As the summer season draws to a close at the start of the back end fairs I can look back at 2016’s gigs. The weather has been a bit unkind to me this summer. I haven’t had a single gig with no rain, although Shrewsbury Flower Show came close. But despite that the season has been enjoyable and challenging. Just how I like it really.
I’ve learned finally that two separate bookings in one weekend is now impossible for me, which has been a lesson I should have learned some time ago. The Witney/Southwell Racecourse weekend in July was very uncomfortable and meant I couldn’t spend as much time as I would have liked with my friend Pedro at our annual meeting in Witney.
It was almost as difficult going from Monmouth’s one day show last week to the Isle of Wight. The rain started towards the end of the pack down at Monmouth which delayed my planned exit from the showground by fifteen minutes and I was convinced I wouldn’t make the last ferry. I arrived at Portsmouth as they were loading it and they let me on, but it was a very close thing. The poor dogs were crossing their legs as we hadn’t stopped at all and they had been inside for most of the damp pack up too. However we arrived at Havenstreet in time for last orders at the beer tent and a lovely welcome from the folk there. The dogs could have a well-earned walk somewhere they have come to know well. The reorganisation of the rally field has meant the stage is more visible and after some jiggling with sound levels between me and the arena it was all good. The stage now faces the afternoon sun which means the audiences aren’t squinting and I have great natural lighting. Four days of great shows and good attendances. It’s one of my favourite places.
It will be the last Monmouth Show I can attend though as they have decided to move it from and August Thursday to the first Saturday of July and I couldn’t let Hollowell Steam down. It is a one day affair too, and I am trying not to take on any more of those. Shows come and go though and it is great now to have started at Lincoln. I played there twice this summer, the first at the Castle and then at the Museum of Linconshire Life, an attractive and free-to-enter museum in an old barracks. Lots to see there and despite a first day of bad weather the second was warm and allowed the organisers to see the stage. Small but very appreciative audiences. I got to know the city a little and it is well worth a visit, the cathedral and the castle being wonderfully imposing and the little narrow streets full of interesting shops. Before visiting Lincoln I assumed it was very flat, but was surprised to find it is built on steep hills. In fact there is one street which is called Steep Hill and it certainly lives up to its name with helpful handrails to ease the climb and descent.
I took advantage of the flat tarmac of the barracks at Lincoln to hone my hoverboard skills and I am now reasonably confident I can manage over most surfaces, bumps and curbs. The great thing about it is the saving of my poor over-worn knees as travelling on it only involves standing and leaning slightly one way or the other. I would thoroughly recommend it as a form of travel for older people though I’m not sure they will take up my suggestion as they seem to be the envy of the young and probably the occasional early fall as you master it might put most older people off. I have made the box that hides the board for the Toulouse Lautrec walkabout character and my wonderful scene painter friend will paint it to look like a paint-spattered trunk on which the diminutive artist will stand. Watch this space for developments. I now need to find a suitable costume, wig and hat for him.
Verity emerged briefly one more time at Havenstreet, but I still need the courage to come out in her more often, if that’s the right expression. I also need a dresser to do up the costume but I think that may just be an excuse….
And so to Wallingford, the first and favourite of the back end fairs. Next week’s blog and I will almost be caught up…
All the best from a road near you,