The travel-pain of the ecomonkey

So, as y’all know, I avoided a short-haul flight by taking the train/boat/train route to Belfast. Train, fine. Boat, hideous – the roughest crossing I’ve ever had, bar none. A veritable storm which had me retching into a sickbag, and falling asleep on the floor, unable to crawl back up onto my chair. The food was also appalling.

Still, I’m here now, with the lovely and wonderful Gareth, looking forward to a great New Year. Just don’t ask me to go on any boat-rides over the weekend…

On the bits of the journey where I wasn’t asleep or puking, I watched ‘I Know I’m Not Alone‘ again – the Michael Franti film, and read a big chunk of ‘As Used On The Famous Nelson Mandela‘ by Mark Thomas – an INCREDIBLE book. Vital viewing, vital reading. Just don’t try it on an Irish ferry in a storm.

When Climate Change starts to sting…

Ok, this is a tough one to write, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, to echo the words of Hugo Schwyzer in his post about this subject, I love flying. I love travel, I love the feeling of limitless possibility that one has in airports. It’s my one major concession to hyper-modernity – the sleek lines, shiny metal and monorails make me feel like I’m in the Jetsons. I’m a travel junky, and I’ve benefitted hugely from my experiences when traveling.

However, it’s quite clear that aviation is one of the biggest – if not THE biggest – factor in the climate change disaster in which we currently find ourselves. So what do we do? Hugo, in his post above says, basically ‘nothing’ – flying’s great, travel’s great, so fuck it, we’ll just have to go on feeling guilty and hope guilt soaks up some carbon (that’s a fairly unfair paraphrase, but that’s the gist…)

OK – firstly, full disclosure – I’ve got two transatlantic flights coming up – I’m flying to NYC in Jan, then to LA and then home from SF. That’s a lot of flying. It pretty much uses up my carbon allocation for the next year. So what have I done to change things? Well, I’ve pretty much sworn off short-haul flights (I say ‘pretty much’ – I haven’t been faced with a really good paying gig that I’d be required to fly to in order to accept it.. I’ve no idea what I’ll do if that comes up, to be honest) – but I’ve completely changed the way I do gigs on the continent – it’s now all about doing a month at a time, and doing it all on the train. And as my October trip proved, it works. Well, even as a solo artist. As a duo, it’d be a cinch.

So – I really need to think hard about how the transatlantic thing works. I’ve looked into boats, honestly, but it doesn’t seem possible for less than a couple of grand… So where do I draw the line? Allow myself a couple of transatlantic flights a year? I dunno, I’m struggling here, but I am going to get the train and boat to Belfast over new year, so that’s one short haul flight I’ve foresworn… it’s much cheaper on the train/boat anyway!

For now, though, go and read what George Monbiot is writing about this – Monbiot is without doubt one of the most important thinkers on climate change, and the things we need to do to combat it. A lot of people are desperately trying to discredit him, but it’s not working. And while you’re there, check out TurnUpTheHeat.org – and why not write to Gordon Brown about taxation of aviation, or Douglas Alexander about the airport expansion policy? And how about signing up to the year of living generously, in order to look at the myriad ways we can cut back our global footprint…

Last night's gig with BJ and Emily

Lovely little gig with BJ Cole and Emily Burridge last night – the Enterprise in Camden. It does have the steepest stairs in London, and after loading my stuff in, I wasn’t sure if my arms would be working in time for the gig, but they were. I also nearly brought the scaled down travel rig, but I’d have been in deep shit if I had because the PA there isn’t even close to being up to the task of reproducing StevieSounds. So Emily ran her cello through my rig as well, and BJ had his most beautiful fender amp with him, which always sounds like the music of heaven.

It’s a little room, and we had a little audience, but they were most appreciative. Nicest surprise for me was that during the afternoon I’d been thinking about older tunes I haven’t played for a while at gigs, and decided to do Danny And Mo from ‘Not Dancing For Chicken’ – a tune dedicated to Mo Foster and Danny Thompson. And who should walk in just as I started playing but Mo Foster. Always nice when the inspiration for a song is there to hear you explain why they’re so fantastic. Do you want to know the story behind the tune? OK – when I first started working on the tunes that would become Not Dancing For Chicken, I had just got a Gibson Echoplex, which offered loads more looping options – I was rather inspired by a guitarist in California called Andre LaFosse who was doing some amazing unique things with the echoplex, and was certainly a very long way from the long chord progressions, melodies and ambience that I was working on at the time.

