Friday, February 02, 2018

Musical update!

How I could forget to mention this in my last post I'll attribute to my flaky memory! Obviously. But I know that a number of you have been waiting for the Company of Players' CD to be released, and it has. It can be found at  and is already selling very well. The official launch of the album will be at the end of March, and is going to be a very special couple of evenings, shared with theatre group OVO who will bring additional drama to the Players' fabulous music. Tickets are available from TicketSource now.



We're so looking forward to it!


Thursday, February 01, 2018

Addendum Blog

Sadly, I have nothing to report that would be of any interest to any readers, except to say to readers of "Hints and tips..." that there's a new entry in the Addendum Blog.


Normal blogging service will be resumed as soon as I start to be vaguely interesting again!



Friday, January 05, 2018

On the twelfth day of Christmas...

Blimey! Didn't that go quickly? So all of those beautiful decorations have to come down tomorrow. And only two of the four sets of lights stopped working this year! LEDs are definitely the type to have.

We went out for a stroll on Boxing Day. The weather looked promising. It was in fact promising to rain, but we went anyway. Jess and Eddie were both at work, so four of us drove out to nearby Verulamium Park. It was lovely, even under a gloomy sky, and loads of people were out enjoying it with us.

Expecting rain as we were (which started as promised just as we were heading back towards the car), I didn't take a camera, so these photos were taken on the same day back in 2014, when we'd had rather better weather.







And, since games were in the Christmas atmosphere, there were more of those later in the day, and more Christmas dinner and tea left-overs enjoyed, washed down with bottom-of-bottle wines and forgotten-and-left-in-a-corner ales.

Michelle went home on Wednesday, and we tried to settle into a life that wasn't quite so indolent. We did have a very long to-do list, after all. To do, or not to do? That was the question.

One job did keep surfacing in our thoughts, though. Our box-room (originally a bedroom and dubbed "The Snug") had for some years housed Eddie's vinyl record collection. But this collection had grown, and so also had the number of other things that had started to accumulate amongst them. Eddie could no longer access all of them. Something had to be done.

Fortuitously, there was another problem involving rooms which we were able to merge in with the box-room issue. I think I've mentioned Steve's portable recording studio (home-built sound-damping panels that link together to form a booth, and his home-built mega-computer for recording and mixing - plus numerous microphones, cables and attendant paraphernalia) which has been difficult to store. Plus, Jess has a large collection of musical instruments, many of which had ended up with Eddie's vinyls. The solution...

...a music room!

Our front room has been the least-used room ever since we moved out of the house and onto Kantara. When we're back, it's only used by us to watch TV. And even then we have to clear the sofas of ukuleles, whistles, a tiple and a flute, left there after a Said the Maiden rehearsal. The obvious thing to do, then, was to move all of Jess' instruments into this room (plus two guitars of mine, Steve's bass guitar, and the electric piano that was already there). We brought down a lovely old leather-topped writing desk from Grace's office/study/studio, where it was surplus to requirement, and Steve set up his recording kit on that. He arranged the sound-absorbing panels around the wall, Nome and Ed took one of the pair of sofas to replace their dead one, shelves were cleared to house the smallest instruments and job done! Said the Maiden and their engineer/producer can now rehearse and record comfortably, without having to move things around. One sofa, the TV and the hi-fi remain for Grace and me. It was a very pleasing outcome for everyone concerned.


Only one related job remained...

The box-room has in it two, 2-drawer filing cabinets for Grace and me to use. They were very full, and the fullness was largely attributable to many years of out-dated paperwork. You know the kind of thing. Bank statements, pay slips, insurance documents, mortgage stuff, and all of them dating back beyond ten years. It had to go. It didn't take long to sort it out, but shredding it required us to buy a new shredder - we'd killed one several years ago - and several hours of my feeding the papers into the shredder (though, in fairness, some of that time was periodical breaks of 30 minutes for shredder rest after it had cut out from overheating!) I took four large bin-bags of shreddies shreddings to the recycling centre this morning.

What next? Oh, yes, the decorations! Tomorrow! 😒




Thursday, January 04, 2018

On the first day of Christmas...

Doesn't Christmas pass quickly? Always? Over a week has gone now, and there's still mince pies to be eaten, and we've not quite finished the stock from the turkey - Grace makes some superb soups from meat and bone stock. But don't the decorations look sad now? Not tatty and worn out, but almost out of place. Some folk near us have thrown their Christmas tree out! Ours will stay though, and all the rest of the decorations, until twelfth night, as per tradition. No drummers drumming, however.

Christmas was great. Friend Michelle arrived early in the afternoon of Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning we all seven went to church before enjoying a fine feast together, Grace and Naomi our chefs in residence. We waited between courses to allow our stomachs to find room for the several desserts that were almost ready, and only then did we pull the crackers.

