Day Off – ANOTHER day off, this time though most of it was spent on the bus as it was decided that we’d use today to make the 175 mile trip from Berlin to Hamburg. With the clocks going back an hour last night and a particularly Autumnal day, suddenly there’s a real feeling of wintertime in the air plus that seasonal gloom as the evenings approach ever faster. All that beer consumption in Berlin took its toll on me today and I could do little more than lie on the bed watching a very processional Indian Grand Prix through half-closed eyes. (I really think Massa and Hamilton need to grow up) There were plans developing for a band dinner in the hotel and as we all recall from prior visits, the Park Hyatt has an excellent restaurant. We met in the extremely dimly lit bar for a day-off G&T and sat down to dinner. I popped for a sumptuous Lobster bisque and an entrecote steak that was pure heaven. Mark heartily accepted the wine waiter’s suggestions of a German Pinot Noir, a Cote du Rhone and a crisp German Riesling. A brief music session in my room followed and that was pretty much that.

Show Day – Socks. Oh, I nearly forgot, this place has a fabulous pool and as soon as I could muster the energy which wasn’t too difficult today, I was into my black board shorts and down there before you could say “doggy-paddle”. The 20 metre long pool is one I always try and make the most of whilst in Hamburg. 20 lengths was all I felt up to and then I thought I’d join the breakfast club for a change. As usual, Mark, Glenn, Paul and Tim were there and squeezed round to accommodate another seat. The Eggs benedict was the best of the tour except that there was only one. I nearly re-ordered and had another one but thought better of it.

Back to the matter at hand, socks. It’s funny what you remember about places you visit on tours gone by. I remember from a few tours ago, a department store next door to this hotel where I bought about a years worth of socks and since my sock collection has dwindled to a pathetic two worn out pairs, it was time to take immediate action. To my mild surprise, everything was just as it had been then and the sock counter was plentifully stocked. I must have spent a good 25 minutes deciding, I’m not the world’s greatest shopper although like most blokes I suppose, if I know what I want, I’m in and out of there with the minimum of hassle. I was also looking for a new camera strap, not in the sock dept. of course…no luck there but I did find some nice herbal tea and an extraordinary tea shop. It seems Hamburgers are into the finer points of tea making as this place had an amazing selection of fresh tea leaves in huge jars on the back wall. No builders tea though! I found a health food store and bought a pint of fresh milk for my tea and set off for the room. A quick cuppa and it was time to grab the banjo (or banjer as Donny spells it) and head for the bus waiting downstairs. The usual selection of hardy autograph hunters outside the hotel, not just fans but the hardcore get-a-lifers, the ones that hang out there all day. Maybe someone can explain that one to me.

At the venue the banjo revolution had come up against its first hurdle. Signs had been put up declaring Banjo-Free Zones! Whatever next? So banjo students were banished to such places as chair storerooms and saunas. Yes, we had a sauna in our dressing room, needless to say it wasn’t on.


Mark and Richard did a bit of studying in the dressing room whilst Mike took my banjo somewhere where he couldn’t be heard.

The halloween mood was none more evident than in catering this evening and there were halloween treats on the tables and Scott, one of the chefs donned what can only be described as an air-suit, kept inflated by a battery operated fan.

Ianto has discovered the benefits of the sauna warm-up…

The show was another fabulous one, enhanced by yet another day off. A great crowd as has been the case everywhere in Germany. Mark was to play four songs this evening with Bob but I think he ended up staying up there for six. Bob seemed happy. The bus back to the hotel where our esteemed promoter Marek Leiberberg was waiting with after-show drinks and snacks.

Happy Halloween