As always my life away from Integra is dominated by family, music, football and making sure I burn the candle at both ends! As you will see if you read on, burning the candle is not perhaps the best metaphor I could use at this time but hey!
The most important thing to happen in recent weeks was the birth of Sue and my sixth grandchild – Taylor Grace Day. A beautiful daughter for my son Tom and his partner Sian and a baby sister for grandson Jack. Life is indeed wonderful.
Musically, I have kept up my schedule of attending a gig every week and the last few weeks have seen me attend gigs by Wishbone Ash (four) including a fabulous Ashcon event in Clitheroe where the band were supported by my good friend and top guitar-meister Pat McManus and Canadian “One Man Blues Band” Steve Hill.
The Ashcon event officially started on the Friday night where myself and fellow Ash fans played a full evening set as part of the Wishclone Ish collective at the Rose & Crown Hotel in Clitheroe. Players from America, Holland, Scotland and England put on a fine show.
For the FD and myself the weekend had started the night before and had not gone as planned. After a wonderful night with Steve and Ramona from North Carolina, Sue had a terrible fall in the bathroom of our hotel room and having cracked her head on a boxed skirting we spent best part of twelve hours at Blackburn Hospital where she reappeared, bloodied and bruised and with best part of 40 stitches in a terrible head wound.
Undeterred, Sue bravely saw the weekend through and was officially recognised as a “Road Warrior” by Andy Powell from the stage at The Grand on the Saturday evening when he kindly dedicated our favourite number Leaf and Stream to her and her resilience and strength of purpose.
Having played on the Friday evening I also played on the Saturday and was delighted to receive some very nice comments on my performances from a number of people including Pete Marsh, an artist who was sketching and painting the musical artists on the day.
Other gigs attended in recent weeks have included seeing John Mayall (aged 83) supported by Buddy Whittington, surely one of the world’s best blues guitarists and a great guy to boot. I saw them in both London and St Albans.
Gigs from Papa George, Giles Hedley, Del Bromham’s Blues Devils, Big Gilson from Brazil, Steve Morrison, Storm Warning and a fabulous Steve Nimmo gig at the Half Moon Putney featuring his brother Alan (from King King) on guitar. Steve had broken his arm and couldn’t play guitar and Alan was taking a rest because of vocal issues so they complimented each other perfectly!
A weekend on the Isle of Wight saw Sue and I join good friends Andy and Marianne for a weekend of superb Blues. Bad Influence, Storm Warning, Teed Up, Marcus Malone, Stompin’ Dave and Guy Tortora playing to an enthusiastic sold out crowd.
The weekend saw us visit Osborne House, Carisbrooke Castle, Gods Hill Model Village and other places of interest and disappointingly also saw Andy win the crazy golf challenge following my triumph in Bournemouth in 2016! Revenge will be mine!
The grim news of the last few weeks is that we have had a fire at Integra Towers. Fortunately no personal possessions were lost and no-one was hurt although Sue and I spent another few hours in A and E recovering from smoke inhalation. The fire damage was relatively light but the smoke damage is more extensive and the clean-up and repair operation courtesy of our insurers is underway as I write.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are a life saver – make sure yours are working. Ours were.
Watford continue to look good in the Premier League, both in terms of results and also with their exciting style of play. I have recaptured a love of the game and have been to Bournemouth, West Brom and Crystal Palace already this season in addition to the games at Vicarage Road. A top ten finish will represent great progress and bolster my bank account courtesy of a little wager with Paddy Power!
After all this excitement we need a break and will be going to Vienna at New Year. We will also be visiting Egypt at the end of January and travelling in France in March and taking in some Wishbone Ash gigs along the way.
Christmas will be at my daughter Carrie’s house this year and I am looking forward to a few days of rest and recuperation with my mum, Sue’s mum, our kids, their partners and the grandchildren.
I trust that you enjoy a well-deserved break too.