Happily Ever After

Life in The Rural Retreat with a beautiful wife, three cats, garden wildlife, a camera, a computer – and increasing amounts about running

Earlier posts can be found on Adventures of a Lone Bass Player, where this blog began life. Recent entries can be found here.


Rick And A Wildlife Surprise

by Russell Turner - 22:01 on 15 July 2019

Where to start? The musical triumph? The surprise garden encounter? The wandering cat? I guess chronological order will do.

The action began two nights ago (although it already feels like two weeks) when City Limits played its second gig at Johnny Foxes, after which I slipped past the adoring fans and made for Matchgirl’s city office where I was able to get a couple of hours’ sleep on her two-person sofa (despite having a four-person-length body).

Around 5.30am, three hours after our gig finished, I drove to Inverness Airport and 90 minutes after that was en route for Gatwick. Fortunately the incredible BO of the guy two seats away was dispelled when the cabin air-conditioning was activated after take-off. With no hold luggage I was straight off easyJet’s finest and on to the South Terminal shuttle, then equally quickly on to the Gatwick Express for a non-stop 30-minute zoom to Victoria Station. From there a brisk 10-minute walk found me at the Grange Rochester, where I was to stay for the night.

The down side of all this speed was several hours to kill before my room became available, and no energy or inclination to go sightseeing, so after tea and a needless cake (there is such a thing, Matchgirl) at a nearby cafe I returned to the hotel and dozed in the bar until 1pm with the aid of a small Jack Daniels.

When the room became available I moved in but sleep eluded me. Thankfully, a shower and an afternoon of Wimbledon left me rested enough for the 30-minute stroll to the Royal Festival Hall which I found thronged with aged prog rock fans, a couple of them in wheelchairs and more leaning on sticks, but all eager to relive their youth of 45 years ago when Mr Wakeman first performed Journey To The Centre Of The Earth in this very auditorium.

The queue for merchandising was long and slow, with no seating provided for infirm rockers, but I was able to purchase a programme and XL event T-shirt without trouble; 2XL and 3XL tees had sold out long before, which was no surprise considering some of the bellies on show – poor forward planning by Rick’s team.

A further small Jack Daniels was taken before I found my seat and watched the choir and orchestra file in before the star of the show, resplendent in his cape, strode on to the stage to announce, to huge cheers, that England had won the Cricket World Cup.

Alfie on the first night. He was even better on the second (when I was there), bounding around like a rock god with microphone in hand and not relying on his lyric prompt.

After that the evening flew by. Rick was on fine form, Alfie Boe almost stole the show with Never Is A Long, Long Time, all the rock band played solos, the orchestra, clearly loving it, took turns standing up to play, Hayley Sanderson (one of the regular Strictly singers) almost outdid Alfie with Ride Of Your Life in the encore, and Rick went walkabout with his keytar to general audience approval. The applause was loud and long. This was Rick’s 70th birthday present to himself; I think he enjoyed it.

Morning, and 24 hours after landing in London I prepared to make the return journey. For a short while I thought I was going to get my weekend paid for, because overbooked easyJet wanted a volunteer to take a later flight in return for €500, meals and accommodation. Unfortunately a few passengers didn’t show up, so there was room for everyone.

Back at The Rural Retreat, after feeding The Pride, I checked the Bushnell and found some exciting wildlife footage.

Badger 6

First up was a badger…

Fox 9

…Then our fox returned, his egg gone but nuts and spilt bird seed still available…

Fox & Badger 1

… Then the two came together, much to the surprise of the fox…

Fox & Badger 4

… But in moments they’d settled down to forage together. The two spent around 20 minutes in each other’s company; with luck I’ll get better Bushnell snaps if this is to be a regular occurrence.

Fox & Badger 3

What about the wandering cat, I hear you ask. I’ve written enough already so I’ll tell you tomorrow. Don’t worry though – it doesn’t involve The Pride and has a happy ending.

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