Day one, sound check day.

And we slept, we kept it at bay until actual nighttime and we snoozed ourselves happily and very comfotably courtesy of twin double bed rooms, we slept all the way In to our first full day of America. A leisurely morning was had, well I say that, a run was had, a mall adventure was experienced and a blog was written…hold on that was yesterday, no I’m writing about yesterday today. I’m tired.
Off we popped in our horse and cart to Maryland for the epic sound check. And how funny it is to be somewhere so brilliantly familiar but all the way over a massive ocean. We love our little explorations of Maryland Renaissance Fayre when it is all quiet and closed. Carolyn met us and we saw THE GOBLETS which are awesome this year. Orange, that’s all I’m going to say, and they match Clareys nailvarnish, so some mild squeeling was expelled from her fine fairy not orange mouth. And then we endured the hours of setting up and endless banging of the drums to get the right ‘levels’ and so on and on and on it went. At 1.30 we wanted to go to sleep but the topsy turvey time difference meant we had to power on through and so after sound check we quelled the fatigue with a spot of retail therapy, Charlie even purchased an item from TJ (yes J) Maxx. (Sophie informed me it was named thus because there where two brothers ‘Thomas John’ and ‘Thomas Kenny’ and one lived in America and one lived in the UK and they decided to open up respective stores. There could be no possible other explanation clearly).

   
   
(I’m so getting my hands on one of these tomorrow)

All we want to do when we are here is go to ‘Chijis’, we call it Chillis but noticeably there is a J there in place of a double LL, what’s going on? Thrilling as that morsel of information is, we went and devoured a lot of tex-mex delicious-ness anyway AND treated ourselves to a massive Patron Marghertia (it comes in a huge shaker and is a much larger cocktail than any artis-anal ‘cockspert’ in London can produce). Oh, hold on, what did I just create there? Merely by innocently combining the concept of a ‘cocktail maker’ with the term ‘expert’ I have inadvertently made a word that could be misconstrued. I imagine if Maurice was proof reading this he’d make me omit this entire section, but he’s not and anyway – its not the mouth/typing hand it comes out of, it’s the mind it goes into. So wrist slaps ahoy.

   
 
(Poems one was also gargantuan)

Anyway, we all had our respective fills and slowly and a little more roundly wobbled back home and tried with all our might to stay awake until past 11, but not even ‘Twilight Zone, The Movie’ could not keep the slumber at bay for Kat and I. Zzzzzzz here we come Saturday.

   
(The boys, they don’t do much)

We have arrived! Hello again big friend America

  
So apparently the Pope was keen to hang out with the Baebes so he ventured here ahead of us, however he always seems to forget that he has ALOT of fans himself, and thus we were a little delayed in getting through immigration and customs, THREE hours in fact, but we’ll mention it to him so next time he remembers. So, after said hours of queuing and sweating (I thought our American friends were well keen on air con but apparently not in the holding pen for mere visitors), and then some more hours waiting, but outside in the extremely welcome sunshine this time, we finally found our chariot, helmed by the mighty Maurice and off we woooshed into the fading sunlight. Strangley the tour bus is an exact replica of last years and we all assumed the same seating positions which was both comforting and also petrifying as it felt a bit like we’d not left, and had indeed been Groundhog Day-ed for the last 10 months. But we are very happy to be here and So looking forward to seeing all our glorious American compadres over the next 8 days.
Here’s to you Maryland attendees, we’ll be seeing y’all tomorrow.
Also I’m very relived that there is still an abundance of powdered egg in the breakfast buffet, if indeed it is not powdered egg then please do feel free to correct me, but I am pretty sure that there are not enough eggs In the world to make THAT much egg in the morning, every morning, for this many people.
  

I found this

This is a post that I have just seen, hiding in the drafts, waiting to be revealed to the world after all the blogs dried up. Life suddenly kicked back in on our return and Christmas happened and then it was winter, darker and colder – especially due to now living in a small wooden boat. And now it is SUMMER and we have JOUST coming up and so many things have happened in between all this. But here is the last days post of our tour last year!

