Next day delivery my a**e, influential friends and clunkage.

We’ve just had a few day off (as in we couldn’t get a gig) – to be fair it was very nice and most welcome. Kip scored again with Air B&B. She found a smashing place in The Entrance N.S.W, five minutes from the beach and this one did provide breakfast (see earlier blog).

The Entrance is so called as there is a narrow channel of water there that flows between the Pacific Ocean and Tuggerah Lake. The beaches are gorgeous and there a huge colony of Pelicans and Black Swans on the lake.

Most of our time was spent on the beach and swimming in the sea. I’m currently deaf in one ear and applying ear drops due to spending too much time swimming in the sea.

Our time there was great, but relatively uneventful. Unless you count Kip volleying a fish into a Pelican’s mouth during feeding time one afternoon, which was impressive, but not a major event.

We did get some nice pics though (see below).

After one of our sets at Illawarra festival a couple came up for a chat. They were very complimentary and said they occasionally put on house concerts. Without trying to sound too eager I dived straight in and told them that we had a free weekend due to a gig falling through. From that brief chat and a couple of Facebook messages we got another gig and made two very good friends. Scott and Jenny Thomson arranged a house concert for us at their place and invited us to stay for a couple of nights. That in itself was great, but they are also both musicians and both massive fans of Richard Thompson, happy days!

About a week prior to going to Scott and Jenny’s Kip had ordered some more CDs as we had nearly run out (we get them made in Oz rather than posting them out from the UK – it’s cheaper and gives you the option of reordering). We use Implant Media in Melbourne as they’ve always been good to deal with and very quick at getting orders turned around. Jenny had said it was okay to get the CDs delivered to their place so Kip passed on the info to Implant Media. On the Thursday they sent the CDs out on next day delivery to Scott & Jenny’s so they’d be waiting for us when we arrived on the Saturday. Only they didn’t. Jenny messaged Kip on the Friday to say the CDs hadn’t showed up. Kip checked the online tracking which had them in an Australian post depot near Sydney. Kip phoned Aussie post first thing on the Saturday morning and after a few minutes it was clear that the CDs would not be there before Monday at the earliest (as we had to get to Brisbane by Tuesday, we needed an early start on Monday) Kip calmly and clinically tore several strips off the lad on the other end of the phone (he was called “James I don’t have to tell you my surname” apparently) and left him in no doubt that Australian Post had let us down.

When we got to Scott & Jenny’s we explained about the CDs and said we’d have to hang on until the post had been on the Monday. They kindly offered to get them sent onto Brisbane if they didn’t turn up on Monday although we were a bit nervous they might never catch up with us as we would be moving on to a new place every day.

Scott and Jenny have a smashing house, with grounds that go right down to Lake Macquarie. Scott told us how the quality of the water in the lake had improved over recent years and that, as there is no longer commercial fishing on the lake, the Bull Sharks in there are thriving. We told him we’d been swimming in there a couple of weeks before and he advised against it (once he’d stopped laughing!).

We had a lovely night with them on the Saturday; after dinner the instruments came out and we swapped a few songs along with several drinks.

The concert on the Sunday afternoon was great and many of those who came were also musicians, so a session broke out after the gig. Then we had a huge stroke of luck.

One of the folks who came to the gig worked for Australian Post (sort of – he has the contract for servicing their motorbikes). We told him of our woes about the CDs and he became a man on a mission. As he was leaving he took the parcel tracking numbers and said he’d get onto it first thing Monday morning. True to his word, as soon as he got into work the next day he tracked down the parcels, contacted the delivery driver, made sure he had our CDs and got him to rearrange his route so that they were delivered by 9:30am. We love you, Lenny.

We said our goodbyes and headed up the A1 toward Brisbane (not Edinburgh) We were heading to another Air B&B near Maclean, six hours up the road. The journey was fine and uneventful right up until five minutes from our destination. Rather than go straight to the B&B we went into Maclean to get something to eat. We called into a Chinese restaurant and when we came out we found that someone had pranged our hire care. Bugger…………

Clunkage

Feeding time (Pelicans that is)

Black Swans

Toowoon Bay

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Will you sing in our school? Gimme 16,000 at Cropredy any day!

The previous blog briefly mentioned Mark, the chap who’d asked if we’d like to go into his school, to do a few songs and chat to the students about what we do. This all seemed very nice and the icing on the cake was the offer of payment for doing so. There was also the offer of a bed on the Monday night which was gratefully accepted as we were due in school at 8:30am on the Tuesday morning. The school in question being the Newcastle Waldorf School in Glendale. We had not heard of Waldorf schools before although Kip had heard of Steiner schools, which if I’m correct are the same thing.