So when I went into Jez’s studio to record the first version of the album, I was experimenting with a lot of really spikey angular electronica – using the replace and sus functions in the EDP all over the place, and getting some fairly cool effects.

however, when I got home after the sessions, I was listening to ‘Time To Think’ by Mo Foster, and had an epiphany, realising what was missing from the record – TUNES! I had nothing with any of the big romantic melodies that are what I do best, and all the ambient stuff was punctuated by bleeps and squeaks, some of which was great (and ended up on Lessons Learned Pt I) most of which wasn’t that good…

So I went back to the drawing board, and the first thing I wrote, straight after listening to that album of Mo’s was ‘Danny And Mo’. So there.

Anyway, back to the gig – I played Behind Every Word (with a huge cock-up on the B-section first time round – just had a brain freeze), then Danny And Mo, Despite My Worst Intentions, MMFSOG, What A Wonderful World and Deeper Still. I’d planned to do a whole load of improv, but went with sweet tunes instead. :o) And ’twas v. well received, which is most heartening.

Bj and Emily’s set was, as expected, beautiful. There’s an amazing empathy between them as players, and the classical arrangements work better than any rearranged classical works I’ve ever heard. It’s usually a recipe for disaster, but them playing Satie is a thing of great beauty. Emily’s a fab Cellist, with an amazing tone and touch. And BJ’s, well, BJ – a completely unique figure in the world of music.

in the second set they got me up for an improv, which started out as a gentle naive duet between BJ and I, swapped to a duet between Emily and I, then I looped a progression in D, and BJ and I started building up the ambience while Emily played beautiful melodic lines over it… and the fade got really dark with my big Sigur Ros guitar sound, and BJ’s twisted MoogerFooger distorted steel… amazing.

And so you have it, the story of gigs in london – small appreciative crowds listening to world-beating music. It’s the kind of thing that should be filling concert halls the world over. I guess it will… patience, dear boy.

Happy Birthday Joni

Joni Mitchell is 63 today. On the quite ludicrously tiny off-chance that she reads this blog, ‘happy birthday Joni – thanks for Hejira, and endless other amazing albums. You changed my music life!’

I first heard Hejira as ‘contraband’ – I was playing in a New Orleans jazz band in Berwick on Tweed in my teens, Sunday nights round the pubs, and the trumpeter and leader Pete Roughead was a proper old-school purist – any jazz after about 1930 was modern, Dixie was populist, only proper New Orleans stuff was allowed (I was only allowed to play bass because the double bassist was ill, and was still introduced as being on ‘double bass’, cos Pete couldn’t bring himself to say anything else…)

Anyway, one of the trombonists, Sandy, wasn’t quite so narrow in his listening tastes, and started my surreptitious musical education by slipping me a C90 cassette under the table at a gig with his own best of Weather Report’s Jaco years on one side, and Hejira on the other. And while I really enjoyed the Weather Report stuff. It was Hejira that changed the way I thought about music. Everything I ever wanted music to be was on that record. Honest, freewheeling, mellow, heartfelt, superbly played, funny… It is still to this day my desert island disc. If you twisted my arm up my back and told me I was only allowed to keep one album, that’s it, for sure.

Joni’s done other great albums – Hissing Of Summer Lawns is great, the early folky ones are gorgeous, and the 90s stuff, especially Night Ride Home is some of the greatest music of the last 15 years (and ‘Travelogue’ is vital listening for anyone with a heartbeat), but it’s still Hejira that gets me every time.

So happy birthday Joni – I completely understand your stated reasons for not doing music anymore, but part of me still wishes you’d change your mind. Happy painting… x

Euroblog #932

Home stretch! I’m on the train from Nijmegen to Rosendaal in Holland, having played in Kleve in Germany last night. The Kleve experience was one I won’t forget for a while…

So yesterday morning, the morning after European Bass Day, had breakfast with all the bass peoples who were at Bass Day, in the hotel, then got a lift down to Krefeld Haupt BanHof, (that’s train station to you), and got the train to Kleve. For some stupid reason I’d left it til that morning to email the owner of the theatre I was playing in, but I sent him my phone number and the email address that goes straight to my phone, and thought that the worst case scenario was that I’d end up meeting him at the venue when he got there to set up. I had the map from the venue website to be able to find the place, and was happy to have a look round Kleve and check into a hotel in the afternoon.

