Chris: July is always one of the busiest months for any band for hire but this July... well, perhaps we went a bit over-the-top with accepting bookings.
Firstly, the 30th of June was spent in the recording studio in Arundel, West Sussex - we had a couple of new (to us) tracks we wanted to record. Our sound engineer, Jeremy, had travelled down from a gig the night before in Manchester to be with us for 10am and was exactly the right amount of knackered to be a part of this team . Fortunately, Jez can mix sound in his sleep (and occasionally outside whilst having a cigarette).
We managed to get both tracks recorded very quickly and were heading home by 2pm... all slightly dreading the next day.
July 1st 6am and muggins here was heading to Gatwick to collect a van we'd hired for the day. We'd been booked to play at a wedding 20 miles south of the Scottish border in Northumberland. After collecting the van, we all convened at Ollie's place in South London. Ollie took to van driving like a duck to water. Honestly, you should have heard the obscenities. World class.
The van was brand spanking new and for a good half hour we all felt like Beyonce on tour. Then we got a bit bored for the other 5 hours. At the services we saw Olly Murs.
It did little to alleviate the boredom.
We arrived in Northumberland in good time, set up and then got out the way. Part of the fun of playing at events is the dinner lottery. This wedding was an all-six-balls win with fillet steak, green beans wrapped in bacon and dauphinoise potatoes - all topped off with a palate-pleasing peppercorn sauce. The Bluejays give this meal a well-deserved ten on ten.
We ate in the van.
After a very fun couple of sets it was time to pack down and burn rubber. It was midnight and we needed to be back at Gatwick at 6am as our next performance was in 12 hours, 1800 miles away in Crete.
As any band driving home on a Saturday night will tell you... that's when they like to close the motorways for repairs. We ended up driving via Hartlepool because of a closure on the A1 - if you don't know the geography, it goes Newcastle, Durham, Venezuela, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Hartlepool...
We stuck strictly to the national speed limit (of Poland) and drove through the night, stopping only for coffee, to swap drivers, toilet and coffee. And toilet.
At 5:45am we dumped the van in a ditch, torched it and legged it around to the airport. Breaking into a sweat, we hot-footed it to the bag drop. Being easyJet, we tagged our own bags/guitars and slung them down the chute into the furnace before sprinting to the security gate. At 6am on a Sunday, security was STILL chockablock. Finally get through. Flight delayed - 1 hour.
Pret a Manger. Try not to fall asleep in lounge.
We arrived in Heraklion at 2pm Sunday or 32 hours into our Saturday whichever way you choose to look at it. We got taxied to P&O's Oceana ship and had 45 mins sleep before SOUNDCHECK. We did two 45 min sets that night in a state of total befuddlement but, as a result, were really good fun.
The next day we docked in Katakolon, Greece which is the port for ancient Olympia... however, regular viewers will know that we visited there only a few weeks back, so this week we chilled out in the town, ate some feta and met a dog.
The next day was Albania.
The following day we flew home from Malta. On easyJet. On Ollie's 30th birthday. 🎈
We had a day of celebration and sausages at Casa del Seymour-Marsh and a lovely time was had by all.
The neeeeext day we flew to Corfu (I'm trying to make this sound tough. I'm not really sure that's coming across) where the weather was melt-your-face-off degrees. We ventured out in the evening to lovely little restaurant called Nautilus with the most amazing view over the harbour.
Meat. (There was a salad too but no salad is worth photographing.)
We very happily sat there until the sun went down, whereupon...
... we wandered about 100ft to the nearest taverna and watched a bright red moon come up. The iPhone camera really didn't do it justice.
In the morning we joined Cunard's newly spruced-up Queen Victoria ship. Very nice. We played to some really great audiences including two shows in the very grand ballroom.
The cruise culminated, for us, in a trip to Athens. We got up early to visit the Acropolis. We all agreed that it was the best Acropolis any of us had seen in quite some time.
Then we came home again. And then we went off again and it was still only July 17th...