September 2017: Stuff Of The Day

September 30th
Cake of the day: cherry and coconut cupcakes with chocolate ganache. There is also my usual banana cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting, but I’m proudest of the others because I’ve never made them before, I extemporised from the ingredients available in the larder, and they’re vegan. Jamie and I tested one out. They passed the test and will enter the cake fray tomorrow when we have a Singing Day for The Bridge Singers. There will be learning to blend, note-bashing with laughter, an instrumental interlude, and every now and then we’ll stop for cake. We have at least one vegan in our midst. She’s lovelier than lovely and more generous than generosity and so deserves a choice of cake. She also inspires composers to write songs.

September 29th
Instrument of the day: Flexatone. There have also been recorders which six of us played with great dexterity and humour this evening as part of our Fingers Adrift practice, including a couple of arrangements which we can perhaps slot into The Bridge Singers’ fruit recitals, but mostly today, I’ve been gathering myself together for Sunday’s singing day in Howick at which we will do a bit of instrumentalling with the flexatone amongst others. Here’s some flexatoning to get us in the mood.

September 28th
Waiting in the dark, looking for light of the day: Me at Alnmouth Station.




Platform 2

Platform 1




















September 27th
Excuse of the day: I hear that this week is Red Squirrel Awareness Week – the perfect excuse to share this song again!

September 26th
Television to watch while ailing of the day: Lewis. Been watching old episodes whilst snuggling up to a hot water bottle. Feeling crook. Jamie had it at the weekend. I’ve got it now. He was better after three days. I’m optimistic for Thursday.

September 25th
Highest seller of the day: Someone purchased copies of my version of The Lambton Worm from this very website. Hopefully it will result in a performance. This fade-in has a minute or so of it performed in 2016 by The Bridge Singers and a phone box in Edinburgh at the festival. In other news, the very same choir resumed their fruit music today after a brief interlude for our Proms outing. The Gooseberry is now under our belts.


September 24th:
Slogs of the day: Moeen Ali scores over a hundred in record time for England on my radio. I listen to music I don’t like much, hoping that it will become better in my ears and mind as time wears on. Here’s a bit of cricket:

September 23rd
E Papa of the day: the one at the end of The Bridge Singers’ four-song set in the cheerful and exuberant Last Night Of The Proms extravaganza at Northumberland Hall in Alnwick, organised by the volunteers at Bailiffgate Museum.

We sang four songs in “foreign” just to mix things up a bit and add ten minutes of cultural diversity into the proceedings which were otherwise flag-wavingly British. We were one of three local groups which also included Bailiffgate Singers and the Alnwick Playhouse Concert Band. Our set: Aya Ngena from South Africa, Inanay from Australia, No No Hitsuji from Japan, and E Papa from New Zealand. I proudly wore my pounamu pendant given to me by my Dunedin friends in The Southern Consort of Voices when we left to live in Australia. Also today, I dug up potatoes for the first time this year. Delicious, they were.

September 22nd
Some days you do a lot. Some days you don’t do much. Some days you do some stuff and also loll about a bit. Today was an example of the third type of day. I don’t have anything interesting to say about it.

September 21st
Administrative Task Of The Day: Sending scores to New Zealand. Because I am also a New Zealand composer, you can find my compositions at the Centre For New Zealand Music or SOUNZ. I realised that it’s some time since I sent new scores to them, so spent a lot of today doing just that. If you want to see my page with them before they update it, you can see it here. That’s a very old photo and biography too which should also soon be updated with more wrinkles, more compositions, and more choir directing!

September 20th
Good turn of the day: I helped Nick with the programmes. Problems then arose, which I won’t go into because I don’t like naming and shaming, but neither Nick nor I were at fault and cannot be blamed for anything that goes awry from now on. Later on there was a bit of this. I wonder if you can guess which bit.

September 19th
Poet of the day: Robert Burns. Plans are afoot for Burns Day next year. I’ve been planning all day and put my plan to the meeting this evening – all approved, so now I have lots of work to do. Lovely musicky work. Composing and arranging and the like. Splendid. Here’s a bit of Tam O’Shanter – the first bit of it I set. I did indeed set the whole of it for my Doctor of Music folio.
But pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flow’r, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow falls in the river,
A moment white-then melts for ever;
Or like the Borealis race,
That flit ere you can point their place;
Or like the Rainbow’s lovely form
Evanishing amid the storm.

