Silver Trumpet, Silver Singers. I went to Wooler to fill in with the music directing for my mate Veronica, and boy how we laughed. I love this group of cheery morning singers. I’m back again in a fortnight for their end-of-term singing spree. Elsewhere, we finished off last year’s potatoes for lunch, barbershop was in fine voice this evening in the gin palace, and I have completed my arrangement of Handel feeding his flock. On a sheepy note, there was a display about the history of sheep-farming in the Cheviot Centre in Wooler, I noticed with delight. Last day of June. Blimey – this drippy poppy in the garden will be out with all her friends soon.
Retford Station Stories 3: Trainspotting. This picture is from a few years ago – Dad’s 80th birthday cakes. One for his party guests, one for the NHS staff who brought him back to life a few years earlier. On the composing front, there’s been more sheep music tinkering and also had some lovey feedback from Susan Jacobs Feingold, an American composer: “I really like this one! Thoughtful, full of contemplation, beautiful. Brava Cheryl!”
This morning we went to Wallington with Gaynor and Colin, and once again admired the colourful gardens and woodland. I found another book that piqued my interest, and all the lovely guides in the house told us fascinating stories. There were also ticking clocks and creaking floorboards. The afternoon brought contemplation of sheepy music again. I give you a soundscape of our Wallington morning.
Lovely morning tea and catching up with our wonderful Australian visitors surrounded by Thomas Tallis preparation and listening, more musical sheep, The Bridge Singers singing Thomas Tallis and blending serenely in a mostly sunshiney June day. This is the afore-mentioned choir singing on the bridge at Feltonbury on Saturday to the accompaniment of a clattering of jackdaws and the X115 to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, with pictures of the day from Shirley and Sue.
An Australian sort of day: musically, there have been Australian folk songs about sheep which I explored early on and then Jamie and I sang to each other this evening (aaaaah!) post home-made curry and LA Confidential on the iplayer (which of course stars Guy Pearce); in between was the arrival in Northumberland of some of our Australian family, Gaynor and Colin, who are here for several weeks so you’ll get to meet them, no doubt! In between the movie and the singing we went up in the drizzle to see what’s occurring in the garden and this song thrush came out to play too. The foxgloves are also enjoying the conditions – so pretty on their insides.
Vacuuming. Rainshower. Feltonbury. Pop-up Sound Of Music. Vacuuming. Pie and peas. Vacuuming. Feltonbury. The Bridge Singers on The Bridge including Magical Glass. Drinks and merriment with choir friends. Vacuuming. Feltonbury. Bridge Singers in the Gallery. New friends. Potential and actual new choir members. Vacuuming. Drinks and merriment with choir friends. Vacuuming. Lovely, lovely Saturday. No photos though, so some wildflowers through which my sister and I frolicked on Friday.
When Nick Clegg went into a coalition with the Tories I was pleased with him. I like his thoughtful reasonableness, compromising for the greater good, his looking at the wider picture, his quiet ways. When Jeremy Corbyn became leader of Labour I was pleased. I like his thoughtful eloquence, care for the most vulnerable and least affluent, his looking at the wider picture, his quiet ways. They both express their views passionately, but quietly and thoughtfully. I have watched them both being criticised and denounced for essentially being thoughtful, looking at the wider picture, and for their quiet ways, for hoping that others will listen beyond the slogans to the wider picture. This depressing decision overnight, to leave the EU, is a win for those who are the opposite of this – those who are one or several of loud, rash, inward-looking, slogan-full, or uninspiringly or misguidedly nostalgic. However, I went to meet up with my beautiful, thoughtful, generous sister in Barnard Castle and we had an excellent day of chat, walk, bacon roll, birdsong delight, frolicking in ruins and wildflowers. I came home to my international, outward-looking, thoughtful, quiet household, and read about all the anguish of my friends. Although this decision is still depressing, I feel that there are enough of us in Britain to quietly and thoughtfully, yet still passionately make the best of it. I give you a cheery picture of me and my sister and a fragment of one of my saddest but quietly thoughtful songs.
Wonderful day in Wakefield Cathedral again with more of the assembled Year 3s singing their hearts out after learning my “You And Me Attached” song for their day of making new friends. This is some of their sharing performance and the ceiling of blue and gold above the quire. Glorious train trips down and back up too with one locomotive in steam and a merry Deltic party going on outside the Railway Museum in York. I also witnessed at very close range (from 24a) some flouncy and vituperative “reserved-seat” rage from two passengers, both insisting they’d booked 27a in Coach D. The one who backed down somewhat ungraciously was in fact the one who had the correct reservation, so my meagre sympathies were with her – both formidable and uncompromising women though with a splash of acid on their tongues and I’m glad I don’t actually know either of them.
