Reading My Way Around the World

Thursday 31 December 2015

Happy New Year and thank you...

I love these quieter days between Christmas and the New Year, where there's not much office work to be done, and no big meals to prepare for, and there's time to sit around in your dressing gown and catch up.  
Blogging has fallen by the wayside for me these past couple of months and in looking forward to a bright brand new year I think I'm going to resist the temptation to get into any big blog challenges.  There are so many things I'd like to do but it ends up going into a long list of wishes and nothing gets done at all.   So I vow to be kinder to myself this year and take the pressure off. 

Playing road bowls with some friends on the Sunday after Christmas

Thank you to all you wonderful bloggers that I've enjoyed following over the past 12 months.   May your writing hands continue painting your wonderful stories.  
To Kezzie at KezzieAG -  I wish you continued joy and success with your students and with your music and your life with CBC. 
To Deborah at Temenos of the Blessing Light -  I thank you for all the joy you bring to your readers.  May your wisdom and insight continue to grow and may all your projects be a huge success.
To Hilary at Positive Letters .... inspirational stories .... - your journeys around England are a delight to follow.   I wish you a wonderful year to come, with lots more travels on the cards for you. 
To Jo at JO ON FOOD, LIFE AND A SCENT OF CHOCOLATE thank you for all the great recipes you share with us.  I hope your bowling group win the league next year and that you and your husband stay well and happy.  
To Inger at  Desert Canyon Living  - thank you for sharing your life with us here.   Here's wishing you a good year to come with lots more stories from the canyon.
To Vicki at Vintage Vixen  - what fun it is watching your love of vintage - I've learned so much from following your site and have plucked up the courage to try things I'd never have tried wearing before. (no pictures! lol)   Have a very profitable and successful year's trading.  
To Pempi  at Special Teaching at Pempi's Palace - who was one of the first friends I made on here through the A to Z challenge.   Your work with young ones is so inspiring to follow. Happy New Year .

There are many more who I dip in and out of every few weeks:  - here's just a few  ...The Slightly Eccentric Diary of Rob Z Tobor...worth a read for another view of the world; our fashion expert, the beautiful Denise in South America Denise's Planet; the lovely book reviews and life on an island from Cait at Click's Clan;  the writings of  Father Nature's Corner; and many many more who's photographs, writing and art give me great pleasure to follow.   

I wish you all a wonderful 2016 and I look forward to my daily trips around the world that your blogs bring me to.

Happy New Year :) 

followed by a session in the house
where the wee ones had a wonderful band playing for them
to jump about and dance all evening.  

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Small Pleasures

This month has turned out to be much busier than I'd foreseen and as a result much of Kat McNally's lovely reflective writing challenge Reverb 15 has passed me by - but I thought jumping back in today rather than trying to catch up is a much less stressful approach ... Perhaps at sometime over the holidays I'll get a chance to re visit some of the other prompts  

Today's prompt 

Issue 5 of the beautiful magazine Bella Grace carries a gorgeous illustrated quote from a chap called H. Jackson Brown Jr as follows:

"Watch the sunrise at least once a year, put a lot of marshmallows in your hot chocolate, lie on your back and look at the stars, never buy a coffee table you can’t put your feet on, never pass up a chance to jump on a trampoline, don’t overlook life’s small joys while searching for the big ones."

What small pleasures gave you moments of intense joy in 2015?

What more could you cultivate in 2016?

I love this quote.

Years ago I bought one of those solar dancing flowers with the intention of giving it to someone but it never managed to find another home and sits on the window sill in my study.   And after all this time it still makes me smile every time I see it dancing.   At this time of the year it's a bit idle, but there's still a wee flurry of activity from time to time - such a simple joy.  

When we're travelling I love shopping and kid myself that the things I"m buying are really  presents for someone or other, whenever in truth I'm buying things I'd love to have myself.   Next year I promise that I'm going to start keeping more of these things:)    Because by the time I've got them home the sensible part of my head talks me in to passing them on to deserving hosts.  

On the drizzliest days of winter, it's lovely to look at something childish or silly or simply beautiful to brighten up the dark and make us smile.   

Saturday 5 December 2015

Show us your self(ie)

Reverb 15 - day 5 - hosted by Kat McNally and today's prompt ::

Go on, show us your selfie! You know you want to.
If you've been a part of Reverb before, you know that this is the bit where I invite you to share your favourite photo of yourself from the year (selfie or otherwise). 
I don't like getting photos taken when I'm singing - my face is always screwed up somehow and I look really dorkish or should that be dork -y?  So I was really chuffed with this nice one taken by  Michel during the house concert we did in his home in September.

Gosh, I didn't realise how stressful it would feel putting this up - it's one thing sending photos to a promoter and letting him post them, but it makes me very nervous, panicked even, putting one up myself ... what is it they say about performers being shy?! lol 
 I'm hitting publish quickly or it won't go at all...

Oh for a day in bed!

Reverb 15 - Day 4 and the prompt comes from Kathleen Jowitt.  

Making wreaths with friends the day after we got back. 

Kathleen writes:

As the year ends, and we look back at the joys, achievements and disappointments of the past twelve months, it's worth taking some time to recognise what our efforts have demanded of us and where our resources have been depleted. 

Whether you have spent 2015 bringing some long-cherished project to fruition or simply trying to keep your head above water, it's likely that this has come at some cost to you. 

