Fall 2006 UK and Amsterdam Moody Blues Tour
Travelogue by Maggie Clarke
Moody Blues Tour Photographs
Brighton Beachy Head London
(Landscape photographs to be added soon)
Another night another lumpy bed in Edinburgh with bedclothes hanging off the edge again. Seems to be feast or famine. I rushed through the full English again, this time grabbing a "fudge" yogurt while waiting for the breakfast. This I had to try! Disappointingly, it was not chocolate looking or tasting This full English had the blood pudding and fried bread rather than the mushrooms, everything else being the same, so I tried the former and it wasn't bad better than the banger (sausage), actually. It looked basically like a small hockey puck, fried as was everything. Rushing back to the train, picking up the bag, I was sure I would miss the 8:40 but I did make it just in the nick of time. No wifi on the first leg as far as Newcastle via Carlisle, but I decided to be on the lookout for Hadrian's wall, since I'd seen a sign for it on the previous ride. I remembered how it looked from '69 surprisingly short and maybe a couple of feet wide. Not particularly imposing, but I guess it would have slowed the Picts down, giving the Roman army opportunity to pick off more of them. There were a lot of stone walls in the area, but most were higher and more narrow. Then Hadrian's wall came into view, just as I'd remembered, and snapped a shot just as we crossed over it.
The rest of the trip as far as London was unremarkable. I got a few more shots of Durham and caught up on the travelogues, anticipating getting to Brighton and the concert. I did use GNER's wifi for an hour. It's 2.95 for 30 minutes, 4.95 for 60 minutes, 7.95 for 2 hours and 9.95 for 24 hours. Got into London 15 minutes early! Navigated the rush hour scene in the tube very quickly with my entourage of 4 bags (heavy rolling duffel, laptop and accessories, large knapsack and a shoulder bag) and got to London Bridge station on the Northern tube line just a couple of minutes after the train left for Haywards Heath. I was surprised that the only bathroom was outside the terminal one of those single pay jobs where the door is an arc and slides to open when you put in your 20p. After I left it, this guy just pushed in ahead of the woman who was waiting (to get in free). It was interesting that platform five had at least 3 other trains leave on it during the 10 minutes before my train. I marvel at how they can move that many trains in and out (and that was only one track out of 18 in the station. You've got to keep your wits about you, listen carefully to the announcements, and not jump on the wrong train. We Americans have no idea of how many people use trains in places like Europe (and I imagine, India, not to mention Tokyo). I've been here many times and still can't get over it. London has something like 10 of these megastations. I think Paris has a similar number. New York City has 2. I'm not sure that any other city in the US has at least 15 tracks in one station.
The train to Haywards Heath was a commuter, and the mass of double-decker buses were waiting for us. Two were just for those going to Brighton. I climbed to the top to take a couple of pix of the town before we left. I arrived around five, and after getting some bus/train times for tomorrow getting back to London, I decided I wanted to get a sturdier display book for my 5x7s for concerts, so dragged everything down Queen Street to the Jessops, finding a nice one there. I hadn't realized quite how far my digs were for the night, and asked the folks at Jessops. I'd done this the last time, dragging everything from the train station down and up a mile or more from the station, and had planned to take a city bus, but didn't since Jessops said it was so close. I guess the good thing was that I happened to notice this time the Brighton Pavillion on the left heading east on North St. I'd missed that the last time. It's not only a striking building (something along the lines of the Taj Mahal but smaller and more ornate) but also has some gardens. I should check it out tomorrow. Getting to the B&B on Madeira Place, the owner said I'd gotten a phone call from a Moodies fan from a restaurant, but he didn't give me good enough directions to get there. He sent me as far as "the Lanes" which are single track streets in a maze, loaded with restaurants, many Italian. I'm sure I walked all the streets in the Lanes at least once, but couldn't find the restaurant. Started looking for one that I could eat at; the preferred one was closing, and others were with waiting lists. Eventually, I went into one, got a starter and a dessert (noticed that the dessert menu was precisely the same as the one the night before in the Italian restaurant in Edinburgh the card itself and everything on it were the same, except the name of the restaurant very interesting! Then it was off to the show. I thought I'd cut through the lobby of the Thistle to get to the avenue along the shore, but didn't see how (I now know, I would have needed to go down one level), so ended up skidding in to the Brighton Centre at about 7:50.
