Viewing: Longest Journey by Electric Milk Float - View all posts

Floating to the Fringe Book Launch 

I had a lovely time at my book launch last Sunday, in the beautiful walled garden at Gresham Hall in North-Norfolk. I was quite nervous before the show, as although I've performed music all over the world, I've never done a book reading before.











I'd invited a small audience, mindful of current UK social-distancing restrictions due to the covid-19 pandemic, and set Bluebell up in the garden ready for the show. One benefit of performing to a smaller audience is that it allows a greater sense of intimacy, and I soon had everybody laughing as I recounted the many ups and downs of my Floating to the Fringe Tour.











I really enjoyed reading the pages from my book out loud, bringing those moments and special memories to life again. I'm planning to record an audio book of Floating to the Fringe, which will be on release by Christmas 2020, and am working on a stage show, combining music with readings from the book, that I'm hoping to tour to the Edinburgh Fringe in summer 2021, retracing my original route by milk float.


Floating to the Fringe is available as an ebook and print book via Amazon. If you'd like a signed copy, please contact me directly.



Slow You Down with a Free Concert from The Milk Float Stage! 

To celebrate the release of my new album ‘One Again’ I am offering a free performance with my band to a North-Norfolk village that has a ‘Slow You Down’ sign. If you have an outdoor community event planned this summer which you would like some music for, please get in touch to tell me about it, including the date, and why you would like some live music. The best answer will win a free performance from the milk float stage!






Floating Home 

It's been an incredible year! I never would have guessed when I set off from Norfolk in summer 2017 on 'Bluebell's Busking Bonanza Tour', travelling at 10mph by milk float from Norfolk to Land's End to raise money for Cancer Research, that I'd end up doing a Master's Degree in Songwriting at Bath Spa University!


The year has flown by, and I've learnt so much about songwriting, surrounded by some fantastic tutors and songwriters, and by simply having the time to devote myself to the study of my craft. It's an exciting time for me - returning to my Norfolk home I have plans to start a social enterprise recording studio and record label, teaching songwriting and making CDs for young and disadvantaged people in the North-Norfolk area.








Recording at Bath Spa University studios

I've also been busy writing and recording the songs for my new album, which will be released in spring 2019. I feel it's my best work yet, and am really proud of the songwriting and production on the album. I was fortunate to be able to take advantage of the talent on offer at the university, with some amazing musicians performing on the album, including Rob Brian, a Grammy-winning drummer whose credits include playing on Goldfrapp's last album.








Gap year!

I'm also pleased to report that Bluebell has now made it safely back to Norfolk, and we will be continuing to slow the traffic down on the Norfolk roads for the foreseeable future!








A New Adventure Begins 

It's been quite a journey! 


After finally reaching Land's End in Bluebell at the end of July, and having got stuck on just about every hill in the West Country along the way, it was time for a well-earned break. Almost 40 gigs in two months between Norfolk and Cornwall, travelling every day at 10mph by milk float for my fundraiser for Cancer Research had left me proud of my achievement but exhausted, and I decided to stop off in Somerset on the way back for a couple of weeks.









I believe everything happens for a reason, and while I was taking a break I suddenly remembered about a Songwriting MA course that Bath Spa University run (the first of its kind in the world), which I'd often wondered about applying for. On a whim, I filled in the application, and a few days later received an enthusiastic email from one of the tutors, ex lead-singer from All About Eve, Julianne Regan, who said she'd really enjoyed listening to the songs I'd submitted for my application.


A week later I received confirmation that I'd been accepted onto the course, and never did make it back to Norfolk! My next step was to consider where to live for the year - shared accommodation would be difficult because I needed somewhere to write music and record, so I came up with the idea of buying a motorhome and converting it into a studio.


After purchasing a Swift Kon-Tiki (officially named Gulliver - think Swift / Gulliver's Travels!) I managed to persuade Sound on Sound Magazine to help with the conversion for one of their famous 'Studio SOS' features. Editor, Paul White, fortunately lives in Malvern which isn't too far from my base camp, and he invited me to come and park at his house for a day, where he also has his workshop.