Retford Station Stories 2: The Postman. It’s the most distressing of my Dad’s Retford Station stories and his handwritten copy made at 4.30 am on Sunday morning – this must be where I get my fondness for working in the early mornings from, eh!? Today I arranged some Handel and started work on an Australian folk song and wrote a couple of lists of music and did a lot of marketing.
An old photo of some not-quite bananas at Wallington and the middle section of my Banana Fanfare 2 which continues to prove popular.
Retford Station Stories: 1. Crossing Gates. When Dad and I were at Retford Station on Saturday for The Flying Scotsman’s visit, it sparked off lots of memories from him about his childhood in Retford and stories connected with that station. Before he went to bed that night, he wrote them all out, and then read them for me the next morning. Here’s the first. In other news we had an excellent rehearsal for The Bridge Singers tonight, ironing out teensy quibbles with the music in readiness for our performance upcoming on Saturday at the Feltonbury music and art mini-festival. Out came the flute too for the first time in months as I have to stand in on part 3 of our Reynold The Fox trio, and also out came my piano-ing hands not just for the giving of notes but also for the paying of Bridge Over Troubled Water. Just need to sort out those F#dim chords which my fingers seem to miss and all will be well.
“Double Picnic Storm” and the intricate workings of the boltophone – a couple of highlights of my day at The Hepworth Wakefield creating musical sculptures with visiting families. Rainy drive home to the accompaniment of Andy Murray winning at tennis, and then old players repeating themselves endlessly about Roy Hodgson’s future as England’s football manager – so much better than EU referendum bickering.
Dad and I went to Retford Station (we caught the 16.36 from Worksop to Cleethorpes) and the Flying Scotsman came to visit. We were very happy and so were all the other people there. It steamed and chugged and gleamed and when it left (which is what you’re hearing) it filled the platform with steam like at the end of The Railway Children when Jenny Agutter’s Daddy, My Daddy is shrouded in steam and then it joyously clears. We caught a train back to Worksop at 18.09 and had profiteroles for tea.
Northumberland. A1. M1. Wakefield. Chats. Spots. Limes. M1. A57. Worksop. Birds. Gear Changes. A57 bypass.
This is what you get if you put six merry barbershoppers in a museum with armour to rattle and games to play.
The Bridge Singers had a gig today at Woodhorn Colliery Museum singing for Carers Northumberland as their pre-lunch entertainment – our first gig out of the village, and our first gig to which we were invited by “outsiders”. This is a potted minute and a half of our 25 minute slot. Much jollity was had as usual and I treated myself to a Magnum White afterwards as we made merry in the coffee shop. Two of our members had these fetching and matching shoes – one set of feet larger than the other. In other news, I’ve solved a nutty problem with the Handel arrangement for these very same wonderful singers.
Plodding along sort-of day. Nothing completed, yet good progress made. I went out in the drizzle. I do like a bit of non-windy drizzle. Here’s a startling flower I spotted. It deserves a hand, I think.
Choir. It takes over my life on some days. This is a good thing. Today has been one of those days with matters appertaining to a vocal coach, a recording maestro, an accompanist, a church, social events, portaloos, arrangements of songs about sheep, a recital this week to consider, parking permits, oh and then a rehearsal and catching up with wonderful singing friends. Lovely day in my head. Rain and fog outside. I took this photo at Wallington Hall on Sunday where this book in the extensive Trevelyan library caught my attention, fitting, as it does so perfectly, with my current choiry obsession.
A little bit of drizzly walking through the gorgeousness of Wallington’s gardens, woodlands and greenhouse, then a little bit of bargain hunting for provisions in a supermarket full of damp shoppers, a little bit of listening to rain-affected cricket and a further little bit of Handel and his sheep.
This morning there was a very merry committee meeting for The Bridge Singers, and all manner of exciting singy things are in prospect, including historic greenhouses, singing picnics by the sea, portaloos, and sheep. On my drizzly walking way there I was entranced by the drips on the hedgerow plants, as you see. One of the topics we discussed was our last concert, so here’s the end of the first piece from it – Anerio’s Factum Est Silentium. For the remainder of the day I have been supporting Wales and England on the telly and radio in a variety of sports, and making an arrangement of some sheepy Handel.
I do so like to be positive so I will merely tell you that today I have found some excellent sheep-based madrigals for our Bridge Singers Christmas concerts in December. This one is by Thomas Weelkes. This photo is of the wibbly-wobbly people at South Shields. You can see the top of the Groyne too.
