Jumping Through Hoops: April 2020

The view from Julie’s garden. It’s the same as our view really, except where she has a deck, we have a compost heap!

30th April

I made guacamole today too, and while I chopped things along came several blue tits. They’re always there along with the coal tits and great tits and dunnocks. Friendly birds!

I’ve been composing my hen harrier song today. I’ve also had lots of cheery chats with my next door neighbour. She’s been very upset by some locals being rather unpleasant with her in recent days. I can never really understand why people have to be unkind to each other, especially at times like this. People become so ingrained in their opinions and really do not even try to see things from other people’s points of view. Most distressing. I cleaned the car today too – quite a rare event. I was waiting for it to rain, and it did, so I did what I said I would, and it does indeed sparkle – for the time being at least! After the clapping tonight we went across to one of our other neighbour’s decking at the top of her garden – this is her 2nd home, so she is currently in Edinburgh, and has suggested that every now and then we pop over there to have a looksee.

Leap with hoop, umbrella, bridge and phone box. If the rain keeps up we might not be able to get down into the river bed tomorrow!

29th April

I’ve been composing today. It is a song about hen harriers for some friends of a friend. I knew nothing about hen harriers before this project. It turns out they’re rather spectacular and rather rare. People shoot them because they eat grouse chicks. They don’t eat all the grouse chicks, because there aren’t many hen harriers left and there are lots of grouse. Anyway, I’d say I’m half way through this task, so maybe I’ll play you some at the end of tomorrow! It rained this evening and this made me very happy. I persuaded Jamie out to the bridge with the banana umbrella and the hoop for a leap, and placed the K6 phone box in the background to complete the picture!

Jumping under the bridge with hoop and wellies.

28th April.

I took the hoop out for another leap. I started my hen harrier song. I was interviewed by Hazel for the next edition of The Bridge. Nice to chat. We sat at a goodly distance from each other on the picnic tables outside The Northumberland Arms. As we chatted, Peter with Nell, and Neil with Harry and Rosie, came by so there was more chatting. Good place to sit as it turned out!


27th April

I took my hoop and jumped. I didn’t jump through it as it’s rather small. But still. It made a cheery silhouette just before the sun got to that particular spot. I started learning about hen harriers today. What amazing flyers they are. I shall write a song about them this week. I also was thinking back to this song, which w=seems very apt at the moment what with all the weeds and other plants bursting into life left, right and centre.

When My Roots Begin To Grow – it was suggested to me today that the title of this song takes on another meaning for many in these times of closed hairdressers’ businesses.
Robin on a fence

26th April

Sunday. To start with I made the video of yesterday’s photos and Rheinberger’s Abendlied, but I posted that in yesterday’s entry because it was using yesterday’s photos. After that I answered some emails, and set my new composing plan into action. Then I did a spot of gardening. All the vegetable beds are forked and weeded now and so I have moved onto the beds that have flowers in, or might have flowers in if the seedlings grow and the weather warms up. These beds are in just as bad a state of repair, so trying to get rid of ground elder roots without causing any more damage is a delicate business. I found some roots of something that I don’t recognise. They look healthy, but so far have no leaves, so I’ve replanted them in the hope that they grow into something we want. If they don’t I’ll pull them up again and get rid of ’em.

The stile upon which the camera sits was the end point of my walk, and when I turned round there was a deer at the opposite end of this large field. Too far for the camera to cope with, but it was one of five I saw on the walk – three at once later on!

25th April

A long sunrise walk today, along the river and further than I’ve been before, but I came to a farm road that went both ways and there was no sign, nor waymarkers and I did not have a map with me, so I came home along the same route, but we have maps at home so I will have another go another morning. The sun was behind a big bank of cloud for the duration of my work, so I had to hunt a little harder for beautiful things to photograph, but I managed it and in the morning will make this video (!) using the best of them in combination with some Sunday music from The Bridge Singers in 2018.

Rheinberger’s Abendlied from a performance in 2018 with photos of a sunrise walk along the river and beyond!
Inspecting the seedlings!

24th April

I spent almost the entire day arranging “A Bag Of Nails” for The \bridge Singers and by the evening had completed it. The Jamie and I took a few glass pictures before settling down with what was in the glasses!

Cheers! A beer and a rum and coke to see us through Friday evening.
Leaping on the compost heaps in the evening sunshine. You can see the whole village from up there.

23rd April

Music and gardening. This is us in the evening leaping on the compost heap. The music was The Parting Glass for The Bridge Singers. We sang it a few years ago and they’d like to do a video of it. I’m also making an arrangement of “A Bag Of Nails” as they’ve requested a lively one. During the day today my song “Three Billy Goats Gruff Is A Noisy Story” attained over 1000 views since it was first uploaded six months ago. That’s quite quick for me really, and quite pleasing. It’s not my most skillfully composed piece, but it seems that its popular!

