Day 12. Thats all folks.

Many months ago we arrived on the fair (giant) isle. Much fun has been had and many a van trips have been endured. New York seems like it was 6 months ago now and I can barely remember the smelly hotel. We’ve been busy little Baebes beavering away at our job and now the last show is to be performed, tonight, in Rockville. Does it Rock in Rockville? We shall see (actually I already know the answer, no, but it is a very beautiful church and they order us in a totally badass Chinese dinner so it doesn’t matter if Rockville Rocks or not).

I am writing this as we sit in the van en route to Newark airport. I have to get this finished because I plan to sleep on the plane to try and reacclimatise to the time difference at home as I have a VERY active little nearly Two year old waiting for me and there is NO rest for the mother of a toddler, with or without excessive jet lag, AND there will be no time for me to write up the remaining days of our trip once he gets his little yoghurt smelling hands on me.

For some unknown reason we left the hotel much earlier than we needed to. And so we were in Rockville within a matter of half an hour, and, as mentioned, there isn’t a huge amount to be getting on with in Rockville. Of course there was the usual getting everything out of the van and into the venue, but that didn’t take long, the we had to wait a while for the soundcheck because the PA wasn’t arriving until 3.45. So we waited, because we were SO early.

We played the fall back ‘I spy with my third eye’ game (if you’re not familiar with my blog then I’ll explain. This game takes on the same format as ‘I Spy’ but in this version you have to imagine that you are standing inside a ‘hippy shop’. So usual offerings are along the lines of ‘I Spy with my third eye something beginning with ‘MB’, which is of course. ‘mirrored bag’. And so on).

That happened for about 35 mins and then I offered out some Supermans. Sophierce, Charlie and Anna took me up on the offer and happily spent some time balancing on my feet in suspended in the air in a flying position. Then we did the Electric Slide for a bit and by this time we were ready for soundcheck. Hurraayyy.

It’s a well oiled machine now and Dash the sound man is nailing it, so we don’t spend the usual several hours bemoaning the monitor balance etc etc etc. Even the hurdy gurdy sounds good (when it’s not in our monitors).

A lot of the audience had already arrived and we were making a lot of comments about how they seemed to be arriving early and how eager they were. Then I joked for a while about how funny it would be if actually they weren’t early but indeed on time because wouldn’t it be funny if it was actually ‘doors’ at 7pm and showtime at 7.30 instead of doors at 7.30 and showtime at 8. Ha ah ah wouldn’t that be funny as we were halfway through our massive and delicious helpings of aforementioned awesome Chinese take away dinner. It was funny up until the moment I was chatting with David the main man at the venue who suddenly mentioned – at 7.16 – how they like to do a hard 7.30 start. Ha ha ha ha yeah yeah.
‘No, seriously’
‘What? What time is the show?’
‘7.30’
‘Oh my god’
‘Hmm, sounds like you should be having a word with your tour manager’…………actually I didn’t even hear the rest of that sentence because we had run away by then in a mad panic to get our makeup on/hair done/dresses on/show pants on etc etc. So, it was a little bit rushed after spending HOURS there beforehand with very little to do. Oh how life provides the balance in all the right places.

The show was great fun and it was our last of the tour – not to be mistaken for our last EVER show, which some people, I believe, mistook it for. Then we met our dear friends again, so many returning even after seeing us just this weekend. We received MORE chocolate duds and our dear friend known to us as ‘Godiva Man’ delivered us a beautiful box of Godiva chocolate goodies, that were almost all consumed while we were at the signing table. Thank you again you lovely gift givers.

Then it was time to leave. Thank you again Rockville and our dedicated fans from this side of the U.S. We never forget your lovely faces and kindness.

And off we drive into the night. Oh yes, this was a trip that involved Anna’s single round of wine tasting because earlier in the day we had discovered that two of the bottles of wine from the gift case had been hiding in our room and hadn’t been part of the previous two days wine tasting game. So we had bought them along with us for our final post show game of ‘Wine Tasting’. Again Anna stunned us with her wine discerning sensibilities and skill and she cemented her role as official wine taster.

Back at the hotel we finished off all the consumables that we didn’t need to take home with us and once again the Ab Fab room hosted the party. I met a chap outside who rapped at me for what seemed like 25 minutes. But I was keen to get back to the party to say a farewell to Maurice.

You see, he’s leaving us.

We don’t know what to do.

So there were some tears amidst the joy. At that moment mostly tears.

Then when he had gone I decreed that sleeping should commence, and it did, we all beded down in our respective beds and that, my friends, was that.

Thank you America, you gargantuan beast of brilliance. We LOVE coming to the U.S and experiencing life ever so differently to our normal reality. The supermarkets are so much more enormous than ours, there are entire aisle dedicated to dipping sauces and the aisles go on for miles. There is an unimaginable amount of sugar in everything. How you’re not all bouncing off the walls 24/7 amazes me. The scenery takes up even more room in ones eyes than anything in our tiny land. We love you America and everyone of our loyal fans.

Until next time. X

Day 11. Bye Bye Ren Fayre.

Sunday at Maryland Renaissance Fayre. Wow this was a dirrrrty day. Sloshing about in the Mayland mud was the main focus of the day. However, I was on a mission to spend my per diems and purchase some ‘transferable’ goods from this place of wonderment, so off I trudged, dressed as a cowboy into the sodden mediaecal lands.

Yes, I was dressed as a cowboy at a mediaeval themed festival. But I had the MOST compliments I’d had in one day ever. And then I was approached by a man wearing almost exactly the same as me but he had gone one further and had donned a pair of suede leather chaps. You can imagine my sheer joy. He came up to me and said ‘Hey, I think you and me are at the wrong festival’ oh how we laughed. I missed out on a photo too with him which I am most annoyed about. Anyway, I had to purchase purchase purchase.

I LOVE all the layering that a true mediaeval costume requires. But none of these items can transfer across into my everyday land, so as a responsible human I merely looked then walked away, but not without something dashing to adorn my hair with and a few other bits and bobs including a wand for my little elfling at home.

