Friday, November 17, 2017

Land-lubbing in style

Still making the most of the locations of Said The Maidens' tour venues, we drove down to Devon last Sunday. We love Devon, and it's so beautiful in its autumn foliage (but where isn't?). We'd booked into The Fisherman's Cot for a couple of nights, a lovely old pub in Tiverton, right next to the River Exe as it rushes under the 16th century Bickleigh Bridge - the inspiration for Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge over troubled water".

We arrived just in time to have Sunday lunch.

In the evening, we drove to nearby Kingskerswell, to the Parish Church of St Mary, where the Maidens were scheduled to play.

It's a lovely old building with excellent acoustics that suited perfectly the Maidens' voices. The music events side of this church has been run for many years by a couple from the church - plus several other volunteer helpers - and they have a busy programme throughout the year.

The vicar announces up-coming events to his congregations at Sunday services, and plays sample tracks and videos to them, too. It's a superb venue, the audience that evening was large and enthusiastic, and the Maidens did a terrific job in their hour and a half performance. We shared it with Christine and Mike, and our niece, Jo, who live in nearby Torquay.

Having spent most of Sunday in Wellington with Christine and Dorothy (Grace's sisters), on Monday morning we drove for just a few minutes to Knightshayes, a splendid National Trust property we only remembered vaguely from a visit ten years ago. It's not huge, and the upstairs rooms were closed for their annual dose of TLC, so we weren't there for more than two hours, but it was time very well spent.

Back on the road with our noses pointing towards St Albans, we took a bit of a detour to visit The Tunnels, a music venue under the approach to the grand old railway station in Bristol.

photo - It was pouring with rain when we were there!

Jess and Hannah had both left things behind after their gig there the previous Tuesday, and we called in to collect them. It's another very popular venue, and a most unusual one, too!

We had to get Jess's phone (picked up at The Tunnels) back to Jess, so we went back to the house and spent a couple of days there. Back aboard Kantara now, we're driving to Whitby tomorrow for a short sightseeing break before going to Sheffield to support Said the Maiden there, too. Unfortunately, Whitby Pavilion Theatre failed to sell enough tickets to make the Maidens' appearance viable, so that was cancelled a week or so ago.

Never mind! East coast beaches and the North York Moors! In November!!

Monday, November 06, 2017

All change!

Months ago now, we got back to Kantara after a spell back in St Albans to find that NBs Cream Cracker and Achernar had both absconded to the other side of the marina from us. Some weeks after that, we found that the Arrens (Darren and Karen) on Cream Cracker had moved off her and gone back to their house.

The two berths next to us remained empty for some time, which was great because it gave us more light and a better view from our windows. But then came Lindsey Ann to take Achernar's place, and today The Hodma'dod (Olde Englishe for "snail") closed the remaining gap. In fact, they'd already occupied it for a short time earlier in the year, but disappeared again. They're here now for the winter, and it'll be nice to have some liveaboard neighbours again.  Ed and Jan in Emma Jane on our other side only visit EJ occasionally. Good as it's been to have the space around us, we've felt rather lonely. Awww!

Other changes involve Carol on Jimsonweed moving back onto land, taking Frank and Millie with her. They'll all be missed.

(unlike these two, Carol's camera-shy!)

Having washed Kantara a while back, I tried today to wax her. The 9° air was far too cold to let the wax spread properly, and the final job, though it's bound to be water-protective, doesn't look too brilliant. Come the warmer weather next year (fingers crossed for that), I'll give it all the buffing it needs to restore the gleam it ought to have.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

And a new route!

So I emailed Northamptonshire's Highways Department and complained about the unnecessarily long diversion that we'd suffered the day before ("Pissed-off of Yelvertoft") To my surprise, I got a reply the next day. They'd reviewed the route, and re-routed the diversion. And the new route is pretty much the same length as the one that's blocked by the roadworks! It simply takes drivers through an industrial estate on a course which pretty much mirrors the route it's replacing. I knew about the industrial estate, but hadn't realised that it is open to through traffic. But surely the Highways department knew? I wish I'd known last Friday!

