On the Roooaad Agaaaain

Austin TX to Nashville TN to Lansing MI to Livonia MI to Oberlin OH to Columbus OH and back to lovely Austin TX again.

As you may have already guessed, last week I was on the road having a ton of fun playing drums, mando and a smidgin of electric guitar for Wild Ponies.

It was a short run of 4 shows, all of which were extremely awesome.

But before I get stuck into story telling, I have to introduce you to my new friend, Bertie.

Bertie was my lovely drum kit for the week and he did a most excellent job.  On the ride to the house from Nashville airport I asked Doug what kit he had for me, to which he replied – ‘dunno what make it is, something old and weird!’….and Bertie is exactly that, old and weird – just like me.

Show #1 – The Old Town General Store, Lansing, Michigan.

My first time to both Lansing and this super characterful venue. If I could sum up my lovely little home town of Totnes in a single building – this would be it.

The Old Town General Store has a shopping area in the front selling mostly local produce and a lovely courtyard out back where all the live music happens. The shop had lots and lots of hippy stuff – all of which I wanted (I stocked up heavily on organic Kombucha and Michigan bumper stickers) and the courtyard was filled with beautiful and very happy looking flowers of all shapes and sizes.

The sun was shining, people were super into it, hurrah.

Here’s a little video courtesy of the my GoPro…

 

Food Stop – The Whistle Stop Diner, Pleasant Ridge MI

One of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had – it almost beat me! A toasted vege burrito with a side of hash browns, all washed down with a cup of tea – heck yeah.

Show #2 – Trinity House Theatre, Livonia, Michigan.  

The moment I stepped through the front door and saw the stage, I knew this was going to be an amazing show 🙂

I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed connecting with ‘old’ stuff since moving to the US, so it was lovely to walk into a building oozing with so much historic character and charm.

Apparently it use to be a church a while ago.  And so,

**BONUS** – guess what was right slap-bang next to the building?

A freakin’ super old graveyard! 😮

Well, by ‘super old’ I mean American super old (1830s)…but still, these were the oldest stones I’ve seen since moving here 4.5 years ago which was extremely cool.

Most people don’t know that in my ‘spare time’ I do volunteer work for a couple of organisations helping to preserve and document old grave sites in Texas. This includes documenting with photographs, clearing and cleaning stones all over the place and it’s been fascinating to learn about the history of each site.

Not everyone’s cup of tea I know, but this was a real treat for me – music, old buildings AND dead people! 😉

The show was packed.  The audience were absolutely lovely and we had a wonderful time. Can’t wait to go back.

Food Stop – Wonder Bar, Milan OH

We stopped for food in a super cute town in Ohio called Milan (pronounced; My-Lan).  The first building we drove past appeared to be a food place called Invention Restaurant.  We all noticed this and agreed it was a rather odd name to call a restaurant.  Once we’d parked up I grabbed my camera and had a bit of a mooch about the town square, at which point I very quickly learned that Milan was the birth place of Thomas Edison.

Ahhhhh, okaaay.

Invention Restaurant.

Light bulb inventing dude.

Got it.

And for those of you who are interested, according to our resident Wiki expert (aka Greg Horne, guitarist, pedal steel and violin player for Wild Ponies) Milan has an annual Melon Festival.

I do think a melon festival could get you into all sorts of trouble if you’re not careful.

‘Look at the size of her melons!’

‘What lovely juicy melons you have!’

Really, the double entendre possibilities are pretty endless.

Anyways..

 

Show #3 – RiverDog, Oberlin, Ohio.

Right out in the arse-end-of-nowhere is an incredibly awesome place called Riverdog. Surrounded by trees, lush green grass and nature, Riverdog (as the name suggests) is right next to the river and there are 4 beautiful doggies who live there.

It’s magical, mystical and marvellous all rolled into one, and I didn’t want to leave.

Riverdog is owned by Terry and Deborah who are both artists.  They spent 5 years renovating the buildings on the property themselves and did a wonderful job.  The main house is an art gallery and studio.  The other is a guest house and coolest of all was the venue for that nights show, which was a converted barn.

Yes. It was freakin rad.

 

Here’s another little video from the second set, the atmosphere was beautiful.  Along with the 100 people sat inside and outside the barn, 4 doggies lay passed out asleep to my right, utterly unmoved by all that was going on around them.

🙂

Show #4 – Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza, Columbus Ohio.

Two things I look forward to when playing at Natalie’s.

  1. Playing music (well, duh).
  2. Eating their amazing pear salad AND consuming large amounts of their outrageously tasty pizza.  It’s sooooo good.

I played at Natalie’s last year with Wild Ponies on the Galax tour (hence my pizza knowledge) and it was a ton of fun.

(I’m guessing I must’ve been too full of food to take any video or photos this time around 😉 ).

Then the following day we drove back to Nashville and I hopped on a plane to Austin.

For most of the trip the temperatures were between 75-80F and at night it cooled right down (which is what I’m use to being from the UK). It was a (nice) shock to the system when I got off the plane at 11:30pm in Austin to be greeted with 98F heat 😉

Good to be home ❤

I’ll be heading out with the Ponies again in a few weeks, can’t wait 🙂

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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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