Bruce Coventry June 20th 2013

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.

Greasy Lake set list

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

Frankie

The Wish

Jersey Girl

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!!

Image
Chris thinks this is entirely normal!
Image
Shades of Jurassic Park!
Image
Chris says she likes this one!

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

Norway April 2013 and Bruce

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.

IMG_1145
After the gin

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.

Why this was good training for polar exploration
Why this was good training ground for polar exploration
Through train window
Through train window
View from train
View from train
View from train
View from train
On the train
On the train
A relaxing glass of champagne
A relaxing glass of champagne
Old town
Old town
Old town houses
Old town houses

IMG_1169 IMG_1168

The theatre
The theatre
I have no idea what to do with this
I have no idea what to do with this
The ironing board, but where is the Iron Man?
The ironing board, but where is the Iron Man?

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.

One of the 7 hills above Bergen
One of the 7 hills above Bergen
Jake and Elwood Blues, not Thelma and Louis!
Jake and Elwood Blues, not Thelma and Louis!
Frozen reservoir
Frozen reservoir
In the whiteout
In the whiteout
At least Chris can find me in the whiteout
At least Chris can find me in the whiteout
She is also well visible
She is also well visible

IMG_1191

Love the bear and the bear loves you
Love the bear and the bear loves you
Bergen
Bergen
Municipal statuary
Municipal statuary
Bergen, I like this because of the pedestrian
Bergen, I like this because of the pedestrian
Centre of Bergen
Centre of Bergen
Clock above building where we ate the first time we came here
Clock above building where we ate the first time we came here
The harbour
The harbour
From the Floibanen
From the Floibanen
This is the pond next to the hotel that I ran round and round and round
This is the pond next to the hotel that I ran round and round and round
It was this big! I've no idea what was!
It was this big! I’ve no idea what was!

P1010664

Just hanging out
Just hanging out

P1010674 P1010675

P1010681
Bryggen
P1010684
In Bryggen

P1010677 P1010678

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.

Sound sculpture
Sound sculpture
Shed for sound sculpture
Shed for sound sculpture
When I'm out on the street, I walk the way I wanna walk
When I’m out on the street, I walk the way I wanna walk
Chris liked the yellow house
Chris liked the yellow house
Big snow from the train
Big snow from the train
Frozen lake at Geilo
Frozen lake at Geilo
Our German friend took this photo
Our German friend took this photo
From the train
From the train

P1010688

From our bedroom window at the Geilo Hotel
From our bedroom window at the Geilo Hotel
A storage barn in Geilo
A storage barn in Geilo

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.

Dragon protection racket
Dragon protection racket
High on a hill was a lonely reindeer...
High on a hill was a lonely reindeer…
Geilo ski slopes in the dark
Geilo ski slopes in the dark
Where are my skis?
Where are my skis?
We decided not to attempt this hard slope
We decided not to attempt this hard slope
I think this is a lichen, have brought some home to identify
I think this is a lichen, have brought some home to identify
Snowy walk
Snowy walk

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.

Greasy Lake set list

From the train
From the train
9.55
9.55
10.14
10.14
Geilo station
Geilo station
Bruce, 100 people in the pit and us
Bruce, 100 people in the pit and us
Bruce, 23,000 people in the arena and us
Bruce, 23,000 people in the arena and us
I came for for you
I came for for you
Merrell shoes
Merrell shoes

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.

