Notes from the Road
by Catherine MacLellan
It’s a beautiful, rainy day as I sit and write this from our friend’s house in Yorkshire, England. We are nearing the end of our little voyage across the pond and starting to look forward to getting back home.
Most of our time here has been spent playing shows in Belgium, trying to understand a bit of Flemish and drinking many different local beers. And fries. Fries with every meal. Mussels and fries, steak and fries, soup and fries, sometimes just fries.
Every morning is bread—bread and cheese, bread and meat, bread and jam. I will need to buy new, larger clothes when I return.
It has been wonderful, traveling such short distances between shows and stops. We were lucky enough to have a few days off to travel around on our own. Our first tourist destination was the Canadian war memorial at Vimy Ridge in France. The monument itself is enormous and something to see. It stands on the top of the ridge, overlooking the beautiful French countryside. Once there, we took a guided tour of the trenches and the tunnels that still stand as a reminder of the sad, endless and muddy warfare of World War I.
Just a few kilometres away from the monument we found the town that served as the headquarters for the French, British and Canadian forces that manned the trenches. We, of course, stopped for a beer and then were on our way back to Belgium.
Our last Belgium show ended up being perhaps our best. It was in the beautiful town of Lier which surprised us with it’s beauty. Everyone mentioned all the big beautiful cities as being necessary stops on our way through Belgium, but Lier was a perfect tiny jewel of a town. Perhaps being from a small place, I end up being more attracted to that away from home.
Today we find ourselves in Wombwell, Barnsley in Yorkshire, home of our good friend and trusted driver, Hedley Jones. We’ve crossed under the English Channel by train and played a few shows in England. This trip we are traveling again with Sam Carter who we toured with in Canada as part of the English/Canadian exchange with Music PEI and the English Folk Dance and Song Society. Sam and I have written a few songs together as well as worked out some traditional songs and it is a real treat to travel with him.
Our show in London was at the Cecil Sharpe House, named after the founding father of the folklore revival in early 20th century England, it is a multi-media library and archive containing the largest collection of manuscripts of the origins of folk music and dance in the country. It is also the home to the heart of current folk musicians with several rooms for rehearsal and performance.
Our show tonight is in support of a local music festival in Wath, heading into it’s 42nd year. The show will be in the lovely little Billingley Village Hall. Tomorrow night will be our last show before heading home and it is part of the English Folk Expo, a big music festival and conference with a ton of shows happening all weekend.
After that, we will head back towards London, have a little Sunday lunch and get back on the plane to Canada. Back to my girl, my garden (I must plant the garlic before the snow flies!) and my cozy little wood stove which seems to spark my imagination with many a song.