1007 views as I write this!
Horse and fence post in the sunrise glow. This was actually yesterday, but the same thing was happening today too!

22nd April

Music, no gardening! Along the river at sunrise I stood and watched and listened to a skylark hoverfly for ages and then land, and then later on when all my recording equipment was back in my pocket, two more skylarks swooped at me like magpies do in Australia – it was all rather thrilling. In the evening, Jamie and I went to Morpeth to the supermarket. I hate going there. Hate it. We bought what we needed, but some people are so horrid and although most are lovely and wait and avoid and smile and laugh, those few who do not make the whole thing unpleasant and unnerving. I don’t know which type are worse – the ones who are so paranoid about contact with others that they work as a team to block others off and glare with angry eyes at everyone, or those who are sublimely unconcerned and just waltz in and out of everyone else’s space with gay abandon. Pah! Anyway, chocolate was bought, so all is well really.

This video is me and the skylark. Me = one take-off, eight landings and one leap captured in my ten pics in ten seconds (there were actually eight leaps in all but my timing was off. The skylark = one long fluttery twittery minute of hovering followed by a swoopy landing just before which the song changes to one of much more variety.

Me and the skylark
Hop of the morning to you from Northumberland! The camera, left to its own devices, decided that the teensy blade of grass was more interesting than either me or the tree.

21st April

There was digging and music as ever, and also lots of birds in the garden while I was there and lots of ideas too. The leap was along the river where I encountered another annoying walker who observed not the 2 metre rule, even though his wife and dog did and we all had plenty of room to do so. Pah!

Good evening from Northumberland! I’ve been digging today and Jamie was digging yesterday, Between us we’ve cleared five beds of weeds and debris ready for vegetables: one behind us; two between us and the camera; one behind the camera; one enormous one to the right of here and down on the level bit. One more to go….and then there’s the ones with flowers to start on!

20th April

I’ve done quite a bit of digging today as you can’t see from the photo – the bit I’ve been digging today is behind the camera! We have made quite a bit of headway though between us and all those beds you see have indeed been dug by me. Jamie is doing the one on the flat section to the right of this scene.

I also have the beginnings of an idea for a new piece of music for the choir. It needs more thought, but I’m honing in on an angle. More anon.

Foggy sunrise

19th April

A leap and a half

Jamie got up early and we went for a walk along the river through the mist and up a hill and then back – a couple of hours altogether. We saw a deer at close quarters – for a minute or two we all stared at each other until the deer bounded off into a nearby copse. We also saw a swirl of sand martins. I guess they could have been house martins, but they were reeling about near a deep bank of the river, but whichever they were, they were the first of the year.

After that I had a rest after all the video making of the previous two days.

April 17th and 18th

I’ve been knitting together another video for The Bridge Singers using the folksong “Australia”, which mentions Queen Victoria, so will be suitable for our next concert, whenever that may be. They once again practised their parts individually with the help of learning tracks, recorded what they could by the deadline of last Wednesday, then sent what they’d done to me for knitting…along with photos and other news of what they’ve been up to so that we can not only sort-of sing together, but also keep up with what we’ve been doing. I used som bush-walking sound effects that I recorded in Queensland in November 2018, and also some Australian pictures from that holiday – pictures from Olinda, Cranborne and Maroochy botanic gardens. It’s taken me two whole days plus a bit of Thursday, so no gardening, no walking, no leaping, no sunrise photos. I did see a pair of goldfinches cavorting in the garden on Friday every time I looked out of a window, but no photo of them, alas! Here’s the video, anyway:

The Bridge Singers singing together, but not together, again!
Sunrise was brief but spectacular

April 16th

Posing yellowhammer

I went on a hill-leaping, woodpecker-spotting, joggers-in-the-middle-of-the-path-so-there’s-no-way-of-their-space-avoiding, yellowhammer-posing, water-gurgling river walk. Apart from the exceedingly egocentric jogger, it was glorious. I even managed to see the sun rising big-and-orangely before it snook behind the clouds to shine on the others instead for the rest of the day.

Leaping in the gap

The posing yellowhammer stayed around for ages obliging me with a few different attitudes before we both moved on. The woodpeckers were great spotted ones and were making such a thrilling noise up in a couple of huge trees. It took me a while to spot them, but they gave a good show of chasing each other about the branches and rat-a-tatting back and forth. I also watched a lapwing for a while. It was its swoopy, glissando-y, electronica-like call that first attracted my attention – quite un-bird-like in many ways, and then I watched it’s rather lazy wing-flapping, and caught the flappity-lapping sound of its wings as it headed off. Splendid stuff.

