A Travellerspoint blog

September 2007

Our favourite Prince

overcast 19 °C

Greetings all,

The story starts like this... On friday morning my boss, Craig, came into work boasting about how he had got tickets for Prince the previous night. He had managed to hook up some tickets via the drummer in his band, CC Dunham. He described in detail all the aspects of the show. I was really jealous but happy for him. He also mentioned that a little bird had told him that unclaimed tickets were resold at aroumd 8.30pm, shortly after his purpleness hit the stage. At a little before lunchtime Jen called me and told me she was in central London and was meeting a girl who was selling 2 tickets for the show that night, the LAST show of his 21 night run. The tickets were selling for £160, which is about £100 over face value... I was concerned about them being the real thing. I told Jen that we should give them a miss but suggested we head to the O2 arena and hang out in the hope that some tickets are released late. So we did.

When we arrived, I spoke to the girl at the ticket counter and she indicated, in a very subtle manner, that if tickets were to become available we were in the right place. We waited for some time and then... the unbelievable happened... WE GOT TICKETS!! Now let me put this in some perspective for you, we got tickets on the final night, we got the new CD included in the price, and the price was £31.20 each! We headed into the arena and were ushered towards our seats. We walked from the top section down, further and further...5 rows back in the middle. Amazing seats, we were behind the VIP floor section and were close... very close to the stage. We had also each been given a purple glow stick, so when the lights came down everyone cracked them and the audience was a sea of purple, it looked fantastic. The band started up and the crowd lept to its feet. Under a single spot and through the smoke Prince rose on an elevated piece of staging. The music stopped and he stood there, the crowd screamed. He leaned into the mike and said "London... what you feel for me, I feel for you" and they belted out 'I feel for you' as the opening number. They kept the music going as they went into 'Contraversy' and Jen and I, along with the rest of the packed arena, were jumping up and down at Prince's command. Awesome!

This has been a particularly significant tour because he has been showcasing all his huge hits. He has also disallowed any media coverage and has vowed never to play them again. As a result, we feel especially lucky to have attended. The gig went for ages and the songs kept coming. We were presented with '1999', 'Let's go crazy', 'Purple rain', 'U got the look', 'Cream', 'Little red corvette', 'Take me with U', 'Sign of the times' and a heap more. I tried to remember them but it is all a blur now. About halfway through the gig the band stopped and he startedchanting "Pass the peas, like we used to say" and Jen and I looked at each other in suprise. We had seen posters for Maceo Parker's upcoming tour and here was Prince singing one of his signature tunes. Suddenly out of the smoke came Maceo. He belted out an incredible sax solo as Prince gyrated around the stage in James Brown fashion. The set also saw Prince take to the stage alone with a keyboard and play a selection of tunes stripped back and very personal. It is a truly amazing thing to see one man stand at a keyboard and, before playing a note, have the entire stadium applaud and scream thier appreciation. The band came back on and when he said goodnight, we had heard one of musics great artists perform some of his greatest hits. We all stayed in our seats and chanted, whistled, clapped and cheered in the hope that we would get more. As we did, a group of latecomers arrived and squeezed past to a group of empty seat along from us. Let me tell you, it is pleasing enough to be in great seats at Prince let alone has Naomi Campbell five seats along from you. We looked around and noticed that Sadie Frost was dancing in the VIP seats, and One of the Jagger daughters behind us too. Very surreal.

The lights went to black again and Prince took to the stage again. "If you ain't going home London... neither am I" he said. And away he went. We got 'When you were mine' and 'Nothing compares to you' and others I can't remember now before he again thanked London for having him and said goodnight. We stayed in our seats and after about 20 mins we got one more, final, encore. "You're not ready for me" he said, "I've got more hits than you have time". We got purple rain again, this time with the full band and small purple and gold hearts rained down from the top of the arena and fell amongst us. I can't even remember what he closed with now, but it was an unbelievable gig.

This year continues to be the most amazing of our lives and, at times, we have to pinch ourselves to make sure it's all real.


Posted by StephenJen 12:47 Archived in England Tagged events Comments (1)

Wallabies vs Wales

World Cup Victory!

all seasons in one day
View London to Cardiff on StephenJen's travel map.

On Friday 14th September, I did something that I never thought I would do in a million years. I picked up a brand new hire car from Waterloo (Central London) and drove it back to our good old flat in the Western Suburbs of London.

Well, after not having driven in nine months - I think I did pretty well - particularly in a big city in the middle of the day. Though the car was equipped with Sat Nav and was telling me where to turn - I still managed to miss my turn a few times and ended up driving past Buckingham Palace, Royal Albert Hall, Big Ben/Houses of Parliament and a few other sights. Quite an enjoyable drive (however what takes around 20 minutes by train took over an hour driving thanks to missed turns and London Traffic!). Anyway, already running late - Stephen and I packed our little blue hire Vauxhall (Holden) Astra with our Australian Scarves and clothes and drove in the direction of Cardiff, Wales.

Along the way - we stopped to take a look at Stonehenge and managed to see it in various lights thanks to the quickly setting sun. Stonehenge was quite amazing, it is wierd to see something in person that you have seen so may times in print or on film - the same feeling I got when I saw the Mona Lisa (but this was as big as I thought it would be - unlike the Mona Lisa). Stonehenge is really quite cool, and I can recommend the free audio guide that you can utilise when visiting as it is really fascinating to hear different theories about the purpose or history of such a bizarre structure (and though they did not mention it - I am sure that the Scientologists may also have a theory about Stonhenge that relates somehow to their master plan).