I get to Kleve, find a town map outside the station, and set off in the direction of the venue. I walk for about 5 minutes and a car pulls up alongside and asks me in German if I want any help. I answer in English, and the driver then guesses that I’m doing the concert at the theatre, as she’d read about it in the paper that morning (a very good sign), it turns out she knows the guy who owns it and his family, and offers to give me a lift first to the theatre, and then to the house of the owner when there’s no-one there! As a general rule, I don’t advise getting into stranger’s cars, but Oopie (I’m assuming that’s how it’s spelt) clearly did know the theatre people, and the Serendipity of the situation seemed way too go to pass up… Thank God for slightly nuts people in small-town Germany who are willing to stop and help lost looking musicians!

So we go the house of the theatre owner, Wolfgang, he’s not there, but his family take v. good care of me, speak excellent english, and prove to be utterly delightful, interesting, funny and wonderful people – just the kind of people that would make all of this worthwhile even if I didn’t enjoy the music. That I get to play music I love and meet people like this makes me a most happy and lucky bunny.

Wolfgang arrives, matches his family for friendliness and all-round wonderfulness, and we head down to the venue – xox theatre (xox is actually a word, not just X O X, which I thought it was… xox, pronounced like ‘socks’ with an x in front, was a biscuit manufacturer, and the theatre is on the top floor of the old converted factory.) It’s a gorgeous little theatre, with great lighting and 99 raked seats. Just perfect for a StevieGig.

The house PA proves most satisfactory, and I set up and soundcheck with tonnes of time to spare, and meet Theo from MySpace, the guy who set all this up in the first place.

The gig itself was pretty small (the big problem with being on the road is that’s pretty tough to keep track of all the promo stuff for each gig, and make sure everyone has everything they need), but the people there were hugely generous in their appreciation for the music, I sold a lot of CDs (on this tour I sold out of all the copies of both Behind Every Word and Grace And Gratitude that I bought with me, and have only a couple of the other two left each!), and met a whole host of utterly delightful people. Is there anyone horrible in Kleve, or are you interviewed to measure you general niceness level before moving in? All in, one of the most enjoyable gigs I’ve had in a long time, and the theatre want to book me again early next year and do it again with a bigger build-up. What fun!

So I’m back on the train, heading home, via Brussels and the Eurostar, looking forward to a couple of days off before my gig in Wales on Friday. Time to regroup, send out the CD orders that have come in online while I’ve been on tour, sleep A LOT catch up on all the teaching-related email that I’ve neglected, and generally relax.

But, barring some kind of utter disaster today, this training-it round Europe thing is definitely the way to go. Book a month of gigs at a time, fill in off-nights with as much fun as possible, the more gigs you do, the cheaper the travel works out per-gig, you can play in Italy one night and Portugal the next , and all it’ll cost you is the food on the train and a cheap hotel if you don’t have someone to stay with… I can’t understand why the trains of Europe aren’t chock full of musicians on tour!

So who wants to help book a gig in Europe in March? :o)

Euroblog #7

Euroblog 7

Right, lesson #1 from all this has been to get the complete Europass whatever you’re doing. OK, so it costs about £100 more, but it gives you way more options, and stops you getting stung the way I have been just now.

Having bought my tickets in Venice on Thursday, on the train just now, I discovered that all the woman had done was reserve the seats for me, and charge me a booking fee, not actually sell me the sodding tickets! She’s listed them as though I had a pass for the whole of Europe, rather than one that doesn’t cover Switzerland and Germany. so I’ve just been stung for another $50 for the Swiss bit of the journey. I think the same is likely to happen in Germany too… eeek. I mean, it’s not going to break the bank, but it’s a total pain in the arse to have been sold the wrong tickets. I think I might go into the Rail Europe offices in London when I get back and complain – it’s not that I would have minded paying the extra – indeed, I was surprised when she told me the price of the tickets from Milan to Amsterdam via Switzerland and Germany – but the hassle of being sold one lot of stuff, then finding out that it’s not valid is just nonsense.

