NEWS

August

2013 has been a really busy year for me and July was no exception. The first of the month saw me undertake my first official cruise with Princess Cruises. I boarded the Ocean Princess in Dover, not a usual embarkation port for me and one that is much further than Southampton. The weather was warm enough not to have thermals on but I hankered for the summer sun but in fact that one day in England was the best of the next two weeks.

Now admittedly when one conjures up images of Iceland, it is not ones of tropical heat but boy was my body in for a shock. At least the sea was calm when we set off for Lerwick in the Shetland Islands. Sea days are when I work ad the first day out saw me present to 21 people. I have never done a show to so few but then I noted a glaring mistake in the ‘Princess Patter’ in which the talk was billed as ‘The Singer’s Singer by Michele Monro’. There was no explanation as to who I was or what the talk was about so I couldn’t blame anyone for his or her lack of interest. The trouble is that once you start off like that it is very difficult to pull people in to future presentations but at least I was up to 80 by the last one. It was a huge disappointment for me as I usually talk to large audiences but those that were there seemed to enjoy it. The other major difference between this any other itineraries were that the passengers were really only interested in the landscape and whale and bird spotting. Even the last day when the jackpot Bingo session was on, only thirty people attended. That is usually the one day of any cruise where every bugger that has never played Bingo on any day of the cruise will turn up for the Jackpot pot. Not on the Ocean Princess.

The Shetland Islands are the most northerly point of British soil in the middle of a triangle between Norway, the Faroe Islands and Scotland. There are more than one hundred islands in all but only twelve are inhabited. Sheep and Shetland ponies live here easily but I wouldn’t. Very little of the land is flat which makes walking tough and the climate isn’t the best. The people that have persisted in living here is because of the fishing industry. Anglers can be as busy as they want to be and it would seem that fish still supply more income than North Sea Oil. The island is only 50 miles long and 20 wide but because there are so many inlets and fjords, no point is more than three miles from salt water.  The town was a 15-minute walk from the pier and I have to say the weather was miserable, so much so that I ended up buying a wet suit in one of the few shops that were dotted about the town. Suitably attired I did go and explore the waterside for wildlife but something was niggling me while exploring. It took me ages to realise it was the absence of any trees anywhere. The land spreads out for miles with nothing on it to offer up a distraction, it was quite eerie. I found out from one of the locals that the soil isn’t deep enough for the roots to take hold. If the island came bundled with year-round sunshine it might be more promising but for the most part it is bleak. In fact it would make a great open prison! Now before you all shout, rant and yell and write letters, it is only my opinion.

Thankfully I made it back to the ship in good time as I certainly wouldn’t want to have missed it as I don’t think there is an airport for miles. That evening we made our out of Bressey Sound and after disembarking our pilot we rounded the southern point of the Shetlands and headed out to sea.

Gripe of the Day: While do the American ships always have to have their air-conditioning up at full wack. Maybe they haven’t worked out it is -3 outside (slight exaggeration).

The following morning saw us in Klaksvik in the Faroe Islands. The arose are the mythical archipelago framed by fog, haunting cliffs, whipped cream clouds and weather that can change by the minute. Visitors postulate that this is where JRR Tolkein must have been inspired to write Lord of the Rings. There are more birds (4 million) and sheep (75,00) than people (50,000) who are polite, old-fashioned and hospitable. Beam me up Scotty!  Unlike yesterday shuttle buses had been laid on for the 20-minute walk into town, which was just as well as it was pouring. The passengers who had been prudent in bringing umbrellas were slightly miffed that they kept being inverting because of the winds. I have to say I didn’t brave it for very long as I don’t enjoy being damp, wet and cold. I have to say that the one thing I didn’t factor into the equation was that my arthritic knees swung into overdrive. The damp got into the bones and it was positively awful. If someone had offered me surgery that night, I would have ran into the operation room while to gurney tried to keep up.

The clocks went back and we spent the next day at sea and on Saturday we docket at Akureyri, our first of several stops on Iceland. I was actually surprised as the town is modern, friendly, spotlessly clean and very compact. Ocean currents keep the climate warmer than you’d expect and flowers are so plentiful that you find it hard to remember you are only a short distance from the Arctic Circle. Since tourism is the major service industry and because Akureyri is the capitol of North Iceland, there are a lot of cultural attractions that you would only expect in a larger town. It has around 18,000 inhabitants and its facilities, which serve the whole northern part of the country, include a university and a large hospital. The town is sited among a vista of scenic mountains one of which is Mount Hlioarfjall, which has some of the best ski slopes in Iceland. The town is also home to the northernmost 18-hole golf course in the world and offers a unique opportunity to play a round of golf in the midnight sun.

