Light Enough to Travel

OVER the past few years, this blog has developed one or two traditions – the end of year music lists, the new year state of the nation post and any number of good intentions and plans to write more regularly going out of the window.

Certainly things have been quieter than planned since the latest new year missive, partly due to a lack of time and partly due to a couple of A-Z iPod Challenge posts being scrapped or overhauled due to being overtaken by events (another one is on its way, just not on what was planned – it might even be about music. Well, sort of).

Signed off the new year post by promising there would be more regular posts, particularly on travel and overlanding and have been itching to keep that promise and reveal just why that vow could be made so confidently.

This post has been lurking in the wings for even longer, just needed to sort a few things out first before revealing some news. The last of which was handing in my notice at work.

And later this year, that promise will be kept. From out on the roads, mountains, cities, jungles, beaches, wilderness and whatever else we can find in South America over the course of 31 weeks.

Going back for more… the last day on the truck in Africa

Having returned from 10 months in Africa in 2015, my initial assessment was that my days of epic, long trips were behind me. Instead, the travelling was going to be short and often.

Ah well, all plans are there to be changed – have failed to live up to the little and often plan, so why not abandon the no more long adventures idea as well?

That idea was floated on the back of 10 months overlanding around Africa, so maybe there is a bit of an excuse for some weariness with such large scale travel. Reckon that lasted six months – by the time we met up for our first trip reunion just over a year after our return, most of us were admitting we would happily do it all over again.

And when a smaller bunch of us assembled in Nice just over a year ago, the idea of doing another trip was met with pretty much universal agreement. Just not the one which has tempted me back on the road.

The initial plan from three of us was to head out on an overland trip from London to Singapore through the Stans with Oasis, the same company which carried us around Africa on one of its trademark yellow trucks.

In the end , none of us are doing that – one plans to travel on her own, another headed to West Africa yesterday for an overland trip through part of the continent we were forced to go round due to ebola.

And me? For a long time, that trip to Singapore (now starting in Istanbul) was top of my list and a few months ago it was my likeliest destination – followed by heading down to Australia and New Zealand – and would have had me leaving next month. Was within days of booking.

But then something in the back of my mind planted the idea of South America as an option.

It was a tight call. Spoke to people who had completed both trips – as both passenger and driver – who all came down very much on the fence, finding it hard to pick between them.

In the end, having studied the itineraries, it came down to one crucial factor – there were more things on the South America trip which really grabbed me. More potential wow moments.

And so the trip is booked, the lists of things to do are drawn up (and have been redrawn several times) and even managed to make inroads into key things on the Africa prep list which never really got touched – lose weight and get fit.

The weight loss was, originally, far more for health purposes but the target from very early on has not been a certain weight but a size and state of fitness to tackle the rigours of the trip, especially with a less than perfect record of coping at altitude.

My weight loss has been documented elsewhere on this blog and is ongoing – although frustratingly slowly in the last couple of months – while the fitness is making strides in the gym with three weeks under my belt on a Couch to 5K programme (slightly derailed this week by a back problem).

So what lies ahead of a fitter, slimline me?

It is a way off yet. At work until the end of August before heading to the Ecuadorian capital Quito in September, possibly via a few days in the US, which is the start and finish of a circle around the continent which finishes next April.

From Quito we head south along the Andes and Machu Picchu – to trek the Inca Trail or take the train is the first major decision – and on to Bolivia and the salt flats of Uyuni.

Oasis Overland Trans South America

The journey south bounces between Chile and Argentina as we head through Patagonia as far as the world’s most southerly town Ushuaia before turning back north and a few days in Buenos Aires, the Iguazu Falls and into Brazil – our home for, well, ages. Such is the size of the country.

There’s new year in Rio, the Amazon, beaches and an awful lot more to take in before we head through French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, some more of Brazil, Venezuela (we’ll keep an eye on that one), Columbia and, finally, back to Ecuador and Quito.

And we will do all that on board a big yellow truck with a mixture of camping – often wherever we can find, something which we approached with trepidation before embracing as a trip highlight in Africa – and hostels or hotels.

There’s plenty to be done between now and then, the first jobs on the to-do list are being ticked off and will keep you updated in the coming months and out on the road.

Should be fun.


In The Shadow of a Goblin

NO resolutions, no pledges, not even doing Dry January (or the far harder-sounding RED January), just a few plans which need piecing together in the coming months.