The crowds today were slightly smaller in comparison to the huge amounts of people that the sun bought out with him when he put his hat on yesterday. But they were the hard core and were neatly nestled amongst the trees, in the dripping rain. Thank you.

After each set we decided to stay on the stage to sign and meet. We met so many new amazing fans and we met the lovely Jennifer, an impish beauty indeed, she had quite an emotional moment as we all gave her big hugs and her beau took photos and tagged us on Instagram….he has 72k followers! Whaaaaaatt?? Amazing, thanks Mitch and Jennifer. We also saw our dear heart Keith. Yesterday he’d found out that his dad had had a stroke. Keith is such a huge and dedicated fan and we noticed he wasn’t at his usual spot. Then Maurice told us on the way home what had happened. But he managed to come along today, however whilst he was at the Fayre he found out that his dad had actually passed away. We all hugged him as hard as we could and wished him strength and love. We are so sorry Keith, thinking of you. X

The day was grey but we had a wonderful time performing at the Ren Fayre. We perused all the best headwear stalls and Ben almost ate the entire cookie stall. The rain didnt get in the way, it inspired several duck filled dams…..picture below.

This is a wonderful land filled with wonderful people. Who knows when we will be back again, you can all ask Carolyn Spedden to get us back again next year. We know she likes to mix it up a bit and keep you waiting, so who knows (insert ‘wink’ emoji). We made our way to our favourite bar and this time we ordered TWO drinks each before the last orders. Phew! We had some lovely chats with fans and then Avon Faire came to say their goodbyes, this would be the last time we will see them on this tour now, so that was a lovely but sad goodbye. We finished our drinks and bade the other customers good day and just as we were packing the van the rain came down. Always tricksy to carry very heavy things whilst traversing a marsh-like bog.

Hmm, then what did we do? Ah yes!!!! We still had the crate of wine from David in the back of the van so we were on to round 2 of the wine tasting game.

Basically yesterday there was such a long queue of traffic to get out of the Fayre that we were stuck for atleast an hour in the car park…..suddenly Smouticles (as I like to call our cellist, Sarah Smout) asks if there was any Meade. Well. The Ab Fabs that take up the front three seats were thrilled, and we rushed to provide, however we discovered that the Meade was no longer in the van, but we had a crate of different flavoured wines! And thus the ‘wine tasting’ game ensued. Anna and Sarah were the only participants and there was a selection of 6 different flavours to behold. There were 2 rounds with 3 wines in and they had to guess the correct names of each wine. Our favourite name is ‘pumpkin bog’ however ‘chuckleberry’ is a close second. Anyway, the details are a little confusing and I still have a whole other day to write about so I don’t need to go into it. All you need to know is that Anna won. Then today, Sunday, it was between Dash the sound man and Anna, things got very exciting when they reached a ‘sudden death’ (it’s a soccer term for those who are not familiar with it where you have a final ‘shoot out’ goal scenario, or something like that) round. However they were both so good that we had to chant ‘next round, next round’ several times before we had a champion. And that champion was………….Anna. She is now our official wine tasting expert. And if we could hand out prizes then she’d be halfway to the vineyard in South Dakota joining our lovely friends David and Tina on a tour.

When we got home we decided to all pile into the Sushi place near our hotel which was in the middle of nowhere. What are these places? Groups of large stores where no one really lives and there isn’t even a town for miles and miles, weird. Even the native Dash sound man doesn’t understand these places. However, when you’re staying right next to one they are very handy after a gig when you’re starving.

It was a lovely group meal and probably the last group meal of the tour. Apart from the one on the plane of course. Then we popped to the Liquor store. We Love the liquor stores in America. So much choice! And my fave is always a Blue Moon. So they were purchased and then there was a very mild party in our room. The Brat whipped out her new Electric Slide skills as Ben dj’d and Marie sang and danced along. I was trying in vain to get into bed, but there was too much going on, so I was interchangeable betwixt my bed and the chair next to the pull out bed that we’d partially put away for dancing purposes. All the while Maurice sat quietly in the corner with a glass of red wine.

It slowly petered out and thankfully we finally managed to go to bed.

Day 10

The Maryland Renaissance Fayre.

My oh my it is so good to be back, it’s like where all the extras from Game of Thrones hang out but REAL. These mediaeval fans are indeed ALL real and if they could get away with wearing these clothes in real life and drinking from a horn attached to their belt then they would and I think the world would be a better place for it. I can tell that everyone within this Mediavel perimeter is having the best time, living their best lives here and I just LOVE IT.

It is was sunny and HOT. Phew. We got there early to avoid the traffic and to be sure that we had a good look around before the three show day. Sure enough we scoped out all the potential present stalls, for our loved ones back home and also for possible ‘transferable’ wear for ourselves. This term refers to whether we think that something could be worn both at the Fayre and in everyday real life. In the past I haven’t applied this rule and so I have a plethora of Mediaeval items which a) broke the bank at the time of purchase and b) I can only wear once a year. So now I am a little more discerning about what items would be appropriate in real life. Much musing was had and then we worked our way back up and round to the stage, via the woodland spa. This was to be a regular haunt for some of the Baebes, massages delivered by wonderful women with healing hands hidden amongst the trees. Perfect.

(So pleased to see some traditional Mediaeval equality).

It was a little fraught backstage as the sets we had decided to do had been analysed and it had was decided last min that they needed to be rearranged, this was happening right up until stage time with a lot of position redesigning. Then it was time. Dash introduced us from his spot up in the sound tent and out we came, to a HUGE throng of spectators. Wow, such an impressive crowd all ready to be Mediaeval Baebed. We had a blast on stage and enjoyed the love very much. Then it was time to go to the signing table, we had such a long queue of fans old and new to meet. It took the entire time we had between sets to meet everyone that we had very little time to go and change and be ready for set 2! Amazing.

So the usual betwixt set exploration of the Fayre didn’t happen which was disappointing because there were so many food items on sticks that we needed to try! However I shall never forget my experience with the cheesecake on a stick. That happened on my first ever visit to the Ren Fayre, and I don’t need to go there again for fear of tainting the memory of it all.

