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Pier Pressure THE STORY - Day 8 Friday 19th August

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this user is offline Chad

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on: December 22, 2016, 09:27:21 PM
From a really early stage in the planning, Day 8 was always going to be one of our most challenging of the whole Pier Pressure experience. Although not one of the longest days in terms of pure distance to travel, we were starting the day on the Isle of Wight, had 9 piers to visit, two ferries to cross and originally planned to end up at Exeter for the night.

As time went on, the challenges for day 8 began to mount, some through no fault of our own, some through decisions I made and some through plain old stupidity. To set the complexities and challenge of Day 8 in context I need to set the scene with some background information before getting into my story in full.

Back Story 1….. Waiting for Bonaparte

I need to take you all the way back to 1986. Imagine a very skinny, pimply and slightly more hairy 19 year old black country bloke and his mate who have just left 6th form. They had decided to hook up with a couple of mates form school and form a band…

Below is an extract from the now defunct band web site which gives a potted (or slightly potty) history of the Midlands band that would become to be known as Waiting for Bonaparte.

WFB basically came about when one day, sometime in the last century, two spotty faced (and decidedly hairier) schoolchums decided to purchase two guitars at the grand price of £2 per week over 40 weeks (thank you Grattans!). Now Chad, being slightly better at maths than Mart W (Fingers) soon realised that a Bass having only four strings, would be easier to plonk a tune out of than the more complicated 6 string lead variety thingy.
2 weeks later and the lads took delivery of a pair of Encore guitars, a glaring white lead and a black heavy piece of 3" x 2" cleverly disguised as a bass.

Chad and Mart then spent the next few weeks learning about notes and those damned chourdy things and joined up with singer, songwriter (and keyboardist) Big Chris Tarplee. Sounds grand, but Chris was in fact another mate from school who had actually had a couple of music lessons thereby making him the most 'talented' at that time.
The next few months saw the three make an awful racket in either of their respective bedrooms, much to the annoyance of all families concerned. This was until Chris's mate from down the pub, the even bigger Austin Massey, was persuaded to drum with the lads, due mainly at the time to:

1. he was the only drummer they knew and
2. they could practice in his parent’s front room on a Sunday.

The four lads now needed a name. Now this is where Chris can never be forgiven, "I've had this name in my head for a while" said he, "how about JUSTICE LIMITED?".  For some unknown reason the rest, probably in a state of complete apathy, agreed.
So on to their first gig at Chad's, Chris' and Austin's local boozer - The Prince of Wales in Rounds Green, Oldbury. A tough test in front of a home crowd but the guys performed great, 6 numbers went down a storm, 3 self-penned, 3 covers (2 Beatles and a U2!) and they even won the Christmas talent contest that night.  Flush with success, they agreed to perform on Boxing Night at the same venue (only 7 days on) and this time for cash.  Problem was stretching 6 songs over a two hour set was impossible making for a less than memorable night. 

Soon after Chris left to pursue a career of drinking gambling and boozing, leaving the way open for a new singer to slot in.
Now Mart came home one day proclaiming a friend at work had a mate who had done a little bit of backing and wouldn't mind singing with 'the band'. In step Alison Dixon (as she was in those days). A very quick name change to the SMALL HOURS (the band not AL!), a few months learning some quite dreadful cover versions and once again the bright lights and big stage of the Prince of Wales opened its doors to the new line up. In fact, the SMALL HOURS only ever performed once outside of the POW, guesting at Ruth (Chad's girlfriend) 21st party.

A few weeks later, the threat of stardom and a court case form an American Band called The Small Hours, scared Austin so much he had to leave (in fact it was more like the threat of his girlfriend who was jealous of a girl being in the band). A few months rest was taken before Alison called to say her young sister, Jo was seeing a lad who was drumming in a band but was interested in joining up with 'the band'. Walking into the Red Room at Rich Bitch studios the three were met not only by Connel (the would be drummer) but also a skinny, long haired strip of nothing 16 year old Rob Clarke (later to become known to the world as 'Purple Robbie').
This meeting resulted in the new somewhat larger line up of Chad on Bass, Mart W on Lead, Al on Vocals, Jo on Backing Vocals, Connel on Drums and Rob C on Rhythm.  Little did the guys know that Rob C only knew three chords at the time and would hide the fact well until the first rehearsal the week later, by which time no one had the heart to kick him out.
A few heavy months of rehearsing a myriad of covers and the band was ready to face an audience. The opportunity arose to perform at Chad's VW Club's Crimbo Bash at the infamous Hen and Chickens pub in Warley but they needed a name. Chad, in a drunken stupor, laughingly said to the guy organizing the event, just bill us as THREE MEN AND A CROWBAR in honour of some tight nickered girl he had met on a ski trip that year.
The gig was a surprising success, spurring the band into doing more gigs. However, for some reason unknown, the rest of the band didn't much like the name and a new one was sought. After much deliberation, the name 'Waiting For Bonaparte' was settled upon (sometime in 1990), coming from an album by 'The Men They Couldn't Hang', a particular favourite of a number of the band members.

The next two years saw numerous gigs around the Birmingham area and one unforgettable gig in Coventry where there were six in the band and only five in the audience (including the dog!). During this time WFB ventured into the song writing world and penned their first track Her Song, closely followed by Weekend In Paradise and Lamb to the Slaughter. After dabbling with a few poor quality home 4 track recordings, The Demo Tapes Part One was recorded 'properly' at the Depot Studios, Coventry in August 1991.

However, the WFB ship sailed less than smoothly, due in the main to a conflict of attitudes between Connel and all bar one other in the band. This resulted in Connel being 'persuaded to take a different path' to the rest of the band, with Jo unfortunately following loyally behind.
WFB were faced with the eternal problem on needing to find a drummer. Following up on an advert on a studio wall, Jane Clews joined the band in the summer of 1992. Jane was a left handed woman drummer, now that was different. However, Jane's stay was very short and only after a couple of gigs, she left the band due to pressures of work, boyfriend and a family band requiring her services.
Drummer four came in the guise of the boyfriend of a work colleague of Al's, namely Kevin Dogherty. With Kev in the hot seat, WFB started once more producing their own music and gigs were now becoming more of a 50/50 own music to covers affair.

Unfortunately Kev was playing with two bands at the time and once again, after what seemed a very short time, Kev left WFB to concentrate full time on his first band, 'Suicidal Sperm'! (A band in which Chad moonlighted for one gig as the regular bassist had broke him wrist playing footy!)

1994 had now arrived and once again WFB found themselves without someone to bang the skins. At this time they could easily have jacked it all in and taken up a more simple and less time consuming hobby. Staring sense and reason straight between the eyes, before blissfully stepping aside and walking straight past, the 4 remaining members of the band decided to hunt for a new drummer and carry on. As luck would have it, Chad's neighbour from a couple of doors down played drums and was currently without band.
In step (or sit!) Rich 'Bouncy' Ball. Taking up the hot (or at least slightly sweaty vinyl drummer's) seat, Rich, although being as young as Rob Purple, soon fitted in perfectly.