There were even more familiar faces tonight, and most were in the first two rows. This is a wide venue with a flat floor and bleachers in the back, and I think the sides too. Since there were more of us Superfans, there were more ovations early. There was much more photography, even flashing, and I didn't see anybody get busted. Justin made a few boo boos early and so was very intent on getting the fingerpicking right on Never Comes the Day. He seemed a little snively. It's interesting that how every time he first picks up that Collings guitar, he strums or picks a few notes on it before the song. He never did that before much. Maybe he likes the sound so much or maybe he's unsure if it's plugged in? On OMTTL the chords were much the same as before he'd started the experimentation. I've been noticing that Julie has added the third part harmony to parts of The Voice. I love three part harmonies (as my Moodyfest bandmates will tell you, and I was often adding a third part when we had that many voices we're short on that many voices now). I guess I always have liked rock harmony since my first pre-Beatles days liking the Beach Boys and Four Seasons. On Forever Autumn, I'm appreciating the two keyboard parts more. Gordon's seem to be more prominent than they used to be and there are times when he is the only one playing with Justin. Paul's are meant to sound like a flute, but don't really. Graeme's been adding some extra to his repartee and his dance. I'm not sure what all he's imitating with the dance, but the latest things I noticed were some of these hands to the skies, right then left then right you know, Broadway style? I'm straining to remember what he added tonight in his repartee I remember it to be maybe off-color. Maybe he'll say it again in London. He again said that since he was nackered (after H&H) they'll do a slower number. Justin had a little of that wry smile, but didn't say anything. During Question, there was this intense orange light above Justin then John and since we'd rushed the stage, it made for great photography. When John went to announce Question, he delayed, as he sometimes does, and everybody shouted Question in unison. The level of his bass was back to previous, but I noticed the nice sound of his 12 string on December Snow. I think either I just never noticed it, or he's playing it slightly differently. He's got it capoed down a few and plays it in D, which is a lot easier than the native F. For one of the chords, I think perhaps the Gbm, he adds 3 frets to the highest string, making it sound distinctive. Each bar was one strum for the first verse and unlike the faster rhythmic strumming that starts with the second verse and sounds a little more muted, the first verses single strums were more clear. For the encore there was rhythmic clapping though not topping Nottingham in clarity, volume or duration.
After the show, the crowd was large, as it had been the time before and about the same as Nottingham, and after Graeme went into the bus, he came out to sign stuff, then John took photos with a few fans and signed quite a few things. Both of them looked really good. Justin was nowhere to be found and the bus roared off without him. Gordy and Paul both smiled and waved at me out the front while John was outside still signing stuff. I took quite a few pix from good locations. It was a good day.
After the Brighton show I'd figured to get 7 hours of sleep, arising in time for the 8:30-9:15 breakfast that the Griffin House on Madeira Place offered, but realized that everybody had gone to bed by the time I arrived from the post-concert wait outside the Brighton Centre. I realized that my newly purchased digital travel alarm was not reliable, so left a note asking them to wake me up at 8:30.. I should have left 2 or 3 in different places, as the knock on my door didn't come till 9:45. I'm sure I needed the rest and just hoping that I wouldn't get a migraine as I often do when I get over 8 hours of sleep. The room was nice though it was a little chilly, the shared shower was extremely hot and the comforter kept in that heat. The breakfast was unusual not sure what to call it since the choice was toast (white or wheat), egg (soft boiled only in shell), juice (orange or grapefruit), and coffee, tea, cocoa. It's not English, not Scottish, not Continental. But it served its purpose. I realized it was a gay establishment on a gay street, and at first, I didn't feel a great deal of friendliness. The host had told Nancy H who had called for me 20 minutes before I arrived, that he knew the restaurant where she'd called from and could direct me there. But the map he drew for me landed me only at the start of the Lanes, not exactly the precision I needed. The next morning, the knock, late and 2 fairly soft ones, could have easily been missed. But after breakfast I engaged him in conversation and he gave lots of advice. I'd been trying to figure out what to do with the 16th and 17th after the Bournemouth concert and before Amsterdam. He mentioned a part of the coastline that's quite spectacular near Poole, Lyme Regis, Weymouth area and suggested I go there. I just happened to have a brochure calling it the Jurassic coast that I'd picked up in NY. They recommend a visit in the winter after winter storms have cut the cliffs and dinosaur fossils have fallen to the beach. The area is written up as being in the league of the Grand Canyon and the Great Barrier Reef. It will probably best require renting a car again, but I suppose it might be possible to do by train and local buses. If I can sit myself down long enough on wifi to explore, this might be the best option for those days. Getting to St. Ives seems to be best done only to and from London, as I'd done four years ago since the roads and rails along the south coast are not designed for speed.