Erm, having read it I think this has already been posted, but it was worth posting again so that you could note that sometimes you can have a salad inside a bowl made out of a pizza base. Mmmmmm.

This day we drove a really long way. Van time was had in abundance.

Not a lot happened.

Ben cleaned the windscreen, and Maurice filled the tyres with air.

IMG_0276.JPG

We found a Ruby Tuesday to eat in. We were served by Johnny. He used to be in the army. Clarey spilt my strawberry lemonade over me and my iPad and into my bag. I was tired and emotional, but it was ok because I didn’t want the drink anyway. It had so much sugar in it that it immediately gave me a headache. Johnny gave me another one in a take away cup, I felt bad because I didn’t want it. I had a massive chocolate cake, it went all over my face.

IMG_0289.JPG

IMG_0290.JPG

We got to the hotel late and had a really awful pizza. Emily thought she had ordered pasta, but it arrived inside a bowl made of deep pan pizza base, she was not impressed.

We listened to Ralph Stanley and varieties of Country music. One by one we went to bed. Emily and I watched the Kardashians on TV.

That was the day. America is vast. Oh and we gained an hour, by driving. Amazing.

IMG_0277.JPG

IMG_0292.JPG

IMG_0291.JPG

IMG_0278.JPG

day 15, drive, H -Town and Interview

Stopped at the weird dark Mexican restaraunt en route, before we hit LadyLove town.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/9b7/56382467/files/2014/12/img_1175.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/9b7/56382467/files/2014/12/img_1177.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/9b7/56382467/files/2014/12/img_1172.jpg

Texas is amazing. We are so lucky that we get to drive thorough all these States. So full after dinner. I felt as though I would not be hungry for at least two days, but as Katharine often says – hunger returns.

We reached our destination – The Days Inn on the outskirts of Houston with some exciting-yet-perhaps-we-should-avoid-them inhabitants. And no lights in our room. Em and I in together, we had approximately 12 mins to change ( we were everso sweaty from the van, we have arrived back into summer it would seem) And emerge looking fresh, smelling better and ready to meet St John in Houston, or H-town as they like to call it.

Drove to TV/Radio station in Central Houston, via a massive traffic jam. Met with the lovely St John, changed in the toilets and sang Auld Langs Syne, Gaudete and ding dong, very amusing with musicians sat opposite us and not behind us. Filmed and sang and interviewed, hoping not ALL content was recorded, we were, after all, full to brimming with ‘van time’ and slight delirium. Then off to the Olive Branch near our motel. Beer and deep fried Parmesan lasagna covered in Parmesan breadcrumbs and with more Parmesan on top. Soup was nice though. Too full, once again, alas cannot seem to avoid filling up to the brim with salty foods here.

And that, my friends was day 15.

This is the interview…….. http://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/news/christmas-carols-from-the-mediaeval-baebes/

Day 14, Two tellies, the children, the lecture, 1200 people and a wee visit to the second hand store

Well my my my, time really has leapt away without me and I have almost forgotten myself and our American adventures to the toils of canal life. But here I sit, in my hometown, many miles from aforementioned stretches of water and finally I have both time and wifi to complete the last few days of our whirlwind tour – well it now seems like a whirlwind and geographically it was also said whirlwind but while we were there, we traversed the many seasons that it felt like months had parted each new venture.

So where were we, that’s right. We are now on to day 14. This is titled – two tellies, the children, the lecture, 1200 people and a wee visit to the second hand store.

So yes! Fayetteville, what a wonderful town. And we saw so much of it so very early in the morning. We were staying at a wonderfully large hotel right In the town centre and at 5.45, when it was still very DARK, we, just the Baebes had a rendezvous in the lobby in FULL regalia. Crowns, dresses, full faces et al. We met Erin and off we were whisked to the TV station to do not one but two early morning TV appearances, you know, the bit just before the commercials, or the end of the show. We sang Auld Langs Syne both times and it was a very exciting treat. We had to wait for a bit between shows and were sadly all a little starved so when we were finished we were then taken to a bagel place, it was a bit like Starbucks but full of bagels, ANY kind, in fact the ladies were so spoilt for choice that for some of them took quite some time to order, as I recall, waiting hungrily behind them. Beauties, all of them, however, I’d like to raise my hand as the – ‘I’m really not fussed what bagel it is or what I have in it, I would just like to put some food in my mouth immediately please’ Baebe, well for that moment anyway.

