Tuesday, 24 September 2019

it worked!

It was so much fun! There were 16 of us in the end, parking was fine, the rain stopped as we started to set up, and the runners loved it.

All the prep was worth it...

We kept it a surprise - the race organisers knew of course, but the runners didn't. Their faces were so fun to watch as they came around the bend and saw a 16-piece brass band cheering them on. It was great. 

People were really helpful too - I emailed the man who owned the orchard - my friend from knitting knew him - and he answered - and I mean that wasn't exactly your typical email, to say the least. Even the National Fruit Farm were happy to let us use their parking lot. It makes you realise how much people will let you do if you just ask! 

This opens up a great deal of possibilities....

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

and so I'm back - from outer space

Didn't change the locks, didn't make me leave a key and here I am. Self-identifying with the villain in a song about women's empowerment. Nice. Classy.

So I couldn't get on with wordpress. I thought moving to a more open platform would encourage me to do more - design more, make more of an effort, but it turns out, I guess, I just want to write-and-run (a crime under any rational statute book). It also turns out that although it's easy to convert your blog from blogger to wordpress, it's really hard to convert it back. So. Whatever. There will be missing years. Quite apt, really.

It's Wednesday. I'm drinking a glass of wine and listening to this which is brilliant and I love it. I think this is the first all-woman jazz band I've ever heard. That I know of. And it matters. What is the phrase, you can't be what you can't see? Or something to that effect. When I first saw the video I felt a jolt of - OH - there's a woman! and anther one! and anther one! BLIMEY it's the whole band!!!! Neal asks me does it matter? And from the music end of things, no - of course not - but from the socio-political end of things, oh it matters, all right.

In other news I am trying my own hand at musician-wrangling this Sunday. It's the Faversham 10k running race, a race I have run a few times, and volunteered as a marshal last year. I was stationed at the bottom of Brogdale Hill, a rather steep hill almost 8km in, and the runners would see it around the bend and audibly groan. I started to think, wouldn't it be great to have a brass band down here to cheer them on? And here's the bit where I can really see what people mean when they say that your friends have a huge influence on your behaviour. Because when I mentioned this completely crazy un-thought-out idea , they said, duh - yes - that's great - you can, and should totally do that. Because many of them are music directors, band leaders, musicians, organisers, etc - it didn't sound at all crazy to them. So - I thought - how hard can it be?  I mean it's probably hard to do it well, for sure. But I just want to make runners laugh, which lowers the bar somewhat.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, 31 December 2017


to here -

It will be a work in progress for awhile......

Friday, 29 December 2017

Thursday, 28 December 2017


I've just hauled myself out of the most luxurious lavender bath (courtesy of Neal's sister's Christmas parcel which arrived today and was full of amazing goodies and thoughtful gifts). The clock says it is 630pm on Thursday but to be honest, at this point I'm just taking their word for it. It's the liminal hazy free-for-all days between Christmas and New Years and I think this may be my very favourite time of year.

We met up with some local friends of ours this morning and went on the long route to the Shipwright Arms, along the sea wall through the marsh. It was muddy. Slip-sliding, wipe-out, extra-ten-kilos-of-mud-on-boots muddy. But bright and sunny and just heart-stoppingly beautiful. And, bonus!, all the cows are in for the winter so the paths are ours. We met more friends in the pub (not planned but the beauty of a small town) and it was nearly impossible to drag ourselves away from the roaring fireplaces and the ale, but when we did we were rewarded with the most amazing winter light across the marsh -

Yesterday was much the same but the weather was frightful (sleet - freezing cold windy sleet. Not snow - just sleet. yech). We have a tradition of meeting up with friends in one of our local pubs on the day after boxing day - when all the family stuff is done and everyone can just relax in front of the fire and decompress. It's a good tradition, and this year was no exception. When we left to come home, the storm had passed and the sky was amazing - 

Neal wanted to get home, but I walked out to the rail bridge to see the sky - it was so beautiful - and so cold - the north wind was howling, but I was rewarded with a starling murmuration - you can just about see them here:

I watched until my cheeks went numb - they were dancing and diving and swooping  and coming together and apart - turning so you only saw a sliver of them then whooshing full on and so fast you could hear their wings. It was so beautiful - maybe everything will be OK after all if there is such beauty in the world.

The day before (Boxing Day) it was yet another pub - with these reprobates providing the music - 

Will play for beer indeed :) It was pretty much just locals and everyone brought food to share and there was a lot of what could only euphemistically be called "singing along", (bellowing may be more accurate, and we should probably just apologise to Neil Diamond now for the horrors that were inflicted on Sweet Caroline, among others).

I think tomorrow will be a quiet day - we need to take the car in for its MOT tomorrow morning - always worrisome when your car is almost 20 years old! Fingers crossed she will pass and we will drive another day. The house could use a bit of love (ie hoovering) and I think it is finally time to admit we cannot actually finish all the cheese and freeze some of it for the cheese sauces of the future. 

Happy in-between days to you and yours!

Sunday, 10 December 2017

4 down 4 to go

Panto. Wow. I don't even know where to start. Here?

This is the pit. Technically not a pit, but in the wings. There's no room and there's up to 8 of us squashed back there. We have to file in and out between songs and try not to fall over cables or each other. It's - cosy.

The Arden Theatre is cosy too. It seats 98 and there's not much of a backstage. When we come off we file through the bar (stopping, generally) and wait in the foyer to go back again. Someone has a script and we spend most of the time going "Where are we" and trying to remember to whisper. And drinking. Of course.

We often get a bit carried away...

and we're regularly told off for making too much noise.

Rage Against the Panto Band Photo

Jess came up with the band name from a band name generator she found online and Neal designed and made tshirts. We start off in all black and change into our band shirts in the interval. We are all very very silly. 

