Too bad. Now as I write summer is still here with bright blue skies but a cold nip in the air and I have done my last swim in the sea for this year.
Since I last wrote I’ve travelled a lot with bursts of time at home to repack and sort things out. I’ve done nice gigs and met great people and feel the summer has been very full and good.
In June we were guests of poet John Hegley again, playing some songs in a poetry evening and concert this time at the beautiful Keats’ House in Hampstead where he is poet in residence at the moment. With John and friends we made paper dragons articulated with butterfly clips, while Keith Moore’s famous mechanical dragon turned on the lawn. We’re back there with John this Sunday 30th September from 5.30-7.30.
We had a lovely gig at the Aldeburgh Festival Fringe organised by violinist Cal Fell. An exquisite and tiny venue on the edge of the marsh. And sea swimming the next day in water so cold it felt hot. We stayed with Polly and Tim Robinson of the award winnng Food Safari, who organise visits to great quality food producers in Suffolk and courses on bread making and other food topics.
In July I played my violin as part of Julian Ferraretto’s Big String project and stood proudly next to professional classical players as we played like a huge groovy string choir with the Neil Cowley Trio. The arrangements were played from memory which made me glad of my Suzuki training and restored my lost confidence as a young orchestral player who wasn’t very good at sight-reading. The next season will bring a concert at the Barbican but I’ll be working on my album. I hope to rejoin next year by when they will probably be playing the Albert Hall.
Also in June Andy and I played at Latitude Festival again, on the lovely In the Woods stage this time, and then had a great day out and laughed a lot at Tim Minchin, danced to ‘Come On Eileen’, and then sat and listened to poetry including Simon Armitage for 2 hours while I ate brownie and hot custard from a great food stall called ‘Oats’. We stayed just long enough to say hello to John Hegley and Keith Moore but couldn’t stay for their show as we had a long, late drive back.
Next day we played at the beautiful Cothay Manor and gardens near Wellington in Somerset and I now have a season ticket as it’s a place to be visited often, with yew ‘rooms’ filled with colour-themed plants and flowers. A very inspiring and restful place. I came back and tended my raised bed in the community garden and plotted more guerilla gardening in South London.
In July I visited Germany and Luxemburg, in intense continental heat, and soaked up the atmosphere and food familiar to me from childhood travels to my grandparents’ in Germany. Just a few days but enough of a fix, as by chance we ended up in Iceland in August which was really wonderful in a very different way and gave me a surprising change of perspective on everything – my home, culture and the earth itself!
Back in the UK we did a great gig in Wales with our great friend Jeb Loy Nichols at the Mid Wales Arts Centre run by the beautiful Cathy Knapp and her husband John. We played surrounded by the permanent exhibition of her late husband Stefan Knapp’s revolutionary huge enamel pictures and shared the bill with a great young bluegrass duo called Luke and Cath (www.lukeandcath.com). It was the kind of gig where everybody sings on each other’s songs, which I love. We stayed in the very comfortable B&B they run there and it didn’t feel like working.
As August wore on we visited lots of great parts of Britain and these have been some of the best days of the summer and like summer holidays of long ago. I remembered how great – and sometimes scarey – it was to swim at Woolacombe in North Devon in the huge waves, as well as the strong freezing currents of the River Dart. W swam in the sea at Broadstairs in Kent and at Camber Sands in Sussex and enjoyed Rye in the early morning before the tourists arrived and it felt like being in a BBC costume drama.
Back in the city and my brother Lucas Hollweg cooked a dinner for 60 with chef Rowley Leigh at his restaurant Le Cafe Anglais. Delicious shared dishes of hake and fennel, followed by rabbit and a damnson fool. More ‘Good things to eat’. I am inspired to cook every recipe in his lovely book of this name.
It’s time to get used to being in London again but great to see all the people in our extraordinary local community, and I’ve plunged into finishing writing and recording my new album. There are nice gigs this month and lots of great things to do and people to see. Too much too briefly here, but I hope I remember to write sooner this time.