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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Live Review: HOT FICTION at the King William IV

New contributor Willemÿn Barker-Benfield went to see scuzzy blues band Hot Fiction in a North London pub on Saturday 2nd October 2010. Go listen to their streamed album: pure class.

Written by Willemÿn Barker-Benfield

Dana-Sirena-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The Dana Sirena with her captain, approved for sale by Yelena Bryksenkova.

When I was offered the opportunity to speak to designers in Copenhagen I jumped at the chance. And then, page of course, case I realised that I would have to figure out how I could travel there without flying.

Grand house Scania
A typical Scandinavian country house. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

It’s not a great secret that I’m no big fan of flying. I haven’t gone so far as to vow never to fly again but I’ve taken a two year break without any serious life shattering consequences: I’m perfectly happy and don’t feel my life has been any less rewarding for my lack of carbon emissions.

I resolutely won’t fly short distances – and by that I mean anywhere that is within easy reach by some other form of transport. Train, coach, ferry, bike, pony, foot. There are many other ways to travel which don’t involve standing in line at some horrible airport then having my ears pop in utter agony as we breach the upper atmosphere. Watching a crap movie in some tiny uncomfortable seat whilst being fed disgusting airplane food? No siree, I do not miss flying one iota. In fact, I have developed quite a severe phobia of flying in recent years – I would sit there several kilometres above the ground and think “Ye gods, I shouldn’t be here. It’s wrong. If I was meant to be this far above earth I would have been born with wings.” So I’m always in a vague panic, especially when it’s turbulent.

Denmark roadtrip copenhagen
A typical building in Copenhagen.

So it was that I happily set out to find another way to travel to Copenhagen for my Underwerket Projects talk on design and sustainability. Cruise ferry seemed the most obvious way to travel and one which I was eager to try, having heard very good things from activists who had travelled by boat to the Copenhagen Cop15 summit last December. I contacted DFDS Seaways to see whether they might be amenable to sponsoring a trip aboard their North Seas flagship the Dana Sirena, and was very pleased when they agreed to let me travel with my boyfriend and car. I had already planned that we would take a late summer holiday as well – it seemed sensible to make the most of the trip, though it is possible to take a cruise ferry to Esbjerg for a long weekend. If booked well in advance it’s not expensive either – a crossing for a car with two people costs from £139 each way – but I do recommend planning such a trip some months ahead.

Dana Sirena view deck
The back deck of the Dana Sirena, which also carries freight.

Catching the ferry to Denmark involved a short drive to Harwich, where we boarded the Dana Sirena with ease. I love boats… I love standing on deck to watch the cars load, then watching the ramps go up and feeling the wind in my hair as we leave the harbour and pick up speed. My job involves so much sedentary gazing at a computer screen that I grasp the chance to feel the elements on my skin when I can, and there’s nothing more elemental than travelling by sea: it’s so much more pleasant than being trapped in a cramped and airless cabin. As we left I noted lots of wind turbines laid out in a vast facility, an offshore crane ready to tow them to their destination. As an international port in a crucial location, Harwich is perfectly placed to build renewable technologies.

DFDS Seaways Dana Sirena Columbus Lounge by felice perkins
The Columbus Lounge Crooner by Felice Perkins.

Our cabin on the Dana Sirena had a sea view which meant we could assess the weather from the comfort of our own room – the cabins are small but eminently spacious for a relatively short journey. Although it takes approximately twenty hours to get to Esbjerg in Denmark much of that time is spent asleep, lulled by the motion of the waves.

Denmark Seven Seas buffet crabs dana sirena
Dana Sirena food
Denmark trip Seven Seas buffet Dana Sirena
The Dana Sirena Seven Seas restaurant buffet… yum.

For supper we ate yummy Danish food from the smorgasbord laid out in the Seven Seas restaurant, then sat in the Columbus Lounge with cocktails and a live crooner for company.

Cruise-Ship-by-Mina-Bach
Cruise Ship Singer by Mina Bach.

Cocktails are the same price as a pint of beer, fact fans, so you may as well eh? Certainly not the kind of laid back experience one can expect when travelling by plane.

Abby_Wright_Danish_Pudding
Danish Puddings by Abby Wright. The Danish are VERY good at puddings.

