Photographs & tales, following a jazz saxophone & piano duo from Scotland, as they tour around the UK and beyond, in their Tour Bus (a converted ambulance). Click on a photo below to read each post.

Dorset, Hampshire, West Sussex, Kent, Northumberland

March saw us travelling over 2,000 miles to Dorset, Hampshire, West Sussex, Kent and Northumberland for 10 concerts. A 13 day trip with 9 gigs (2 on the last day!), followed by a trip for a concert in the Newbrough Town Hall near Hexham. To be honest, it was mixed! Some concerts were fantastic, others not so great. Both of us were unwell at points during the tour too.

We drove down south from Edinburgh on a very wet Wednesday, stopping overnight in Ely. There was “work to rule” industrial action by French customs officials in protest of a possible “no deal” Brexit, and almost every layby on the A1 was full of lorries queuing (aparently it was taking 10 hours to get through customs at the ferry ports!).

On Thursday we headed to our first gig – Corfe Castle in Dorset. A beautiful, ancient village with lots of history (and a castle!). King Edward was murdered there by his stepmother in AD 978.

Click here to see Corfe Castle on Google Maps

Plaque commemorating 1,000 years since King Edward’s murder

Village Map

Corfe Castle street

The road into Corfe Castle

Our Tour Bus parked in the village centre

Corfe Castle overlooking the village

Thatched cottage (and garage!)

The main road through Corfe Castle

Corfe Castle Village Hall

Despite being featured in the local newspaper and in the February & March editions of “The Corfe Valley News”, the concert was not well attended unfortunately. However, those who were there were appreciative, and it was nice to see our friends Simon & Leander again from Cornwall who were in the area for a few days.

Feature in the local newspaper

The Corfe Valley News

On the Friday we had croissants and coffee for breakfast in our Tour Bus in the historic market town of Wareham, overlooking the (very full!) River Frome. Then made a trip to Bournemouth, which neither of us had been to before.

Click here to see Bournemouth on Google Maps

Bournemouth Pier

Bournemouth Seafront

Bournemouth Beach

Bournemouth Pier

From the pier

Bournemouth Pier from up high

Fairground ride on the pier

Our gig that evening was in the beautiful village of Dummer near Basingstoke. It was a really nice gig with a very warm, friendly, enthusiastic (and decent sized!) audience. An encore was duly supplied!

We were plied with several bottles of wine at the end of the night, that had to be drunk since they had been opened that evening………a tough job, but somebody has to do it!

Click here to see Dummer on Google Maps

Dummer Village Hall

The duck pond in Dummer

The mains lead for our lighting controller broke at the Dummer gig. So after breakfast in Basingstoke, we hunted out a replacement. We found T.L.C. Electrical Distributors in the Houndmills Trade Park in Basingstoke. What fantastic customer service! Friendly and helpful from the minute we walked through their door. They found a replacement immediately (for just £13). We checked it worked, and the boss appeared and looked at our lighting controller in amazement. “What is it?” he asked, and “Do you know how to work all those buttons and sliders?“. “Yes!” I replied. We went away very happy indeed!

We headed on to Lenham near Maidstone in Kent for our concert that night. Another picturesque village. Someone had done a great job advertising the gig – there were posters everywhere!

It was a really, really nice audience. There was a buzz about them from the minute they arrived. We received a very nice reception indeed. Very friendly people. Someone said to me in the interval: “I think that’s the best version of “Body & Soul” I’ve ever heard!” Huge applause after each tune and at the end. An encore was duly supplied! An extremely enjoyable and memorable night for us.

Click here to see Lenham on Google Maps

The Red Lion pub in Lenham’s main square

The Tour Bus in a Lenham street


The Market Square in Lenham

Cornerhouse Cafe

The Tour Bus in glorious sunshine in Lenham

One of the many posters advertising our concert

Dom next to a poster in Ye Olde Bus Shelter!

Our poster in a Lenham shop window

Market Square A-Board

Our poster on the village noticeboard and the bakers next door

Our gig on the Sunday night wasn’t too far away – Adisham near Canterbury. So we headed over in that direction and had a look at Deal on the south coast of England. On the way there, we saw some unusual road signs!

The first one seemed to be offering some sort of sandwich deal. Presumably a sandwich, a bag of crisps and a soft drink. But it didn’t say what type of sandwich……..but the sign around the corner did!!!

a sandwich deal?!

…..ah…..a ham sandwich!

Click here to see Deal on Google Maps

The beach at Deal

Cross channel ferries from Dover to Calais in the distance

A fish playing the saxophone!

A fish playing the bagpipes! Hoots, mon!

Dom reflects on Europe…..

A fishing boat on the beach

A boat on Deal beach

Our Tour Bus outside the fish & chip shop at Deal seafront

Our gig that night was in the pretty village of Adisham. The hall was small (as was the audience!), but they were very appreciative.

Click here to see Adisham on Google Maps

The road into Adisham

Adisham Village Hall

Picturesque Adisham

In the interval of our concert, someone told us that Ian Fleming had written one of the “James Bond” books ( “You Only Live Twice” – made into a film in 1967 starring Sean Connery) nearby in a place called The Duck Inn at Pett Bottom (!) in 1964. “Pett Bottom” could easily have been the name of one of the SPECTRE enemy agents that James Bond “connected” with in these films! We had to have a look at that the next day! It was in a really beautiful location. You could easily imagine him sitting there with his typewriter looking at the beautiful rural view out the window. Apparently, there was a bus stop near there where the London to Dover bus stopped. It was bus number 007…..