“Good evening from under the bridge!” chortled the leaping trolls. “We’re quite friendly really!”

April 15th

A quiet day. I tinkered with the Teo Torriatte arrangement, but it is finally complete and sent off to everyone including the SheetMusicPlus website who have given me permission to arrange the song.

Double dippers again

Jamie and I went out into the river bed this evening, where we saw the pair of dippers again on their rock. I’ve been trying to persuade him to get up early and come along with me on my morning walk. There’s hope for the weekend!

Colourful sunrise along the river bank.

April 14th

Today I walked along the river at frosty sunrise. I haven’t walked along the river since we first moved in here. The path then was overrun with nettles biting at your legs, mud clawing at your boots, and also it was overrun with people and their dogs and is in places very narrow. However, this morning, I thought I’d give it another go as it’s been very dry, the nettles are not yet in full sting, and so many people are currently walking along there due to the “staying local” directive, that the path would I assumed be well trodden down. I was right on all these assumptions, and also the one suggesting that sunrise is now too early to be encountering crowds (indeed any people at all) on the narrow paths. The sunrise was a colourful one. The moon was also rather resplendent in its halfness.

Sunset from the top of the garden

During the day, I finished off digging the bed I’m currently on, and I finished my arrangement of Queen’s splendid song Teo Torriatte. Jamie went off to Morpeth to the supermarket in the evening, while I did the vaccuuming – a fair distribution of unpleasant tasks, we agreed. As we unloaded the car, Connor passed by on his evening walk so a pleasant chat and chortle was had, before I hightailed it up to the top of the garden to witness a rather splendid sunset – I don’t generally do sunsets, so quite the treat! This picture doesn’t really do justice to the amount of pinkness that was completely bathing the entire view!

April 13th

Leaping round the pile of twigs

We did our leap in the evening amongst the twigs from last year’s tree felling. The sun hasn’t played much part in proceedings today, which is good for me and the digging out there. I haven’t finished anything today, although I have made good progress with things. I guess there are always going to be days like this!

Good morning from a grey sunrise in Northumberland! I didn’t quite jump out of my socks, but I did jump out of the picture!

April 12th

The day’s only half done so far, but already I’ve been up the road for my walk and a leap and have used the photos I took to make this video, which is a Sunday video so I’m sharing it today. I may write more later if more happens!

April 11th

Arranging Queen songs, and also Jamie I recorded this to help the choir learn their parts for our next remote-learning task.

An arrangement of the folksong “Australia” for The Bridge Singers.
A friendly, tuneful robin.

April 10th

I did a lot of digging today, getting another of those rickety beds ready for vegetables.

“I know a friendly robin,
Who helps me when I dig.
He sits and warbles sweetly,
Upon a nearby twig.” Jeanne Farrar.
This little poem was in a book I had when I was little. I know my robin today was on a ladder, but that doesn’t rhyme or scan. Mind you that reminds me of another poem I heard on the radio yesterday, an Irish Nursery rhyme (say it out loud in an Irish accent!)

“Once there was a caterpillar,
Who thought life was a farce,
He used to climb up all the trees,
And slide down on his hands and knees.”

Leaping amongst the daffodils and the collapsing vegetable beds!

April 9th

We jumped in the evening! During the day I was doing arrangements for choir.

And seeing as tomorrow in Good Friday, here’s a song for that day.

A serene song for Good Friday
I tried a few running jumps before sunrise!

April 8th

I’m back to arranging music for choir with a vengeance at the moment. I finished the folk song “Australia” and have started on the Queen arrangements.

I managed to capture a couple of ’em!

Earlier I went up to the gate to once again with the aim, as yesterday of capturing the big moon behind the three sycamores, but when I got up there, although the moon was shining brightly, it was skulking behind the hedges next to the trees, and so it was impossible to  do as I’d hoped, so I made do with other trees, and that was OK, and I thought that this morning it would be that bit higher so I’d have another go. When I got up this ‘ere pink moon was shining so brightly through the back windows that I didn’t need any lighting on to see my way down the stairs and back up again. Marvelous it was. At about 5.15 when it was starting to get light I hightailed it up Main Street into the countryside, the moon shining brightly over to the left. I could see it was higher than yesterday, as predicted, and as I strode up the hill, I was full of great optimism. Just as I arrived at a point where the sycamores were directly between me and the moon, the moon slipped behind a cloud.

Twig moon
Moon twigs

This was a cloud of such density and size, that for the entire time I did my leaping in front of the gate and investigated various birds I espied, it did not reappear. Eager to get home in time for breakfast with Jamie (his routine does not change for the moon, nor anything else) I sped back down. As I got level with the Village Hall, the moon reappeared, and it was big and indeed slightly pink….but the sycamores!!!! Too late. Again I had to make do and mend with a nearby twig! Anyway, I did leaping, as I say! Running jumps!

