Ponies, Music & White Sandy Beaches

A very weird thing happens when you’re on tour.  The passage of time seems to shift all over the bloomin place.  There are moments when an hour feels like an eternity.  Other times it feels like seconds.  Then at the end of it you’re left asking yourself; ‘did we really do ALL that in XX amount of days?!’

…which is exactly how I felt after my most recent trip away.  It went a little bit like this:

On Sept 20th I set out on an East Coast tour with Doug and Telisha from Wild Ponies. We played 8 extremely fun shows in 6 different States.

Brooklyn Americana Fest, New York, New Yooooooork

I’ve been to NY a handful of times and this is generally how it makes me feel:

Days 1-4: I absolutely LOVE New York. I love that there’s so much going on and that everything is just go, go, go all the time.

Days 4+: Ok I’ve had enough. I hate that there’s so much going on and that everything is just go, go, go all the time.

I caught a 6am flight out of Austin and a few hours later landed in Newark, NY. I had a taxi driver take me from the airport to Manhattan, where I was staying with D & T.  On this 30min taxi ride through down town, I felt a mixture of intense fear combined with utter amazement that no one was either killed or run over.  The driver seemed to possess Jedi-like powers and was able to make a rather large passenger van shrink down and fit through the tiniest of gaps.  Random people just walked out into the road, seemingly oblivious to any thoughts of self preservation.  Cars, trucks and motorbikes casually pulled out in front of each other at speed, as if they were surrounded by an invisible forcefield preventing anything from simply ploughing straight into them.  The one thing everyone did have in common was driving like they were in some sort of drag race, where you get extra points if you take out pedestrians and other road users.

As we would say in the UK, it was totally bonkers.

And yet, despite all of this – nothing bad happened.  No-one crashed and everything was fine.

How? I’ve absolutely NO idea.

We played 2 shows at the Brooklyn Americana Festival.  First at The Jalopy Theatre and then the second under a railway bridge.

I realise the second venue sounds a little unusual – but it was actually a lot of fun. We played under the Dumbo Archway with trains passing overhead every few minutes.  I absolutely loved it.`

Friendly River Music, Maine

Having spent some time in New York, I couldn’t wait to see some green stuff.  By green stuff I mean trees, fields and birds (Yes I know birds aren’t green…but like me, they enjoy hanging out in green stuff).  I’m an earthy, hippy, outdoorsy kind of gal and my natural habitat is being close to water, plants and wildlife.  It re-charges my batteries and brings me back to centre.

Friendly River Music is one of my FAVOURITE places to play. It’s a live music venue and a freakin music shop, in arse-end-of-no-where Maine surrounded by nothing but nature.

The show was sold out.  The crowd and our hosts John and Charlene (as always) were lovely.  Such a magical night ❤ Can’t wait to go back.

Café 9, Connecticut

We played this venue on the Galax release tour last year.  My memory of this is that our show was a lot of fun and afterwards I went outside to get a bit of fresh air.  I was wearing my Wild Ponies baseball T – which has the band name clearly written across the front of it.  A random male driver with his window fully down drove past me, wolf whistled, pointed in my direction and at the top of his voice yelled out

‘Whoooo! Look at them titties!!’.

I suppose there are some people in the world who would consider this flattering.  I however find it rude, kind of yucky and not ok. My first reaction was to flip the guy off, but as I was wearing a Wild Ponies shirt thought better of it. So I did nothing.  Later in the van I told D & T about what happened and the first thing they said was, ‘I hope you flipped the guy off!’.  So just for future reference, I have been actively encouraged to express my feelings should this happen again.  Thankfully it hasn’t.  Let’s hope it stays that way.

Just like our previous show, this one was also a blast.  However there was no mention of my boobs, just my drumming.  Yay.  Progress.

While we were in Connecticut we wanted to sample some pizza from what has been labelled by many as ‘the best pizza joint in the world’.

That place was Frank Pepe’s Pizza and legend has it that Frank Sinatra himself would regularly stop by and order a clam pizza (Doug did in fact put in an order for clam pizza, you’ll have to ask him what it was like 😉 ).

Frank Pepe’s is a pretty cool place and, as per the legend, the pizza was indeed A-MAZING. Check it out:

2 Days off in Virginia

This is the second year I’ve spent my birthday on the road with D & T.  My birthday eve and birthday were spent with Doug’s lovely family in their equally lovely house in Virginia.

Everyone put in so much time and effort into making the day special ❤ For dinner we had an authentic British meal of Jacket Potatoes with baked beans and cheese.  Doug’s Mum also made a delicious vegetarian soup and desert was a specially made birthday apple crumble which yes, was bloody lovely.

Hurrah and yay 🙂 ❤

Tin Pan, Virginia

I’ve never played at this venue before but it was a lovely space.  Like a little kid I get super excited when I look at old gig posters and see the faces of people I grew up listening to (Joan Osborne, Paula Cole etc) and think to myself ‘they played on this stage!’.

