Saturday, 16 December 2017

Sleigh - Advent Scavenger Hunt Day 16

You don't see many sleighs around these parts .... so I'm heading off on a musical tangent for this one.

There was a brilliant programme on the BBC iPlayer for the last few weeks, about backing singers for the big rock and pop bands.   It's called "20 feet from Stardom" and was absolutely brilliant.   These singers, who have backed people like Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones and countless others are among the best musicians on the planet and vocally could out-sing any of the stars that they stand behind - but the conclusion of the programme was that for the most part they were happier out of the limelight.

One of the early stars was Darlene Love who was a part of the Blossoms in the early 60s - they were the girl voices behind Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Dionne Warwick, Tom Jones,  The Beach Boys and dozens more.   Darlene was also the main voice on Winter Wonderland on A Christmas Gift for you from Phil Spector.   Her first lead vocal was on the song He's a Rebel which was credited to the Crystals - lots of skulduggery was going on in the music biz in those days.  She went on into acting and still sings - an amazing voice.

Which leads me to today's prompt ... Here she is singing the wonderful Sleigh Ride with Ronnie Spector from the Ronettes - It's a live recording and I love the trumpeter doing the horse sounds :)  What a band.


I'm joining in this month with  Julie's Advent Scavenger Hunt  





Friday, 15 December 2017

Tree Before Dressed - Advent Scavenger Hunt Day 15

 Our neighbour has a Christmas tree farm - and I love having them there - it's like Christmas all year round.  Some of the big ones at the back will be sold off for greenery only, but at the moment there's a queue of people buying his lovely spruce trees.  There's a few sad wee specimens in behind the wall closest to us and looking for one to photograph today, I felt like going out and wrapping some tinsel around them to cheer them up.
The don't drop any needles and the smell is heavenly when we bring ours into the house ... I'll get up to buy one this weekend.



I'm joining in this month with  Julie's Advent Scavenger Hunt  

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Snowman - Advent Scavenger Hunt Day 14

I had to get all the decorations out of the attic to find this wee fella - well, at least now I'm ready for the tree.

He's a bit demented looking, but this is definitely a snowman, an ornament from Belleek Pottery.

I've had a real laugh trying to hunt down some of these clues Julie, thank you for putting it together.   You've made me want to go out and build a snowman if we get more snow.  It's certainly cold enough for it here today.



I'm joining in this month with  Julie's Advent Scavenger Hunt  

Mid Week Musings - Dec 14 2017

We've had great fun this week making a video in the house ...

We rearranged the studio, got every available camera and set to work.


The light was perfect from the morning sun until about midday
The music business has changed beyond all recognition in recent years - especially since the advent of social media, and it too is changing all the time.  It works well for younger performers who have grown up with social media but for older wans like ourselves it's much harder.

Recently I asked a friend if she'd got the new CD and she said :No, I'm waiting for it come up on YouTube so I can download it for free!!  Some friend I thought!!   But I knew she was only joking - still, that's the way a lot of people think.   CDs don't sell anymore - in fact our last album was probably the last we'll record in that format.  So video has become very important -for bookers in clubs, for people to listen to songs and possibly cover them - that's an amazing feeling, hearing someone else singing a song you've written - and for people to just use as a radio station.
After an hour or so the sun got too bright for a while,
before disappearing,
leaving a dark shadow in the opposite corner

The big white blob on the right is actually a light from the sitting room laid on its side
filling in the dark bit.

Goodness knows how it'll turn out - it'll take a few goes to get it right, but it's a fun process to be involved in.
Tom has film editing facilities in the studio and has edited several TV shows both for companies here, in America and in Hungary.

I'll let you see the final results when we have them.





As to the rest of our work, I'm really excited to tell you that I've been accepted on to a programme run by the British Lung Foundation, to train as a singing group leader for people with varying degrees of Lung Problems.  I'll be part of a very small team working in Northern Ireland.
Otherwise, things are winding down now for the holidays - apart from the daily instrumental and vocal practice.   Singmarra finished up last night - we head out for our Christmas dinner party on Friday and reconvene early in January with plans for a concert and for taking part in a locally written cantata for Easter.  Touring is also now finished for the year, and next year's tours are well booked up.  And the one to one classes finish today, with all my students ready to be entered for their exams in the Spring.

All in all it's been a productive year, in spite of, or maybe as a result of, spending so much time off the road.

Now I'm ready to get the Christmas tree up and start wrapping presents ... my favourite time of the year.  