After nearly four years since their first recording, WFB had penned more and more of their own material and in 1995 the band went on to record their second (Worship and Rhyme), third (Behind the Veil) and fourth (Hope) demo tapes in the space of 11 months at the Magic Garden studios in Wolverhampton.
Through 1996 things started to take a bit more of a serious direction and saw the band planning a number of gigs at more  illustrious venues such as the Robin R n B Club and JB's in Dudley as well as venturing as far as the Isle of Wight for the infamous Appledurcombe Tour.

In that year WFB also entered the Bass Breweries Battle of the Bands contest, held at JB's in Dudley. Judged by judges on musical prowess rather than the more typical 'who's got the most mates' format, WFB went on to finish runners up from 148 bands. Every round win was met with much surprise as JB's was traditionally associated with heavy styles of music. The most memorable of the rounds was the semi-final, watched t the time by over 600 people, but one of those in particular would have more to add to this tale than most.

At the time Chad worked in the same building as a guy who played Keyboards who came along to one or two of the rounds to give support. 3 months later Mr Martin P Dando had been squeezed into the rehearsal room and WFB had finally become their now familiar 6 piece. Also at this time, Chad's longest serving friend Jon Boz decided to help out the band and became an unofficial manager for a while.

After a hectic summer of gigs and competitions the band took time out to write and record their fifth demo tape - How Many are the Faces, which had a more rockier and folkier (if that makes sense?) feel to it than much of the others before, with the added bonus of Mr Dando's keyboards and pianos filling out the sound.  At the same Time Mart W and Al somehow managed to fit in a wedding (to each other) to at least ensure neither would leave the band.

In 1998, after spending another 18 months or so playing, writing, having radio interviews on 107.7 Wolf FM and recording the sixth and final WFB offering on tape, Blackened Land, it came to pass that Rich needed to take a rest from the band due to increasing real work commitments.  Its fair to say that in Rich's 4 or so years with the band they had progressed into a more solid, dare say, professional group and had even managed to collect a bag full of record company rejections along the way. At around the same time Jon Boz also had to also withdrawn his services to concentrate on his real job of selling ceramic tiles.
In the following 6 months WFB carried on writing new material, released their first CD The Magic Sessions (a compilation of tracks taken from their 5 previous demo tapes) and even laid a track down using a drum machine in Rich's absence.

This track, As the Silence Ends, can be found on WFB's CD EP Older Wiser? Unfortunately Rich wasn't able to return to the band and once more WFB found themselves without a drummer. In February 1999 a simple advert was run in the local Express and Star paper: 'Folk rock band seeks drummer, own transport and good sense of humour essential, sense of rhythm and timing favourable'.
After auditioning a number of hopeful applicants (OK, there were 2), it was more than obvious that one was perfect for the job, in that 1. He didn't smoke, 2. He had his own car, 3. He was older than Mart W (much to his joy) and 4. He held a musket license, being an active member in the Sealed Knot re-enactment society... oh and he could hold a rhythm, (unlike the other bloke). In March 1999 WFB bid a much needed welcome to Mr Pete Baggott. Pete soon fitted in perfectly and was (and still is) actually interested in the folk rock style WFB were now favouring more and more.

Since March 1999 the WFB line up has remained stable and Pete has well and truly been stuck to the infamous Bonaparte drummer's seat..(suppose he should wear underwear!). During Mr Baggott's reign WFB went on to record two CD EP's, Older Wiser? released in November 1999 and Odd Ones in August 2001, both recorded in Mart W's all new 16 track digital recording studio, the 'Boiler Room', based at his home at the time in earthquake ridden Dudley.

During the time that followed WFB took to playing regularly around the Midlands at such venues as the Rock Cafe 2000, The Robin 2 and basically anywhere that will have them. Highlights of this time involve entertaining 4000 people at the annual Sealed Knot muster in Peterborough during September 2001, supporting that bloke who sung 'where ever I lay my hat' in Stourbridge and finally moving to a rehearsal rooms that have good equipment, The Madhouse in Birmingham.


In 2005 WFB released their last final CD of self penned tracks, named ironically ‘Thanks but No Thanks’ as a homage to the pile of rejection letters collected from short sighted record PnR guy through the years.

« Last Edit: December 23, 2016, 07:05:21 AM by Chad »
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Reply #1 on: December 22, 2016, 09:34:15 PM
Since their ‘retirement’, the emergence of the interweb and the opportunities it now holds to force music on the ears of the world could have made a massive difference to the journey WFB  if they had have been born 10 years later, (or maybe not as I presume it still holds out that you need some talent).

WFB’s last live performance was at Rob and Rach Purple’s wedding reception where they hijacked the house band’s gear and ‘treated’ wedding guests to a few old WFB and cover classics. The date of that ‘gig’ – 19th August 2006, exactly 10 years ago to the day of the Day 8 Pier Pressure run.

The WFB journey came to an un-explosive and rather lacklustre end just a year or two later when Mart and Al, now the proud owners of a 5 year old and a pair of 2 year old twins made a decision to move to lovely Dorset and away from the humdrum of urban life. Chad too had managed to spawn a small sprog and band life had really taken a back seat over the past couple of years anyway.

So after 20 years of every Monday night rehearsing, big gigs, small gigs, illation, misery, looking at fame from afar, recording our own material for prosperity and above all else making sweet music with your best buddies in the world, Waiting for Bonaparte had done waiting and the buzzing amplifiers and feedbacky PA were turned off for good.

So moving fat forward to April 2016, I am starting to heavily promote Pier Pressure on un-excpected people via social media when I get a message from Mart W (WFB ex-lead guitarist). ‘Hi mate, I know we don’t talk as much as we should, blah blah…..etc. , but you know how me and Al now live in Ottery St Mary. Well it looks like you are planning to stop on Day 8 of your run in Exeter. Why not save some money and stop over with us?’ Great idea I thought, chance to catch up with old friends and add more cash into the Pier Pressure Fund. So ‘OK’ says I, ‘but we should call each other sometime, it’s been a while since we chatted’.

A couple of hours later and after a really good catch up on the phone, not only had we arranged our Day 8 evening stop but had unthinkably hatched a mad plan to reform WFB for a one night only reunion gig on the Friday night of Day 8, at the local football club in Ottery, with all proceeds going into the PP Pot.
Just one issue, we needed to get the band back together. Now you could imagine the scene in the Blues Brothers where they go around collecting up the old band, but in reality I just contacted the guys on Facebook and within an hour they had all said yes !!!

We realise however that we had not played together for the best part of 8 years and had not played live for nearly 10. Not too much of an issue except 2 of the members now lived 160 miles away. To be fair Mart W and Al had continued to play as a duet with backing tracks down in Devon and Rob Purple had been playing with another band for a while.

However, Pete (drums), Mart D (plinky plonky things) and Me (bass) really hadn’t played much at all in that time. Pete even had to chase spiders out of his kit and I had even got dust on the none-dusty end of my Bass – (A bass players reference you will understand if you understand if you know what I mean?). Mart D had to uncover his keyboard from up the loft.