It was awesome to meet a lot of people who saw us playing at the Richmond Folk Festival last year (THAT was fun).

Footlight Theatre, South Carolina

My first ever trip to S. Carolina.  My Mother-in-law is from here and always brags about how awesome it is.  She wasn’t wrong.  It’s very cool (definitely not temperature wise though!).

The theatre was a super characterful place located in the French quarter of Charleston.  There were a TON of historical buildings in that area (from the 1670s), the oldest I’ve seen since moving to the USA.

The show was great, but we had a looooonnnnggg drive ahead of us – as we were playing a live radio show in Tampa, FL at 12pm the following day! 😮

Suncoast Songwriters Weekend, Don CeSar Hotel, Florida 

We made it to the radio show, then travelled onwards towards the Don CeSar hotel – the venue for the Suncoast Songwriters Weekend.  As we drove across a bridge covering a large stretch of water, far off into the distance we could see a HUGE pink building that towered over the land like some sort of giant pink castle.

Surely that’s not where we’re staying? I kept thinking as we got closer and closer.

Yep, it was.

The hotel is absolutely beautiful, and get this – it’s right slap-bang next to the beach!! 😮

The first night I went and sat on the beautiful white sand for a good hour.  I listened to the sound of the waves moving gently back and forth and gazed up at the clear night sky.

While sitting there I recorded this voice memo:

The Don CeSar hotel is by far one of the most magical places I’ve ever stayed ❤ I really hope one day I’ll be lucky enough to go back there.

 

Back to Austin

Sunday I flew back home and that evening got to hear my dear friend Sarah McQuaid play her wonderful music.  She’s from Cornwall (which is right next to Devon in the UK) and is currently on an epic US tour. She very kindly gave me a copy of her new album (which btw is rad, been listening to it in my car since I’ve been home) and I can’t wait to nerd out on her DADGAD guitar book.

All in all, it was an amazing 10 days.

I know.  All that in 10 days.  Like I said earlier: touring = time warp.

I think it’s safe to say that next to my adventures in Norway back in June, this trip will definitely be one of my highlights of 2018.

Thank you so much as always for reading this far 🙂 Appreciate you coming on these adventures with me ❤

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Adventures in Norway.

If you read my previous blog, you’ll know that I had the most amazing experience exploring beautiful Eidfjord in Norway.

I honestly didn’t think it could get any better….and then there was Geiranger.

Holy. Crap.

The cruise ship left Eidfjord and traveled all through the night to get to Geiranger.  The following morning I woke up to find our vessel parked right slap-bang between a gaggle of HUGE snow capped fjords.

So…just to give you some idea of the view from my cabin window – you know those pictures they always use to advertise the ‘magical’ Norwegian fjords? They’re always on a perfectly still sunny day, with the clearest looking water you’ve ever seen in your life, capturing spectacular wildlife and waterfalls dotted here and there….

Well, it looked a bit like that. No, it looked EXACTLY like that….only way better.  It was like total eye candy for the soul….and it was REAL, totally real.  AND right outside my little window!

Once I saw what was out there I grabbed my camera and headed out to explore.

I didn’t have any kind of game plan. I just walked where ever felt right…which in that moment was a road off to the left that followed the water along a mild incline and up towards a steep hill.

Having lived in Austin, TX for the past 4.5 years my steep hill climbing skills are much weaker than they used to be when I lived in hilly Devon, England 😉 But luckily there were PLENTY of sights to ‘oooo’ and ‘ahhh’ at long before the rather scary looking incline.  I was stopping literally every 5 mins, convinced each time that I’d seen the best views to take photos of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a truly magical experience that I’ll never forget ❤

Thank you so much Geiranger, you’re awesome – but I’m sure you already know it.

The next two locations on our journey were Alesund and Bregen.

I’m slightly ashamed to say I decided to have a ‘hang out on the cruise ship’ day in Alesund and I was prevented from seeing Bregen due to inclement weather.

It was raining, a lot.

Just a heads up for anyone who doesn’t already know – I’m originally from the UK…so my opinion of what a lot of rain is may well be very different from yours.

In Austin, TX if it rains people act like acid is falling from the sky and they’re going to die.  At the very least, they wont go anywhere.  Plans are changed, people refuse to go out.

If they adopted that approach in England, they literally wouldn’t go anywhere. Ever.  It rains more often than not.  And by ‘rains’ I don’t mean for like 10mins here and there – I mean HEAVY rain for sometimes weeks at a time.

So when the cruise ship said the rain was making it unsafe for people to venture out, I stuck my head out and thought…

‘Pah.  Really? I’ve taken my dog for a walk in worse than this’. 😉

But after standing there for a few moments watching the freezing cold sideways rain drench absolutely everything it came into contact with, the newly born Texan in me (who has gotten very used to almost 300 days of sunshine a year) thought….

