Going on the road

This morning I shall be setting off with Owl to visit his sister and her husband. We are both looking forward to seeing them. It will be my first visit to The Peak District, although I have previously visited a friend who I met through blogging a few years ago, who lives on the edge of the Peak District.

To get there I shall be spending quite a while on the A34. I shall be interested to see how the landscape has changed since the demolition of three of the cooling towers at Didcot.

Although there are several routes I could take to get to and from my sister in law’s place it is likely that I shall use theA34 on the return home in a few days time. Then guess what I shall be doing in a week’s time. Yes I shall be back on the A34 taking Pug back to Oxford where he will be moving into a shared house with friends from Uni. If we have room in the car Skater will be going with us so that he can stay with his brother for a few days before heading off to Reading Festival the following weekend.

Also going on the road this weekend albeit a different road, Prodigal and his merry band New Desert Blues will be performing at Boardmasters Festival where they will be playing on the same stage as George Ezra.

Not on the road but travelling by train Statto and Miss Effervecence will be visiting us on Thursday 🙂

 

The long night

It was a long trip to London, considering that we are only 73 miles from our destination. First we had to head in the wrong direction to pick up Skater’s two mates Luke and Dom. By the time we were on our way we were only just ahead of the rush hour traffic. Because we were going in the opposite direction to most of the traffic we didn’t hit any hold ups until we reached Guildford, it was a slow crawl most of the way from there. I had decided (at Statto’s suggestion) to drive to Morden where we could then get the underground to Kings Cross which is just 5 minute walk from the church we were going to. Having left home at 4pm we reached Morden just on 7pm. By which time both Skater and I were desperate to find restrooms. Driving through busy traffic in the dark looking for somewhere to park proved to be beyond my ability.

Failing to find anywhere near to the station to park we ended up in South Wimbledon, one of the lads managed to find a car park on their phone gps. Following their directions I found myself attempting to drive along residential roads with vehicles parked on both sides making for slow progress especially when we came face to face or rather headlights to headlights at a stand off with oncoming vehicles. Who would give in and back up? I was driving our 4 x 4 Chevrolet Blazer but don’t have the confidence to back up in a straight line for 100m without hitting anything especially in the dark in unfamiliar surroundings. Both of us had stopped but just as I was throwing my vehicle into reverse we saw that our adversary was flashing his lights at us. Cautiously I crept forward until I found a gap in the parked cars on my left, sliding half into the gap there was just enough room for the other car to pass by. No sooner had I begun to tug the wheel to the right but another car appeared at the end of the road. This one obviously had no intention of waiting so I had no choice but to sit tight until the road ahead was clear for me to swing out and continue on my way.

It was probably another 5 minutes before we found the car park, only to discover that it was completely full. A sharp eyed lad in  the back noticed that someone was returning to their car so a quick circuit of the car park brought us back to the soon to be vacant space. By this time I was becoming desperate to relieve my bladder, from his comments I knew that Skater was just as desperate. Following gps we set off at fast walk (fast for me) towards the station and the certainty that we would find toilets at the station. Minutes before we reached the underground station we saw a petrol station on the other side of the road. Assuming that the petrol station shop would have public toilets, we crossed the road and trooped inside. Making a circuit of the shop it quickly became apparent that this might be a convenience store but there were no conveniences. Setting off again we soon saw the underground sign ahead of us.

At last we were there, pushing buttons on the closest ticket machine I attempted to purchase 4 tickets as speedily as I could standing there with my legs crossed hoping for relief once we were through the barriers and down the ceramic tile walled stairs. It was with dismay that we realised all that was at the end of the stairs were the two platforms, one for north bound and one south bound trains. we barely had a minute to wait for our train. Being only the second stop on the line the carriage was fairly empty so the four of us were able to find seats together. It is funny (or at least I thought so) that my three teenage companions who had chatted non stop for 3.5 hours, hardly uttered a word between them for the entire 40 minutes we were rattling along below the streets of London. The closer we got to the City the more crowded the carriage became and it was noticeable that the casual dress of earlier travellers was changing to more formal workwear.

Finally we exited our carriage at Kings Cross and made our way as rapidly as we could up the numerous stairs and escalators to find our way out onto the street. Still we had not found any public conveniences. Trying to work out which direction we needed to follow we spotted a MacDonalds restaurant on a nearby street corner. A  consultation resulted in agreement that a quick pee break followed by a burger was in order. As we stood on the corner of the street waiting to get to the other side and relief it felt like an eternity before the traffic stopped to let us cross. As soon as we had crossed the road the three lads disappeared up the stairs to the gents. I followed as quickly as I could up the stairs to the ladies.  Once there the flood gates opened, I was beginning to think they were not going to stop.

Back downstairs I bought chicken burgers for myself and Skater, the other two lads were already eating their food. I text Statto to let him know we were in the area, he replied that the first act had already finished and Prodigal would soon be on stage. Chivvying the lads out of the door we strode off (they strode, I trotted) as fast as my little legs would move along the west side of St Pancras International station towards the Old Church where New Desert Blues would be performing. I have never seen such an endless queue of waiting taxis. Finally we made our way up a set of steps to the church entrance. Luckily it was still the interval, I was greeted by Statto, I managed to find a chair and sat at the side of the crowd leaving Skater and friends chatting with Statto.

