Well, hello again and welcome back to my newly regenerated world, such as it is.
I should start this entry by saying a huge thank you to all the people who visited my pages, logged back in and commented upon them during my absence, it really meant a lot when I logged back in and found all the notifications. It rather makes it worthwhile putting all the time into writing and I do appreciate it.
I am still dithering somewhat as to which way I should take the blog after such a long absence. Should I return to where I was and carry on or should I just skip to my latest trip? Either option has advantages and disadvantages and dithering is something I am complete Master of. As the old saying goes, “I used to be indecisive but now I’m not so sure”.
I think, on balance and having stared at this page for long enough, that I shall return to where I was as there are some unusual tales between then and now, some of which will help explain my current state of health.
I left you in Broadstairs on the Friday before Folk Week started properly on the Saturday. OK, I know there are official gigs on the Friday now but it does not really start properly until the Saturday.
Before I leave Chrissie in the Crown, I have included an image of the lovely beer garden at the rear of the premises. I remember many years ago when this was little more than a rubbish dump which was a terrible waste but it is a complete suntrap now and very popular on the odd occasions the sun does decide to make an appearance during the British alleged summer.
I hobbled along Albion Street passing the Royal Albion Hotel where Dickens used to stay and wrote part of Nicholas Nickleby. He also stayed with friends at am imposing clifftop dwelling called Fort House which still stands and is renamed Bleak House although it is unlikely to be where the author intended the action as he sets it in Hertfordshire which is over 100 miles away. There is still a strong Dickensian influence in the Broadstairs and pre-virus there was an annual Dickens Festival which, like everything else, was put on hold but I am glad to report that it is back next weekend. Good show.
Whilst there are plenty of official and semi-official “Charles Dickens stayed here” etc. plaques I have included a rather whimsical one which is on the wall of an extremely old-fashioned and quaint garage near where I stay.
I dropped into The Magnet to see who was about and had a couple of pints of the excellent range of ciders they keep which had been augmented for the festival. There will be much more of this excellent micropub in the days to come.
After the Magnet, it is merely a few yards to the George Inn, another great favourite of mine and the venue for the daily lunchtime playarounds which I help my mate Paul to run. Regular readers may remember our exploits in and around Newcastle just before the virus which I wrote about here.
I was greeted like the prodigal son by staff and customers alike, I really do have a lot of friends in that pub and in the town generally. It was whilst I was in conversation with Dave, the excellent manager, that he dropped the bombshell by casually dropping into the conversation, “It’s a shame Paul isn’t coming this year, Covid”. WHAT? This was complete news to me and in the space of that one short sentence he threw me into confusion and not a little panic when he followed it up with, “It’s OK, you can manage on your own”. He didn’t exactly put my mind at rest by saying, “ think the committee are trying to get someone in but they haven’t told me anything yet”.
If you are not au fait with playarounds or folk music in general, here is a quick overview. A playaround is basically an open session where anyone can turn up and play although they vary in their style. Some really only like pretty competent players but the ones we run are literally for all-comers. We get a range of ability from absolute beginners (children and adults) right up to artists booked at the festival who drop in for a few tunes between gigs. OK, technically it is not always perfect but it is great fun.
A playaround needs a leader or it can degenerate into chaos and this is where Paul is so good. Not only is he brilliant at picking people to lead a tune and not miss anyone out, he has such a vast repertoire that he can play just about anything and I just follow him, it really is quite simple. If I was going to get fitted up with leading I could do the choosing people part but I could not instigate tunes and I would be completely dependent on there being some decent players there. Pre-virus it was almost guaranteed but I had no idea how many people were coming to the Festival as I had not been up to the campsite and of those who did come I didn’t know how many would be willing to sit in a crowded bar as so many people were literally terrified of close contact with others.
I stayed on for the music in the evening (not folk, a decent local band) and took myself off relatively early to bed to lie and ponder what the morrow and the rest of the week might bring.
If you want to find out, stay tuned.