So a mad spring and summer ensued seeing hastily arranged practices up in the Midlands and one long weekend practice down in Ottery. By the time I was all set to leave for the Pier Pressure run we had managed to re-learn 19 tracks and 1 new one (50/50 own tracks and covers) for the charity gig on the 19th August and to be honest the sound was now at least passible.

The next time I would see the band would be when I strolled into the venue at the last minute in Ottery like some toss pot pop star, pick up my Bass and start playing.

Luckily we didn’t have much else to do on day 8..!!,

Back Story 2….. IOW Ferry Cock Up

One of the earliest things to really sort out when organising the Pier Pressure trip was to ensure all the ferry crossings were booked well in advance (or so you would think!). It turned out the Scottish ferries were all pay as you go so no problems, but this was not the case as you would expect for the Isle of Wight ferries.

My original plan was to come onto the Isle with Red Funnel through Southampton, so we could visit Southampton pier at the same time. Then leave the Isle from Yarmouth across to Lymington on Wight Link. This would not only save us a good few miles but also save us at least 1 ½ hours on the journey.
I had tried early on in the organisation to get discounts from the ferry companies to no avail. Therefore through a mutual friend I had enlisted the help of an Isle of Wight local who had contacts at the ferry companies to help book the ferries. So two weeks before we are due to set off I check on the bookings and to my horror realise we only have the out trip from Southampton currently booked. Admittedly this was at a massively discounted rate thanks through Red Funnel, thanks to our friend.

It turned out that through some unfortunate miscommunication the return trip had not been organised as it was thought we were returning from Cowes to Southampton. I quickly jumped on the Wight Link website only to find out the Yarmouth ferry was fully booked. Cock………….. There was one available later in the day but much too late to be of any use.

This led to a mad day of frantic calls to our friend and the contact at Red Funnel which eventually resulted in us being booked on an early ferry from Cowes to Southampton, again at a brilliant rate. Massive thanks go out to both Angie and ….. from Red Funnel from stopping an almost certain breakdown and heart attack on my part.  The only issue with this was that we would now need to get around three piers on the Isle of Wight and be back in East Cowes for 10:00am that morning. This would mean a 7:00am on the road start in Ryde on the morning of Day 8. Thankfully the cock up was all now sorted although I still had the unwelcome task of informing George, my ever suffering Pier Pressure partner, of the super early start and the extra 20+ miles we would now have to do
If only I had decided on this route back off the Isle previously, as we could have travelled from Portsmouth to Fishbourne the day before, which would have reduced the day 7 journey by 2 ½ hours and 30 miles. Hindsight is, indeed, a wonderful thing.

Luckily we didn’t have much else to do on day 8..!!,

Back Story 3 - Boscombe and Bournemouth Air Show

The last week of July saw us spending a great weekend in Swanage with all my wider buggy family (Swanage is always a great weekend to be fair), and it was also a good test for my recently fully rebuild engine. After the okey cokey I had played with my engine since May and returning form the IBW in Germany, it was finally a relief to have everything sorted and dandy once more. Anyway I digress.
During the weekend I had great pleasure in informing everyone of our forthcoming trip and the detailed routes and daily plans that I had finally completed after a good few months of organising.  Obviously a few of the Dorset locals were keen to see when and where I would be in their patch and specifically on what day. “Friday the 18th” I added proudly, “it’s the day I am doing a re-union gig on the night in Devon. It’s looking like a busy day, but everything should be OK”. I left the Swanage weekend with a fair few local Dorset / Devon boys and girls promising to catch back up with us when we arrived back in August.

Literally the day after we get home form Swanage I get a private message from Big Bad Dom (local Dorset buggy bloke) saying “you do realise the Boscombe and Bournemouth air show starts on Friday 18th August don’t you?”.
“It’s one of the biggest air shows in the land and they close all the roads to cater for the 100,000 plus visitors that weekend. Specfically the main viewing area is on the promenade between the two piers, so all the roads to the piers are closed and you won’t get anywhere near them”. Cock, cock and double cock………

It was much too late to change our route and itinerary and t was looking very much like we would need to park the buggies up away from the melee and either walk /run to the two piers or get the peasant carrier (bus) into town.  Also with the congestion around the town this could likely put some unwelcome delays into an already chaotic day.

As luck would have it the following day I had cause to speak with John Clewer. Despite being a true Brummie, JC is a very dear old friend who at one time was the proud owner of Doon SWB 003 – now owned by none other than Dave C – As seen on TV. JC’s Doon was the twin to my own SWB 002, being born within a week of each other. JC is an accomplished semi-pro motor sport photographer and, because that doesn’t pay well, is also a full time highway engineer. And that is how we met, at the local engineering department at Sandwell Council (think west Bromwich). I eventually became JC’s boss for a while before he saw the light and the palm trees and headed off a few years ago to work for sunny Torbay Council.

As luck would have it he had spent the week before with Bournemouth Council on a fact finding mission, discussing their traffic management plans for the air show, as Torbay were thinking of running one themselves in 2017.  This gave me the ‘IN’ I was looking for, the contact name of the traffic management / highway bloke at Bournemouth Council.

Those who haven’t already guessed, I too am a highway / traffic engineer and a quick ‘professonal’ call the to the main man in Bournemouth saw us having special permission to pass all the road blocks and get free passage to Boscombe Pier front.  It is useful if you speak the lingo and we spent a good while chewing the fat on how hard it is to manage traffic and how difficult it is dealing with our very ‘understanding customers’. Or as we call them in West Bromwich – the ‘Great Un-washed’. I was also warned the roads would be chaotic and it may take a while to reach the pier.

Buornemouth Pier, however, was a different proposition all together. I was warned we it would be impossible to get near the entrance to the pier and the nearest road would shut at 3:00pm to traffic to enable the air show to start. If we could make it there before 3:00 we may be able to get in a car park nearby, but unlikely. He did suggest talking with the large conference centre nearby to see if we could park in the service yard for a short while.

However after numerous tries we gave up on the conference centre, as we were getting no-where. We decided that we would just have to suck it and see on the day and manage as best as we could through that part of the journey.

Luckily we didn’t have much else to do on day 8..!!,

Back Story 4 – Chad’s Poorly Buggy

As those following my story already know, (and if you are just joining us now, where have you been?), my buggy was bost, broken, knackered, caput. I was therefore looking at an unscheduled repair stop at Ollie’s Beetle Magic Workshop near Weymouth sometime later in the day.

Luckily we didn’t have much else to do on day 8..!!,

Back Story 5 – Karl’s Lunch Proposal

During the evening of Wednesday 17th I had been contacted by Karl Wiggins (who used to own a blue GP LDV, now in Badger’s hands and was a regular at some of the early Swanage weekends). I knew Karl was a chef, (and a bloody good one at that from sampling his wares at Swanage), and also worked at a pub (or so he said) on the south coast somewhere. Karl had seen our Day 8 itinerary on the t’interweb and noticed we had programmed a lunch stop at Holmsley Tea Rooms in the New Forest area.