Set 2 happened and once again we were amidst a throng of wonderful fans and then it was time again for set 3. We were VERY excited about set three. This was when we were to be joined by last nights workshop attendees and they were going to join us singing ‘Adam Lay Ibounden’. I had clocked some of the participants already, some were adorned in their magnificent mediaeval garments and others were sporting a freshly signed Baebes tee-shirt and some were purely relaxed in their usual attire. If it was me.waiting to get up and sing then I would have sat through the set getting more and more nervous, so I felt for those brave souls who were soon to be summoned up to join us. We had already arranged for them to come and stand in a semi circle in front of the stage and they did this seemlessly with aplomb. And there they were, our singing brothers and sisters. They joined in after the first verse and it was wonderful hearing all the extra voices and watching them perform with the movements at al. It was awesome and that sort of thing always makes me want to sob with joy. A triumph indeed. Well done all of you. And thank you.

After the shows were finished and all the photos were taken we were whisked off to the White Hart singalong pub in the heart of the festival. We had just a few minutes to get a drink before last orders were called and before we knew it the ending cannon was shot and the Fayre was over for the day. There was a desperate dash and grab for last min food as we didn’t really get any time to buy any during the day. Poor Preggo Sophie was particularly in need. The closest stall I could get to was the sweet potatoes fries seller and you can imagine my disappointment when they weren’t each individually served to me on a stick. The it was back to the hotel to endure ……I mean, enjoy another WRP (White Russian party).

Firstly we took a pit stop at the pizza place. I had ordered a slice of the pepperoni which seemed to take AGEs to come (a whole three actual pizzas had been built and cooked in the time that I was waiting for my one slice which had even been pre made, I even managed to drink a whole Blue Moon in the interim) that’s because they’d forgotten about it and apparently it got burnt in the oven, but it looked perfectly cooked to me, so they popped in another sloce and I said that I was more than happy to have the burnt one too. So I got 2 for one baby. Yesssss…..living the dream people.

We knocked on 420 and the boys Moz and Ben were already cracking into the litre bottles of Vodka and Kahlua. This was going to be serious. Last time we ran out of Kahlua but this time it matched the giant sized vodka bottle in size so I think it’s safe to say we can get the party underway. We were joined by the wonderful Avon Faire who were also playing at Maryland, reliving the woodland joys of Loxwood Joust. So in they came, along with the rest of the Baebe gang. All groups were representing tonight so we were onto a winner.

(The only photos of the eve, sober with pizza and full big bottles of booze).

There was an expression of dissatisfaction about the fact the music was coming out of my phone and not everyone was enjoying the genre (heavy 80’s deep dive, it was the GLoW playlist). So Kats Mac was reinstalled as the main music giver and then the dancing started. Lots of lovely chats were had and it was a little more louche than the last one, which by this time we were trying to ‘out tweark’ – that’s mediaeval for twerking – each other. However, it all hit the anti-gravity status when Avon Faire left us, they shouldn’t have left us, but they did and then everything went wonky. I’d left my phone in my room so (fortunately) none of the evening was documented, a first for me, but nevertheless the memories shall remain. As part of the festival of fun Marie and I decided to do a clothes swap, she had been wearing her teeny tiny little pink dress which looked like a Kiplings French Fancy, I couldn’t even get it past my head, but somehow we made it work, whilst she assumed the appearance of the Scarecrow for the Wizard of Oz and jelly danced around in my hugely-oversized-for-her stripey top and dungarees. I recall speaking incredibly emphatically to Ben and Moz about something VERY important and gesticulating wildly whilst they sat and laughed at me because I was being so very serious in a tiny pink tea-towel-on-me sized dress.

That’s about it. The human centipede came out again for a short performance and I taught Marie and the Brat (Sophierce now has interchangeable names, Fiercey is one and now the other is The Brat, weirdly I think she self penned this one, but if she likes it then we are happy to run with it……..mainly because it’s what our Ab Fab characters would probably name our protege anyway) the Electric Slide, a popular dancefloor classic when the song ‘Candy’ by ‘Cameo’ comes on, but it can go with anything and is the most meditative form of dance every invented. Even Fiercy got it! And she ain’t no dance captain, if you hear what I’m sayin’.

Anyway, lots of joy, then bedtime. Well done again us.

Day 9.

Oh my gosh, Friday already. Time is going by so fast. Surely it was only just a few days ago that we were in New York, but it feels like it was several months ago. Anyway this was Friday. Soundcheck day at Maryland Renaissance Fayre. It’s a very different experience being at the festival when it is closed. Anyway there we were. For HOURS. All the sound men were awesome and we had to listen to Lee Ann Womacks ‘I Hope You Dance’ probably about 15 times. We know ALL the words now. Anyway there was something weird in the air and we all felt very restless and almost like we were half a way up a mountain suffering from altitude sickness. Are we so far above sea level here in Maryland? Or maybe it was because there is a storm in the air. Nevertheless it was quite some work but we got it done and now we were ready to get our singing workshop brains into gear.

(Ben has been overdoing it with the breakfast waffles)

We all took our time deciding on what what to wear. I went for maximum branding and wore my fave old Baebes tee-shirt. And then it was time. No rest for us wickeds.

We had 33 wonderful humans join us for our workshop. We didn’t realise it would be such a full house and we were thrilled to see so many eager faces. We had a great time singing with everyone. We taught everyone ‘Adam Lay Abounden’ WITH the moves. And they seemed to already know the words and confidently executed the choreography with vim and vigour. Then we moved on to splitting the group into low, medium and high and we taught ‘There is no rose of swytch virtu’. And they NAILED IT. Oh my gosh it was beautiful. There is something about seeing a body of humans singing in unison and or harmony that just sends shivers through me and makes me want to cry. It’s a beautiful thing. Emotional and incredibly special and I had not expected to have been quite to overwhelmed by how awesome it was. Well done everyone that was there.

Then we had a quick Q and A session and afterwards we had a recap of ‘Adam Lay’ with hurdy gurdy, and we arranged the rendezvous time for everyone to join us all to accompany us singing the song on our last set of the day on Saturday. So exciting.