Rudolf Steiner was a Swiss philosopher and social reformer (Where would I be without Wikipedia, and yes I do donate), who in the early twentieth century searched for a connection between science and spirituality. The first Waldorf school was set up in Germany in 1919 by Emil Molt the owner and managing director of the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Company. He recognised that the only way the average working man was going to break out of poverty was through good schooling, so he set up a school for his employees’ children and based it upon Steiner’s philosophy of education.

Our accommodation was a sofa bed in the studio which is in the garden of a school house occupied by Joel, Ebony and their three beautiful daughters (all of whom go to the school). Joel is a teacher at the school and he invited us in for Chinese tea (he’d just been to China on a two week educational exchange). We had a good old chat and Joel answered our many questions about the school. He explained that they have to meet the same outcomes as state run schools but they focus on and encourage the use of art, music and creativity in general to help the students in their learning.

Ebony had told us that the mosquitos can get a bit vicious at night as well as in the mornings. Following her advice we sprayed ourselves, our clothes and bedding with a potentially lethal dose of “sod off you bastards” insect repellent before sitting outside to play scrabble that evening. One thing we both love about Oz is the different sounds of the birds in the evening. They are noisy buggers, but very different from what we’re used to. There was also the soothing sound of a truck’s refrigeration unit kicking in every five minutes from the yard next door.

It wasn’t the best night’s sleep we’d had. It was hot, there was no aircon and the fan by the side of the bed kept sending ripples across the bed sheet which made me think of man-eating spiders. By three am the fan was driving me nuts, so I switched it off and we marinaded in sweat.

Either we were too repulsive for the local mossies or the repellent had excelled itself as neither of us had been bitten. This is a truly rare event.

Up and showered by 7:30am the next morning and we were in school by 8:25am, which was the first time either of us had been early for school in our lives. Mark took us to get a coffee in the kitchen, the walls of which were lined with tiles, everyone was hand painted by someone at the school. Mark gave us a brief history of the school and it was clear to see that he’s passionate about what he does and loves his job. I hope he can maintain this enthusiasm. We told him that we know so many teachers around our age group in the UK that have packed it in. The job is nothing like what they signed up for in their twenties and they’ve burned out.

Our first stint was with a group of twelve to sixteen year olds. They sat on the floor in the hall facing us and you could see that some were thinking “what are these old hippies doing here”. Others just yawned and one or two seemed genuinely interested.

We started talking about where we’re from and how we got to be doing what we’re doing now. We then sang some songs that reflected upon our history and some social comment upon things as they are now. The time went very quickly and the session was over in no time. I didn’t think it had gone very well, but they all clapped and a few cheered at the end (it may have been relief). Once we’d finished one lad came over and grilled me about songwriting for a few minutes and then said it had been really interesting and thanked us for coming. A few minutes later another lad who’d yawned most of the time we were playing came back into the hall to ask if he could stream our music on Spotify (you can by the way). So far so good, then.

Then it was time for the youngsters. A group of seven to eleven year olds were then lead into the hall. Halfway through the first song one of them is giving us the thumbs down sign and saying he doesn’t like the music. Within five seconds a teacher has expertly slid him across the floor to the side of the hall and silenced him. We go into the second song and a lad raises his hand. ”Have you got a question?” I foolishly ask. “I can whistle” he says. Like an idiot I say “go on then” and thirty five kids join in within three seconds of him starting. I thought playing in front of sixteen thousand umbrellas at Cropredy festival was nerve wracking. It was a breeze compared to this. To be fair it was a lot of fun and the kids were great. I will never complain about teachers’ wages – they earn every penny and their influence is enormous. Nobody remembers a mediocre teacher, but we can all remember the good ones and the bad ones.

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Back down the road and look who we met.

After three days of relaxation it was time to get back to some hard graft, as in four gigs in four days. The sheer physical effort required drive down the road, lift a guitar out of its case and sing, chat, bluff our way through ninety minutes of what can loosely be described as entertainment is minimal to be honest. I realise I wouldn’t be fooling anyone if I said otherwise. It can be tiring if you get two or three six hour drives to gigs in consecutive days, but it ain’t like we’re driving a forty ton truck or digging holes in the road. We’ve both done many years on the great hamster wheel of subservience and on several occasions it has served us well, but we would not change what we have now for the world.