September 18th
Stuff of the day (hard to pick the most significant this time): Up to news of score sales royalties from New Zealand; Jamie off to Bristol in car, then plane; News that my Cantate Domino was recorded at the weekend for a CD to be released before Christmas; bus to Newcastle for essential city shopping; Mooch around the Tyne Bridge admiring the rivets and Bessie Surtees’ House admiring the fruity windows, while waiting for a late-opening shop; Successful shopping; Arriving at Haymarket Station five minutes after my bus was meant to leave, and finding happily that it was running ten minutes late; More learning tracks finished and sent; music printed for a choir purchasing 21 copies of In the Bleak Midwinter; Happy meeting with conductor friend Peter; Jovial rehearsal with The Bridge Singers, Bailiffgate Singers and The Alnwick Playhouse Concert Band for Saturday’s Proms-ish concert; Jamie returning from Bristol.

September 17th
Feedback of the day: “I told her that you’re the best teacher I’ve ever worked with.” This came from someone I’ve worked with lots of times and someone who has worked with lots of others too. Funny that I seem to have mostly given that up now, eh? This came during a day of Musical Sculptures at the Hepworth in Wakefield when several families did their usual thing of making a lot of organised and creative noise in response to art works they see – in this instance Henry Moore’s Five Metal Figures who clanked, looked like a rhinoceros, tottered, hopped, spannered, harrumphed, chess-pieced, sprang, clattered, were loud/quiet/fast/slow/long/short, as they arrived in our music, then played in their rattly ensemble and took their applause with humility. No pictures, no recordings. Happy memories though.

September 16th
Enthusiastic theatre group of the day: Yew Tree Youth Theatre and those who’ve volunteered to perform Sarah’s play at the 2017 Miners’ Memorial Service at Selby Abbey in October. They’ll be singing my new song there too and if today’s first rehearsal is anything to go by they will be stunningly brilliant.

Device for the creating of straight cucumbers

September 15th
Garden Implement Of The Day: Cucumber Straightener.


I’d been looking forward to this for a while, and it did not disappoint. The entire shed/glasshouse visit was a complete treat, and the dahlias were on song too. All this at Clumber Park Walled Garden.





Window Cloche





September 14th
Not as repetitive as it sounds task of the day: Learning tracks for The Bridge Singers. Learning tracks. Learning tracks. Learning tracks. Learning tracks. Some merely require the “harping” of three parts and the “oboe-ing” of the featured one, coupled with the deleting of all dynamics and the reinserting of one “forte”, others require the complete re-scoring of divisi parts onto multiple staves and deleting of extra notes before the above processes. Lemon Tree has eleven parts, originally written on four staves. Learning tracks. Learning tracks. Learning tracks. Learning tracks. I haven’t finished yet.

September 13th
Feedback of the day: “It’s beautiful Cheryl – the penultimate verse particularly – Thank you so much for making something so perfect.” This from Sarah for whom I finished off a song for the 2017 Yorkshire Miners’ Memorial Service which will be in October in Selby Abbey. What you’re hearing is the end of the penultimate verse and then the ultimate verse along with some New Zealand sea pie from May 2012. Mission bay in Auckland, I think. I made a fade-in. It’s been a while!

September 12th
Sleeper of the day: that would also be me. I was so very tired today and no deadlines to meet so I just kept on sleeping at every opportunity. It’s hard to sleep in the day, hard to switch off the brain from the things it needs to think about, but anyway I managed it!
Now I’m writing this addendum the next morning having also had a good night’s sleep as well as most of yesterday and it hasn’t taken me long to switch back into what needs thinking about. Sleeping is such a good idea.

September 11th
Composer of the day: that would be me. I wrote a song for a specific purpose, which made me feel happy, even though it’s quite a sad song. We had an exhausting and exhilarating rehearsal for The Bridge Singers this evening preparing for our appearance at the Alnwick Last Night Of The Proms do in a couple of weeks. I also had two offers of new work projects today, one up here for a change, and one even further south than I usually venture.