How can you replenish your (physical, mental, spiritual and/or emotional) resources? What do you need most of all at this moment?

A full day in bed ... oh please ...
Surrounded by some of the books I haven't had time to read .... Nothing serious or intellectual ... something quite trashy would do nicely thank you :)  And perhaps a bar of chocolate :) 
And then someone to bring me at least breakfast in bed - Tom's great at doing that to be fair ...   But lunch and dinner would be great too .... ok, maybe that's too much to ask for.   lol

I find it very hard coming back to ground after touring or after working on a big project.   Moving from town to town along busy motorways can be ... is ... exhausting.  The concert always revitalises, but then you arrive home and collapse.   This year more than others I was straight into other projects after two days home, which helped with grounding.   But they're slowing down now too and I'm finding it hard to just be .... with no excitement, no deadlines.  Just commitments.   So I'm thinking that what I need right now is this writing reflection.   It's very stabilising, and very worthwhile.   Looking back over old photographs from the year, paying attention to what I've achieved - a new CD, two choirs great students, well put together tours ...and settling in to the rhythm of winter and the festive season.  
In another couple of months, when the days start to stretch and it's time to start moving again, I'll be so relaxed that I won't want to go anywhere, but right now -it's off to bed.  

How do you replenish your energy?  I'd love to hear. 

Thursday 3 December 2015

Sister Moon

This is Day 3 in Kat McNally's reflective writing challenge Reverb 15

When was the last time you stopped to look up at the moon?

What did she have to say to you?

Full moon over the Mountains of Mourne 1st June 2015.
I'm enjoying going back over photographs searching for something for these prompts and remembering the year.  And realising that at this time of the year we don't see much of the moon.   The curtains are closed way too early.   It's almost dark here now by 4.30.  And I miss her.   
On this particular night I was driving back from my first night with a new group of singers and the full moon was just spectacular.   Oh how I wish I could photograph it properly.   That might be on next year's wish list - that, and wondering what the moon will look like down in Australia.  

Here on the coast in summer time the moon rises from behind the mountain and sends its beautiful light across the lough.  It always makes me wonder what was it like in ancient times?  Did people imagine that the moon would fall out of the sky?  No wonder they worshipped her. 

Her beauty dominates the night sky and casts a stillness and magic over the landscape that makes my heart fill with joy.   It's impossible to feel sad when you look at the moon.  

And yet some of the creation myths that include the moon are anything but joyful.   I once wrote a song for a Solstice show about the myth that the sun and moon were lovers but they were banished to the sky to never be able to touch or properly see each other again.   How sad.

And for some beautiful images and sounds here's one of my all time favourite songs 

Wednesday 2 December 2015

Wild and bare

The garden today - wild and bare

It's Day 2 of Reverb 15 hosted by Kat McNally of I Saw You Dancing.

And today's prompt:

What surprised you this year ?

It always surprises me at this time of the year, how much light there is now that the trees are bare.   Even though we don't have bright sunshine at the minute, anything but, there is still a feeling of clarity.  The garden reverts to a feeling of wildness and all is quiet.

Now the the days are drawing in and a grounded feeling is coming back into my psyche after all the travelling, I'm noticing a strange sense of completion ... Each trip this year brought us almost a full circle, meeting up with friends that we haven't seen in years.  It felt initially like checking out, like saying goodbye - and for a while I was ready to give up on this crazy life we've led for 25 years or more now.  But by the end of the year, I am so surprised at how enlivened I'm feeling by the entire experience.   For sure now, it feels more like a beginning than an end.  And that's the biggest surprise of all.

What surprises have you had in your life this year?
If you fancy joining in with Kat McNally's lovely reflective writing challenge, check out the link above.

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Reverb 15 Day 1 Lists and Prayers

pic taken in Sept, passing the Channel Islands

It's been ages since I've done any continuous blogging, so when I saw Kat McNally from I Saw You Dancing (I love that blog title ) hosting a reflective writing practice for December, I thought it would be a good time to step back and take stock. ... not sure how well I'll keep up but I do need to get back to journalling and looking inward at this time of the year.   All my year up until now has been constant running, and as ever I'm looking forward constantly, planning what's happening at various times next year.  So today's first prompt  from Kat:

In her seventh ever blog post, all the way back in March 2003(!), the inimitable Andrea Scher wrote: “Maybe lists are like prayers.”
 What sorts of lists do you have on the go at the moment? What do they suggest you are praying for?
My lists are nearly always about work - or more specifically, always about upcoming tours.  Next year we're heading to Australia in March, Germany in May, the UK in October and Switzerland later the same month.   And in between will be some gigs at home.   Plus a new recording.

So my lists are definitely prayers - for good well planned tours - profitable but not back breaking - with enough time off to enjoy where we are and enough energy to perform well and entertain our audiences.   I pray for audiences who get what we do and who leave the room with smiles on their faces.

And I pray for time away from the thinking about travelling to create and practice and ponder where next.

I don't need lists to remind me of all the things I need to do for my students or choirs so I suppose my lists are prayers to remind me that I'm important too and that I need to put my attention on my own practice.

Oh, and at the bottom of the current list is "make a Christmas card list!!"  I nearly forgot it was December already :)

This prompt is part of the Reverb15 reflective writing challenge. You are welcome to dive in at any time! If you’re catching up, you can check out all prompts so far in the Reverb archive.