four days came the 17th…this involved going to Orpington. Orpington is in Kent, near London. Very south. While there Nic and I had a lot of fun at a special needs school doing workshops and doing a concert throughout the day. Special thanks to Oliver there who was an absolutely brilliant head of performing arts who helped us a great deal. So yeah that was great. Then it was off to my gig in the evening…in North Wales. North Wales is not very south. It’s a very long way from Orpington and the journey involved the three worst motorways in the UK (probably the world) on a Friday in rush hour on the last day of term. Somehow I made it fifteen minutes before my 9pm gig with the Urban Folk Quartet. It was great but I was knackered afterwards. Then followed a rare Saturday off which I spent at Upton Blues Festival. Cracking stuff.
Then to bring us up to date, I headed to France amazingly for the first time, with the Urban Folk Quartet for two lovely gigs. The preparation was less than ideal. More on that later. For now, it would be great to focus on the two great gigs we had first up at Het Lindeboom festival where we played to a few thousand people who seemed to like us! Our French was atrocious but we tried! Then we travelled an exceedingly long way south to play in Condillac two days later which is a very small village an hour or two south of Lyon. The location was beautiful and the people were simply lovely and we had what I felt was one of our very best gigs as a band. Thank you to everyone there for giving us such a great time.
So then that preparation…Packing for France the night before travelling down to Kent to stay in a hotel prior to the morning ferry came that horrific moment everyone hopes never happens to them and just to those dozy gits on airport documentaries: the lost passport. A panicked two hour search, a frantic phone call to the parents because I remembered something similar happened to dad about 10 years ago and he managed to get some kind of emergency passport and much swearing later I tried to sleep, mostly failing. Early this morning: more searching, ringing passport office six times, ringing the ferry company, border control people and everywhere I’ve been since coming back from Norway to see if somehow it had turned up. My wonderful parents were coming up with ideas, my wonderful friend Camilla came round to help search, my wonderful now ex-landlord gave me numbers for the current Weston Road crop so I could get a key to look there (many thanks to wonderful ex-housemate Azzurra for providing said key) and my dear old band mate Tom drove up to help too. Then the moment I thought couldn’t possibly happen…the passport appeared buried deep in the lining of my laptop satchel just where I bloody well knew it was (the satchel I mean obviously not the lining, if i knew it was there this would not really have got off the ground). So relief all round…then the car bonnet wouldn’t shut (Tom had opened it to…er…look for the passport). One AA call later and this was fixed. Thankfully the trip went well…