Reading My Way Around the World

Saturday 21 November 2015

Motorways, charity shops and too many goodbyes

OK!  I have to have a rant!  What is going on with the motorways in England?   And who’d commute these journeys every day ?  It’s unbelievable.  It’s now official.  I hate the M6!! Forecasters are saying that there will be another 10 million people living in England by 2020.  How is anyone going to move and get anywhere??? Some re-thinking is needed.
Phew – I feel better after that lol

We’ve just finished 3 lovely gigs - first off in the Red Lion Folk Club in the Black Heath area of Birmingham and stayed with the delightful Della and her husband Chris who's fabulous old house is like Aladdin's Cave - I want to have a week long holiday there.   
Tom, Della, Chris and myself in Birmingham

Then a great night in the Topic Folk Club on Thursday night – the longest continually running folk club in the world apparently.   Great songs from the floor singers and a wonderful audience for us to perform to. And finishing up the run last night we were at the folk club in Bollington - again, wonderful singers, great local songs and a very willing-to-sing audience which is always a huge bonus.  

Rahel and Tony at the Topic

I love hearing floor singers at folk clubs - the standard is always very high, with lots of original songs and regional traditional songs.   It's like having a run of mini history lessons about various localities and much more interesting to me than visiting museums.  

On our way down from Yorkshire to Lancashire we visited an old friend who sadly is very very unwell with cancer.  So sad.  I often feel afraid to contact people, thinking they won’t want to hear from me, but being self conscious is so selfish -  it made her happy to get a surprise visit and we were both so happy to have seen her. 

Sitting on the motorway and looking at all the traffic and all these people in their little tin boxes driving up and down these crazy roads, some of them commuting for 3 hours each way during the day, I think to myself that we have chosen a path that has blessed us.  We say goodbye too many times and sometimes I wonder who won't be there when next we're through this way.   But I was reminded on this trip to think about all the lovely hellos and don't dwell on all the goodbyes.  
Anyway, on a lighter note – in Birmingham on Wednesday I paid a quick visit to Off the Scales which is a not for profit shop mainly selling vintage clothes and shoes - it was suggested by Vintage Vixen - I got myself a fabulous coat for just £18 – not vintage, but I'm delighted with it nonetheless.   More charity shopping will be on the cards if we can fit in another hour somewhere.

And finally, a few things that were posted on my Facebook page this week - 
Firstly just for Kezzie, I had to share it with you J

And this fabulous video mash up to a very modern funky song - I can't seem to embed it, but here's the link - Fred Astaire dancing to Uptown Funk :)

Have a good weekend everyone and stay safe.  I"m off to share a glass of wine or three with my lovely cousins. 

What have you been at for the weekend?  I hope it's lovely. 

Saturday 14 November 2015

Sending love to Paris

This guy cycled to the Bataclan with a piano on his back
and played John Lennon's Imagine.  The power of music. Photo via Facebook
On a wet miserable day here in Ireland, everyone is reeling to the news of the terrible tragedy unfolding in Paris.

Acts of violence like this sends so much hatred out into the world and we need to balance that with as much love as we can muster.  All the good Muslim people in France need support and courage to deal with the inevitable back lash of suspicion that will follow.

Things like this make me feel insignificant a lot of the time - years of shootings and bombings here in Northern Ireland left our souls scarred.  What's the point in doing something as frivolous as music in the face of such sorrow? -  I've often felt like that.  Then someone reminded me that when we sing or play an instrument we vibrate at different frequencies and we send those frequencies out and the listener receives healing on that vibrational point in their body.  It makes me feel so much better about it to think about it in those terms.

So today joining me in humming quietly or singing out loud - sad songs or happy or angry or whatever - Let's raise our voices to the roof and raising our vibrations with it and send love.

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Visiting England - all the Bs

So, we're off on the road again - to England this time.   And we're visiting three Bs - Birmingham, Bradford and Bollington :)  Then up to Scotland for another three gigs there - in Leith, Irvine and Moffat.

