My friend Liz did a list of the good and bad stuff that’s happened to her in 2020 and the good by far outweighed the bad. She said she wanted to see other people’s lists so here is mine.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
|Bad things||Good things|
|Global pandemic, millions dead, millions sick.||Went to the far top of Norway in January and saw my old friends Inger and Steve in Bodø. We were at uni together in the late 70s, we hadn’t met up for about 20 years!|
|Contemptible never ending series of cock ups and mismanagement from our despicable, uncaring government made up of self serving greedy bastards.||Made some new friends including new online friends.|
|My friend lost both her parents within days of each other to Covid.||Went to the Alpes Maritimes to be loved by my friends in February. Great walks.|
|Friends getting sick with Covid.||Went to the Lake District for my birthday a bit before lockdown started. There was a shortage of paracetamol in Ambleside but stacks of loo paper in Booths in Windermere.|
|Friends sick with other awful illnesses.||Grew veg for the first time properly in the garden. Hit and miss but it was nice eating my produce.|
|Had to remove this one as don’t want to be sued.||The blue tits nested in the box they demanded I put up. The babies fledged and I hope the jay didn’t get any of them. The only time I saw the jay was when the babies were about to leave the box.|
|Some bouts of depression.||Walked a lot and then some more.|
Did more exercise.
|Not done the travels I planned. I was about to “set wing to wing”.||Started to like myself again, enjoying living on my own in my lovely house with a great view. I’m very lucky.|
I have routines and like looking after myself.
|Nearly lost the plot waiting for results of 2 tests for cancer (negative).||Because of IBS, had a better diet and lost some weight.|
|Last time I had a hug was on March 15th, it was a good one with Cath.||Pre lockdown visit from Ian, who I’ve known since childhood, was a real tonic.|
|Not had any overnight visitors.||I got my guest bedroom all set up to receive overnighters. One day they will be able to come.|
|Had to cancel short break in January 2021 to Wales. This was so that I would not be at home for 2nd anniversary of Carol’s death. Was going to meet up with my cousins. It is what it is.||Saw my very good friends Liz and Tracey and my cousins Sophy and Jo.|
Video calls and phone calls with old friends.
The love and support of friends and family has been central to this year and to keeping me sane. You know who you are and I love you.
|Had to cancel other trips in October as well.||My house and garden are much improved thanks to work done by contractors and by me.|
|I know my neighbours a little bit more.|
|Had a memory lane holiday in Cornwall and a short walking break in North Yorkshire, all a bit Covid weird but good to get out and meet people.|
|Continued to enjoy occasional blog post writing, helps me to work through things. Each post is crafted over several days, weeks sometimes. Some lovely feedback about my posts.|
|It will very soon be just 2 years since Carol died. I am coping, not seeing lots of people is ok, it’s allowed me time for reflection.|
I miss the 2 loves of my life more than words can say, every single day.
|Continued to enjoy taking photos. Having the time to take photos makes a huge difference.|
|Music has come back into my life in a big big big way. Playing it, singing it, dancing to it. Starting to learn to play the guitar (this will take a while which is good because it looks like being confined to barracks is going to go on for some time yet).|
|Bruce at 71 is sexier than ever and singing in what he calls his current voice which is not the same but ok in a new way. He put out an album, Letter to You which is really good and he sang along with fellow New Jersey songwriter, Jack Antonoff on brilliant Bleachers’ track chinatown. Happy music. Bruce has been doing a regular DJ slot and plays some epic tracks. Listen to it direct from the US not the watered down BBC version.|
|Natalie, oh Natalie. I was in love with Natalie back when the Dixie Chicks first released Wide Open Spaces in 1998. I remember seeing the videos and had the CDs. Then she and sisters Martie and Emily were vilified and threatened with being shot because Natalie had the balls to criticise Bush on the eve of war in 2003. And she did it in London which incensed the good ol’ bad ol’ boys even more.|
At the beginning of 2020 a new album and a tour were coming and my interest was getting perked up again. Gaslighter eventually got released a bit later than planned. It’s an excellent album produced by Jack Antonoff. Do not mess with those chicks! I love this track which is a love song to Natalie’s boys Young Man.
When Natalie sings her voice inspires very intense emotions in me, both on her own and in the harmonies with Martie and Emily and with other singers.
In my view, Natalie’s also very hot but that’s actually second to what her voice does to me.
|Natalie posted an impassioned entreaty on Instagram re staying at home to which I responded equally passionately. She liked my comment and made my day! She manages her own account and doesn’t post very often so extra exciting!|
|I came out as trans. Not done anything about it but not planning to do more than live my life as the boy I am, breasts and all. The breasts have annoyed me for years but no way am I having surgery.|
|Sexuality, no change there then, as Carol would say, “so long as they’re breathing”. Pansexual despite all the kitchenware jokes.|
|Looking forward to wearing more hats and showing off my legs in 2021. Peace and love.|
Monday 24th August
Staying at Newfield Hall near Malham in the Yorkshire Dales. Nice big country house. Mark and Owen jointly manage the house. Yes, I think so. I arrived a bit after 3.30 so once I’d checked in I went for a walk round the garden. Then branched out and went along the road, up through a field of cows (and one rather large bull) to find a tumulus. Not a madly exciting bulge in the ground but it was there. Back through the field but unfortunately Big Bull and his coterie had moved to exactly where I needed to go so luckily I’d spotted another gate and got out onto the road without having to barge through them all.
For dinner I had watermelon salad, a small portion of risotto and a fruit salad washed down with some Sauvignon. I’m doing gluten free to see if that will help some issues I’m currently having.
Tuesday 25th August
It was a bit of a mad idea but seeing as the weather was dreadful I decided to go through with it. Drove up to Hadrian’s Wall because it’s nearer from here than it is from home and finally went to Vindolanda fort and museum. Well worth the long drives each way. I didn’t go to Vindolanda when I walked Hadrian’s Wall because I knew it would need a good bit of time plus it’s some way from the wall and would have extended my day by miles as well as hours. It was all done well for Covid apart from the 3 people without masks. It was terribly wet when I was walking around the excavations and I got wetter when I put the brolly up so on entering the museum, my specs steamed up and I couldn’t see a thing for ages. After Vindolanda I drove to Allen Banks and Staward Gorge (Nat Trust) mainly because Dave said he and Carol had been there and that she had liked it. I reckon part of why she liked it was because her dad’s name was Allen and spelt that way. I liked it too, the River Allen was in full spate so I did a short walk and having dried out from the first wetting, I got another one.
I’m so emotional at the moment, thank god I’m not with anyone. I’ve got Natalie Maines and The Chicks songs whirling around my head constantly, even when I wake up in the middle of the night. Which is fine, her voice is pulling me all sorts of ways. Such a vocal range and agility. Listen to their interpretation of Dylan’s Mississippi, a great song but he manages to mangle his own song. Bob mumbles a tuneless dirge, Natalie soars to heaven and beyond. Sex, emotion, politics, passion, love. All the things I love about Bruce are here as well.