Karl had suggested why not detour instead to his pub, ‘The Mill’ at Gordleton near Lymington and he would provide a free bar snack and drink for the hardy travellers, on the house as it were. Not ones to turn down a free lunch, of course we said yes to Karl, with many thanks, and arranged to meet him around 1:00 at the ‘pub’.

Needless to say, what we actually received (and we were truly thankful) was far beyond simple pub bar snacks…. But that’s another story. Oh! OK a story I am about to tell; so grab a cuppa, get some snacks, sit down and settle in for a while as Day 8 was epic….

« Last Edit: December 23, 2016, 07:04:33 AM by Chad »
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Reply #2 on: December 22, 2016, 09:41:43 PM
Pier Pressure Day 8 – Friday 19th August 2016

I had a restless night of tossing and turning fuelled in the main by pre-gig nerves, worry over the buggy, worry over getting through Bournemouth and not missing the early ferry. At least I was already awake when the 6:00am alarm went off, in readiness for the 7:00am start to the day. It was funny to see Alex’s face as he woke up on a bed made of two chairs, particularly as he had gone to sleep in the double bed.

I hoped that my late night temporary fix would work today as otherwise I would need to disconnect the Alternator to stop it overcharging the battery and causing all sorts of other issues that this would cause.

With such a tight deadline today we just needed everything to run smoothly with no additional challenges. Well of course today was the day nature decided to throw it’s hat into the ring too, and after 7 days of dry sunny weather (other than a little sprinkling for an hour in Snowdon), this morning it was persisting down. Proper good old English summer rain. Brilliant !!!

As normal we met up with George on the car park and we were all belted in and on the road by 7:15am, just a few minutes behind our planned start.

This unfortunately meant we were too early for breakfast at the hotel and would need to grab something on route.

Our first pier of the day was at Sandown, just a short 6 mile trip straight down to the south coast of the Island. Initially I was overjoyed as my fix of changing the LED charging light to a standard bulb seemed to be working. Volts were at a steady 14.5V and holding. However a couple of miles down and suddenly my rev counter has a Bermuda Triangle moment, the voltmeter shoots off the end of the scale and most startlingly my wipers go at hyper speed. I had no choice but to put on the hazards, pull over to the side of the road and disconnect the alternator wires.

At the point I faced at least another 150 miles of driving before we reached Ollie and his crew at Bettlemagic. Luckily the same thing had happened to me before, about 5 years ago on my way from Swanage. At that time, I also had George with me too and we basically bunny hopped all the way home changing batteries between us every 35 to 40 miles. Whilst I ran the battery down, George would charge the other one up before the next change. The only thing we could do now was to employ the exact same approach again, at least until we hopefully made it to Ollie’s.

Just what I really needed on this day of all days, a none charging battery and rain, which needed both side lights and wipers. My concern was that I run an electronic ignition and unlike points which will give you a mis-fire warning when the volts drop, the electronic module will just cut out without warning. Therefore I employed a ‘flick the wipers once every 30 seconds’ approach to try and conserve at least a few volts for longer. It reminded me a bit of the Apollo 13 film.

At 7:30am we roll up to our first pier of the day at Sandown. As you would expect there were very few people about at that time on a rainy Friday but amazingly there waiting for us, and without any sort of hood, was Nick and family in the Tribute Pink Doon. They had decided to join us for the whole of the Isle of Wight leg and stick two fingers up to the weather. Great commitment and a really welcome sight.   

As shaggy would say ‘I’m in me buggy, it’s raining and I really down’t care'.

Thankfully at that time in a morning there were also no traffic wardens about and so we managed to drive and park up in the restricted ‘no vehicles allowed’ area outside the pier. Sandown is a very traditional seaside pier, although the front was now typically dominated by an amusement arcade and very pink colouring.

We managed to have a chat with a coach driver waiting for the Tinsel and Turkey brigade to emerge from the hotel opposite and he even made a welcome donation to our cause, thank you.

As we were strictly on the clock today, at 7:50am and bang on schedule the three buggies hit the road. Our next stop was completely across the island, on the west coast at Totland Bay and the rain was steadily getting heavier for good measure. Initially I intended to take the coast road around the south of the island but with the poor weather, limited visibility and limited time we headed directly across the midland of the Isle, taking the shortest route possible.

This took us through the capital of Newport, which has lots of islands and one ways. With the increasing rain, which in itself is leading to internal fine rain seeping in under the hood at the top of the screen and constant misting up, I was surprised it took this long before we had a satnav faux pas today. As we hit a large roundabout, the satnav managed to completely cover the route with petrol station, fast food and car park symbols.

The traffic was increasing as it was morning rush hour and with the hood up visibility wasn’t the best. So we had a bit of a merry go round and round moment and a few horns from cross motorists, before I just picked what I thought was the right way. Well after a bit of back street running (as obviously it wasn’t the right way), we were eventually back on the road west to Totland Bay.

When I visited the Island in May I had already done some recognisance and I knew Totland was a small derelict pier awaiting restoration. In fact there was very little else around the pier other than just a small car park.  The pier had had some minor work in the recent past but sadly does require a lot more to bring it back into public use.

 By 8:30 we were driving down the steep narrow lane to the sea front and what is left of Totland Pier came into view. Nick and his family were now truly wet and because I realised we would not be at this pier long I even left my buggy running to save the battery powered required to start it again. This meant we stopped no longer than 10 minutes at Totland Bay pier.

The next stop was at Yarmouth, just a 3 mile hop, skip and a jump north up the coast. This was the last of the Isle of Wight piers. Less than 10 minutes later we were pulling into the car park right out the front of the Pier. Yarmouth Pier was built as a small passenger ferry pier, which served paddle steamers taking people daily across to the mainland at Hythe and Lymington.

The pier itself is in beautiful and well maintained condition and the old ticket office right next to the car park is now a nice, charming café. As the three buggies backed up to none existent spaces in front of the Gossips Café, a couple of waitresses came out to see what all the noise was about. Fearing another Clacton, we couldn’t have been more wrong as they start taking photos and welcome us with open arms. The inform us that the car park is pay and display but not to worry as the warden doesn’t even start his rounds until 10am at the earliest.

Whilst we are taking our requisite photos, I get cheeky and put an order in with the ladies in the car park for 4 bacon butties and 4 cups of tea.

At this point Nick and his brilliant supporting cast are proper wet as the rain has kicked up another notch and so decide to make a run for it back to their holiday place to dry off. But not before Nick’s mom arrives for a quick spin in the new pink member of their family.

As Nick leaves the four of us dive into the café for 10 minutes of dryness and to grab our tea and sarnies. Our waitress not only informs us she has given us a discount on our bill, but presents us with a collection all the café staff have put together whilst we were outside taking photos. A massive thank you to the Gossip Café for their support.