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Favourite Christmas Recipe - Advent Day 13

In Holland and Germany special brews of beers come out for the Winter, stronger flavours more suitable for cold weather.  And among all the different tastes, smells and flavours that we traditionally have at this time of year, our own special drinks are equally perfect for Christmas and I get all excited when I see Baileys on the shelves.  

However, my favourite is sloe gin - homemade in Autumn, or leftover from the previous year.   On its own over ice, or a small drop in the bottom of a glass of bubbly is the ideal Christmas flavour.  


This is the remains of last year's Sloe gin - still yummy

The sloes were ready very early this year - we picked these on 1st October
They're still in the freezer but I'll get around to them early in the new year
and have a new bottle ready for next winter.
I'm joining in this month with  Julie's Advent Scavenger Hunt  

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Christmas Bauble - Advent Scavenger Hunt Day 12

I always think of baubles as being round, so this is technically not a bauble, but it is my very favourite tree decoration.  I bought it at a Christmas market in Germany 15 or more years ago.  It's a mini pyramid and works fully - if there is a heat source underneath it the blades at the top turn around turning the little roundabout below.

For three or four years in succession Tom and I did a December tour in Germany and over the years I bought many of these wooden ornaments.  I'm torn between wanting to get back to the Christmas markets and the other side of it - travelling in very cold conditions, including doing concerts outdoors ... not sure that I'm fit enough for that anymore.

I'm joining in this month with  Julie's Advent Scavenger Hunt.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Nativity - Advent Scavenger Hunt Day 11

I love the day of the Nativity Pageant in  Rostrevor - these photos are from a few years ago.  
We had a similar event on Saturday, although the donkey was double booked this year!  He had to do a pantomime up the road instead of bringing Mary up Bridge Street.  

Singmarra, the singing group that I direct have done the carol singing for the past few years - all our practices pay off in the end.  

Singmarra leading the way 
Mary and Jospeh being turned away from the Inn by the local butcher

After the parade

 I'm joining in this month with  Julie's Advent Scavenger Hunt


Sunday, 10 December 2017

Bells - Advent Scavenger Hunt Day 10

Yesterday is the start of Christmas here in our village - a craft fair in the Primary School, the nativity pageant, Santa's arrival and then the turning on of the lights.

The local handbell ringers were doing their bit to add to the atmosphere at the craft fair


The higher bells are played by young children, so I've kept them out of the picture, but all the teams are new to this and it's great to hear the lovely gentle tinkle. I tried doing a video of them but there was so much noise in the hall it was hard to hear them properly.  




I'm joining in this month with  Julie's Advent Scavenger Hunt - a post a day (more or less) leading up to Christmas.
You can check in here for the details of the prompts and the list of who else is playing and to join in yourself if you fancy playing along.




Saturday, 9 December 2017

Christmas Toy Sack - Julie's Virtual Advent Calendar Day 9

One of my favourite things to do when we're travelling is to have an hour to go in to local charity shops.   I spotted this sack in the corner of the Sue Ryder Shop in Jedburgh.

There's something about the treasures you find in charity shops - a bit of glass, or pottery, or clothes that are much more interesting than anything in the huge shopping centres which just drive me nuts at this time of year with Christmas music blaring out incessantly.   Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas music, but not for 2 months solid ... The child in me deep down expects Santa to arrive that night, every time I visit the shopping centre!!


I'm joining in this month with  Julie's Advent Scavenger Hunt - a post a day (more or less) from now until the 24th.
You can check in here for the details of the prompts and the list of who else is playing and to join in yourself if you fancy playing along.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Holly and Ivy - Julie's Virtual Advent Calendar Day 8

A few of us spent a very leisurely Sunday afternoon at the weekend making Advent wreaths.   Two of my friends are German and this is a big tradition from their part of the world.   I love going around taking things from my garden - bits of everything that's growing, including lots of Holly and Ivy.  



I'm joining in this month with  Julie's Advent Scavenger Hunt - a post a day (more or less) from now until the 24th.
You can check in here for the details of the prompts and the list of who else is playing and to join in yourself if you fancy playing along.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Mid Week Musings

I love that there are still leaves clinging on to the branches,
even though they are now brown and ready to fall.
and even inspite of last night's fierce wind.

Today as I write, I'm watching the seabirds struggling to stay aloft in this fierce wind that started blowing last night. We wound up our Singmarra Choir practice very sharpish as the trees looked like they were at right angles to their roots.