The day we did the gig in Upper Lansdowne, the temperature had been up as high as 41°c and on the night it had cooled to a sultry 37°c. Even with several fans running flat out we were still melting on stage. Which in itself isn’t too bad, but sweaty hands do not help when playing the guitar and Kip has similar issues with the flute (again it ain’t digging holes in the road). A tip for guitarist friends for when it’s sweaty – carry some talcum powder and give your hands a dusting before playing. I doubt it helps the tone of your strings but neither does sweat. A lady gave me a bottle of talc when we last played here two years ago and I still carry the same bottle in my gig bag. It doesn’t get a lot of use in Europe.

It was a smashing gig but the definitive highlight of the night was seeing a fruit bat fly past as we sat outside the hall beforehand (closely followed by ice creams during the interval). We’d never seen a fruit bat before and at first glance mistook it for a small kid out hang gliding. They’re impressive creatures.

From Upper Lansdowne we went to Hamilton near Newcastle NSW to play Tradewinds Folk. This took place in Peter and Nicky’s house even though Peter couldn’t be there as he’d gone into hospital for emergency back surgery. Many folk would have cancelled, but they didn’t want to let us down. Nicky, along with the help of her boys, and Carole and Michael set up the room and opened the house to all who wanted to come. Nicky then nipped off to visit Peter in hospital and came back halfway through our first set with the good news that Peter’s operation had gone well and he was hoping to be home the following day.

At the end of the gig, Kip was approached by a tall softly spoken gent (Mark) who asked if we’d be interested in performing for the children at his school. “Of course,” says us. More of that later.

The Michael in the earlier paragraph was Michael Fine of the Troubadour Central Coast Folk Club. We were playing his club the following night and staying with him and his wife Ina for the next three days. Michael’s place was about an hour and a half away and it was an interesting drive back that night as it was dark and pouring rain. The descent down to his sea level house from the hills above was a bit of a white-knuckle ride as it has a few hairpin bends and apparently some spectacular views in daylight. All of which helped maintain my concentration levels that night.

If you walk to the bottom of Michael and Ina’s garden and keep going you get wet. They live on the edge of Brisbane Water in Woy Woy. Spike Milligan once lived in Woy Woy and claimed it to be the largest above-ground cemetery in the world. Not much happened, apparently, during Spike’s stay there. We had a great time, we borrowed Michael’s kayak and managed to paddle around a good stretch of the bay without falling in. We still got soaked mind, such was our highly-skilled, synchronised rowing technique.

The gig at the Troubadour went well and received a very nice review on their Facebook page. Michael and Ina had a couple of friends over from the UK, Kirk and Linda, who also came to the gig and afterwards we sat outside back at the house having a few drinks and sorting the world out. (We clearly didn’t do a very good job as bugger all had changed when we woke up on Sunday morning).

On the Sunday we were playing Petersham Bowling Club. Petersham is a suburb west of Sydney, a bit over an hour’s drive from Woy Woy. We drove down early and parked up near the bowling club and then, using our recently purchased opal cards (we’re practically locals), we caught a train into Sydney to do a bit of sightseeing.

What we saw of Sydney was very nice, quite a mix of the old colonial and new high rise. They do seem to like digging it up though – there was an awful lot of building/remodelling work going on. We had no real plan (no change there then) and just wandered. We found the botanical gardens and then the Anzac war memorial. It has to be one of the best war memorials I’ve ever seen. Very tasteful, not over the top and yet very powerful. Some of the paintings on show were stunning and really hit home.

Back to Petersham. The bowling club is an excellent example of what a community can achieve when they get together. Several years back the bowling club was failing and was going to be bulldozed to make way for seventeen town houses. Some folks that live locally got together to fight the plans. They bought the club and began running it as a community enterprise managed and staffed by volunteers. There are two greens and a club house. They turned over one of the greens for folks to take their kids to play on and kept the other for bowling. They then got rid of the gambling machines and over the years have been establishing a good live music scene as well as a community hub for families to use and they are now at the stage where the club has some paid staff as well as help from volunteers. Our gig was pretty quiet but still a lot of fun, we did three forty five minute sets and sang some songs we’d not done in ages. It was however very special for another reason.

