Reading My Way Around the World

Wednesday 31 May 2017

Introducing: Pat Coldrick - never give up on your dream

It's been a while since I introduced any new musicians here.

So, Ta Da ... Drum roll - please welcome Pat Coldrick.

Pat is a self taught classical guitarist from near Dublin who played at our folk club a couple of weeks ago.  As well as playing flamenco and classical pieces he also writes his own music and does beautiful arrangements of Irish airs.

Above all else, Pat is a wonderful example that you should never give up on your dream.
He played guitar as a teenager and into his early 20s, then gave up as he couldn't make a living at it.  He turned to woodwork and for 25 years ran a successful business.   Until the crash came and many small businesses perished in the south of Ireland, including his.  He hadn't played guitar at all in that time, but picked it up one evening and decided to go out and busk.   People asked for more and the rest as they say is history.   Now he plays all over the world and his music and arrangements are sought after.

Our folk club venue is very small - Crawfords Bar - 45 people is the maximum we can put in.   On that night it wasn't full because many people hadn't heard of him, but for the 30 or so people who were there it was like a shared experience of being transported to another world.  His stories are charming and he fits as easily into playing in front of thousands of people in St Petersburg or New York as to playing in a tiny room.

This is a piece he wrote called Antartica ... it just blew us all away.  Enjoy.  And please support live music wherever you can.  30 people loving someone playing or singing can be much more of an experience than thousands worshipping at the altar of some rock god.

And something more traditional without the addition of effects - Sevilla by Albeniz ...

Tuesday 30 May 2017

Focus on blogging

Focussing on the details
For a long time I've been trying to find a new name for my blog and to find a more focussed direction for it.   Sometimes I think that if a stranger dropped by they'd have no clue about what I do other than stand around with a guitar, do a bit of knitting and take pictures of the sea lol - none of which are entirely false.

So I'm rummaging around for a new name that at least tells people what I do - this version will probably change - I'm not entirely happy with it - and if any of you have any suggestions I'd love to hear it.   And I'm going to try to stick to some sort of a timetable and still write about the things I love - music of course, positive news stories, and this beautiful part of the world I live in - but also have content that is more suitable to share more widely (through Social Media for example) and see if I can find out where other musicians hide in the blogosphere.   There are many I know who do blog, but even being interested in them I get bored about being told every day to buy my latest CD.  

I follow some art blogs and I love watching their mix of colour, giveaways and sales talk, although they are the other extreme and don't show so much about their lives.   Then there are the crafters, writers, and fashionistas I follow and last but definitely not least, the friends I have made here in the years I've been online - I love visiting you all in your different corners of the world and hearing what you're up to and what you've got planned.  And I equally like sharing that too.  So that'll have to stay too.

So watch this space.   Doubtless it'll turn out just as unfocussed as ever, but I'll enjoy coming and chatting :)  We'll see.  And I'd love to hear your suggestions for a name.

Do you stick to a plan with your blogging, or is it more random and when the feeling takes you?  And have you stayed focussed on what you blog about or has that changed over the years?  And if you have a business, do you blog separately about that?  So many questions, so little time lol

Friday 26 May 2017

Scavenger Photo Hunt May 2017

Joining in today with Hawthorn's Scavenger Photo Hunt - matching images to random words and taking a look back at the past month.

I really struggled with this list at the start, but it has turned out to be great fun - especially with the gorgeous weather we've been having these past few days.  Not being on the road for a while now all this month's photos are from nearby.  There's something about going out into nature with a camera that makes me look closer.  I love it. 


Lichen along the granite on the beach


I love glass window ornaments.   This cat was made by a lovely Polish woman living locally several years ago - and my aunt Betty bought it for me when she came to visit.   It still makes me smile.
Cat on a hot tin fence :)


Had to share a couple of photos for this one...
My clanky old faithful
used for accompanying my students
It's loud and they have all coped with singing over it!

My very first piano
very woodworm-eaten and beaten up now
It was given to me by a my Dad's cousin Leo when I was about 8
and I could pick out so many tunes on it
that my mother finally sent me for piano lessons

and my pride and joy
made in Belleek Pottery
My dad was arranging for one to be made for a man's concert pianist daughter
and told him that his daughter was learning piano
so he paid for one for me too!  Wasn't I lucky.  