It was carol practice last night as we're taking part in the village pageant on Saturday - I'll post photos afterwards.  Always a lovely event to take part in, we lead the children from the local integrated school (yes, we still have segregated education here so it's necessary to give the integrated schools special status) up the street, Mary on a donkey led by Joseph and a collection of tiny angels and shepherds, up to the crib which is at the Christmas tree.   Then Santa comes to turn on the lights and hand out sweets to the children and we head to some warm hostelry for a quick scoop of something liquid.
There is snow forecast, so the evening should be perfect, as long as this wind dies down.



Don't forget as you get ready for Christmas, we have CDs for sale.  Every CD we sell goes towards us making another one.  There is still time to post anywhere in the world for items to arrive by Christmas. 





Angel - Julie's Virtual Advent Calendar Day 7

I'm a bit out of sync with the list Julie put up for following this fun Advent Scavenger Hunt - but things aren't happening in the right order here.

I love this angel.   She was a Christmas present from a friend a long time ago made by a lovely Polish girl who used to be part of the local Camphill Community staff.


I'm really enjoying this little daily focus on something seasonal - it's a joyful reminder of how lovely this time of the year can be.   Thanks Julie for organising it.  
You can check in here for the details of the prompts and the list of who else is playing and to join in yourself if you fancy playing along.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Robin - Advent Calendar Day 6

This year has been very cold, but usually at this time of year and towards the end of November, I'm still out planting bulbs.  And this chap followed me around while I got some last minute daffodils planted - three years ago.  He practically posed for the photos ... really funny.

We have a few robins in the garden this year too - I love seeing them, they're so cheeky.



I'm joining in this month with  Julie's Advent Scavenger Hunt - a post a day (more or less) from now until the 24th.
You can check in here for the details of the prompts and the list of who else is playing and to join in yourself if you fancy playing along.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

First Christmas Card - Advent Calendar Day 5



Some friends are very organised - this arrived on Saturday in the post - a fun start to the month :)

I'm joining in this month with  Julie's Advent Scavenger Hunt - a post a day (more or less) from now until the 24th.
You can check in here for the details of the prompts and the list of who else is playing and to join in yourself if you fancy playing along.


Monday, 4 December 2017

Christmas Book - Advent Calendar Day 4

I spotted this book at the gift shop in Woodbury Mining Museum last week - looks interesting - full of lots of useless information - the best kind :)  It might be a present for someone else, but it may equally well be a present for the house.



I'm joining in with Julie's Advent Scavenger Hunt - a post a day (more or less) from now until the 24th.
You can check in here for the details of the prompts and the list of who else is playing.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Something Handmade for Christmas - Advent Calendar Day 2

This is something I knitted for the holidays for a friend - little fuzzy jumpers for some baubles - pity about the less than imaginative box, but hey ho we can't have everything - maybe next year lol





Do you fancy joining in?   Then the list is on Julie's Scrapbook and I'm sure she'd love to have you join in.


Friday, 1 December 2017

Letterbox - Julie's Virtual Advent Calendar Day 1

I almost squealed with delight when we passed this cafe yesterday in Ponteland in the Cheviot Hills I finally know where the Cheviots are now - just in case I ever go on to The Chase!).

Not only was there a big red letter box outside it, but look at the name of the cafe.  We were en route to our last gig in Denholm last night so we only had time to stop for a take away coffee, which was excellent.  But it was as pretty and inviting inside as it was outside.




This is Day 1 of Julie's Advent Scavenger Hunt - a post a day (more or less) from now until the 24th.
You can join in here for the details of the prompts and the list of who else is playing.

November 2017 Scavenger Photo Hunt

It's the end of another month - the year is passing fast - and it's been so good to be back out on tour again.   I'd forgotten what hard work travelling and performing each night is, but I'd also forgotten the sheer delight of being back on stage.  So all my photos for this month's Scavenger Hunt come from this trip through England and the Scottish Borders.  
Thanks as always go to Kate at I live I love I craft I am me for hosting this delightful bloghop each month.   As well as the fun of finding photos to match the words it's also a chance to get a glimpse into friends' lives in other parts of the world.  

So here's mine.  

1. Blue

The mining museum at Woodhorn near Ashington in Northumberland.   The sky was so blue - perfect early Winter weather, freezing cold but thankfully dry.  I loved the architecture of the wheels against the sky and the museum, which has an interactive mining experience as well as an exhibition of the Washington Pit Painters, really brought alive the tough tough life of the miners and their families, from the earliest days right up to the Miners Strikes in the 80s.  Very interesting and sobering afternoon. 


2. Me

Well wrapped up and freezing cold at the Christmas Market in Chester.



3. Starts with a ...... W 

The Pit Wheel at Woodhorn



4. Rainbow

Driving through the Lake District last week this beautiful rainbow popped up - right on cue.