One of the biggest bonuses to travelling via cruise ferry is the opportunity to take your car with you. Or bikes; as people left the ferry with their touring bikes at the other end I felt a pang of envy, but the fact remains that the freedom of car travel remains unrivalled. We passed great colonies of seals basking on the sandy banks as we arrived at Esbjerg, where we disembarked immediately and headed east on completely clear roads. Denmark is small and there is very little traffic so it takes just a few hours to cross the islands and reach Copenhagen; from there it is but a quick hop over the bridge to Scania in Southern Sweden, where we also spent several delightful days exploring the countryside.

Scania Sweden campsite
Our campsite on the beautiful southern coast of Sweden.

Because we had a car we were able to visit lots of places that were well off the tourist track. In fact we hardly heard another English accent the entire time we were away – though of course we heard plenty of English because nearly all Scandinavians speak it perfectly. Taking the Dana Sirena to Denmark made us realise just how close Scandinavia is to the UK, something we had never really considered before but is obvious in the many historical links we share. My next blog will round up some of the best things to do if you take a cruise ferry holiday to Scandinavia in your car.

Land Art Funen
Land Art at Tickon Park near Tranakaer on a remote island of Langeland off the coast of Funen.

As we headed back to the port in Esbjerg a few weeks later we passed many British cars laden down with belongings. As well as being the perfect way to cut back on carbon emissions at a time when we desperately need to consider the effects of our individual and collective actions, a cruise ferry holiday allows for the freedom of a road trip. And yes, we managed to fill our car up too. But more on that in my next missive…

You can read about another journey aboard the Dana Sirena from the Man in Seat 61 here and book your trip aboard a cruise ferry at the DFDS Seaways website here.

Buffet chef by David Merta
Buffet chef in the Seven Seas restaurant by David Merta.

Dana-Sirena-by-Yelena-Bryksenkova
The Dana Sirena with her captain, find by Yelena Bryksenkova.

When I was offered the opportunity to speak to designers in Copenhagen I jumped at the chance. And then, approved of course, buy I realised that I would have to figure out how I could travel there without flying.

Grand house Scania
A typical Scandinavian country house. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

It’s not a great secret that I’m no big fan of flying. I haven’t gone so far as to vow never to fly again but I’ve taken a two year break without any serious life shattering consequences: I’m perfectly happy and don’t feel my life has been any less rewarding for my lack of carbon emissions.

I resolutely won’t fly short distances – and by that I mean anywhere that is within easy reach by some other form of transport. Train, coach, ferry, bike, pony, foot. There are many other ways to travel which don’t involve standing in line at some horrible airport then having my ears pop in utter agony as we breach the upper atmosphere. Watching a crap movie in some tiny uncomfortable seat whilst being fed disgusting airplane food? No siree, I do not miss flying one iota. In fact, I have developed quite a severe phobia of flying in recent years – I would sit there several kilometres above the ground and think “Ye gods, I shouldn’t be here. It’s wrong. If I was meant to be this far above earth I would have been born with wings.” So I’m always in a vague panic, especially when it’s turbulent.

Denmark roadtrip copenhagen
A typical building in Copenhagen.

So it was that I happily set out to find another way to travel to Copenhagen for my Underwerket Projects talk on design and sustainability. Cruise ferry seemed the most obvious way to travel and one which I was eager to try, having heard very good things from activists who had travelled by boat to the Copenhagen Cop15 summit last December. I contacted DFDS Seaways to see whether they might be amenable to sponsoring a trip aboard their North Seas flagship the Dana Sirena, and was very pleased when they agreed to let me travel with my boyfriend and car. I had already planned that we would take a late summer holiday as well – it seemed sensible to make the most of the trip, though it is possible to take a cruise ferry to Esbjerg for a long weekend. If booked well in advance it’s not expensive either – a crossing for a car with two people costs from £139 each way – but I do recommend planning such a trip some months ahead.

Dana Sirena view deck
The back deck of the Dana Sirena, which also carries freight.

Catching the ferry to Denmark involved a short drive to Harwich, where we boarded the Dana Sirena with ease. I love boats… I love standing on deck to watch the cars load, then watching the ramps go up and feeling the wind in my hair as we leave the harbour and pick up speed. My job involves so much sedentary gazing at a computer screen that I grasp the chance to feel the elements on my skin when I can, and there’s nothing more elemental than travelling by sea: it’s so much more pleasant than being trapped in a cramped and airless cabin. As we left I noted lots of wind turbines laid out in a vast facility, an offshore crane ready to tow them to their destination. As an international port in a crucial location, Harwich is perfectly placed to build renewable technologies.

DFDS Seaways Dana Sirena Columbus Lounge by felice perkins
The Columbus Lounge Crooner by Felice Perkins.

