Driving limits…

Day off –

Another day off and this one is the last in Germany. With winter now rearing its chilly head with gusto, wandering the busy Hanoverian streets is a bracing affair. One thing that surprised me today was the high energy shopping that’s going on in this town. Yes it’s Saturday afternoon and yes, Christmas is approaching but for sure there are no signs of recession in this part of Germany. I’m sure it’s just the simple fact that our hotel is slap bang in the middle of town and therefore at the epicenter of all the hubbub. My mission (which I chose to accept) was to find fresh milk for tea. I regret to report that it was a complete failure. The irony being that almost opposite or hotel is the Galleria, a remarkable chain of German department stores and of course unbeknownst to me, a sumptuous food hall awaited in the basement. It wasn’t until I spoke to Richard later in the day that I was made aware of it. Ah well….I must also confess to a mildly throbbing head today, a result of  a late night encounter with a drink or two last night. More Hanover than Hangover. If the early morning milk sortie failed to remedy my throb so my next misguided plan was to get to the gym and try and run it off. This I did and convinced myself that I felt the better for it.

It wasn’t long before I came to the ugly conclusion that I didn’t. Plan C was to establish a drinking buddy or two and have a ‘hair of the dog’ afternoon beer or three. Richard was willing, after not very much persuasion. We headed out again at two thirty (chinese dentist). Since the crew were also in our hotel, it was no surprise to bump into Mr. Saggers just returning from his morning walk after a late arrival. The crew bus got in at 12:30 midday. I said to Glenn “fancy a beer?”. Glenn’s self-control completely deserted him and he, Rich and I headed for the old town. We bumped into Stu Kimball (Bob’s brilliant rhythm guitarist). We soon found a suitable old German bar and ordered a round of finest local pilsener beers. It wasn’t long before there were Brockwursts mit brot a plenty on the table plus a plate of delicious chips. After three rounds of ale, a hotel bed seemed a great place to fall and at 5pm I found it. I woke 2 hours later at 7pm wondering what day it was but feeling no pain.. A few calls round to the other guys and we met downstairs for the evening dinner expedition; a loosely hatched plan to find some Schnitzel and such like, but it was Saturday evening and most every suitable restaurant was full. We eventually came across a Mexican restaurant and I headed inside to check it out. Of course, I bumped into more crew boys..Dave Dixon, Tom Calcattera and Jon Lewis were on the Margueritas. The waitress didn’t look to hopeful about a seating for ten hungry musicians but I spotted a large table and we made a deal, if we are out by 11pm we can have it. No problem, it was only 9. I must say that the food was great.

…quite what Bob’s Big Boy was doing in Hanover I’m not sure…




Show Day- Feeling virtuous from the relatively early night, I got up, made tea, proper tea this time, none of that fru-fru stuff and considered the gym but though yoga might be a better option. It was. I lazed around the room and organized some music playlists for the bus. I did nip out for a quick walk around the block, just to see if any shops were open on a Sunday…They ALL were. The crowds seemed even bigger than yesterday too. One of the many street entertainers seemed to be hovering in mid air…at least he wasn’t playing an accordion!



We were soon checked out of the hotel and on our way in Dirk’s bus to the TUI arena. A familiar venue…and a good one. This pic offers some impression of the logistics of a tour like this. I think it’s 5 trucks and 7 buses.



No tour can be complete without a photo of the Glenns.


The show was just fabulous. A few set-list changes and plenty of day-off energy and we were ready for the Hanovarians. Another very relaxed set and we could feel the audience warming to us as we played. As always, it’s all over too soon and we’re in the dressing room preparing for the evening bus ride. Not before Mark gets up there with BD again, this evening for 4 songs.

The drive South to Nurnburg is a long one and the bus driver EU rulings are evident once more. We appear to have three drivers aboard. This confuses me so I interrogate the softly spoken Scouser, Carl. As Carl pointed out, back in the old days of touring, bus and truck drivers would simply drive and drive, self-regulating their rest and sleep periods. This inevitably led to many over-tired drivers and I would guess some near-misses and scary moments on the longer runs. Something needed to be done to regulate the hours spent behind the wheel. The EU regulation (Regulation (EC) 561/2006 – details here) which appeared in 2006 are extreme, some say a excessive, and some say completely ridiculous.

• After a driving period of no more than 4.5 hours, a driver must immediately take a break of at least 45 minutes unless he takes a rest period. A break taken in this way must not be interrupted.

• The maximum daily driving time is 9 hours

• The maximum weekly driving limit is 56 hours

We were the victims of this last ruling tonight, as Carl was unable to take the wheel even though he was very well rested and in tip-top form. Extremely frustrating for him not to be able to drive his ‘baby’ and a bit of a pisser for us actually too as you become acutely aware of drivers’ driving styles and I have to say I’ve never experienced a smoother driver than Carl. The two relief drivers were both young guys, very good drivers no doubt but it’s difficult to replicate 20+years driving experience. It’s truly amazing how this can put you on edge but then we are pretty awful back-seat drivers in this band.

We soon settled into the top lounge for some of Jim’s playlist followed by some of mine. Everything from Nilsson, Magazine, Buffalo Springfield, Thin Lizzy to Kanui And Lula, The Civil wars, Ray Charles and Esquevel.