TOURING IN BRITAIN
A travelogue of my tour in the UK.
THE OTHER SIDE TOUR 2017 & 2018
UK TOUR 2017
In May 2017 I had the privilege to tour in the UK. The purpose of my tour was to do gigs, visiting folk clubs and meet friends. All went well and it was like most of my tours; surprising, lovely and good. I wrote some new songs and met a lot of people and friends.
I took the night ferry from Dunkirk on Saturday the 29th of April and arrived in the early morning time in Dover. My destination was North-West Wales. I found a small nice camping close to Conwy where I wanted to visit the Folk Club on Monday night.
A week earlier I bought a new Tenor Ukulele. This nice instrument and the beautiful surrounding made my stay on the camping easy.
On Monday the 1st of May I visited Conwy Folk Club. The place is a beautiful harbour town and it reminded me to the place where I grew up, Vlissingen.
The next day I wanted to go to Sale Folk Club in Manchester. Outside Manchester I found a small camping and I took the tram to the Folk Club. Heather and her man were happy to see me. And I loved the night with all such friendly people and musicians.
On Wednesday the 3rd of May my goal was Coppull Folk Club. At the meadow close to the venue I could pitch my tent for free and that was so kind of the owners. The Folk Club evening was totally different than the other two nights before. But again it was a very nice and surprising evening, with kind people and musicians. I met the folk singer Corrie Shelly and we shared cd's. The next morning I left after a 'you are always welcome Stephen' goodbye of the owners of the pub and drove to Whitby at the east coast in Yorkshire.
Thursday the 4th of May will become a memorable day. I left Coppull and arrived in the afternoon in Whitby. I found a nice camping from where I could walk to the Folk Club. That late afternoon I walked to Whitby and found the location of the Folk Club. But I had time to look around and saw that there was on the cliff a church and an abbey with a graveyard. When I reach the cliff I had a great view of the North Sea and of Whitby harbour. I set down a while to let come in the vibrations of it all. The weathered leaning headstones were impressive. One of them inspired me to write a song. During my stay on the cliff I heard the church bells ring and the sun threw it's shadow over the sanctuary.
After a while I went down to the harbour and visited the Folk Club night. There were not so much people. The chairman took care for me and I enjoyed the evening.
On my way back to the camping I started to sing out of the blue some lines of a new song. The cliff, the church bells, the abbey ruins and the graves had such an impact on me that words easily came.
Robin Hoods Bay
The next day, Friday the 5th of May, I had to go to Robin Hoods Bay which is just 5 miles south of Whitby. I arrived in the early afternoon and installed myself in one of the most beautiful hotel rooms I ever had with a fantastic view over this famous bay. In these moments I realise that I may be one of the most happiest man in the world.
That night I visited Robin Hood's Bay Folk Club in the Dolphin. It was crowdy and my host was Folk Singer Carrie Martin from Hull. Like most of the nights I had afterwards some talks with people about my tour, songs and enjoyed their compliments.
On Saturday the 6th of May I travelled to my friends Diana and Mick in Scotland. It was a year ago that I visited them and it was great to see them again. They surprised me because they invited more than twenty friends and neighbours for my garden concert. It was dry and the sun was shining, so good ingredients for a nice garden concert and Barbecue. During the concert the evening sun slowly left us and it became very fast too cold. So we continued the concert inside where the fire was burning. The people enjoyed the food, the talks, my music and the gathering. We went late to bed with a good and satisfied feeling.
On Sunday I stayed at Diana's cottage. Later we visited friends who have a nice holiday cabin in the woods.Before I left on Monday we had our last breakfast and talks.
My next stop was Strathyre and Balquhidder.
I stayed some days on the camping in Strathyre and found my friend Magii. I had planned some days to share time with him and that worked out very well. Every year I have a wonderful time with him. His wise words and his humble heart charged again my heart and soul. We played music together and he liked my new Ukulele sound. " It sounds like a harp, like a little stream." he said. Last winter a tree came down. Magii planted a Peer tree in the trunk of the tree.
On Thursday night, May the 11th, I played in the Mhor84 Motel in Balquhidder.
The peer blossom
Musick Art an Dance
Revolutioun is ragin at this minnit in time.
The weapons ir Musick Art an Dance
Musick art an dance spell MAD
In Scotland, we're aw MAD
Thir'll be nae casualties, mental nir physical
fae this non violent revelaytioun.