Then we finished and were given some amazing weird tea, warm soothing voice tea, from one of our participants and then they were all gone. Maurice was particularly impressed with how we managed the workshop that he decided we would all go out for dinner. However the choir girls were ‘done’ so it was up to the Ab Fabs to go out to the nearest recommended restaraunt and join Maurice in a spot of local cuisine.

Crabs! It’s ALL about crabs round here (seafood). Maryland is where ALL the crabs live and come to die, only to be eaten by Marylanders. And there we were at Timbuktu with a menu filled with crab dishes. I actually don’t like crab but there was a small section dedicated to those that might not wish to dine on crabs, phew. Timbuktu restaraunt is a weirdly themed establishement, with animated camels flanking a sign depicting the name of the restaurant in a questionable font which is not at all indicative of what you might be expecting. Needless to say the food was amazing. There were the usual epic portions, do people eat portions this size at home in America? I’d like to know, and if they do, then I’d like to know how everyone isn’t actually Giants.

There was a birthday happening at one of the other tables and the birthday girl was wearing a badass dress. She was very happy that we were from London, and part of a band. We regaled her with a very moody version of ‘happy birthday’ (not as good as the legendary version we sang at the Story chapel, seriously we should release that version, I’ve never heard a better version, and WE had sung it, SRSLY). This one, wasn’t great but she ‘handed out the hugs’ and then she was gone. Her dress was amazing. Did I mention that?

We asked the waiter where the best place was to go, he suggested the casino. Errrrrrrrrr……… Apparently it was best for us as the other places were filled with ‘kids’. I mean, what was he trying to say? Anyway Maurice and I decided we might not join Marie amd Kat on their excuraion, so we dropped them off at what seemed like the largest Casino I had ever seen or had ever thought was possible. They ran into the night with wild abandon and I had a pang of envy as we drove past and I caught sight of the nuggets of wonderment that were in there. But we woooshed back to the hotel and a quiet night ensued. Our little one Fierce was already tucked up in bed with her eye mask on and then I fretted for some time about the fact that the other 2 might not have a key. But then by the time I had stopped fretting I was already asleep.

Day 8

As Charlie said, there was a paucity of breakfast at the smelly hotel, so we picked away at what was available and then got the hell out of dodge. We were very pleased with this plan as it meant we would have time to explore the giant village of thrift stores all nestled within an industrial estate sized complex. I tried to push the memory of Anna from Avon Faire telling me how she had experienced bedbugs from a particularly low grade thrift store in NYC. And, as an avid thrift store fan myself it wasn’t anything I had ever considered before, so, like I said, I tired to push that thought away.

Oh my oh my (or as Marie likes to say ‘By Jimminey’) this place was beyond all expectation. It was organised so fantastically with separate shops dedicated to separate things. We were all giddy with joy. Marie even bought a tiny little chair, everyone suggested she should put a ‘dolly’ in it. There won’t be any Dollies in that chair. A small partially burnt goth doll maybe or perhaps a cactus. We shall see, if she can get it home that is. I bought some vintage wool and some needles to start knitting a hat, I like to knit a new one each year and as the Fall/autumn descends around us, now is the time. Then we discovered the Western Wear shop across the road. Wow wow wow. Cowboy hats and boots for all. I had to make a video of all the goods on show for my own English cowboy back home looking after our own wee Mediaeval cowboy baby. Sophia was already in there on thw phone to her mum (hi Gaby) discussing the merits of the boots that she was already trying on. Ben impressed us with his built-for-cowboy-hats head and Sophie and Sarah had already allocated their choice of boot but neither were in their size. I feel I have peaked with my collection of Cowboy boots back home, the highlight being a pair of white ones with intricate detailing and are vintage, so I was happy to share vicarious boot joy through the others. Marie was also quietly happy on the sidelines after she had just bagged herself a new pair of boots from the thrift store for just $7 instead of the $180 boots on display in this store.

Wonderment lifted as it was time to get back into the van and find our way to Annapolis. We had another minor pit stop for diesel and at this magical petrol station we saw an enormous hot dog machine and there were the lovely faux-meat-maybe-it-is-meat sausages rolling about all by themselves all shiny and cooking on their rotating shelves. Usually in the UK I’d think of the amount of people that might’ve coughed on to them and been put off, but this display was mouth watering and Marie and I were compelled to get one each. Two for $2.50? YES PLEASE. Then we were back on our way to The Rams Head. I have a very good memory of this place. I seem to recall having a burger with a Mac and Cheese topping. Novel.

As expected THe Rams Head did not disappoint. We were met by the glorious Derek. He seemed to be in charge of the entire place and took charge of looking after us extremely well. Apparently we were ‘very easy’ to look after. God knows who he’s had to deal with before. I must admit, we were rocking the angelic vibes to be fair. As per. We were very early so we had some time to look around the town of Annapolis.

I recall the time we were here before and it was the first time I had ever seen a car drive away from the petrol pump with the pump STILL in the car. It made a huge ripping noise and the driver was horrified. It was just like something out of a film so I was thrilled to have witnessed it. Anyway, it turns out that the rest of town wasn’t even in that direction, so we turned right out of the door and found the main street and then the waterfront. What a pretty town Annapolis is and so many gorgeous little streets that meander off from each other, unlike the epic grid system of New York. And it was SO HOT. I have some very excellent photographic memories now of this lovely little place and hopefully the crowd are as gorgeous.

We got back and dinner was waiting for us! When things run this smoothly it is joyous. I didn’t order the burger with the Mac and cheese topping, because there wasn’t one. I was disappointed but I ate some other equally bread-y dish which was tasty enough. As usual we then had our soundcheck. Dash the sound man is doing an amazing job of making my dance board sound insanely boomy and I am LOVING it. So I had a lovely long tappy tap tap and then we started the singing. It’s a funny shaped stage at the Rams Head with an L shaped audience, but I think we sufficiently reconfigured our positions which was mildly touch and go at the beginning but we got there in the end. We went for, what we like to call, the Rhomboid position, which isn’t a rhomboid shape in any way, but one day I decided that that particular set up resembled a rhomboid more than any other shape. So once it was decreed, then it was thus.