Oslo by night
Oslo by night
Three deer at Oslo City Hall
Three deer at Oslo City Hall
On the ferry to Bygdoy
On the ferry to Bygdoy
This is Chris' retirement abode
This is Chris’ retirement abode
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
These are Gentian, very pretty
These are Gentian, very pretty
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
At the Norwegian Folk Museum
Post Office at the Norwegian Folk Museum
Post Office at the Norwegian Folk Museum
Ye olde garage
Ye olde garage
Two storey privvy
Two storey privvy
Old deli was shut, they are missing a trick here
Old deli was shut, they are missing a trick here
Old kiosk
Old kiosk
Lovely stripey brick work
Lovely stripey brick work
Chris has decided to upgrade
Chris has decided to upgrade
Before Sealink
Before Sealink
Terrible image because of the glass but I loved his face
Terrible image because of the glass but I loved his face
I think this was the fancy "pleasure" boat
I think this was the fancy “pleasure” boat
My team is using dogs and we will get to the South Pole first because we are used to these conditions
My team is using dogs and we will get to the South Pole first because we are used to these conditions
I'm coming with you then
I’m coming with you then
Comfortable life on board the Fram
Comfortable life on board the Fram
The galley
The galley
The Kon-Tiki
The Kon-Tiki
Successful Norwegian Polar explorers
Successful Norwegian Polar explorers
Lovely day for a ferry
Lovely day for a ferry
This is obscenely big
This is obscenely big
On the ferry to Bygdoy
On the ferry to Bygdoy
This seemed quite big until it got dwarfed by the cruise ship
This seemed quite big until it got dwarfed by the cruise ship
Not sure what this is
Not sure what this is
Oslo by night
Oslo by night

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!

And I liked this one, because I am actually in it!
And I liked this one, because I am actually in it!
On the plane home, Chris liked this one
On the plane home, Chris liked this one

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.

Springsteen in Manchester June 2012

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%.

Greasy Lake set list

Two hearts
Where is my beer?
Brooce!
Rock n roll
Oh dear, more rock n roll!

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

Springsteen in Cologne May 2012

Thurs 24th May
7.30 pm Chris arrived at our house and I am all packed up and we are ready to rock.
Our stay at the Manchester Airport South, actually west, Premier Inn, starts with us getting an upgrade to a twin room at no addition to the £15 it is costing us each. The room is spacious and each twin bed is in fact a double. Chris has brought a flask filled not with coffee but iced gin! So we drink up and go to bed in good time for waking at 4. It is very hot.
“In the wee wee hours” (Springsteen), I wonder what happened to the nice shot I took when the room was tidy!
Fri 25th May
Wake at 4. Up and out promptly. Park in T3 Meet and Greet. Check in and we sail through Security having paid £3 each for the Priority Lane. This is well worth it as it gives us time to shop and have breakfast in Costa. Chris has a bacon bap and yoghurt and I have a croissant and yoghurt and coffee of course.
The flight is smooth and quick with only a half full plane and we are in Duesseldorf about 9.30. The luggage arrives correctly and we take the Skytrain to the airport train station. A short wait with some Bruce fans for the double decker train to Koeln. We end up in first as it’s very full chatting to Mrs. Bruce fan whilst Mr. is in a different carriage (because the train is so full). She tells us about their trip to Everest base camp. I don’t want to go there at all, ever, it sounds completely horrid. We arrive in Koeln and the hotel is a stone’s throw from both the station and the cathedral. The Hotel Excelsior Ernst is no. 1 on Trip Advisor and it is 5 star. Very helpful, verging on obsequious attention is paid to us. Only later do I realise the chap is touting for a tip, too late, and we never see him again. The room is huge, has embossed writing paper and a washbasin each! The mini bar is completely free and is replenished every day.  So we sample some Bitburger to check it’s ok!
We unpack and then straight out to find lunch which is sitting outside a resto near the Rhein.
After perusing the expensive menu we opt for the daily schnitzel bargain which comes with chips and salad and more beer. C has a wheat beer and I have another pils.
It’s hot, about 25C as we walk along the Rhein to the next big bridge and the cable car. Very pleasant, lots of cyclists on what look like huge heavy bikes.
As the cable car moves off, C reminds me that she might have vertigo. At this juncture we are swinging up over the Rhein and about to cross the motorway! I am told to talk but not expect an answer! Despite the photo showing a relaxed traveller what you can’t see is the hands gripping onto the seat in sheer terror! Fortunately it’s a short trip with good views of the Dom.
We walk through a nice park and along the side of the river, some of which is dirty grubby. Then back across the railway bridge which has thousands of padlocks for love along the fence separating the footpath from the tracks. At the end of the path is a plaque to say 1000 Roma and Sinti left here in 1940.
Then we wander around the Altstadt, stop for another coffee which is not great. Through a shopping street where I buy a pork pie hat to keep a bit more sun off my ears. Luckily I don’t have to try to ask for it!
Back to the hotel for crisps, Koelsch beer.
Whilst Chris relaxes in a cool bath, a girl comes and asks if we want the beds turning down. I ask her to bring lighter weight duvets which she does.
Lovely shower and then out again to Heumarkt to find no. 6 resto on Trip Advisor. After walking round twice we get directions from a taxi driver. The Brauerei Zur Mauzmuehle is old fashioned and cool inside. You step in through a revolving door wondering when you will be let out. Chris has lots of Koelsch and woodcutter’s pork with fried spuds and sauerkraut and I have asparagus omelette with salad. It is asparagus season so lots of asparagus on the menus. Happy diners. Then I take C on a long walk to the gay area, some of which is trendy. We are aiming for a bar called Bastard and I am expecting it to be really tacky but it’s down a little ginnel and is lovely and quiet and leafy and dark. C has more beer and I have white wine. We walk back with Google maps but the Dom is such a good landmark day or night.
Our room has a doorbell. I love that there are electric sockets next to the washbasin!
It’s nearly midnight. Time for bed.
On the plane
Our own washbasins!
Chris: “Why did I say I wanted to do this?!”
“OMG, we’re actually going to go over the motorway!!”
Padlocks of lurve
Archaeological dig of Jewish synagogue to become museum
Picture above an old pub
Boy on corner
The Dom
Pork and sauerkraut
Asparagus omelette
In the gay area
Also in gay area
Not Chris, obviously!
Roman Tower
Angels in dark, thankfully you can’t see the car they are attached to.
Bear
5* bedroom