‘ya know – getting wet and soggy isn’t actually that appealing, let’s go back inside and grab a drink or something’…

…to which of course the British part of me responded in total disgust with ‘Coward! You’re scared of a few drops of rain?! You can STILL have TONS of fun *even* in the pouring rain!!’.

Sorry Brit, it actually sucks being cold and wet….unless there’s a toasty fire, a cup of tea and a tray of chocolate digestives waiting for me….then it’s not so bad.

And due to the yucky weather we ended up leaving Bregen early as we were due to hit a nasty storm.  They announced to the whole ship that we’d be hitting 10ft high swells and if we had any anti-nausea medication now would be the perfect time to take it.

Oh great. Hold on tight peeps, we’re about to hit Hurl Central.

The captain said he thought the rough seas would only last a couple of hours.

A few hours turned into 8….and they were 8 very loooooong hours.

This is a short clip of how it all started – when it got really rough I couldn’t stay upright (in this video I struggled to hold the camera up we were rocking around so much!).

Thankfully by the following morning everything had calmed down and we could continue our journey back to Rotterdam in a much more civilised fashion 😉

And after a 48 hour boat ride, a 9 hour flight, followed by a 2 hour flight, finishing with a 45min car ride….I was back at home in lovely Austin. It felt like I’d been gone forever….it was only 14 days.

What a super cool experience that I’ll never forget.

Thank YOU as always for reading this far.  Can’t wait to see where life takes me next….

Oh! And I couldn’t finish this post without showing you an animal made out of towels.  Ari my amazing room cleaning dude made me a different animal every single day.

Yes, he was a legend and a genius.

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Magical Music and Fantastic Fjords

A few months back I was asked if I would like to play a couple of shows with Ruthie Foster on a cruise ship heading out of Rotterdam and then spending 5 days exploring the fjords of Norway.

Rather unsurprisingly, I said yes 😉

I’d never been on a cruise ship before, never mind played any music on one – so I really had no idea what to expect.  I heard multiple horror stories from various folks eager to share their experiences (which seemed to mostly involve getting motion sickness and then hurling somewhere or another).  This didn’t exactly fill me with confidence – but thankfully all was totally fine….

…..with the exception of the last night of the cruise – which I’ll tell you about later.

The cruise lasted a total of 7 days and a couple of those were spent being out in open water.  Not seeing any land did feel a little odd at first, but once I found the very top deck and could look out across miles and miles of absolutely nothing but beautiful blue sea it was wonderful.

My shows with Ruthie were on the second day of the cruise and were (of course) SO much fun.  I played mostly drums but also bass on a couple of tunes.

Here’s a few clips.  Sorry we appear to be in miniature (we are regular sized people I promise). I thought this would be a good spot for my GoPro camera to sit. You may need set of opera glasses….

 

 

After the shows were finished, all I had to think about was exploring Norway.

Heck yeah.

I woke up the morning after our show believing we were still moving across the ocean….but I drew my curtains and was greeted by 2 giant fjords and a small cluster of characterful houses of all shapes and sizes dotted around the hillside.

We had arrived in Eidfjord, a beautiful village in the arse end of nowhere, with a total of 250 inhabitants.

Apparently the quaint village of Eidfjord has to contend with around 500,000 tourists descending upon their little oasis every year….coming from a seaside town, I know how that feels – but nothing like on that kind of scale.  Helpful to the local economy yes, but extremely overwhelming I’d imagine.

The first place I went to check out was an Iron Age Burial Ground, located at the very top of a rather nasty hill which almost killed me.

(A part of me did wonder if as a joke the locals picked a spot on the top of a very steep hill, put a pile of rocks together, covered it in moss and told the tourists it was an ancient burial ground) 

Other than the epic hill towards the end, the walk to the above burial site was absolutely lovely….as the footpath took me right through the middle of a forest. I kept thinking how much my doggy Molly would’ve loved to have gone on this walk with me ❤

My favorite forest find was a lake located just off to the right of the main path.

It was surrounded by fjords, waterfalls, trees and nature.

I could’ve stayed here a while.  A loooong while.  And in that moment if you’d offered me a cup of tea and a guitar I definitely wouldn’t have gone anywhere.

Another building I wanted to check out was an old stone church dating back to the 14th century. Along with the church was a beautiful old cemetery (yes, I like looking at old graves…I’m weird and I don’t care who knows about it) and with the fjords as the backdrop it really was a beautiful sight – even on a cloudy day.

So having taken a ba-zillion and one photographs on my lovely cameras – I headed back to the ship….which looked enormous moored up in the tiny little village dock.

I very reluctantly said goodbye to beautiful Eidfjord.  What a gorgeous place.  History, hardly any people (well, except the hordes or tourists), tons of nature and zero phone or internet signal.

Heaven.

Surely this was the highlight of the trip – it can’t get any more beautiful than this, can it?

Oh! Hello Geiranger 🙂

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