Paul is a true gent, and an absolute fountain of knowledge about recording. We spent the day fixing some monitors to ceiling mounts, and building a work-station for my keyboards and recording gear. Since the makeover I've also added some extra acoustic treatment, and built another desk which sits on top of the original one.









Gulliver is proving to be a very inspiring space, and I currently spend my days writing and recording the songs that will become my next album, gazing out of the window at the beautiful Mendip hills beyond. When I left Norfolk at the start of June, I never guessed that I'd be here doing this - you just never know what's round the corner in life!




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:

Onwards, Upwards, Westwards! 

It’s been an incredible start to the tour, so much has happened since I set off two weeks ago on a rainy Friday afternoon from Sheringham, to go and do my tour launch at the Harnser in Cley-next-the-Sea. Lots of good wishes and farewells from friends and family, and a slight feeling of trepidation the next morning as I left the North-Norfolk coast behind for the long journey to Land’s End. 

My hosts the following night, The Ostrich Inn at Castle Acre, had forgotten I was coming, so it was a good job I phoned ahead to let them know I’d be arriving in a milk float later that day! Rosie, the bar manager, did a fantastic job rallying round some last-minute support, and we had a decent crowd with plenty of donations to Cancer Research, and a booking for me to return at the end of August for their bank holiday beer festival. 

From Castle Acre I made my way through the Cambridgeshire Fens to a gig two nights later at The Blueball Inn, stopping in Cambridge to do a radio interview for Cambridge 105 on the way. I played a song I’d written for my dad ‘A Suitcase Full of Memories’ live on-air, and both myself and the presenter Leigh were having to choke back tears by the end of the song. Afterwards, I went in search of a fancy-dress shop as I thought it would be fun to get a milkman’s outfit. The only thing I could find that I liked was a rasta hat with a dreadlock wig attached, so I bought that and started dreaming up an imaginary roadie who’d be joining me for the tour, Milk Float Rasta














My next gig was the most unusual so far, in front of some concrete cows at Milton Keynes Museum. I wanted to make a video of me playing a song next to the iconic cows, which the museum had kindly agreed to, and I was soon joined by a large group of schoolchildren who were visiting for the day. After more cross-country travel, I arrived in Oxford two days later for my gig at the Tap Social Brewery, a fantastic brewery that is also a social enterprise helping people back into work. 
















I had a slightly petrifying experience afterwards, when the Sat-Nav guided me from a nice country lane directly onto the A34, with oncoming cars approaching at 80mph. Luckily (but not for the drivers behind me) the road funnelled into a single lane due to road-works, and I drove for another two miles with a massive queue behind me, until I turned off for my campsite, giving the road-workers a big thumbs-up which they found hilarious! 

I was up early the next day to get to my gig at Radcot Festival of Classic Speed (ironic I know!), organised by a friend of mine, Mike, who’d done some of the conversion work on Bluebell when I bought her two years previously. There was a fantastic display of vintage motorbikes and cars at the festival, and after playing some music, Alan the landlord of Ye Old Swan Inn across the river asked if I’d do a gig for them in the pub garden the next day. When I tried to park Bluebell parallel to the garden, Alan decided that we needed to get rid of a couple of bollards in the layby so that Bluebell could get in closer, and produced a chain-saw! Mike’s daughters, and Zoe who was running the BBQ, went round with my Cancer Research bucket, and I raised over £100 in an hour. 















I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of the people I’ve met so far, from campsite owners returning my fees and putting donations in my bucket, to an elderly man in the queue at the bank who I’d said could go before me, and who then came up to me afterwards and gave me a £20 donation after I’d told him about my mad-cap quest to reach Land’s End at 10mph.

