Monday, 16 August 2010


I have just come back from a wonderful weekend with the HOTSY TOTSY in Devon. On friday we took a train from London to Exeter. There was a lovely Eritraen family sitting next to us on the train and the children were very excited looking out of the window and whooping at all the cows and horses and the rivers. The smallest boy had us all laughing when he told us about going to the sea to catch a fish or maybe a wooden whale and how he did not like the yellow trains because they were stuffy and when absolutely everyone in the train burst out laughing he turned to his brother (about 6 years old I think) and started pummilling him and saying "Its NOT funny!".
From Exeter we  took a little bus along very tight winding roads to Chagford. We had to reverse at lots of spots where there was no room in the tiny hedged lane for cars to pass eachother. We got chatting to a lady living in Chagford who was originally from California. I told her we had no place to stay and at the gig somehow a lovely lady found heard the news and put us up. Her lovely boyfriend Phil took us back to her house (she went to bed early to go to work next morning as a nurse) and we were treated like guests of honour. The next morning Phil drove us to Embercombe, a pretty hard destination to arrive at by local transport... door to door! He was our first guardian angel of the weekend. He is a bass player with THE INVISIBLE OPERA COMPANY OF TIBET and several other bands and has lived the life of a solid musician. He has definitely heard the chimes at midnight and was really lovely to all of us! He went out of his way to drive us to Embercombe even though he was going to arrive late for his auction at Bovey Tracey. What a wonderful guy!
It was great to see all the folks at Embercombe again! It is an alternative community on the western edge of Dartmoor ( The people there are so lovely and really sincere. Caring for eachother and their visitors and the earth and our common future! Jo, one of the chief organisers and organic farmers on the site was turning 60 and he was partying to the max. It was a lavish spread of food and we had a swim in the lake and eat our fill and more before playing a couple of sets on the small stage. It was really fun. Several other performers did their thing and I stayed up till around 3 or 4 am (a long time in the country where the nights get dark soon) getting in and out of the hot tub, dancing and jamming out with Tom beneith the wonderful firmament of stars. The next day was all about jamming outside our teepee where we had slept and more swimming and stretching and eating and music and nice shared conversations with the visitors. All lovely people! it was so relaxed and friendly and fun!
This is where our new guardian angel Greg took over. He is a professional guitarist and mouth harmonca player who has a studio for his wrapping paper company near the Dart river towards Totnes but mostly sleeps in the back of his beautiful van. We all piled in and he drove us to Totnes... once again door to door. We had a little picnic in the park on the island in the river dart then strolled up the hill to the Barrellhouse for the gig. We started when the first person walked into the bar and since we had nothing to loose I danced and gave it a bit too much... good time to test out stuff in an informal setting. The first set was fun but the second set really took off when lots more people came out of the night streets and started dancing like mad and after our last song Laurence came up with the wolds most perfect encore! I heard the first few chords and then sussed what he wanted to do and leapt up onto the bar counter and standing next to the spinning silver disco ball I started playing ITS A WONDERFUL WORLD! When Wednesday started singing it was so beautiful i wanted to hug everyone in the audience and I tried with one arm while playing the melody but it went a bit wrong anyhow, people got the idea. It was one of the very very very few times, or maybe even the first time, when i actually felt the thrills and shivers on my back while playing! It was truly wonderful and after the gig I went about with the hat and embracing everyone! It was brilliant! A wonderful shared experience. 
We said goodnight to Greg and he went back to the pub. We will meet again. He handed us over to our next guardian angel, Helen. She is the mother of a former flat mate of Laurence and took us to her small home outside Totnes where we filled the sitting room and spare room with our sleeping mats and bags but all to her delight. She is the loveliest lady and her boyfriend, an artist from a village not far away, makes wonderfully simple and moving watercolours and 3D models and automatons from scrap paper and card. He is so inventive and his work is so positive and full of unsophisticated beauty it reminded me of some great Japanese artists.
We slept long and hard and in the morning took a very long leasurly breakfast and a walk in the local hills before getting a ride to the station and taking the train to Dawlish where we all jumped out and messed around for a couple of hours on the beach and strolling around town watching the Dawlish carnival. The best part by far was the sack races with a bucket on your head! It was truly wonderful! About 60 kids were involved and we laughed and laughed and laughed as they hopped, fell, bumped into eachother and tried different techniques. The funniest was the little boy who moved off at a snails pace and the girl who did not even bother to look out of the hole in her bucket hat but just leapt forward at top speed bumping into anything in her way! 
The train was delayed at Exeter so Tom and I had a breakdance session for 40 minutes there before our train eventually arrived. Who should be on it but our little Eritraen friends who we had sat next to on our outward journey. I came to visit them but like me they were all very exhausted after a wonderful weekend and were all asleep. I followed suit and slept until Paddington station. I met them again at the platform but the small boy was too tired to care about who he met so i just gave his brothers high fives then tootled back home to kings cross!
 A wonderful weekend, lots of thanks to all the in band, Phil, Helen, Greg, Jo and the many others who were so kind to us!
  lots of love

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