The definnit ootcome wull be
perched watchin waitin fir the breeze
tae pick me up in gentil flicht
ma glide across expansiv seas
this luely warm an moonlit nicht
whaur people's onlie need fir gold
gaes back tae warlds o yung, no auld,
tae watch reflectioun i the sun
in a clene new Warlt which is begun,
nae greed, nae want fir personal gayn
there is onlie luve which has nae payn.
Freedom is truth: stye free!
Scotland an its people.
Hope moves silently,
a braw companioun fir tae hae.
(A Poem by Magi McGlynn)
The next day I travelled to Gairloch. I had to play in the Old Inn in Gairloch. My navigation chose for me the beautiful but very narrow and winding West Coast Road. I arrived in time. Most visitors that evening, where tourists. I spoke with a local guy who was happy that there was live music because Gairloch is closed in the winter; too cold, too rainy, too desolate.
On Saturday the 13th of May my direction was Ullapool. To come from Gairloch to Ullapool you have to take the 'Wester Ross Coastal Trail'. A fantastic road along the coast with great views and sceneries which you only see in Holiday magazines. The roads are very narrow and dangerous. Lorries are coming in on the middle of the road and you have to take care that you drive slow.
But the views and the skies are indescribable beautiful. I was lucky, like most of the time, that here was a sun which was responsible for deep blue ocean colours. The light was comparable with the light in Brittany (France).
At a sandy beach I tried to take a bath but the water was icy so I refreshed myself only with some seawater.
Once in Ullapool it started to rain a bit and a foggy misty rain took over the scene.
I played and stayed in the Argyll Hotel. After the concert I met a painter who settled years ago north of Ullapool. "If you need once a quiet place to work then you are welcome", said Johanna who fled the for her too busy Metropole London.
ENGLAND (back in)
New Castle upon Tyne
Monday night, May the 15th, I visited the Bridge Folk Club in New Castle Upon Tyne. First I went to my host Mike and his wife. After I parked my car in the garage I entered the house and was surprised how great it looked inside. Well done!!
Mike treated me like a star, wow! My room was a palace with a view over the city and I had my own bathroom. His wife prepared a special meal for us. I learned from Mike how to say New Castle in the correct way.
That night I got the opportunity to play 9 songs. Some days later Mike send me video's of my performance in the 2nd oldest Folk Club in England, started in 1958!!.
Here one of the video's from the Bridge Folk Club:
From New Castle upon Tyne the journey continued to a town called Redcar.
Found a serene but too expensive camping just outside Redcar. As a reward I got a melange of trees and hedges which gave birds the chance to sing their different tunes to me. So the £ 18 were well spend.
In Redcar I did a short sightseeing and I enjoyed the boulevard and the beach. The Folk Club in Redcar is called Cutty Wren Folk Club and it is a lively and well visited Folk Club. They gave me at the end time for 3 songs. Afterwards I sold some CD's and shared cards and information with other musicians. For sure a Folk Club to come back. (like most of the Folk Clubs)
Wednesday, May the 17th was the last day of my UK tour 2017. Before I took the ferry back to the continent I visited "Haver Folk Club" in Romsford, London. But before I arrived I was stuck on the M11. A multiple vehicle accident on the Motorway was the cause of the 2,5 hours delay.
But I made it to the Folk Club finally. The people from the Folk Club were happy that I came along as a foreign guest. They gave me the opportunity to do a short showcase. I played my triple favourites: The Grey Green Sea, Poems and Wanna Go Home. They liked it very much and probably they want to book me for next year.
After a pleasant and warm stay at the Haver Folk Club I left London to go to Dover. Around 2 am I left the UK and used the time on the ferry to sleep a while.
Almost three weeks I have been in Britain. Almost every day had been special. I met a lot of people and made new friends.
One of the most impressive experience was the way Folk Clubs operate and give all their members time and possibilities to perform their songs. And no matter someone is good, professional or a beginner; everybody is treated in a respectful way. As far as I know we have on the continent not such a thing like they have it in Britain.
I hope I can make it next year again, because a tour in the UK is just very special.
Step by Step
Step by step across the meadow
Along the hills whit grazing sheep
Step by step avoiding shadows
Slow down when the path is steep
Step by step to the rainbow
Time to laugh, time to weep
Step by step I won't go faster
Because I like to walk in the sun
Step by step I am the master
And masters never run
Masters never run
(Wales, May 2017)