Dinner was spicy cauli, a huge salad and then vanilla ice cream, with a glass of Pinot. Chatted with fellow guests and laughed.
Wednesday 26th August
Picked up D who was patiently waiting for a bus and we drove to Malham where I easily parked the car in the car park. He trotted off to do a long walk. I walked to Janet’s Foss and then up to Gordale Scar, both quite busy but enough room for us all to spread out. The map shows a path up the side of the waterfall so I’d thought this might be something I could do, however it is about 35 years since I was last here and I’d forgotten a) how steep it is and b) how wet it is. And currently extremely wet thanks to the endless downpours. Instead I went up Malham Lings and Broad Scars, where there wasn’t anybody else so a nice peaceful lunch on a bit of limestone pavement. Back down Trougate, a quick peek at Malham Cove and down to the village. Not a long walk but I felt pretty tired and lots of bits were aching. I’m not exactly in full health at the moment but trying to build up my fitness levels. Back to the car park which was over full, into the car, drove about 100m and then waited in a traffic jam for half an hour because the road into the village was rammed and it’s only just wide enough for 2 cars to pass. Some total twat had parked such that they created a log jam. The police were moving us all past this one car that was sticking out into the road.
Dinner of spicy meatballs, huge boring salad and fruit salad, with a glass of Sauvignon.
Thursday 27th August
Today I drove to Fountains Abbey which is about an hour from the house. Had an espresso in the visitor centre before setting off to look round. I don’t remember there being a visitor centre when I was last here but apparently it was very new then. That was on 9th July 1994. I looked round the abbey and walked through the water park. The homoerotic statues may have inspired Carol to propose to me that day. Unusual for me that I couldn’t locate exactly where the proposal had taken place and I guess it doesn’t really matter. It was a hot sunny July day then and I was blinded by love and lust. 26 years later it was humid and overcast. I saw quite a lot of deer as I walked round the deer park. Had my lunch on an old bridge with not a soul around. I like how easy it is to get away from the crowds. Walking back to the car park the rain came on heavily (much earlier than forecast). Drove back along the really high B road through Pateley Bridge feeling a bit James Herriot. Fortunately no beasts needed my attention.
It was good that this visit to Fountains Abbey was not marred by being badly beaten up in a homophobic attack in Ripon afterwards. I didn’t actually go to Ripon to test that out. I looked up the names of our attackers recently and they are still knocking about in the town.
Dinner of beetroot and goat’s cheese, veg stew with potato on top and lots of green veg, ice cream and a glass of pinot. I can’t be arsed to get into drinking wine now it looks like beer is off the menu.
Chatted to C and M in the main hall sitting at a sensible distance from each other and we got reminded (almost told off) that we should have been wearing masks because we were in a public area drinking our wine. You don’t have to wear a mask in the bar where you sit quite close to each other. This is so stupid.
Still washing myself in Natalie Maines’ voice and the Chicks’ harmonies. I don’t normally play the same tunes over and over and over but it’s some sort of cathartic thing I feel compelled to do. When I’m not actively listening the tunes keep running around my head in a massive continuous ear-worm that’s been going on for weeks and weeks.
Anyway I need to see them live and up close, possibly even more than I do Bruce. I’ve seen Bruce 17 times already and whilst my love for him is undiminished after 35 years, these days it’s his early performances I listen to, when he was at his peak. He said on his radio show during lockdown that he wants to get out playing again when it’s safe to do so but I doubt if and when that happens that it’ll be the 4 hour marathon shows. I think those legendary times have passed. Bruce and Patti are shielding because he’s 71 in a few weeks and Patti has health issues.
Natalie Maines has said she’s not leaving home so it’s a long wait ahead for any of it. It took huge courage for the then Dixie Chicks to play live in Dallas in 2003 after receiving a threat that specifically said “you (Natalie) will be shot dead in Dallas”.
Not Ready to Make Nice: Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire, Emily Robison, Dan Wilson
“I know you said
Why can’t you just get over it?
It turned my whole world around
And I kinda like it”
It was round about then that I got hooked on them, the Shut Up and Sing movie is well worth a watch. I love how bolshy Natalie is and she has an immaculate kitchen which she claims to clean herself. This is contrasted with Bruce’s house which usually seems a bit messy. Also Patti said she can’t get into their shared recording studio on the farm because he’s always in it (great, where’s the album, Bruce?) but why oh why do these multi millionaires not have 2 recording studios so she can get on with her own tunes? I’ve been reading far too much celebrity crap.
Friday 28th August
Had a nice breakfast of yoghurt and fruit compote then smoked haddock and poached egg. Drove to Settle by a very high single track road. Looked about and then decided to go home because it was raining again.
Or Chris, Carol, Bruce and me; a story of heart-stopping, pants-dropping, hard-rocking, booty-shaking, love-making, earth-quaking, Viagra-taking, justifying, death-defying, legendary Springsteen fans
As much as we could
I want all the time, all that heaven will allowAll That Heaven Will Allow
Bruce has been the soundtrack to half my life and it’s been and continues to be a love affair sans pareil. It’s always been just me and him, 1 on 1, oh and Chris and Carol.
1975. The first song I remember hearing was Born to Run. Released August 25th. Bruce was nearly 26, Chris was just turned 22, I was 17 and Carol 14.
Together, Wendy, we can live with the sadnessBorn To Run
I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul
Oh, someday, girl, I don’t know when
We’re gonna get to that place where we really wanna go
And we’ll walk in the sun
But ’til then tramps like us
Baby, we were born to run
1981. The River. Carol saw Bruce on The River tour on 20th May 1981 at New Bingley Hall near Stafford. She was 20. Setlist
Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true?The River
1984. I danced in the dark to Dancing in the Dark in the Scarlet Coat in Bristol. The Coat was a lesbian disco, with a tiny dancefloor and it was very dark. I used to drink far too much beer and was pretty stupid.
1985. Bruce released Born in the USA. I was living in a shared house in Bristol when Bruce played Roundhay Park in Leeds but that day I was on the M62 which was full of fans. Carol was at that gig with Dave on 7th July. Setlist. To my shame I joined in with my housemates’ dissing of Bruce because he was so macho. I knew nothing. There were some clips of the tour on TV which stayed in my mind mainly because they were not at all macho and I thought maybe I had been wrong, lesson learned – make your own mind up: Growin’ Up part 1 Los Angeles 1985 Growin’ Up part 2 Los Angeles 1985 I was just about to convert to the majesty and mystery of rock and roll, Bruce style.
1986. I met Chris and she performed that magic trick. She introduced me to Bruce and as quickly as I fell in love with her, I fell in love with him. I wore that cassette tape of BitUSA out.
1988. Chris and I finally got to actually see Bruce live for the first time in Sheffield, at Bramall Lane on 10th July. This was the Tunnel of Love tour, still my favourite album. The atmosphere was electric, the show thundering and left us wanting more. The band opened to the title song, this video is from the Barcelona show. Nine days after our gig, Bruce played to 300,000 people in East Berlin and the gig was broadcast live on GDR state TV and radio. This resonated for me because my parents took me to GDR Berlin in 1973 when I was 15. Mum was on a JS Bach pilgrimage, one of the things I remember was the border control confiscating a rock magazine that I had. Setlist
Then the lights go out and it’s just the three of usTunnel of Love
You me and all that stuff we’re so scared of
Just as I had become completely and irrevocably hooked, Bruce broke up the band, ending his first marriage, embarking on his second with band member Patti Scialfa and starting a family.
