Sunday 22nd November. The Marina Theatre, Lowestoft.
Accommodation: as yesterday.
Pete Zorn joined forces with us today.
A decision had been taken within the band to have him bring an array of wind, percussion and string instruments with him to Norfolk.
Originally, the intention was to have him step in for Rick on bass who’d expressed doubts as to whether or not he’d be able to complete the tour. When Rick felt a little more hopeful about everything, Pete’s role switched.
Monday 23rd November. The Corn Exchange, Ipswich.
Accommodation: The Ramada Encore.
After the last two nights of accommodation in Lowestoft, more attention is now focused on internet reviews of our future hotels. As a result we’ve changed our accommodation arrangements for the next four nights.
The guys at the Park Records office have so much to consider when arranging our hotels; one minute we ask if we can stay in town centres as near as possible to wherever we’re playing, in the next breath we complain the standard isn’t good enough, and want to be moved somewhere else - usually at the last minute.
I’m increasingly convinced that standard should be our priority, and not solely location.
Tuesday 24th November. Travel to the Isle of Wight.
Accommodation: Lakeside Park Hotel & Spa.
Had to make a pretty early start from Ipswich; the ferry time at Portsmouth was 4 p.m.
These last few day the weather across the British Isles has been grim to say the least; there’s been incredible floods in the north-west, particularly at Cockermouth and Workington up in Cumbria where six bridges have literally collapsed under the weight of the flood water.
In the south here it has been pretty unpleasant on and off, but I’d say we’ve probably experienced the least severe end of the storm.
I did think though that once we reached the coast, and consquently were a little more exposed to the elements, that the crossing might be a bit rough, but no, even though the sea looked slightly choppy, once I had the laptop out and my mind was on other things I didn’t even notice it.
Back to the subject of hotels, the one we checked into today on our arrival on the IoW. is nothing lass than sensational. I have to wonder if it’s the best I’ve ever stayed at, and I mean - ‘ever’.
It’s perfect - everything works. The rooms are beautiful. The beds - so comfortable. The staff so friendly. The food - amazing.
The spa has a shower - as spas do, but this one is state of the art; it’s called an ‘experience shower’ . There’re a number of buttons that let you choose between four types of aromatherapy sprays - White Cloud, Atlantic Ocean, Tropical Rain, and one more I can’t remember.
On my arrival I headed straight for the spa, reminding myself of just how gaudy my Bermuda shorts are - they hadn’t improved a bit since the last time I wore ‘em.
Still, why should I care? - I was the one and only sole in the steam room. The temperature was exactly right - not quite, but almost painful.
And as I sat there collecting my thoughts and sweating in the steamy blue light, I thought I might have just gone to heaven.
Thursday 26th November. The Medina Theatre, Newport, Isle of Wight.
Friday 27th November. The Town Hall, Birmingham.
Accommodation: The Thistle Birmingham City Hotel.
An amazing building; second time I’ve played here this year, but it’s even more impressive than the last time; or more likely - I’m taking a bit more notice of it.
And things are getting very Christmas-like out there. All too busy for me as I walked from the hotel to the venue; it wasn’t far really, but the street map I was following, the one I’d been given at the hotel, bore no resemblance whatsoever to the layout of the streets.
So it was the result of a little luck and a few road signs that finally guided me to the correct location, not that I recognised it at the time though; I approached a young girl, and asked, “Can you tell me where the town hall is?”. She pointed in the direction I’d just walked from, and said In a broad Birmingham accent, “The Symphony Hall’s over there”. “What about the Town Hall then?”, I repeated. “Sorry, haven’t got the faintest”, she replied. As she walked away I raised my head slightly, and without doing anything that constituted ‘moving’, I looked directly forward, and there it was - standing tall directly in front of me.
I should update the set list. Not that it’s all that different - just a couple of switches here and there have been made.
Little Sir Hugh
I Love Not Where I Live
Si Beag Si Mor
The Gallant Frigate Amphitrite
All Things Are Quite Silent
Van Dieman’s Land
Peace On The Border
Thomas The Rhymer