April 7th

I went up to the gate for sunrise and moonset this morning and took lots of rather lovely photos in the lea-rig near the sycamores. I then came home and made them into this video with my arrangement of The Lea-Rig (a folk song with words by Robert Burns) as performed by five of us earlier in the year (Rebekah, Alison, Jamie, Connor and me!). A lea-rig is the strip of uncultivated land between the crop and the fence line, I discovered in December when I was working on this arrangement!

It was a treat to sing this with these four friends earlier in the year!

April 6th

Fiona’s Monkeys watch Michael’s Monkeys

Today, I was listening to my lullaby, Golden Rain Baby, after I was reminded of it by this remark: “It’s good to cry with music – like being gently rained on, it touched special memories.” In my lullaby, “soft rain is falling like stars from the sky. Soothing your face with her cool finger tips.”

I shared the video of my song on Facebook. You will note that I made this video for my brother who has several PGTips Monkeys, and takes them to places and photographs then. This prompted my friend Fiona to send these photos – I think my brother has some serious competition!

April 5th

Jamie took the day off so we spent a lot of this rather sunny day in the garden. I also had a video call with my choir pals Rebekah, Julie and Shirley. Below is a record of our day along with half of my Spring Burst song! The extended captions for the photos in the video are:

  1. Jamie and I in the garden: me having dug, weeded and forked one of the beds ready for vegetables; Jamie having pulled lots of ivy from the hedges – he’s made a pile of it just where he’s standing – you can see the very top of the pile!
  2. At the end of the day we headed out of the front door for our permitted exercise, which today involved heading into the river bed to do a spot of leaping.
  3. In the middle of our toil we repaired to the kitchen for cherry and coconut scones. I sat on a stool next to the window with my back against the fridge and my feet on the draining board and gazed at the sunny scene. All our knick knacks (mostly gifts from lovely friends and relatives) on the window ledge were looking glorious in the sunshine.
  4. We also did washing and here is part of our collection of orange tea towels on the line – two of these three provided by our tea towel guru Penny (the other from Kew Gardens).
  5. After we’d completed our leaping in the river bed, I wheeled round to the pooey dipper rocks and there was a dipper. Wheeeh! Then we played awhile skimming stones, and when I turned back, there were two. Double dippers. Double wheeeh!
  6. During the weeding it comes to pass that one must take one’s bucket of leaves and stuff up to the compost, when one has a vast view to scan. This blue tit was nearby, waiting for me to go away so it could head back to the nearby nuts.
  7. As I said, Jamie skimmed some stones. One of them skipped seven or eight times. On the first skip it created this spectacular splash!
  8. As we toiled, a pair of peacock butterflies cavorted across the scene. This one obliged by basking on the earth while I laid down my gloves and fork and took up instead, the camera.
  9. Mostly, the flowers at the moment are yellow, but these mauvy anemones provide a splendid contrast.
  10. As I say, there’s much yellow and here’s a daffodil with some bugs inside. I do love the daffodils and primroses and some tulips at this time of year , but then for the remainder of the year I don’t want yellow flowers (except sunflowers – they’re allowed!)
A ten jump leapfest at the gate!

April 4th

I went a-leaping up by the gate. I’ve not been sunrise leaping at all in April so I made up for it with a ridiculous leapfest as the sky changed colour! On the way back down into the village I saw several yellowhammers sporting in the hedgerows and this made me very happy.

Ratty has a look round – reasonably cute as long as he’s not running around your feet and on the other side of the window, but once there were four of them I’m afraid I was not so appreciative!

We took the bird feeders in on Thursday because there was a sudden influx of rats into the back yard from somewhere on Tuesday and Wednesday. Word on our street was that everyone had them and an exterminator had been round to one of our neighbours. By the end of today (Saturday) we were not seeing them any more, so they’ve moved on or the exterminator did his thing successfully! Here’s a picture of the first ratty to appear!

April 1st-3rd

Even though we cannot meet up for rehearsals or perform together at the moment, The Bridge Singers have carried on singing, and have managed to learn a new song. They each mastered their own little bit remotely and in isolation with the help of learning tracks, then recorded it and sent it to me, and I have put it all together, along with photos they sent, their rather self-effacing comments, and even a round of applause, (which we did actually get last July for a concert in Brinkburn Priory!) Here’s the result:

My wonderful choir has been learning a new song during March. We’ve all tackled our own part and then figured out how to record that and send it, and now it’s all collated into this. Everyone did the last verse and the choruses and then a few eager beavers had a go at verses 1 and 2!

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