Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows and Foxwood Steel play Harrogate International Festival of Music and Performing Arts

waiting to play
So Debs, this is a gig I thought the Sparrows would jump at, but no. It's Easter and Sparrows are jumping elsewhere. Duke of Edinburgh awards, holidays proper, and mostly trying to avoid marching! What, I hear you say!
Yorkshire Sculpture Park 2013
Harrogate 2013
London Notting Hill 2006
In vain do I discuss the thrills of Notting Hill carnival, walking down Ladbroke Grove as part of a 40 strong Nostalgia marching band.
London  Notting Hill 2012
London Notting Hill 2012
All they remember is the discomfort, the bad backs, tripping off the kerb and into concrete bollards, trying to catch up with each other and the band before and only playing 3 or 4 chord songs for hours on end, and at no point ever being in time with each other.

Here's some pics of previously marching [Harrogate, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Notting Hill]: 
Well, Debs, isn't that the best bit?
Anyway, I change it to static only, and ask Foxwood for support, and bless them, they turn out in their 6 and 1/2. Obviously Varshika has her arm in a sling - again! This just means she plays bass and Ashley is our drummer.
A man buys our CD, says it'll be something for him to listen to while he does the ironing. That's random, and very precise.
In the end we were Millie C, Millie S, Ashley, Claudia, Charlotte, Amy, Varshika, Vicky, Sophie, Georgia and me. And I don't know where Trish had disappeared to [hope it wasn't dangerous or illegal!] to get these fabulous aerial shots, but they are so Lowry. Just look at those shadows. Love 'em.
Walking back from Burley Park Station, I found the back alleys of Hyde Park [Leeds] quite full of families playing cricket. I sneak a photo. See below.

Monday, 21 April 2014

The Gougane Barra Trip April 2014

Now then Debs,
view from my room

I thought I would call on Danielle and Dee in Dublin then nip down to Gougane Barra - last there aged ten, last time we had a family holiday in a hotel, always wanted to go back. Well, I had booked the hotel before I arranged the calling-in-at-Dublin bit, and, as Robbie Burns wrote,
"The best-laid schemes o' mice and men gang aft a-gley . . . "

Standing Stones at Kealkil
In short, Debbie, GGB was 200 miles away from Dublin and not on a regular train or bus route, and cutting this long story even more, I am cycling down to Leeds Station at 5.40 a.m., train to Manchester, now flying to Cork and hiring a car for the trip west. And I don't see either D or D who were two of the three original reasons for this second Irish trip in three months.

Decide to take the coast road from Cork to GGB; this part of the country seems not over-populated, till I arrive at Bantry and the lovely Stuffed Olive café, where I add taste and texture to fuel. Arriving at the millpond calm that are the waters of Gougane Barra, get a room amazing overlooking the lake [most rooms are], and pass out.

[Next day Rick emails me to discover where I left the bike padlock key so he can liberate said bike from Leeds Station carpark.]

Carriganass Castle
Katie makes me the most wonderful pastry mozzarella and mushroom thingy; I go up to the room at 8.30 pm, and pass out again, and next I know it's morning and my skirt is all crumpled with being slept in.

I have three main childhood memories from this holiday, namely:

1. Chummed up with a girl a year older than me, called Gillian Johnstone. She came from Dublin; she and I spent our days rowing round the land, mapping it, drawing it, giving names to the inlets and bays. Sadly this map probably went in a house move purge some decades back.

2. In the evening we kids used to sit on the landing and watch the grown-ups having parties downstairs. Remember my dad singing with another man, the song was something like "A Policeman's Lot is Not a Happy One".

3. Collected bagfuls of moss, took it back to UK, and filled the bath at home with it, and all our ashtrays. Have no idea how I got this past my parents or customs.

[4.] I also remember from that holiday that we missed the Dublin boat home and took a train to Belfast, stayed overnight in a Dickensian boarding house when my mum burnt my vest using it as a lampshade in the room;  then an aeroplane back to Leeds-Bradford. My first flight, and scary! [Understatement.]

1. The hotel literature talked boats but there were none to be seen on the lake. Turns out they were hibernating. I expressed my interest in taking a turn about the lake. Tried not to look too desperate. Well, Neil was determined that I should, and finally on the last day . .  Absolutely made the trip.

2. Took some photos through the banisters from where I would have spied upon the parents.

pressed flowers from Gougane Barra 2014

3. Pressed a few wild flowers and some strands of moss; decided that Airport Security might object to bagfuls of moss, and I already lost my old Swiss army knife and a pair of scissors on way over.


On Tuesday I just hung around and went for walks; on Wednesday I took a little drive out, saw the Standing Stones at Kealkil, then on to Glengariff and ventured onto the beautiful peninsula, north of Bantry Bay. Had a cuppa and a bun at really lovely, old-fashioned café in Glengariff; both evenings spent quietly on ipad in bar drinking Murphy's and trying desperately [that is like the proverbial swan, paddling away frantically] to raise the numbers of players for the gig in Harrogate.

Katie advised me not to leave before 11a.m. on Thursday; lo and behold, Neil and pals had launched the Little Green Clinker and I was away across the lake. Nervous about getting back to airport and carhire firm on time; but needn't have worried. Not a dual carriageway in sight and we purred our way through the lovely Lee Valley.


So, three modes of travel, of which my absolute favourite was the little green boat. And when Robbie talked best laid plans, overall I most certainly didn't end up with "grief and pain for promised joy".