Watching the rain coming in down the valley across the Lough


The hawthorn bushes have been magnificent this year - is it the mild winter or the dry spring?  Whatever the reason, they have been a joy to watch.   And now they're turning pink before the blossoms get blown away.


I love low tide.   What's under the deep.  It was a new moon yesterday so the tides are even lower, exposing the hazards for ships coming up the Lough.


We have to really fight to keep ivy off the trees here - this one I managed to uncover a few years ago and the textures are really starting to settle now... Bark always reminds me of the Trees in Lord of the Rings - what were they called?   The Ents?  When I see a sign saying Heavy Plant Crossing I always imagine one of these trees crossing the road :)  

Like the skin of some animal - I love the patterns in tree bark.

Weave or Stitch

I learned to knit Aran patterns when I was very young - my mother's way of keeping me out of mischief.  But this was easily the most silly one to do - it's a pattern that Save the Children issued years ago and I was looking for something quick and quirky to put into my friend Belinda's craft shop.  It's an Egg Cosy!!  Definitely not the most useful thing you could make.  And the decision at the end of it was that life is too short to be doing many more.   If she's very good, she might get a second one just because I have enough wool, but there are definitely better things to be at!!!  But it is so much fun.   If you're interested you can find the pattern on Love Knitting here - it'd be fun for kids at Christmas.  

Makes me laugh every time I look at this.


When I recorded my first CD, 25 years ago, everything was recorded onto 2 inch tape.   If you made a mistake during a 'take' you had to do the whole thing again as It was really complicated to try to fix things.  And when it came to mixing, engineers needed 4 pairs of hands to be able to manage all the different possibilities.   Now things are very different - not necessarily easier, but certainly easier to fix.  Below are just vocal, guitar and percussion tracks as the basis for a new song.  
Recording in the digital age.


I wonder how much time has passed since these shells had owners.

Are you playing along with he photo hunt?  It'd be great to see your interpretations.

The man who planted a forest #WATWB

I am joining in today with the monthly #We Are The World Bloghop  - sharing good news stories.  Check out the link and consider joining in.  
It is co-hosted this month by Emerald BarnesEric LahtiInderpreet Uppal,  Lynn Hallbrooks,  Peter NenaRoshan RadhakrishnanThank you so much for doing this guys.  

We are the World came about in response to all the negative news stories that are bombarding us these days, in an effort to flood the internet with good news stories at least once a month.  

I came across this story and thought it was wonderful.   

Every day a man plants trees in the same spot - 37 years later he has a forest ...
The young teenager Jadav “Molai” Payeng decided to help nature out a little bit and started planting trees over thirty years ago. He planted the seeds next to a very and deserted sandbar closely to his birthplace in the Assam region, India. Jadav wanted to create a habitat for wildlife and oppose people who were cutting trees down.    Read the full story here .... Man plants forest

It just goes to show what one person can do.

Wednesday 24 May 2017


A wander by the sea last night ... the sea drift is beautiful at the minute.

Joining in today with Wednesday Around the World

Monday 22 May 2017

Kindness Challenge Reflection Week 2

Kindness Challenge Week 2.   Self Compassion.  

I've been thinking about compassion all week.  It's a strange word, compassion.  Even considering compassion in relation to another person, to me it brings up thoughts of religious life, of forgiveness, benediction and of suffering.  People guilty of a crime ask compassion of their accuser, leniency in carrying out the sentence.  Not to be brutal and unforgiving.   It comes from the Latin and literally means to suffer with.

In Niki's Kindness Challenge for Week 2 she asked us to look at compassion for ourselves and posted a wonderful video - it's worth checking out.  Putting ourselves first is not wrong, in fact the opposite is true.

This week I've had plenty of opportunities to practice kindness to myself and build on week 1.  And to me self compassion has to involve patience.  As well as getting rest and some sunshine.  It's been about being forgiving towards myself and accepting limitations.  It's been about realising that you'll never be perfect but there's no harm in striving to be better and it's about practicing what I preach - in my case that's about daily practice in my music and singing - when I give that up due to illness or distraction or depression or self doubt, then everything collapses and your worst fears are realised.

One of the frustrating things I find in our life here is finding uninterrupted stretches of time to focus on finishing up songs or projects - at the moment that's about focussing on the new album.  It is so hard to do at this time in our lives.  A few weeks back we had 5 recording days, broken up with one sick day, then 4 days looking after my mother taking her to appointments, then various other appointments of our own, a funeral, classes to teach, another 2 day Mum visit, a day in Dublin - and the upshot is that it has taken us a full three weeks to get back to where we were at.  It has been frustrating and keeping me awake at night.   But time passes and there's not a lot you can do about it, especially when energy is low.