For today, the host sent me on the local bus system east to Beachy Head. Though he had the number wrong (he said 14, it was the 13), I figured that out straightaway, and only had 7 minutes to wait. The bus system in Brighton has electronic signs at every bus stop listing the buses by destination and how many minutes until the next one arrives, much like the London tube has had ever since I'd first ridden them. Wouldn't it be nice if all mass transit systems were thus equipped? But I digress.
Beachy Head is the spot along the coast where the white chalk cliffs are highest at over 500 feet, and there are walking trails all around. The bus trip out was about an hour. It was along the coast, and very beautiful hitting all the coastal towns with orange lichens on their roofs, with parasailors were hovering just seaward of the cliffs. In the middle of one town was a large green park and everyone was flying kites. Later there was also a park called Seven Sisters where there was bike hire and kayakers in the winding stream. My eyes grew wide, since that looked so appealing, but I kept going. You'll never believe this, but on the way out I saw the sign for the Golden Galleon. It's an ornate pub in that area. I snapped a pic of the sign with the local scenery behind. I saw it full on, on the way back in all its glory. I would not be surprised if this vision was what inspired Justin to write those words.
Going past Birling gap, where I'd thought I might hike down to from the cliffs, the bus passed by dozens of people walking the cliffs, and some laying prostrate on the ground with their heads over the edge. Getting off at Beachy Head, where I went to the nature center, where the exhibits went on and on about the new lands that have been opened up for public access, the gift shop (and got a nice linen towel with the local butterflies, which they so treasure there) and the pub. There were a lot of good choices for food, but it looked like it would take a long time, so had the chocolate decadence vanilla and chocolate ice cream, pieces of brownie, a few marshmallows, some flake chocolate pieces, chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Then, it was off for the walk to the cliffs. Not knowing where the best views of the cliffs could be had, I walked down one extremely steep grassy section and took some shots of the cliffs and the lighthouse, but fairly into the sun. The steep walk up took a while and extremely strenuous, but I must say the weather was gorgeous in the 60s with a nice breeze, partly cloudy. Moving along the cliffs, I came across some crosses with flowers (later found out that this is a popular (?!) suicide location. I was lucky to get a bus back right when I wanted it, and had a long chat with another Brit on the way back, name of Clarke, taking shots of the paragliders again, and once back in Brighton, some great sunset shots of the pier and seagulls.
Picked up the bags, ran to the station (where have I heard those words before?). Railman said I'd have to take a bus to Haywards Heath again unless I wanted to take a 2.5 hour trip, normally 50 minutes from Brighton to London. Even the locals are saying the one way fare for the tube in the inner districts, at 3 pounds, is outrageous. That's like six bucks! Most of the local transits that I've encountered were on the order of a pound twenty. Folks complain in NYC about a $2 fare and you can travel on all the lines for as much as 2 hours for that. They have a dizzying array of passes since there are so many zones, and I have a feeling they gave me more than I asked for. Chalk it up to the unexpected expenses of traveling. I was staying outside of London in zone 4 at a Travelodge near Heathrow with the Debs.