1993. 22nd May. By this time, Chris and I had changed the texture of our relationship and I had met Carol. Carol made me mixtapes with Hungry Heart and Out in the Street. All 3 of us went to Milton Keynes to see Bruce with the “other band”. I was sporting a lovely stars and stripes nylon flag and Carol and I got really close to the stage. Setlist
We swore we’d travel darlin’ side by sideIf I Should Fall Behind
We’d help each other stay in stride
But each lover’s steps fall so differently
But I’ll wait for you
And if I should fall behind
Wait for me
Tonight I can feel the cold wind at my backMy Beautiful Reward
I’m flyin’ high over gray fields my feathers long and black
Down along the river’s silent edge I soar
Searching for my beautiful reward
What is it about Bruce? I’ve not even got to that part. He’s sexy, he’s funny, he’s real (I don’t personally know that but there are no bad stories about him). He’s a multi millionaire but still has time to talk to his fans, he’s acutely conscious of how he’s got to have his wealth and fame. He has a big ego but isn’t afraid to show his soft side. He’s generous with his bandmates, many of whom have been with him for 40+ years and with other musicians. His politics are left, he has an unpublicised charitable foundation, he gave money to the miners’ wives during the strike. He regularly does fundraisers. He’s withstood depression. He reinvents his music, turning the solid rockers like Born in the USA and Born to Run into acoustic ballads, singing falsetto, switching seamlessly across musical genres. He’s always been a friend to the LGBT community right from the get go and more recently speaking out for gay marriage and for trans rights, actually cancelling a show in North Carolina to show solidarity with those affected by anti trans laws.
1996. Bruce’s solo acoustic Ghost of Tom Joad tour. I failed miserably to get tickets for Manchester Apollo. Chris and I had one of our very rare fallings out over this, I can only remember 3 quarrels in 30 years. On the day of the gig, 28th February, I was to be found standing outside the back gates of the Apollo, for hours and hours in sub zero temperatures in an attempt to get Bruce’s autograph. Because I thought I was still young (I wasn’t) and was definitely still stupid, I wasn’t wearing sufficient clothes. The ground frosted up beneath me. I heard the gig as the amplified acoustic songs seeped through the walls, whilst I waited for Bruce to appear. I waited with a strange bunch of folk. They were the obsessed and the dangerously insane, they made me look like a puppy. I bought an old Born in the USA poster off one of them for £1 so I could be ready for the autograph. This was then sneered at for being out of date. One guy was getting ready to have his arm tattooed once Bruce had written on it. And then, after about 6 hours of freezing to the ground, Bruce was there and I was next to him. I managed to say something on the lines of “I think you’re really great”, he signed my poster, giving me a very deep intense look and that was that. Of course, the poster has pride of place in my bedroom and Chris and I made up very quickly. Setlist
Them smokestacks reachin’ like the arms of GodYoungstown
Into a beautiful sky of soot and clay
1999. Bruce got the E Street Band back together on the Reunion tour. Carol, Chris and I saw the band back on form in the MEN Arena on 1st May. They opened with My Love Will Not Let You Down, which Carol and I played at our civil partnership in 2008. Bruce reinvented The River with a haunting sax intro from Clarence. Setlist
I see you standin’ across the room watchin’ me without a soundMy Love Will Not Let You Down
But I’m gonna push my way through that crowd, I’m gonna tear your holy walls down
Tear all your walls down
My love, love, love, love, love, love, will not let you down
2003. Bruce played the Lancashire County Cricket ground at Old Trafford on 29th May. Carol, Chris and I were in attendance for this gig of The Rising tour. A great gig with some great songs. This was the only time we heard Bruce and Danny play Sandy, a breathtakingly beautiful song. Setlist
Now, the greasers, ah, they tramp the streets or get busted for sleeping on the beach all night4th July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
Them boys in their high heels, ah, Sandy, their skins are so white
I got seven pictures of Buddha, the prophet’s on my tongueMary’s Place
Eleven angels of mercy sighing over that black hole in the sun
2005. Bruce released Devils and Dust, or Drivel and Dirt as Chris and I called it. We weren’t happy with it but still went to see him at the Royal Albert Hall on 27th May. He played some songs I really wanted to hear but I didn’t much like the solo arrangements then, strangely they’ve improved with time. We hung around at the back door for ages but he didn’t come out or rather he’d probably left before we got there. It was steaming hot inside and outside the RAH. Setlist
Out ‘neath the arms of CassiopeiaLong Time Coming
Where the sword of Orion sweeps
It’s me and you, Rosie, we’re crackling like crossed wires
You breathing in your sleep
2006. Boss time was ramping up. Bruce released the Seeger Sessions folk album. Chris and I loved it. We saw it at the start of the tour at the MEN Arena on 7th May, it was a very intimate show, rough and ready. Setlist
Then we went again to Sheffield 6 months later on 14th November, with Carol, after a rather exciting drive in the rain to the venue. By then the show was much more polished. The band opened with a stunning electrifying version of Blinded by the Light. Setlist
2007. The Magic album and tour. December 12th. Chris and I travelled outside the UK for the first time to see Bruce in Antwerp. A great gig with a real calliope on the stage. The Sportpaleis was a dark venue, like going back to the 70s. The staircases were dark, the seating was in darkness. We had a fun December trip together drinking late in bars. I wrote it up and this blog was born. The blog was a love letter. Now that Chris and Carol have both gone, I don’t really know what it is anymore, or even whether to continue with it. Setlist
2008. We all three went to Old Trafford football ground on 28th May for the Magic tour. Danny Federici had died a few weeks earlier. Setlist
11th October, Carol and I were married (civil partnership which we later backdated and upgraded to a marriage). Dave and his mother Joyce, spoke for Carol, Chris for me. We played My Love Will Not Let You Down.