One third of the world’s volcanoes are in Iceland but fortunately most of them are the friendly sort. Bubbling geothermal springs and richly coloured mineral deposits remind visitors that the centre of the earth is closer than they think. I would have liked to have seen some of the more notable landmarks but there was only one lone taxi standing at the quayside and he wanted $145 for the experience so I decided to pass. Going to my room later that evening I saw that the steward had closed the port holes, which is never a good sign and boy did it start to get rough. Not only were the waves were more than 3 meters high but we kept slamming into them. I realised the bet place for me was my bed and once I was lying down I felt better. I started to watch a movie but the truth be told I didn’t make the end of it. I have always taken seasick pills even when it is calm and they have seen me in good stead but they also work as a sleeping pill on me (probably because of the mix with my other drugs) and I happily slept right through to the morning. It is always reassuring when you have a port day when the weather is bad because you at least know the ship will finally stop moving by the time you dock. When I woke the next day we were already tied up in Isafjordur. If you take a long hard look at the northwestern corner of Iceland, you will see what looks like a claw reaching towards Greenland. This peninsula is the area known as the West Fjords, and the name tells you exactly what you will find here – exquisite natural splendor. There are very few glaciers and hot springs but more winding arms of the sea and evidence of how the whole land was carved by the forces of nature. You’ll find a few fishing villages along the fjords but much of the area and most of the surrounding islands are uninhabited. Although Isafjordur is the commercial centre it isn’t very big. Although the sea was calm by now this town required a tender to get over to it. It was a long journey at 30 minutes and I didn’t fancy going across especially as it was raining. The only points of interest were two museums and a church so I didn’t feel as if I was missing out. It was extremely cold but I did venture out on to deck to take some scenic shots. It is not often you get the ship to yourself so I took advantage and chilled out for the day.

 

Grundarfjordur is centrally located on the north coast of the Snaejellsnes peninsula and lies deep in a beautiful fjord of the same name. It us surrounded by a magnificent mountain range and the town is small, quaint and retains its traditional fishing village charm. We tendered at 7.00am when everyone on tour exited the ship first. It was pouring and visibility was dismal but as the morning went by the weather improved. I couldn’t have gotten off early if I’d wanted to as I was filing a 5-minute slot for the ships TV programme. Any publicity is good publicity.

I took the tender across to town at about 1,00pm. I walked up to the church passing the tourist information desk, which was in the Internet café. There was also a supermarket and a souvenir shop – that was it. One thing that was a bit spooky was the unearthly quiet and it took a while before I realised there was no traffic on the road. People had cars parked in their drives but they probably only use them if they have long runs to other towns. This was really a town in the middle of nowhere and I had explored the whole area in two hours so back to the ship to watch the sailaway to Reykjavik.

Reykjavik is a city reborn in every season. Not only are there different activities and festivals throughout the year, but the energy of the city and its people change from season to season. Summer: With almost 24 hours of daylight, Reykjavik truly becomes the city that never sleeps. Activities include whale watching, sea fishing, horse riding and trips to the sights that surround the city. In Autumn Reykjavik’s cultural and conference calendar kicks into high gear with international seminars and cultural festivals. Airwaves is the country’s music festival drawing top performers, music fans and media from all round the world. The city’s Int. Film Festival has fast become a favourite for a nation of movie buffs. The Image Peace Tower is turned on in October as a tribute to John Lennon’s vision of peace. Located on a small island, the tower is only a short boat ride from the capital’s harbour and it is well worth a visit.

Reykjavik becomes a winter wonderland in the colder months of winter. The beautiful snow that decks the city of twinkling lights combined with the Northern Lights that grace the city from time to time provide an unforgettable experience. Some of the many winter tours include horseback riding, snowmobiling and dog sledding. In town there is also a full calendar of festivals, concerts, plays and exhibitions. New Year’s Eve is the time when the city explodes with colour and light in one of the most explosive fireworks show you’ll ever see.

With the days getting longer, springtime sees Reykjavik blossom. The first buds peek out at the Botanical Gardens and the younger generation visit the city’s Family Park and Zoo. You’ll also see the nation getting back to the outdoor routine; donning jogging shoes and dusting down their bikes. As the weather warms up people fire up their grills for outdoor BBQs. There is also plenty on the Festival calendar including Design March, The Children’s Cultural Festival, The Icelandic Horse Festival parading the streets and the prestigious Arts Festival.