After the Brighton concert I slept in and spent some time on the travelogues and started the job application that I need to get done soon. Deadline the 13th. There's a new NYC recycling education and outreach office looking for a director ï. Coming in on the tube I decided to buy unlimited day tickets to save money. It's structured so that if you use it even just twice it's a better deal than buying one trip at a time (and certainly more convenient). You have to put the piece of paper into the turnstile both going in and coming out (what a pain). This is similar to the national rail (and even bigger pain since I'm dragging and carrying bags at the time). I remembered what the fellow at the Griffin in Brighton said about switching right across the platform at Hammersmith between the Piccadilly and District tube lines (sparing my back shlepping the bags up and down stairs), but didn't count on another switch at Earl's Court to go back up and around. There are too many District lines. They should have divided that line into two different ones with two different colors. Oh well. Getting to the Bayswater station, I was very pleased to find all the types of stores one could need, many of which stay open till 11 or so, and my hotel only 1.5 blocks from the tube station (served by both the District and Circle lines) and a long block from Hyde Park.. The Hyde Park Towers hotel seems nice, and I managed to get a pretty good internet deal on the hotel itself. The rack rate is 190, but I got 56, 44 and 44. but charges 5 pounds an hour for wifi. Ripoff. It didn't say that in the internet ad, which was one of the reasons I'd chosen the place. In the U.S. when you see wifi offered in a hotel, it's almost always free. I tried to see what unsecured wireless networks would come up and got one for less than five minutes and was barely able to get one email out to a colleague I planned to visit in Northampton on Wednesday. Then it died. This happened repeatedly; I wasted a lot of time. My room is at the end of a maze out of the lift, left thru double doors, down a few steps, thru more doors, up to the left some more steps, through doors, left then right, more doors. I can imagine trying to get out in a fire
Before heading across the park to pick up my ticket at the RAH and have dinner with a colleague, I went for a nice Chinese massage around the corner from the hotel. 15 mins for 10 pounds, but 30 minutes 25 pounds. Go figure. I've gotten really tense and stomach's in knots. Will need more massage tomorrow. Getting to the RAH my ticket was not there. I was sorely tempted to buy one from a fellow outside who was selling "members' tickets" for slightly less than face. There are laws there about scalping. He had front of M2 section. I had to leave to meet the colleague, an American in my field who married a professor there. We walked back to the RAH from South Kensington my poor friend in pointy toed short-heeled dress pumps, and by then the ticket had arrived so walked back down to South Ken, since that's how far you have to go for food in the area (a ten minute fast walk). Leaving S. Ken I started walking in the wrong direction (it's an extremely co!
mplex series of nearby intersections), so decided to hail a cab; there was a certain satisfaction of getting into a London cab and saying Royal Albert Hall, please. I don't want to do it on a regular basis, since the 10 minute walk cost 3 pounds by cab. Came skidding in just before 8.
This night I was sitting in a different location from any I'd done at the RAH before up in the "O" section, just to the front side edge of the stage (John's side). This was great for taking shots and John paid us some special attention. Again, I'm really relishing the fullness of John's 12 string guitar. Justin seemed to be feeling better. At least I didn't see him stroking his throat or wiping his nose. As we know, miraculously, his colds never (almost never?) seem to affect his singing voice. There was no security inside or getting inside. I finally remembered Graeme's comment that he stuck into his intro to Higher and Higher. It was about what, in the 60s, we thought was incontinent was playing gigs in Europe. You wonder how Justin lets him say these things night after night. I'm sure that this feeds into reviewers who come in with preconceived notion that these guys are well past it. Sitting up off of Paul and Gordon, you get to watch Gordon spinning around at close range without so many cymbals in the way I counted he has 5 big ones, Graeme 3. I've seen his spinning on ILS and Nights before, of course, but after a while you get to appreciate just how challenging it is how many different instruments he plays. And then he flips his drumstick between hits sometimes just for fun. That's a bit risky since one bobble and you have to go grab another, disrupting the flow. Graeme didn't make a comment after H&H this time He looked too nackered to say he was nackered. I noticed that Graeme is pounding his drums when Justin introduced Gordon.