2009. 3rd July Chris and I travelled to Frankfurt for the Working on a Dream tour. A great show, Chris had brought an inflatable guitar and a sax which we waved around. On the way out, we and the crowd sang the Badlands refrain all the way round the stadium. We then had a fun holiday in the hills, Chris attracting several old men. Setlist. Chris also saw Bruce in London on 28th June. Setlist
2012. Since the previous tour, Clarence Clemons had died. 27th May, Chris and I were in Cologne for the first of many Wrecking Ball shows. We had a great trip. Chris was very keen to go on a cable car so we bought our tickets and then when we got into it she was less keen. It was a small 2 person car and I was told not to speak. I was quite surprised when it took us over the dual carriageway but we arrived safe and sound. Lucky for us because 5 years later the same cable car system collapsed into the Rhine. Chris was never to know that. Setlist
Back in 2012 on 22nd June, Carol, Chris and I were in the Etihad Stadium in Manchester. Carol was starting to not be well and was heading towards complete loss of kidney function. It was amazingly wet, rained so hard I could hardly see the M62. I’d got together a picnic which we ate in the car. It was a good show and the last time that Carol got to see Bruce. Setlist
2013. Chris and I travelled to Oslo and then Bergen on the mountain railway. We returned to Oslo and arrived early at the Telenor Arena on 29th April. We managed to get into the arena very quickly. As we mounted the stairs, I said “I don’t recognise this version of This Hard Land” and as I said it we realised that Bruce was in the arena playing a warm up. We raced as far as we could get and he played a “pre-show” set just for us and a few hundred others. One of the 4 songs was All That Heaven Will Allow which was prescient for us, he’d also played it the first time we saw him in 1988. Setlist
Back in the UK, Chris and I went to Coventry on 20th June for what was to be Chris’s final show. She wasn’t very well that day and it wasn’t the best gig we’d been to, the sound was poor. He started with The Ghost of Tom Joad. Setlist. On 24th July, Bruce opened up the new Leeds Arena and I’d managed to get just one ticket. I went to my first Bruce gig alone and made some friends in the queue. It was good seeing him in a smaller venue. He finished up with a solo Thunder Road. Setlist
Now some may wanna die young manAll That Heaven Will Allow
Young and gloriously
Get it straight now mister
Hey buddy that ain’t me
‘Cause I got something on my mind
That sets me straight and walkin’ proud
And I want all the time
All that heaven will allow
2014. This was the year Chris got sick.
2016. Bruce was due to play the Etihad in Manchester as part of The River 2016 tour on 25th May. I got tickets and then Andy and I mapped out how to get Chris to the show from Borth. In the end Chris decided not to go because she was too sick. She’d worried about letting me down and she had really wanted to go but I was just sad that she was so ill. I went to the show and cried a lot. Setlist. 23rd July saw me in Gothenburg at the Ullevi stadium on my own, I liked Gothenburg a lot and saw Little Steven from a tram. Setlist. I gave Chris Bruce’s autobiography and it’s the last book she read. Chris knew she was dying and knew she wasn’t going to make it till Christmas.
October 27th, Chris died. She was 63. She requested that we play Bruce at her funeral. We chose Thunder Road, Lift Me Up and Born to Run. At the crematorium we all turned round and asked the man controlling the music to “turn it up” for Born to Run.
Show a little faith, there’s magic in the nightThunder Road
You ain’t a beauty, but hey you’re alright
Oh and that’s alright with me
2017. Chris’s birthday. We commissioned Marc Treanor to do a sand drawing on Mwnt beach on 22nd August, the drawing was based on Chris’s tattoo. He did and he made a video of the day which he set to Lift Me Up.
Your skin, your hand upon my neckLift Me Up
This skin, your fingers on my skin
This kiss, this heartbeat, this breath
This heart, this heart, this wilderness
Lift me up, darling
Lift me up and I’ll fall with you lift me up
Let your love lift me up
2019. 14th January Carol died. She was 58. Although not totally unexpected it was still a shock. She and we were not thinking she would die just when she did. She was still future planning including wanting to see Bruce again. All she’d wanted for her funeral was for it not to be costly. We managed that. We finished up with Out in the Street, which along with Hungry Heart was part of how Carol wooed me. It’s May now and Bruce has released a new single Hello Sunshine (makes me think of Morecambe and Wise and Round the Horne) which I think Chris would have loved and perhaps Carol less so. Carol liked the 3 minute rockers more though she’d always stop and listen when I was playing Bruce. Bruce is still managing to say things that have meaning for me. And now it is just me and him.
When I’m out in the street, oh oh oh oh oh, I walk the way I wanna walkOut In The Street
When I’m out in the street, oh oh oh oh oh, I talk the way I wanna talk
Easy travelling to Gatwick airport. Seemed much less hassle than getting to Heathrow by train.
The crowd were crazy even before the band came on. Bruce didn’t do any requests, no Sunny Day with kid thank god, but got several people up for Dancing in the Dark. Finished with Twist and Shout, no quiet solo last song for us. Bruce clearly nowhere near retirement! It was VERY LOUD. They were selling ear plugs and rain ponchos!
After buying a shirt I walked back to the hotel about half an hour away. At first a little unsure about doing this on my own but kept usual eyes in back of head and kept to lit streets. Lots of people around. Late to bed!
Got up just in time for a shower and breakfast.
Out on tram for about half an hour to Saltholmen for the ferry to Vrango. Straight into big queue for boat but no trouble getting on. Direct boat no stops. Lovely sea breeze. Just under an hour. Island is small and has surprising number of houses. No cars allowed so people are on foot, on bikes with trailers in front or behind, electric golf carts and 2 stroke bikes with trailers behind or in front.
There are 2 cafes, one is entirely fish and the other ok but not brilliant. I walked a circuit of the island through a naturist area which was lovely and not a naked person in sight! Bought an ice cream from a man selling them from his garden. Used a compost loo, not as nice as the Finnish one we went to. Found a bit of sea all to myself so had a paddle.
The land on the island and in the nature reserve in the town is largely glacial. Lots of big humpy bits (roche moutonees).
Back to village and harbour. Saw the fishermen’s sheds I nearly stayed in (until I realised I might not get back there after Bruce). Went to cafe, had not very good blueberry cheesecake.
Back on stopping ferry. Trams. Very very hot. Hotel. shower. Walked to nearby pub Olstugan Tullen. Had vegan chick pea patty with roasted parsnips and carrots and salad. And soya mayo. Big glass of lager!
Hotel. Ice. Beer. Fan.
There are lots of bikes, they look quite heavy, step through and old fashioned. Some have kids in front of them in a sort of motorbike sidecar thing except in front.
There are a lot of very tiny dogs I guess chihuahuas. They have a fenced off poo park to go in and no poo on the streets and the dog area is clean too.
Man buns. Oh no! A lot of beards. And some face tattoos, they make the man buns look good.
Got up late only just in time for breakfast. I’m going to try making my own granola as so much nicer.
Packed up and checked out. Tram to central station and managed to heft my suitcase into a locker above my head height so not easy as now seems to be twice as heavy and full although what with I can’t think. Not really bought anything.
Went on ye olde fashioned Liseberg tram for a round trip (free on my travel card). Took half an hour. Rammed all the way to Liseberg funfair then just me all the way back.
Another tram to Haga area where I wandered. A bit more open and busy than Fri evening. Nice shops, nice cafes. Stopped for a while at one. Resisted the famous cinnamon roll because it’s massive, the size of a dinner plate. People next to me shared 2 between 5 but didn’t eat them all. Smelled amazing though. There was a big dalecarlian horse.
Back on my last tram to central station. I loved the trams! The travel pass is very good value, I went everywhere including the return trip on the boat for under £15 on the 3 day pass. Collected bags and chatted to man who has seen Bruce 167 times. How is that possible in time to take, in money? He is self employed. His partner has only seen Bruce 3 times because they’ve been together 2 years and she only goes to nice places!
