Michael Day's personal diary and e-notebook

As usual life away from Integra tends to revolve around family, music, travel and sport and the last few weeks have been no exception.

Christmas was, of course, a great opportunity for the FD and myself to spend time with our children and their families (especially our six grandchildren) and a wonderful time ensued.

It is difficult to believe that our eldest granddaughter will be eighteen in January and our youngest will turn seven later in the year.

They all lead busy lives with education and extra curriculum activities dominating. Our youngest granddaughter, for example, is in Beavers, has swimming classes, dance classes, is a member of a gymnastics club and plays football – I get tired just thinking about it!

Music wise, I have attended a decent number of gigs and have several more booked in the year ahead. In the last quarter of 2023 I saw Wishbone Ash (twice), Ian Parker, The Cinelli Brothers, Bad Influence (twice), The Barnstormers, Long Road Home, The Blue Bishops, The Sharpeez and Laurence Jones. Many of the artists in these bands have become personal friends over the years.

In 2024 I already have tickets to see Zoe Schwartz, The Steve Summers Band, Laurence Jones, Sari Schorr, Wishbone Ash (twice), The Cinelli Brothers and Chantel McGregor with plenty of other gigs planned.

On the personal music front I have, throughout 2023, been playing regularly at open mic nights and, in recent weeks have played at The Thatched Cottage in Maidenhead, The Ivy Leaf Club in Maidenhead and the Ivy House in Chalfont St Giles. I aim to gig every week or two throughout 2024.

My “biggest” gig in 2023 was as support act to Robin Bibi at the Tropic at Ruislip Club and I am delighted to have been asked by the organisers if I would do another support slot in 2024. I have said yes – watch this space for more news!

Travel wise, the FD and I spent a fabulous couple of weeks in the USA in October. We met up in New York City with my brother and his wife who flew up from California and, enjoyed a few days exploring the Big Apple which included climbing the 393 steps to the crown at the top of the Statue of Liberty up the narrowest spiral staircase i have ever seen (and the 393 down again). I could hardly walk for two days afterwards! We also went up the Empire State Building and took a carriage ride through Central Park on John Lennon’s birthday. We then drove up to New England with stays in Rhode Island, Cape Cod, Boston, Kennebunkport, Conway and Lincoln. Seeing New England in the Fall was magical with the journey along the Kancamagus Highway providing some incredible sights.

New Year saw the FD and myself see in 2024 in Tallin in Estonia. A wonderful city with great architecture and a superb atmosphere. Our five star hotel was in the heart of the old city and the restaurant was also superb. The music and light show at midnight on 31st December didn’t live up to expectations (Pink Floyd gigs are much better!) but the huge crowd enjoyed themselves. We returned to the UK on 2nd January to, what felt like, tropical temperatures of around 13 degrees. It had been closer to minus twenty in Tallin with the wind chill factor.

Our currently planned trips in 2024 include touring Southern Ireland in May and visiting Lisbon and cruising the Douro River in September.

Watford FC, after a number of major changes in the summer, made an uninspiring start to their Championship season although it was evident what the new management team was looking to achieve. Recent weeks have seen a steady improvement (only three defeats in the last sixteen matches, albeit too many draws) and I am confident that the squad can achieve a play-off place when it then becomes “all to play for”