I didn’t have long to compose myself before my son and his fellow band members were on stage. I really enjoyed the show that the put on for us. I felt that the use of this old church was an inspired venue. I loved the shadows on the walls and ceiling thrown up by the different coloured lights used for each song performed. Here are a few examples.

IMG_1498  IMG_1499  IMG_1503  IMG_1504  IMG_1502   As much as I was enjoying the performance I was still keeping a watch on the time. When we had left the car one of the lads had noticed a sign stating that the Car Park closes at 11pm, this meant that we had to be on our way back by 10pm. I was relieved therefore when the performance ended at 9.45pm but before we could leave there were a number of people I had to speak to. Fellow parents and others I had not seen for years. The last person I managed to speak to was Prodigal (I had already seen his girlfriend and her father). Then began the fast trot back to the station.  We found a quicker route this time and were satisfied with our progress until reaching the ticket barrier where only three of us made it through unimpeded. Panic set in, none of us had any cash on us to buy another ticket and the one Luke had just wasn’t working. He ran to speak to a LT worker who pointed him in the direction of another worker speaking to a woman at the barrier. Luke patiently waited his turn but the woman and the worker walked away from the barrier to a bank of ticket machines. Eventually Luke was let through the barrier and we made our way into the bowels of the station.

A few minutes later we were on the packed train and there was nothing we could do but sit patiently until we reached our station. It was 11pm when we left the station and we still had a 10 minute hike back to the car. There was nothing I could do but walk as quickly as my legs would carry me as tired as I was by then. If I had been religious I would have been praying that the car park would be open. I could almost have let out a whoop whoop when I found that my car was not stuck in a locked car park. I had not been driving for long when I realised that all three lads were asleep.

Of course the drive home was much quicker and easier than the drive there had been. I had got the boys back to their homes and arrived back at our home by 1.05am. The whole trip had taken 9 hours but it had been worth it.

All in Dortmund

Last night my family were all in Dortmund (Germany)

That is not strictly true, Statto was somewhere in London, Pug was in Oxford. Skater was at home with me and Owl and my mum was at her home. But all of us were online watching a live stream from Dortmund. My eldest son Prodigal and his band New Desert Blues were playing the last date of their mini European tour.

Here are a few photos from their trip.

Hamburg

Hamburg        BrusselsBrussells and finally Dortmund DortmundHe tells me this was the best one yet.

They also played Paris and Berlin.

I am very proud of my son and his friends to have pulled this off. I just hope that something comes of all this.

I find it amazing that all of us at home were  able to watch their performance simultaneously all in our different places.

to find out more here is their facebook page

Peggy Sue Adventure

 

Sunday 9th June 2013

After our adventures of the previous day we had a pretty quiet Saturday morning. Missy M had called the night before to tell us that the annual art and music festival would be in Novato and we should go. We visited our favourite diner Pepper’s for a late brunch of omelette for me and waffles for Owl.IMG_0757

Wandered back to our room and waited for the call to go and meet Missy M.

By the time we arrived at the festival the temperature was a massive 100 degrees, which is not good for walking about. We were all melting, I am sure we all shrank a few inches during the afternoon. There were lots of interesting stalls to look at. Missy M bought herself a dress and some earrings.  We all found this stand very intriguing.

IMG_0760 my favourites wereIMG_0759 Owl likedIMG_0463and thisIMG_0465

We walked from one end of the street to the other where we left Owl to listen to a live band playing while we went in search of ice cream from Missy M’s favourite ice cream store.  It was a blessed relief going into this air conditioned store full of every kind of sweet you could ever imagine and the sweet scent lingering in the atmosphere was hypnotic.  Missy M chose her tub of two kinds of ice cream and I had two kinds of sorbet which I felt would be more refreshing. Grabbing a bottle of water for Owl we headed back along the hot road to find my husband enjoying the music.

Cold desserts (rapidly melting) in our hands we meandered along back in the direction of the mustang. We had seen everything we could muster up the enthusiasm to see, it was just too hot to do much else. Even just walking at a slow pace felt like wading through treacle.

Once back at the car we decided it was time to collect Mr T which we duly did. I wouldn’t recommend travelling with father and daughter when the daughter knows her way around and the father doesn’t. Giving vague directions and not paying full attention to directions can lead to an interesting situation. With help from Mr T we finally found our way to a part of town we hadn’t seen before and a retail park that included several eateries.  We found ourselves at Pasta Pomoro one of Missy M’s favourites. Both teenagers chose a pasta dish whilst Owl and I both had a soft drink only as we were not hungry. It was nice to sit in partial shade just relaxing and chatting.

We were feeling tired and the teenagers had things to do so once the table had been cleared and left over pasta boxed up to take away we dropped them home and drove back to Petaluma and an early night. We were planning a busy day for Sunday.

Later we received a message that Missy M had left her makeup bag and car key in the mustang. She didn’t need them immediately but could we drop them off in the morning. Which of course we did even though Novato is in the opposite direction to Santa Rosa which was our chosen destination for that day. Whilst at the starlight the other evening we had picked up a free paper. Reading this we had discovered that Peggy Sue’s All American Cruise event was being held from Thursday to Sunday.