As it was getting dark, we drove through Salisbury (singing Peter Gabriels song Solsbury Hill. We since realised that this is not where he was singing about - hence the different spelling) then, Bath and Bristol. Adam and Meaghan were driving towards Cardiff in their own little Silver Citroen at the same time, though they managed to cover few more km's than us and managed to get run off the road by other drivers! It was getting late, we were tired and had nowhere to sleep. We found a cool little coach-inn called The Three Salmon which had a room for us, and there we stayed for the night (and the complimentary brekfast) until it was again time to hit the road.


We arrived in Cardiff at around mid-morning and after driving down a closed street and being "cautioned" by the police, managed to find a car park quite close to Millenium Stadium where we would be in a few hours time. We saw the Wallabies leaving their hotel as we were coming into town, and started to get excited about the prospect of watching them beat Wales in the Rugby surrounded by other Aussies who had travelled from various places to see it. Cardiff was FULL of Aussies. There is nothing quite like being surrounded by so much green and gold miles from home and all there to cheer on fellow Aussies at a huge stadium. We donned green and gold, Aussie & Boxing Kangaroo Flags and even some face paint before heading to the stadium.




What can I say about the Game? There was so much green and gold, so many people, so much good singing (okay... that was the Welsh, not us.....) and it was a very cool game to see. During the half time break - it was interesting to note that the sound system belted out "Delilah" by Tom Jones to lift the Welsh Spirits and what did we get?...... AC/DC "Long Way to The Top. Noice.


Australia beat Wales by a decent margin however there were some real edge of the seat moments, and the Welsh played with some fierce determination. It was a great feeling to see the Wallabies doing a lap of victory and wave to all of the Aussies that had come out to see them win. This was AWESOME and it was great to have been part of it.



So, the game was over and we came to the very quick realisation that none of us (Adam & Megs or Stephen and I) had anywhere to sleep. We called around hotels/motels/campsites/hostels, drove to Bath, called around again - with no luck). We ended up out in the sticks eating fish and chips and eventually found a cheap hotel that furnish us with two rooms. Nice.

The next morning we headed back to Bath for breakfast and to have a look around. Bath is a very pretty city with a lot to look at, however we stayed only a few hours after Adam and Meaghan said goodbye (again.... which was hard) and headed off again to continue their adventure. Stephen and I looked at the Roman Baths, purchased some tasty-but-expensive toffee and headed back towards London. It took us under 1.5 Hours to drive in total from Cardiff to London (excluding stops) which we were amazed at! What a trip.





NB: I did return the car to the Europcar Office on a Monday morning before work - driving in Central London in Peak Hour - without a scratch, dent or a missed turn! Not a bad effort!?

Jen xxx

Posted by StephenJen 06:05 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged events Comments (1)

Le Tour - Part Two

Dunkirk to Gent

semi-overcast -17 °C

We woke early on Monday morning and packed up camp. Now it’s important to note here that Jen and I purchased an excellent tent, which is produced by Quecha. It has a permanent frame, which is able to be packed down to a reasonably small size, and weighs only 1.5kg. This means you can, essentially, take it out of its bag … shake it a little… and it sits fully set up needing only to be pegged down. Fantastic! Perfect for someone like me. The instructions state that it can be setup in just 2 seconds… and it can. The instructions also state that it can be packed away in only 20 seconds. Suffice it to say that after a somewhat protracted period of folding, bending, pushing and squashing bits it was in its bag again. This was to be an on-going challenge for us and, as we observed throughout the trip, so too for many other campers following the tour. Anyway more on that later…

We drove down to the port at Dover and, after purchasing and fitting some headlight deflectors, we boarded the ferry and were on our way across the channel to Dunkirk. The previous evening had been a little cloudy however today the bright morning sun was shining on the cliffs and they certainly lived up to their name. We imagined the relief those young soldiers must have had upon spotting them in the distance and knowing they were soon to be back on home soil again. We took the mandatory snaps from the deck before settling in for a coffee at one of the lounge bars. The trip was over in a couple of hours and we were through customs and on the road… in France! Now we felt like the trip had truly commenced. Adam was at the wheel and had no problem in converting to life on the other side. I assume it was due to the time he spent in Sydney. We let out a collective “woooo”, exchanged high fives and we were on the road.

We would only be in France for a short while. From Dunkirk we headed across the northern tip of France to the Belgian border and about 150km further East to a town named Gent.

On route we stopped at Ieper and then walked further along the route to see the race pass at a little town named Boezinge,



Our spot

The Peleton passing

Boezinge Statue

pronounced Boo-zing-err which seemed somehow apt for Australians, then drove to Villiers-Brettoneaux. This is a place of enormous significance for Australians as a great many of our soldiers lay at rest there.



The area owes a great deal to the young men of the Allied forces who fought to protect the town. We visited the Franco - Australian museum which housed memorabilia including items donated by a Mt Eliza family. It underlined the link between this small town on the other side of the planet and a place so close to those at home.

We travelled a few kilometers to the allied war memorial before continuing to the finish line in Gent. Appropriately, Australian rider Robbie McKeon won the stage. We battled the massive crowd to catch a glimpse, and a few snaps, of him before searching for a place to camp. We eventually found a campsite in emmerang, or something like that, donned the Gilligan style promotional Skoda hats thrown to us from the carnival cars, had dinner and turned in.

Posted by StephenJen 04:16 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

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