We perhaps stayed 10 minutes longer than planned as it was nice and dry and warm in the café, but we consider we have more than enough time to reach the ferry port. Thankfully my buggy fires up first time and with the rain now getting heavier I had no choice but to have my wipers on permanently.

Time for the second Sat NAv Faux Pas of the day. What I hate about sat navs is that unlike a map, they only every show you about 200 yards in front of you on the screen at any one time. I know you can zoom out but then you can’t see the route to follow in any detail. So with the ferry terminal postcode set, the 2 buggies head back towards Newport and then onto East Cowes.

The ferry leaves at 10:30 and so the latest check in was 10:00am, more than enough time to get Eats Cowes. Well it would have been if the sat nav hadn’t sent us down towards West Cowes instead (on the opposite side of  the River Medina) and expected us to take the buggies with us on the small foot ferry across the mouth of the river. By the time I realised we were going the wrong way, we had travelled a good 3 miles down the wrong side of the river.

A quick U-turn and back into busy Newport before finally we were on the correct road to East Cowes and the ferry port. This road took us straight past the entrance gate to VW Island show and the gatemen looked baffled as we drove straight past.
Thankfully we arrived at the port just before 10:00am and were allowed into the car lanes, basically getting the last two spots in lines for the ferry.

Thank goodness we didn’t miss the ferry is all I can say. Already by 10:00am we had visited 3 piers and travelled over 50 miles on the island in crappy weather.
Waiting at the pier was Angie from the Tourist board and the night before) who had bought us some gifts and come to wish us luck for the rest of the challenge. Alex got a stuffed red squirrel (toy not a real one) whilst each buggy got a superb book of pier pictures from around Britain, A really thoughtful and lovely gift to remember our quick visit to the Isle of Wight, The IOW had certainly made us feel welcome and it was a pity the weather had been such that we didn’t actually get to experience the full beauty the Island has to offer. Perhaps we should head back to the VW Island show one day?

Very soon the ferry is once again devouring cars, lorries and coaches and for some reason they choose to split George and myself, forcing George to reverse in a small gap between two coaches on the opposite side of the boat. This normally wouldn’t be a problem, but with my lack of charging I was uncertain if I would actually have enough juice to turn the buggy over at the other end.

Considering today was a manic non-stop day we managed to get an hour’s worth of relative serenity on the ferry crossing back to the mainland. Even if the ferry was the fullest I had even seen it, mainly due to coaches full of kids and parents returning from a rugby tournament. This gave me time to set the rest of the Sat Nav route for the day (I only had time to put in the IOW section that morning due to the very early start) and do a bit of social media updating.

Taking time outside for a bit of fresh air, I catch a look at our next destination, Hythe Pier, stretching out into the Southampton Water on the portside of the boat, (at the point where the Rivers Test and Itchen meet). Normally we didn’t get to see the piers from this point of view.

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Reply #3 on: December 22, 2016, 09:47:30 PM
As the ferry docks, George’s line is called off relatively quickly, whilst I sit there for a good while longer. Thankfully the buggy fires up and I head off in search of Geroge and Ruth. Waiting on the docks are Jazzy and Snowy in the T5 and the look on their faces is priceless as initially George and then a couple of minutes later, myself, drive straight passed them and into the large car park around the back of Southampton Pier. As they drive around to us, it soon becomes obvious to them that I have a problem as this is the point of the first battery swap. I had managed around 55 miles on the battery and it seemed prudent to swap over with George now to ensure we made the next leg of the journey.

Our next stop was Hythe Pier, some 10 miles up and down, crossing the mouth of the River Test on the Redbridge Causeway. On route we also took the opportunity to re-fuel somewhere north of Southampton. Thankfully the rain had eased off and has actually stopped for a while, although the sky was still dark grey and looked like it hadn’t finished for the day. We arrived at Hythe Pier at just around mid-day, some 5 hours after we had set off that morning. At that point Ottery St Mary and the gig still seemed a very long way away.

Waiting for us in the car park was a certain Dutch guy in his white T4. I am unsure where Ruben had spent the night but it was good to meet up with him again at Hythe. Hythe Pier, much like Yarmouth is a small pier with just a ticket office at the land end. It still works as an active passenger ferry pier and has a small train that runs along its length to the head end where the ferries dock.

We spent 20 or so minutes here before heading off towards out next stop for lunch at ‘The Mill’ at Gordleton, as guests of head chef Karl. I had spoken with Karl the evening before and he suggested that it was easiest to simply put on a shared ploughmans platter for the cruising party. That was brilliant and fine by us.

To get to Gordleton we had to drive through the New Forest and I have always been told it is a beautiful part of the world and a great road to drive. Perhaps it is in normal conditions but as the sky had threated earlier, the heavens had properly opened and it was bucketing down. We drove through the New Forest is a mix of heavy mist, rain and spray and visibility was pretty poor. Alex had resorted to putting my waterproof jacket over his lap as the amount of water now finding its way inside my hood was increasing by the minute. Some long lines of tissue between the hood and screen were just about holding the water at bay on my side of the buggy.

14 miles on and bang on 1:00pm we pull into The Mill. To say Karl had under-stated the place he works and his roll at the ‘pub’ was obvious to us all. The Mill is a lovely country large stone built pub restaurant set by the side of the river. Karl had arranged two V.I.P parking spaces right outside the door whilst the two vans had to use the plebs car park the other side of the river.

As we walk in the Maître d’ welcomes us and directs us to a private room and says Karl will be with us in a minute or two. It turns out the restaurant was full to bursting and due to the heavy rain, the early sittings had stayed put hoping for the rain to stop, whilst the late sittings had turned up early because of the rain. Hence Karl, as head chef, was run off his feet. How they fit us in I don’t know.

The private room was down a small flight of stairs and was set out like a meeting / board room but far better in terms of period décor and architecture. Before long the massive wooden table is covered in home made bread, massive chunks of cheese, freshly cooked chips, home made chuntneys and pickles, massive home pickled onions, freshly sliced gammon ham etc, etc. freshly squeezed orange juice, pots of tea, coffee and bottled water. Certainly not anything like a simple ploughmans I have ever had before at any pub. It’s fair to say we were all blown away by the food and the hospitality we were shown.

We managed to get a couple of minutes chatting with Karl before he unfortunately had to head off to the kitchen again.

We felt really bad having to leave this wonderfully serene, dry and comfy place after 30 minutes, but today we simply had no choice. With contented full tummies, we were back in the soggy seated buggies by 1:30pm and on our way to the potential air show chaos awaiting us in Boscombe and Bournemouth. Alex had managed to acquire a whole block of cheese and spent the rest of the day nibbling at it like some giant ginger mouse – kids are strange!

Boscombe was another 14 miles away and the rain was now getting really heavy, with no visible break anywhere in the heavy low cloud. However, this would actually become a massive blessing in disguise for us when we reached Boscombe.
Deep puddles were now regular on the road and somewhere between The Mill and Christchurch I drove through a 6 inch deep puddle at the same time as Range Rover coming the other way. This led to a biblical sized wave heading straight up in the air before landing as one huge deluge of water right on George’s screen and bonnet, with most of said water ending up on Ruth’s and George’s laps.