We were back at the house yet again on Monday morning. One thousand CDs were due to be delivered that day, but there was going to be no-one there to receive them. We stepped in to help, and five boxes of the Company of Players CD duly arrived in the early afternoon. Grace and I were the first to hear it. It is truly amazing!

(from their tour gig at Stratford's RSC theatre)

The album launch isn't until February because of the ten members' individual commitments.

Said the Maidens' album launch was last night, at The Water Rats Theatre in London's Kings Cross. It was there that Bob Dylan first sang in the UK in 1962. The Pogues played their first gig there in 1982. Oasis's debut London performance took place there on 27 January 1994. The list goes on and on...

And what a fabulous evening we had there yesterday! Two 45-minute sets from the Maidens had the theatre-full audience spellbound, loving every minute, and every song received loud, enthusiastic applause.

A young man was sitting on his own in front of us. We'd chatted a little when he first shuffled his way into his seat. I looked at him from time to time while the Maidens were performing, and he seemed to be enjoying it all. Come the interval, he didn't move for some time. He sat very still, lost in thought, or so it seemed. Then he turned to us to speak. His face gave a lot away. He was blown away, he said. He'd never before heard anything like their singing, their music. He was very close to tears. He hesitated, looked down, before explaining to us. He'd never heard of Said the Maiden. He'd come to the gig on the off-chance, out of curiosity. And he loved what he heard. He suffered from depression, he said, and he'd been having a very bad time recently. But this performance had lifted his spirits, and given him a joy that he'd be taking away with him. He was really quite overwhelmed by the effect the Maidens had had on him. The glow on his face was lovely to see.

He went to speak with Jess, Hannah and Cathy during the interval, and bought all of their albums and EPs, and took a schedule of their tour, hoping that he'd be able to see them again soon. He left the theatre that night feeling very different from how he'd felt when he entered it. Such is the healing power of music!

The album tour continues until the last day of the month. I'm tired, just thinking about it!


Please note that another update to "Hints and tips..." has been added to the Addendum Blog.

Monday, October 30, 2017

One of the many reasons I love boats!

Traffic jams!!

Grace and I drove up to Durham on Friday. "Said the Maiden" were playing a gig there at the fantastic Gala Theatre, so we booked in to a lovely old inn not far outside the city, planning to be there for two nights.

Setting out from Yelvertoft and Crick to join the M1 north at Junction 18, we met some roadworks that blocked our way, with diversion signs. Frowning because the diversion was headed south, we duly followed.

Fifty (yes, 50) minutes later we arrived at Junction 18, less than a minute away from where we'd started! That was not a good way to start our 200-mile journey! And to add insult to our not inconsequential injury, the traffic up the M1 and A1 was dreadful, and we were on the road for another five hours.

It was well worth it, however. The Three Horseshoes Inn was perfect for our needs. Our room overlooked miles of countryside, the food and the service were faultless.

More importantly, the Maidens' gig was great, with a very enthusiastic, delighted audience enjoying a superb performance.

The next day, we went into the city to do some sight-seeing. It's a charming old city with loads of character, loads of students and more loads of tourists.

The cathedral is beautiful, and we spent most of our time in or close to that. Annoyingly, though, it was not permissible to take photos in the cathedral, and paid-for permits weren't even available.

Unfortunately, the castle that houses the University was closed to the public.

On our way back to the inn, we drove out to the coast - just to see how bleak and beautiful it was.


We left for home on Sunday morning, taking a detour (deliberate this time!) out over the North Pennines - rugged moorland, fabulous contours and colours, almost deserted. Getting out of the car was hazardous, however, because of the biting cold, strong-gusting wind!

We finally pointed the car towards Yelvertoft, and guess what...

Traffic jams!