September 10th
Pile of fruit of the day: the one on this draft poster for the upcoming December concerts. It was deadline day for the next edition of our local newsletter, so I wrote an article about The Bridge Singers for it. I’m quite pleased with the gooseberries, and the banana plant on the bridge. Also today: irritation at Jane Austen’s Emma (we watched the Gwyneth Paltrow film on the iplayer)- she really is a monstrous interferer and snob but is rewarded with Jeremy Northam in the end anyway; a dearth of ideas and motivation; extreme tiredness with naps.

September 9th
Sparrow of the day: The one Alison, Jenny and I saved with the help of a tea towel. It was trapped inside the Village Hall after madrigal practice, I scooped it up in said tea towel, handed to me by Alison who found said sparrow, and took it out through the door, opened by Jenny who suggested the tea towel. It struggled meekly in my hands, poor thing, and flew off to a hopefully less stressful future. Later I made vegan brownies and fudge which the three of us ate along with our recorder playing buddies prior to a bit of Pergolesi and Tallis. Two firsts for me – a bird in the hand, and an odd ingredient (frog-spawn-like ground-flaxseed-soaked-in-water” in the brownies. Tasted OK. Also today, Listened to the last ever stint of legendary commentator Henry Blofeld on Test Match Special as England won the cricket.

September 8th
Statistics of the Day: August viewing figures on seapieparcel channel are in.

500 views of 77 different videos in 37 different countries.

Most viewed: Look Back!; Silver Trumpet, Gabriel; The Bridge Singers’ Review of 2017/18. (Bottom of the list, excluding songs with no views, Little Bo-Peep with 1 view of a few seconds – pity, it’s rather delightful!!!)

Countries with most views: United Kingdom; Australia; United States. (Bottom of the list Saudi Arabia with a one-second, “Oops, I hit the wrong button” slip of the mouse!!!)

Best days for viewing: August 1st; August 25th; August 8th (Worst day August 5th with 6 views over the course of 3 minutes.)

September 7th
Lice of the day: The ones on Natural Histories. I’ve been catching up with some episodes of this brilliant radio programme on the BBCiplayer in between stirring jam. The louse episode is interspersed with verses from Robert Burns’ poem To A Louse. It’s a great show. Have a listen:

September 6th
Popular flower of the day: sunflower, gleaming golden in the wall-to-wall sunshine we get in Northumberland. Bees everywhere as I took my jam-making flotsam up to the compost heap. The cornflowers and ladybird poppies were also looking fine in my temporary mini-meadow.







September 5th
Artist Of The Day: Dawn Minto. I used some of her delightful watercolours in a new video which also features The Bridge Singers’ performance of my song The Lamb from Brinkburn in July.

September 4th

Pencils of the day: those given out to the top 2016/17 attendees at The Bridge Singers’ first exuberant rehearsal of the new choral year this evening. Claire, one of the sopranos wrote on their Facebook page: “Oh what a night! Everyone in fine voice. Much chatting and giggling. Gooseberries and apples galore. New members welcomed. A celebration of our best attenders. Here they are in all their glory, sporting their fabulous prizes! Roll on next week!”


September 3rd


National Trust Property of the day: Cragside. We went there with the intention of walking round a lake, walking across the bridge, visiting the greenhouses, stomping in the fresh air. All objectives achieved, the



greenhouses are closed for repair, but I do love scaffolding on a historic building so was exceedingly content.



Self portrait







Decorative Ironwork












September 2nd
Sporting event of the day: T20 cricket finals day on the radio. Nottinghamshire won. I’m from Nottinghamshire, you know. Also, sleeping.

September 1st
Composery thoughts of the day: It’s always very exciting of course to compose something new and hear it performed, but it’s also very thrilling to hear that older pieces are to be performed again. I had news of such things today: Autumn Sea and Four Pence A Day, both by people I do not actually know, which makes it doubly exciting. Of the two, I’ll share Autumn Sea, because it’s the song with the seapieparcel in it!

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