I had been warned how busy the Boscombe and Bournemouth Air Show was from previous years and we were expecting huge delays in getting through this part of the journey. Therefore it was quite unexpected to find large crowds of people walking away from the beach as we hit the outskirts of town. I would say the weather was probably now at the worst it had been all day which it turns out had caused the air show to be cancelled for the rest of the day due to safety concerns. All the open air band concerts had also been cancelled for the day too.

I had arranged a pass through the road closures through my professional contact at the local highways department. As it turns out there was no traffic anyway due to the cancellation and we rolled right up to the traffic officer near Boscombe Pier. We were let through the barriers and set up right outside the pier in double quick time. George and Ruth emerge looking like damp dogs after nature’s own ice bucket challenge they had endured earlier.

We notice that both cars and their hoods are covered in a white / grey slurry. It turns out that a large amount of local extracted chalk had been dropped on the entrance road, which when mixed with the heavy rain running down the road, had become a nasty sticky slurry.

Whilst taking photos an elderly couple appear to give us their support. They turn out to be Gary’s parents who were on holiday and came to see us. Gary, from the MBC, was with us on the first day in his GP Mk1, and it was good to see his family carrying on the support for our cause over a week later.

After not too long we head off to our next stop at Bournemouth Pier less than 2 miles away by road. Due to the airshow the whole promenade and undercliff drive was closed to traffic for the next few days. This would be the normal route to the front of the pier. However, after speaking with the guy from the local highways he had suggested that if we could get to Bath Road before 4:00pm we would be able to park up at one of the car parks off this road before it closed for the evening festivities. Luckily we were still bang on schedule and arrived at the pier around 2:45pm.

However rather than finding a car park nearby and walking down, we took the opportunity to bump up the anti-pedestrian paving on the side of the elevated section of the road, right above the promenade in front of Bournemouth Pier. This did put the photographers at risk of being run over, but was great fun and part and parcel of the challenge. Thanks to Jazzy and Snowy for putting themselves in the line of fire.

Needless to say we didn’t stay long here, to avoid becoming people of interest to the local police. Soon we were on our way (with the vans doing their normal job of blocking traffic for us) and were actually very slightly ahead of our planned schedule. When we woke up we were really disappointed by the poor weather, but on reflection, today of all days it actually worked to our advantage. The cancellation of the days flying activities and live music meant we sailed through the Boscombe and Bournemouth area, where on any other day we would have inevitably been caught up in it all for hours.

When planning Pier Pressure I had initially planned to head for Swanage over the chain link ferry from Sandbanks to Studland – a trip we know well from our many years of attending Flags’ Swanage extravaganza. However, we had heard horror stories that at peak times the queue for the ferry at Studland could be as long as 2 hours. So when we heard about the air festival and the likely traffic chaos we made the decision to take out the potential for ferry hell and instead take the longer route to the north of Poole on the A35, before heading down to Swanage via Wareham and Corfe Castle.

In terms of distance this added 13 miles to the trip but at least we could be relatively sure of not being unduly held up at the ferry. This also gave us the opportunity to re-fuel at the petrol station in Sandford. Waiting for us at Sandford was Dave Dnd in his fresh out of the box sparkly green Hustler GT and Dom in his left hand drive Ruska.

At this point my buggy was on auto pilot, having driven this route down to Swanage on many many occasions over the past 10 years. After 3 solid days of driving on unfamiliar roads, this felt very comfortable and relaxing is some way. The welcome sight of Corfe Castle loomed into view and I knew that within a few short miles we would be heading down the hill into Swanage.

Around this time, some kind of miracle occurred. It is often said it never rains in Swanage, and today was no exception. All I can say is what a difference a bay makes – in this case Poole Bay – as suddenly the weather cleared and we were greeted by blue skies. I kid not, take a look at the pictures. In less than 1 hour we had gone from heavy, air show cancelling rain, to unblotted blue sky. Nature is a wonderful thing.

I just had the feeling fate was smiling on us that day – keeping the rain to help us through Bournemouth, but giving us sun to enjoy the rest of the day.

We had already done a dummy run at Swanage Pier just a couple of weeks earlier at the Swanage buggy weekend and already arranged with the pier master then for us to park up out the front. The four buggies pull up on the pre-determined footpath area and we decided to spend just a little longer here to dry out and grab a cup of tea.

Whilst Ruth went off in search of the char, it was time for a second battery swap. This time around I had managed over 80 miles on just the battery and was very thankful of George’s help.

In the distance the unmistakable sound of a buggy could be heard and a few moments later Hunter and Carol turn up in his yellow and black CRT short wheel base.

Then a second rumbling in the streets and John and Hilary turn up in their long wheel base blue and white FF. I hadn’t met John and Hilary before but they had read about the trip on social media and come to meet us in the New Forest at the Old Station tea rooms in Holmsley. Unfortunately we had changed the itinerary and met up with Karl instead at The Mill – oops. Because I hadn’t had prior knowledge that anyone planned to meet up with us there, I hadn’t broadcast the change of route. Sorry guys. By all accounts though they had had a lovely lunch and still decided to catch us up at Swanage.

Also around the same time, over strolls Nigel Groves who had come to meet up with us on his way from work. He planned to join us later in the day in his high rise Doon and come to the gig, but decided to come and say hello on the way back home. Apparently Nigel too had decided to surprise us at Holmsley – doh!, but after a while decided we must have changed route, looked at Glympse and saw we were elsewhere. He had actually caught up with us in Bournemouth in his white van but apparently we had ignored his frantic tooting and waving. It was raining and we had already had a lot of tooting on route already to take much notice, that’s my excuse. 

It also turns out Nigel had headed for the chain link ferry and because of the poor weather had driven straight on with no queue – hindsight is a wonderful thing.
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Reply #4 on: December 22, 2016, 09:53:17 PM
Earlier in the day I had made contact with Flags to check everything was still ok to meet up at Ollie’s place to change out my Alternator, which it was. Whilst we were milling about the sea front I contacted Flags again to let him know we would be with them in around 30 to 40 minutes.

As the sun was now well and truly out, the hoods came off and the six buggies and two vans head off towards Beeltelmagic 20 miles away. We headed back through the town up towards Wareham, passing Corfe Castle for a second time in less than an hour, passed straight through the middle of the tank training grounds in Bovington before finally making it to Ollie’s workshop around 5:00pm.

It was hard to believe that just 10 hours before we had been leaving our hotel on the Isle of Wight. We had already visited 7 piers but still had 2 more to go and the best part of 60 miles before reaching the gig.

At the workshop Flags was waiting to take everyone except myself, George and Jazzy off to his house around the corner to make them all cups of teas and coffee whilst we got my buggy fixed. Flags did a wonderful thing by ensuring Ollie and is son Ben could work uninterruptedly without being disturbed by a large number of well meaning but in the way buggyists.

