Nimes, France...22 July, 2010

The air traffic controllers strike ended today and we left Lyon late this afternoon for a short flight to Nimes. I happily spent the early part of this day in my room practising, reading and resting.

Today was also my birthday which I tried very hard to keep under wraps. At this point I'd just as soon forget them than make a fuss about it. I was greeted this afternoon by Manfred Frank the head of our German ground transportation company Stars and Cars. He gave me a big bear hug, wished me happy birthday and presented me with a raspberry torte. How did he find out? After that everyone started wishing me happy birthday and the cat was out of the bag. Ah well, that's that. I'm now 59...fuckin'ell when did that happen? Knock wood I am in pretty good shape, not too many complaints and honestly still feel like I'm in my 20's....probably no smarter either.

We arrived at the Antigue Arena in Nimes another ancient Roman amphitheatre and one we've played a few times before. My guitar tech, wing man really, Tom Calcaterra had a very bad accident during last night's load out and tore the ligaments from the bone of his right forearm. This is incredibly painful and will require surgery to reattach and months of repair and physical therapy. It's the second time it's happened to him, the other being several years ago and his left arm. What a lousy way to end the tour and we all feel awful for him. With his guidance, our stage manager filled in and helped with tuning and the handing off of various instruments. Not quite sure if TC will head home early or stick it out the rest of the tour, it will depend on what his surgeon back in the States has to say about it.

Mike and John gave me a wonderful birthday gift of a couple of CDs, Bonnie "Prince" Billy and Arctic Monkeys as well as a beautiful little leather bound blank notebook How did they find out? Thanks mates.

Tonight's crowd was one of the largest and certainly noisiest audiences we've had all tour, simply incredible. When Mark introduced me, 10,000 French people began singing happy birthday in this ancient amphitheatre. I was taken aback to say the least. How did they find out?

It was a runner, of course, to the Legacy and a flight to our original destination from the night before...Barcelona. The wonderful Daniella had a dinner fit for kings on hand, a massively delicious braised lamb shank that fell from the bone and tasted exquisite along with some very inky black rice. All washed down with a delicious Chateau du Pape courtesy of Guy Fletcher. For my birthday Daniella rounded up the most dangerous chocolate cake in the world. To call it cake is underselling it. It was more like a dark chocolate ganauche (sp?) atop a light crispy bottom and iced with a dark chocolate frosting that was so shiny is looked like glass. No one could resist and as for me, I had a piece so large it filled most of a dinner plate. Incredible and not over yet, she and the crew bought me a bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin, one of my weakness. How did they find out? Much appreciated.

We arrived in Barcelona at our usual hotel very happy to be here. The bags arrived in the room and a phone call from Danny saying that Guy, Mike, John and he were waiting for me and the music was on. We had loads of laughs, finished off the bottle of gin between us and a couple of cups of tea as well. It was a very late night and one of the best birthdays I can remember. So much for keeping it quiet.

So long,

Richard