[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Excelsior+Hotel+Ernst,+Trankgasse,+Upper+Bavaria,+Germany&aq=0&oq=hotel+excCologne,+Germany&sll=50.937531,6.960279&sspn=0.309814,0.965424&t=p&g=Cologne,+Germany&ie=UTF8&hq=Excelsior+Hotel+Ernst,+Trankgasse,+Upper+Bavaria,+Germany&hnear=&radius=15000&ll=50.941772,6.956406&spn=0.064899,0.102997&z=12&output=embed&w=300&h=300]

Sat 26th May
Wake at 9 and straight to breakfast. This is a sumptuous feast – lots of fish, meats, cheeses, breads and little pots of butter, mayo, cheese, beetroot and intriguing things. I have 3 types of muesli and yoghurt followed by thinly sliced beef and salami and cheese with rolls. Then a croissant. All washed down with proper coffee, espresso for me and cappuccino for C. She eats salmon, herring, cheese and salad.
Out to the U Bahn and after a bit of pfaffing we work out our ticket and platform. Head off for Bensberg about half an hour away.
The man at the hotel had thought we would struggle to find the outdoor pool but Google maps helps us to be self reliant.
The pool is in the ‘burbs on the edge of the forest. It’s open air and 50m long. Chris does 32 lengths i.e. a mile and I do 5 i.e. 250m which is a lot for me as am not very good at swimming. It’s quite blowy which makes big waves. It’s very hot in the sun on the grass and I don’t realise it until later but just this short exposure to the sun burns me. Thank goodness for Factor 50.
We wander back to the town for a cheese and tomato toastie and then back to the forest for a woodland walk on no. 13 path. We see a very big bird of prey. I am wanting a Biergarten and have seen huts marked on the map at the start of the walk. These turn out to be what look like wooden bus shelters and not inns. We take a “wrong” turn which spits us out at a “Friends of Nature” inn so in luck after all. Chris has a big beer and me a coffee.
Back via a lake to the station. We leave the train at Neumarkt and arrive back at the hotel at 7. Our luck is in as Philip Jump, one of the Badlands Fan Club brothers, is in reception dishing out tickets. He invites us to the bar but we have other plans plus there is mad Bruce fan hanging around and both of us would rather not have anything to do with her.
We go and shower and drink the minibar then out to eat. We’ve picked a bar but the whole central area of Koeln is packed full of people and fairly hideous. We end up in Brauhaus Sion sharing a table with a nice couple. Whilst we down several Koelsch we watch the gangs in their matching t shirts erupting into spontaneous singing. There are lots and lots of hen nights where they all have the same shirts and the brides to be carry what look like usherettes’ trays.
Chris has pork with onion gravy and fried spuds and coleslaw and I have beef roulade with mashed spuds and red cabbage.  Our neighbours say goodbye and wish us a “schoenes Pfingsten”. I’ve never been wished a lovely Whitsun before!
Then we go to the riverside for ice cream, very yummy and watch the disco boat on the river. So many people it’s like being at a rock concert without the music.
Back to hotel.
Not posing at all.
Not a Biergarten
Bahnhof at night
And Dom also
Friends of Nature Biergarten, lovely
Big big logs.