Apart form looking forward to lovely folk clubs - the English and Scottish folk clubs are fantastic for great singers and for hearing and sharing wonderful songs - that aside, I always look forward to getting time to rummage around charity shops and finding nice coffee shops.

If any of you have any tips in any of those areas - especially for places that cater for gluten free, I would appreciate any and all ideas.   And even better, if you know of good places to find charity shops, or vintage shops, pass on the knowledge folks :)

We've been getting some lovely reviews for the new album - why not check some of them out at my website - all the details of the folk clubs are there as well -at

If you're interested in keeping up to date with goings on in our wee world, would you like to sign up to my mailing list?  It usually gets sent out in advance of tours - perhaps 6 times a year so you'll not have your inbox full of spam unless I can find some willing slave to do some office work for me :)
Here's a direct link to sign up from.  You'll get a free copy of the CD Dreaming to download as a reward for signing up :)

Sign up to my Newsletter

All the best for now
Fil x

Sunday 1 November 2015

Scavenger Hunt October 2015

Scavenger Hunt

Today is the start of the Celtic New Year - All Soul's Day.  I wish you all the blessings of the season.
It's been a lot harder getting time to blog regularly so this monthly scavenger hunt is a great way of reflecting on the month just passed.  A huge thank you to Greenthumb from Made with Love for hosting it.   If you have time, go on over the link and see some of the fabulous photos that the other participants put up.  It's a fantastic way of getting a peak into lives in different corners of our beautiful planet. 

The first half of October has been spent on the road, finishing up our European tour.  
It was a very enjoyable and successful trip, meeting up with lots of friends old and new, playing in a huge variety of venues - churches, clubs, an aircraft hangar!!, small theatres, and house concerts.

When we eventually made it home on the 19th, the adrenaline hit the bottom and the cold I'd been carrying started to do really well for itself - in fact it's still doing well!   But it has been lovely to be home and get my choirs started back singing again, preparing for the C word..  

So without further ado, here's my contribution for October's list.

Are you looking at me?  We spotted this chap down in Co. Cork when we stopped off for a walk in Baltimore Forest on the day of our last gig of the tour.


I love my friend Kanne's creamy white decor - this is in Denmark - we did a house concert in the room at the back 

Here in the North of Ireland we have miles but in the south it's Kilometres.  During our trip we drove just over 6000 kms - that's about 4,300 miles I think.  - nearly every day was governed by how far we needed to drive that day or how far to the nearest rest stop or lay-by.  kilometres are great - they go by so much quicker than miles!


Driving in to Luxembourg, we passed this town hall, salle de f√ęte - a communal hall that can be rented for a small amount for family gatherings right through to big functions.  
I love the lattice work on these kind of buildings.


Back in Ireland again - I loved the shades of Autumn here in Galtymore Forest.  In fact Autumn was beautiful everywhere we drove.

On the ferry over from mainland Germany to Hallig Hooge.   The cabin is below the water line and it felt like looking in to a washing machine as we left the port. 


on the ferry home


In the Mournes in Co. Down


There's lots of graffiti along the sides of the German motorways - mostly on bridges.   They fascinate me ... I was driving at this point and I kept wakening Tom up to get some snaps for me and this one popped up just at the right time.  If you look to the left of the word Muse, it's written on the other side of the fence - It beats me how they manage to do that. 


Some of the Bonn folk club audience in the middle of the caravans and other Bed and Breakfast spots at Camp Base - easily the weirdest place we've ever played - read more about it here. 


German motorways under constant construction... I loved the registration of the car in front of us - don't scream, don't rant, don't get annoyed at sitting so long behind me?

Whatever you want
At the Nature reserve in Storkow Germany ... I loved the colours of this wee fella and the water around him.
Here's the list for November's Scavenger Hunt if you fancy joining in.

November's List

A Stranger
Looking Down
The Weather
Out and About
Whatever you want