I packed up my new song and headed off on the train to Wakefield Cathedral to spend the day with lots of Year 3s from some CofE schools getting to know each other over shared-printing with Rachel, friendship bracelets with Tracey and her colleagues, friendly gestures and movement with Becky, and my “You And Me Attached” song in the Chapter House. At the end we gathered in the quire for mass sharing of what we’d done. Here’s my view from the thrilling grand piano (which I managed to thump with gusto and mostly correct notes) as I await my turn. You see Becky leading the sharing of the new friendly gestures. Home on a packed train to more singing, this time for lots of appreciative holidaymakers in Alnmouth with Lionheart Harmony. After that I was hungry and somewhat exhausted so we came home via the chippy in Amble and I fell into bed. Zzzz. It’s now the 10th and I’ve woken up too early as ever, but remembered that I forgot to tell you that there was a steaming steam train in York yesterday. Big thrill in a thrilling day.
Today I woke up needing a new song and by lunchtime I had one. This has made me exceedingly happy. That people pay me to do this and that I can then go ahead and write what they want…this is what makes me exceedingly happy. This is not my new song – you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that. This is an old one which I was only this week reminded of from the Yew Tree Youth Music days. Here also is a bit of the Groyne from South Shields on Sunday – a most elegant and intricate structure.
Blackthorn, and sparrow duet. I went up to the sycamores today for the first time in several weeks. Since I started making so much fuss of them, I’ve been concerned that when the leaves came out they’d turn out to be something else, even though for the last several years I’ve observed quite clearly and confidently that that is what they are. They are still sycamores, I can report, but the fog made all my pictures somewhat meh-ish, so instead it’s the blackthorn nearby. A good year for it.
Today I’ve been gathering together/arranging sheepy repertoire for The Bridge Singers’ festive concerts this year, and then going off to our rehearsal, at which we were cementing the new things and refining the old things for our forthcoming gigs at Feltonbury 2016 and our first out-of-village gig at Woodhorn in a couple of weeks. We decided to head out of the sweltering rehearsal room and sing on our actual bridge for five or so minutes, braving the midges and the car transporters which were hurtling through the village prestissimo having been diverted from the A1 by the resurfacing. This two-clip fade-in-and-out just about sums up the rehearsal, with much merriment and some singing.
I drove from Worksop to South Shields through early morning haze, whereupon I was greeted by a stern-faced Queen Victoria who guards the stonking Town Hall which has exceedingly ornate drain pipes and this grand old clock with a ship atop it. Behind me is a busy road junction and a man fixing a roof, and in the distance are some enormous seagulls. After a short while, Jamie arrived on a Metro train and we hied to the pier and the forest of fishermen at the end of it, and the wibbly wobbly people, and the groyne, and along the Tyne, and through a market of decorative tat and cupcakes, then onto the Tyne Tunnel, the supermarket, curry meal, a final spot of Vivaldi and then sleep.
Today and on Wednesday I have been composing with families in a new place for me – The Tetley in Leeds, the front entrance of which you can currently see! We responded to pieces in their exhibition No Quiet Place, in which all the exhibits make some sort of sound. Here you hear how one of today’s groups responded to the “Natalie Steed” office which currently contains lots of sssss, a series of whirring, clicking lights, and the sounds (you can hear this too because it’s where we performed our composition) of some amplified shell casings dropping on the main wall. Also today I have admired the six-spike green hairstyle of a fellow traveller on the train, coped with some thick clouds of flies at Retford station and seen my old favourite Engine 91111 “For The Fallen” pulling a train to Alnmouth as I headed in the opposite direction.
Wedding Stories 3: The Bridesmaid’s Dress. The dress on the left is the one in question. Mum and Dad posed in front of the church door this morning, with the original photo nearby – had to take two pics, because the dear little camera didn’t know what to focus on, then splice ’em together later. I have been on fire with the Vivaldi today and have completed all the Vivaldi blogs. If you teach music in a school, then this is a brilliant set of activities for you, if I say so myself. All the activities have been tried and tested by me and others right through from early primary to upper secondary. Hope there’s something here you like.
Wedding Stories 2: The Wedding Bus. It (Dad’s found a picture of it in one of his several books-about-buses and is pointing at it for you) was a Leyland Tiger owned by the East Midlands Motor Company, which is the company for which Auntie Hilda was a bus conductress. Mum and Dad were married in St. Mary’s RC Church, Worksop but the reception was at Whitwell Manor (Mum’s home village, about 15 minutes’ drive away) and as most people didn’t have cars in those days or know where one or the other of these places were, there was a bus – a rare wedding phenomenon in those days. In other news, I have been making more Vivaldi activities while watching cricket on the parental television this evening, and also made an arrangement of something vaguely ovine for The Bridge Singers’ Christmas Sheep Recitals.
June 1st: Wedding Stories 1: Tell them about the bus. It’s Mum and Dad’s 53rd wedding anniversary. We spent the evening watching cricket on the telly and they were telling me stories about the wedding day. If you want to know how to stay married to someone for 53 years – this is it. Laughing at everything is the trick.