Almost before my buggy stopped, Ollie and Ben were on it like a Maclaren pit crew. I have never see two folk work so quick and within what seemed minutes the alternator was out. They managed to remove the alternator without removing the engine by extracting the stand bolts form the case and drawing the alternator and stand out as one.

Whist Ben disappeared into the work shop to change the fan onto the new alternator, Ollie showed us a really rare 1960’s fibreclass VW special that he was restoring for a guy. When complete this will be the only one in the UK.

Before long the alternator was going back in. The buggy fired up first time and instantly the charging light went out at the voltmeter held steady at 14.5 volts. One happy Chad, I can tell you. I will be forever thankful to Ollie and Ben for getting me out the mire and all done in just under 1 ½ hours – amazing.

Whilst Ollie went off to get changed out of his overalls, we follow Ben down to Flags’ place literally 300 yards down the road. It was great to turn the corner and see his whole close covered in buggies and people, although I don’t know how his neighbours felt. Flags now joined us in Karen’s Raspberry Long Wheel Base Doon and a lovely deep rumbling sound announced the arrival of Ollie in his highly modified 2.3 litre red JAS SWB. Paul (Merscury) had also come to meet us in his daily at Flags’, after waiting for 1 ½ hours down by Weymouth Pier.

Feeling far better than earlier in the day, but still acutely aware of the time restraints, I lead a nice long line of 8 buggies and two vans off towards our next 2 piers, (less than a mile apart in Weymouth), just 10 miles down the road.

I admit that I was happy at being back on the road and I gave the buggy a nice bit of revs as I left the side road onto the B3390. All was going great and finally I had the foolish notion all would now be plain sailing the rest of the day. Well Fate can be a fickle friend and within a mile of leaving Flags’ suddenly I was met with a loud, very Massey Ferguson type noise front the engine in my buggy.  Thinking it could just be something loose, I pulled over in the little village of Warmwell. Admittedly my stopping place wasn’t the best pick of places, with the rest of the convoy causing a little bit of traffic chaos – oops sorry guys.

Ollie jumps out of his buggy and after a quick inspection confirms nothing was loose. We decided to soldier on to Weymouth Bandstand pier and take a closer look there. The power of my engine did seem to be a little less than normal now but we really needed to carry on if I was ever going to get to my gig today.
Weymouth appeared on the horizon as we passed the ‘man on the horse’ chalk carving on our left, before heading down to the coast and finally arriving at Weymouth Bandstand Pier around 6:45pm.

Considering it was a Friday night in August there were very few people about. However, this did allow us to find a way through the planting beds and all park up outside the pier on the wide promenade.

Weymouth Bandstand Pier was never very long but in the 1970 the bandstand and stage area was demolished leaving just the 1930’s art deco entrance building still standing. This means the pier is now one of the shortest left in Britain and barely reaches the beach off the promenade. The pier was in really nice condition and had benefited from a refurbishment as part of the 2012 Olympics due to Weymouth being the main yachting venue.

After the requisite proof of visit number photo, we took a look at my engine to find the source if the tractor noises. Now it became obvious the issue was that I had blown out half of No. 4 piston’s exhaust to head gasket. This wasn’t going to unduly hurt my engine but just make it noisy until I could replace the missing gasket the following day. This also explained the slight loss of power.

As we were no running 1 ½ late after the unscheduled stop at Ollie’s workshop, we quickly moved on to Weymouth Pleasure Pier, just 1 mile up the road. The Pleasure Pier was the polar opposite to the lovely art deco Bandstand,  an odd pier which was difficult to determine where it actually started and ended. The ‘pier’ now consists of the Pavillion Theatre at the land end, a large car park on a huge area of reclaimed land to cater for the cross channel ferry that operates off the head of the pier and the recently opened Jurassic Skyline 53m high viewing tower.

At the land end the 8 buggies and 2 vans pulled up between the Pavillion and the fairground next door to get our photos. To be honest it made a great sight to see the buggies just dumped randomly anywhere and sort of oddly becoming entwined with the fair.

We were aware however that the Pavilion didn’t look much like a pier and didn’t mentioned the word pier anywhere. A quick look round the side of the theatre revealed a nice little entrance arch with the words ‘Pleasure Pier’. To get a picture, George and myself park against on the access to the ferry port car park, against the flow. Luckily it was now getting on for 7:30pm so traffic was light and we managed to get the shot we wanted without too much hassle.

I was by now acutely aware that my band, Waiting for Bonaparte, would already have set up in Ottery St Mary, sound checked and would simply be waiting for me to arrive. Mart the guitarist had managed to get one of the local bands to put on a support act so hopefully they were keeping the audience entertained whilst I madly made my way there.

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Reply #5 on: December 22, 2016, 09:58:52 PM
Without any more delay we started the final 45 mile leg of our journey for today. The routes would take us up over the West Dorset Heritage Coast on the B3517 towards Bridport. It was time to now say goodbye to many of our latest support team, including Flags, Ollie, Hunter, Dom, John and Hilary, leaving just George, Ruth, Alex, Dave DnD, Jazzy, Snowy, Ruben and myself heading off westward bound.

Unfortunately, as we drove off in front, Ruben waited joined at the back of the cruise of buggies. This meant he missed myself, George, Dave and Jazzy turning left in Weymouth own centre and followed a few of the other buggies leaving town in the other direction. I felt bad that for the second time in three days I had managed to misplace Ruben.

The sun was now beginning to set and we headed off along one of the nicest roads we would drive during the whole trip; the B3157 between Weymouth and Bridport. The road climbed up higher and higher until we were driving straight into the sun along the top of the Heritage coast cliffs.

Amazing views and I would have enjoyed this road far more if I hadn’t been worried about getting to the gig and about the anti-social and nature shattering noise now coming out of the back of my buggy.

At Bridport w re-joined the A35 which would take us all the way to Ottery St Mary. True to his word, sat on the verge at the junction of A35 and B3157, Nigel and Fiona were waiting for us in their High Rise Red 3.5 litre Range Rover powered LWB Doon. They had travelled up form Beer on the Devon coast and had watched us on Glympse to make sure they would be ready as we passed.

In all honesty I can’t remember much about the rest of the 28 mile trip up the A35 and the A30 as I was just clock watching and getting more and more nervous about my impending performance, after 10 years away from the limelight. Then, there it is at last, a sign for Ottery St Mary and as we pull off the A30 we wave goodbye to Dave DnD who overtakes us and heads off home to Paignton in search of exhaust gaskets for me to use tomorrow. We will catch up with him again tomorrow when we pass through his home town.

Finally, the venue (Ottery’s Football Club) is in sight and we headed up the driveway at 8:40pm, just 1 hour 20minutes later than originally planned. To be frank, with all that had gone on earlier today I was just glad we actually made it at all. Jazzy and Snowy had headed off to their hotel to check in and would be back with us in time for the gig. Unfortunately there was no sign of Ruben, but looking at his Glympse track he was in the vicinity, driving on circles around the Ottery streets somewhere. Not to worry he did eventually find us and arrived about 15 minutes after the main convoy.