Come back refreshed, and, as you will see from the Harrogate gig blog coming soon, eleven players! Eleven, well ten and half, Varshika back in a sling! In steel band gigging heaven. And still very much refreshed from Gougane Barra heaven.


Saturday, 19 April 2014

Three birthdays in one

Well, Debs,
Anyone thinking of living with me would have been well advised to know that Walt, Daisy and I are all Aries - loud and bossy, and also three birthday presents inside ten days. This comes round every year just the same, but exchanging objects that we don't really want has lost its appeal, so we just had a joint pizza party in our house, and took lots of photos of this every-expanded family!
And whether or not star signs are your thing, it fits us three, and here we are altogether with the rest of the immediate, chomping pizza and photographing each other. But I have to get up next morning at five to set off for Ireland, so nothing too mad.
And below is a pic of them all plus Rick and Astrid before the expanding went crazy.

Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows and Allerton Allstars at Allerton Grange Showcase

And so, Debs onto one of the best concerts of my social calendar. Here I saw Glassbody first live and somewhat unexpected for the first time.

The Sparrows have reached a point where there are more Allerton Grange students in this band than from any other [high] school. And Sam M and I thought it would be entirely appropriate for them to guest at the Showcase.

So, we did. Then, because Allerton Grange is not quite on the beaten track, Sparrows were not so sure about getting there, and other complications, of coursework and the like. So I asked a few extra players jut in case, and lift favours from Bex and Vicky, Wendy brought Peter, no idea how Chloe got there but Bex took her and Millie C home.

Gigs next to stations, Debs, that's the way to do it!

It was hard, Debs, to take over from another teacher, at this school, and it has taken four years, but we  were blown away with our reception. Dohl players and rock guitarists came over and hi-fived us (well, verbally), and a lady from the audience just came to shake my hand. (I love it when people do that). The Sparrows supported the two Allerton Grange Allstar bands, and sight-read Redemption Song.

It was a lot of effort but, not only were we received well, and the overall standards and variety at this concert at this school always make it worth attending. Two many stand-out artists to mention! Would have given the Garforth Music for Youth competitors a run for their money.

[I'll insert the pics just as soon as Fehmina shows me how to unzip them.]

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Golden Owls at Leeds Town Hall

On Wednesday April 2 I attended the red carpet do that was the Golden Owls Awards Ceremony.
This event at Leeds Town Hall was the prize-giving ceremony for Leeds Young Film-makers. I met up with colleagues, Aretha, Patsy [who was main organiser of this event], and Sarah, got photographed with Lord Mayor, then bumped into Xanthe and her students, who were nominated for and won an award.
It was a wonderful affirmation and celebration of young people moving into this artform and being taken seriously. David Dimbleby was booked originally to be the host, but was called away to arbitrate at that debate between Clegg and Farage. He sent a rather moving video clip about the importance of film-making.
[If I ever find the other photos I will post them in here. At least Xanthe got this one to me.]

Lionel gets a Decade Older

Lionel's do at Maxilla's is on my actual birthday, but as I am not planning anything much for this year, I'm all up for watching Lionel get a decade older in London.
And so it is that Georgia and I hit the 4.45 pm East Coast train to London. This takes just over two hours [a lot faster than we could have driven it!], and soon we are looking at Platform 9 and 3/4. Shortly after that Gig is ironing a shirt with her hair straighteners! Heavens.

We are at the Ravna Gora (which my Russian tells me means Even Mountains, and Rick's map tells him is a resort in Russia). And this is the same hotel that Rick stayed at when we were strutting our stuff at the Albert Hall, and then, at night staying at the Holland Park Youth Hostel.

The next building, on Holland Park Avenue has a memorial to the lives lost in Kiev, a sad testimony here in  London, UK and left untouched, not quite the case for Royal Park [whose flowers have pulled from the railings after closing time].

It's a hop and a skip up Ladbrooke Grove, turn left at its Tube and now we see the back of Latimer Road and over to Maxilla's. Well, here's Grafton, Charlotte and Skye; Raoul and Adrianna (whom Georgia remembers from Switzerland and Paul Francis's wonderful new panyard; Hazel, Pepe, Marvin, Emina, Freddy, Christine, Haroun, Dudley D, Lionel's sister, Joy (with whom Georgia and I stayed once for no reason at all that I can remember), now here's Lionel, and wonderful, wonderful food, and then Nostalgia playing. I join in rather hopelessly later on. And have a dance with Lionel.

It's eight weeks and one day since my anaesthetic, and I manage two pints and a Corona, this beating Georgia's intake. Heavens! We take in the walk back down the Grove in the warm late March evening. On what was actually my own birthday, but not recovered enough yet to do it justice! So thanks, Lionel, for providing this lovely celebration.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Royal Park, the tying on of Flowers and Ribbons

Thanks to Sue's tireless efforts we have another vigil, with ribbons and flowers. Yes, they have demolished Royal Park School.

After that, turns out it was a local councillors' forum. Am off for a few points of order.
Poor old Javed kept trying to start the meeting, but Sue and then I had a point or two in the Open Forum bit.
My points were about landlordism and that the ex-West Park-users were not all satisfactorily housed, but Debs, that's for another blog.
Meantime here's a few rubbish pics of the ribbons and flowers and a 56 bus.
 Wrong blog, I know, Debs, but why would a country [the UK] and a town [Leeds] knock down a beautiful old Victorian school building at a time when the local schools are bursting and more school capacity is needed? Beats me!
Hope you are enjoying Abu Dhabi still, but right now I am not enjoying Leeds UK.