I’ve started doing Facebook Live videos (and so has Milk Float Rasta - send him a song request to play live from Milk Float HQ!!), and if you haven’t already done so I’d really appreciate it if you could like my Facebook Page, and share some of my posts to help spread the word. The fundraising is going really well, with almost £1,000 raised so far, and it should be another great weekend at Stroud, with a street party on Friday, and 'The Bluebell Music Festival' (named in our honour!) at the Subscription Rooms in Stroud on Saturday, where I’ll be joined by some fantastic local singer-songwriters.














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.

Bluebell's Busking Bonanza 2017 - in Aid of Cancer Research 

Bluebell’s Busking Bonanza Tour 2017

Help me raise £5,000 for Cancer Research! 

Bluebell and I are currently planning our next adventure, in aid of Cancer Research. Starting early June 2017, we’ll be touring from Norfolk to Land's End in Cornwall, playing gigs in return for donations to Cancer Research. 

Part of the reason for the tour is in memory of my dad, who sadly passed away from cancer in June 2016. It’s a cruel disease that will affect almost all of us during our lives in one way or another, but incredible progress is being made in research to fight it, and I want to do my bit to help future generations. 

During Bluebell’s Busking Bonanza (great name, hey!), I’ll be playing at festivals, town centres, outdoor spaces, in fact anywhere that will have us! Expect impromptu performances, guest appearances, and generally lots of fun - and one or two traffic jams for good measure!

There will also be a new Guinness World Record attempt, at the 'Bluebell Music and Arts Festival' on 17th June in the Subscription Rooms in Stroud, when I'll be joined by some fantastic performers, who will be attempting a new record for the most people to perform a song inside a milk float - details to be announced soon!

All proceeds from the tour will be donated to Cancer Research, and there are three main ways that you can give, both before, during and after the tour: 

1. Make a donation on my Just Giving Page here: 

2. Text a donation through Vodafone JustTextGiving: Simply text the code MILK62, followed by your chosen amount of £1, £2, £3, £4, £5, or £10 to 70070 

3. Book me to play a gig, or come along and watch. There is no charge for me performing, instead I'm asking for a donation towards Cancer Research from the venue, and will be collecting from the audience during the performance. 

If you'd like me to come and play some music for you, or could help get Bluebell charged up for a night then please get in touch. Confirmed dates and our route will be added to my Calendar Page as they come in. 

Bluebells in the Wood 

I wrote my song ‘Dancing Ring’ for my first CD ‘Travelling Back’, when I was living next to a bluebell wood in North-Norfolk. It was a gorgeous early summer’s day, and I took my guitar into the wood and sat down next to a patch of bluebells with golden shafts of light pouring through the trees, and the song seemed to almost write itself, a celebration of the beauty surrounding me. 


I could never have guessed that almost ten years later I’d drive a milk float called ‘Bluebell’ from Norfolk to the Edinburgh Fringe and back, and gain a Guinness World Record into the bargain! It was a fantastic moment when the certificate arrived in the post a couple of weeks ago announcing that Bluebell and I were ‘Officially Amazing’ and were the proud holders of the world record for ‘The Longest Journey by an Electric Milk Float.' 


A charity in London had been asking about buying Bluebell, but getting the world record made me realise that we weren’t ready to part company quite yet, and that we had more adventures still to come. To celebrate our continuing collaboration I drove Bluebell early one morning to Blickling Woods, near Aylsham in Norfolk, and filmed a video for ‘Dancing Ring’.

It took me two trips into the woods to get all my instruments and recording gear in place, and I soon attracted a lot of interest from a group of walkers who were wondering why an accordion on a chair with a yellow bucket with ‘Donations’ written on were sitting on their own in the middle of a patch of bluebells! 


It was to be a day of fortuitous meetings, and I soon got chatting to another interested walker, Dennis Hales, who as well as being a professional wood-turner is also a fantastic photographer with a great eye for detail. Dennis asked if I’d mind if he took some photos while I was making the video for ‘Dancing Ring’, and his photos have really captured the magic of the bluebells in full bloom. I hope you enjoy the photos and the video!