As Niki suggests, I've  been trying to consider how I would speak to a friend were she in this situation and I'd be saying this:
Things happen in the right time and in the perfect order.  Relax and let things go at their own pace and at the moment that pace may be slower than you'd like, but you know what, it'll all work out ok in the end.  Everything will get done and you'll look back and wonder why you were worrying.  
So, I'd better pay attention - no choice in the matter :)

Niki  also suggested making an affirmation, or recording a tape of things that would stop the endless chatter in our heads.  I use affirmations on and off and realise that I had forgotten the practice in recent months.   So while I didn't record myself saying positive statements, I did remember to give myself some positive talk where I could.  Thanks for the reminder Niki.

How was your week?
Are you taking part in the Kindness Challenge?  It is very interesting.  There's still time to sign up and play along if you'd like.  You can sign up at the link above and also read the reflections of others taking part.

So, on to week 3.

Friday 19 May 2017

Five on Friday - Colours changing

 I love how the colours start to change at this time of the year .... the bluebells are nearly gone and the pinks are starting to take their turn .... even the May, the hawthorn blossom, has shades of pink in it.  But still a lonely pansy is hanging on from last Autumn, showing its pretty face and keeping the link between Spring and Summer.  And I have to keep a little bit of blue...

So for my Five on Friday this week, here's some of the colour this evening.  Thank you to Tricky and Carly at F.A.S.T. for hosting this lovely blog hop - take a look over there to see some of the other Fives..

An early rhododendron ... we cut them back hard last year.

The fuchsia will be around for several months now .. love, love, love them
This mass of white at our back garden against an almost blue sky
is saying summer is not here yet ... but soon.  

The hawthorn, so delicate.... I had to put in an extra one. 

Aren't pansies so sweet - no matter the season
Selena, in pinks and purples and this striking blue ... I like having some blue to carry over.

Joining up with the folks in Spain - F.A.S.T. - for this week's Five on Friday.  
Have a lovely weekend.  

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Singing Tips: an easy and essential warm up exercise

Warming Up

Why do we bother to warm up our voices?  We don't need to warm up when we are talking... No, but we all sound a bit croaky in the mornings, especially as we get older, and it takes a while for me anyway to be talking full throttle as it were.  

Like runners getting ready to go out for a jog, it pays to do a little bit of stretching to get the muscles gently moving.  

Here's my favourite ...

Lip Trills 

It sounds comical - like blowing a raspberry -  don't try doing it if you're laughing :)   And it looks even worse, believe me.   We never get through more than 3 or 4 of them in choir warm ups.   

It has the effect of letting your vocal chords loosen, not shaping a word.   If you're a teacher, or if your voice is a bit tired, a minute or two of doing this will make your voice feel fresher again.  

So, here's a video of a Nashville vocal coach, Cari Cole, demonstrating how to do lip trills - she looks a lot prettier than I would do with the same thing - expensive camera and better lighting!! Ha!!

Let me know how you get on.

Joining in for the first time with Wednesday Around the World

Tuesday 16 May 2017

Kindness Challenge Week 2

The world is in need of more kindness at the moment.   Everywhere I look I see fear and tears ... and a lot of the time it feels like we're powerless to do anything about it, in the face of corruption, big business ruling the world, hackers, governments that seem to have little or no connection to the people and pain, war  and poverty all around.  

So when Niki at The Richness of a Simple Life invited people to take part in a 7 week kindness challenge  I thought it'd do no harm and hopefully I'd learn something.  We're moving on to Week 2 now, but it is still not too late to join in .  Here's the Theme for Week 2.  
If you fancy joining in, read on.   

Week 2 Theme | Self-Compassion

Having compassion for others entails sympathy or empathy for their discomfort and suffering. This week we’re going to work on showing ourselves compassion. For some of us that might mean not being so hard on ourselves, not holding ourselves up to standards of perfection, or easing up on the negative self-talk. Many struggle with being their own worst critic, this week we are going to strive to be warm, understanding, and encouraging with ourselves.  Read the full blog post here

If compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete. -Jack Kornfield

Week one of this challenge has been very interesting - you can read reflections of people taking part in it and some wonderful tips and ideas at Niki's site.

