Road Blog: Sunday October 07, 2018 - Bideford, UK
October 7, 2018
The drive back to Devon, England from Swansea , Wales was mostly uneventful. We passed a van that was engulfed in smoke from a fire that was just put out and contemplated sending the company that rented us our van a photo and telling them we had a small problem, but thought better of it, fearing they might not appreciate our dark humor. Other than that, the views of the sprawling landscapes in southern Wales and the Bristol Channel were at times breathtaking. Spirits were high, and we enjoyed the drive to the soundtrack of Lucero, Kate Bush, and Mock Identity. We crossed into England and back onto the winding country roads where the scenery is wonderful but the driving is stressful. At one point we rounded a corner and came up quickly on a huge grouse meandering the in the center of the road. He slowly flew up as Patrick slammed on the breaks, barely missing it. Now we knew why we saw so many roadkills – they’re not the brightest creatures in the animal kingdom.
Our van is a silver sprinter Mercedes Benz. Before we had it, Heaven 17 (Official) had it out on tour, and we’ve been contemplating what that run was like. It’s more like a mini-van than a cargo van, but it’s been customized for bands with a boxed off back compartment for gear, and extra deadbolts on every door. The tire pressure light has been on, but it seems to be more of a sensor issue than an air issue. There’s also a coffee cup icon on the dashboard that we finally realized is a driver fatigue detection system that issues an audible alert when the car thinks Patty is tired or distracted, based on his driving habits when the journey started.
We got back to the hotel in Ilfracombe around 2pm. This is the same place we stayed on Friday. They only offer 3-night stays so we were able to leave some luggage there when we went to Swansea. Patty and I went into Ilfracombe to check out the city while Gabriel opted to stay in the room and read. Ilfracombe sits on the northern coast of southwest England, directly across the Bristol Channel from Swansea. You can see the coast of Wales from the harbor in Ilfracombe. We parked the van and headed out on foot, checking out Verity, a 20 meter tall statue created by Damien Hirst. It’s a naked, pregnant woman wielding a sword in one hand, with the skin on half of her body pulled off revealing her muscles, skeleton, and the fetus of her child. She’s holding a scale with her other hand, and represents truth and justice. It’s quite polarizing, loved by some and hated by others. I think it’s cool.
We darted in and out of a couple little shops, speculating on what our wives would or wouldn’t be into. We found our way into a Cornish Pasty shop where we had a wonderful conversation with the owner and picked up a few to take back to the room for dinner. I told her about the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the history with pasties there and we had kind of a moment bonding over that. From there we stopped into a pub that had a 700-year old well in the middle of the floor, covered by a piece of plexi-glass. We got a beer and had a nice visit with a couple locals, including, just outside, Billy (the fisherman) who was a rough but proper old gent, a bit hard to understand between the accent and drool, but every inch a character. He’s heard of Chicago, had friends who visited Oregon once, and wondered if we’d ever heard of New York City. On our way back to the van we stopped into The Pier Brewery Tap & Grill, where we played on Friday, to say hi to Paul and the staff. Before long there was another pint in front of us and we made short work of that before heading back to the hotel to meet back up with Gabe and eat our pasties.
Last night’s show was in Bideford, which is a small city about 22 miles south of Ilfracombe. Those are some long miles though, down intense, single-lane but two-way traffic. Patty did great but eventually we hit a closed road and had to follow a service truck through some crazy back roads around the construction, and eventually into Bideford. The club was situated down a hidden little street blocked by stantions to vehicles. We were able to get good parking a few feet from the door and met up with Ray, our promoter who took us in to see the club and meet the staff.
The Palladium Club has been around for 50 years, originally a cinema, but a rock bar for the last 25. It’s a nice place but still has some good rock and roll edge. We loaded in, set up, sound-checked, and ordered beers as the support band Quorum set up. They went on around 8:45 and played a good set to a few people. They’re good guys we also played with on Friday. We went on around 9:45 to a thin Sunday night group and played for a little over an hour. A few people came in as the set progressed, but we’re in the Sunday-Wednesday part of the tour now, so the crowds will be lighter, and we had fun playing for the few who were there.
After the set we sold a little merch, packed up and loaded out. We walked down to a couple kebob shops, both open until midnight, but both closed before 11:45. Patty didn’t like it. We got back into the van and headed back north towards Ilfracombe. The drive back was less stressful than the drive there, a seemingly straight line through manageable roads. Only when we got back into Ilfracombe did the phones crap out and we made a couple navigation gaffes, causing some late night stress. Eventually we were back in the room and crashing out. Not a great night, but these weeknights carry lower expectations, so we make the best of them.
We left the hotel at an early 8:30 this morning and drove into London. It was smooth sailing until we hit the city and it's been a stressful, congested mess ever since. At one point the van seemed to lose power, so let's see how that goes over the next say or so. Patty did a great job and Gabe was a good co-pilot. It's pretty much a two-person operation 100% of the time. We're hoping the driving situation mellows out when we head north on Wednesday.
We’re playing the big city tonight (at The Urban Bar Whitechapel) and tomorrow night (at The Islington 1 Tolpuddle Street). We’ve done a little press and hope to have some people out, but these major cities can be a challenge, especially on a weeknight, so if you’re able to make it out please do!!!! Free koozies after the show if you show up and mention this post!
Thanks for reading. Pray for us.