I was originally booked to visit the Blue Lagoon before I realised that the sulphur smell would make me feel sick. I visited the Piton when in St Lucia a few years back and the overwhelming smell of rotten eggs had spoiled my day. Instead I walked into the city and tried to absorb some of the atmosphere.  After the series of small hamlets we’d visited, the town was a bustling hive of activity with street musicians out in full force and the air of expectancy in the air. Amazingly the sun popped its head out and it was lovely not having to wear a coat for a time. I spent about four hours walking the streets and taking time out at the myriad of cafes.

The one-standout thing about Iceland, Norway and the Baltic is the price of everything, it is really expensive. I spotted a pair of men’s braces in one shop, which had a British price on the back of the packaging of £8.00. The shop had it marked at £33.00. When I mentioned the discrepancy, he unashamedly said “but of course, if I don’t make a profit, I’d have to close my shop”. There’s no answer to that. I really enjoyed my day here and would definitely like to visit again.

We left port just after 6.00pm and were at sea for the next two days, which gave mw the time to work on my new artwork website. Max has designed it for me and is acting as my business manager. It should be ready within the next month and if any of you are interested then please visit www.kaepture.com.

In 2004, the National Geographic Traveller Magazine named the Norwegian fjords the world’s best travel destination so it should come as no surprise that the tiny hamlet of Skjolden, located at the heart of the world’s largest navigable fjord, is on most people’s must-see list. But that is just the beginning. Fabulous sky-scraping mountains, ice blue glaciers, tumbling waterfalls and spectacular vistas are just a sampling of the town’s delights. When I say small, I’m not joking, the population is 400. Little has changed in this area since the Vikings first sailed along the pristine waters along the 124 mile long Sognefjord, considered one of the most important trade routes, 1200 years ago. Just outside of this quaint village lies a treasure trove of achingly beautiful scenery courtesy of Mother Nature.

I didn’t really realise until we docked at 7.00am just how small this town was, there weren’t any cabs nor an ATM machine or even a bank for that matter. Just one lone shop that supplied the whole town. I was tempted to get on the 1.30pm tour but it only went to the National Park and I really wanted to see Feigumfossen Waterfall along the northern side of Lusterfjord, which is the second highest waterfall in Norway. This breathtaking marvel plunges from a height of 715 feet into a rocky gorge below. Instead, I chose to walk into the small village. It actually looked much closer to the ship that it actually was and it took me over an hour to make the journey. I’m glad that I did because there was a solitary sign en-route advertising boat rides up the fjord on one of those inflatable speed boats. We had to don bright red suits which made we think of an astronaut and on top of that I had to wear a life jacket. It was very cumbersome especially as it was about ten sizes too big for me but the trip was worth it. There were only 11 of us and we all had unobstructed views of the most majestic scenery you could hope for and an hour later we parked at the bottom of the waterfall I’d wanted to see, to take pictures. The Captain had promised us lovely weather and he wasn’t wrong and for this reason I rather felt I was smelting inside my large suit but it was worth it.

Bergen was our last port of call and one of my favourites. After yesterday’s weather we were all looking for more of the same but we couldn’t have been more wrong. From the moment we inched into port to the moment we left it poured with Norway’s finest. I have been here several times before and have never once done the funicular but that was on my to-do list. Sadly it will have to wait until another time as there was no point in making the trip as visibility was zero. I still managed to walk around the famous fish market and pop into my favourite boutique but it was rather a wash out.

Two uneventful days at sea before we returned to Britain’s heat wave. Max had told me about the temperature when I’d spoken to him on Skype but I thought he was exaggerating. Wow, it was the perfect remedy for damp bones but even I found it slightly too hot. I’m grateful it cooled down. So my first contract with princess is over and now I have to wait to see if I’m invited to do any others. Fingers crossed.

Coming back home after several weeks away is always a tough ride as just the mail and phone messages are enough to get you down let alone having to show the house to prospective buyers, writing new scripts, doing my radio show and trying to ready two new albums that are coming out in September and October respectively.

Richard and I have just put ‘The Alternate Monro’ to bed today, which now has a release date on 9 September. It promises to be a wonderful addition to the Matt Monro catalogue and if you would like a sneak preview then visit ‘CD of the Month’ for the track listings. See Here

Warner now officially owns EMI UK. The bad news is that all the new titles including The Rare Monro, Rarer Monro, Matt at the Movies, The Complete Singles Collection and The Greatest have been taken by Universal and deleted from EMI’s catalogue list. This is disastrous for us and if I’d had any inkling that this could happen I wouldn’t have released the new one when I did. The solution – I have persuaded Parlophone to release a ‘Rarities Collection’ and if all goes well it will be available on 7 October. This will take the form of a three CD set and include the best of the ‘Rare Monro’ and ‘Matt Uncovered” plus a few new tidbits to add extra interest. By taking away all the Capitol tracks, it will give us something exciting to offer the British market.