Everyone in the band except for me is an extremely accomplished musician. I am definitely the weak link but I am just keeping quiet and hope no one notices. It is so fun to play with musicians this good, and I'm having an absolute blast. The music is lively - it's a rock and roll panto so we play songs like We are the Champions and Rock Around the Clock and Shake Your Tail Feather. 

Panto itself is something else. Neither Neal or I had ever really seen one, not growing up in the UK. They are hilarious. This is Brits like you've never seen them before - audience participation is mandatory and enthusiastically embraced. They shout and boo and hiss and cheer and at one point even allow themselves to be dragged up on stage to do the Shake Your Tailfeather dance. British people. I spend most of the performance laughing my head off.

It's hard work though. Last week we had rehearsals Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, the performances Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You can't hear a thing on stage and you really have to listen. The actors range in age from about 6 to 70 and often start songs at what appear to be completely random points. There is one song that we have still not landed the ending even once yet (much to Ben, our leader's disgust - "what is wrong with you lot?" he groaned tonight). We were all tired today. We missed a cue and had to be prompted by one of the actors. We missed an entrance and had to do an undignified rushing in at the last minute. But it's all good fun, and a very good laugh. 

4 more to go. 

Friday, 1 December 2017

wah wah wah wah

So I am playing the trombone in the pit band for the Faversham Arden Theatre's Christmas Pantomime, Little Red Riding Hood. I know, I'm not sure how either. Drinking in local pubs can be dangerous. Let's just leave it at that.

Anyways, they want a "sad trombone" sound for one of the jokes - a "wah wah wah wahhhh". I don't know how to make this noise so I looked it up on youtube. People, did you know that there is an entire world of funny trombone noise videos? I kid you not. I found what I was looking for -
 but then I found this:

and the world is just a little bit brighter now.

Happy December - let the games begin!

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Christmas Lights

It was freezing cold but that doesn't stop Faversham turning out in force for the Christmas Lights switch on. The brass band started playing at 430, and Santa came out at 5.

Santa waving at me!


and after!

Night market (the hot spiced cider with a shot of rum was just the thing)

Last year after pulling on my cheap nylon santa hat on for the millionth time I decided enough was enough. Am I not a knitter? What was I doing wearing this garbage? So this year I knit myself a special santa hat for the brass band Christmas gigs - I just made it up pretty much - no pattern as such, and it's topped with a divine alpaca pom pom from our amazing local wool shop.

All in all a very good start to the festive season. Neal and I are both playing in the band for the local theatre's pantomime (Little Red Riding Hood with a rock and roll theme!) so this afternoon it's off to rehearsal for that. Full steam ahead!

Friday, 24 November 2017

and so it begins

Tomorrow is the Christmas lights turn on. Again! Already! How can this be? I just blinked and it was August. Tomorrow marks the start of the slide into insanity that is widely seen in households that combine Christmas season overtime with participation in various musical endeavours that require rehearsals, practices, and eventually Christmas performances culminating this year in an already dreaded 6-shows-in-4-days starting on 14 December. On top of the 4 shows the week before, 2 additional rehearsals, 2 work Christmas lunches, a Knit Night Christmas party, and - oh yeah, work. Neal's working 6 day weeks and the house is slowly but surely turning to the dark side. At least now we have a dishwasher so there will be no more wineglass meltdowns this year (recap: "I have two degrees how can I be incapable of cleaning a bloody wineglass?")  It's the most wonderful time of the year indeed.

Work is crazy because we are starting on site two weeks from Monday.

Bear with me for a moment while I remind myself not to hyperventilate and have a large slug of wine. OK. We can continue.

It will be fine. I am learning a lot (COUGH). I have spent the last two weeks running around like a headless chicken trying to solve problems I didn't even know I had - and that, I suspect, is setting the pattern for the year ahead.

By Friday my poor brain is so knackered that I am reduced to inarticulate gibbering by 4pm. This evening I sat down to do the last finishing on a Christmas knitting gift that needed a hanging loop sewn on. I did a magnificent job - really taking pride in doing it thoroughly - "no way is this going to fall off" I thought as I stitched away. "Look," I said, holding it up proudly, whereupon Neal nearly fell off his chair laughing. I had sewn the loop to the wrong side. Very thoroughly indeed as it turned out. "Muppet," he said lovingly, still laughing.

And that about sums it up. It's been a remarkably dry Autumn, which is probably terrible for agriculture but has been very nice indeed for long runs. The dark is closing in but this side of Christmas I don't mind so much somehow. The pubs have their fires roaring, knitwear feels snugly, and beef stew and ham hocks taste fresh and exciting. You'll remind me of all of this in February and I will wonder what on earth I saw in it all, but for now, it's all good.

Friday, 27 October 2017


I miss writing. I didn't realise it but I really do. I had to write up a report this afternoon. I've been putting it off (it's not just the blog I avoid!) and finally I just sat down and started to write and it FELT SO GOOD. This word? That word? Is this what I really mean? Is that the right phrase? Can I say it better? Make it more active? Clear? Ah it was great. I may have gotten a bit carried away (instead of 'Pros and Cons',  I listed 'The good, the bad, and the ugly'. I am not entirely sure I will get away with that but what's done is done).

So here I am. I miss you :)

I was so exhilarated after sending my report that I busted through several difficult emails, sent a few update messages, and decided that I had accomplished enough for one day and I should stop while I was ahead. I caught an early train, came home, and went for an afternoon run in the autumn sunshine. The run was a bit of a slog (it's been a long week and by Friday afternoon I am tired) but the views were unparalleled and it was just what I needed.

Happy Friday people! Have a good weekend! See you soon x