It’s that time again. The circus looms before us with the promise of wonder and excitement and I start my blog, fairly early I’ll admit however there is much to be done in preparation over the next month. I’ll come to that in a bit! For now, to answer the most commonly asked question of us vagabonds: “so what do you do in the winter?”
Well it’s a simple answer really, we wait for the next tour! The circus is always on our minds and we never tire of talking about how excited we are for that time to be here again. Our preferred way of life is now on the road with 50 or 60 companions where life is simple, exhilarating and interesting. We try and fill these bleak months with various experiences that we do not have the chance to do during the summer. James, our rather genius-like composer who resembles a young Beethoven, travelled across the pond to play on the streets of New Orleans. Hopefully some subtle influences will be added to this year’s music. I have had a massive benefit living amongst the circus wagons through the winter and hovering around the office; I have seen the show develop, hear the exciting news that floats around and watched the ideas turn into reality, something miraculous, which is quite a journey.
I hopped on to a plane to India after tour and travelled down the west coast sampling the cuisine where I could and melted on the beautiful beaches of Goa. I then discovered Thalis, my favourite being in a restaurant called Shree Thaker in Mumbai opened in 1945. After you are seated a queue of impeccably dressed waiters fill countless Katori (metal dishes) in front of you with curries, breads and regional delicacies. One of the most memorable meals I’ve had in my life and completely vegetarian! A truly beautiful country steeped in religious and colonial history, buildings still standing unchanged from when our ancestors left.
One trip I have to mention was to the south of France with my wonderful dad on an old fashioned father/son fishing trip! We drove down the west coast of France to les Gers, a place where I was very lucky to be taken to a number of times as a child and where my love of food began. The fishing was unsuccessful, I mean not one fish… However we visited many markets, farms and restaurants that bought on a flood of nostalgia. On one occasion we visited the medieval town of Lectoure on market day. Fresh un-pasteurized milk and churned butter, Foraged morel mushrooms, asparagus, fruit stalls for miles, duck farmers, bakers, old men in berets selling (and sampling) 15 year old Armagnac; I left with more than I could carry before stopping off at the local farm to buy some globe artichokes and some dried figs and honey. We ended up with a memorable feast that night washed down with Armagnac from the beret wearing old boys.
I have also been working as a freelance chef during the winter - for Marco Pierre White’s Rudloe Arms in Bath, a luxury chalet in Chamonix for a week and the place I will always be drawn back to work whenever I get the chance ‘Made by Bob’ in Cirencester.
I have yet to find a travelling restaurant in the UK that isn’t on a double decker bus. I’m sure one exists however we certainly are making Circus Sauce a more unique experience this year. We are currently building a second kitchen wagon to house more storage and equipment and we are enlarging the tent to seat up to 60 people a night. We were more or less full last year, which was a great achievement so it was the natural thing to do to add a bit of space, but we don’t want to get too big, the experience becomes less personal and it turns into more of a machine rather than a restaurant. You will also be pleased to know that we are orchestrating a new puppet show with a little help from Tweedy and Ursula Jorganson who makes them. A very short show that will take four of us to perform!
The restaurant team this year is very exciting. We waved goodbye to our dear Rosie who has gone to work on the yachts in the Mediterranean. She will be greatly missed however we welcome back Pizza Dave, chef Taylor and Adam my fellow puppeteer and restaurant manager. We are adding two more to the team this year, Max who is coming from Suffolk and lovely Lara who also designs clothing and will be helping with rehearsals. We’re all very excited to say the least!
I have also begun working on my new home. I’ve started to turn a rusted flatbed trailer from the 70’s into one of the amazing burgundy wagons that you see us living in on tour. Ever since joining Giffords a couple of years ago I have dreamt of having my own but with everything in it, I mean everything… log burner, oven, bar, balcony I want it to be beautiful. I want to have as much to do with the build however I can barely put up a set of shelves let alone create something like this so I am recruiting my friend Ben Hobbs to show me how it’s done!
Please keep following to my blog every week. If the last two years are anything to go by Moon Songs is going to be an interesting and thrilling tour.