Talking about new albums. Our dear friend Joe Francis who hails from The United States was over in England recently cutting tracks for his new album
Soliloquy' which will be released by Upbeat Jazz in January 2014. The 1st May saw Joe in the studios with one special guest – Matt Monro Jnr. Joe had invited Matt to cut a single as a duet, memories stirred from the past. Many years ago when Joe was in England on a promotional tour, the two had been called up on stage unexpectedly and they entertained everyone with a rendition of ‘Well Did You Ever’’. In fact it was so successful that Joe thought it would be great to reunite the two of them for the same track. All being equal the single will be released in November of this year. As well as laying down the track, which I have to say is superb; there is a wonderful video to mark that special meeting. Watch out – certainly not one to miss.

I am still hoping to have an exhibition of my artwork but it will probably not be this year after all. Sadly there are just enough hours in a day for me to get everything ready. It is a big step and everything needs to be right. I don’t like to do things half cocked so it is best to wait until I have slightly more time on my hands. All my shots are taken from a ship at nighttime and exploit the light available. My first project which is on the website is ‘Lights of the Caribbean. My new shots focus on the Middle East and the Fiords.  

I would love to hear your feedback on my shots even if you hate them.. As a special launch price all members of the forum will be entitled to a 25% discount on any standard unsigned order and 15% for a collector’s limited edition. All enquiries should be sent to richard@mint-audio-restoration.co.uk

I am still holding out hope that someone somewhere has a taped show of dad on video. I say it every month but don’t forget that if any of you have an attic full of old tapes that you want rescued or reel-to-reels that you want transferred then Richard would be happy to oblige. It’s amazing what we stuff into our attics and I am still hoping that some of you have a Matt Monro television show or radio that you taped years ago that you have forgotten about. You never know you might just be harboring one of dad’s jingles without knowing it.

There are a few new additions to my cruise calendar for this year, suffice to say that I shall be plugging Matt Monro’s music at every opportunity.  That is the wonderful thing about working the ships, it gives me a brand new audience each time and if then, a small percentage go home a fan, then it is worth all the blood, sweat and tears, not to mention the Bay of Biscay!!!! As of today, the dates that are in are:

27 July – 10 August – Royal Caribbean - Independence of the Seas

6 October – 20 October – Cruise & Maritime - Marco Polo 
15 – 25 November – P&O Arcadia

2014
13 February -13 March- P&O Oceana

I have just had my forward planning wish list from P&O for the 2014 cruising season so I’m sure the other cruise lines will follow through soon. With that in mind I will be adding the new dates as and when I sign the contracts.
I am still making an appearance every Wednesday on Siren 107.8FM’s ‘Midweek Drive’. The weekly slot allows me to select some of the lesser-known tracks of dad and that is wonderful as it gives me a chance to play a broader range. Siren have actually asked me to pre-record shows for the dates I am not here this year although I shall be around to do plenty of live shows so that should be fun.
Don’t forget to check out our Spotlight feature this month, I know so many of you enjoy them. This time round we look in at Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gormé.

Check out the ‘Rough Guide to mattmonro.com’, which is available towards the bottom of the Homepage. A few of you have mentioned that you don’t know how to access certain areas of the site or in fact are unaware of new areas, this guide will explain how easy this website is to get around, once you know how.

There is also another information box “How to Use the Forum’. I know a lot of people have been tempted to join in on some of our conversations but are slightly nervous of doing so. For that reason I have printed step-by-step instructions of how to access it. It really does only take a few minutes.

Don’t forget to recommend the website to all your friends. If any of you have Facebook pages it would be great if you could put the website link on there. If you’d like to do me a tremendous favour then a review of either my book or dad’s new album on www.amazon.co.uk or www.amazon.com would be fabulous. You don’t even have to have bought the item there and your words could very well influence someone else investing their hard-earned money so it really could make a big difference.

At the moment I’m sitting on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas and heading for the Mediterranean. It will make a change to go to warmer climates and I’ll tell you all about it next time round. In the meantime here’s hoping that your lives are always filled with music.

Warmest to you and yours
Michele

Past News - July 2013

Past News - June 2013

Past News - May 2013

Past News - April 2013

Past News - March 2013

Past News - February 2013

Past News - December 2012

Past News - November 2012

Past News - October 2012

Past News - September 2012

Past News - August 2012

Past News - July 2012

Past News - June 2012

Past News - May 2012

Past News - April 2012

Past News - March 2012

Past News - February 2012

Past News - December 2011

Past News - November 2011

Past News - October 2011

Past News - September 2011

Past News - August 2011

Past News - July 2011

 

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