5. Arch

The ruins of Jedburgh Castle in the Scottish Borders - how about that for arches..




6. Toy

Every folk club holds a raffle to help with their funds and for nearly 30 years Tom has been buying raffle tickets - at every club we play at.   When he won his first bottle of wine years ago we reckoned it probably cost him about £200!!  
The raffles are always fun - whoever wins the box of chocolates or sweets has to share them around, usually under the nose of the singer , humph
This was the result of his winnings one of the nights this trip - a Kinder egg!  which produced this crocodile when opened and put together - "Don't forget his fish!" was the retort behind the drivers wheel! 

7. Swirl

Isn't this lovely?  We went to a folk club concert early this week and the singer was playing this guitar...  I thought it fitted perfectly.   Some of you may have seen him - Stanley Accrington.   It's the funniest evening I've spent in years.   A real belly laugh.    Stanley's a hoot - a clown, a jester and a very clever wordsmith.  A comedic commentator on life and all its anomalies and quirks, skilfully dropping in some very poignant thought provoking songs that kicked our emotions back into touch, and then rescuing them again with some hysterically funny observations.  




8. Brush

I love these everything shops - whether you need a brush or a beach ball, an egret or a lampshade, this is the place to find it.  You might even find a pair of leggings !   A heater would have been top of the list this week - this pic was in Jedburgh.

9. Nail

Back at Woodbury - these are Dog Nails (spikes) - large headed thick, mild steel nails for fastening rails to wooden sleepers.  
I have to confess this prompt had me stumped and after searching for weeks looking for a really impressive and imaginative photo for nail, this one arrived just in time.
the exhibition followed a young lad of 13 becoming a man and going down the mine for the first time, the experience of going underground, the ribald humour of the men, the desire to get the top job of the hewar - a man who basically stayed crouched down in a space smaller than one metre high for his entire working day and working life.   What a life!   When it came to reading about the strikes in the 80s which I remember very well, I felt so sorry for these people who's lives were totally controlled by the establishment and the strength with which they fought back.  
But, in spite of the lack of jobs, I'm sure there's very few would wish to be back underground.  

10. My own choice

A guy was making huge bubbles at the Christmas Market in Chester last weekend - I managed to catch this one before the children burst it.  What is it about bubbles that makes everyone smile - such a simple delight.  





So that was my month.   I'm writing this on the ferry heading homewards, head full of ideas and plans, and looking forward to this month at home, getting Singmarra ready for the village pageant and taking part in the various events that lead up to mid Winter.

Head over to Kate's blog to check out the other Scavengers and we'll reconvene in January sometime.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Back on the road

The star of light at Chester Cathedral
Thank you all for your lovely comments on the Positive News story - and apologies for not answering them all - we're back out travelling and delighted to be doing so.   After so much illness this year we're slowly getting back on track, although the body has been grumbling a bit lol

Our new songs have been getting a great response, especially the more political rants that we've both been writing lately - it seems that nobody is happy with politicians at the minute.

So far we've been in the Lake District, Redcar on the East coast, Hull, across the M62 to Bradford and further along the same motorway to Northwich and yesterday we spent the afternoon at the Christmas market in Chester - what a beautiful town that is.  And it was freezing cold, perfect weather for a Christmas market.

Have a great week whatever you're doing - we're heading back north now, to Yorkshire, then up to Northhumberland and finishing up in the Scottish borders, where apparently it's been snowing - yikes - hopefully we'll miss the worst of it.


Friday, 24 November 2017

Tentacles for Tinies #WATWB

It's coming to the end of another month and time again for the next instalment of We Are The World Bloghop where bloggers post positive news stories.  I've been loving the search each month for a heart warming story to share.  This 9th edition is co-hosted by  Shilpa GargInderpreet UppalSylvia SteinSusan ScottAndrea Michaels and Damyanti Biswas .


I truly believe that the way forward on our planet at the moment is the small thing that is happening locally .. but in the bombardment of bad news we often miss out on these wonderful stories which could give inspiration to someone else to do something similar in their own area.  


This story caught my eye recently.  

Tentacles for Tinies

These crocheted octopuses from The Rotunda Foundation and the Rotunda Knitters are helping comfort the premature babies in Dublin's Rotunda Hospital  Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  
The tentacles of the crocheted octopus resemble the umbilical cord and remind babies of being inside the womb.
Read more here about the same initiative in the Neonatal Unit in Poole hospital in the South of England.




Every month since the We Are The World Bloghop started there have been wonderfully inspiring stories from all corners of the globe.   Follow along at the Facebook link.  Or better still, why not put up a story of your own.  




