Busy June: Here and There

June 17th
One of the treats of yesterday’s concerts was that Mum was there and for the evening concert in Felton, my New Zealand friends Moira and John Spicer arrived en route from Norwich to John O’Groats. They’re here for three days, so today I took Mum and them up to Dunstanburgh Castle for some coastal and historical Northumberlandness. We had a cheery time as you see! I was particularly taken with the razorbills nesting on the cliffs. One landed with its beak full of tiny fish. It did not stay in view for long enough for me to photograph, but we were able to get close, and I’m very pleased that I knew what they were!


June 16th
The day of The Bridge Singers’ Summer Road Show. Three concerts in three churches on the same day, with a coach in between and people coming to hear us. I was very proud indeed of this wonderful bunch of ordinary people coming together to create amazing music. here’s a little snippet of one piece – there will be more as the week goes on. The photo was taken by Gary at our practice in St. Michael’s Felton. The recording is from the concert (complete with audience rustling and throat clearing) and is my Red Red Rose – a setting of Robert Burns’ poem I composed in Dunedin in the 1990s.

June 15th
Mum and I went to Wallington. We saw a dipper in the stream which made us chortle with delight. I took photos of things with patterns. It was a very happy day.





June 14th
Mum arrived and we went through the wind to Brinkburn Priory. It was a mighty wind and and trees were throwing things at us, but the sun shone too.





June 13th
As I washed the dishes this morning, a bullfinch came to the seeds and nuts. It is such a rare thing. I stopped and gazed in delight at it. Then a big fat cushat came and bullied it away, and I resumed my task, somewhat cheerier for the sight of it. The day before there were goldfinches. These also make me happy, but the bullfinch “bears the gree”, as Robert Burns might say.


June 12th
While drilling and dust surround me here with the installation of a new boiler in a new place, out in the world people are listening to my music in ever-increasing numbers. My youtube channel slipped over 33,000 views this evening. These last 1000 views have taken just over a month, with the top 10 songs (of 98) being: Look Back!; All The Nations Like Bananas (arr.); Red Red Rose; Henry Hotspur Percy; Lupset Street Build; Motu Puketutu (SATB); You Will Remember; Motu Puketutu (SSA); Musical Rivers; Hinemoa. The top 10 countries (of 34) are mostly the usual suspects: UK; USA; New Zealand; France; Canada; India; Australia; South Africa; Italy; Switzerland. Random observations I thought worth noting: both parts of The Ballad of Pollard’s Brawn were listened to in full on June 4th; Tropical Fruit song was listened to in Vietnam on May 23rd; the views of Motu Puketutu and Red Red Rose were more than 100% of their actual duration, which always makes me think that people are singing along while they learn them…some choir in New Zealand is learning Motu Puketutu, I’m sure!

Please feel free to start off the next 1000 by selecting your favourite from this lot! https://www.youtube.com/user/seapieparcel


June 11th
The day of the new boiler in a new place. (Not yet connected but hanging on the wall all piped up and ready). The day of the last rehearsal before the Summer Road Show. Do come along. It will be a corker. Boy, we’re singing some cracking pieces!

June 10th
Walking back from Lesley-May’s after a jovial MadriGals practice I nosed around in the hedgerows.  Later there was more ripping out of kitchen cupboards revealing all manner of spiders and dodgy plastering. The boiler’s being replaced tomorrow and the next day, and maybe the next. It’s being removed from under the stairs to the bathroom. All the pipes are behind the cupboard we’ve moved. This is just the start of the upheavals. Nice to dwell on the flowers and banana peels. To the left: clover; undergrowth; yellow spiky thing; nettle; hawthorn; flowery tree; living pothole; flowery sky. To the right: blue and green; seed cluster; comely grass; statuesque; baby conkers; pink flowers, but the camera prefers the grass; structures, roadkill banana.


June 9th
Shall I tell you that we went to Edinburgh on the train and met up with Jamie’s Dad, sister and step-mother? Shall I tell you that I ate exceedingly delicious haggis, neeps and tatties for lunch and actually used the rosemary and onion gravy they gave me in a jug to eat rather than sneer at? (I don’t like gravy). Shall I tell you that I stood in a spot outside St. Giles Cathedral while waiting for Jamie to locate the wandering others and watched people and took photos from the same spot as I watched? Shall I tell you that we went on a guided tour of the Real Mary King’s Close with a man pretending to be an officious toff who in my opinion patronised us and bullied us and picked on some other unrelated Australians in a discomforting manner, and yet as we left others in the group of about 20 declared “Great tour!”? Shall I tell you that I had an outrageous piece of cheesecake, so crammed with chocolate matter that it was almost too much for even me? Shall I tell you that when pressed I gave my opinions on political matters and was reasonably articulate? Shall I tell you that I have had ideas for my new pieces?
No? OK. Instead, here’s a picture I took of a K6 phone box with Ron being a bull, and one Elaine took of us all awaiting our gravy. There were three K6 phone boxes behind her, but I didn’t take their photo for some reason.

June 8th
A brainful of tasks to complete is making original ideas difficult at the moment, but a chiffchaff chiffchaffing in the trees while I weeded, started me off on a possible thought. Also today I did a good deal of transferring of compost from one pile to another to make room for all the weeds I’m tackling, I dismantled some kitchen cupboards, I practised Rachmaninov and went to a cheery and excellent Rock Festival Choir rehearsal in the evening. This is the movement I’m loving most at the moment.

June 7th
Album: Round Things On the beach At Sunrise.
When you gamely rise at 3.30 for the sunrise which is now at 4.28, and in between the house and the beach, clouds roll into the empty sky, so that at the time of the sunrise, you are in place, and so is the sun, but the aforementioned clouds spoiling the fun, you search for other things to take note of, and just as all hope is lost….