The dressing room was cosy, as they usually are for a band with as many members as ours, so all the corners of the room were filled with Baebe paraphanalia and the small table in the middle of the room didn’t help our cause. So we all squashed in and wiggled our way into our dresses. Yet another bottle of Matthews Meade was opened and the it was time to go on stage.

Oh what a fantastic audience, everyone was sat around tables and had mostly eaten before we started the show, so there was a sense that everyone had bedded in for the evening and there is nothing better than a comfortable and settled audience. And that made the night all the better. We had just enough reverb in our monitors to make it feel like our voices were soaring around a cathedral and that just makes us do a better job. I love this place.

Afterwards we were thrilled to see so many familiar faces (I was going to say ‘old faces’ but that means a different thing, and I’m not here to insult anyone). All our dear hearts from the Maryland Renaissance festival and other beauties who, once again, had driven so far to see us. It always makes my heart soar to hear the effort people have made to come and watch us, it’s so moving, its amazing. So we had the usual catchup with people we haven’t seen for three years, fortunately we will get to spend time with them this weekend as well.

Then the line for signings and photos got smaller and it was time to leave this wonderful place. Thank you Derek and the team for being so welcoming. And back into the van we went.

(Anna said – this is what the Baebes turn into after midnight).

This was new hotel time again, this one is for the home straight. In we popped and there seemed to be a buzz of humans outside the main entrance. So we whizzed to our room and grabbed the next bottle of Meade, but it took us SO LONG to open the thing – half an hour to be precise, and we still hadn’t opened it and by this time all the local natives had gone to their respective rooms. We had sent out an SOS message to Ben to see if he was still awake to open said Meade and he heroically came to our aid – a little to late, and he opened it with great effort and difficulty. But by this time we were didn’t want it anymore, so we were left with a newly opened bottle of fizzy homemade mead which we ended up having to bung it up with a flannel from the hotel bathroom. It looked like a Molotov cocktail. Classy.

This is it people we are living our best life.

Oh and the Ab Fab room had a new member. Poor Sophia, who has been renamed Sophierce because of her legendary facial expression during photo shoots – Fierce – was forced to join us. I declared that we should probably get the little one cosy for the night on the pull out bed. It wasn’t made up so she had to go and collect the sheets herself from reception. The shame. Then she attempted to make it but Marie and I felt compelled to get involved, mainly because I was concerned that she might not actually know what she was doing having perhaps never made her made up before. Oh how we laughed as I joked about that. Turned out I was right. We love our little fierce one. Night night.

Day 7.

Up up and away at 9am. Fresh as daisies – well 7 out of 9 of us (there’s usually 11 including Dash the sound man and Sophia but she decided to miss out on all the hotel based shenanigans and went back to stay with family in NYC during our little rest period). This kids, was a 5 hour VT day. A few weird pit stops later we reached Sellersville. We checked in at the very dated yet quite thrilling hotel (The Shining but not in the middle of nowhere). Our first room smelled strongly of whiskey. At first Kat thought it might’ve been because Marie was walking in front of her but the chamber maid then revealed that that particular room had recently seen quite a party, whiskey had been sloshed everywhere and candle wax had been poured down the sink amongst other things. Sounded like our average stay – I jest. However we then had to change rooms, after Kat had done the quickest bit of unpacking I’ve ever seen anyone do, so up the Shining corridor we waddled and found the exact same room, but in reverse. Ah yes, before we had left the first room we had to get in a quick jacuzzi photo shoot in fear that we might not have such a giant oval shaped jacuzzi, enough for us all to get in, in the other room. However, you can imagine our delight when we were indeed provided with the same bath room arrangement. We shall be seeing that later after the show I do believe.

And off to the venue. Sellersville Theater is my favourite theatre venue in America thus far. We’ve had halls and churches and community spaces but this place is beautiful. A pearl of history right in the middle of this tiny town. Beautiful. The set was up was swift and the in-house team were fabulous and Robbie our host was a joy. Nick the Main technician even gaffer taped my board to the stage. We a really were spoilt. And we were met by the wonderful Avon Faire who would be joining us again this evening. Sound check was completed and then we had a little walk through the town before heading back and waiting for what seemed like a very long time before we were on stage. Oh and I forgot to mention the delicious buffet dinner served to us after the soundcheck. With actual vegetables and the most delicious mashed potato. No one could stop talking about the mashed potato. So thank you Robbie and team for that.

Avon Faire were up first and we milled about the cosy dressing room adorning ourselves in headdresses and gowns. Then we were on. A wonderful stage space to play in. And we knew that in the audience we had some die hard fans, some of whom had travelled a few days to get to us!

Afterwards we propped up the bar and signed the various items that were laid in front of us. Then John P Mahoney once again didn’t disappoint with his enormous bag of chocolate goodies and what a joy it was to see him again. He had flown all the way over to London to come and see us in out 20th anniversary concert in 2016, so it was so lovely to see him again. And then we finally met David Frankenberry and his wife Tina. David has, over the years, dedicated his time on creating us each a personalised lantern. I have mine safely stowed away on my boat and it took him 4 months to complete. He has presented about 8 lanterns to us over the years and he brought Sophie’s with him. It’s the last one he will do and it was beautiful, with a personalised beaver to add to the silver inlayed detail (Sophie’s dad has reintroduced beavers to their Scottish homeland, so they’re very important to her). Then he gave us a tiny miners lamp each and THEN he and Tina presented us with a whole crate of wine. What wonderful gifts. Thank you so much. And they had driven FOUR days to come and see us. It was the first time we had met so it was a very touching meeting and we thank you both for making all the effort to come so far with such heartwarming gifts.

Photos were had and hugs were shared and then we were back on the road before we knew it. Back to the hotel that I won’t ever forget because of the the overwhelming aroma of something unfortunate stuck to the air. On THIS particular evening, in the Ab Fab room one of us decided that we should watch a horror film, and inspired by the shenanigans that took place on the dancfloor in ‘Murphys Law’ we went in for ‘The Human Centipede’. I am still peturbed that this concept even existed in anyone’s mind, let alone had money thrown at it. Nevertheless it was perfect viewing by three people drinking red wine whilst sitting in the oversized hotel bath jacuzzi.