Sunday, 29 October 2017

Photo Scavenger Hunt October 2017

I didn't get a chance to join in with you all last month for the photo Scavenge Hunt and really missed you all - but I'm delighted to get back to playing this month.

Hawthorn always come up with an amazing list of prompts to really challenge our heads, and this month there have been some real corkers ....  so here goes.  

Street
We have had beautiful proper Autumn days for the past few days and we took our visiting friend across in the ferry to Carlingford in Co. Louth.  Carlingford is a Norman Town and very popular with tourists... this is the pedestrian street and the arch at the bottom housed the town jail.




Empty

This is the jail - just tucked in to the left corner of the arch.   It is tiny and thankfully very empty.   totally open to the elements and only about 4 foot high - I couldn't stand up in it. but I"m sure it housed at least 3 or 4 men waiting for deportation in the 17 and 1800s




Starts with a ...... F

We stopped in PJs pub for a pint of Guinness and some lunch.   They're all prepared for Halloween and the fire was very welcome after the ferry crossing.




Neat

PJs pub is famous throughout Ireland - for many things.   For a start, it's one of the last remaining grocery pubs - they've made this a tourist feature now.   Plus the Guinness is very good and you don't have to pay Dublin prices for it, although it's still a price hike compared to here in the North.
But it is also famous for its collection of leprechaun clothes!!!
What a neat little man was Sean Og - these are his belongings.   Again, the pub was decorated for Halloween so the cobweb streak is masking his little jacket but you get the idea.   Every year, Carlingford hosts a leprechaun hunt in the mountains behind .   It also has a great Oyster Festival, if that's your thing.



Unexpected

This stone is new since the last time we were over in Carlingford and so interesting - for sure Kate is more familiar with the theme than I am.  Occasionally you see Ogham writing on jewellery and it's a huge field of study.   I loved this stone carving listing the trees for the different lunar months of the year - the year of course beginning on November 1st and ending on October 31st.   Apologies if this photo runs off the page a bit, but I wanted to make it large enough for you to read.

Paper

Thankfully the wet weather of the past few months has let up for a while and allowed the leaves to dry out.   I just love the smell and the lovely crunchy richness that looks and sounds like paper. 


The Fairy Glen
Vase

This vase came out of Tom's grandmother's house and it's being kept safe up on a ledge in the porch with last years' hydrangeas in it... that's actually a clay drum beside it - all the big items that we can't find a home for end up on that ledge, but then so too do the young swallows in spring if we don't keep an eye out.

Kettle

The seaspray in this photo is known as a Kettle around here, or the Carlingford Kettles.
At certain times of year, the wind whips up the lough  - they're like mini tornadoes on the water ... this was the only picture I've ever been able to catch of them.   It's something to do with the lay of the mountains on either side of the lough - the sprays of water go up to 20 or 30 feet high and then appear to run across the top of the water into shore.   Very exciting to see.  



My own choice

I spotted this one time in France - not because I love macaroons - I do :)  but because of the name.
I never use my full name - because our society here was so blatantly us and them, religious wise, and my name gave away my background like a stamp on my forehead I never liked it.   Being known as Phil people had to guess a while longer.
When someone shouts Philomena I hear nuns in my head usually with raised voices and usually attached to the feeling of having done something wrong .....
But there is one exception... when it is pronounced by a French man - how shallow am I!!  Philomène sounds so much more ancient and goddess like than Philomena ... to my ears anyway ... I'd nearly moved to France for that lol.  



Making ...


As I've been spending much more time knitting this year, my horizons have been widening to learn some of the wonderful new-to-me skills that are out there.   For the first time I joined in a Mystery Knitalong - which has me tortured - not because of the mystery (you don't get the full pattern at the start), but because of the blinking beads - there are about 800 of the little blighters on this piece .... never again.
Fine lace knitting is not something I've ever tackled before, and it's very annoying because you can't really see what it's going to look like until it's off the needles.   The last row had about 250 beads on it and I"m now on the cast off which is very slow.  
But it will be worth it when I'm finished.
For the crafters reading this, the yarn is a hand dyed Tussah Silk from Yorkshire I think - this was a first for me - beautiful yarn to work with - it is so strong, but still fine - this colour is called Mermaid's Tale - can't wait to get to the end of it to see what it looks like - once I have it finished and blocked I'll do a show and tell.    Repeat note to self: KEEP AWAY FROM BEADS!!!




So that's been my month.   Off now to have a look at everyone else's pictures for the month.  
Are you taking part?  What's your month been like?