A trip to the Doctors with a harp in tow

The title of the blog today might be a little bit misleading as I was not at the doctors because of been ill.I was at a clinic / practice as part of a community programme where different musicians play at a GP Practice each week .

The practice forms part of a much bigger community programme which involves a cafe where patients can get a drink and a bite to eat . New mums can meet each other thus cementing the community together.

it has been a very busy week for me and tomorrow I am demonstrating the harp in a local school . I will be taking along a few harps and some mini instruments to get the pupils involved in the project.meanwhile back at our farm Dave is busy making heads , arms and bodies for the ventriloquist dolls he makes which are based on characters from his books. The Book of Caris and The Book of Anon .  He continues to write and is currently working on his third book and is researching more and more historical legends.

Breakfast and Harps

Many of you might know that sometimes when I come down for breakfast I am quite often met with a harp been laid right across the kitchen table having new strings or been patched up.
This is what happens when you are married to a harp mad woman who has played with Led Zeppelin , Guns and Roses and is friends with Fleetwood Mac.
Fiona Katie spend hours and hours making her harps look old and one year she did too much of a good job as it just so happened where she was playing the antiques road show was on.
Spotting Fiona katie with the harp one of the professionals dashed over and before he could even open his mouth a crowd had gathered around .
“Ha Ha” “Thats a Beauty” then he said this is a rare 17th Century italian triple harp he declared in excellent condition look at the patina where it has aged he declared. “Can you play it he asked “? Yes replied Fiona Katie
Then he looked again
“Tell me where did you get it he enquired “? in front of a crowd of about 40 people which had now gathered

“I made it n the kitchen table two weeks ago” she said grinning and the triple down the middle is a chocolate box ribbon to cover up my bad joinery. The crowd laughed and he took a big swig of his wine and walked off very quickly indeed. We never did see that bit aired n the television program but Fiona Katie did get a call from Mick Fleetwood couple of weeks later to see how she ws and to wish her a happy christmas.

I have put a link to Fiona Katies last interview with out local journalist

Harps , Weddings

I have a very busy week next week as I will be working in a school demonstrating the harps to the younger generation on Thursday and on Friday I will be returning to play in a doctors surgery.

My website is also in the process of going through a rather radical overhaul and I will be having quite a bit of input into that.

My stepson came and spent the day with us today and we spent part of the day getting him some trousers/jeans which he can wear when he is up at the farm. One thing we dont want to happen is for him to arrive in lovely clean clothes and be sending him home covered in mud. He will often play with the dogs which love a good game of fetch the stick and with the weather being like it has been lately the farm is quite muddy.

After dinner this evening Dave my husband wanted me to try out a new tune he had composed so I played the tune of three of my different harps and he said that one of the harps sounded very much like he had imagined the music , so we have settled on the fact that my new recordings on the Tascam will be done with me playing the larger harp.

I am fortunate that I have several harps ranging from very large, to large to medium to very small. The smaller harps are ideal if I am playing in a enclosed area or I am going up a winding staircase in a castle. Recently I purchased a small PA system which has proved to be very useful especially at weddings where their can be quite a bit of background noise.

I have a very special wedding to play at later this year as my eldest son will be getting married in Ireland and has asked if I would play at his wedding and I am looking forward very much to that . Flights have already been booked as well as my hotel for the stay.

Harp , Pennies and a Horse and Carriage

After a long spell of bad weather  I decided that Dave and I would do a spot of metal detecting.
Metal detecting and local history is Dave’s hobby and it was good to see him enjoying himself for a coupe of hours and I joined him to keep him company and to help him out where I could .

We put the Detector on one of the preset modes and away we went .The first few digs were iron and then we found a really good target and so had a go at digging that.We detected a modern 1p coin and it was a good 5 inches deep.But I was really pleased to have actually found a coin albeit a modern one.

I expect that many targets on the land will be quite deep as the land is called “Marsh” and not without good reason and it is quite easy for even the tractor to get stuck at this time of year.
Local legend tells of a horse and carriage which left the road in pre victorian times and became stuck in the marsh. The owner of the horse and carriage was unable to get either free so shot the horse and allowed the whole lot to sink, how true this is I dont know but I have seen a few cars go off the road over the years and it took a whole day to get one out and the damage to the car would have made it a “write off”.