Afterwards fewer waited than the last show in Brighton, and after an hour nobody came out, so I left. Walked all the way to Gloucester tube station, and saw the gates down at the entrance at 11:45, and didn't think to look around the corner at the other entrance. Took a taxi to my digs in Bayswater costing 9 pounds with tip (I realize now that my friend at dinner had said you tip 10% max, so I way overdid the tip at 1.50). It was only when I got to my local station (Bayswater) that was still open and they called Gloucester to find they were still open. I think I'm nearing 100 pounds of excess expenditures on this trip Hopefully these lessons will stay with me
I got up a bit earlier to the full English. Tried the "free computer" for travel in the lobby since I still have plenty of travel arrangements left to make. It didn't work long. Next stop was the Movenpick (the Swiss ice cream cafĂ©) on Queensway which supposedly had free internet (it wasn't free), but I sat outside trying to get a wifi signal, and wasted a lot of time. But I did strike up a conversation with a tour guide for college kids who used the outside tables as a base of operations. Kids would come and go asking questions about where to find phone cards and the like (answer: pretty much everywhere). I asked about free wifi and she said, you mean, wiffy? That's how it is pronounced here. On my way to the Hard Rock gathering, stopped at cheap 24/7 internet cafĂ©. They have a few computers that will take a CD that I can put documents on from my computer. 75 minutes for 1.50. It's much better than the hotel. and you have 24 hours to log in again. !
The Bayswater / Queensway section is really happening. Stores are great, things are open longer, there's more activity on the street and lots of students. The area around RAH is sterile by comparison.
Running late, as usual, I took the 148 bus around Hyde Park to the Hard Rock and skidded in a little after 11:30am. We just about filled the place again, and made 1100 pounds for the charity (I think that might have been just what was raised that day). Not too shabby. The raffled items were pretty amazing, and some backstage passes were raffled at the last minute. Not surprised I didn't win anything, since the prizes to people ratio was very small. I sat with a Netherlander and a German at lunch (just had a starter salad) and at first, wasn't sure how good their English might be and they were talking German to each other, so I resurrected my German and stumbled through for a while until I realized their English was better. I almost wish there were a way to have the thing be a buffet so that we could mingle and talk to more people, since there were probably a couple of dozen at this party who I don't see regularly. The idea of going to the basement afterwards is a great one. I introduced myself to Helen Clarke since I have the same last name (and my half sister's maiden name was the same) and she quickly sought to introduce me to her husband Tony. Oh! That Clarke! That was pretty neat, and next to him was Derek Varnals. We talked about the creative process a little bit and how recordings went. I suggested that they might want to get together and write a book about it, seeing as how the Beatles engineer (Geoff Emerick) has done so and sells well at the Beatlefests. Derek said it's a nice idea, but there's the issue of time. He works for the British equivalent of RIAA. They were both most charming and were interested to hear about the Moodyfest band, admired the photos in one of the albums I had along, and took my card for Moodyland, saying they'd look it up. I'd told them that we covered about 65 of the songs and after they were impressed, I said it took 10 years and they said it took them that long to forget these songs I heard they were very pleased to have been invited. Renee showed me her dress which had been signed by some notables and she had Derek and Tony sign it also.
I had to leave at 2:30 thanking Tony and Derek again, since I had a meeting set up with another colleague, Bob L, had hired me as a consultant back in Feb. 1995, a month after I joined Lost Chords and shortly after the Feb. Atlantic City concerts at which I'd started taking photos of the band. That trip I'd gone to see the fan club, Threshold and Ivy). My gig was to come and give 2 talks in one day about advances in emissions controls from incinerators the first to about 90 politicians from Hampshire, Dorset and Devon, and then to give a variation at the Great Hall in Winchester, a challenge since I'd developed major dizziness due to flying with a head cold, and recovered just in time to prepare my remarks, walk across town and give them. (That was a major trip! I managed to do a respectable job at both events and get the protesters at the second one on my side by telling them I'd gotten NYC apartment house incinerators (2200 of them) eliminated.) With the nice honorarium, took a week in London and York.) But I digress.
