As I write I'm over in Ireland doing promotion in advance of the my live shows which begin at Blanchardstown, Dublin, tomorrow.

I’m really looking forward to the Irish dates, illness free, as I had a real struggle on the UK leg of the tour this Autumn. I caught a cold virus about five days before leaving for Pocklington and although I am usually fit as a flea, I couldn’t shake this thing off and all through the dates until Worthing, I was still in thrall to it. The Worthing show saw me back largely on form, but that night the virus returned, like a monster in the night, and I ended the tour in Falkirk absolutely back to square one!

It’s now two weeks on and I’m feeling terrific. I’ve been resting and trying to recover my energy. I think the worst thing about singing and being unwell is the stress and worry, not knowing what you're going to sound like during the show. The Dickson or the Pterodactyl tonight? It’s a huge responsibility - you can’t afford to be rubbish!

Having said all that, I was astonished at how positive the audience was in each place we played and I learned an enormous amount about communication and how important that is. There are many artistes who find it difficult to be ‘themselves’ on stage and it isn’t easy, but having grown up in folk clubs where you were expected to talk to the people there, I learned the skill and it’s never left me. When in difficulty, you can share the old Dunkirk spirit and it’s very heartening!

So, thank you all who came to the show on the other side of the Irish Sea, and apologies for the odd graunch and grind in the vocals. Nick also had a horrible cough while we were on tour, but he wasn’t allowed to be ill!! It was a terrific experience for us all despite my health issues and I loved being out on tour again. I do so love singing live. It’s a huge privilege.

Well I’m unpacked and ready for the second leg now and hope to see Irish folks a-plenty at these dates. I only know the Lyric Belfast and Waterford venues, so it’s still a voyage of discovery for me embarking on tour like this after all these years and I’m playing to loads of new people. It sounds impossible when you’re 70, but it’s true. Talking of ‘70’ thanks so much for all the lovely wishes handed over by card and verbally during the tour in the UK, and for the lovely cake baked by the Apex Bury St Edmunds. All gratefully received and much appreciated.

In November, on my return from Ireland, I have a ‘Far, Far from Ypres’ concert in Irvine, Ayrshire, my first of the ‘last’ run of WW1 shows with my friends in Scotland from the world of folk music, devised by Ian McCalman and narrated by Iain Anderson. Most of the performances are now set for the second half of 2018 culminating in the Usher Hall Edinburgh next November. The funding is still not entirely in place, but I am optimistic that the dates will be posted soon and all will be well. I was reluctant to tell you about these until the finance was definite, so if it's something you'd be interested in please bear with us.

I am appearing at Emily Smith’s Christmas concert on 8th December in the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh. Ah, the lovely Emily, who last year had a cold and was so brave during her show, plus having a little babby to feed; she did brilliantly and I’m looking forward to seeing her on top form this time. That’ll be my last show for 2017, and I’m then off to South Africa for two weeks until Christmas.

During the winter months I’m recording a project of string quartet arrangements selected from my back catalogue, with the distinguished classical composer and arranger, John O’Hara, in Bristol. We are hoping to work with the Carducci Quartet and I’ll get back to you when I have more news on this. Provisional dates are set for January to record the tracks.

Also, I’m hoping to take part in the Ballads of Child Migration tour of five concerts next Autumn which have yet to be scheduled. In addition, some festival dates have just come in for myself and Nick in May 2018 so please come and see us!

Then the full band tour in 2019 will loom large and I’ll be winding down my own shows in late 2018 to accommodate that. I have yet to talk to Troy about doing some new music, but I fancy having a go at some of our already recorded epics next time... I miss having the layers of music we can generate with the five of us. By the way, I hope you like my new double live album, produced by Nick, which is just out. It’s great to have a record of this wonderful band of mine and it’s progress musically.

Keep visiting us and all the news will be up here on the site. Please do come and see us on the Irish dates if you can. I love being here and would like to continue the tour dates on an annual basis. Anthony Toner will be supporting me and he has a fantastic new album out called ‘Ink’. He’s written some excellent and moving songs for that CD and he's become an integral part of our show. It’s a pleasure to know him!