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A Mid Summer Night's Cream 

After playing at Radcot Festival of Speed I took the opportunity to get some new batteries fitted to Bluebell, as the company I bought her from, CBL Electric Vehicles, were based just down the road at Bampton. While the batteries were being fitted I caught a bus to Witney, and realised I’d become truly acclimatised to travel by milk float when the bus hit 50mph and my stomach started churning because it felt so fast! 















I can’t describe the simple joy I experienced the next day when I managed a whole journey without the battery meter flashing red for the final few miles. My smart new batteries can do up to 50 miles on a charge, and I’m going to need them, as from Oxfordshire onwards the hills have been getting steeper by the day. 

I had a fantastic time the following weekend in Stroud, playing a street party for a friend who’d invited all her neighbours, and then doing an all-day music event outside the Subscription Rooms, where I was joined by some exceptionally talented local performers from the area. Overall, £500 was collected during the weekend, which is an amazing contribution towards my goal of raising £5000 for Cancer Research. 















On my way from Stroud towards Glastonbury, I stopped at a beautiful little village called Woodchester to visit a Great-Great-Aunt that I’d never met before, who had recently reached her 100th birthday. It was fascinating to learn some more about my family history, and Aunty Clare (for short!) also thought my fundraising tour was brilliant. From the Cotswolds I made my way to Glastonbury for a Midsummer Night’s gig at The King Arthur pub. It was somewhat of a squeeze fitting Bluebell into the old coaching alley, but she just made it, and I even managed to sleep in there (in the milk float not the alley!) after doing my gig in the pub garden. 















I travelled through some incredible countryside on my way to Dorset Midsummer Festival the following weekend, passing lots of quaint thatched cottages, and climbing the biggest hill of my tour so far, Bulbarrow, near where the festival was being held. I was playing Friday and Saturday at the festival, and had some fantastic helpers who went round the whole site collecting with my Cancer Research Bucket. Bluebell proved to be a big hit with the festival goers, and lots of new friends were made as well as money collected for a good cause. 

From Bulbarrow, I backtracked to Wiltshire for a weekend of gigs at the Barge Inn at Honey Street, stopping for a few days on the way at Wookey Hole in Somerset, where I’d lived when I was studying Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Some much needed rest was taken, and I had a nice time walking in the Mendip Hills as well as doing some busking at Wells Market. AfterThe Barge Inn, I did an impromptu gig at Stone Henge Camp Site, and spent three days travelling cross-country to Charmouth, where I’ve just spent the weekend.















The hills getting here were much bigger than I’d expected, and I got stuck twice on the way (I had to reverse back down the hills and go another way), and then I got stuck again on the final hill to my campsite. Luckily, the farmer was willing to come and give me a tow the final half mile, but Bluebell and I have even bigger hills to face between here and Land’s End. I’ve just set up a Facebook Group Let’s Get Bluebell to Land’s End – For Cancer Research, so please add yourself to it and share with your friends if you know anybody on our route that might be able to help tow us if we get stuck. All the details of our route and gigs are on the Facebook Page, and also at my gigs calendar,


So far a massive £2000 has been donated at gigs for Cancer Research – thank you everybody for your generosity. If you can’t make it to a gig but would still like to donate, you can do so at my JustGiving Page here:

Out of the Woods Again! 

Travel by milk float is always full of ups and downs (literally!), and the last couple of weeks has been no exception. Bluebell broke down during a long test-run in Norfolk last week, and I had to call out somebody from the company in Oxfordshire where I originally bought her to come and find out what the heck was going on. They were fantastic, and set off at 5am the next day to fit a new accelerator, which meant I was able to go ahead with the photo-shoot I'd arranged in some bluebell woods the day after. 

Needless to say more adventures ensued, with Bluebell getting stuck on a slope in the bluebell woods. A phone call to my friend with a Land Rover later, and Bluebell and I were soon out of the woods again! The photos were taken by Chris Taylor, who is a fantastic North-Norfolk based photographer, and he kindly donated his time for free as the aim of the tour is to raise as much money for Cancer Research as possible. 

Talking of which, I had my first busking session outside Budgens of Holt on Saturday 6th May, which was arranged by Baker’s and Larner’s who own the store. I set off with Bluebell for Holt feeling slightly downhearted as the wind was freezing and there was one of those steady drizzles that seems to permeate everything it touches. After a cup of hot chocolate in town I convinced myself to set my music gear up in the rain, and was soon singing my heart out. Despite my fingers turning a whiter shade of purple due to the icy wind, I raised £80 in an hour and a half, and went home feeling very contented with my first fundraising session. 

My tour launch at The Harnser in Cley on 2nd June is getting frighteningly close, from where I’ll be making my way gradually westwards to Cambridge, Oxford, Stroud, Glastonbury and then onwards to Land’s End in Cornwall by the end of July. If you’re on my tour route, please do come along to support me, and if you can’t make it but would like to donate please visit my JustGiving page here.

