It was another trip over to the South East of England for me, this time, via Bedfordshire. I was due at Hazeldene Lower School in Bedford on the Monday morning, but I decided to drive to my parents the day before, just to make life a little easier. The drive up on Sunday and at about lunch time was very easy and quite pleasant. The following morning, I woke early (about 5.30-ish) and headed on to the M25 and struck out for Bedford. For some reason I had got it into my head that Hazeldene Lower School was going to be a posh private school, with undulating lawns and deer nibbling at the croquet hoops, very much like Monkton Combe in Bath. I was wrong! It was a perfectly normal, lovely state school run by some of the nicest teachers you could ever wish to meet. Karen Styles in particular was charming and friendly in the extreme. The group of children were an exciteable bunch of Year 3's and laughed longer and louder at some of my jokes than was seemingly possible! The jousting was, as ever, won by the ladies and after being paid I was on my way home. Hazeldene was a lovely school and I would be delighted to go back there.
Monday evening, I was invited to meet up with my old friend Sara Turner at the Star Pub in Ingatestone in Essex. This was a real homecoming for me. The Star was a pub that Sara and I used to visit every Monday night about 10-15 years ago. It is a really old fashioned place inside and I reckon hasn't been touched by a developer since the Crimean war. Every Monday a group of musicians get together and play bluegrass music in a jam session. Now I am not really into bluegrass, aside from the occasional burst of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" or "Man of Constant Sorrow", but "live" in this wonderful old pub it works. How nice it was to return to the Star and find all the same musicians still there! Dave Wilcox on banjo, Alex on violin, Keith on guitar, Dave on Harmonica, spoons and jug, and many more. They made my evening by, first actually remembering who the hell I was and secondly, as I was leaving early due to being incredibly tired, they played their usual finale piece, "Dead Skunk" (a Loudon Wainwright III song - don't knock it till you've heard it!) early as I was leaving. Lovely! I shall return. Funnily enough I have just received an email from Alex as he has tracked me down via my website. I shall reply to him shortly. It was a lovely day all round really.
I have just had a phone call from an entertainments company asking me to appear at an evening show near Temple in London on the evening of the 8th November. I am sure I can get a lift up from my father, but they have kindly offered to pay for a cab back to Essex for me after the show which is lovely.
Next show? Pyrcroft Grange school in Chertsey, Surrey next Monday.