Bus to airport. Check in and security all fine. Small amount of shopping. Long queue for passports. Wait to get on bus. 15 min wait on bus not moving. Drive to plane 10 more minutes not moving. Onto plane more time waiting. Smooth flight. Bobbie the bear films. Plane in holding pattern prior to landing.
All easy at Gatwick. Checked into room with window. No extra cost and all because I said I didn’t like the lack of window when they asked for my feedback. M&S for supper wine and breakfast.
Granola yoghurt and berry compote. Nowhere near as nice as Tidbloms Hotel’s. Going to try making my own granola.
Problem with fire at place controlling electrics for all trains from and to airport. Got onto first one. Crowded so standing and v uncomfortable. More people got on at Croyden so even worse hell. I hate being in contact with people and they probably do too. One woman was closer than my optician or dentist and accidentally touched my face as she got off. Totally hideous and I’m fit and healthy, would be awful if not. I feel a complaint coming on.
Had a cheese and tomato croissant with my espresso from Patisserie Valerie at King’s Cross to recover. Could do better but the coffee was fine.
Rest of journey all to plan. Home again, jiggety jig.
I miss my Bruce buddy. Dearest Chris, you were there in my heart and as Bruce said at the end: “The E Street Band loves you”.
This was my 16th show, which sounds a lot but compared with some of the fans is just a piddle in the ocean. I can’t imagine how much I would have to earn to attend all the shows on the tour or how that works out with the time to take to do that.
I got to Manchester just after 4p.m. and parked in the Velodrome car park for a tenner. A few minutes walk to the stadium and good for getting out later. Funniest comment I overheard was “I had no idea he was this popular!” Ah well, the stadium only holds 50,000 people….
The gates opened at about 4.30. My bag was searched but not very thoroughly and so I managed to smuggle in my camera in my pocket and a big bottle of water, neither of which are permitted but seeing as everyone carries recording devices in their pockets it’s a bit pointless to say that. I was grateful for the water as it’s very expensive in the stadium, £3 for a small bottle.
It was cold and wet. I got myself a slice of pizza for £5, looked like it had been mutilated really but food not allowed in, just about edible. Small bottle of Heineken for £5. And then another one. Outrageous they are allowed to get away with it but captive audience. Last time Chris, Carol and I were at Etihad, it also pissed down but we had a deluxe picnic in the car in the car park. I should perhaps have done that but the early start for the show didn’t help.
Got into my thankfully covered seat in good location. Got chatting to guy next to me. He was nice and kind. He went off as he didn’t actually have a seat, was keeping dry, to be replaced by morose chap.
Bruce arrived just after 7p.m. The set list: http://www.backstreets.com/setlists.html
Patti wasn’t in the band. Bruce brought the band members, Nils, Stevie, Soozie, Jake out onto the prongs that go into the audience which was great. Show was about 3 and a bit hours.
I managed to get out and to my car without too much hassle and was home before midnight.
Highlights for me:
- The Ties that Bind
- Out on the Street
- The River
- Working on the Highway (Bruce bum wiggle, love it!)
- Bobby Jean
- This Hard Land (solo acoustic)
On Monday I went to see the film “Springsteen and I” at the National Media Museum in Bradford. The cinema has had a refurb and it’s an even better venue now. The film was ok but I would much rather see Bruce live, so on Wednesday I did just that.
This was the first time I’ve been to a big gig on my own and given that my relationship with him is one to one this was fine!
I got to Leeds mid afternoon and parked the car easily at the top of the Merrion Centre which is bang next to Leeds Arena. It was 28 degrees and I thought that if I was going to stand in the queue for any length of time I would be roasted alive so I popped straight into Boots for some factor 50 and then into Sports Direct for a bargain cap.
I’d booked a ticket for the Badlands fan club pre-show party at Tiger Tiger. It was lovely and air conditioned. Mark Wright played some Springsteen songs, he’s a good performer but he just isn’t Bruce.
I drank a bottle of Peroni in the afternoon which was something I haven’t done for a very long time indeed. Then I was a bit chilled by the air con so I left to get in the queue for the Arena.
It was weirdly now quite cool outside and I had to worry if I would be warm enough! I got into the queue and had a chat with a nice couple from Boston Spa. They turned out to be friends with Nils!
Bruce was rehearsing so there was a bit of a wait, you would think they knew the songs by now, as it turned out he played some rare songs so these would have needed rehearsing. At last I got into the Arena and went straight up to the top. It’s very well designed so that there’s a good view from all seats, mine was right at the front of the top tier so not bad but I would have loved to be closer (some of my work colleagues managed to get much nearer, grr).
I got myself a pint of Heineken and a small veggie pizza, well designed, more like an actual pie in shape so it held the contents in. It wasn’t bad at all. As well as getting good marks for having a veggie option they also sold salad in a pot which is a first for this type of venue.
The only thing the Arena needs to sort out is that the loos didn’t have catches on them which meant that all the women coming out were having a good moan. I can’t tell you how many times I heard “there’s no catch on the door!!”
In my seat and Bruce was half an hour late getting on stage. On my left I had a man who just absorbed intensely and on my right was a couple who moved not a muscle and clapped politely. Really I don’t know why they bothered to come. Everybody around them was on their feet and joining in as per usual.
The show was one of the best I’ve seen and my highlight was If I Should Fall Behind as acoustic solo prior to Thunder Road at the end.
But still no Frankie for me so looks like I’ll just have to go again, I need to be closer to him. I have been once, at Milton Keynes on the Human Touch tour but perhaps if Bruce could just pop in for a cold beer and some home cooking then that’ll be just fine…
Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.
Chris and I managed to take quite a long time to reach our hotel on the east side of Coventry. We set off quite smartly but made the most of shopping opportunities: Lidl in Sowerby Bridge, the first services on the M1, then Waitrose at Leicester Forest services. We followed the instructions for getting to the hotel but they were poorly written and we took the wrong junction 2 which led us a merry dance round the villages. They had meant J2 on the M6 not on the M69. Grrr.
When we got the tickets for the gig, Chris booked us into the Royal Court Hotel via Easy Bookers. A week before the gig, Easy Bookers emailed to say the hotel had cancelled our booking. Chris then had to waste what seemed like about 3 days of her life getting through to them and getting us a new hotel which was the Mercure Brandon Hall. The hotel is on the edge of Brandon which is a pretty village with half timbered houses and is set in extensive grounds. It’s a 4 star hotel whereas the other one was I think 3 star. Certainly no stars at all after their behaviour. We got a spacious room in a new build at the back accessed via a “covered walkway”.
We had our Waitrose lunches and got changed and then set off for the Ricoh Arena. We got there very easily and were in the car when the only shower of the day turned up. Given that the forecast for Thurs and Fri had been rain all day, this was the only wetting we experienced. We reached the arena fairly easily, even with the large volume of traffic. We took the car because public transport meant going into Coventry and back out again which looked like it would take a long time and probably not happen at all later on. A taxi would be expensive for 2 trips and hard to get one afterwards.