Then, we went back to the hotel and had an hour break before a schools workshop. I fell straight on to the bed without so much as even removing my shoes and fell into what we (Pom and I) like to call a ‘Geisha sleep’ where we lay flat without moving our heads so as not to disturb any make up or hair placements. This was effectively achieved and we bounded, like sleep deprived sprites, straight back into the chariot that awaited us and over to the newly built very lovely school where we were to run another workshop. This time there was to be no massaging. Thank you Clarey.

At this brand new, beautifully built school. we were on their huge new stage with a wonderful set and a fabulous crew, from tonight’s venue. We had sound and mics this time, which was, again, a treat. We had a wonderful audience and even a very keen fan – she was coming to see us tonight – and we sang, and taught them Salva Nos, we were princesses led by Queen Katharine and our slaves were indeed Princess Charlie and King Ben of the Bongoes and we had a very lovely time.

Then it was back to the hotel for some more sleep. Although Pom and I got caught by the Second hand store – Cheap Thrills, if you go to Fayetteville GO THERE. The purchases that were purchased are totally extraordinary, over an hour was spent amongst the rails and bargain boxes and so much joy was had, and subsequently HAS been had by the select few items we chose to buy in this fabulous place.

We ran back, still in our red dresses, to the hotel, flung our many bags down and threw ourselves into the sleepy void for a good couple of hours.

We were then taken, by our lovely host Valerie, to the venue……amazing venue, we got our own green flask drinking vessel things. We were SO excited. Hard to explain why as we genuinely do not know why we were so excited by these drinking apparatus but there we go. VERY excellent dressing room with a rug and a SOFA.

IMG_1162.JPG

Wee break between sound check and the pre show ‘creative conversation’ with members of the audience, so we visited the best second hand bookshop that I think exsists! Like a scene out of Ghostbusters there were aisle after aisle of singular second hand books. And I mean aisle after aisle. Miles deep it felt. Then I realised my friends music shop was not too far away so Pom accompanied me to May Bells music shop to see an old chum, from the ‘Old Time’ scene, who I’d met in London and Wales and hadn’t seen for four years. A beautiful shop down a very creative alley filled with all the stringed American folk joy instruments of your choice. Sadly we had only a short time together but she gave me some actual English Tea (PG Tips, apparently they sell it in Walmart!) and we took some pics and off we ran to get ready for the pre show talk. So good to see you Allison 🙂 and how amazing to come and see you in your actual shop! In Fayetteville! Hundreds and hundreds of miles away from where we met! Uncanny and amazing.

IMG_1163.JPG

IMG_1166.JPG

Food in the mouth (delicious too), make up on, dress on, questions read and partially answered in our minds – tick. And we were ushered out on to the stage by the most wonderful woman, a strong and softly spoken leader, and I am so annoyed at myself for – right now so many miles away and so many hours having passed, that I cannot recall, but she was like liquid gold. Anyway, she led the sessions with her amazing voice and we sat and answered and were, ‘in conversation’ with the audience. When the time was up and we had managed to get Charlie involved, we had to run off so that they could get the theatre opened and we could begin.

I do believe there were 1200 in to see us this night. Our last gig. And what a truly excellent time we had there at the Walton Arts Center and what a fabulous audience and how we are and were so sad that we have to end this tour.

With a funny feeling we got back in to our dressing room knowing that that was the last show, it was a bit of a – have to say it again- whirlwind of a day with so many
Engagements that we were finding it hard to stop and take it all in and realise that this was the last show. But, relentless as this tour has been and how it shall follow we boarded the bus of joy and sat for two hours as we headed towards – I have no idea where we were going….was it Oklahoma?

