At the border…

The Pyrenees is a new destination for most of us, well this particular part of them. Our travel day commenced, leaving Rome quite early, heading out of the heat towards Ciampino airport and flying 2 hours to Pau in Southwestern France. From there it was a 2 hour drive over the mountains to an area known for its skiing and natural beauty. At the border, we stopped for a coffee break and stretched the legs.

We eventually ended up at a small family run hotel called El Privilegio in a small town called Tramacastilla De Tena, population (official) 150. Toño Cortiso, the son of owner Anabel took on a single-handed responsibility for looking after me for the next few days as he accompanied me to two separate doctors surgeries, administered prescriptions, supplied vitamin drinks, prepared special meals in the room…he even did my laundry last minute as sweat was to render the entire t-shirt stock unwearable. So, I’d like to say a big thank you to him and all at the hotel.

Show day was beautiful with seemingly perfect temperatures and a clear outlook. The venue appeared to be in a very scenic location, a village called Lanuza on the Embalse (reservoir) de Lanuza. A single track road made access difficult and by show time, this was lined with thousands of cars. I arrived late in order to rest as much as possible but with the wind whipping in off the water, this was going to be a cold show. I wrapped up in as many layers as I could physically squeeze under my jacket. By the time we got to Sultans which is traditionally a keyboard player’s break, I had to re-dress as I was drenched from the inside out. Second time around, I stayed warm keeping a towel around my neck for the entirety. Mark and the boys at the front of the stage really struggled as the wind whipped around the corner of the stage which was in fact floating on the reservoir. Anyone who lives near the sea will testify that wind off water always seems colder than any other wind and this show was a case in point. We made it through with numb hands and were back at the hotel bar. I felt better and had a feeling that this was the end of my fever. This was to be the case as with one almighty sweat through the night, it was gone.


If this gig was cold for the band, I felt sympathy for the crew whose task was going to be difficult in the extreme with another very long drive ahead overnight to a dust bowl in the middle of nowhere known as Avila.