Jamie and I went a-leaping this evening at sunset. We were unable to coordinate our best leaps so I’ve smudged them together! I watched Alastair Cook score over 170 runs in the Bob Willis Trophy final on the BBC website while I worked today. So nice to see him bat again and to have live cricket on the sort-of telly.
It has been raining for most of the afternoon today, so at 5.30pm I stepped out of the house with my umbrella to stand on the bridge and enjoy the rain. There were three dippers out there on the stones in the river near The Bridge Singers’ recording studio. One was taking a bath. As I stood there watching with a big grin on my face, a kingfisher flew past, and then again, and then again and off, and then a fish leapt out of the water, did a somersault and dived back in.
The piano tuner was in the building today. If you’ve never had the thrill of such a skilled technician in the house, I can tell you that it is an excruciating business – that constant dingdingdinging of the same note as it makes it’s miniscule fairy steps towards the correct pitch is a little trying on the ears and on the nerves. I decided to wash the car outside while he was here, and had a few chats with passers-by, mostly of the type where they wonder if I’ve tried a slightly different method, or the effect my activity is having on the weather. My best ever piano tuning experience was not a piano tuning experience but organ tuning. I was in Coventry Cathedral with my trombonist pal John, and we had a proper laugh at it. There was something rather ethereal about it in such a glorious setting, and of course, because the organ is a wind instrument, there wasn’t the dingdingdinging, but more of a constant, haunting parp.
Another quiet day. Jamie and I walked through Felton Park this evening spotting trees that the choir could sing around when we’re allowed. We watched a dipper splashing around in the river for a while, but no photos.
A quiet day. I had a happy chat with Mum on the phone today and we had a committee meeting for choir via Zoom – a first for us. I thought I’d taken a screen shot of us all smiling, but it seems not, so no photos.
Royalties from New Zealand this morning (mostly for Hodie Christus Natus Est in schools) and then composing and then a walk up to the gate in the greyness. We wondered how many people we’d say hello to. We decided on one when we saw how empty the village seemed to be. I did try to force the issue by saying hello to a cyclist as he rode past, but he ignored me. As we were almost nearly home with our score on zero, a man unloading his car gave us a “Good evening!” Phew!
Jamie and I went to Lindisfarne this morning, crossing at 9.05, then doing lots of clambering about on the western coastline, which we were surprised to find is quite cliffy. There were seals singing as the tide retreated and birds a-plenty. We ended up at Lindisfarne Priory which we had booked into beforehand, and departed again before the tide trapped us there. Then we watched telly and ate our pie. We watched “Bait” having yesterday watched “Berberian Sound Studio”, both on “All4”, both rather arty and alternative – the sort of films we might have gone to the Tyneside Cinema to see in the old days, both set me a-thinking, which is a good thing.
I was up early this morning feeling a bit fed up with things as it’s easy to do these days. I did a spot of music thinking and then headed up to the gate for the sunrise. The sky was clear it seemed from way down here, although I soon saw that there was cloud over to the east. Anyway, I pondered as I strode upwards at a great pace. The gate was closed and I leant on it a bit. There were still 15 minutes to go until sunrise so I walked up to the Acton turn-off.
I noticed things. The leaves on the horse chestnuts up there are well on the turn, all shades of “gold and yellow, red and green…..yellow” – a familiar tune sprang into my head (Gary’s Till Autumn Comes”). There were lots of dewy spiders’ webs on the plant skeletons and a plane was flying up, up, up and away, it’s vapour trail a vibrant pink. The sun did come up rather orangely as I headed back down to the gate. The holey leaves and barbed wire and distant trees and various fences provided excellent frames for some photos.
I did a bit of leaping at the gate and then some more down by the ash tree. I watched a couple of chaffinches cavorting in the trees – another tune popped into my head, “Winnowing, Winnowing” from my workshop in Gilsland. I hale-and-heartied some morning halloos with an assortment of dog-walkers. I strode on down the hill for breakfast with Jamie, and as I crossed the bridge something caught my eye (and also my ear) down in the river. A small bird was splashing vigorously about amongst the boulders that are now visible again after being covered over after the rains of a couple of weeks ago. I have stood and watched dippers having their morning splashy wash before, but this was different. It was indeed a dipper, but it looked as though it was swimming and kept coming up with a shiny tiddler. I watched it for nearly ten minutes and it just kept on going back for more. What a feast. I’ve never seen that particular dipper activity before. I suppose I always thought they ate insects as I usually see dippers when the air is thick with them fizzing around my head, but I guess this is the reason they curtsey on the rocks to close to the shallow water. Anyway, shiny tiddlers it was, and no doubt set that dipper up very nicely for a day in the sun. I do love a dipper. It was moving about so amazingly speedily that a photo was not a successful option, so after a few attempts, I gave that up and merely watched with increasing delight. There’s always something to put a spring in your step if you look hard enough.
Today Jamie and I went for a walk in the evening along the river. There’s lots of farm machinery lying around at this time of year. We speculate on what most of it is, but we don’t really know! It makes for an appropriate seasonal photo opportunity, though. The north-east of England, including Northumberland has had tighter restrictions placed on it overnight – the pubs have to close at 10pm, we cannot mix with other households etc. It barely affect us apart as ever from the receding further from possibility of the starting back up of choir rehearsals. We now have to have our committee meeting via Zoom on Monday at which we will continue to plan for this so looked-forward-to event!