Bob and I had a wide ranging conversation and then he wondered what my itinerary was coming up. I told him and he completed my conceptual planning for the rest of the trip. He suggested I rent a car to go from Birmingham to Oxford to do the Cotswolds right. He also suggested that for the post-Bournemouth two-day period prior to Amsterdam, that I take the train to Southampton airport where I can get a car, take it to the New Forest, where one of his colleagues can give me a guided tour of some of the restoration activities there, then on to Lyme Regis, the charming town along the Jurassic coast where I can walk the beaches, take pix and collect dinosaur fossils, stay there overnight and the next day, dropping the car back at the airport, and end up in Winchester for the night. Winchester is a lovely town and I hadn't been back since 1995. The room I'd been set up in when there before had a huge window facing the Winchester Cathedral (remember the song?) Vodo deeo doe..!
Then it's just an hour to London for the train trip through the Chunnel to Brussells then Amsterdam.
Got the bus back, decided to get another massage still Very tight knots all over the place and the early indications of throwing my back out. This partly from the driving and partly from lifting the estimated 75 pounds of stuff I'm dragging now up tube and train steps mainly I expect. I noticed rushing around today that I've got charley horse from hiking up the chalk cliffs a couple of days ago, but minor complaints in all.
As I was going out the door to the concert, I realized that I hadn't offloaded pix into my laptop for over a day and even with a 1 gig card, I was going to run into space problems if I didn't immediately turn around and offload them now. Therefore, what with having to change trains and walk fast the last leg to the RAH, I came skidding in at 8:03.. Still plenty of time!
The first thing I noticed was that Julie had added a wave or slight curl to her hair. Graeme continued to talk about incontinent and went back to saying he was nackered after H&H. His drumstick toss was better than I've seen it this tour (I think he'd missed most of his tosses up to now), so he was very pleased and was beaming at Norda afterwards. The band seemed quite up tonight. Last night there had been some nervousness. Justin talks about the RAH and that they'd done a show a long time ago he knows because there's an album to prove it (as if he doesn't remember otherwise ) I think they really like playing the venue. I'm sure it's quite an honor. I mean, you see posters outside for Paul McCartney's new classical piece being debuted there soon, and Ray Davies (Kinks) and other notables in upcoming concerts.
Somehow, I'd not noticed the background to TOSOL for this concert series until now. They played the original TOSOL video, which I'd always found disturbing (I suppose that's the point), but it wasn't played in time to the music (same as the Singer video for that song). I'd forgotten how very short Justin's hair is in that video. I like it better now.
One highlight of the show was that a group of Israelis lifted a large blue sign with white lettering (that I got a shot of them holding later) that said "Justin Hayward 60 Years old & Still hot!! Happy Birthday Israel" I first saw Graeme smiling and laughing and got a shot of him pointing a drumstick (at the time I didn't know at what), and then Justin saw it and looked a bit sheepish but smiled. Since they raised the sign in the middle of IKYOTS (smart, since they turn the lights up then, and he'd be sure to see it), Justin waited till the end of the song to respond, and I got a shot of him pointing at the sign with both hands and looking right at them with a smile.
I keep reveling in the sound of John's 12-string. It's got such a lovely sound. I've heard that they have a new sound system, but I think they're also balancing things better than they used to. We knew in the 90's that the sound engineering at the concerts stank, and I take credit for getting one of those sound engineers booted for having said amazingly nasty and stupid things about John's playing, but now I'm seeing exactly how bad it was from seeing how good it can get now (we were cheated!!!). The acoustics of the RAH are nothing to write home about. During a couple of the songs it was painfully clear how certain drum hits were ricocheting off the walls providing an unpleasant echo. I was in 9th row center, so I would have thought the sound to be well balanced there. I think it was the Glasgow venue (the armadillo) that had really good acoustics and you could hear each instrument clearly.
For the last couple of songs I was able to move up to the 4th row, and was happy there. Again security laid low in the hall, though they searched my bag (not very thoroughly). There were cameras all over the place. I guess they got the word from the band, or I wonder if finally they took it out of the contract (yeah, probably not!). I'm glad because I got another crop of fantastic shots (at least they pleased Me a lot!).