Our cabin on the Dana Sirena had a sea view which meant we could assess the weather from the comfort of our own room – the cabins are small but eminently spacious for a relatively short journey. Although it takes approximately twenty hours to get to Esbjerg in Denmark much of that time is spent asleep, lulled by the motion of the waves.

Denmark Seven Seas buffet crabs dana sirena
Dana Sirena food
Denmark trip Seven Seas buffet Dana Sirena
The Dana Sirena Seven Seas restaurant buffet… yum.

For supper we ate yummy Danish food from the smorgasbord laid out in the Seven Seas restaurant, then sat in the Columbus Lounge with cocktails and a live crooner for company.

Cruise-Ship-by-Mina-Bach
Cruise Ship Singer by Mina Bach.

Cocktails are the same price as a pint of beer, fact fans, so you may as well eh? Certainly not the kind of laid back experience one can expect when travelling by plane.

Abby_Wright_Danish_Pudding
Danish Puddings by Abby Wright. The Danish are VERY good at puddings.

One of the biggest bonuses to travelling via cruise ferry is the opportunity to take your car with you. Or bikes; as people left the ferry with their touring bikes at the other end I felt a pang of envy, but the fact remains that the freedom of car travel remains unrivalled. We passed great colonies of seals basking on the sandy banks as we arrived at Esbjerg, where we disembarked immediately and headed east on completely clear roads. Denmark is small and there is very little traffic so it takes just a few hours to cross the islands and reach Copenhagen; from there it is but a quick hop over the bridge to Scania in Southern Sweden, where we also spent several delightful days exploring the countryside.

Scania Sweden campsite
Our campsite on the beautiful southern coast of Sweden.

Because we had a car we were able to visit lots of places that were well off the tourist track. In fact we hardly heard another English accent the entire time we were away – though of course we heard plenty of English because nearly all Scandinavians speak it perfectly. Taking the Dana Sirena to Denmark made us realise just how close Scandinavia is to the UK, something we had never really considered before but is obvious in the many historical links we share. My next blog will round up some of the best things to do if you take a cruise ferry holiday to Scandinavia in your car.

Land Art Funen
Land Art at Tickon Park near Tranakaer on a remote island of Langeland off the coast of Funen.

As we headed back to the port in Esbjerg a few weeks later we passed many British cars laden down with belongings. As well as being the perfect way to cut back on carbon emissions at a time when we desperately need to consider the effects of our individual and collective actions, a cruise ferry holiday allows for the freedom of a road trip. And yes, we managed to fill our car up too. But more on that in my next missive…

You can read about another journey aboard the Dana Sirena from the Man in Seat 61 here and book your trip aboard a cruise ferry at the DFDS Seaways website here.

Buffet chef by David Merta
Buffet chef in the Seven Seas restaurant by David Merta.

hotfiction_anielamurphy
Hot Fiction by Aniela Murphy.

The King William IV, clinic located north of ‘where the hell am I?’, or on this Saturday night, the river Thames, is a relatively secluded venue that doubles as a hostel. This is where I find myself for tonight’s Hot Fiction gig, the blues and riff led garage band that have been unashamedly filling up my commute time for most of the past week since discovering their debut record Dark Room. Arriving at the venue, having been drenched by what appears to be the second flood, I was ready for a stiff drink and a warm welcome, and luckily I was greeted by both.

Once the band took to stage, which at first I incidentally thought they were staff; due to their laid back and approachable manner, they enthusiastically introduced themselves and got to work at rocking the room. Easing any newcomers in with their blissful sound of soul filled vocals that can make the toughest man quiver to his knees; Andy Yeoh has a great set of pipes. The tracks flowed with ease throughout the hour long set, with a couple of covers including Stevie Wonder’s Superstition were thrown in for good measure. Highlights of the night were extended versions of Get out of My House, and Autumn Girl, with a momentary law breaking moment when a familiar volunteer (fellow gigger and buddy of mine) took to the stage to shake the hell out of a tambourine. (Only two people are allowed on stage at the King William IV, reducing the number of band nights considerably.)

Hot Fiction kept the room charged with their honest and heartfelt approach to live music, and even during technical difficulties the tunes rolled out and with such gusto that it would be hard not to like these guys. A thoroughly enjoyed night from a band that took their debut record and mixed it up to create fresher takes on their already contemporary approach to a classic sound, this band aren’t afraid to squeeze a crowd of their blues.

Hot Fiction are a UK based two piece garage blues and rock band, currently playing between London and Bristol. Click on this link to hear the whole Dark Room album streamed for free.

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