This morning the sky was looking a bit glum but we were confident that it would improve. Having completed our mercy mission we turned back north along Route 101 which didn’t actually take very long at all. Soon we were pulling into the designated car park. Already Owl was getting excited just seeing the cars parked around us, before we even got into the show itself.

There were mustangs, challengers, Bel airs, and corvettes every which way you looked. A slow walk through the car park to the field of cars, cars, cars and yet more cars. Owl was in his element. I won’t bore you with all the cars we saw, but here are a few.IMG_0764Since we arrived in California Owl kept talking about cars wearing a bra IMG_0787this was what he meant.IMG_0788IMG_0800bet you haven’t seen many cars that colour.IMG_0797and lastlyIMG_0803The weather never did improve, we were so glad we had our hoodies from the previous weekend. We didn’t see all the cars on display but after a couple of hours we decided that we had seen enough and besides which our feet were aching. Time to go back to Petaluma and call into Peppers for a drink and a slice of home made mandarin cream pie to share mmmmm.

mandarine cream pie

The Gig

Friday night equals music night, we don’t go every week but it is nice to get out and enjoy some live music in our favourite pub now and again. It was about 8 o’clock when we arrived and the band (all 3 of them) were just setting up. By that I mean the drummer in his short blue sports shorts and red t-shirt was setting up all the while chatting to the guys at the nearest table. It is a small bar so his conversation carried to all there. He began by opening up his bass drum to stuff pillows and cushions inside to muffle the sound a little. I did wonder why he hadn’t done this at home. He then proceeded to put his kit together making a big thing of having to guess exactly how high to set each drum etc. Surely if you have been playing for years (he has had his snare drum since he was 12 he is now late 50s) it would be second nature by now.

I was beginning to feel uneasy. The lead guitarist and his daughter (the ‘goth’ bass guitarist ) were now setting up around the drummer, speaking to each other in hushed tones. Finally at a minute to 9pm it appeared that the band were ready to begin. But no, first the drummer stripped off his red t-shirt swapping it for a round necked yellow t-shirt then added sweat bands to his head and wrists. Now in my mind he shouldn’t have done this in front of his audience. He should have gone to the gents or even out to his car, certainly not sitting behind his drum kit.

The music began to resonate through the small room (loudly). By the time the first song was over the Landlord told the band to turn the volume down a bit. The drummer complained to his guitarist that he wasn’t able to hear himself over the guitar sound. A minute or so later the band resumed playing. During the next hour they played some Who, Free, Nicky Moore, Thin Lizzy and various others. The Lead guitar was well played, the bass guitar was well played, even the drums were good. The singing was not so good.

But the worst thing that occurred was when the drummer……………………….

………..decided that he was too hot and took off his yellow shirt. I was wondering what he was going to replace it with. It soon dawned on me that the answer was………..nothing. He played the remainder of the set bare chested. From where I was sitting I couldn’t see the guitarist’s face as it was blocked from my line of vision by a speaker. I could see the drummer but directly in my line of vision was the bass guitarist. I have never seen a musician looking less like they were enjoying themselves. There was one moment when I thought she almost cracked a smile but not quite.

Anyway the band stopped for a break and the Landlord told the drummer that he would pay them up but they wouldn’t be playing a second set. Most of the small gathering of people in the pub had either left or were preparing to leave so there was no point in continuing.

This afternoon we popped into the pub for a quiet drink and guess what the main topic of conversation was. Yes you got it…..the weather, in particular the snow that has descended once again in various parts of the country considerably late in the year. Oh and also the dreadful band from last night.

In honour of James

Last night I went with Owl to our favourite local country pub. They have live music on Friday evenings, we have not been for a while as we are both tired at the end of the week. But we had agreed earlier in the week that we would go. The entertainment for the evening was Shep Woolley which we thoroughly enjoyed.

I had seen him once before when he was the after dinner speaker at one of the Rotary dinners I attended with my mother (probably 3 or 4 years ago).  If you have never seen him then you have missed out on a very entertaining evening. Not only does he sing and play guitar oh and also a ukulele and mouth organ to boot. But his anecdotes and impressions are hilarious.

Usually when we go out I stick to drinking either orange juice or other fruit drinks, I am the only driver in this household at the moment. But last night I allowed myself to have a glass of merlot.

I had some sad news yesterday, a very close friend of my mother’s died, James had been moved into a nursing home last week. I knew he probably wouldn’t be with us for much longer but didn’t expect him to go quite so quickly. During the break in Shep’s routine I had phoned my mum to see how she was, I am concerned about her as she had been extremely close to James, at one point I wouldn’t have been suprised if they had married. I was telling Owl about various memories I have of James. He was in fact the master of ceremonies for the Rotary club up until about 18 months ago and so would have been at the time when Shep was entertaining us. It was James who at one of the many dinners/and other evening events I had attended had introduced me to drinking red wine. Until then I had preferred to drink white.

So it was in honour of James that I decided to have a glass of the red stuff.