Chris swimming movie

[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Bensberg,+Germany&aq=0&oq=Ben&sll=50.965633,7.157032&sspn=0.077407,0.241356&t=p&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Bensberg,+Germany&ll=50.965671,7.157078&spn=0.032433,0.051498&z=13&iwloc=A&output=embed&w=300&h=300]

Sun 27th May
This is Bruce day.
We have a very big breakfast. Muesli, raspberries, huge loganberries, yoghurt, cold meats, bread rolls and pastries. Unable to move. We go to the river to buy our boat tickets and then continue to walk off the breakfast by heading up to Neumarkt.  We enter the Kaethe Kollwitz collection via a shopping centre which is closed because it’s Sunday and go up the tradespeople’s staircase to the 4th floor. Have to ring the doorbell to be let in. The boy and girl are surprised we have come this way. The exhibition is very good and hardly anyone else there. Calm and cool. Pictures very emotional. We leave via a glass lift.
Back to the river for an ice cream then a long time in the queue for the boat. It’s full and incredibly hot. I feel I’m burning even with factor 50 and through my shirt. We go up the river, down the river and back up again. Bit too hot and full for huge fun as we didn’t get a seat even after the queue so we sit on the lifeboat. I don’t mention that I can’t see enough lifeboats for the huge quantity of people on board. Some Springsteen fans are sitting near us. Today is the day to wear the Springsteen shirt, I’m saving mine up so it’s at least clean and not sweaty for a whole 5 mins.
Into town to the Peter’s Brauhaus for lunch, we get a seat today as failed last night when it was so mad and busy. C has sliced leg of pork with sauerkraut and mashed spud. I have boiled spud with veg in cheese sauce gratin. Very filling. C starts on the beer!
Back via the Dom where the Goths or possibly the fetish festival as well are hanging out. I can’t tell anymore! I did manage to spot some queers on our travels. I read the other day that people can tell immediately if someone is gay by the shape of their face. This sounds like sheer nonsense to me.
We prepare for the evening, Born to Run shirt on but The Rising baseball cap insufficient against the sun’s rays. I ring home and am entertained by Carol’s story of the biggest spider in the whole world. At 6 we go to reception and wait 5 mins for the Badlands people and then we set off anyway as they have clearly gone. We pfaff a bit in the station with the ticket machine because the VRS ticket office and machine are shut and are the same colour as the DB machine so we go to the info desk and it’s great, our Bruce tickets include free travel and indeed say VRS on them, but in the small print in a lot of other terms and conditions in German so I hadn’t seen this. We finally get going. At Neumarkt we change trains and are directed to a special train. We sit and chat to some German Bruce first timers. T shirt makers in Germany are having a boom time generally and so some have used the gig to demonstrate their affiliation. A group of 4 baby dykes are all saying they are Mrs. Bruce Springsteen. What will Patti have to say about that? Given that Mrs. Bruce Springsteen seems to have other priorities than fulfilling her membership of the E Street Band then perhaps she doesn’t mind at all…
Everyone gets in line in a most orderly fashion and we give our empty plastic bottles to a collector who will get money back on them. Eventually we find somewhere they will let us on the pitch. Security staff seem a trifle grumpy. I team up with a fellow beer buyer to get our beer, there is a €1 deposit on plastic glasses. We find a spot near the mixing hut but it’s not good for seeing the stage and only just ok for the screens.
Bruce comes on before 8 which is v. good for him. The audience makes a lot of noise! Then we have a 29 song set. Lots from the BitUSA album. About half time C gets more beer and we move back for a better view of screens. Less smoky here too. The Red Cross come past with a stretcher and snapping on the latex gloves. As well as being good value for money, Bruce made me laugh and made me cry. After some albums which didn’t quite cut the mustard, he’s back on track and talking to me again.
After a brilliant night we get some more beer although the serving boy is rude and stupid. Back on the train. Into the Bierkeller next to the hotel. I make another bar boy friend which seems to be the only way to get served!
Back to room to drink the mini bar!

