Tony Penultimate

Big House in the Country Weekender

Arrival at the hotel

A few years ago, a film maker did a documentary about us, touring and playing the US and Australia and his general theme was - "what do you do when your hobby becomes a job"?

Since I've been through playing the ukulele for a hobby and playing it as a professional, I can tell you that the initial enthusiasm and lustre soon wears off when it becomes work. So I was a bit nervous about going up to Carlisle for the second time to play with the band and staying in the same hotel as our audience, unlike other hotels when we go on tour - nobody knows who we are, but here, everybody knows who we are

Evening of our arrival - having a bite to eat

The event was completely sold out months ago and there are 215 peole staying specifically for this weekend - it is run by Matt Fuddle and his partner Diane plus Andy Webster (from the League of Ukulele Gentlemen). Matt runs various ukulele related enterprises - events (like this one) a ukulele shop and a glossy ukulele magazine, he is a big guy who wears a bowler hat a lot (which always reminds me of the film 'A Clockwork Orange' - Matt is a pussycat though!).

Running through Pinball Wizard - which we hadn't played for a while

The event was held at the Gilsland Hall Hotel another of these 'financially unviable' old fashioned hotels (which I heard had changed hands twice since we last played here) its a spa hotel, and is located in the beautiful countryside of 'the Borders' - a lady guest had pulled me aside to tell me that I had called it the Lake District in my last blog - apologies!). It had the feel of a wartime hospital - fairly spartan, but the rooms were clean and the staff were friendly. Since the weather in England has been extremely mild the hotel had made sure, in its eccentric way, that the heating was on full blast.

George was back with us for this gig as Leisa wasnt doing it - so we were still an eight piece, but needed some quick rehearsal to get some numbers up to scratch. We were scheduled to run a workshop and give a concert.

Here we are going into the workshop - the guy on the right is Tim Smithies of Dead Mans Uke (he plays Tiny Tims ukulele!).

Here we are waiting to go on to play the concert. This was a small show by our normal theatre standards, but a great one (I even had a go at rapping!) - once again the smaller the room, the better the band come across. While we are very lucky to be playing to big theatre audiences both here and in Europe - the intimacy and intensity is less in larger venues.

During the interval - Dave found these two badges and we took a selfie.

 After the show we stayed in the bar to chat to punters and fellow guests.

Doug (sound) Jodi (manager) and Richie pose with their drinks. All in all it was a fun weekend and special thanks go to several of our German fans who made the long trip over to come and hear us play (Thats you Doris and Klaus - Danke Schoen!) - and thank you to all who came and to Matt, Andy and Diane for organising it.

On our way back, Will spotted this photo display at Carlisle train station of the Virgin mascot with various celebrities (Virgin Trains runs the franchise and is often in the doghouse with passenger groups about their service). 

We're back on the 26th Jan in Germany Campers - see you there.



Andrea- I sincerely hope so! Matt - it was great fun and I’ll give your regards to some of our German friends when we see them on tour next week. Thanks for a really enjoyable weekend!
Great Peter, we are waiting for you in Italy, maybe now that Viola works in Italy there will be more opportunities!
Thanks very much for making the long trip and for the great show! Doris and Klaus were joined by 9 other Germans for the weekend too - perhaps we'll have to do a 'Großes Haus auf dem Land' one day!

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