Norway and back again – a musical Manx Hobbit’s small adventure

Blogpost from Bath

I am writing this, dear reader, from my ever-so comfy bedroom at a quaint Bed & Breakfast in Bath: Greenways is a truly delightful place, run by an exceptionally lovely woman called Pat who, it has to be said, should have an entire sitcom written about her! And I’m very happy to recommend her fabulous B&B. Unlike the first place I booked online: The Redcar is an awful, dilapidated excuse of a hotel with no redeeming features what-so-ever! I feel so much better fro expressing that – thanks.

Anyway … I’m in between gigs with Dave Kelly and Peter Filleul – about which I’ll write much more later – but to give you some context: today (Thursday September 19th) is gig number two of our autumnal tour and it takes place in this fair city. If our first gig, at Norwich Arts Centre last Sunday is any indication, it should be a fabulous night. I’ve been here two days already – enjoying a rare and precious piece of unbridled solitude.

But before I digress too far off piste, let me remind you that when last we met – oh patient reader – I was all set to fly to Stavanger in beautiful Norway, to perform at an extraordinary place, on a full moon evening in July. My how time flies. Actually one of my favourite sayings is: Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. I flew from Aberdeen International airport, while Rob Cross, my delightful musical cohort for the event, flew from Heathrow (no need to write it’s international status right?) – via Cardiff whence he lives. The nervous energy expended, wondering if one’s accompanist has safely managed to get to: i) the correct airport and ii) get there in a timely manner – is huge! Just sayin’.

We both arrived at various times, safe and sound and were transported to a small town on the outskirts of Stavanger. We were put up at a lovely hotel provided by our delightful host and concert promoter: Gunnar Tonnesson. I recall that it was a very hot and sticky day – funny the things one remembers on a cold and rainy evening. Rob got to the hotel at 3.30pm and we were offered sustenance, which consisted of a local delicacy, ready to eat at 4.30pm – before leaving for the sound check at 5.30pm. Our meal consisted of two, huge, oatmeal-dumplings, cabbage and seriously boiled lamb chops. Needless to say, with a gig to do and all, we couldn’t eat very much but we were very grateful for the offering. The hotel staff, who were particularly excited that we should opt for their very own version of comfort food, as our repast, were only slightly put out when we couldn’t do their generous meal justice. I wish I’d taken a photo!

So … we arrived at the venue, normally an Art gallery-cum- restaurant with adjoining an delightful educational facility, nestled in tussocky-covered sand dunes, close to the rich and diverse seashore of this rural, agricultural part of Norway. These are the only flat lands in the whole of the country. It was a fabulous building in an equally fabulous setting. And to top it all, a gorgeous, golden, moon, fully ripe by the end of the show, glowed bright as a beach ball in a still, pale, blue, sky at 11pm.

Flipping Pre-show preparations

The show itself was wonderful – it was a sell out too! The audience, despite my utter lack of Norwegian, laughed at all my weird jokes and general daftness and clapped loudly at the end of each song. We felt totally loved and appreciated; we really couldn’t have asked for more – but they, thankfully did. It was a memorable if short lived experience and we’d love to do it again and … maybe even add a couple more towns to make it a mini tour next time? Yes please!

August was spent in the peppery heat of southern California, meeting up with friends and generally having a fabulous time. Someone has to right? It might as well be me and Bob! One memorable outing was a boat trip to Catalina Island which lies 30 odd miles from Long Beach. We’ve made the trip several times before with the same lovely friends: Mike and Sue Slamer but this was the first time we spotted Blue Whales! What a magnificent sight. I managed to get a few photos but they truly don’t do justice to the experience. We all felt incredibly grateful to have witnessed these wonderful creatures in their natural habitat.

Since returning to the UK I spent two whole days at home on the Isle of Man and then flew to London for a week’s wort of rehearsals with Dave Kelly, Peter Filleul and our very young, talented band: Homer (Dave’s youngest son) on bass and extra vocals plus two of his mates from music college in Brighton: Loz on drums and Bryn on guitar. I met them for the first time on day one of rehearsals … that was a moment. Turns out they not only knew all the songs but played them with flare already! Phew 🙂 It’s very exciting to be on stage with such fresh, energetic enthusiasm … not that Pete, Dave and myself aren’t totally enthused! But youth … well … it’s effervescent in a way we can only dream of these days. It promises to be a wonderful tour. I hope we see some of you along the way. Thanks as always for dropping by … your company is … essential I’d say.

I’ll be back soon with an up date on all things musically exciting and quite possibly youthful.

Bye for now.

Love Christine xx

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