Hey Guys! If you follow me on Instagram and Facebook then most of you know I've spent the last two months away from my beloved New York City doing a small tour in the UK (with mini stops before and after in Boston, LA and at my home in Arkansas)!! It's good to be back, and I've spent the last week reorganizing my life, trying to get rehired, and thinking about my two month experience. It was a long time, not much went as planned (does it ever???), but I learned so much, made some pretty awesome memories, and most importantly met some amazing new friends.
My journey began with a couple of days in Boston, MA where I played at Lizard Lounge's Open Mic, as well as a little lunchtime gig of acoustic tunes at The Burren- both of which were wonderful and run by some great people. So for all you musicians out there, if you're in the area be sure to check them out!
Fast forward 6 hours on a plane, and I arrived in London! It was so nice to be back in the city where I studied abroad three years ago, and first tried out writing my own music (shout-out to my first ukulele, Mary!) It was also during my time abroad that I heard about this amazing walking trail through the Scottish Highlands. After a rainy guided bus tour, I knew someday I would return to actually hike all 96 of those beautiful miles through Scotland.
Now was that time. After getting situated at my friend Matt Wright's house in London and leaving behind my suitcase, I threw on my big hiking pack, grabbed my ukulele, and headed to Glasgow. Before I even made it out of the London Stanstead Airport, I was pulled aside by some of the employees at the Duty-Free liquor store who saw my uke and offered me a cocktail in exchange for a song.
I don't turn down free alcohol.
So at 11 am, I had a microphone thrust in my face and was playing and singing to all the people heading to their gates in the airport.
I had two whiskeys.
IN THE LAND OF SCOTTS
I spent two days in Glasgow before I started on my trail which began just north of the city. I played both days at some really cool cafes with my friend Mick Hargan, and met loads of other local musicians!
The morning of Monday, May 9th arrived, and my super kind Airbnb Host Hugh, drove me to the spot where I would begin my 96 mile journey. Alone. Just me and Prince George (my uke). I was ecstatic, and only slightly nervous.
Fast forward 41 miles later. I am dead. Deceased. My feet are broken. Not actually, but the second and third days of the trail took me scrambling around a rocky loch in the heat. I never thought I would ever describe Scotland as hot. But for some miraculous reason for the entirety of my time in Scotland (which was like 12 days!) it did not rain one single drop and the sun. beat. down. That third day I didn't arrive at my lodgings until 8pm, and I decided that next morning, mostly for the protection of Prince George of course, that I would hire the baggage lift service that would kindly carry my bag and ukulele case for me to the rest of the stops of the trail. Because Lord knows my clumsy ass and terrible knees couldn't take much more of the weight. I also knew I was playing my music the next night at the Tyndrum Inn, and I didn't want to be exhausted to the point where I couldn't perform.
I was also dealing with this massively irritated spider bite...
Fast forward to Mile 96 where it was finally over! ((Cue trumpets!!)) It was definitely one of the coolest and hardest things I've ever done. I met some really amazing people, played for some really sweet and tired walkers and local Scots, and saw some amazing sights. After Day Three I thought, "I will never do something like this again!"... By Day Five, I thought.. "This isn't so bad...I'm finally getting the hang of this." Day Seven, even though I was exhausted, I knew this wouldn't be my last long distance trail.
For more info on the West Highland Way trail CLICK HERE!!
Back in London-town
After playing a gig in Edinburgh, I headed back to London to Matt's place where I repacked my suitcase and headed to an Airbnb. This would be my home for the next 20 days of my stay in the city.
After spending a week by myself there with no one to talk to, without having anything to really do or see, but just with the "idea" that I would write and work on music, I realized "ideas" are not reality and the reality was that I was miserable by myself. I wasn't feeling creative. I wasn't writing. I wasn't doing anything. I explained my feelings to Matt, who promptly and kindly told me to pack up my bags and come back to him and his friends' place. Shout out to Matt, and Danny and Ryan... I miss you guys so much, thanks for letting me be mom and bounce around your flat for 3 weeks. xxx
Fast forward a couple days after moving back to Matt's. I was sleeping on the couch in their little entryway-converted living room (it was great set-up). I awoke at 5 in the morning to a scratching sound on the walls that made me bolt upright. It sounded like it was on the outside though so I laid back down. Scratch, scratch..scuttle scuttle. The thing was now inside. I could hear the distinct shift. I am not about that life. I ran out the door and upstairs to Matt's room.