And one promise to myself – to get the New Year’s Day blog post written on the intended date for the first time since it became a Travel Marmot tradition four years ago.

That first one was written in near darkness in a bar by a Ghanaian beach (although not posted until we found strong enough WiFi a couple of weeks later), the ones that followed rather trailed in during the opening weeks of the new year.

All were written in the same spot in my flat and, reading through last year’s entry, it would be easy to claim that not much has changed in the last 12 months (there’s even a football match being largely ignored on the TV, as there was last year).

So, we’ll call that quits then shall we? Not much has changed, nothing to rattle on about.

Maybe not. Not that much has changed looking around from my seat, although that disturbing, now worse for wear, goblin lantern – found that much out about it – is clinging to the lampost outside my window (thankfully, not for much longer. Hopefully).

But plenty has happened in the intervening 12 months – some of it great, some of it good, some of it… well, life can be a bit shit sometimes can’t it?

The most noticeable change, at least for other people, is there’s a fair bit more room in this chair than there was last January.

Then the diet was about a month old and the weight was starting to come off. It continues to do so, maybe not as fast in the last few months and certainly not since last weighing in before both Christmas and a family wedding, but the chair is under considerably less strain than when this all started. To the tune of six stone.

There’s a way to go, a bit more than a stone to get down to the round figure eventually picked out as a target and then two more targets in my mind – where they will stay – which will put me at roughly my lightest since playing rugby and schooldays respectively. Both of which were a long time ago.

Don’t want to bang on about the diet, there’s only so much interest most people can feign and will post a link to a piece which should see the light of day elsewhere in the next couple of days (got to write it first), but it has played a key role in the last year.

As nice as the weight losses are (surprised how fluctuations either way can affect my mood), it is the little plusses you notice which provide the real impetus to keep going – trousers which fit again, other clothes given a fresh leash of life (one pair of trousers, at my reckoning, fitting for the first time in eight years), a belt moving up a notch or being able to do the seatbelt up without garrotting myself on a flight which is suddenly much more comfortable.

Alongside the diet, there has been an effort to get fitter which has also stumbled a bit over the last few weeks through a combination of work, bad back (some things never change) and indifference. The post-work gym crew needs to get its act together again.

Country number 58

Re-reading last year’s new year post  a lot does remain the same. The job has not changed too much, the flat is the same (a lot of things very much in the same spot) and the Wotsit-coloured shitgibbon still occupies the White House – this time last year, evidently, he was declaring himself a stable genius.

And we are still careering head first towards Brexit without anyone knowing what is going to happen while nobody on either side is willing to concede they can’t get exactly what they want or at least what they think they voted for. But let’s not go down that particular rabbit hole.

There were some personal highlights of the year.

The Boston Red Sox won the World Series, Gloucester mixed some excellent rugby with their normal ability to lose games you expected them to win and my travels chalked up country number 58 (Monaco on a Trans Africa reunion weekend in Nice) and state number 40 (West Virginia, leaving Michigan as the sole one missing this side of the Mississippi) during a trip which took in New York, Gettysburg and three bears. But no porridge.

My contribution to the wedding

And the last couple of months were dominated by the wedding of my nephew who, in trying to do the exact opposite, picked a rare Sunday when Gloucester were playing. Which is when he’s supposed to be working.

Which was a lovely distraction from the undoubted low point of the year.

At this point last year, was coming to terms with the fact that my friend Nick was fighting a tumour.

Being blokes, we were far more likely to chat and catch up about travel, football (delighted he got to see his beloved Lincoln City win at Wembley), music, old times… anything really rather than the elephant in the room, although it was pretty apparent early on that this was not something that could be ignored for long.

But even when it had become clear how serious things were, it is still difficult to come to terms with the fact he is gone and that it happened so fast in the end.

Don’t want to dwell too much on Nick – have done that elsewhere – but his loss has coloured much of the last few months and a fair amount of what is to come, be that work (no matter how much we moaned about it, he loved journalism), life away from the office or travel.

Nobody understood my need to wander as much as Nick and after a couple of years with little more than a standard vacation, might be time to come up with something a bit more expansive.

And that certainly holds true for this blog.

It might have been a bit quiet in terms of posts for much of the year, but it certainly has not in recent months behind the scenes and working out a few ideas.

