For the second time, last-minute planning put us in a tight spot. However, our budget is tighter, it would ultimately prevail.
Facing outrageous rail prices and £200+ air fares, we explored every travel option we could Google. We even considered the fabled, sketch-Craigslist ride-share request. Yeah. We went there.
In the end, we did what any budget traveler would do, picked the cheapest option. The good news: we found a £26 bus ticket direct to London Victoria station. The bad news: travel duration was 10.5 hours.
Yayyy… Travel days…
Our bus-to-eternity left Edinburgh at 9:30am, right on time, not like our experience with the buses in Ireland. We drove and we drove… and then we drove some more. About 6 hours deep we stopped at a service station with the typical fast-food options, we had 30 minutes to eat. After a regrettable Burger King dinner (the worst Burger King on Earth), we hopped back into our foam seats to continue our journey.
650km & 11.5 hours later, we arrived in London.
After an early night at a nearby Airbnb, we awoke to make our way across town to our new digs. Edward, our gracious host for the next 10 nights was a short distance from where we spent our first night. Shouldering our packs we jumped on the nearest tube and navigated the route toward West Kensington.Edward greeted us with open arms and quickly showed us to our double bedroom down a long hallway. Ed’s spacious 2 bedroom is beautifully decorated with art (some of which we recognized from Ireland), bookshelves, musical instruments and an eclectic collection of fine wine & spirits.
We arrived on a Saturday night and, through prior planning with Ed, had arranged to attend a blues show at a new local venue. The headlining artist was Mary Coughlan, an Irish jazz and blues singer. We’d been looking forward to this show ever since Ann had introduced us to Mary’s music while in Reen. Back then, we’d never have thought we’d have the chance to sit in front of her very next show in London.
We arrived about 20 mins early for the opening act with the intention to get good seats. We sat at the nearest table stage-right, maybe about 10 feet from the stage.
The opening act wasn’t anything spectacular and it certainly got the crowd ready for Mary to take center-stage. It wasn’t long until Mary, her pianist, bassist and duo of back-up vocalists took the stage. From their opening number until encore, they were captivating.Mary exuded confidence and thrilled everyone with her showmanship. Her blunt and lewd sense of humor was icing on the cake.
Mary has quite an encouraging career story which is partly why we became so intrigued after listening to her music. She rose to quick success after one of her first albums, but her husband, who was her manager, had an affair with another woman and left her with nothing. Depressed and alone, Mary began to drink, abusing alcohol so frequently she was hospitalized over 30 times. Her children had finally had enough and called an intervention.
Since then, she’s been clean and sober, working to revive her career. You can find the whole story on the internet, but she openly discusses her past during her shows. It made us feel closer to her, in some way.
We were able to capture some clips of her performance during the show and we’ve tied them together in the short video below. We would definitely encourage any blues and jazz fans to give her albums a listen.
Sampled in the video, here’s one of our favorite tracks, in full, on YouTube: Seduced.
Stay tuned for our next update from London. We’re picking up the pace so be sure to keep updated by joining the notifications list at the bottom of the page.
Blondie and the Beard