Did you know that [counter] people have been having a skeg at my little autonomous region?




Tonight I travelled to Eastern Europe, via the Old Road Tavern in Chippenham. I went with my mate Angela to watch a band called Sheelanagig, a Bristol based band whose music is best described as Balkan mayhem. But it was Balkan music performed in a West Country accent and with a great deal of mirth and humour. I loved the fact that they had written a song about a busking tour of the other side of our continent called Lost in Transitvania and another one about a Romanian asthmatic called Vlad the Inhaler. They were amazing and the gig was free. They had been on at the Larmer Tree festival that I went to about a year ago but I missed them because they were on stage at the same time as headliner, Seasick Steve, but after tonight’s performance I’m sure I’ll always go out of my way to see them whenever I can in the future, and I’m happy to travel further than Chippenham to do so. I mean . . . for such incredible talent even Melksham wouldn’t be out of the question.



The ultra fast fiddling of Sheelanagig

at the Old Road Tavern, Chippenham.


I’ve lived in Chippenham for just over 16 years and never been to the Old Road Tavern before but I will make sure that I go many more times in the future or chastise myself daily for not being a patron. If Chippenham were ever to become an independent socialist republic (which I’m sure it will be one day) then this pub could be described as a national treasure. A cracking little boozer indeed and it is just how I remember pubs from the 1980s. It’s not pristine and corporate in its décor but neither is it tatty. It has real ale (which I’m not all that keen on but it’s nice to see it there) and it does a fine jar o’stout. It has a lovely little beer garden, hidden away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Chippenham in a sort of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe sort of way. It has a cracking little outhouse sort of a concert room in which many a live act seems to perform and it was very busy which is rare for a pub in a place like this, especially on a Wednesday night.

I love music from beyond Britain’s shores so it seemed quite strange that I found such a quality example so near to home in Chippenham. And the weather today was reasonably good too, so much so that Angela and I were able to sit outside the pub late in the evening as we waited for the band to come on stage. These things considered, perhaps I am happy here after all. Perhaps I don’t need to travel. Perhaps guinea pigs might fly.

So I came home happy and had a whisky. There are only four weeks to go to the big Scotland trip so I can’t afford to miss a single day’s single malt training. But I’m really looking forward to my Balkans trip too in September. I wonder if they’ve got an Old Road Tavern in Mostar.

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