Other than that, it’s all going fine. I’m on train two out of a five train series – this one’s a local Swiss train, from Arth to Olten, and then I change and get on a train to Mannheim, then to Koln, and thence to Amsterdam. It’s funny, traveling on trains takes a lot longer, but is way less tiring than flying. I’m much more relaxed, can get up and wander around, and can watch some of the most beautiful scenery in the world whistle past the window, safe in the knowledge that my eco-monkey credentials are improving by the second. Also got to meet a couple of lovely americans from Portland Oregon, on their way home after a trip round Italy – always nice to meet fellow travellers, have a chat and move on. It’s great the way orbits intersect like this on the road. Sometimes they cross and merge, as with Luca and I, where we end up working together for years to come. Other times, it’s just a 20 minute chat on a train or plane and away you go.

Current Listening – Tollak, Walk This World – he’s the harp-monkey from EuroBassDay, and this record of his is lovely. It’s kind of classic singer/songwriter stuff, in the big emotional 80s songwriter vein, with a fairly major chunk of Beatles harmony.

Update – now on the train from Olten to Mannheim – I think I managed to flummox the ticket inspector with the number of bits of paper I thrust at her – my inter rail pass, my swiss ticket (which says it’s for Basel but I haven’t been there), my seat reservation, and the following tickets through to Amsterdam, and she just tapped some information into her over-sized palm pilot thingie, thanked me and left. So so long as she wasn’t sending messages to marksmen in Mannheim saying I should be shot on sight when I leave the train, I think I’m OK… We’ll see. More news at the top of the hour.

In other train related news, met two more lovely Americans on the last leg of the trip – two girls from Seattle backpacking round Europe.

And Swiss trains officially kick the arse of all other trains. They’re fantastic! I thought I’d wandered into first class by mistake. But no, this is my seat. yay! However, they still haven’t cottoned onto the idea that a power-point next to each seat is a really great idea for laptop users. I guess i’m the only one… riiiight. Also finally managed to find something veggie to eat in a shop on Olten station – a cheese and jalapeno tortilla wrap! Molto picante e bueno. or something.

The big problem with Switzerland is the language thing – with bits of it being Italian speaking, German Speaking, French Speaking, and Swiss-German speaking. My brain hasn’t at all been able to switch to German thus far… I got to the point where I could hold basic conversations when I toured in Germany a lot in the early 90s, but it’s going to take a bit of work to get it back into shape…

[second update] I take back what I said about Swiss trains, I’m stucking in a fucking smoking carriage, and am going to end up smelling disgusting by the end of this, and feeling rather sick. What kind of loser train network lets people smoke on trains? What more’s the point, what kind of loser ticket agent books a seat for a non-smoker in a smoking carriage! The kind of moron that works at Venice station and doesn’t actually book me any tickets, just seat reservations, that’s who… grrrr.

Euroblog #6

Euroblog 6,

OK all you travel-monkeys, I think I’ve found the world’s shittiest hotel. certainly it’s the world’s shittiest 3 star hotel (where the hell did it earn these stars? working in McDonalds?????) Hotel San Marco, just opposite Milan Central Station. Wow. The room is tiny (like the box room in your house, or if you’ve got a big house, the walk-in wardrobe), the view is of… a fire escape. Oh yes. the lighting insufficienct, the decor nasty. It’s not that dissimilar to a visit to Linda’s in Ambleside (B+B for about £16 a night, mangey dog thrown in for free, veggie breakfast is the meat breakfast with the sausage and bacon taken off the plate…) Talking of which, breakfast here is pretty hilarious too, served by Mrs Overall. One poor overworked old lady who speaks nothing but fast Italian trying to deal with requests from picky English bassists with crap Italian for decaf coffee.

Anyway, Thursday, travelled back from Venice, after a fun day with Daniel and Enrico (my Venice hosts, and the hardest working PA-by-boat team I’ve ever come across), back to LucaLand (one day, that’ll be an experimental guitar theme park). Dinner at Cascina Capuzza (without doubt my favourite restaurant in the world – every time I’m there, the veggie option is some new concoction I’d never have even thought of, and it’s always incredible. And then back to mixing/editing the last track. The potential CD is sounding pretty exciting, but it is all being played over Luca’s Genelec 1032 monitors, and recordings of old blokes with bronchial problems wheezing and spluttering would sound great through those, so the rough mixes are transferred to CD and DVD, and I then convert the CD to MP3 and copy it across to my phone for extensive listening on the train.