So we had to park the car! The arena website had said that none of the parking on concert days was pre-bookable so we tried to get into the on site parks which then turned out to be pre-booked only, with AA signs saying that certain of them weren’t pre-booked, but it was all very confusing. We headed off towards the off site ones which were a long way away and got turned out of one of them, the next one had no access, presumably full, so in the end we parked up in a field with knee high wet grass for £20 which was very unofficial. The good thing with this was that it was right next to the arena.
Into the arena and straight to the casino! Badlands (UK fan club) was hosting a get together which really meant they had a table with T-shirts to buy. Chris bought one. The casino was a vast cavernous room which smelt of swimming pool thanks to its big water feature. We got chatting to a man from Mansfield who was quite sweet and who has never been able to persuade his wife to join him at a Bruce gig, she likes Michael Buble.
Time to take our seats, these were very good and in amongst the other Badlands ticket holders which was infinitely preferable to being in amongst the day trippers. This is especially true for the UK gigs where if we get non Badlands tickets, we end up with the beer swillers and talkers who don’t shut up for the quiet songs. In Euro land the fans tend to be much more polite and listen attentively during the quiet numbers.
Bruce came on at 7.20 and started with a solo of The Ghost of Tom Joad. The first few songs were great, including My Love Will Not Let You Down (played at mine and Carol’s civil partnership ceremony) and Trapped, another favourite of mine. Then as a tribute to James Gandolfini who was a friend of the band they did the whole of the Born to Run album which should have been a treat but came over as a bit lacklustre and it felt like they raced through it. We did think perhaps they weren’t on top form because not only Gandolfini but also Max Weinberg’s 97 year old mother had died at the weekend.
The last section of the set picked up a bit. I wish he would do more of the old stuff and less of the audience participation. Part of me wonders if they now have to include Tenth Avenue Freeze Out at every show because that’s when they show the photos of Clarence and Danny. And do they have to include Waiting on a Sunny Day because that’s when some hideous brat who doesn’t know the words to the song and who can’t sing anyway, is pulled out to do just that? Or do they have to do Dancing in the Dark just so that some “girls” get to dance with either Bruce, Stevie or Jake? Perhaps a bit too formulaic for me, but I’m prepared to put up with that if the other 27 or so songs include things I’ve wanted to hear him do for years.
This is my wish list:
Whole album (if he must do this, I can’t help feeling it’s a bit lazy) Tunnel of Love
My Beautiful Reward
I will dream on and see what the next gig brings.
We got back sometime after midnight and ate more snacks and drank more beer. I slept badly as had managed to develop a cold during the gig.
The next day we had a lovely breakfast, I actually had a cooked one!
We went to Brandon Marsh Nature Reserve which was about a mile down the road. This was a lovely spot on reclaimed gravel pits. We looked in all the hides and spotted some birds! There weren’t many people about which was a plus, we managed to hide from a couple of women we found annoying and got chatting to another couple who we did like.
We had lunch of cake and coffee sitting outside the cafe in a courtyard. There were some people with learning disabilities who were not being looked after by their “carers”.
Then we headed homewards and this took a long long time because we had to stop to get tape to secure my wing mirror which is trying to leave its casing and because the traffic was just incredibly slow for miles and miles.
I still can’t wait to see Bruce again!!
Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.
Weds 24th April
Chris arrived at our house and we set off smartly and on time.
Everything went smoothly at Manchester airport. I was very thoroughly checked over in security, it felt as if most of what I was wearing had to come off and the scanner went up and down about 3 or 4 times. Just as well I don’t fly very often. We got a free sample of Beefeater gin so Chris bought a plastic litre bottle of it for £13 and some sunglasses and I bought a half bottle of The Balvenie.
The flight was fine and relaxed. Interesting to see frozen lakes but not much actual snow as we approached Oslo airport. We appeared to land in a field but the airport is really quite big and we had to walk a good way to collect our bags and then a big queue to get through passport control and another long walk to the train station.
At Oslo Sentrum we bought some hair dye. C to change from the strong carrot shade and me to hide the grey. Then a bus to the Hotel Anker. A nice man was keen to help by telling us it’s only 5 mins walk. Not with these shoes! (we were wearing our hiking boots to save on luggage weight when flying). Well actually not with the weight of our luggage and I’m sure I can’t be the only one to mentally add a W prefix to the name of our hotel!
However the hotel is clean and comfortable in our basic room. Just as well we like it as we are coming back here on Monday. The wireless is less than useless though.
Straight out to find dinner. The resto we look for is a building site so we wander around a lovely indoor market in a new apartments area near the river then we go to a rougher downtown area where C gets tonic water and eventually we opt for Santino’s spaghetteria. C has tagliatelle and scampi and I asked for a 4 seasons pizza but got a spicy beef one the size of a tea tray. The food was very fresh and tasty and I got half my pizza to take away in a box. Prices are eye watering.
Feel we have not yet seen the best of Oslo. It looks a bit tired after the winter, much as our garden does. It is not as clean a city as I expected.
Back to the hotel for hair dying session, nice shower and so to bed.
Thurs 25th April
Got up early. Breakfast was a bit mixed. There were some horrible looking hot things – violently yellow eggs, fried potatoes in what looked like sweet chilli sauce but the mini frankfurters were ok. Lots of cold meats, some were fine. Also cheese and pickled gherkins and fresh tomatoes and cucumber. The muesli and runny yoghurt in a big carton were good. The juice was weak and the fact that the coffee was hot is the only good thing to say about it. The rye bread was fab.
We ate some of the food and made up bread rolls for lunch on the train. Then we checked out and got onto the bus. Another nice man was keen to help by telling us it’s only 5 mins walk. We’ve still got the luggage to consider although the footwear is not an issue today except that some twit in the shop had their eyes shut when they laced up my new Merrell shoes so as we were early for the train to Bergen I re-laced them.
The train was comfortable and we had lots of room to spread out. We went and bought coffee from the buffet car and then found we had free drinks in our Komfort section.
As soon as we left Oslo it started to become clean and lovely. We passed iced over lakes and wooden cabins. Getting higher up there was lots more snow. We went through Geilo and saw the hotel we will be going to on Saturday. It looks a good place. Some snow there but not enough for dog sledding or snow shoeing.
Higher and higher and serious amounts of snow. Travelling through miles of whiteout across the Hardangervidda plateau and up to Finse which at 1223 is the highest station on the journey. Deep winter there for the population of 10 who work in the hotel.
The train left Oslo at 8.00 and we had our slices of pizza for elevenses and our bread rolls for lunch. The first half of the journey was dry and bright. Then we went through snow and sleet. Got to Bergen and rain.
A short hop to the Radisson Blu hotel on Ole Bulls Plas.
Our room on the 6th floor is an eclectic mix of designs but clean and comfortable.
Off for a swim and jacuzzi, both hydro therapy and air therapy, then a sauna.
Off out to Pingvinen bar which is literally just round the corner. I have some problem with the bar stools which twirl me round and nearly off at 180 degrees. Chris has a dish that is only available on Thursdays. It is salted lamb with sausage, bacon and mashed swede and potato dumplings. This was raspeball. But we don’t know why it’s only served on a Thursday. I had meat balls (kjottkaker) with mashed peas, carrots, new potatoes and lingon berries. Great combination and very tasty. Not sure about the berries they were small and red and delicious. Could even have been red currants. Also drank Hansa beer.