Bye bye Fayetteville we all loved you A LOT THANKYOU Waltons Arts Center. X

Day 13, we drove, again, all day, from Oxford Mississippi to Fayetteville Arkansas.

Another day of driving. I forgot what happened so I made some notes.

These are the notes.

That’s about it really.

Breakfast, Katharine melted her stage cup, breakfast was bad. Met a lady from Essex, she was happy to her our accents. Em and Ben in lobby, Ben was doing his weird voice thing with phone. Sent off other drive day blog. Drove 7 hours to Fayetteville, Thai dinner, delicious and warm Sake, Sophie poured mine. I poured hers. On drive we went back via Memphis moz teased us saying we were going to Sun Studios but we weren’t. Cracker barrell lunch and ye olde rocking chair porch. Bought Christmas decs for my nieces. The water boy, the square in Fayetteville with magic lights. Bed for early night, get up at 04.45 tomorrow.

Done.

Here are pictures.

IMG_1137.JPG

IMG_1131.JPG

IMG_1132.JPG

IMG_1152.JPG

IMG_1141.JPG

IMG_1150.JPG

IMG_1145.JPG

Day 12, Graceland garden, and Ole Miss.

This morning there wasn’t a headache, well not for me anyway. I think the enormous amount of food I had shoved into my mouth last night (all that South in my Mouth) helped me out of a possibly awful morning. After a breakfast of a terrible cheese omelette that looked like a tiny bright yellow pasty with the consistency of a tired old foam pillow, we were all ready to see Graceland. However, someone kindly informed us that ‘The Mansion’ was not open on Tuesdays. !!!!!!!!!!!!!. ????????. What? Honestly, this is clearly not meant to happen. However, good news is that the surrounding grounds and meditation garden – with grave – are open, so down we trotted.

IMG_1027.JPG

IMG_1096.JPG

It is incredibly fresh in this part of the world this morning, a beautiful crisp and bright day, what better way than to meet the King (‘s gravestone). The wall surrounding his Graceland home is covered in names and wishes and expressed joy and love for Mr Presley. It is a long wall, there have been many many visitations. We were greeted by a lovely gate keeper who told us where we could walk, and up the hill we went on this fall-like morning. Orange and brown were the colours of this day/private land. A HUGE nativity greeted us halfway up. I think this was indeed Elvis’ very own nativity ‘set’, he was a generous man, by all accounts, and wanted to share holiday love, so there were gargantuan displays of Christmas-ness a plenty. We approached the Mansion and it was remarkably small. According to the security lady, back ‘in those days’ the sense of grandeur and scale were not as large as our modern expectations and so Elvis built a home that he thought was big ‘in those days’. It is neat and tidy and incredibly well preserved (obviously). We took the obligatory pic/selfie in front of the pillared porch and stared at it silently, imagining him traipsing around in front of his lovely house.

IMG_1099.JPG

IMG_1020.JPG

IMG_1094.JPG

IMG_1089.JPG

On the way to the ‘Mediation Garden’ – which was built by someone, at some recent time, and managed to get the graves on Elvis himself, his mum, dad and grandmother and his still born twin brother moved to this Graceland location set into said ‘Mediation Garden’ – we walked past two beautiful horses. They frolicked in a playful and, what seemed to the naked eye, dangerous way, with each other and it was a beautiful sight. I wandered why they were there and who really looked after them and I had a lot of questions about the horses, but all the security people/guides, were also so very enthralled by their antics that I didn’t really have anyone to ask and I was also too busy making a bee-line for the grave of Elvis Presley.