Friday starts with programming the new Looperlative – after the problems with my prototype, Bob sent me a production model from the States, so I need to copy all the settings into it for the foot controllers and groups etc. doesn’t take long. Lunch back at Cascina Capuzza, a vain attempt to dry the clothes I washed the night before by ironing them, and it’s back to the train station to Milan.

Now, I was supposed to be finishing up an interview for InSound magazine in Milan, but thanks to a family crisis, the journo can’t make it, which means I’m free to meet up for a drink with one of the Italian bassists I didn’t get to see in Verona, Antonella Mazza. She’s a fantastic double bassist, session player, jazzer – and we meet for a drink and a bite to eat in a bar next to the Blue Note (jazz-by-proxy). A most enjoyable chat ensues, and her hubby gives me a lift back to hotel-di-shite.

So now, I’m staring down the wrong end of 12.5 hours on a train to Amsterdam. 4 changes, with all my bags, but an evening with John Lester at the end of it to spur me on. All this getting to hang out with lovely groovy music people all over the continent is pretty fantastic, it must be said.

[update] – on the train now, having just written the press release for the Recycle Collective first anniversary (I’ll post the details ASAP, but it’s on Nov 15th, so put it in your diary now!), half an hour gone, 12 hours to go… anyone know any good jokes?

Euroblog #5

Venice. Wow. What a place. I’m sure I’m the last one to get here, but if you’ve not been, it’s great.

The first thing I had to do when I got here was book my ticket to Amsterdam for Saturday. Sounds easy. Is it bollocks. I go to the ticket office, ask for the ticket but get sent to the information desk to get the train times, get them printed out and take them back to the ticket office. Back to the ticket office, that train is fully booked. So back to the information desk for more trains. WTF? Two completely independent computer systems for tickets and time-table!!! 95 minutes later and I’ve got tickets booked for the train up through Switzerland and Germany, but still only costing an extra 20-odd Euros, and actually saving me about three hours on the time it would take via Paris. Worth 20 Euros of anyone’s money.

Anyway, after that, my fantastic host here in Venice, Daniel Deluve takes us to the hotel where the gig is happening. Swanky doesn’t even scratch the surface of how posh this hotel is. 495€ a night posh. Just nuts. Venice, having no roads, is a nuts place to get to, and we travel to the gig by boat (this is definitely the only gig I’ve ever done where the PA and bass rig have been delivered by boat (is it just me, or am I writing in some weird pidgin english? All I can hear in my head is the kind of bizarre simplified english that I use to speak to Italians who speak slight more english that I speak Italian… sorry if all this sounds a bit odd..)

Anyway, we dump the stuff at the hotel and head off for lunch and a wander round this gorgeous city. It’s nuts. it’s one big cliche, in the best sense of the word – gondolas, canals, street musicians playing lutes, and chock full of loud obnoxious tourists. Yay for the English speaking world and our bizarre relationship with the beautiful parts of the planet.

Anyway, the gig was great fun. A mix of residents in the hotel, friends of Daniel and some tourists (including an american dude who lives in Cornwall and is a David Torn and David Sylvian fan – restoring my faith in tourists as people of taste and discernment). All in a great time had by me, and seemingly by everyone else too. nice to get to play two 40 minutes sets too.

Then the journey home, back on the boat with PA and bass rig. Suddenly the boat is invaded by four completely hammered tourist losers from Bolton. Incoherently drunk, singing and dancing, and making me oh-so-proud to be English. One pissed lady comes to talk to me, so I pretend to be Italian – ‘no parlo inglesi’ – shows just how hammered she was that my crap Italian grammar and piss poor accent fooled her. But it was great to have some English buffoon shouting ‘ARE YOU A MUSICIAN? MUSIC? LA-LA-LA???’ in my face while I look blank, and ask my Italian friend to translate for me, then tell her I’m a pianist, despite the fact that I’ve got a bass gig bag leaning against me. Fun with drunks.

So today, I’m heading back to Luca’s to mix the last of the tunes for the album, the tomorrow onto Milan.

I love my life – as John Lester commented on my MySpace page, ‘That ain’t working, that’s the way you do it’.

InterRail travel plans pt 2…

OK, just booked my tickets for the first leg of my trip to Europe… Here’s how it’s working so far:

With your interrail ticket, you get cheap tickets on the Eurostar (£50 each way), so I’ve booked to Paris.