We finally spotted a man in a Norwegian sweater. Then out to walk off the dinner. Found a mini market for more tonic and much cheaper. Wandered around the theatre streets and narrow pedestrian streets and the harbour but both cold so after we had looked at but not entered the only gay bar in Bergen we headed back to warm up. The hills around have now got more snow on them and the cloud is low. The funicular station at Floyen is flood lit through the mist but now the rain has stopped.
We like that there is a fold out ironing board and an iron in the room, although really this needs Carol to be fully appreciated. Chris very happy that there is an ice dispenser just outside the room.
Fri 26th April
Got up and Chris went for a swim and I went for a run. I went round and round the lake across from the hotel. My longest stretch was 8 mins and it felt fine.
Back for breakfast. Very good. Lots of lovely things. Nice cereals, yoghurts, bread, cheeses, cold meats, pickles, pastries and pancakes. We made up sandwiches for lunch plus cake and apples.
Out to the Floibanen funicular railway to Floyen. Then we walked up and up into the snow to the top at about 600m. Very suddenly we were in a whiteout as the snow, hail, sleet came down so we headed back the way we came as very few feet had trodden our intended path. The snow was deep and the map poor. We stopped for lunch at Blamanen, this is a lochan with a closed kiosk. I think it was closed when we came here before (Aug 2004).
Back down the zig zag paths to the town both with assorted sore and aching bits and bobs. Feet, legs, knees.
Back to hotel to change footwear and coats and out again to Bryggen to look for Norwegian jumpers. We looked in 2 or 3 shops and found some with good discounts and tax free (we will get the tax back at the airport). A nice man sold them to us. Chris bought 2 hats for her collection. We walked round the old wooden sector which was pretty much shut.
Back to hotel to rest with gin/whisky. Out again to Zupperia where we served by somewhat bossy girl who seemed to delight in moving customers from table to table. Chris had teriyaki chicken with rice and veg. I had marinated chicken with rice and salad. I had Chris’ mushrooms and she my sweet chili sauce.
Back to hotel for packing and bathing/showering. A terrible noisy racket set up outside but only lasted for about 20 mins. We’d seen lots of young people in red trousers and hats and now they were dancing badly by a bus.
Both very tired.
Sat 27th April
Up early after neither of us sleeping very well. Too hot and surprisingly noisy.
Breakfast was great and we made lovely sandwiches.
Straight to the station and onto the train. Such a lovely sunny day so the mountains and lakes are all glistening and the snow is shining. I try to speak some Norwegian but pick some Germans to try it on so it’s a dismal failure but at least I get to practice my German a little. I also chat to an Australian woman from Melbourne and learn that they do have a snow season.
The journey back to Geilo is stunning and looks so different from just 2 days ago. I like that skis are seen as normal things to carry.
We arrive in Geilo at 11.00 and walk to the Hotel Geilo. There are only 2 others staying because the ski season is over and the summer walking has not yet begun.
The hotel has nice painted wood in the public rooms. The bedroom is ok but not special unless you count the Sandtex on the ceiling!
After settling in we go in the town. Tourist Info confirms everything is shut so they give us a free buff and free pin badges.
We have coffee and carrot cake (Chris) and hot choc (me) but it’s not got much choc in it. Walk round shopping centre and buy bottles of beer from a shop selling alcohol that is very secure with a turnstile to get in and out.
Back to hotel to change and out for a walk round the lake. We don’t go all the way round as it’s hard work on slushy snow. But we do go to the Nature Park and the sound sculpture which is lots of resonant wood clanking together in an old byre. It sounds lovely and reminds me of cow bells. Then back to hotel sometimes up to our thighs in snow and sometimes just lying on it.
Absolutely beautiful sunny day. Still lots of sun at 8.00 in evening. Have drunk 2 bottles yummy beer. Soon be time for dinner.
We set off for Hallingstuene having decided to go for the best if pricey place for real Norwegian food. We go in and it looks to be lovely place with painted wood and I’m just starting to take my things off when we find the place is full for the last evening of the season so we are well buggered there then. We weren’t expecting this as the town is so quiet and empty.
We set off for best place no. 2 which is Sofia’s at Bardola Hotel. Of course I’ve come out without a map but a helpful woman, in fact the only person we meet, directs us. It is 10 mins away.
The woman’s minutes are a little ambitious. It is a good trek along a nice little road. Bardola is a big hotel. At first it seems we may not get a seat as we have not booked but then the girl changes her mind. Plenty of tables free up as we eat so this is nonsense.
We manage to work out most of the menu successfully. They then bring us English menus which is how we know we’ve got it right. Chris opts for Jim’s burger (made by her cat?!) and me for Caesar salad, all washed down with Hansa beer.
The burger comes with cheese and bacon and fried potatoes in sweet chili sauce. It is all held in place with a skewer. The Caesar has bacon bits and croutons and is very tasty.
Back along the road as the last light goes. House lights shining on the snowy slopes. Puddles starting to ice over.
Sun 28th April
Late and lazy start to day. We were the only ones in the large dining room for breakfast. Muesli and thick yoghurt, bread with salami and cheese. Nice coffee and juice. Rye bread fab. Crisp breads fab, I’ve not eaten them before as Ryvita is like cardboard but these were excellent and I am converted. I had them with pâté also brown cheese which is slightly sweet. I like it more than last time but Chris not keen. We make up our sandwiches.
Off out to find the path up the hill. It is a dull day and chilly. We go into Dr Holm’s Hotel to reserve a table for the evening. The hotel is very lovely and massive. We find the path behind it and zig zag our way up and often across the ski slopes. The snow is mostly hard but when it isn’t we fall over. It’s quite fun in the birch trees and I’m pleased we got the right path from the less than brilliant mapping. It must be a very pretty path in the summer. Summer starts in June and is short.
We get up quite high at 1040m but the wind is strong and bitterly cold plus there is a big steep ski slope to cross so we turn back and stop half way for me to eat half my sandwich. We went up about 230m. Much windier back in the village so we go straight back to hotel for hot chocolate by the fire. More chocolatey than yesterday’s.
Mooch about. Finished off the last beer bottle.
Dr Holm’s is quiet. Only us and a few other parties. Chris had the fixed price menu which was scallops and langoustines, lamb shank from Flam and creme brûlée. I had coq au vin and creme brûlée. All very good and washed down with Hansa beer because we struggled with £50 for a bottle of wine.
Mon 29th April
This is Bruce day
We breakfast and make sandwiches. I have taken to crisp breads in a big way. I had no idea there were so many types.
As we get ready to leave the hotel, it starts to snow and by the time we’ve walked to the station in the blizzard there is an inch on the ground.
The journey is very pretty as everything has a light dusting of snow.
The loos on the train are gruesome today. I have taken Imodium so that my evening with Bruce is not spoit by loo breaks.
