Getting Moving Again

The anti-climax since the trip to Australia via stops in Singapore and Hong Kong remains palpable. I miss the almost daily imperative of having to get from one location to another and to ‘tick off’ the sights. I just haven’t got fully back up to speed in getting to grips with the more mundane things in my retirement routine yet.

I am starting to get the to-do lists moving again but what has struck me in the last two weeks has been how fortunate I was to be able to retire in summer when the weather was much less of a constraint (and excuse) than it is becoming now. Also, a brief spell of illness last week reminded me of how lucky I have been to have been fit and well through the last 5-6 months.

In reality, I have no excuse not to get on with as much of my plans and to-dos as possible. I must, for example, restart my Italian for Absolute Beginners. I’m hoping I haven’t forgotten all I learnt in the first three units of the course!

I have been keeping up attendance at local music events. In the last week or so LSW and I have paid a couple more Sunday afternoon visits to a local bar (The Vault) which hosts a series of singers and small bands each week. We also made it to a venue we hadn’t tried before, the nearby Ruskin Mill College, and saw The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc. These are a triumvirate of fiddlers from The Shetlands, Sweden and Norway. They sustained a full evening of quality fiddling with a remarkable variety of styles and considerable talent. It was intimate, foot tapping and fun and I’ve signed up for more events of this type.

Ruskin Mill College - Nordic Fiddlers

Nordic Fiddlers Bloc Explaining Fiddles At Ruskin Mill College

Next week, LSW and I are in London for a couple of days. That should help shake me out of my relative torpor.

Music, Music, Music

Very nearly 10 years ago today I went to a gig at Kings College London to see a Scottish miserabilist singer called Malcolm Middleton. It was the first gig I had been to for a very long time but it was terrific and it re-kindled my excitement for live music.

Since then I have been to see over 300 gigs in London (I know because I’m the sort of bloke who keeps records of these things). Indeed I have seen Malcolm Middleton another 4 times since that wonderful evening 10 years ago.

I love the music itself (usually), the intimacy of the smaller venues and the anonymity. I’ve turned up after work in a suit to several of these gigs and no-one cares about that, or my grey hair, or that I am usually 2-3 times older than the fellow audience members.

Now I am retired I have more time to attend music events. However, I have been concerned that, having had to move out of London, I won’t find the opportunities to do so and will miss the variety and quality on offer in London.

In the last week or so, I have started to explore local venues with LSW and I’m much encouraged.

There is certainly variety. LSW and I have been to a local village festival featuring bands adept at 70’s and 80’s cover versions. That was great fun, though the pub car park we were standing in got a bit cold after a while – it’s an English summer after all!

France Lynch MusicFest

France Lynch MusicFest

We then went to a fundraiser in aid of a local church roof repair with experienced opera singers, young musicians just starting out and, believe it or not, the Stroud Ukelele Band. Fun for a good cause….

Concert For Pitchcombe Church

Concert For Pitchcombe Church

Then, after a few quality checks on Spotify, LSW was persuaded to come with me to see Sam Brookes at The Prince Albert pub a few miles from our home. Co-incidentally, he was on a bill for a gig I went to in London over 4 years ago. He was very good and I am sure I will be a regular attendee at this venue, alongside its very mixed audience where, as you will see int he picture, I will no longer be the oldest.

Sam Brookes at The Prince Albert

Sam Brookes at the Prince Albert




Finally I am already now a regular Sunday afternoon attendee at The Vault which is just a pleasant 30 minute walk away from us. Here the well named ‘Super Chilled Sundays’ comprise of a beer or two, perusal of the Sunday paper sports pages and magazines, completion of the Guardian Quick Crossword with LSW, and local musicians doing their stuff to create a comfortable ambience. It’s all very relaxing and a wonderful change from having to pack up and leave for London on a Sunday afternoon as I had to do until retirement.

The Honeymoon Trio at The Vault

The Honeymoon Trio at The Vault


My musical investigations will continue deeper into our local town of Stroud – I have high hopes for a new venue opening there – and into Bristol. Plans are being made and tickets being bought for both. There will be more on my revised musical journey in due course.