Snapshots of 2013 - NaJoPoMo2013 day 24
Posted Nov 24, 2013
With just a couple of days to stay in York, careful planning was required to make the most of the entertainment on offer and difficult decisions had to be made about which places to visit, which restaurants & pubs to sample and which concerts to attend.
One night I was torn between going to see 3 Daft Monkeys, (one of my favourite festival bands), or going to the National Early Music Centre to take a chance on an interesting sounding gig with musicians I'd never heard of. So I headed across town to the NEMC to find out more. The ticket desk was empty so I started chatting to a man sitting in the lobby nearby, passing the time with his laptop. When I explained my dilemma, he said he thought the NCEM concert would be interesting, then explained he was one of the musicians...
Taking the chance encounter as a good omen I bought a ticket for the evening show and returned later to watch the Brazilian pianist and percussion duo, Benjamin Taubkin and Adriano Adewale. Turned out to be an excellent choice. The entirely improvised concert was an unexpected delight, listening to the two master musicians weaving together multiple melodic, harmonic and rhythmic ideas into coherent music, alternately joyful, meditative, playful and lyrical. Adriano sat surrounded by huge numbers of percussive instruments and objects that he selected from as the mood took him. My favourite appeared to be just a simple ceramic pot, but in his hands it produced mellow notes. Benjamin sat at the piano apparently away in his own world, but clearly both musicians had attention only for the soundscapes they were jointly creating. Lovely stuff.
Snapshots of 2013 - NaJoPoMo2013 day 23
Posted Nov 23, 2013
I'm sorry I came to your funeral in shocking pink Mrs V. I only found out about it an hour before and didn't have time to change into more sombre clothing.
You were a family friend for 40 years or more. We were at school with your daughters and you and my mother became close friends. You mourned together when your husbands died within a few months of each other. You supported each other through hard times and celebrated together in good times. My mother was matron of honour at your wedding when you remarried. You were the last of her friends to keep on visiting when the dementia kicked in and most friends found it too difficult to visit. I knew you were ill but not living locally I didn't have advance warning of your funeral. However, finding myself in town on the day, I managed to get to the church, even though some attendees looked askance at my bright coloured jacket.
So Mrs V, on reflection, I'm not sorry about the day-glo pink, inappropriate funeral wear. I'm just glad I was able to be there and somehow I don't think you'd have minded.
Snapshots of 2013 - NaJoPoMo2013 day 22
Posted Nov 22, 2013
I realise I've talked a lot about my little uke in my journals this month. So it seems only fair to give some journal time to other memebers of my instrument menagerie.
I bought my first pennywhistle decades ago and it sat around unplayed and unloved until a couple of years ago I bought a good tune book, graded by difficulty and spent a lot of time annoying the neighbours while learning to play the high notes. That proved fun so I followed up with getting my hands on a lovely low whistle, sounding an octave lower and with a nice mellow tone. I'm slowly improving my skills with both versions and have even escaped from confinement in the back bedroom practice room to play some tunes with a fiddler friend.
The next big step for me was to get away from the tyranny of the printed dots and learn some tunes by ear. My chance came early this year at a Whistle Weekend in Bury, full of whistle playing experts, inspiring concerts and workshops for all levels. One of the workshops I attended was run by two members of 'The Shee', teaching us a Scottish folk tune by the time honoured method of play and repeat. To my surprise, I managed to keep up with the class and left with a new tune in my head and added confidence that I can make music without dots. Now I can annoy the neighbours in a whole new way by playing snatches of tunes over and over while I try to learn them from the CD.
Snapshots of 2013 - NaJoPoMo2013 day 21
Posted Nov 21, 2013
There are some great campsites around the UK if you know where to look. We've pitched our tent in fields overlooked by majestic mountain views, near fantastic coastlines and earlier this year in a forest campsite near Beddgelert in North Wales. The weekend was an opportunity to meet up with old friends, share some outdoors adventures and have a few drinks. We were the first to arrive and found a secluded corner field bounded by stream and woodland, big enough for the whole group to spread out in. Lots of room for the various kids to run around in, it's amazing how much fun a gang of youngsters can have with just a few sticks! There's even a steam railway station on site and the inevitable train excursion was a must for kids and grownups alike.
With such a big gang of us, we were never going to organise everyone doing the same thing every day. Some people used the sunniest day for a big long mountain hike, some went climbing, some went for gentler activities. Phil wanted to share with me one of his favourite beauty spots, Aber Falls, reached by a gentle walk along a little valley. A perfect place to while away a sunny afternoon, admiring the view, dipping a toe in the rockpools at the bottom and listening to the water falling and breaking against the cliff on the way down. Thanks Phil, that was a nice place.
Snapshots of 2013 - NaJoPoMo2013 day 20
Posted Nov 20, 2013
When I was little we used to do jigsaws all the time. The same ones came out time after time until we knew some of them well enough to do with the non-picture side up, just from the shape of the pieces. Then there were the dinner table size mega-jigsaws that came out over Christmas and Bank Holiday weekends. And the one that came in a set of smaller jigsaws that my sister & I used to race against each other for fastest completion.
My mother's favourite bit was sorting out edges and skies with all their shades of blue. So when I went to visit her at the Care Home this week and found her wheelchair drawn up to a table covered in jigsaw pieces I thought, how nice that they're trying to involve her in an activity she used to enjoy. Then I saw the little pile of pieces she'd gathered in front of her and was surprised she could remember how jigsaws work. Then I saw she had her mouth full and was chewing hard. Then I saw the little bits of blue paper around her mouth...
Once alerted the carers removed the mass of soggy cardboard from her mouth and replaced the pile of jigsaw pieces with a pile of biscuit pieces and a glass of squash. Far more tasty I'd have thought and definitely better for her. The carers were apologetic saying "we only left her alone for a few minutes". I know they can't be with all the residents all the time, but I guess when they've regressed to the state of toddlers who try to chew everything within reach, it doesn't take long for them to get into trouble.
I put the remaining jigsaw pieces back in the box. No more multi coloured cardboard sweeties for my mother this week!