Baconsthorpe to Barton Upon Humber 

Wednesday was a mad scramble of last minute packing before setting off in Bluebell for 3 month's travelling. I'd tried not to pack anything unnecessary, but somehow the items kept piling up; tool boxes, guitars, clothes, 10 gallons of deionised water for the milk float batteries, food, a PA system,  a guitar amplifier and a sofa bed, all crammed into the back of a milk float!
Finally I set off on the road from Baconsthorpe to Norwich, where I was due to be getting a live send-off from Radio Norfolk. Cars were tooting me on the way in as Radio Norfolk were already talking about me on the show, and Bluebell managed her first city adventure pretty well. Thordis, the Radio Norfolk presenter came out to do the interview and then I played a song.

I had a nice night on a camp site just outside Norwich, and my brother came over to say goodbye. It feel a bit surreal eating the Chinese meal we'd ordered out of the back of the milk float! The next day took me towards Swaffham, where my tour launch was due to take place on the Friday night. I'd worked in Ashill, the village I was camped at, for a couple of years as a carer, and Lillian a fellow carer cooked me a roast meal and baked me a sponge cake to take with me!

Well watered and fed I made my way on the Friday morning to the Green Britain Centre, ready to teach a song writing workshop to a group of 20 schoolchildren. We were treated to a tour to the top of the wind turbine which was pretty spectacular, and then went back to the centre to do some song lyric writing with the children.
After checking in at my campsite for the night I returned to the Green Britain Centre to set up for the evening gig. We managed to get Bluebell parked right against the performance area, so that the hatch opened up into the room , which gave a nice sense of intimacy to the performance. I had two really good supports acts playing as well, and the evening was a lot of fun.

Saturday was a bright sunny morning and I took the back roads through Thetford Forest towards Wisbech. Apart from a couple of cyclists and a horse rider I didn't see much traffic at all, and just enjoyed travelling at 15mph or so, taking in the scenery. The cab of the milk float is high up, and has a huge wide screen that means you get to see a lot more than you would normally from a car. I kept smiling to myself at the weirdness of my adventure, in the middle of nowhere on my way up to a milk float!
I played an impromptu set at my next destination, The Secret Garden campsite in Wisbech. Neil and Leslie were a lovely couple who ran the place, and had made it very child-friendly with fire pits for toasting marshmallows, and wildlife areas. As there was also a beer and sausage tasting event I felt it would be rude not to join in, and ate 4 hotdogs after playing music for an hour!
I'd travelled quite a long way to get to Wisbech (30 miles is  a lot for a milk float!), and had an easy day on Sunday, ambling through the Lincolnshire Fens to the Bluebell Inn at Whaplode St Mary. It was really hot by the time I arrived, so I got out my camping chair and had a bit of a doze and then ate a meal in the pub adjoining the campsite.

Monday was a long but fairly flat ride to Tattershall Lakes, further into the fenlands. Whoever said all of Lincolnshire is flat has obviously never been to the Wolds, as I was about to discover the next day. Woodhall Spa marks a transition from flatlands into a rich, hilly countryside that reminded me more of Devon than my preconceived idea of Lincolnshire. On the road to Louth I came up against a hill called Scramblesby that just seemed to go on and on, getting steeper as it rose. Bluebell was slowing down until she came to a complete standstill about 50 yards from the top. I could smell burning and didn't know what to do, and wasn't sure if I'd done some permanent damage.
After a couple of minutes I switched on again and Bluebell crawled to the top of the hill, where I found a grass verge to park on. I phoned the company that I'd bought Bluebell from who said to give it an hour to let the motor cool down - it had been red hot when I felt beneath the cab, but sure enough after an hour it was cool, and Bluebell started again as if nothing had happened. I found my campsite at Binbrook with much relief and spent the evening topping up the batteries and generally taking good care of my beloved milk float!
On Wednesday I gradually descended from the Wolds to more gentle countryside, and found another farm to stop for the night. I almost took a wrong turning on the way into Humber Airport which would have been interesting! That evening I cooked my first proper meal inside Bluebell on my gas stove, a fish stew and a great success it was too! It was nice sitting by my  stove looking out at the wide valley and woods beyond, and watching swallows flying in and out of the barns. I felt very at peace, and relieved that Bluebell had survived her first major hill of the tour. I wouldn't be taking the next one so lightly!

Tonight I'm sitting next to my lamp (powered by my solar panels), finishing writing my first week's adventures. I feel as though I'm living in a very pleasant dream at the moment, which could well be supported by the fact that my current place of refuge is an Alpaca farm in a place called New Holl overlooking the Humber Bridge, which I shall be crossing in two days time on my way ever closer to Scotland.


Win a Free CD - in the #spotpaul Competition!

Now Extended!