A while ago I received a friend request on Facebook from a lady (Georgia) living in Sydney. This didn’t strike me as odd as I was working on setting up this tour at the time and had been contacting people and venues via Facebook. When I looked at Georgia’s Facebook page I saw she’d posted some of late great Sandy Denny’s music on her timeline. That’s a coincidence thought I as we had performed a Sandy song with Fairport Convention at last year’s Cropredy Festival. So I posted a link to the video of the Cropredy performance onto Georgia’s time line saying “I see you’re a Sandy fan. If you get the chance please come and see us when we get to Sydney”. Georgia was very complimentary and said she’d try and make it. A couple of days later a friend messaged me asking if I knew that Georgia was actually Sandy Denny’s daughter. I had no idea.

Anyhow Georgia was true to her word and she came along to Petersham. We got on great and had quite a chat about her life, what she’s been doing and where she is now. Georgia has had a tough deal by anyone’s standards. She lost her mum before she was a year old and her dad (musician Trevor Lucas) before she’d reached her teens, she’s had cancer and is the mother of three kids. You don’t get through all of that without a few scars and one comment she made really hit home. She said that so many people have great memories of her mum but she doesn’t have any. She was so young when Sandy died that there was no chance to form any memories of their time together. Something we all have is Sandy’s music, much of which Trevor performed on and that is a legacy that Georgia is rightly proud of.

We said our goodbyes at the end of the gig and vowed to meet up again back in the UK in August at Cropredy festival. Now there’s something to look forward to.

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Tractor tours and a slice of paradise.

Kip has got the hang of this AirB&B thing, we’ve just spent two nights in a beautiful place by the side of Lake Macquairie for about the same price of a special deal in a very basic hotel back in the UK.

Lake Macquarie is Australia’s largest coastal saltwater lake, an aquatic playground perfect for a family holiday. Not my words – I lifted them from the visit NSW website, but I wouldn’t argue with them. It’s huge, very warm, great for swimming in and very salty.

The weird thing is this place is just down the road from Toronto. We’re playing in another Toronto in September, I don’t see us wearing tee shirts and shorts for that one.

From Toronto to Upper Lansdowne and a slice of paradise pie with Helen and Al. We played Upper Lansdowne community hall on our last trip, but due to a geographical error (Dave) we had to leave straight after the gig and drive overnight to perform at a festival the following morning. The night before the gig last time we stayed with Helen and Al in their gorgeous place out in the bush. We hit it off with them immediately and it was shame we had to leave so soon. We had no intention of having such a short stay this time. As with Wayne and Gial at Humph Hall, when Al and Helen confirmed the gig they also invited us to stay as long as we liked – thank you, thank you, thank you.

We arrived on the Tuesday afternoon and we all went to dinner at their neighbours’ (about six kilometres away). We were discussing plans for the next day and decided to walk, scramble and climb to the top of Mount Olive (insert relevant Popeye joke here).

This involved some serious planning and careful consideration. At about 7.30am following morning we were joined by Al’s mate Chris and the assault on the summit began at about 8am (it would be too hot by 10am). As I’d only got sandals I reluctantly agreed to wear socks with them to stop my feet getting scratched to ribbons. This only a couple of days after taking the piss out of Wayne in a previous blog for wearing socks with sandals (to be fair he wasn’t hiking up Mount Olive).

Okay so we cheated a little bit, but it was good fun. Al suggested riding some of the way in the bucket of his tractor. You do not get offers like that everyday.

The tractor could only go so far, there was still a decent amount of hiking, slipping, climbing and arse bouncing to be done. It was well worth it, the views were stunning. After three days in the delightful company of Helen and Al and several of their friends it was time to head off. It stung a bit to say goodbye, this is a very special place and very special people.

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Wayne’s World (Humph Hall, Sydney).

To spend time with Wayne, Gial and Donald is a joy. Big hearts, big smiles and genuinely lovely people. Wayne and Gial are married and Donald is Gial’s father who in now in his late nineties.

Humph Hall, where they live and where they work, is in Allambie Heights, a suburb north of Sydney. It used to be a church and people still congregate there for spiritual fulfilment. Wayne and Gial bought the place several years ago and converted the main body of the church into a performance space and the rest of the building into their living area. They put on a lot of gigs for touring and local musicians as well as producing their own shows under the banner of Loosely Woven.

Loosely Woven is a bunch of like-minded people with a love for music. It’s a not-for-profit enterprise and aside from Humph Hall, they also perform around local care homes free of charge.

Wayne is passionate about acoustic music and loathes the use of amplification where it’s not needed. As you’d expect, Humph Hall has great acoustics. Wayne does, however, commit the cardinal sin of wearing socks with sandals, but as a gesture of goodwill it’s never a matching pair (the socks – the sandals match fine!).