From there, because my next stint takes me out of my allocated zones, I had to pay a little more to Geneva – it should’ve been £15, but there were no standard class tickets left, so Paris to Geneva is costing me £23.

From Geneva to Milan goes through a whole load of Switzerland, so it’s costing me £26 (a ticket type for ‘journeys where your pass only covers part of the journey’) – after that, the internal Italian journeys will be free, and seat bookings for the longer TGV journeys, as long as I don’t go outside my zones, will be about £4 per journey.

So, first lesson is that if I was planning on doing loads of journeys outside my zones, it’s clearly going to be better to get the full euro-pass for £110 more. I won’t use that much (as the next bit where I go out of the country is just a jolly across the dutch/german border which won’t come to £50), but it’s worth thinking ahead… If I bought the £405 all-zones pass, it also lasts for 30 days not 22…

In other news, as per usual, TSP is using me going away as an excuse to invite her lovely friends to stay, so I once again miss out on a week of fun in London, but I’m sure sailing through the french, swiss, italian, belgian, dutch and german countryside on a train will comfort me. Maybe I can convince nice friends to stay a day or so after I get back as well, just so I get to go for curry!

So total expense for today, for Eurostar, paris-geneva, geneva-paris +booking fee + registered post – £110.

Total travel costs so far £410. Number of gigs I’ll be able to do for that amount of expenditure – 4, possibly 6 (two still waiting for confirmation in Italy, which works out to a maximum £102.50 per gig in travel so far, with three days in Geneva thrown in, and the possibility of a day out in either Rome or Venice just for fun, and the chance to take two basses with me, more CDs for sale (which=more income without having to ship them ahead – a box of 45 CDs costs about £20 to send to Italy), and no excess baggage charges at the airport (last time I flew Ryanair to France, with no CDs, one bass, and stripped down bass rig, it cost me £40 in excess baggage, £13 each way on the train to Stansted, and £45 for the ticket – £111 total…

this train thing is looking good!

InterRail ticket is booked…

I’m going to blog my travel process in some detail, given that I’m doing my Italy/Germany tour in October via an InterRail ticket – that is, I buy one ticket, and can get through all of France, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Greece, Turkey and, er, Luxembourg for 22 days on the train.

I booked the ticket online – nice easy process, though you do need your passport to hand as they want your passport number. The online booking process is fairly non-specific, in that you don’t book a seat on individual trains then, you just choose the zones, your age bracket (under or over 26) and a start date. I’ll be ringing up on Monday morning to get reserved seats from London to Geneva, Geneva to Milan, Milan to Verona, and then after that Verona to Dusseldorf, which is out of my zones (as is Geneva), but I’m hoping I can just pay a coupla quid extra and cross the border, as both are v. close to the French/Dutch borders…

While in Italy, I’m going to take advantage of the free ticket and see if I can get away to Rome for a day between gigs – need to find out how long the train takes from where I’ll be staying…

If this all works out as planned, it’s definitely THE way to tour in Europe – no airplane baggage limits, no 2 hour checkin times, no hassle finding crappy airports 30 miles outside the city centre to be able to get the cheap flights, no trouble if you miss your first train, no problem if a last minute gig comes in and you have to reroute… And to cap it all, plenty of time to see the countries you’re playing in! If the gigs are really well paid and spread out, you can break the journeys over night in interesting cities on the way.

This kind of ticket scheme is available for Americans wanting to travel in Europe too – do a google search and see what y’all can find!

The only limitations I’ve come across so far are that you can’t use it in the country you live in, though you do qualify for cheap tickets to get you out of your own country (£100 return to paris in the eurostar, £80 return to Calais – I’m going to see if I can pick up the TGV in Calais…) and if you want to book a fast train, there’s a booking fee of a couple of quid for the seat. It remains to be seen if you can get on without a booked seat, and just take your chances (or end up standing in the restaurant car for 8 hours – no thanks!)

the big thing I’m hoping for are electrical sockets on the trains near the seats. You get these on British trains now, so hopefully, given that the Europeans seem to do EVERYTHING train-related better than us, they’ll have that, and free wi-fi! At least with the plug socket I’ll be able to spend some time working on transcriptions of my tunes. I’m also going to download a few greenbelt seminars and put them onto my phone to listen to, as well as this year’s Reith Lectures by Daniel Barenboim.

I’ll let you know how the booking of the individual trains and the Eurostar goes on Monday…