I didn't hang around long this night, as I realized I'm not only behind on these writeups, but I really need to get the job application done (I need to email it off by the 13th). The cab ride across the park was 6 pounds!!! Think about this 12 bucks to cover the ground you can walk in 15 minutes. But just like you don't walk through Central Park late at night, same with Hyde Park. I shared the cab with a fellow fan (Buddy) also staying on the other side of the park and we had the cabbie drop us as soon as we crossed to save fare.
Finishing off this review at the hotel, I thought I'd better get some headway on the still unfinished logistics, so went to the 24/7 internet cafĂ©. What a zoo that was well into the night. I was there till about 2:30am and it had pretty much died down by then, but kids running rampant through the place not too conducive. Found it hard to get an immediate reservation for an automatic car from Southampton airport leaving on a Sunday (double whammy). Thrifty may have something; they'll get back to me. I left word with about 5 B&Bs in Lyme Regis. Tomorrow.. another visit with a colleague in Northampton, a visit to a research wetland, more work on logistics, and another show!!
London Day 3
Since I'd gotten to bed very late (around 3), but needed to catch the 9:22 train to Northampton at Euston station, maybe six stops on the Circle tube line, I figured to get up at 7:45. As I was quickly throwing things into my bag for the day, the fire alarm bells went off right near my head (ouch?) just what I needed to Really wake me up! Trying not to waste food, I asked the server for full English, but no banger. She asked again no what? I told her and she brought me the plate with a banger and no bacon. Having spoken with Anne, my host colleague for the day, I now know that banger is only used in conjunction with mash (mashed potatoes), but in every other usage it is called sausage. Go figure.
Got to the tube and there are service advisories all over the place. The night before they were skipping the next station to the south (Notting Hill Gate) due to flooding (it hadn't rained the day before, in fact it was perfectly lovely), and we didn't see any flooding as we passed through the station.. This morning there were signal problems going the other way than I was going on the circle line and on the district line, so just managed to eke out a ride in the right direction to Euston Square near the station. It was so fast, in fact, that I took an earlier train. Today's weather was back in the soup; it had rained and was gray. Managed to get to Euston quite fast and caught an earlier train. Anne met me in Northampton and we were off to the Wicken Fen, where restoration has taken place, about 2 hours away, a little bit north of Cambridge. The trees, and particularly the Virginia creeper vines were showing some color, finally. I read an article that said this October is on schedule to be a warm weather breaker as was September. I'd not adequately prepared for a rainy day in a wetland, bringing my regular leather shoes and cotton sweater rather than my fleece-lined, rain-resistant jacket. After slogging through a lot of mud and a rainstorm (got the finicky umbrella to work after a while), got to a "blind" and had a lovely secret view of waterfowl in a lake without them knowing we were there. Getting back to the site cafĂ©, had some elderflower soda, which I'd forgotten about since last time in England (I remember having it in this little cafeteria in Richmond park). It's really good stuff, and wonder why we don't have it in the U.S.
Anne and I had been talking about the fact that the land got flatter as we went east from Northampton and that the depression rates went up (I'd never heard that people get depressed from living in a flat (boring?) area.) If so, it explains a lot I mean, what about us folks growing up in Florida? I'd suggested it might save some time if I were dropped at the Cambridge train station after our field trip, but we ended up going to Ely instead, since it was a bit closer to the fen and easier to get to. There's a huge cathedral which you could see for miles dominating the town, supposedly the highest building in all of East Anglia (including Ipswich or Norwich). Almost as soon as I was left at the station, I found that all the trains were dead stopped because of a suicide on the tracks just north of the station. A fellow headed to Norwich told me which platform to go to and that all this had happened. Trainman said it could be four hours before they get the priest, police and health authorities, etc. summoned. I was starting to get really worried about getting to the show on time, and was trying to get Anne on her mobile, but eventually when a regularly scheduled train arrived from Cambridge, they thankfully turned it into an impromptu shuttle train back to Cambridge, where we could get a London train. Whew! That was a close one.