IMG_1056.JPG

Once there, I was overwhelmed by the shrine. A large water feature with a lot of fountains in and a lot of noticeable wiring and ugly pipes making it both serene and terribly inelegant. I was sad to have noticed this, I like to think some people don’t notice these ugly details and just get on with being immersed into the space of death and grave-ness but alas it made me realise how ‘constructed’ all this was. To move people from their original resting places and to then be placed under a whacking great bit of shiny perfect marble with eloquent inscriptions in gold lettering and great fountain-like funfair made me feel sad. It seems insensitive to the dead, all for the benefit of the living. Of course, I understand why it is there and how important that is to people who come here and sit with their hero, and how inconvenient it would be to have to visit Elvis’ house and THEN have to get back in the car to drive to his actual resting place…….I mean, WHO wants to do that…..so let’s just put them all together in a lovely shiny package. Woop. Spiritually I felt very little stood in this garden of meditation with the pipes and the wires and the statues and the gold shiny marbles slabs. Are they even really under there? Anyway, I took the pictures and I thought about Elvis and I thought about how he was one half of a set of twins and that made me sad. I thought of his mum and his dad and his Grandma. This family that were unassuming, who had a son, who sang and touched so many peoples lives and greatly affected music history, amazing.

IMG_1017.JPG

IMG_1003.JPG

I say all of the above, but I say it with a full heart and care for the real people. It was magical to be there, I never thought I would ever make it to this iconic place, and I feel so happy and I was so excited when I found out we were going to go there. Uncontrollably so, that when I got the voice message from Maurice on the bus, in London, about this part of the trip, I screamed really loudly, on the bus, in London.

Across the road is where Elvis’ aeroplane, the Lisa-Marie, and his Blue car, are. You can pay to see them when the mansion is closed and then come back and top up your ticket to go and see the mansion another day, apparently, according to the nice lady that told us. She goes there every single day, she doesn’t work there. I just made that up – about her, not the ticket. There is also the shop there. I bought an Elvis flip book of him swinging his arm around and a plectrum with his face on and a TCB badge – Takin’ Care o Business.

IMG_0924.JPG

IMG_1078.JPG

We thought we were running out of time so I whisked Pom away from the many things that she wanted to take a long time looking at and then maybe purchase. We made it back to the van on time, and waited. Little did we know that the rest of the band HAD indeed, after all decided to go and look at The Grave. Turns out Charlie and Emily wanted to reenact the scene from Spinal Tap, where David and Nigel tried to spontaneously sing ‘Since My Baby Left Me’. They managed it with aplomb, and it was filmed by Anna. Another wedge of content for the ‘subscribers’ page – which doesn’t exist.

Then, all abroad and off to ‘Ole Miss’ university, in Oxford, Mississippi at the Ford Center for Performing Arts. Another massive venue, another fabulous crew, another large stretch of time, but that is always preferable any other option for a get in. We were staying in the beautiful and imposing hotel across the way and so it was delightful to get back to the hotel for a wee snooze pre show.

As this day was post Memphis day for a large majority of us, we were a little tired and no one seemed to document a single thing, photographically, in Mississippi.

Dinner was served at 17.00. It is so nice to be fed in the venues, the food is always much fresher and includes, as a rule, vegetables. Thank the Lordy. Today there was broccoli, I really love broccoli. We had salad also and (oh my god, we’re driving through Texas as I write this and we just saw a field of ZEBRAS, I AM NOT EVEN JOKING) anyway blah blah, dinner was awesome and we had loads of it. The stage was enormous and we were stretched across it, which was spacious but also perhaps a little too far apart, as the holding hands bit in Coventry Carol was a little more than strained.

Signings as per usual and a wonderful treat to meet everyone that we could. Then, during the get out – wonderfully un rushed as we could walk leisurely back to the hotel, no need to saddle up and pile into the van – I realised that I should have been collecting sticker/back stage passes from all the venues to stick on the back of my tap board. So they fetched me one and I was thrilled and now I wish I had thought of that from the beginning, what a lucky wee tap board to have travelled all this way across the Americles. Anyway, we hopped across to the hotel, and decided to rest this night. We were strangely knocked upon by a gentleman who said he’d worked at the station we had advertised at and wandered if he could take us out to the local bar, but this was a slightly unorthodox way of approaching us ladies, so we declined the offer and had a quiet night cap in Anna’s room, before one by one drifting sleepily off to bed.

God Bless you Elvis.

IMG_1124.JPG

OH and we got two massive chocolate cakes given to us. THANK YOU x