When I set up the gig I’d asked if they could put us up for the night and received the response I’d have put money on. “Stay as long as you like. There might be other musos here but we’ll sort it out.” When you’re in Wayne’s world you go with the flow.

They have a great set up at Humph Hall for videoing the gigs and as such a terrific archive to look back on. The best of which has to be Donald’s solo. It’s a three camera shot, keep your eye on Donald, the elderly gent in the left hand screen and then Gial in the bottom right. I’ll say no more, except that it’s well worth thirty seconds of your time. (Wayne is the dude on the piano.) You can follow the link here.

We arrived in the evening on Thursday 24th January via Gosford. The detour to Gosford was of major importance. While playing at Illawarra Festival we sang Grateful for the Rain and I explained that it was normally played on the banjo, but unfortunately I’d had to leave my beloved banjo back in the UK. After the gig a gent introduced himself to Kip (I was selling CD’s. Hallelujah!!) and said he’d be happy to lend us a banjo for the time we were in New South Wales. This very generous offer came as no surprise to be honest. I’ve lent out guitars and amps to touring musicians in the UK with no issues, but it is good for the heart when someone else does the same for you. The chap in question is Cec Bucello who produces a music magazine called Trad & Now. We’ve had dealings with Cec in the past as Trad & Now had published a feature for our last tour and very kindly did again this time around, so it was good to meet the man in the flesh. Here is Cec’s trusty banjo (with makeshift strap) in action at Humph Hall.

As I mentioned we arrived on the Thursday evening and we knew our way around as we had performed here on our last visit. We were delighted to see that Donald is still mobile and in good spirits. He received a worthy mention for his love of breakfast cereals in our previous tour blog. This passion does appear to have waned somewhat but he still has a good appetite. After a bite to eat we all sat down to watch a movie, The Last Laugh with Chevy Chase, Richard Dreyfus and Andi McDowel. It was a feel-good film that had a good piece of advice from Andi McDowel’s character. “Every now and then take off your shoes and feel the earth beneath your feet.” I can highly recommend this; it’s good for the soul (and the soles – can you see what I did there?).

Donald makes himself comfy – yep, that is two-seater sofa.

The gig was the following night and we were sharing the evening with Canadian songstress Dana Sipos. It was a stressful evening for Wayne as the gig had oversold which created a lot seating issues for him. Thankfully we had the easy part.

Dana opened up with a solo set of her own songs. She has a relaxed distinctive style that’s very much her own. We saw her briefly at Illawarra Festival where we were on the same bill on the first evening. Dana had arrived just minutes before, literally flying in from a festival in Tasmania where she’d co-opted a drummer and fiddle player to join her on stage. Either way, solo or with accompaniment, her songs work and she has the experience to slot in with others at the drop of a hat. There’s proof of this in the video below. Wayne had asked earlier if we thought we could work something out to sing with Dana at the end of the show. After a brief chat and one run through beforehand we decided on Joni Mitchell’s classic A Case Of You. There was a slight stutter over some misremembered lines but it worked itself out and was a lot of fun to sing.

A Case Of You, video

Our part of the gig trundled along nicely. The audience was great, there was plenty of banter and they joined in in the right places. We had a gent and his wife from the UK who’d come to see us as they had seen us at the Union Chapel in London when we toured with Fairport Convention last year.

Since we’d last played at Humph Hall, Loosely Woven have picked up one of our songs. After hearing us sing it in 2017, they then performed Who Will Remember Me? in one of their productions last year and several of them joined us in singing it at the gig (video link below). It never ceases to amaze me how songs can travel. I wrote Who Will Remember Me? for Pauline Dobson, a lovely lady living in our home town of Sleaford who’d asked me to write some songs for a play that she was producing, based on the writings of a man called David Smith, who’d lived in the watermill on Westgate in Sleaford in the late 1800s. (Sleaford is my home town and where we now live.) I based the song on an extract from David Smith’s diary, and we recorded it for a CD which featured songs from Pauline’s play Footprints. Thanks to the late Jeanne Furnival of Sleaford (Jeanne collected and recorded David Smith’s original writings and tracked down his family), the CD made its way to members of David Smith’s family in Canada. We are touring in Canada later this year – wouldn’t it be great if some of those relatives could get to a gig and sing it with us? That’s another thing we need to work on.

From Sleaford to Australia to Canada – there’s plenty that have done far more, but this’ll do for us.