Having a good amount of time left before the show, I got my next train times written out for me at the station. Current plan: tomorrow morning, London to Liverpool, next day Liverpool to Chester, Chester to Birmingham International (the airport station is right next to the NEC venue), and a couple of the last journeys, London to Southampton, Southampton to Winchester (overnight) then on to London assuming I could find an automatic car to rent on the 15th or 16th at Southampton airport, drive around the Jurassic coast / Lyme Regis, and then back to Southampton airport. That stop at the ticket window saved a lot of time online.
Getting back to Bayswater, I went for a half hour massage, making some headway on the knots in my back, but still have a bit of a stiff neck. The pharmacist at the Boots said in response to my stomach symptoms that it sounded like I just need to calm down. The Chinese massage folks kindly lent me their phone to put in a call to the Liverpool tourist office to secure what was the last spot on the Magical Mystery tour bus the next afternoon. Whew! It surprises me that they have only one bus tour a day. You'd think it would be more popular. Getting back to the RAH, trains were delayed, so instead of getting out and crossing up and over at Earl's Court, I decided to walk from Kensington High Street to the venue. I'd forgotten it's on the same road that runs down the east side of Hyde Park as the venue, and since the shops were still open on the street, and people were still rushing around post-rush hour, it had a nice lively feel to it. I encountered Bernadette and we walked to the venue together, talking about places to visit in the Netherlands when I get there and a good hotel website (www.hotels.nl).
I was sitting in the front row on the side loge section way over near Norda and Julie so was very close and was able to appreciate how Norda's cheek vibrates with the vibrato while she plays the flute. The guy on my right had been to all shows in London, and the one on my left was from Oxford, so I told them about that show, since they were unaware. He offered some elderflower lozenges when I mentioned about the soda. Justin made some early boo-boos again in LTSY, the lead part, but not disastrous (they rarely are). Only those who can play it or have heard it dozens of times know. I find it interesting that Justin always plays some doodling stuff on the new guitar before NCTD. Does that mean he's really pleased with it? Graeme made a toss or two and beamed at Norda, but she didn't look back. Norda was wearing low slung blue jeans with a midriff-showing bustierre. Very fetching. The Jays were having a ball tonight, and I was sorry that I wasn't on John's side to see it a bit closer. From my photos I saw that John sure did smile a lot, just like the night before. But through my lens I was able to get some lovely shots, since my seat was a stage level but enough forward to get a nice angle (at seat 9, I was equivalent to the second row on the floor). They had a great deal of light on Gordon playing his keyboards at Forever Autumn. That one really was a very huge hit along with The War of the Worlds and always gets a very special ovation. We big fans were doing standing ovations from the beginning and I think it had an influence. Vic Kelley and I handed out glow sticks on our side. There were plenty in the first few rows of the arena. One of the people I'd met on the bus back from Beachy Head (another Clarke) wrote me having checked out my photo websites and said now she remembers the Moody Blues, having seen their names. She wondered whether Justin Hayward was the guy who did Forever Autumn in that wonderful production War of the Worlds? I am not sure I have the heart to tell her she missed the production that toured last April. I think I've heard that it's happening again. Will it be in the UK? I can't remember much more from the concert that was different from previous nights.
After the concert, I hung out with the fans at the Abba on Queens Gate for some conversation and viewing of tonight's photographic haul. Since there was a free internet link in the basement, I continued to arrange logistics for the rest of the trip, finding a couple of B&Bs had responded favorably in Lyme Regis, but the Thrifty car rental place said they don't open the Southampton airport office on Sunday but they'd do it for me for 75 pounds. ARgh!! And the charge for a day and a half with the car is 112 pounds. And if I were a no-show they'd charge the 75 anyway. Absolutely daft! I'm now thinking of getting the car the morning after Bournemouth than the morning before, perhaps missing the opportunity to get a private tour of the New Forest restorations, but it still may cost on the order of 112 pounds. 1car1 did have a much cheaper rate, but they said you have to call for availability At this point three different people have been singing the praises!
of Lyme Regis, so really want to get there. I realize there are some things you just can't plan for, but I would have liked to have been able to get the planning done without so many problems, and, of course, in advance of the trip. I'm waiting for the day when cities and towns are fully Free wireless. It shouldn't be long, I hope, unless greed gets in the way of the public good.