What was nice was the large crowd of folk clapping and cheering us in, with a great number wearing Pier Pressure Tour t-shirts.

It was great to see Paul and Donna, buggy folk from Weston Super Mare way, a group from my work who had ventured south from the midlands, some old work colleagues who now work and live in Devon as well as family, friends and long suffering partners of the rest of the band. There was also a good mix of local folk there too, rustled up by Mart and Alison.

The support act had already warmed up the crowd nicely, but unfortunately had finished before we arrived so I missed them. I just had time to throw a couple of pre-ordered pizza slices down my throat, change into my gig wear in the toilets (we in reality meant a clean t-shirt and change of combats to jeans) and put the hood of my buggy as the rain had caught us back up, before I was there, stood in front of an expectant crowd ready to hit my first note.

At this point I was proper knackered, deep down tired and the thought of a 2 hour set was not something at all appealing. But I just reminded myself that it was all for charity, really important cancer fighting charities and a little bit of tiredness was no reason to moan.

Lights dim, audience does the obligatory cough, two clicks off the drum sticks and we launched into an old favourite opening song of 15 years by the Levellers. I am surprised that we actually sound OK, even considering Purple Rob (rhythm guitarist) had sound checked my bass earlier in the day. This basically meant it had loads of treble and no bass. A few nob twiddles and this was rectified…nice smooth deep bass.

Muscle memory kicked in and before we knew it the first song is over and people were actually clapping. My tiredness was gone in an instant as adrenaline kicked in and the lost feeling of playing live once again pulsed through my veins. We then played through a mix of covers and our own material with just a couple of false starts and the odd bum note. Nobody would probably have noticed had we not all broke down laughing or pointed at the guilty party. Glad I didn’t drop a note anytime.

Admittedly we were a little rusty but folk seemed to be enjoying it. Last song of the first set arrived – Lady Marmalade, Christina Aguilera version - and we are just about to start we I have a complete blank. I simply couldn’t remember the really great funky bass riff. I was stumped. After a good round of cat calling and laughter, my fingers finally remember what they should be doing and we finished the first half on a high.   Preeeetty Ladieeeeee Marmaladeeeeeeeeee.....Dum de dum de dum de dum dum.. badda dah! – cymbal crash, end.

A quick 10 minutes for the obligatory raffle (‘they love a raffle down ‘ere in the sticks’ says Mart) where Mart has donated one of his myriad of older guitar stock. Luckily the young lad who won it could actually play and with a little provoking was convinced to give us a short recital whilst the band indulged in a quick comfort break and half time refreshment.

For the second time, the lights are turned down a little and we struck up for the start of our second set. Looking at the ‘audience’ it seemed Ruth and George were starting to wilt after the last three days constantly on the go, but Alex is still going strong. The beauty of youth. We carry on through a mix of covers and our own material and we are all becoming more confident as a band. It was starting to feel like it used to in our ‘heyday’.

One big difference between now and then is that in those days, whilst adopting my best Steve Harrison pose, I would not get interrupted half way through a song by a 9 year old walking up to the front of the stage and whispering none important stuff about toilets and such like…

Eventually, and perhaps to the relief of the crowd, we pile into our last number – the appropriately titled Money by the Beatles – ‘now give me money, that’s what I want’. Loud applause, more than likely fuelled by a night of booze, and off we pop ‘off stage’ in the well used traditional ploy of ‘let’s pretend we’ve finished but in reality we would really like an encore call and still have 2 number to do.’

After the inevitable false encore shouts, probably instigated by Ruth to make sure we could finish up and get to bed, we start with a really old band favourite. A finger numbing, fast finger walking, ditty by the Men they Couldn’t Hang called Walking Talking… a 2 ½ minute none stop folky romp. And then the real last song, a brand new one to us (what were we thinking?). 500 miles by the Proclaimers, with subtle lyric changes along the lines of ‘We will drive 500 miles etc…..’ Then it is over, the bass is placed in its stand, hopefully not for another 10 years this time, and we head off to do the obligatory after gig chat with those foolish enough to have suffered to the end.

If I am being truthful I was apprehensive about the gig almost the second after I had agreed to do it, especially with everything else we were doing on the trip, but I bloody loved it. And best of all we made an additional £300+ for the charities form the night.

The time is now well passed 11:30pm and suddenly fatigue hits me hard and the rest of the band agreed to pack down the gear whilst George, Ruth, Alex, Ruben and myself head off to Mart and Alison’s home in Venn Ottery, following Al and their 3 kids.

Even though it was a relatively short trip of 4 miles, getting back in the buggies in the rain and driving through dark single track roads was not the most pleasant of experiences. The added extra noise from my buggy was also causing me concern as we passed through a couple of small villages on the way. Just before midnight we pulled up on the drive and Ruben parked his van across the end, his place for the night. After emptying the buggies and getting allocated our rooms – George in young Connie’s room with all the Frozen paraphernalia and Ruth Alex and Myself are in Zak’s room with the occasional bed pushed up to make a king sized double.  Rob and Rach with their two kids end up in the garden in a 4 tent, so a proper full house.

We get Alex to bed but some reason, even though being totally fatigued, our minds were all fired up after the day we had. So Ruth, George, Ruben and myself end up in Alison’s kitchen drinking tea and talking until the rest of the band arrive back with the gear around 12:30am. We finally head off to bed at just after 1:00am, some 18 hours after we had left the hotel in Ryde that morning.

I lay in bed thinking back and realised we had done it, we had conquered the extra challenges of Day 8. It had tried its best but we had made it through somehow.
I am eternally grateful to the band Alison, Mart W, Mart D, Pete and purple Rob for agreeing to reform, for giving up evenings and one long weekend to rehearse, setting up and breaking down the gear without me and for putting on a great performance on the night. Massive thanks also to Ollie and Ben for giving up their valuable time that day and fixing the buggy, for Flags for orchestrating the repair, to all those that joined in on the day and came to the gig and finally to George, Ruth and Alex for agreeing to an early start, a late finish and generally being great support even though being totally exhausted.

I felt blessed by having such a great group of friends and family. Hopefully Day 9 would be a more relaxing day for us, one we could settle in and enjoy in a different, less stressful way.
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Reply #6 on: December 22, 2016, 11:10:17 PM
What an awesome write up - Really enjoying reading these   ;-)up

So gutted I missed out on your band playing too, but by the time I had tracked down some spares you would have finished playing by the time I returned, albeit on the back on an AA truck the way my engine big ends were clattering at that point


this user is offline Gary

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Reply #7 on: December 23, 2016, 07:10:54 PM

That is an excellent write up, even gets my Mom and Dad a mention, thanks

this user is offline Shaggy

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Reply #8 on: December 24, 2016, 01:48:19 PM
Wow....what an epic write up and ride. Really wish I could have seen you all play.
I'm in my buggy,
It's raining,
I really don't care.