I got butted on my butt by the tup this week.   Dave was out training a young sheep dog and she changed direction suddenly, the ram charged her and I happened to be in the way … looking the other way … the first thing I knew was the ram hitting me from behind and I ended up on his back before I was thrown off into the gate!    Apparently it was very funny to watch and I am none the worse – just not easy to sit down!!!   Luckily half of my harps have to be played standing up so no worries there!   Half of my 33 harps have broken a string this week.  Harps like it cold and damp.   I am playing under trees and sun brollies and setting off in the early hours of the morning to avoid being stuck in traffic jams with the harps in the car.   I had to pull off at Bolton Abbey the other week as a huge caravan had managed to get stuck under the medieval arch spanning the narrow road.  The queues were massive so I pulled onto the verge under a tree and got the harp out of the car.   Onlookers were a bit bemused at this lady in long dress sticking her harp into the hedgerow to keep it as cool as possible.   The damage occurs when the temperature drops at night, or when you go into an old Church.  The strings contract quickly when the heat drops, the wooden frame takes slightly longer so the odd string breaks under the pressure.   It usually happens on the ‘waist’ – the shape of a harp is often described as a ‘swan neck’ – imagine the beak of the swan at the top of the forepillar and follow the neck as it dips and rises again.   The ‘waist’ is where it dips and the strings are under the most pressure.   The best harmonic curve which causes this shape is when the strings gain in length and width everso gradually meaning the ‘curve’ is in fact nearer a straight line. 

Edge Hill University students ‘gob-smacked’

I sat down in my long dress, fastened my bells and marraccas onto my ankles, placed the rings with wooden beads on my fingers and started to play a Persian Dance on the 4 sets of strings that make up my special harp and watched for the reaction  …  It was a sophisticated cocktail party at Edge Hill University and most of the guests were in long dresses or Saris.  There were quite a few students in attendance as the main performance that evening was of Indian Classical Dance.   I got my reaction … phew … I still love to see the delight and surprise on people’s faces as they hear me for the first time.  I hear the comments ‘it’s like a whole orchestra in one, I’ve never heard anything like it’ .   

Typical day for me … someone knocked on the door to say our sheep were wrecking someone’s garden in the village (oh no, we thought, this usually means handing out bottles of wine to the owners).   This took over an hour to sort out because even though all our sheep were counted in the field the man was absolutely convinced these sheep had something to do with us and wouldn’t be pacified until Dave’s best sheep dog, Meg, had rounded them all up.  We grabbed one, got the number off its ear tag and published it on the village website and hey-presto, the sheep disappeared from the field sometime in the afternoon.  The reason we did not notice is that whilst eating lunch we looked up and past the window floated two massive shire horses.   Amazing gentle giants – in the garden.   We grabbed some rope and Dave reached up to their necks – until you stand underneath these animals you just don’t realise how massive they are – I was just a little scared.    Just as he reached up a very ‘out of puff’ lady appeared.   She had run for nearly 2 miles chasing these two escapees.

The goat had got himself up on the roof of his little shed and was laid watching two rabbits when I took his bucket of peelings.  My chicks had escaped through the smallest of holes in their pen and had to be rounded up and the hens had laid eggs in the cat’s bed and under the hedge so I had to check everywhere before I could go in and change.    I had exactly ten minutes to get make-up and long dress on and load the car ready to drive for a couple of hours up the M65.

It is with a profound sense of sadness that we heard of the death of a good friend and ‘legend’ today – sad news alas.   Was once driving through Todmorden and spotted Trevor, white linen suit, panama hat, walking cane and Kathy in beautiful summer dress, matching hat and huge basket of flowers.   When asked where they were going … ‘we’ve been to vote’.   Superb.   We shall miss you Trevor, your brilliant outlook on life, sense of humour and everything you stood for at BAREARTS.   Much love to Kathy xxxxxx       

What a fantastic day!   It came out sunny and we watched the procession before the Tour de France race at the end of the road with all the neighbours.   Was amazed at how fast they rattled down the steep hill.   The Gendarmes were quite funny warning everyone not to run out and pick up the ‘freebies’ that were sometimes hurled from the cars.   We watched ‘the race’ from the front porch across the fields drowned by the sound of the helicopter hovering overhead.  The stars were out as I locked up last night and the valley was filled with the sound of music, voices and laughing; tonight it is back to normal – the owls, sheep and cows and my cat Stix, meowing at my feet before he sets off on a night hunting …

Two of my pupils won their music prize at school playing a tune we had arranged together for 2 harps – fantastic 🙂 🙂 🙂 x (now they are having trouble working out a system of having the shield at each of their houses for 3 days each – and working around the summer holidays etc … !)

The Invasion of Yorkshire

Here in Yorkshire we are been invaded by Helicopters, Americans , and reporters as we gear up towards the weekend both routes out of our farm are cut off because the roads have been sealed for the Grande Departe – The Tour de France. All that is good about Yorkshire is been televised —Benjamin Till – The BBC should be using the music from a Symphony for Yorkshire since the music covers all parts of Yorkshire where the The tour de france is this weekend . We will of course be telling people about this wonderful piece of work. I was fortunate enough to be part of over 200 Musicians all from Yorkshire who took part in the Symphony for Yorkshire about 4 or 5 years ago now . here is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jx4TSXJT1CE