Rusty iron appears in the sand.

A tree stump on the rocks. A passing bird has been there before you.

The tide is out and a crevice of limpets and barnacles catches your eye.












Coil fray.

Curly shells.








While you’re gazing into crevices and shellpools, the tide comes in and tickles your toes. Just in time you notice that bubbles are round.

Rusty nails and a mess of string remind you of Dad.






Fingertips and a handful of splinters.

Lobster pot detritus.


You spot a busy post of circles and arrows and clamber up the dunes….

….where you find bracken still furled….

…and a lifebuoy…oh and look….



….the sun. Wheeeeeh!

And out it comes in time for the wreck of rusty, crusty iron.


And the beach ends as it began with a circle of rust in the sand.

Twixt beach and car, a rose or two

Eye of stonechat in the distance.



And because stonechatlets have no fear it stayed there preening and chatting until I was so very close. Stonechatdad was nearby too, but too skittish for posing. He chatted louder, an alarum, I guess, and I watched them both for 20 minutes. I thanked them cheerily and came home.


June 6th
Bad day – multiple nettle stings and no ideas. Looking on the bright side though, a person unknown to me wrote, “Slow Down, Red Squirrels – A lovely song.”

June 5th
I ventured to Alnwick this morning where I selected a new oven with the help of Zac and signed away quite a bit of money on our upcoming kitchen re-fit. I remember a previous kitchen refit man who questioned my changing of the sink (single to double, similar price, same size) at the identical point in proceedings (ie at the last checklist checking moment before pressing the button to order), suggesting that I really should consult Jamie before implementing such drastic changes (a sink?), and indeed between me leaving the showroom and arriving home had actually tried to contact Jamie himself about the matter. Zac did not follow this example, and not only allowed me to change the oven without question but positively gushed when I also changed the drainage grooves in the sink surround from straight to fan-shaped. As I shook his hand to leave the premises I told him my sink story and congratulated him for not being like the other. We chortled and he gave me a building supplies bag for life which declares to the world that we are having a new kitchen. When I returned home, I discovered that a delivery man had brought me 50 copies of Lux Aeterna by Elgar for The Bridge Singers. Ooh yum. After chatting with several neighbours twixt car and door, I proceeded to grapple with the old kitchen and was almost gassed into unconsciousness by the opening of an elderly bag of some sort of grain-based substance. Other unpleasantness was a half-used container of milk powder, use-by date April 2003. Oh my! In between such finds, there was much loveliness: Cherry brought me spare tomato and bean plants, a second delivery man brought me two restored Hungarian factory lights for our new kitchen, Mum sent me an email telling me that she’s coming to visit and will be at at least one of our Summer Road Show concerts, I had a cheery Facebook exchange with Penny who’s on holiday in Sorrento, and Jamie came home from London. He’s happy about the oven, by the way, and agreed with me that we had already discussed fan-shaped grooves and preferred them.

June 4th
I’ve been writing the programme for our 16th June Summer Road Show recitals. Here’s the cover and the intro: “Welcome to our Summer Road Show Recitals where we’ll be featuring some of the sumptuous choral treats we’ve been enjoying during 2018 thus far. We’re delighted to be performing in St. Bartholomew’s, Whittingham and St. Paul’s, Alnwick for the first time, and also to be returning to one of our home venues, St. Michael’s in Felton for what is now a regular summer performance. Our programme today is eclectic as ever, but for once does not have an over-arching theme, instead we are dipping our choral toes into some new styles (19th century classics; 1930s jazzy standards) and expanding on some that we have particularly enjoyed in the past (madrigals and folk music). We’re also including a few which don’t fit under any headings other than “our favourites”! Today’s concerts are all free to enter, but do pay as you leave – whatever you think we’re worth! We hope you enjoy the recital(s)!”
Tonight we had our next to last rehearsal. Schumann is sounding mellow. Rachmaninov is sounding luscious. Dowland is sounding melancholy and agitated in equal measure. And Morley is on fire. Do come and listen to us.

June 3rd
Coffee. I don’t drink it for some reason, stemming I think from childhood and the finding of cooked milk skin floating maliciously on the top of a cup of the stuff. However, I relish a coffee and walnut cake, or a coffee creme as unearthed in a proferred box of chocolates. Yumptious, mmm. However, the odour of the grounds of it when mixed with sundry rotting vegetable matter in the depths of the kitchen compost binette, and released unwittingly into the general atmosphere of the house, is truly abominable. This is the abhorrent pathway along which my Sunday morning has loathsomely veered. Ugh. Ugh. And triple ugh. I have hightailed it through rain and spluttering, up to the actual compost heap with the execrable sludge, and have ignited an apple-flavoured candle inside in the hope of sweet-scented salvation. While I was up in the garden in the rain, I noticed the aquilegia and the lancewood are both doing very well – England and New Zealand coming together in glorious juxtaposition. There’ll be a bit of that in June too

June 2nd
Kitchen cupboards, pendant lighting, tiles, shelves, sorting, hoovering. It’s all to do with the house and the indignities it’ll be enduring during June and July. Come back in August though to see something gorgeous and so much more practical, I hope. Meanwhile, we’re playing this in Fingers Adrift at the moment – last night we practised it. I rather like it. It might be a good ‘un to sing in The Bridge Singers one day.


June 1st
This just popped up on Facebook from 2016. It had me laughing all over again. This year there was still laughing on their wedding anniversary even though Dad was not there in person. He was there in a small but heavy box and then in the ground, and then we had lunch and then I drove home. There was recorder playing at ours in the evening, and then things settled down.

If you want to hear the two other wedding stories from 2016, click here, and then find June 2nd and 3rd!

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