Wayne has uploaded several videos from the show at Humph Hall that can been seen on the Humph Hall YouTube channel.

With Wayne, Gial and Dana after the show.

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Mountains and Spiny Roadside Wildlife.

We said our goodbyes to Russ, Jenny, Maeve and Ellie. Despite all of the grief and heartache it caused us we decided against stealing Luna. We get enough shit trying to get through customs with an accordion, a stolen dog would only add to our woes. (Actually she wouldn’t fit in the car! K)

Russ had told us that Jervis bay was a lovely area with great beaches and Ellen recommended stopping off at Berry for lunch on the way. Finding Berry was no problem, but the beaches at Jervis Bay were a little more challenging. We don’t have a satnav and the map is not very detailed, but we had an “interesting” ride around and whilst doing so saw an Echidna (spiny anteater), which is not something you do every day. The prickly fella was by the side of the road considering his/her options for crossing. We drove back along that stretch ten minutes later (lost) and there was no sign of skid marks (Echidna or otherwise), so he/she must have made it okay.

We found a cheap motel (decent bed and a shower) in Huskisson for the night, managed a quick dip in the bay and then the next night we stayed in our first Airb&b at Oak Flats (Shoalhaven – no, it means nothing to us either!). I’m guessing that folks who run established B&B’s must be up in arms at Airb&b (which should be Air b as there’s no breakfast) as they are in general much cheaper (it’s literally a bed in someone’s house in most cases). But for what we do where you just want to turn up, go to bed, get a shower and away in the morning they are ideal and reasonably priced.

You know how sometimes you meet someone and you get along okay and then you say “you must come and stay if you’re in the area”. Don’t say it to us, because we will. When we were at Illawarra festival we met Russ’s lovely sister Bronwyn. Bron happened to mention that she lives up in the Blue Mountains (north west of Sydney) and said to call in if we were passing. That was all we needed, another road trip had been hatched – poor, unsuspecting Bron.

There are so many beautiful beaches all over Australia that you can get quite blasé about it, which may have been why the views up in the Blue Mountains really did take our breath away. We arrived early evening at Echo Point, where there had been a welcome rain storm earlier in the day (we’d seen cloud and lightning but no rain on the drive). The storm had left the air refreshingly cool while we were there and the views were a little hazy but still incredible.

The Three Sisters

Rat on a stick?

Norwegian Red?

From Echo point we went to Bron’s house in Hazelbrook where we were greeted by Murphy. A lovely evening was spent chatting about, life, travels and listening to music (Bron has an amazing collection of vinyl).

You’ve got to love a lady who in her early sixties owns a vintage (1985 I think) 750cc motorbike (forgot the make) and recently did a road trip with back pack across country to Adelaide.

Kip, Bron and Murphy.

The next morning Bron was up and away to work and left us to get our breakfast and shower. We’d had a few beasties grazing on us during the night. We’d both got bumps from mosquito bites, but something else had clearly got to me as my eye was swollen and I looked like I’d had a heavy night on the town. It was not a pretty sight (never is). Anyhow we packed our things and as we were about to leave I asked Kip if she’d like to see the spider (she hates them) .I pointed out that this little chap had been quietly ignoring us while we were using the bathroom. I’m not sure what the little lights are about; he was probably going to a rave.

We gave Murphy a good fuss and we’re away via the pharmacy for industrial-strength antihistamines to sort out my eye.

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Illawarra Folk Festival 2019

We played here a couple of years ago and it was great to be asked back. The festival has been running for over thirty years and is held on the Showground in Bulli, New South Wales. The title says “Folk” festival, but there’s a bit of everything in there from Aboriginal song to jazz, from Scots fiddle to African Rythyms.

As with all folk festivals it’s very friendly and little quirky. We arrived there at the same time as an old London bus (must have been a hell of a drive).

We felt for the poor souls who were camping there as the first couple of days were boiling. It can’t have been easy under canvas in those conditions. It did cool down a bit on the Saturday which must have made it easier to get some sleep.

It is a bit special here compared to what we’re used to. It’s the only festival we’ve played where you can have a swim in the sea in the morning, go and play your set at the festival, go and have another swim and then go back to the festival (we did get changed).

It also feels slightly odd to have travelled to the other side of the world and see so many Morris Dancers strutting their stuff.

All in all it was a great weekend of live music, meeting some familiar faces and plenty of new ones.

Some of the photos below are ours and some are from the Illawarra Folk Festival Facebook site. There’s loads more on their page – follow the link to take a look.

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