A few tweaks you might have noticed, there’s a few more to come and a lot more regular writing – if there is a new year resolution, that is it – on travel, overlanding and the musical journey through my iPod.

Let’s see where the next 12 months take us.


Best of 2018

JANUARY is far closer than intended and the days are running out before the ice rink and the (still) disturbing green goblin vanish from outside my flat.

So time for another couple of traditions for this time of year – this blog’s end-of-year best album post and the excuses for not posting it earlier.

The New Year’s Day state of the nation post will complete the trinity of Travel Marmot traditions (hopefully without being delayed far longer into 2019 than was intended, one annual favourite that needs avoiding).

The excuse for tardiness was pretty simple and frustrating – especially as most of this best of 2018 list and the appropriate links were sorted a couple of weeks ago. The normal download bonanza after scouring various end of year lists was delayed by a laptop constantly grinding to a standstill, so a few of the late entries may yet move further up the list. Or vanish altogether.

So what do we make of 2018? Seen a couple of reviews claim it had been a year packed full of great albums, but not sure about that.

There has been a lot of good albums, just not sure there has been too many approaching great status. How many will still be on regular rotation in a year’s time or longer?

And there is not one standout – for the first time since doing this on Travel Marmot, there’s not one clear winner (the 2016 list did not pick an album of year, but American Band by Drive-By Truckers emerged as the unrivalled number one.

So it’s a top two. Neither of them reinvent the wheel – one essentially a jingly-jangly indie guitar offering, the other best classified as punk – but both do them with a lightness of touch and reliance on bloody good songs. And there’s not much wrong with that.

Albums of the Year

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Hope Downs

The Melbourne five-piece rely on a pretty simple template – solid, if fairly unwavering, rhythm section over which three guitarists/vocalists weave any number of patterns that head off in any number of directions but always seem to complement each other.

A debut album – albeit one that has had a fairly lengthy gestation – crammed full of cracking songs, An Air Conditioned Man, Mainland, Time In Common and the summery Cappuccino City among others.

Idles – Joy as an Act of Resistance

Rolling Blackouts had top spot tied up for much of the year but the argument for Idles just became too strong to ignore.

In many ways it is angry young men with guitars raging against… well, what have you got? But it is done with wit, intelligence, no little charm and, tellingly, any number of great songs.

Several standouts – and each end-of-year list seems to have picked a different one, while strangely ignoring the wonderfully snarling Television – but Danny Nedelko is up there challenging for song of the year. And possibly most thrilling Later… performance since At The Drive-In.

Not Really An Album of the Year

Boygenius – Boygenius EP

Regular readers will know my ongoing (mild) obsession with Phoebe Bridgers. She didn’t follow up her wonderful debut Stranger in the Alps, which made the upper reaches of last year’s list, but provided some excellent left-field covers (check out her version of Teenage Dirtbag). And this.

Teaming up with fellow rising singer-songwriters Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus to form an indie supergroup of sorts, they each took two songs into the studio and combined their very different styles to form one excellent whole.

And Bridgers’ Me & My Dog should be on any song of the year list.

Honourable mention in this category to last year’s top dogs Public Service Broadcasting’s White Star Liner EP.

The Always Reliable national treasure of the year

Half Man Half Biscuit – No One Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fuckin’ Hedge Cut

In a country seemingly hellbent on tearing itself apart and losing any sense of perspective, it is good to know that some things can still be relied on as a sort of national pride.

It is not, as some claimed, among their very finest but Nigel Blackwell’s spot on skewering of hipsters in Every Time A Bell Rings and clueless contestants in Knobheads on Quiz Shows are about the most telling analyses of modern times as you will hear anywhere.

Honourable mention for Mogwai’s Kin.

The Surprisingly Good Comeback of the Year

Buffalo Tom – Quiet and Peace

Didn’t see this one coming from a band once described in one of my reviews for a paper as “the Norwich City of Premier League guitar bands”. That rather dates it but, after both disappeared from view, Buffalo Tom appear to be ahead of the Canaries in revisiting those levels.

Honourable mention for The Breeders – All Nerve

It’s Good But… Of The Year

Low – Double Negative

I’ll throw Wide Awake! by Parquet Courts in this category, but purely by dint of how high it appears in so many lists it has to be Low. It’s OK, but been told more than once it needs several more listens as a whole to really appreciate – that just sounds a little bit too much like hard work.