We didn’t watch anything ‘fun’ afterward so a night of fitful sleeps and nightmares ensued. Thank you ‘Shining Hotel’ you won’t be forgotten and not for good reasons.

Bring on the ‘home stretch’ hotel.

Day 6

Thankfully today was another rest day. Hence the party the night before. And rest we did. Another non ‘slimming-world’ friendly breakfast was picked at – I actually went full waffle with maple syrup and squirty cream……. I would usually pay about 15 quid for the pleasure of an ‘American themed’ breakfast in the trendy London eaterie ‘the Breakfast Club’ and I would’ve had to have queued for the pleasure of paying that amount for this breakfast. Yet here I am, in the actual United States of America having a free breakfast waffle with all the trimmings AND I get to make the entire thing myself!

Then Marie and I rather responsibly found the laundry room and washed some clothes after I had a solo dip in the pool whilst Ben and Marie relaxed poolside. Having the whole pool to yourself is a #lifegoal so therefore on this post party wreckage day, I am winning. Waffle, clean pants and solo swim. Yes Kween.

Then day 6 became a blur as we sat and watched the Emergency Alerts flash up on our phones….what is this telephonic invasion? It was a flash flood warning. The intense buzzing and fear mongering messages. Wow. But it worked, we were a bit scared, although SOME of us chose to ignore the warnings and went into Providence, the VERY same place where the flash flood warning was for. Apparently they just got quite wet and their ankles were submerged in the rain water. Anyway we had a legitimate reason for staying at the hotel. We were resting. Yes.

There was an attempt at watching a film but the snooze button hit us collectively and a good hour and a half was lost to sleep. Very responsible indeed.

Groupon provided us with an excellent dinner deal in Murphys Law right next door, so the majority of us hit the bar again at 8 to taste the delights of this faux Irish establishment. We had the soothing sounds of the local big jazz band thrumming away in the not-so-distance, and apres dinner we were summoned by the soporific sax’s to sit and watch. And then we were recognised! It was awesome. That crazy night we’d had 5 years ago was WITH this very band. What are the chances? Ben the band leader came over and gave Kat and I a hug as we were the only ones that were there, as well as Maurice and it was so lovely to be reunited. There was a young chap there who was 21 but he was 16 when he had started to play the guitar and remembers getting up on stage and jamming with us all those years ago. Apparently it is a night still talked about to this day. Well boys, you wait until THiS night is over.

Well, I say that but I shortly retired to my sleeping chamber. However, I don’t think my cohorts disappointed. I slept fitfully until I knew they were safe back in the room. At 4am. And the rest is another night they can talk about for the next 5 years. Needless to say, Katharine did indeed get out her jazz recorder and jammed like the best of them. Well done team, another sterling effort.

Also, it turns out that the terms referring to our various factions have changed from ‘coven girl’s and ‘Covent girls’ to the ‘Ab Fabs’ (as in the ‘Absolutly Fabulous’ TV show with the drunken old lushes Eddie and Patsy) and the ‘choir girls’. These seems to have stuck harder than the former.

Day 5. A day off.

So we have completed three shows and now we have a day off. What do we do??? Fortunately we all have a bit of work to be getting on with, with our various computers and so the morning was dedicated to the wonderful world of ‘Admin’. Tippy tappy tap tap went our fingers until 1pm which was rendezvous time for a day trip to the shore. Hurrah.

An hour and an impossibly long bridge later, we were on the island of Newport. This fine Hallowed ground of the seaside where someone has decided to create a toy town of sorts with gorgeous wooden clapboard houses in Farrow and Ball colours as far as the eye can see. We whizzed through the main town and straight through to the beach. Oh the beach, with is fine grey sand, soft like ….soft…sand. It was so nice to be by the raging seas, well the slightly calm but definitely-far-too-busy-with-waves-to-be-able-to-swim-in seas. But I kept having a funny sensation. Everytime I looked at the sea I felt very grounded and familiar and safe and then I’d scan along the horizon and my eyeline would hit upon the land in the distance and a host of wooden houses and it would evoke a strange emotion deep within my gut. What was it? The I realised, the shoreline was dotted with houses I wasn’t familiar with and it made me realise how far away I am from home. So I just stopped looking and watched as Marie tried to bury one foot as deep as she could in the sand using only her other foot.

We had decided to meet back at the van in an hour, but we didn’t require that much time by this windy shore so we climbed back into our trusty carriage and Maurice took us into town. We were keen to find some Nick-Nackery shops. We found one, it was called Swanky and it was, as its name clearly denotes, Swanky. Filled with artisanal vintage drinking glasses and nice cushions. We started chatting with the owners and they were very excited to have this throng of English singers in their shop. The man was keen to say that he would go home that evening and listen again to the Victoria theme tune. Anyway, that wasn’t the most exciting bit. The exciting bit was when he announced that he was born in Torquay….which is where Marie is from! I mean, what are the chances. The same small town in the UK. Uncanny.

Then we went in search of another Nick -Nackery type shop that we had see out of the van window on the way through, but it turned out to be a hotel, which was disappointing and then Marie, Sophie, Charlie and I went on to loose the ‘find the exciting parts of the town’ jackpot whilst Anna, Maurice and Ben separately managed to nail it by finding a good bar and some thrift vintage stores. We found a great shop with lots of different flavours of sugar, I bought an eyeliner and that was it. Beautiful as this New England residence was we got a little bit ‘Towned out’ – this was mostly down to the fact that we hadn’t had our per diems and so our options were limited. We did realise though that tomorrow was a new per diem day and so we spalshed out last bits of American cash on a delicious ‘Pub Weiner’ with ‘Tater Tots’ in an incongruously themed in comparison to the rest of the town, bar. But we had a lovely sit down and our ‘dog’ was yum. Then hurrah of hurrahs Maurice messaged into the group what’s app that he was rounding us up and hour earlier than arranged. Yes! Newport you were sweet but we were ready to leave. Back up and over the giant bridge and off to the hotel.