Every week during my Floating to the Fringe 2015 Tour there was a free download up for grabs of my new CD 'Lost in the Land of Midnight Sun'. So many people have been admiring the milk float that the competition has now been extended. All you have to do for a chance to win is to take a picture of Bluebell the milk float on her travels, and share it on Facebook / Twitter with the hashtag #spotpaul.

Special merits will be awarded for the inclusion of long traffic tailbacks, unusual camera angles, amusing captions, and flattering images of Bluebell's owner!


Floating to the Fringe 2015 

My tour plans are shaping up nicely now, with most of the dates for England booked, and many Scottish dates just waiting to be confirmed. I’ve come up with the title ‘Floating to the Fringe 2015', which I think represents the tour pretty well, as not only will I be milk-floating to the Edinburgh Fringe, but to the fringes of Britain, playing in remote places such as the Outer Hebrides. 

I'm working with acoustic music champion Helen Meissner from Folkstock Arts Foundation, who will be doing some PR for the tour, and providing artists from Folkstock Records to play some of the support slots. Green energy is a big theme of the tour, travelling in a sustainable way with solar panels powering my music gear, and I wanted to find venues to perform at that would reflect the whole ethos of the tour. This led me to approach the Green Britain Centre in Swaffham, Norfolk, where my tour launch will take place on Friday 5th June 2015. It’s an incredible venue, with the world’s largest wind turbine with a viewing tower, and I was treated to a guided tour to the top. The view didn’t disappoint!


I’m going to be running song writing workshops at most of the venues I’m performing at, supported using public funding by Arts Council England. We'll be doing exercises using the senses to tune into the environment, and applying these skills to writing song lyrics. I’ll be making audio recordings of the journey which I’m hoping will form part of a radio documentary, and will be running a competition for the best song lyrics to win a free day’s music recording with my mobile music recording business Travelling Studio.
For me, one of the most exciting things about the tour is that I’ll get to spend a summer visiting some incredibly scenic and remote parts of Britain that I’ve never seen before. From the fenlands of Lincolnshire (where I’m playing at two Wildlife Trust Centres), to an off-grid performance along Hadrian’s Wall with Northumberland National Park, up to the Mull of Kintyre and remote western Scottish Isles such as Collonsay (population 130, apparently most of them will be at the village hall to watch me play that night!), to Stornoway at the top of the Outer Hebrides, and then through the grandeur of the Highlands to the Edinburgh Fringe.



Sometimes a feeling of trepidation overcomes me when I think about doing all of this in a milk float. But then, unless we take chances in life nothing exciting would ever happen, and I feel sure that once my journey begins help will come my way if and definitely when I need it. In the mean time, can anyone recommend a good psychiatrist!...

If you are interested in getting involved in the tour, booking me to play, or would like some advertising space on the milk float then please check out my Pledges Page. Help me get on the road in 2015!

Cool Camping 

My feet ached almost as much as my jaws by the end of last week as I’d spent most of it walking round all the local shops and businesses in North-Norfolk telling them about my tour and opportunity of advertising space on the milk float. The good publicity from Radio Norfolk and the North-Norfolk News had obviously paid off as many of the shopkeepers I talked to already knew about the tour. 

The first person to sign up for advertising space was Brian Lewis, a Sheringham artist whose paintings are sold around the world. I’d known Brian for some time as he bought Beeston Hall, which had been used previously by my mum as ‘Busy Bees’ nursery school, and Brian aptly named it ‘Bees Hall’.
Brian is a fantastic artist with an immediately recognisable style, and as an added bonus to signing up for advertising space he took me for a spin in his electric car which has incredible acceleration and can do 300 miles on a single charge, unlike my milk float with a top speed of 15mph and a daily range of about 30 miles!

Brian Lewis outside his studio Bees Hall

The limitations of my chosen means of transport are proving to be a constant challenge, but one that I believe will ultimately make my journey a very special one. Milk floats normally charge up at a dairy with a 32amp socket, and it’s taken a lot of working out how I’ll charge it on my trip. The guys at CBL have hopefully come up with a way that I can charge up at 16amp sockets available at camp sites and Electric Vehicle Charging points, and my route is partly dictated by places I can stop to charge up for the night.
My research on the internet led to the discovery of the Cool Camping website, which has some wonderful camp sites around the country often run on ‘eco principals’, and that have charging points as well as some really cool features like yurts and camping pods. I’ve been talking to Cool Camping about the possibility of playing music at some of their sites, with my blog featuring on their website which would be fantastic.
I’ve started doing the bookings for the tour now, which is a lengthy process as it often takes people a while to get back to you and can be frustrating when trying to work out dates further ahead. That said, the reaction has been very positive with a few dates already pencilled in as far as Hadrian’s Wall, and I’ve also started the application process for the Edinburgh Festival which is where the tour will conclude after 12 long weeks on the road.

Who would have thought a milk float could make it all the way from Norfolk up to there!

If you are interested in getting involved in the tour, booking me to play, or would like some advertising space on the milk float then please check out my Pledges Page. Help me get on the road in 2015!