Come and play along.  The world certainly could use more kindness. 

Sunday 14 May 2017

Kindness Challenge Reflection Post Week 1

I''m joining in with Niki at for her second annual Kindness Challenge  where she has invited us to focus on Kindness for the next 7 weeks following a different prompt each week.   You can follow that link to see what others are reflecting on and maybe join in yourself if you aren't already taking the journey along with us.

It's been very interesting keeping this challenge in mind throughout the week.

Self Love is something I have tried to practice and am getting (slowly) better at, but, like self protection, I find it very easy to forget when the are others demanding attention or in difficult situations.

But I"ve had several opportunities this week to be mindful of it and it has been very useful taking part in this challenge right now.

We took the decision to cancel another tour due to both our healths not being up to par and the added stress of elderly relatives needing us. I could have pushed through - but it would have been a disaster.   We'd have come back in a heap and then have to push through finishing the album and by July things would be even worse.

So I chose kindness.   Being kind to myself.

Added to that I had a curious incident with a company that asked me to write a blog about a promotion they're doing.   5, 6 weeks ago I said ok, but then things started to get in the way and after a week or two I wrote back politely and told them I couldn't participate.   But the girl would not accept no for an answer.   I started to feel guilty that I was letting her down.   This stranger.  Who was invading my space.   Eventually after 3 weeks of trying to ignore her pushy emails I sat down the other night and put her in the picture properly without mincing my words.  Go away or else .... and there's been silence for a couple of days.   Hopefully that's got rid of her.   I'll think more carefully before saying yes next time....

Reflecting on it afterwards - whether it's my nature, or the society I've been brought up in,  I don't like to offend.  Even at a cost to myself.   You know the saying - somebody's ** to a fault?   Well that'd be me... To a fault ... So again, another opportunity to choose kindness myself.  And I slept a lot better as a result of finally writing the email that I"d been going over for weeks in my head.

Then to end the week a friend died whom we hadn't even known was ill.  We are all so shocked.   But it was an eye opener.   Last time I saw her, I was feeling really poorly and just called out 'hello' and moved on.   I wish I had stopped just a moment longer.  But we need these events to pull us up ... to say 'take care, take time and be kind' ... and by taking the time to be with others is being kind to ourselves too.

I didn't write a mantra - things were a bit out of focus, but I felt it was enough to have something to pay attention to in the background.   Thank you Niki.

How was your week?

Friday 12 May 2017

Five on Friday 5 goings on.

It's been a while since I last joined in on a Five on Friday, so long in fact that it has now moved house from Amy at Love Made My Home to it's new home with Tricky and Carly at FAST

And as I thought I'd use the 5 as a bit of an update of what's going on around here.

1. Music/Studio 

We've a good bit of the foundation work done for the new album now.  This weekend, now that the sun's gone away, we're finishing writing two more songs and that'll be the line up complete.  I am very excited about this project - it's been wonderful working with guitarist Steve Cooney who has embellished my own playing beautifully.  Although we've had to cancel another tour, this time to the Continent - neither of us are back to fit yet - but still we can be getting on with this sort of work.
In case you'e wondering, I'm not singing in a wardrobe, but close lol.   We live in a small cottage and when we need to separate the vocals and guitar, then Tom has mikes in practically every room of the house.   We once did an album in a friends' studio and the vocal booth actually was inside the wardrobe - that's where the best natural sound in the room was.   At that time I had illusions about going in to one of those big studios you see on TV, like Abbey Road - this is closer to reality for most musicians.   I'll try and get a pic some time with the house on cabled up.

2. Knitting 

- on the needles at the minute I have two projects running as well as lots of small trial bits as well - my head's buzzing with ideas there as well as in my music.  But the main ones are a summer cardigan in a crazy multi coloured wool called Bamboozle from King Cole which I found at the Knit and Stitch show in Dublin last October ... It is such fun and really quick to knit up.   And a wonderful green wrap that I'm slowly trickling away at - in Cascade Heather - lovely wool.   

3. Reading

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.
I've had this book on my shelf for years and for some reason didn't get around to it.      OMG - wonderful - suspense without violence and fabulously written.  In fact it won The Orange Prize for Fiction in 2002.   I loved, loved, loved this book - couldn't put it down.  It would make a marvellous film I thought and then when searching for a pic on line today I spotted that it was made into a film back then, starring Julianne Moore.   The book was inspired by the Chilean hostage crisis of the mid 90s.