‘What time shall we have the White Russian Party’ asks Maurice from the front of the van. ‘7.30?’ Replies Marie. And that was that. We were ON. I had a quick sleep on returning to our room, where we found Katharine STILL notating a piece of music for a very exciting project she is working on. Into the room we burst, Marie and I all full of giggles and verve and we were met with, sorry girls can you just give me 5 more mins. Oh. Yeah sure, and an hour of silence ensued. As mentioned, I went to sleep and woke up an hour later to find Marie flaunting her individualness in ANOTHER sublime frock and socks. I hauled myself out of bed, popped on some lippyand threw a scarf round my hair and off we went to room 502. We left Kat to finish off and she joined us a few mins later.

The boys were all in there, supping away on their White Russians. Maurice fixed us up with overpoured shots of vodka and Kahula into our frat party styled plastic cups and within about 5 sips we were slightly louder and asking where the music was. Thankfully Kat cranked out the Spotify and we started to fill the room with dancing and laughter. All the while the boys sat firmly planted on the sofa watching us with a slight hint of distain/love. I don’t know what happened but before I knew it I was on giant plastic cup number 3 of White Russian and everyone else was quickly catching up. Then all the booze was gone so there was no other choice….we had to go and visit the adjoining bar.

Murphys Law is an Irish styled bar and some of us were more than families with its interior. 5 years previous, Kat and I and Sarah, Esther, Emily, and Clarey all enjoyed our last night in the States at Murphys Law. We regaled the local gathering with a terrible version of ‘The Snake’ as well as a few others that were much better and then Kat pulled out her show stopping ‘Anchorman’ moment and wowed us all with her jazz recorder solo. Maurice even went on the drum kit and so did Clarey but she was actually sitting on the drums whereas Maurice was playing them. And it was a fabulous night all in all. What will THIS evening, 5 years later bring?

Well there were more drinks and suddenly an enormous tray of chicken wings appeared. Probably for the best seeing as we hadn’t really had any dinner. And then all I can remember is a very very smelly broom and being spun round like a breakdancer by my foot by a young lady who was suddenly just there. Thankfully Ben was able to document various moments of the evening, and it turns out so did I. There are at least 4 separate videos on my phone of Kat managing to maintain some serious head stands on the dance floor and then attach a Guinness poster to her posterior and dance about at a right angle displaying said poster to all who could see. According to Bens video library we – Myself, Kat and a very sober Sophie – performed what we were enjoying calling the ‘human centipede’ and on all fours, very close together, we traversed the dance floor and made our poor manager stand still as we ‘human centipeded’ (yes, I have seen the film) through the arch of his legs. Poor man. Then there was the video involving the broom, we – myself, Kat, Marie and Sophie – enjoyed a short amount of time joint straddling the broom and wooshing about the place bewitchingly. Many other antics were to be enjoyed, and then forgotten by morning. But that was that, we had a group outing to the pub post White Russian party and another legendary evening had been designed and executed. Well done us. And well done everyone for leaving when we did – shortly after Kat was told to get off the table and stop unscrewing the lightbulb.

Day 4

A lie in you say? What is this wizardry?

As the time goes by the realisation of being so far away from home kicks in, little ones left at home in the UK are face-timed and kisses on the screen are a thing of joy, however a lie-in? For the first time in nearly 2 years? Don’t mind if I do.

I say lie in but we had to be up by 8.30 but that IS indeed a lie-in by my standards – by about 3 hours. Down we swept into the breakfast area, along with everyone else in the hotel it seemed. There is indeed an optimum time for Sunday breakfasting it turns out. Ahhh yes, the bacon, it is impossible to get bacon like this back home, how does it happen? So thin, so crispy, so delicious, so not anything like the bacon I know and love. And oh how I love being back in the realm of ‘half and half’. Cream that is good for you. Love it.

And the vehicles. We love the big vehicles.

Back into the van for a short amount of VT, van time. This is when I started the blog again, and now I am sat in the hotel a day later writing up this blog about about when I started writing the blog on that day. I am a time machine.

Where were we going? Boston. Yes Cambridge Boston. So leafy, so green, so many detached houses with turrets and verandas and Windows and single entrances so they must all only have one family living in them. All this SPACE to live in giant houses. America, I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, we love you.

Ahhhh Story Chapel. No amplification, just us and our voices and a scaled down drum kit, naked cello and Charlie’s myriad of musical instru’Ments. And the dressing room. Gorgeous, yes there weren’t any drapes but since when did we worry about drapes? It was like we were in a state room AND an en suite too. So lovely that even Sophia the social media Kween approved of its asthetic and started shooting snaps of us in various louche positions in costume. Costume? No I don’t mean costume I mean our usual everyday casual wear dresses that we wear everyday casually like the virgins Marie says we are (pretending to be).

The show was at 2pm. And sold out! There was a waiting list for tickets. Amazing, thank you Boston.

I don’t quite know what it is at the moment but we are loving our close connection with the audience, so much love and so many laughs!

It was also so great to be free to dance and gesticulate and gracefully sweep our limbs about without fear of knocking over our microphone stands or becoming entwined with various leads. It was a brief set up, no sound check, just a mild bit of re positioning and that was that. We louched some more back in our State dressing room and suddenly it was time to go on. Another extremely fun and glorious gig, yes we may have popped the speeches in slightly the wrong places and got a bit confuddled but you know this is LIVE people, and who doesn’t love an ad-Lib?

Once again we meet the fans after the show at the signing. A couple all the way from Texas and fans who have been loyally with us for 15 years. More and more heartwarming joy, and then suddenly a tray of wine and fizzy water appears and everything is even more excellent. We kept on our green dresses, which we LOVE, each one slightly different and carefully selected by ourselves, we are in our own skins in the green scheme, and off we went to frolic in the graveyard.

Mt Auburn is an epically beautiful cemetery, with many a picture book dedicated to documenting its beauty, trees, tombs, gravestones et al. And so we had to weave ourselves in and out of the gothic glory and have some snaps. Our lady Corrine at the chapel was on hand to provide an extra pair of eyes, Sophia was so determined to get some good shots of us that she almost forgot that she had to be in them as well. I’m sure you will be seeing those popping up here and there on the social media platforms a-plenty.

