Monday, September 27, 2010

From the Atlantic coast to the Dales.

Just finished a wonderful gig at Reeth Village Hall. We did a bit of everything, harmonies, drums, concertina, fiddlesinging, guitar, flute, whistle, costume change. Loads of fun. Rebecca Findlay did the support and really impressed me with her breadth of skills, fiddlesinging, lovely guitar work and interesting choice of tradition-based songs. After the show, she couldn't stay for a session because she had to go and pack up a p.a. at another gig. We trooped down to the nearest pub with our hosts, Tracy and John, and soon had a few tunes and songs and a chat with the locals and a lad from New Zealand.

Reeth is a beautiful village in the middle of Swaledale, and the road in leads over the dales amongst the heather. Wouldn't want to be on those slopes and curves in ice, though! We drove in past Bolton Castle, which looms ominously above as you drive the tiny road, and we also saw lots of animals: pheasant, grouse, sheep, horses including Clydesdales, big grey and cream spotty cows (I just know someone's going to tell me what kind they are) and bunnies. The stark ridges and purple heather, and the moving pattern of sunlight and cloud, were stunning.

Since the last blog entry, Cloudstreet has been All Over The Country! Following our Isle of Wight odyssey, we played in Chipping Norton, surely one of the prettiest villages we've seen. We last played there five years ago, and stayed once again with Dave and Jill, who have now finished that room at the back!

We had a support act, and it was Tribal Hart, a band fronted by our old friend from Brisbane, Jan Davis. Jan's joyful style, and upbeat guitar and accordion playing, is complemented by Lefty on cajon and Paul on bass, and they chose party-style covers and had everyone singing. The audience was full of Aussies; Lindsey, Suzanne and Anna, friends from Music Under the Southern Cross, were all there, and quite a few others too. The choruses were big on harmony, and after the show, we repaired to a local pub and had a session, ripping out some of those Scottish fiddle tunes with Anna, and letting several Middle Bar veterans fly on chorus songs.

The weather turned cold. We drove to Devon. The weather improved. Lovely gig at Folk on the Moor in Devon, with some very fine floor singers too. We stayed with Colin and Monique. Monique couldn't make it to the show, but when we discovered she was a keen Beatles fan, we sang her our slow version of "In My Life" before we left, as a thankyou.

The day was bright, sunny and warm. We enjoyed the drive to Newquay and had a marvellous day off where I got to sit on the beach at Porth and draw pictures in the sand in a very unstructured and restful way! Then I had a lovely cloudy cider, and enjoyed the gorgeous sunset. In the morning, as another clear day dawned, we walked out to the headland at Porth where there was once a prehistoric roundhouse, and looked at the magnificent cliff-edged coastline to the north.

Our next show was in Arundel, a town with a remarkably intact castle, and a sandwich shop rather worryingly called "The Edible Sandwich Co". Why are they making such a big thing about that? Isn't it normal? 

A campervan was parked outside the venue and I somehow suspected the inhabitants might come to our gig. I was surprised, though, to see Rian and Lindsay, from Queensland, climb out. Lovely to see friends from the Aus folk scene. They had no news of home, they've been here longer than us, and taken their campervan everywhere from Orkney to Ireland to Arundel.

Our next show was two days later in North Yorkshire. That's a long drive from the south coast and we were getting a bit weary of the road. We sheltered for a night at Chris and Sophie's in Coventry, and set out again next day. The drive was a bit of a killer but the Bacca Pipes club at Keighley was worth it. A secret club, it is held in the Ukrainian Club on Henry Street. We were parked on Henry Street and had inspected every building without identifiying that we were parked outside the Ukrainian Club! The club like it that way, but they do make the concession of putting a sign in the window during the show! What a great singing club, very friendly and the floorspots were terrific. 

Carol and Ken put us up in their fascinating house, which I'm sure could have been involved in the Narnia books. We had the attic bedroom, and when I looked out the window next morning, it was like a painting. The stone houses at the bottom of the dale led upwards to a huge, close, green hill with stone walls criss-crossing it, and a mere wisp of ufo-shaped cloud above it. The day continued to look spectacular as we drove up into the Dales and over the heather-covered hills.

1 comment:

Anne said...

Hi John and Nicole - John this is your old-ish childhood friend - Anne Cummings - we used to meet up at the Woodford festival regularly ... Have just been reading and enjoying your UK adventures -its fun to catch up on what you're up to. I was in the UK in June and I just wanted to offer my greatest discovery in making road trips less fraught --- it's the Tomtom sat=navy thing... after getting lost in Somerset and nearly ending up in Cornwall on what was supposed to be a ten minute trip to Sainsbury's.. i bought one.. and I can honestly say I fell in love with this little piece of gadgetry - it lights the way on the darkest nights.. brings you gently back to the path when you stray into the wilderness.. not perfectly ... but better than me at navigating.. and it doesn't get car sick Nicole.. It sounds like you're having a lot of fun over there..The only thing that seems to be missing from your schedule is some quiet sleeeping time... take it easy guys..
much love, Anne