Click here to read more about this

Pett Bottom road sign

Plaque showing that Ian Fleming stayed there in 1964

“The Duck Inn”

From a bit further away

Click here to see Pett Bottom on Google Maps

We had a couple of days off, and went to stay with Dom’s parents in London. It was really nice to see them both again, and also to see Dom’s older brother and sister-in-law, Adrian & Beverley for lunch. Unfortunately, Dom came down with some sort of “Man-Flu” whilst we were there.

Derek, Rhona, Dom, Adrian, Beverley and me

Dom, Adrian, Beverley, me, Rhona & Derek

Back to work on the Wednesday after two very nice days with Dom’s parents. The gig was at Preston near Weymouth in Dorset. Another quiet one unfortunately.

Preston Village Hall

We had the next day off, so we did some touristy things, visiting Portland Bill, the Verne High Angle Battery and Durdle Door. Verne High Angle Battery was built in 1892 to house 6 guns to fire at a “high angle” at enemy ships. It was used until 1906. There was a large laboratory and a bomb-proof shelter there too. Sadly, the car park at Durdle Door charged £15 for campervans to stop there, so we didn’t hang around! Shocking!

Click here to see Durdle Door on Google Maps

Portland Bill lighthouse near Weymouth

Chesil Beach near Weymouth

The Olympic Rings overlooking Chesil Beach. The sailing in the London 2012 games was held near there.

The Verne High Angle Battery

Beach and cliffs near Durdle Door looking west

Durdle Door – a natural limestone arch

The coast looking east from Durdle Door

Not a sign you see every day! There appears to be bullet holes in it! (- is there any other type of gunfire other than “sudden”?)

We stayed the night in Poole, surrounded by brand new multi-million pound yachts. There must have been 50 or more of them near Poole Quay!

Some of the many yachts


On Friday, we didn’t have far to go to the next gig so we decided to explore Salisbury, which neither of us had been to. Not only is there an amazing cathedral there, but it houses a page of the Magna Carta – the charter of rights agreed to by King John of England at Runnymede, near Windsor, on 15 June 1215.

Whilst we were in Salisbury, we came across a school demonstration against Global Warming, and the lack of attention the government is giving to it. This was happening all over the country.

Click here to see Salisbury on Google Maps

Stained glass windows in Salisbury Cathedral

The Magna Carta (in Latin)


Salisbury Cathedral

Inside Salisbury Cathedral

The infamous Zizzi’s Restaurant…..

Some detail on the outside of Salisbury Cathedral

more detail…..

School children demonstrating in Salisbury city centre

Our gig on Friday evening was at Woodgreen near Fordingbridge in Hampshire. We had played there before about 4 years ago. We arrived to find 5 or 6 New Forest ponies in the centre of the village. We received a very warm welcome at the hall and set up our gear. What an amazing gig this was! It was very busy, and the audience were fantastic. Enthusiastic, long applause after every tune. An encore was duly supplied!

Click here to see Woodgreen on Google Maps

Woodgreen Village Hall

Our poster on a village noticeboard

Unfortunately, although Dom was feeling better, it was my turn to be ill. A severe stomach bug (yep, both ends!!!). Saturday was very difficult. I spent the day lying down, eating nothing and rushing to the toilet or being sick behind bushes. We had to cancel a lunch date with our friends Steve & Louisa in Southampton. Somehow, we made it to the gig that evening in Barnham in West Sussex…..and got through it.

Barnham Community Hall

On Sunday, we had two gigs. Luckily, I was feeling much better! The first was in the beautiful village of East Meon near Petersfield, in the Meon Valley. We were met with a very warm welcome at the hall by Hev, and set up the hall for our afternoon concert. (Gardeners Question Time on BBC Radio 4 was being recorded there the following Tuesday.) The audience was very appreciative and friendly. An encore was duly supplied!

Click here to see East Meon on Google Maps

East Meon Village Hall

East Meon Village Hall

The view from the hall

East Meon Village Hall

Thatched cottages in East Meon

The Parish Church of All Saints, East Meon

Ye Olde George Inn

pub sign

The village centre and the River Meon

Our second gig that day was in Bordon at Forest Community Centre. A former army base, it was now developing as a village. Sadly, the audience numbers here were disappointing. However, we had a few days off to return to Edinburgh (and get well!) before our gig near Hexham in Northumberland the following Saturday.

Newbrough (pronounced new-bruff) lies on the banks of the River South Tyne in Northumberland, near Hexham. Hadrian’s Wall is very near. Although it is a village it has a Town Hall – where we played. Apparently, a king stopped off in Newbrough on his way to Scotland, thereby making it a borough and enabling it to have a town hall. Its a beautiful hall, built in 1876 and given to the village. The acoustics were great. Another very appreciative audience, making this an extremely enjoyable end to our 10 gig trip.

Click here to see Newbrough on Google Maps

Our Tour Bus outside Newbrough Town Hall

A map showing the history of the area from Roman times

We were lucky enough to stay in the former Cricket Club grounds

Tranquility…..just the occasional hoot from an owl!

The ITV television crime drama series “Vera” by Ann Cleeves has been filmed here a few times, using Fourstones Garage as a location. It stars Brenda Blethyn as Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope.

Fourstones Filling Station

The beacon for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002

Word and photos by Ian Millar © 2019

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