From Goodreads - In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. His hosts hope that Mr. Hosokawa can be persuaded to build a factory in their Third World backwater. Alas, in the opening sequence, just as the accompanist kisses the soprano, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.  Read more 

4. In the garden/by the sea

Nearly gone now .... But still worth a pic ... Bluebell time and the bluebell wood at Warrenpoint has been in full bloom for nearly 3 weeks - this woodland stretches for about half a mile alongside the motorway and is simply stunning.  I wrote a song called I Still Think of You for my father, passing this bluebell wood several years ago and this is the first time I've managed to actually get in and walk around it.
We have some wild bluebells at the bottom of the garden as well and between them and the birds pairing up and the rabbits bouncing around, there's been plenty to keep me amused without having to go very far from home.  Tom reckons that he needs another half dozen rabbits and then won't need to be mowing the lawn.  

5. Watching

Danny Collins - I really enjoyed this feel good film starring Al Pacino based on a true incident that happened to a wonderful English folk singer whom I've known vaguely for years - Steve Tilston.   A letter was discovered written to him by John Lennon 40 something years after it had been written.   The letter had John and Oko's home phone number on it, along with an invite to call them and discuss the argument about whether or not being famous would change your creativity.

The film of course is a Holywoodised version and is not heavy watching by any means, but we thought it was great fun and it has a wonderful soundtrack of John Lennon music.   Well worth the watch.

And just as a bonus, here's a link to Steve Tilston himself, who is still one of the stars of the folk circuit.

Thanks to the folks at FAST for hosting Five on Friday bloghop

Sunday 7 May 2017

Kindness Challenge 2017

I'm looking forward to joining in with the annual Kindness Challenge organised by Niki at the Richness of a Simple Life blog starting on Monday and running for 7 weeks - there's still time to join in if you'd like to.

To start with Niki has asked us to set an intention.  Intention setting is something I'd like to experience more of in my life - I tend to run at life and then wonder why I feel so overwhelmed or dragging behind, so this is a lovely way to start this challenge.

I suppose my intention is to be kinder to myself, to consciously spread more kindness around me and to contribute to bringing more joy to the world.  I consider myself a kind person to start with, but there's always room for more.

The going's been tough over the past few months and as a result we've had to take some hard decisions to cancel work and change plans which I'm not happy about.   So I"m looking forward to following along to help buoy my spirits and to not add to the overwhelming onslaught of negativity everywhere we turn at the moment.

Saturday 6 May 2017

Misreading posts

Every dog has its day, isn't that what they say?   And I suppose it was only a matter of time, until wool or yarn got its day as well:)   Today, or so I thought - is World Yarn Day - and who am I to argue with that one?  But when I reread the drool worthy newsletter that came in, I realised it was Yarn Shop Day for that particular brand...  Good job I don't live in Yorkshire!!!!
Duh!!   However, my basket of brightness still looks good in the sunshine streaming through the window this morning and is keeping my head from running off with all the things I need to be getting on with this week before heading to Germany next weekend.

Have a lovely weekend.

Wednesday 3 May 2017

Scavenger Photo Hunt April 2017

I've been terribly slow getting back into taking photos so it's lovely to join back in with Hawthorn's Scavenger Photo Hunt (albeit a few days late).

1. New

Starting work on our new CD - so excited to be playing with these guys.

2. Rust

My rusty old gate is certainly looking better with the new clematis I planted last year.

3. Box

My box for the last couple of days  - singing behind that screen, tucked in-between all the drums and listening to Steve playing guitar in the other room through the headphones

4. Ingredients

The perfect ingredients for an afternoon off

5. Begins with ... D

We had a couple of very misty nights a while back
and I was struck by the trees through the window of our front door.

6. Mechanical

The tuning heads on my guitar have been driving me crazy for the past two days
Off to the doctor with them tomorrow ... that's what passes for mechanics in my world at the minute.

7. Something seasonal

Oh love of my life - bluebells.  At the wood at Narrowwater Castle outside Warrenpoint

8. Recently finished

Terrible picture, but I have recently finished this shawl!! 

9. Begins with ... R

I've had this RED tulip in a vase on the windowsill for over a week and it's getting more translucent with each day - fabulous colour. 

10. My own choice

Bundoran, Co. Donegal

So, that's it for this month... Check out Hawthorn's list for May - it's up already- and join in next month if you have time.