Official gig photos 
Working on the Highway on YouTube
Wrecking Ball on YouTube
The River on YouTube

Bruce’s own YouTube channel

Greasy Lake set list

From a distance you can’t see the supporting section
Dom and Gross St. Martin (I think)
Dom
1930s TV station
Suspended from bridge with the padlocks
Couple of poofs at gig
On top of the TV station
Poof doing a doo wop to Bruce!
“Tramps like us
baby, we were
Born to Run!”
With her killer graces and her secret places
That no boy can fill with her hands on her hips (sort of!)
Better camera for next time
And better spot too with luck
Mon 28th May
Awake at 9 after just about enough sleep. As today is a bank holiday there are no free newspapers. Lovely breakfast. I have bowl of fresh berries, cold cuts, roll, croissant. Back to pack and then check out. Leave bags at reception while we go to the cathedral and climb the south tower. It’s only 100m of climbing but up a narrow spiral stone staircase which is 2 way. Some people are v. annoying. We reach a central chamber above the belfry. The bells as we pass are chiming and so loud I was frightened and reminded of the Nine Tailors by Dorothy L Sayers. We rest and then it’s up an open stair. This bit makes me feel slightly sick! C keeps on going, after the cable car she is being brave. Finally it narrows and we are up as high as it goes so we walk round the outside which is strongly fenced in on all sides and top. Hideous amounts of graffiti. Then down. The first part down to the central chamber is all down a really narrow spiral and some prats are unable to interpret the no entry sign at the bottom which means it is 1-way.
Back to hotel to collect bags. The doorman is grumpy with us now that we are no longer guests. Grrr.
Off to station for ticket to Duesseldorf and fail to get coffee from 2 cafes outside so we get some inside. C also gets a Jamaican drink. Train is quick only half an hour.
At Duesseldorf we put our bags in a locker and buy a tube ticket. Travel to the riverside although at first it looks like we are in the middle of nowhere but actually we just walk along a short way to the riverside. Then we find a place to eat in the Altstadt called Maredo. We both have self serve salad which is excellent but the Schnitzel and chips just not great. The Altbier is good! Just as well.
Then along the riverside and back into the town to a lake with lots of birds and their young. Ducks, geese, swans. Sit quietly for a while away from the hubbub.
Back to river for ice cream for C and coffee. V hot in sun and I feel a bit too tired and hot with so many people. Back to tube. Back to station. Pick up bags. Off to airport, just 5 mins on train. Then on Skytrain to terminal C after quick look at A where no mention of flight.
Check in, Wander round. Do controls and then shopping. At last, as all shops have been shut for 2 days.
Flight is on time and very smooth. Only 20 passengers on plane, lovely.
Thanks Chris, for a brilliant Bruce adventure, here’s to the next one!

Places we went, things we ate, on Trip Advisor.

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

Inside the Dom
Going up
Still some way to go
Zoom on Hotel Excelsior Ernst
The thought of dangling on this makes me feel sick
But clearly stonework needs attention
So very camp! (Duesseldorf)
Duesseldorf Rathaus
This was mad woman inspecting a photo!
Skates, dog, queers
Bad birds
Extremely bad birds
Phew!
Hot duckling, anyone?
or cygnet?
Last ice cream
The Four Muses

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

Bruce in Frankfurt Friday July 3rd 2009

Chris Dancing in the Not Quite Dark Yet
Inflatables
Second position further back but more comfortable
First spot, nearer but hard to see
In the pub before the gig
In the departure lounge
Spooky, another Bruce fan behind me
Broooce!

I’ve already written this right up to Friday afternoon and then it all disappeared but hey at least some of my words of wit will return with luck.