Time for a rethink of the year

Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel

The second album from Melbourne on the list and once almost consigned to the previous category – good, just not as good as previous efforts from a past obsession.

But went back on the basis of a couple of tracks dropped on a playlist and there’s reward for sticking with it. Maybe the Low fans have a point.

Ridiculously Young, Ridiculously Good Award 

This one is shared, courtesy of the plethora of really good albums from young, female artists and groups this year. Barnett and Boygenius could easily have been in here as well, but think we’ve already got enough claiming the spoils.

Snail Mail and Soccer Mommy add to the singer-songwriter quotient, Goat Girl outdid so much of the indistinguishable lads with guitars that make up much of today’s indie landfill while Let’s Eat Grandma have moved on from their hugely-promising debut, continuing to provide something different and more ideas in one song than most bands manage in an album (which is, mainly, a good thing).

Snail Mail – Lush

Goat Girl – Goat Girl

Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears

Soccer Mommy – Clean

And worth checking out (or in need of greater air time now the problem downloading them onto my iPod actually appears to have been sorted)…

Deafheaven – Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
Lucy Dacus – Historian
Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit – Live from the Ryman (OK, the songs aren’t new and not a huge fan of most live albums, but many Isbell tracks come alive out of the studio – Cover Me Up heading to a whole new level).
Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy
Dream Wife – Dream Wife
The Orielles – Silver Moment
Yawn – Bill Ryder-Jones
Gruff Rhys – Babelsberg
Colter Wall – Songs of the Plains
John Prine – The Tree of Forgiveness
Camp Cope – How To Socialise & Make Friends

The Not Actually This Year Discovery of the Year

Five Eight – Songs for Saint Jude

Nothing new, but in a year without anything new by The Drive-By Truckers and The Hold Steady, this filled the Americans playing guitars like they are performing in the corner of a dive bar hole. Even if it was from last year.

and finally…

The album missed the list (worth a listen though, if only for driving me back to some old stuff and a brief obsession with all three parts of The Crane Wife) but they summed up much of the world in 2018 pretty well.


Happiness to Have A Day/Celebratory

JOURNALISM is pretty much unrecognisable from the days a local weekly first decided paying the clueless kid who had been working for nothing for a couple of weeks was in some way a good idea.

Still expect to be uncovered as a chancer who has somehow blagged his way through a career lasting nearly three decades, countless threats of redundancy and some surprisingly senior positions.

Whatever the platform, key basics remain the same (regardless of what some people say) – get the facts right, present them in a readable fashion in something approaching correct grammar and house style, descend on free food without bothering to ask where it came from… – but far more has changed.

Print has been gradually squeezed aside – not totally, there’s still enough of us fighting the good fight – by the rampant advance of the internet.

And that’s fine, anyone sat hankering after the good old days is not really doing the job of a journalist and offering a true reflection of what is happening. As long as those basic tenets of the job remain in the place (although more reverence for subs is always welcomed).

Technology has transformed life in the office from the days of sketching out pages and print commands on paper to be replicated by cutting and pasting printouts into an approximation of my messy scribbles, now reserved to the lists on the A4 pad to the right of my mouse as everything happens on the screens (another big change) in front of me.

But rarely can a reporter’s relationship with technology have changed as much as the one they have with phones.

Once upon a time the only way to get a quote or speak to someone was to go and physically meet them or pick up the phone. They might fax you a statement – look it up kids – but chances are you had to take down what they said and go from there.

The office’s first mobile had to be shared around and was only any good if you had strong arms.

But relationships with phones have changed.

Reporters are never far from their phone, be it checking social media, filming something for the website or picking it up and scurrying off into a side office to make a call.

Not all of them by any means, but it does seem to be growing trend.

It can be intimidating but don’t worry, the people around you aren’t that interested in what you are saying (and are probably too busy to take much notice) and one day all those side offices might be busy – as happened to one work experience lad in our office who was totally lost at what to do next when he found the boardroom was being used for… well, something close to what it is meant for.

It is not the first time phones have caused work experience youngsters issues – one looking aghast when asked to ring around and check some details for an online articles, descending into tears and never returning after lunch on their first day.

A Twitter debate sparked by the above tweet revealed tales of phones being taken into toilets so they could be used in private. Just hoping it wasn’t hands free.