Standing in his doorway....
"pssstt.. Matt.. Matt... hey.. MATT... "
groggily turning his head from under his wolf sheets (hahaha love me Matt) "ehh?.."
"There's something downstairs.. I heard something..behind the couch.. like inside."
He'd fallen back asleep...
"um.. so. can.. um MOVEOVERIMGONNAGETINBEDWITHYOU."
He shifts slightly over while I wiggle in next to him.
Fast forward to two nights later, when (the later titled) Ratty peeked out from underneath a chair in the living room while I was alone watching Pirates of the Caribbean (don't judge). I saw him out of my peripherals. He was big. Huge. ITWASABIGHUGERATANDIJUMPEDANDDIEDALITTLE. All I could think was I've been sleeping in the same room with this thing. OMGOMGOMG. As soon as I moved though, Ratty scurried away...but not for long. I decided to finish my movie, and right before the end he made a reappearance right next to my couch. Too close Ratty, too close.
Movie finished. I run upstairs. Similar conversation.
"Matt..Matt, I saw it. It's a rat! It's a huge ass rat and I can't sleep down there, I'm so sorry.. but MOVEOVERIMGONNAGETINBEDWITHYOU."
Thanks again for sharing your bed buddy :)
Throughout the week we realized Ratty had made several appearances in Ryan's room, chewing up the carpet and shitting in the corners. Ryan moved to sleep upstairs as well.
A couple days before I left, we found Ratty dead on Ryan's floor, probably making one last attempt to chew up some furniture. The greedy bastard had eaten all the poison and met his demise. We cheered, and then swept and bagged him up.
While in London I played at a bunch of open mics and joined Mick's line up for the London show of his tour. Matt, who's an insane singer/songwriter and guitarist, inspired me to write every day, and constantly smacked me around when I started judging myself and my writing. Thanks for that, too. I was in the UK almost a month and a half. It was so good, but I was definitely ready for my own Brexit! ...too soon? I missed New York badly... but I still had 2 1/2 weeks more travel left to go!
Fast forward to an 11 hour flight later, and I'm in the arms of one of my best friends Julie. We met in college, studied abroad together where we became a melodic hit duo, but then she moved to LA and is now a rockstar PA for an amazing music producer. Whatever. I only had a couple days in LA as a sort of pit-stop before traveling home to Arkansas to visit my family. I ended up doing a last minute show at the The Republic of Pie, which was a so much fun!! The Chef there, Mario, was so nice, and gave me this extra huge dessert of bread pudding, and then invited me back the next morning for breakfast. It was true royal/ rockstar treatment that I totally didn't deserve, but was so grateful for. I don't turn down free alcohol, but I definitely don't turn down free pie.
The Natural State
Arkansas is a beautiful place. The longer I'm away from my family, the more I learn to appreciate how special they are. How special the place I come from is. I usually only make it home a couple times a year now and I've learned how to rightly spend the little bit of precious time I have there. Usually I have to do a bit of shopping with my mom, I kayak with my dad, I drink with my brother, and this time I got to babysit his new puppy, Ted! I ended up doing a last minute show at home as well. On a previous flight to Arkansas I happened to meet the owner of a restaurant in Bentonville's Downtown Square who invited to me to play the next time I was in town. I took him up on his offer. It was my first time playing in my home town, and I was super nervous. High expectations. I felt the need to prove I was actually doing something good and worthy while I was in the Big Apple. But as my close family and friends filled the restaurant, the amount of love and support from these people diffused all nerves and I focused on just having fun and sharing what I've worked on. It was a great night.