It’s one of those things about living in one of the most gorgeously wonderful metroplises in the world, that when friends and family  come to visit, it is quite hard to just stay in and watch movies  for four days. Yesterday we went down to the River Thames to see some wonderful London sights, the London Eye, the South Bank, the Tate Modern, the Globe, the Millenium Bridge, the amazing view from the river, and a ride on the top deck of a red London bus.

We made sandwiches, carrot sticks, took cheese and onion crisps and flasks of tea, coffee and tick tock tea. What a great idea! Inspired by family coming to visit us with small children, who take sandwiches with them where ever they go. It was so much better than hanging out with the cafe society and spending vast amounts of money. We all sat on a bench next to the river, out came one  of our paper cups on the ground. We ate sandwiches ( me without the bread)  crisps, drank hot drinks tainted with that funny metal flask flavour and sang badly and laughed a lot ( no…no-one put any money in our cup). Best fun bit of the day. Off to the museums today…not so bright at half-term as they will be mobbed….but will they listen? I am taking a brown paper bag to breathe into and a good book as once kids get into that interactive area of the Science Museum, time stands still. I feel my life slipping away from me….

SONG OF THE DAY– I Will Survive – Cake

I am posting this for VR and musician blogger frizz who is playing a particularly good rendition of this song on banjo here. I have done an arrangement where the men  sing the tune, reclaiming this song for the men!

I felt rough this morning. Well, quite down actually.  Woke up  and wanted to run away to the circus in Costa Rica, die my hair bright red, lose  40 lbs and change my name to Mabel Aspinall or something as exotic. Things did not get much better until I went to the optician, who told me I did not need to change my prescription, so realised I was quids in and sauntered down to the friendliest music shop I have been in a long time -to buy a new guitar.

Hobgoblin in Rathbone Place.

It’s not so much a guitar shop as a cornucopia of instruments from all sorts of folkly ( yes, folkly) traditions. Lutes, flutes, banjos, concertinas, wierd plucky things and bangy things I had not seen before.

I was after a guitar that was made of wood, rather than my ovation copy that has a fibreglass, or something back, so has no real depth of ring to it. As it is my quest to play more this year….I wanted a better sound. A fuller richer sound with more bottom end, if you’ll excuse the turn of phrase. Having walked through every guitar shop in Denmark Street and not one single sales assistant asking me if I  needed any help, or giving me a smile or nod , or anything that suggested I was a real breathing human being. I was almost floored when someone in Hobgoblin looked me in the eye and asked me if I needed some help! He  then proceeded to aid me through an hour an a half of my  painful strumming in the basement of the shop. He  gently supported me through my quest to find the guitar that gave me that ‘excaliber moment’. The lovely  chap was up and down the stairs about 10 times, checking that I was doing ok. Giving me useful advice without being in the slightest pushy – just very supportive. Mr P. sat idly by as I tried one after another, back to the first, and then another, and back to the second and then another, and back to the first……until I yelped…I’ll take two! I almost did but….

I was overruled and took one, the one with the most beautiful sound, second hand and reasonably priced. When I got it home I realised the body is so wide, from back to front, that when I stand up and play it I cannot see the neck! I did not notice in the shop as I was playing sitting down so the angle was slightly different. Anyway I have re-strung it, and I will learn to play blind or just sit down and play it, as the sound is so lovely.

The other guy  working in the shop  that day was funny, very funny and I got strings and two of the most marvellous plectrums thrown in . Cheered us both up.

After that we went for sustenance at a place very close to Warren Street Station. The bicycle outside caught my eye. Mr P. had cake and coffee and I had some hippy herbal brew as I gave up sugar 3 months ago………ah well.

So the tidying got put on hold for the day, but I don’t need to run away to Costa Rica…quite yet, as I have too much guitar practice to do.

SONG OF THE DAY – Good Time Gal – Mean Mary and her Pal

I heard a banjo being played in Hobgoblin today. I love proper good banjo playing and stumbled across Mean Mary  on you tube. A very talented woman who has  had some struggles in her life, as well as making great music.