Now these were not ordinary crackers. Ohhh no! These were Robin Reed Symphony Crackers. They had hats (that fit!), as normal, and awful jokes that make you laugh anyway. But they had something else rather different.
It's a set of eight whistles, each tuned to one note of an octave, with sheet music and a baton for the conductor. A number gets stuck to the end of each whistle, and everyone takes one. There were only seven of us, so Jess had two. The printed music isn't in standard notation, but rather a string of numbers from 1 to 8. The conductor has the job of pointing to each whistler as and when their number comes in the sequence. You're not actually doing this, and you're probably not rather tipsy either, so it may not sound like much fun to you, but it was funny. Very funny. The comic effect of the whole shambolic affair was further enhanced by the fact that some of the whistles were... well, not to put too fine a point on it - a bit out of tune. And it just may be that the person who committed the sixteen tunes into sequences of numbers wasn't actually entirely sure of all of the tunes, resulting in the canniest of the "musicians" anticipating their moments, but getting it wrong because the score disagreed with them. It was hilarious. Jess made a short video of it, and I'll post that as soon as I've deemed it fit for public consumption. If I can.

Desserts over and washing-up in the dishwasher, we all sat around the Christmas tree and opened gifts. No gold, frankincense or myrrh (though I'm told that the last two have numerous uses as essential oils, so I wouldn't have been surprised to see them amongst the presents), but everyone was delighted with it all.

Christmas Day isn't complete without silly games, and we played several. And they don't get sillier than Spoons.
"Spoons, also known as Pig or Tongue, is a fast-paced game of matching and occasional bluffing. It is played with an ordinary pack of playing cards and several ordinary kitchen spoons or other objects.
Spoons is played in multiple rounds, and each player's objective is to grab a spoon. No spoon may be grabbed until one player has collected a four of a kind, but once the first player to get a four of a kind has grabbed a spoon, all players may immediately reach out to attempt to grab a spoon. No player may grab more than one spoon at a time. As in the game musical chairs, there is always one fewer spoon than there are players, so one player will always be left without a spoon. Depending on the variety of game being played, that player either loses the game and is eliminated, or continues playing but loses a point. When two players are left and one person gets four of a kind, it doesn't matter who gets the spoon. At that point, whoever gets it the fastest wins." (Wikipedia)
So it's easy to play, even when you're full of dinner and fuelled by post-present excitement and alcohol, and it's very addictive. We call the game Spoons, but we use cotton-wool balls. Imagine the damage that can be done by seven people lunging at the table and making a grab for something as hard and effortlessly propellable as a spoon! Six of them!

Numbers were swelled in the early evening by the arrival of six of Eddie's family, games continued, chins were wagged and a large tea was demolished.

Then bed. We were zonked! It hadn't been a white Christmas as weather forecasters had suggested might happen (some weeks ago!), but it had been a really good day. Thank God for Christmas!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

It's that time of the year again!

Our days have been seriously boring since my last post
 (which always makes me think of this!)

We left Kantara two weeks ago, winterised against the very cold weather she endured throughout the several days that followed. In fact, the cold was so severe (minus 14 celsius was recorded on the marina, apparently) we did our normal neurotic thing of going back to her the following week, just to make sure we'd done the job properly, and that she hadn't sprung a frozen leak in some pipe-filled corner we'd overlooked. All was well, and the lowest temperature recorded on our max/min thermometer was minus point 8.

Since then, it's been fairly unhurried Christmas preparation for us; cards written and posted, decorations up, tree, a bit of shopping, Nothing exciting. But we're looking forward to the day. It'll be all six of us for dinner, plus Michelle, and several of Eddie's family will probably join us in the evening. I've bought the very best Christmas crackers ever, but I can't reveal any details until after they've been enjoyed at dinner that day, lest any of the family read this before then. But these crackers will be a lot of fun!

We anticipate being here at the house until the beginning of February. Before then, we intend to plan some serious cruising for 2018. This year, we just about managed four weeks of it. Those of you who read the blog regularly will know why. Planning's something that Grace doesn't like to do, but we'll have some trips mapped out roughly before February, and then we can choose which to do, singly or severally, as the year progresses. We're hopeful! One thing that we have in mind is to re-do the rings we did on holidays years ago. Cheshire, Stourport, Four Counties, but this time taking them rather more slowly. (How good it is, not to have that deadline, that morning when you have to be back at the hire company's base!) We shall see.

Until we're back on Kantara, the blog will be probably be pretty much static, so Grace and I wish you all now a very Happy Christmas, and an equally pleasing 2018.