Work experience can be abused by both sides, either as cheap labour or a week away from education, but it can be hugely beneficial. Not only are extra bodies always welcome in the office but, used properly, they provide a valuable insight into life in a newsroom.

Have seen more than one talented youngster start as a workie and become a fixture around the office before starting a successful career, but there’s also been some tales of woe. Also bumped into one again a few weeks later when she recognised me in a rather dodgy club where she was working. Wearing rather less than she had in the office, even less for a few quid more.

We used to have a white board in the office which had a tally of “Days Since We Last Lost A Workie” as it became such a frequent event.

More than one has been reduced to tears – at least in one case by being asked to, you know, experience some work – while another felt a bit tired so went for a lie down on the seats in reception.

Had to escort one from the premises after he had been sent with a reporter to a football press conference and posted most of it on his fans’ blog before he had returned to the office – initiative maybe but breaking an embargo and giving away our back page lead for the next day to the very people we wanted to read it.

But star of the workie wall of fame was the lad who got sent out on the trainee rites of passage – a vox pop.

They are horrible to do – had one senior reporter walk out never to return after  increasingly desperate calls to the news desk as he struggled to stop people with a deadline looming – but being sent onto the streets of Cheltenham was too much for one would-be reporter.

“This shit’s horrific” he tweeted with an explanation of what he was doing.

And he would have got away with it if it wasn’t for those perishing subs who spotted it in a search for tweets mentioning Cheltenham to fill a space.

By the time he arrived back, several hours and nowhere near enough successful responses later, “This shit’s horrific” was plastered across the whiteboard and has become a long-standing office joke.

Along with something about plastic cheese, but that’s a whole other story.

  • Short and sweet on the music front for this entry. The A-Z from Wilco to The Polyphonic Spree threw up mainly vintage stuff including what, if memory serves, was the last physical single in my collection. Back when we got totally overexcited about The Strokes for a few weeks and that was the only was we could hear it.

Hard To Explain is still a great song mind.

  • We are a month from Christmas and the war of wills is underway in the office about when the decorations go up (as it’s my week off, pretty sure they are already up) but no such dilemma in my flat.

Christmas has come early. At least in the incessant, highly-repetitive soundtrack from the speaker (currently drowned out by Bob Dylan on the radio) which appeared on the lamppost outside to accompany the skating rink which will be there until the new year and the Victorian Market which is resulting in a lot of fake snow being traipsed inside.

Quite what the green monstrosity clinging on for dear life next to it has to do with Christmas, God only knows.

It appeared without warning one night. Returned home, looked out the window and there it was, perfectly framed to the right of my TV.

And it is even worse in the daylight.

All I want for Christmas is to avoid nightmares.

  • Normally the excuse for long gaps between posts is being too busy, a lack of organisation, total absence of inspiration or not listening to the A-Z in favour of something else.

All that’s true this time, but there is the added reason of finally getting to a lot of jobs on the website which have been meaning to do for ages.

Nothing major and there’s still a few tweaks to do but if you have a quick look around and click some of those links off to the right, there’s some new pages and sections which should make it easier to find stuff or stumble across something you didn’t know you were looking for.

There’s even my first attempts at playing around with video in the new Overlanding section.

Apart from tidying things up, it’s all designed to house some new writing ideas in the new year.




Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah) to Happiness

ANYONE listening carefully during the closing scene of the first episode of the BBC drama Press would have heard anguished screams from newspaper sub editors all over the country.

You will need to have listened carefully – we are an endangered species after all – but the screen shot of an intro written by a deputy news editor had us (and journalists of all types) shouting at the TV.

One glance at Twitter was enough to confirm what we were all thinking after the opening episode of the tale of two competing, contrasting and neighbouring newspapers.

Let’s not go in to too much detail of what is wrong with that (basically, all of it – too long, dull, don’t throw all the facts in the first par, local is on the banned words list on a regional paper let alone a national whose readers could be anywhere in the country, last Friday dates it, start with the news angle…)

It needs a complete rewrite.

On a former paper the production staff had a running joke with one ‘award-winning’ reporter in particular that copy needed so much work their byline should read ‘From an original idea by…’. Or unoriginal if we were feeling less charitable.

And who let a reporter (deputy news editor in this case) write her own headline?

