What I'm listening to for driving inspiration

I don't know about you, but I'm motivated by music. 

Working, dancing or driving, I love music.  

I've been lucky enough to see my favourite singer-songwriters live lots of times, since heading to Blackpool for my first concert at the age of 11; almost missed seeing Shakin' Stevens as I was so ill with excitement the night before. But I struggled on, and a love affair with live music was born.     

As a lifelong writer, I probably appreciate country music more than most other genres, with a couple of rock storyteller exceptions.  

Tingles start behind my ears at a kick drum or steel guitar, but as long as the story is there, I'm hooked.  

There's been a definite surge in my writing lately, which I'm sure has something to do with the music in my trusty Fiesta. 

I also downloaded a free 30 day trial of Amazon Music Unlimited in the summer, and basically any new artist I wanted to explore, I can download for a listen, before I make the CD-buying decision (course, with the artists in this blog I buy the CD first).  Amazon's Music Unlimited is much wider than their book range, which barely stocked the titles I wanted to read.  

Plus, I can prop my phone up in every room in the house and listen to my choice of music.  The 30 day free trial was so good, it was the logical next move to switch to the £7.99 a month fee (which I can cancel at any time, should I ever tire of listening to music; not likely!)...

So, here's a little insight into who I can't stop driving and writing to: 

Kip Moore, Koko,London April 2016
Kip's first album, Up all Night has just gone Platinum, and with his Springsteen-esque approach to lyrics, it's not hard to see why. 

His second album, Wild Ones (2015) and third album, (Slowheart 2017) are always in my car - I swear my car runs on Kip, not petrol.  If you have the chance, see him with his band, Slowhearts, live - great guitar-based energy on stage. 

Stereophonics, Plymouth Pavilions, 2013

I've never had a bad night with these Welsh rockers.  I've probably seen them live each tour for the last ten years.  They're a band you can count on.  Saw them in Plymouth this Summer as they showcased their new music, #AllinOneNight, and celebrated their 20th anniversary of Word Gets Around. I have their latest album, Scream above the Sounds, too. Course. 

Fireroad: Flesh, Blood and Bone CD

Well, now, I also can’t stop playing Flesh, Blood and Bone from this band of Welsh rockers. Fireroad supported the Stereophonics on their their gad-about-the-country this Summer, and I absolutely can’t wait to see this band perform again (they're appearing at London's Borderline on 28th December, Santa!) Talented musicians, spot-on vocals and they sound like I'm listening to all my favourite rock bands (Foo Fighters, E-Street, Stereophonics, The Who), wrapped up in addictive originality.  I have Minute, Devil's Letter and Bones on repeat; They Got Sound

Tom Chaplin, of Keane, Plymouth Pavilions, 2009

I was lucky enough to see Tom play in Cardiff in May, and love his solo album, The Wavean honest account of his battle with mental health issues.  

You may know him as the voice of Keane, who I've also seen in Plymouth a few times, and I have much love for this piano-based music.  I now have my eyes open for child-friendly gigs; five year old Mini absolutely loves I Remember You, and has nailed most of the lyrics. Beats the hell out of Wheels on the Bus. 

Logan Brill 
Logan (is) Brill, London 2017

I got to chat with Logan at this year's Country 2 Country festival and Ireland's inaugural Harvest Festival. A fabulous singer-songwriter with clear vocals and stories to tell. I play Shuteye frequently, and especially love The World's Still Round, which had an exclusive UK release in October.

Bands I also download (thank you, Amazon Music Unlimited) a lot at home are: 

Rock and storytelling is almost as addictive as country and storytelling, and this veteran band of the 21st century from Kentucky are loud and honest.  

It’s not often I can impress my 21-year old nephew with new music, but the rock-guitarist in him couldn’t resist Gasoline Outlaws - he's also known about Black Stone Cherry for far longer than I realised, so I'm going to nab his phone for inspiration next time I see him. 

Chris Janson 
Effortless and insightful country lyricist who I'm desperate to see over in the UK. Multi-talented musician with insane harmonica skills and a penchant for Mountain Dew. 

Who have you been listening to lately?  I'm always on the lookout for new music - drop me any suggestions in the comments below! 

Affilliate Promotion: These musical choices are my own; but if you click on the Amazon links, I'll receive a few pennies (thank you), which will likely go towards buying more CDs. 

5 Reasons why Beach Staycays are better than LongHaul Vay-cays

I know, I know, next month is the start of Autumn, and once again it's raining.  

But you don't need a long haul trip to a faraway land (AKA the sun) to feel rejuvenated. 

Here are my favourite five reasons for enjoying a seaside staycay, rather than jetting off on a long haul vaycay.  

PS: Just so you know - I'm planning on a few long trips more than once next year.  But that's for the shopping and music :)  

1. Money

There is a definite argument for saving money by having a staycay (no need for an extortionate passport or four) but normally overseas there are cries of “either eat well or visit that gorgeous landmark”.  Enjoy a weekend at your nearest seaside, and it’s not so bad paying £2.50 for an ice cream on one of the world’s best beaches, even though we could almost buy a tub of Ben and Jerry’s for that price. 

St Ives, Cornwall

2. Weather

Ever wondered why us Brits are great at discussing the weather? 
Spend a weekend near the beach in the summer.  
On a holiday in the proper sun, our fair, pale, intriguing skin spends a lot of time indoors in air-conditioning, or our clothes are covered in SPF50.  Plus - that feeling when you’ve enjoyed a staycay in the sand without rain?  #OwnedIt!


3. Adventurers

With around 11,000 miles of Great British coastline, not to mention over 100 habitable islands, you’re never far from a beach, even if you live in Derbyshire (strong contender for furthest point from the sea).  Plus, you can live in your car, carrying everything you need, whatever the weather. There’s a reason the world’s greatest explorers hail from this part of the world.  
No car? No problem: I give you the holiday camp experience; 12 daily  hours of children’s activities for your little adventurers.

Butlins, Minehead

4. Food

Family and food go together anywhere in the world, but there’s nothing like introducing your child to these delights for the first time:
Cream Tea 
(Mini does it the Devon way – clotted cream first. I like the Cornish method of jam first, so my teeth can sink into the cream: gorg.)
Fish and Chips 
(granted we live in Plymouth so she’s had a few of these on the seafront, but each one is a new experience)
(Mini insists on chocolate every time, like Mr S15S always opts for vanilla; the more flavour the better as far as I’m concerned)
(she’s getting there – she loves the crust).
The Full English. 
Need I say more?

Porthtowan Beach Cafe, Cornwall

5. Beaches

Step aside from the main tourist beaches, and there are some outstanding finds in the UK. On our recent trip to Cornwall, in only three days we happened across 10 stunning beaches. You know...the kind that puts St Ives in its place.   We also popped over to Bigbury, only 40 minutes from Plymouth, and it was full of potential Olympians getting their first taste of the water in surf, swim and sail clubs.  And no trip to the UK seaside is complete without dipping your feet in the chilly surf for a paddle.  It’s why there are so many fish and chip shops near the beach.
Whitesand Bay, near Sennen Cove, Cornwall

Where’s your favourite seaside staycay? Would love to hear your adventures!