Refreshed from a great night's sleep in quiet and comfortable surroundings, we had a lovely breakfast chat with our host and Bideford Folk Club committee member, Alison, at her splendid B&B.
Taking advantage of being in one of the prettiest areas in England and not needing to be on the road again until lunchtime, we took Alison's advice and drove down to the local estuary for a ramble along the River Caen out towards where it meets the River Taw. The weather was glorious and the breeze from the river proved refreshing.
Then, after picking up our instruments and other gear from Alison’s house, we set off to have lunch in Barnstable before travelling on eastwards for our gig at Swindon Folk Club. As we drove back eastwards, we could see the temperatures, already warm, were rising alarmingly. By the time we reached Swindon, the town was sweltering in the heat.
The Swindon Folk Club is held in a largish upstairs room above The Hop Inn in the Old Town. It is a hostelry that provides some quality craft ales and some very very good pub ‘nosh’. The manager of pub was very obliging and let us park behind the pub. This made unloading and loading our growing selection of instruments and gear a lot easier and was much appreciated given the heat.
Given we had plenty of time before performing, we treated ourselves to a mercifully cold (alcohol-free) beer and a truly magnificent ‘ham, egg and chips sandwich’ as we watched the pub fill up with those who’d finished a hot day at work.
Swindon Folk Club organiser, Claire, found us with our faces in our sandwiches and came over to say a cheery ‘Hello’. We discussed the possibility of using the club's PA system for the night but, with the acoustics in the club room being so good, plus our general preference to perform acoustically if we can, we decided against it.
By now, the heat of the evening had become more than a little oppressive and it was very kind of all of those that chose to join us indoors for an evening of music when a cool glass of beer or wine in the garden or park, must have been very appealing. So, it wasn't a surprise that the audience was modest in size comprising key club organisers, some club regulars and some attendees who were passing through Swindon that weekend in attendance. Claire and a fellow member of her trio, The Bellflowers, started the evening off with some stunning harmonies over two songs. She was followed by performer who'd played professionally in Germany for over 30 years and just happened to be passing through Swindon that weekend. He played a range of jazz classics with great skill and humour. He, in turn, was followed by a club regular who played some Richard Thompson and Billy Joel material very well.
We went on around 9:00 pm by which time the room was melting and it was hard work trying to maintain our normal energy levels in that heat. With it being so hot, it was very sensible and natural for the room’s windows to be opened. Sadly, the downside of that in a decidedly urban location was that we were occasionally accompanied by passing motorbikes and ambulances rushing by. With Claire's kind support, we finish the evening at 10:30pm, said our goodbyes and packed up the car.
The motorways were reasonably kind to us until we approached London and the M25 and then a whole sequence of roadworks and, at one point, potential motorway closure made for a tiring final leg of the journey. The thought of a cold, alcohol-full, beer in the fridge at home was what drove us forward.
Many thanks to Claire and all her colleagues at the Swindon Folk Club for looking after us so well on a hot and difficult evening. We wish the club all the very best for the future and sincerely hope that the committee's aspirations for continuing and growing the reputation of such a famous and historic folk club come to fruition. The club has weathered difficult times in recent years and has come through them well positioned for the future. We wish them all the very best.