There were other complaints from journalists all over Twitter – absolutely no mention of the internet, the appalling design of The Herald, a reporter carrying out an interview without notes or recording, the lack of empty desks and swearing in the office, no feeding frenzy when free food arrives and unrealistic shortage of tea being made and consumed plus a few more niche complaints.

Smelly food seems to be a widespread complaint – one reporter’s name was mentioned in our office when that tweet was spotted.

In fairness, Press was pretty enjoyable. One review described it as more accurate of a newspaper world from 20 years ago – the lack of internet taking precedence confirms that – and from experience in regional newsrooms, there was certainly enough there that rang true (amid a lot that didn’t).

Certainly not as bad as feared after years of watching reporters and newspapers portrayed inaccurately in dramas which have helped to colour public perceptions of our profession.

It’s not a documentary, we get that. But getting most of the basics right is generally a good place to start and, on the whole, Press got enough right to pass muster – and enough wrong for journalists to do what they love most. Moan.

It’s not always the case. Regardless of what most people think, the press  in this country is governed by laws and every trainee journalist has to learn the basics (yes, there is a well-thumbed – albeit out of date – copy of McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists in my desk).

The 10 points of what you can report from the first hearing – as dictated by The Magistrates’ Court Act 1980 – is pretty much the first thing generations of reporters learned. Before knowing where Oxdown is.

A sighting of a newspaper page in any drama normally has me squirming and  watching through my fingers as they blast a headline, designed to explain as simply possible to viewers, which would break any number of legal reporting restrictions. To say nothing of the quite awful design.

Occasionally a film crew will ask the professionals to mock up a page for them – not sure what one production team didn’t like about a design we provided, the look, fact it was not simple enough or that the back page had the two people behind it promoted into the British & Irish Lions squad.

The Lions featured on a genuine back page of mine in a South Wales Echo read by Larry Lamb on the beach at Barry Island during an episode of Gavin & Stacey.

But as much as those of us who nudge pictures around pages and spend ages coming up with headlines (or until a relevant song title or lyric takes to pop into our minds – very proud of last week’s niche top cats provided with dignity effort), it is the stories which really matter.

And words matter.

Each week, send out an email to our reporters and news desk detailing things we have picked up in their copy or have cropped up in the office – be it factual errors, house style or the correct distribution of sauces in a sausage sandwich order (the important stuff).

Some of it may seem trivial, some of it is useful information, some of it drives subs nuts (misspelling the village where one of them grew up is never a good idea). There may be lots of ways to refer to councillors, but only one of them is correct in house style and it looks stupid if it varies from story to story – or paragraph to paragraph in many cases.

Yes, words matter.

One example came to my attention this week and, must admit, had not given it much thought.

Committed suicide is a recognisable phrase, very easy to slip the words together without thinking.

But committed comes from when suicide was a crime so should we really be churning it out without thinking at a time when so much effort is being put in to tackle mental health and its public perception? That’s one for the next style guide email.

And then there’s one which has had a deal of personal resonance over the years, particularly in recent weeks and months – cancer battle.

Remarkably, Rachael Hodges was criticised by a small section of Twitter lowlife for not battling this despicable disease hard enough, regardless of her remarkable work in changing perceptions and putting people with cancer in the spotlight. Not hidden away with people unsure how to deal with them.

Describing it as a battle gives this horrible condition some form of dignity, a foe worthy of meeting on equal terms when all too often the odds have long been stacked far too heavily.

And just the whole thought of winners and losers in this situation is ridiculous.

Understand why people use the phrase and have yet to come up with much better, but suggest we try. Words matter.

Which all adds up to make it slightly ironic the last section of the A-Z trip through my iPod – you know, what this whole blog section is supposed to be about – ends with Happiness.

Was not the main feeling over the past month or so, but recent events have had the side effect of a lot of looking back at happier times and so amid the sadness there’s been a lot of smiles. And laughter.

The latest leg of the journey took us from White Denim to Teenage Fanclub and was dominated by Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley, Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Prefab Sprout and Juliana Richer Daily all chipping in with originals, covers and altogether different songs.

There was some terrific stuff along the way but rather than another ridiculously long paragraph listing it all, here’s some of it…

  • A big thank you for the reaction and kind words following my last, untitled piece on the loss of the much-missed Nick Machin. It meant a lot. The number of hits that post has received has been ridiculous – something I’m sure says a lot more about Nick than my writing.
photo by: