mostly singing related

On Saturday 14 Jan, I ventured forth to Kardomah 94 to take part in the inaugural meeting of the Rainbow Choir; as you might suspect from its name, it is designed for LGBT singers , but all were welcome, so I thought I’d go and lend a helping voice. I did have to confess to being a CIS female, though 🙂

The session went very well, and I look forward to the next one. Kardomah is a lovely café bar, with a big meeting room at the back hired out for all sorts of stuff, including music and City of Culture volunteer training. It’s also about 1.5 miles from home, so I thought I’d walk down. Bad move. My faithful FitFlop boots had got Very Wet Indeed a few months ago, and that was the first time I’d worn them since; they rubbed my right heel unmercifully, and by the time I’d limped home again, my foot was bleeding. Ho hum.

Last night, 25 Jan 2017, I went to my first Heartsong session. I’ve been trying to do this for ages, but Stuff has always conspired against me. So glad I made it, as I really enjoyed it. I cycled there and back, 6.4 miles round trip. Go me.

In Volunteering, I did an afternoon at Ferens Gallery on Friday 20 Jan, and enjoyed it muchly. Saw the exhibition of Bacon’s Screaming Popes, which didn’t do much for me, although I do generally like Bacon (and bacon). And then on Sunday, I did 5.5 hours helping out with interviews for the next wave of City of Culture volunteers.

That’s all for now!

Eternal Father, strong to save …

Anyone who knows me will know that I don’t much care for religion, but there’s something about singing in a church.

So when a call went out to local choir people to turn up to Holy Trinity Church on Saturday 4 December, to record For Those in Peril on the Sea as a soundtrack for part of the Made in Hull opening event for City of Culture.

You wouldn’t necessarily think it would take 2.5 hours to record one hymn, but we sang it loud and soft, with accompaniment on the mighty organ and without, with words and without. And then we sang some other stuff to help out one of the people recording it with one of his own projects.

And then we had coffee and cake, which was nice. The church is becoming a minster next year, and we have all been invited to sing at the investiture (or whatever it is), so that’s something to look forward to.

I wandered up to St Stephens shopping centre after that, to return a pair of shoes to Schuh; they were perfectly obliging, and gave me a refund, which “would take up to five working days to reach my account”. Funny how that doesn’t happen when you buy something, eh?The afternoon before (Friday 2 Dec), I attended a course on Customer Service as a City of Culture volunteer, at the Hull History Centre. This was given by a chap called John Lennon (!), and was most interesting and quite useful. I was, to my horror, late, as my bike had a flat tyre, and I had to hurtle for a bus. Pete manfully mended it for me during the afternoon, and so on Saturday morning I went to fetch it from the shed, to find it had a flat tyre again. More bus, and I treated it to a new inner tube on my way home.

busy busy busy

All of a sudden, I’ve gone from no life to almost too much life. I want to record it for future memories, so here’s a megapost to bring you up to date.

Freedom Chorus
I started singing again, after a break of many, many years, and I just love it. My first gigs were at the Freedom Festival – we sang a wonderful piece under Myton Bridge (like trolls!), which was bedecked with coloured neon lights; we also sang a selection of “river” songs on the new Stage at the Dock. It was Very Wet Indeed, and we were like a choir of drowned rats, and our second performance on Corporation Pier was cancelled because the floor was too slippy. But it was fabulous nonetheless.

Then, in September, the Chorus performed on stage at the press launch for Hull City of Culture 2017. We sang a glorious arrangement of the Isley Brothers’ Caravan of Love, which has a resonance for the city, given that The Housemartins had a hit with it. We also sang at Paragon station at the crack of dawn that morning, were shown on BBC TV, etc. We were all very proud.

Lots of interesting stuff for the Freedom Chorus coming up next year, but my lips are sealed for now.

I’ve also trained as a Singing Champion for the city, trying to get more people involved in the great social activity of choral singing.

City of Culture 2017
I joined up to be a volunteer for CofC, and got in on the first “wave” – how I wish I’d heard about it early enough to be a pioneer volunteer, but I missed the opportunity.

So far I have done backstage tours of Hull Truck Theatre and Hull History Centre, have worked a few sessions on the information Pod at Hull Paragon station, conducted questionnaires on behalf of Hull Truck at Endsleigh primary school, paraded around the stadium (with other volunteers, not on my own!) at a Hull KC football match, done a guided walking tour of the city, partaken in a Woman of the World thinkin, been part of a workshop with Blast Theory, and probably more. I intend to update this blog as I do more stuff, because it’s going to be a wonderful year, and I don’t want to forget it.

Last weekend, I spent a high-powered and exhausting day doing Volunteer Leadership training, which involved Child Protection, Health and Safety, Discrimination and How to Lead. I now have two new cards to add to my lanyard, and am fully DBS checked (which may come in useful).

When we were volunteering at Cornucopia Festival in September, we encountered Bandanarama; they were so utterly barking that I went and asked them if they’d like a melodica player. It transpired that they would, and so I am now a member of the band, complete with motorcycle jacket (thanks, Ian and Carole!) and boots (thanks, eBay); I already had my own bandana. So far, I’ve played out with them in Beverley at the Flemingate shopping centre, and at St Stephens’ shopping mall; it’s always a hoot, and I’m so glad I’ve become part of the band.

A couple of weeks ago, we posed for a photograph in Quentin Budworth’s Hullywood Icons, and very mean and cool we looked too, though I say so myself.

The Wild One

Got lots of interesting stuff lined up for the next few months – so looking forward to it.

at the sign of the Broken Drum

Mediaeval Drum


We found ourselves in the vicinity of Shipley on 16 May, and it’s only down the road from Saltaire, the home of the Early Music Shop, a highly dangerous emporium. I only went in for a look, honest, but I wanted a drum to bang with the Morris side and …

We had a small bash of pretty much every drum in the place, and this seemed the best – nice tone, manageable size. I bought a case, and the chap threw in a pair of small drumsticks, as he said the ones supplied with it would be too big, and away we went.

It went to two practices, and one dance out (in Doncaster, last Saturday), and on what was probably its eleventh tune, the hide split. I wasn’t playing it at the time, someone else was, so perhaps it hadn’t been treated with the respect that I had; but anyway, broken it was, and it seemed to me that it should have lasted slightly longer than two weeks’ worth of very light use.

So yesterday Pete and I hopped on a train to Saltaire, via Leeds (at £45 I reckon it was cheaper than paying diesel and parking, and it’s also far nicer to sit on a train then swelter in a car). I took the drum into EMS, and they went “crikey” (yes, really – I didn’t think anyone said things like that, except in a post modern, ironic way), and said that they could replace the skin, but “not today”. And I said that would be fine, take as long as they like, but I want another drum to take away, given that I’d come 70-odd miles with it. So they quite happily gave me another, and apologised a lot, and it was all good.

We then went and had lunch in Don’t Tell Titus (what sort of poncey name is that, FFS? – one, presumably, that might just possibly justify the price of *£4.30* for a bottle of locally brewed beer. And there was artisan bread too). Still the food was nice.

We had about 90 minutes to kill before the train from Leeds, and I really didn’t fancy walking along the main road to Shipley, but we discovered a really nice walk along the canal, part of the Airedale Way, so we ambled down that to Shipley station, and got on a Leeds train. We had about half an hour to kill there, and we foolishly bought – and ate – a large bag of Minstrels. Horrible sweet stuff, don’t know why we did it. And then we got the train back to Hull, and walked home. I clocked up 16.5k steps through the course of the day. Lovely weather too – sunny, but not too hot.

And now I have a new drum; lets see how long this one survives 🙂

Folk night

Rackaback continues to take over my life 🙂 This week, Pippa persuaded some of us to attend the FirstMondayOfTheMonth folk night at the Black Boy, an ancient pub in the old city in Hull. We had a good attendance from the side: Lynn and Lars (the latter seen above with his accordion), Debbie and her husband Eric (not a dancer, but general supporter) who kindly drove us there, Jamie, Pippa and Pete – who while not (yet) a dancer (but don’t think I’m not trying to persuade him), does most of the social stuff, and plays guitar on music nights.

It was huge fun, although I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to play the melodeon like that. Or possibly at all. Still, I vamped along where possible on my D whistle, wishing once again I had a low D. Pete complained bitterly that he didn’t have anything to bang; Pippa lent him an egg (green plastic with bits in for percussiveness), and he had a bash at Debbie’s bodhran, but he’ll need to take something next time – you need to join in to enjoy it properly., It really was a cracking night, and will be part of our diary every month now, I’m sure.

On the way home, two rather inebriated ladies appeared by the car just as we were about to pull off, and one actually opened the back door. It appeared she didn’t know how to roll her own spliff (!), and required assistance. We declined, and drove off into the night.

Weekend just gone was quiet, as we were both not very well. Indeed, Pete had retired hurt during my birthday music night last Thursday, and I picked it up the lurgy the next day. We cooked a lot for the freezer, I potted up some plants and bulbs, made bread, watched Toy Story (how come we never saw it before? – lovely) and generally slumped.

weekend 6/7 november 2010

On Saturday we set off for the wilds of West Yorkshire for my birthday Out; we chose this area for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the fact that Show of Hands had obligingly scheduled a gig at Sheffield Cathedral.

We managed to leave the house by 11, by which time the postman had delivered my Merrell walking shoes bought from eBay, shop samples, at £8 – a bit of a result. One of the side effects of losing weight is that my feet have shrunk, and I like my walking shoes and boots to, you know, *fit*. And these do, which is nice.

We trundled first to Moortown, near Leeds, to visit BMF Fires, who are our nearest stockist of Jetmaster fires. Sadly, they didn’t have any Jetmasters in the showroom, but they did have this.

red! shiny!
Piazzetta E960 woodburning stove

I was instantly in love. Red! Shiny! Italian! Like the Ferrari of the woodburning stove world, and an absolute bargain at £1950. I asked for a quote to fit it, and it would come to about £3.5k all in, as we’d have to dig out some of the fireplace as well. We’re budgeting for a fire, and although this is  a tad (ahem) over what I’d costed, we didn’t care. Decision made.

They were short on brochures and staff as everyone was at a home renovation fair at Harrogate; only 12 miles to Harrogate, so we thought we’d go and have a look, as we’d never been. There was a smell there, a smell of serious money. Harrogate makes Bath look a bit low rent, to be honest. We had a croque monsieur for lunch in Debenmans, then mooched about the town. I managed to resist red! shiny! Fitflops, and even a pair of very nice flat brown leather boots much reduced. We poked about in some expensive shops, including a kitchen showroom.

We stuck our nose in the Aga shop; “Can I help you?” quoth the bloke. “No thanks”, said I – “I love them, but I wouldn’t have one, because they’re not very environmentally friendly”. So he asked what car I drove! Then I said I don’t have the room anyway, and he told me to move house. Not, perhaps, the ideal sales patter, really. They do lovely kitchenware in there, and I was very tempted by a springform loaf/terrine tin, but I felt £35 was a bit over the top, so resisted that too.

When we got to the exhibition, they wanted £8 each to go in, so we left it, and trundled over to Ikea at Batley. We examined sofas, and decided finally on the kitchen cabinetry range we want, and on the hobs. Still undecided on oven/dishwasher, and will be getting bamboo worktops. Then we had meatballs (oh, how I miss Ikea meatballs), purchased tea lights, a new trivet, a small baby plush rat (don’t ask), and set off for Sheffield.

A cracking gig, starting with Steve coming down the aisle with a mandolin, and ended with Steve, Phil and Miranda going back up the aisle. A lot of old favourites, stripped right back – Santiago, Crow on the Cradle, the Train, Dive; a glorious version of Keys of Cantebury, with just Steve and Jackie Oates (the support act). The audience were perhaps a little intimidated by the undeniably awe-inspiring venue, and there was little singing along, despite the band’s invitation to do so. But a wonderful evening, nonetheless.

We got home about 1, and thus had a fairly slumpish day on Sunday. Pete fitted another catflap, which I shall write about on the cats’ blog shortly, and we went to Scunthorpe last night to see Jeremy Hardy, who was most excellent, and just stood on the stage and rambled for about 90 minutes. The chap’s  bit of a leftie, mind 🙂

Lovely weekend, all in all. Now we must batten down the hatches for the rigours of the week ahead.

Oh, and sanity has prevailed, and we have ruled out the red! shiny! woodburner.

Show of Hands

Show of Hands
Originally uploaded by ramtops.

the extremely fine Show of Hands played an intimate set to 120 lucky people to mark the re-opening of the Village Pump at the Lamb Inn, in Trowbridge. perlmonger and I were lucky enough to get tickets 86 and 87 when we were at the Trowbridge Folk Festival this summer, and we were looking forward to the gig more than I can say.

with the very fine Martyn Joseph as support, and the ever excellent, and seemingly permanent third member of SoH, Miranda Sykes, complete with double bass, crammed on to the tiny stage, it was, in my opinion, the very best set we’ve ever seen them play – 90 minutes of their best songs.

the evening was rounded off with a raffle – we’d bought five tickets for a quid each. First prize was two tickets to the Trowbridge Festival in 2007. And we won! We also had another of our tickets drawn for the third prize, but we threw that one back in, for fear we’d be lynched by the crowd 🙂

a big thanks to John Alderslade and his team for getting the Pump reopened, and for laying on such a cracking evening – and we’ll see you all again in July 🙂