Just to interrupt the flow, I am sat here in the hotel bed and Marie and Kat are also here – not in the bed with me, we finally have our own beds, but we are glued to the TV as there are Flash flood warnings for this exact area, it is raining so hard outside that it’s making holes in the tar-Mac (not really, but you know, it’s really raining out there). And where have the convent girls gone? They’ve gone OUT into the flash flood warning area. Oh, yes, we have names for the various groupings within the body of the organism we are in. One certain selection of individuals is known as ‘The coven’ and the other ‘The convent’ and then there are ‘The boys’. Individuals can float between the groups, so there are no hard and fast rules but there are some main stalwarts, mainly in ‘The coven’. It’s up to you to wok out who they might be. However last night in the Irish bar (that story is yet to come on day 5) Sophie was helming the Coven single handedly until the early hours whilst pregnant and sober. Go girl.

Back to Boston. We flounced about like fairy elves in the cemetery then we de-robed and got in the van to follow our main man of the day Jim up to his tower. He was very excited about sharing his antique erection with us which proudly shot up through the canopy of trees and surveyed the entirety of Boston. Up we went round and round on the impressive stone staircase and emerged at the top. The sunshine was smiling down on us and the views were just eyeburstingly beautiful. Then he whipped out the bubbles and there we were, taking in the city from the top of the turret. Exactly where we should be. Thank you Jim for the tower.

W

e stopped by in a supermarket on the way back, picking up some unknown produce to consume in our hotel rooms, salads, fresh fruit, ham, almond milk and normal milk for our upcoming White Russian party. What? Say what? A White Russian party? Watch out Providence, sh*{$ gonna get real. Oh and Charlie and I were cornered by a very insistent man who had heard our accents and at first it looked like he might be trying to show us something relevant to us or at the very least, England, on his Facebook account. However he was just scrolling aimlessly through his timeline whilst making sure we saw his selfies with Quincy Jones and other various rap artists (We did keep.trying to enlist others of our party to come and absorb some of the intensity but they were always ‘too busy finding hummous’ hmmm) Anyway turns out he was none other than T LA Rock. I know!!!! Who?? But he was a gorgeous man and we googled him later and he was legit and lovely. So that was fun, and a distraction from the horrendous stench of ammonia and general not nice-ness in the supermarket.

Off we went back to our hotel base and upon arrival, despite feeling quite tired, I was convinced by my fellow coven members to go outside and partake in what we like to call ‘festitime’. It basically involves finding a small tree or bush on some grass and sitting behind it, slightly concealed so that we can drink wine, outside. It’s much more fun than it sounds and we are connecting back with whatever tiny bit of nature we can find amidst the hundreds of motorways, our favourite.

Day 3

Day 3.

Up, pack, out the door, in the cab, out the cab, in the van, goodbye NYC.

It was a fair amount of VT (van time) on Saturday morning and half of us rambled on gibberishly about the preceding nights antics whilst the other half lived the night vicariously through us piecing bits of it together. Oh it was a lively few hours betwixt the snatches of well desired snoozing.

5 hours later we were in Pawtucket, RI, and here we are, still.

We are even managing to take some items out of the luggage and pop them into the wardrobe as we are here for a few nights using this is a base to satellite between concerts from this fine part of the……motorway, it’s mostly all motorway here. There is a river, I can see it out of the window, how we get to the river is a mystery because there are SO MANY ROADS in the way. But the sun is a shining and it has been a while since we have had such glorious heat beating down on us.

We arrived at the Blackstone River Theatre. Another fantastic community based building milling with volunteers industriously creating a hub of excitement on this Sunday afternoon. Russell was our main man there and we were thrilled to see our own rider in the dressing room. A basket of crisps and chocolate and a fridge full of fizzy drinks and water. Also know as a basket of chips and candy and a fridge full of soda and wada. It turns out you can’t ask for a ‘glass of water’ here, it doesn’t register in the air saying ‘water’ with an English accent here, the best and only way of getting a response is if you appropriate an American accent and say ‘wada’. Please may I have a glass of wada, and then you will receive a glass of water. Easy.

Where were we, yes, now I recall being here on our last tour and it was our last gig. I remember it well. So it was gorgeous to be back in such a wonderful space. The day was a very slight blur for a few of us, but we heroically trucked on through. I mean, no where near as heroically as our in-house-precious-cargo-carrier Sophie, who is trucking through amazingly everyday, however she does need fresh fruit and veg so should anyone feel like presenting her with something wonderful then her little mini-me needs some good hearty fresh produce.

Oooohhh and they ordered us in some food which was all very delicious and perfectly on time. A pizza pitta they say? Who would’ve thought? Devouring occurred, dresses were put on, Sophie and I reconceptualised the white dresses to minimise foot trippage, and then before we knew it it was stage time. Another full audience with a lot of love to give. Was a beautiful sound too, and our travelling sound man Dash did a great job. Also loving my new dance board. I have my own at home but it costs us SUCH a ridiculous amount of extra baggage money on the plane that I can’t bring it with me, so we ordered this new bad boy on the inter web and it arrived in NYC and now she’s my new best friend.

After the show we met a whole host of fabulous fans and especially those that travel SO FAR to come and see us. We are always so super overwhelmed when we hear of people’s efforts to come and see us. It makes our hearts sing with gratitude. Oh yes and the wonderful Matthew and Laura Marino presented our manager with a whole box of homemade Meade for us and also a cheeky bottle of Laphroaig Whiskey. Oh the joys!!!! He was indeed rewarded after he thrust his guitar unto us and we all signed jollily away. It’s so wonderful to see our fan friends again, like there hasn’t been any time passed. This is where I would insert a heart eyed emoji.

As it was a Sunday it was a fairly quiet after show vibe, and also those that had ‘trucked through heroically’ weren’t feeling so heroic anymore. The beds called and off we tootled. Finally there was a bed for each body – after a little mix up at the hotel. It did work out that the more seasoned members of the band had to share, just for this one night, while the fresher less ‘tour ravaged’ women got to snooze solo, but Marie and I have found a happy medium where, if I don’t move at all then she can sleep. I was perfectly log like and we all rubbed along nicely.

Thank you day 3, it was a lovely blur.

This one’s called ‘Saving The Floor From Tea-bag