This morning I went to Ross Sands at sunrise and walked through the northerly wind to the obelisks. I did have to negotiate the cows at Ross Farm on the way back to the car, but I managed OK even though they were all over the path. The sun was behind clouds, so all was grey, but there was enough colour yesterday to seem me through!
Later, I made the singing learning tracks for Water of Tyne. Here’s the compilation of all mine and Jamie’s renditions. For the learning tracks they just hear one part being sung with the others on a harp sound!
I went up to Howick for today’s sunrise walk – so very colourful.
For the rest of the day I was a little exercised by the news that one of the exemptions from the Government’s new “Rule of 6” is grouse shooting. Having spent a lot of this year learning about grouse shooting for my hen harrier song, and also a lot of this year trying to make headway with all the restrictions that are imposed upon our cheer-inducing, mental-health-benefitting, beautifully calming pastime of singing, the suggestion that we should all take up our catapults and head into the moors to sing, seems suddenly not so ridiculous. We could take a pop at a bunny or two through our peashooters, and croon a ditty in between.
We had a committee meeting today for The Bridge Singers…well six of us met together – the other two were not allowed of course, because of the “Rule of 6” which came into force today. I spent a lot of yesterday preparing for this meeting with lists of pros and cons of various possible venues for a sing-song. The meeting was all very positive in spirit and we all have our tasks to do before the next one next Monday, but in the meantime, we’ll do another video – Water of Tyne. It’s the Lionheart Harmony arrangement arranged for mixed choir!
Today Jamie and I went up to Cheswick where we parked the car then walked to Spittal on the outskirts of Berwick upon Tweed. There was lots of geology and birds to admire and delight in and the views from the coastal path are stunning.
It’s been a quiet sort of week, with some walking and some music and not much else really. We went to Embleton for a rehearsal of Rock Festival Choir on Tuesday evening. There were 14 of us spread out greatly and it was good to sing. Arrangements were made for more, but then we heard that while we were singing, the restrictions were being tightened again, so no more for the foreseeable future. This of course has a bearing on The Bridge Singers too and this causes me a lots of sadness at times. Just got to keep on leaping and keep on musicking, I guess.
We went to visit Nick and Barbara this morning after Skyping with Australia. We haven’t seen them since March, so it was lovely to catch-up and see their remarkable garden. In the afternoon I made this video using an old recording from The Bridge Singers of my arrangement of Burns’ Now Westlin Winds using some more of yesterday’s photos. I also listened to and watched the cricket on the BBC – another victory for England over Australia. Excellent stuff!
Jamie’s birthday. We headed to Edinburgh in the morning on a fairly empty train in our purple facemasks (after a merry cross-rail chat with Hazel on opposite platforms at Alnmouth). It was 50 minutes late which means we can claim back half the fare, I’m told. 50 minutes late meant that we still had plenty of time to make it to the botanic gardens for our entry time slot. The sun shone. We ate our some of our snacks. We spotted two different divaricating shrubs from New Zealand. We spent a very cheery ten minutes watching a pair of goldcrests in a tree near the “Scottish Tree Walk”. Tiny wee things they are, and they don’t half flit about. We leapt. I took lots of photos. We found two Barbara Hepworth sculptures – one is another manifestation of the one in Alnwick Gardens. I heard myself exclaiming at too haughty a volume, “Oh, It’s Ascending Form!” We tittered, and moved on to the other one for our messing about with the timer.
Our journey home started well enough and on time, but somewhere between Dunbar and Berwick a woman towards the front of the train fell over and dislocated her knee, so an ambulance was called to Berwick Station and we all (almost all) waited patiently for the poor woman to be attended to. This meant that by the time we got to Alnmouth the train was 45 minutes late. Apparently this means that we can claim half of that fare back too! We did have an M&S curry waiting for us at home, but we decided during the delay that it would be too late for us by then, so we polished off some more of our treats, and saved the curry for tomorrow.
A bits and bobs sort of day. I went to Alnwick to get treats for Jamie’s birthday tomorrow. I realised when I was there that it’s the first time I’ve been shopping on my own since March. Masks on, people being ridiculous barging in to where their preferred purchases were regardless of how close other people might be…how quickly people forget how we’re supposed to be looking out for each other. Anyway, I obtained what I needed to and maintained a cheery disposition. Later, England beat Australia in the cricket. So all in all, a good day!
Today I have spent all day making The Bridge Singers’ Review Of The Year 2019-2020 – a happy and a sad task all in one!
I walked to Warkworth this morning, finished the music notating in the afternoon and then was rather tired so had a sleep! The highlight of my rather muddy walk was this lark “hiding” in the cut down stalks of a grain field. There were also lots of curlews again – mostly also in fields rather than at the coast. It looks as though choir cannot start until October at the earliest, so one more recording project might be the order of the day. Such a shame.
I’ve been notating someone else’s music today – a glorified aural exam really. It’s a lovely song that The Bridge Singers will probably be learning/ recording/ performing later on this year. It’s in a folky style so lots of syncopation and free rhythms to master. in the evening, Jamie and I went for a stroll into Felton Park and gazed at the weir there