After only 4 hours sleep we had our 1st breakfast of muesli and left nice and early at 6.30 to miss the Manchester rush hour.
Arrived at airport and parked in short stay park next to terminal 1, nice and easy. We both bought CK Summer and a few other bits, no pack a mac for Chris though. Having done the boarding pass thing online, just had time for a 2nd breakfast (bacon sarnie for C, almond pastry for me) and more coffee.
Onto the plane and settled in for 3rd breakfast of cheese sandwich, very nice and a mini Mars bar plus coffee.
Arrived in Frankfurt at 12.10, the luggage arrived just as we did at the terminal, perhaps the long bus ride around the vast number of planes was so that baggage control looked really efficient.
After I’d got on the wrong bus we took the correct shuttle to the NH Hotel in Raunheim. Nice hotel in commercial and residential area. We checked in and went straight for a swim to cool off a bit.
We unpacked a bit, Chris rang Steven Jump about getting into the pit but it meant getting to the stadium at 5.00 so we changed and took what we needed for the evening.
Walked to Raunheim train station where a nice lady sold us her day ticket for half price so we only had to buy one, would have been even nicer if she had given it to us.
Took the fast train to Frankfurt and this would have been nice if it was too. Instead it took twice as long because of track repairs.
Wandered off in direction of the old town passing through the rough town. Chris took a fancy to some dodgy toiletries in a Superdrug type shop. Got more water.
Found the old town which was hosting Iron Man contest, this is swimming and biking. Then so hungry despite the multiple breakfasts stopped at pub and had sausage selection (Chris) and beef and potato dumplings (Jak) plus beer. Terrible smell of drains in this area unfortunately.
No time to go back to the hotel so went straight to the stadium on the train. Already quite good at the trains. Blew up inflatable instruments which caused much comment and amusement for rest of evening. Met the first of Chris’ boyfriends on the train admiring of her horn!. Path from station tree lined which was handy for C’s needs.
Once in, took a while to figure out how to get into the standing area. Got a spot which was quite close, well near the mixing desk but the sound was a bit rubbish and it was hard to see over very tall people. Bruce was very naughty and over 45 minutes late so more beer consumed. J left for a loo break during Outlaw Pete and realised both sound and vision (on screens) much better further back so we moved back and were more comfortable and not so squashed either.
Amazing 28 song set, played some stunners – Something in the Night, Trapped, Point Blank. We waved the guitar and sax and the Frankie sign but he would have struggled to see it without his binos.
20.27

1. Badlands http://twitwoop.com/0n3td40
2. Adam Raised A Cain
3. The Ties The Bind
4. My Lucky Day
5. Outlaw Pete
6. Hungry Heart
http://twitwoop.com/6ek5kw0
7. Working On A Dream
8. Seeds
9. Johnny 99
10. FACTORY
http://twitwoop.com/mb0q430
11. Something In The Night
collecting signs
12. I’m Goin’ Down (request)
13. Ramrod (request)
14. Trapped (request)
15. Because The Night
16. Waitin’ On A Sunny Day
17. The Promised Land
18. POINT BLANK!!
http://twitwoop.com/vd0eel0
19. Kingdom of Days
20. Lonesome Day
21. The Rising
22. Born To Run

23. Hard Times
24. Jungleland
25. American Land
26. Bobby Jean
27. Dancin’ In The Dark
28. Twist & Shout

23.15
On the way out, everyone did the Badlands refrain in the tunnel and beyond. Back to station buying more water and beer on the way, plus a melted cheese bread thing.
But at the station the renowned punctuality suddenly went badly wrong and hundreds of people had to wait forever for the trains to come. Most annoying as just tired, took nearly 2 hours to get back to hotel after gig finished.
Finally got back, showered and slept like logs, so tired forgot to pull the curtain.
One of the best gigs ever.
 

[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Frankfurt,+Germany&aq=0&oq=frankfurt&sll=51.219357,4.402771&sspn=0.033868,0.104628&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Frankfurt,+Darmstadt,+Hesse,+Germany&t=m&ll=50.110946,8.682117&spn=0.016513,0.025749&z=14&iwloc=A&output=embed&w=300&h=300]

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.