We arrive back in Oslo a bit late but quickly catch the tram back to the Hotel Anker using our 24 hour pass and get ready for Bruce. We take the 31 bus from Hausmann’s Gate to Fornebu and get off at the Telenor Arena. It’s in a bit of an industrial wasteland.
There’s a bottle neck in the queue for entrance E but we squeeze past to get to D which is much more orderly although I’m told not to block the road by a rather stern G4S security guard. As we go in I think they are playing a version of This Hard Land sung by Bruce that I don’t know and we are looking for food and drink but as soon as I realise it’s Bruce himself we race to an entrance and get a great view and he’s just singing for the people in the pit and us. He plays All that Heaven will Allow, the Fever and Growin’ Up before telling us he’ll be back later. Here is the whole pre show set on YouTube.
Despite all the arena info saying there is an 800 seater restaurant all we end up with is a long hot dog sausage in a pancake and 2 glasses of beer.
Our seats are ok and we have a decent enough view. Bruce comes on at 7.40 and gives us a great show. He’s so generous with his band. Little Steven opens with a Lillehammer song during which Bruce is just backing him. Highlights for me were the River with Bruce’s extraordinary falsetto sounding like an angel, blistering guitar on Prove it All Night and For You piano solo. Chris’ star songs were For You, She’s the One, Thunder Road and Prove it All Night. The audience actually listened during the quieter songs but also struggled to get on their feet to dance. Even after Bruce had got everyone up, our neighbours all just sat down again.
After the show we just went and got on the 31 bus which took us all the way back to the hotel.
A Bruce nerd had attached himself to us but we disentangled quickly.
We went to Sara’s Bar around the corner and drank 2 glasses each of Frydenlund dark beer.
Very late to bed.
Tues 30th April
Woke late but in time for breakfast and sandwich making.
Out to city hall on tram and foot. The city hall was built in 1950 and is an eclectic mix of architectural styles but quite fun and big with some great paintings of Norwegian myths. Bought Oslo 24 hour pass, this covers most museum entries, all travel and discounts in some restaurants. With it we went on the ferry to Bygdoy. Walked a way to the Norwegian folk Museum. This was excellent and included an exhibit on Sami life. The museum has reconstructed farms, houses both rural and urban. It was a great place and we lunched on a bench in the sun outside a couple of town dwellings.
Then the Viking Ship Museum. There are 3 Viking ships which are most impressive, also a carriage and other artifacts found inside the ships because they were used for burials. Lovely carving and detailed metal work. They are having serious conservation dilemmas as the fartiacts are disintegrating.
Quite a hike to the Fram museum. By then we were running out of time as it shut too early at 4.00. I would have liked a little more time there but I did get to go inside the boat and see that they were very comfortable in the cabins. They very fairly had an exhibit about Scott. The statues outside are the ones who actually did get to the South Pole first though!
We had a look round the Kon Tiki museum which shut a bit later. They had the raft and also a reed boat which Thor Heyerdahl made a lot later on.
We got the ferry back to the city hall and then waited a long time for a tram or bus at a stop where the grass was growing over the tram tracks. The electronic signage was telling us that the next tram was due but ours had not appeared so we set off but then of course the bus did come and we had to run to get on it.
A quick change and off out on the 11 tram to Kaffistova. This is a self service cafe and we got 20% off with the Oslo card. Chris had meatballs with squashed peas, fried potato, gravy and then ice cream. I had mini reindeer burgers, veg mix, fried potato wedges, gravy followed by apple cake and ice cream.
I will be buying sweet pickled gherkins and crisp breads in bulk.
We passed the London Pub, Chris very quickly identified this as a gay bar because of its rainbow flag. We observed but didn’t go in.
We’ve seen a lot of people wearing bright red trousers. Reckon this is some national sport gear but not sure what. Seen a lot of people wearing wellies too. I can understand in the snow but it’s very dry now and seems a hot sweaty thing for poor feet. Once we found the other parts of Oslo away from what was quite a run down area, it was a lovely city to see and be in. Also much cleaner.
Back to hotel on the tram. A quick pack and back out to Bar Sara for a pint of brown lager. The handsome boy served us again. The bar is much more busy tonight because we are not there at midnight! Nice local bar. We are knackered so one drink and back to hotel. C falls asleep instantly. I fall asleep writing this account.
Weds May 1st
Up early at 6.45 which translates to 5.45 in UK time. We are almost the first to breakfast and make up our sandwiches. Check out. On to tram to central station. I have loo emergency now that Imodium has worn off. We catch the local train to the airport.
First we get our tax back on our purchases although the desk is not where it says on the info we were given.
Then the check in which is entirely self service. The auto machine does not like Chris’ passport. Eventually we get it to work and it spits out boarding passes and luggage labels. We have to label up our own baggage and stick the labels to themselves which is just not very easy although everyone else manages to do it neatly. We have to scan our luggage onto the conveyer belt. Too much DIY and a bit stressful.
Into security. This time I don’t get a full work over. My jeans don’t fall down when the belt comes off as I have eaten so much that my BMI shows I am too short.
Into duty free for essential shopping. Onto our gate. We get coffee but machine breaks as we are supposed to be boarding. Coffee not nice. Always get the coffee from the percolator jug!
Onto plane. Beer!
Tips to save money in Norway
Don’t buy bottled water, the stuff in the taps tastes good. Buy travel saver tickets for the trams, buses, ferries in Oslo and use them wisely. Also the Oslo pass for museums and travel. Get up early if you are going to Bygdoy. Make up sandwiches from the generous hotel breakfasts. Take resealable sandwich bags. Buy spirits from the Duty Free in the UK.
Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.
Carol, Chris and I left our house in a torrential downpour at 4pm. The rain was so heavy I got drenched just getting across the road to get into the car.
Despite all warnings about huge queues and difficulties parking we got to the Etihad Stadium in darkest East Manchester quite quickly. It was very very wet indeed going along the M62 but getting to the car park was an absolute breeze. We parked up and then had a gourmet picnic in the car. This was a great way to start the evening. We had cold meats, cheeses and salads plus some nice juice and chilled white wine.
At about 6.15, we left the car and it actually wasn’t raining so much. I took a rucksack with drinks (normally forbidden) and extra clothes. In the short walk across to the stadium it was my feet that got completely soaked, as my boots let in every drop. They dried out quickly but at one point I thought I was going to be uncomfortable all evening.
Getting to our seats was really easy and we were on the left side facing the stage but quite far back. No problem for viewing the screens and we could just see the band on the stage.
The band came on at 7.20 to Badlands and played on till about 10.40. 30 song set.
Highlights for me were Wrecking Ball, Save My Love, The Promise, The River.
After the show, we went back and sat in the car until we could get out of the car park. We drank not very hot coffee out of the flask.
Then easily home. Chris and I reckon that Bruce is better in Euroland where the audiences are more appreciative and actually stop to listen to the quiet numbers. Here, they just talk and shout all through them. For me, I want to hear all the passion, whether it’s rock and roll or emotional ballad. That’s the main thing, gives us 100%.
|Where is my beer?|
|Rock n roll|
|Oh dear, more rock n roll!|
(The Isley Brothers cover)