We are going to carry on detecting over the next few days .
The area we live in was heavily influenced by the textile industry boom and there is a wealth of history in the local area.
This afternoon I decided to try my luck down one of the footpaths which runs through our land . We own the footpath and the land but have to allow “right of access” through our farm. I got a really good signal and found Dave’s walling hammer which he lost about 3 years ago .

On Sunday I am playing the harp at a private concert in Ribble Valley. I love the area and the scenery. I am hoping the weather is nice so that I can play outside .

Besides Harps

We live on a small farm in Haworth West Yorkshire

Fiona Katie my wife designs, plays , and builds harps.

Many people think that farming is a easy job and that a idyllic life but the truth of the matter is that is is incredibly hard work and life and death can occur quite quickly.I remember when I started in farming a few years ago and was told the first thing to remember is that wherever their is livestock there is also deadstock .

Today I was reminded of those words I had heard when I found out I had lost one of my closest companions Dennis,. even though I am hardened to death and I do not fear it in many ways this has nevertheless upset me.

Dennis was not a person he was in fact our pet goat (named after a person called Dennis who is the Illustrator for “The Book of Caris )but nevertheless I loved him like many love a pet dog or pet cat and he always seemed to have a lovely smile on his face.

Fiona Katie my wife was very wary of Dennis especially when he would stand on his hind legs and said that he smelt (which he did) and I have to admit he was incredibly strong.

Dennis would often at one time  torment the neighbours .
Dennis would walk out of the farm gate along the track down into the manor house at the end of the track and would feast on the rose gardens. He would then walk back to the farm and sit at the side of his wooden shed and pretend he had never left the farm.

His actions infuriated my neighbours and cost me many bottles of wine as recompense for his actions.

Seeing the chap next door red faced with anger moaning that Dennis had eaten his prize rose bush called Oscar nearly caused me to choke as I tried to stifle my laughter inside (Yes naughty I know but you had to be there to appreciate the situation)

Fiona Katie found Dennis on his bed this morning and thought he was just asleep.
Sadly he had passed away in his sleep .

Dennis you will be very sadly missed by me for sure . But maybe not by our neighbour .
Sleep well my friend .


A Valentine’s Tale

When my Aunty Daphne got engaged.  Uncle Donald asked his chauffeur to drive them to Bradford.  They drove up the narrow winding street right in the centre where the jewellers was.   Outside the shop the shop assistant was waiting with a tray of diamond rings.  As the car pulled up outside the shop Uncle Donald asked Daphne for her hand in marriage and the tray of rings was passed into the car.   The chauffeur was asked to drive around the block whilst Daphne chose her ring and the shop assistant was waiting for the tray (minus one of the rings) as they pulled up for the second time.  This was sometime in the 50s and the jewellers is still there.  Aunty Daphne was a legend – her hats were very large and very visible in Bingley when she used to shop there.  The chauffeur followed with all her Pekanese dogs on their leads.  I used to visit her when the children were little and she sat them all on her white leather settee on top of the white shag pile carpet and gave them chocolate biscuits and hot Ribena.  I sat there hardly breathing wondering how I would ever remove any stains but they never spilt a drop!  Happy Valentine’s Day everyone – I shall be playing ‘O Come to Me My Darling’ – written for me by my husband for the harp.  Absolutely beautiful – thank you and love you Dave x

I wore ski pants and wellies under my long dress to keep warm.  Medieval Castles in mid-winter – not the most romantic of places in reality alas and then the bride was an hour late!   The huge fireplace was full of dried red and white flowers which looked fantastic but obviously we were all cursing the modern ‘health and safety’ rules that did not permit a roaring log fire (there was an industrial ‘blower’ heater blasting hot air in through the doorway).   Outside the guests were invited to try archery and sample hot spiced wine.   We were all in costume so actually for me it was a lot easier to keep warm.   I had old fashioned charcoal handwarmers strapped to each wrist hidden by the long sleeves that trailed to the stone floor and loads of layers under that.  I played faster and faster to keep warm and kept the atmosphere and the beat with my bells and drumming.  I loved it!   On the motorway I had  spotted the driveway to this Wedding.   They had wrapped lights around the trees so that they looked like Grecian pillars.   In the darkness all you could see was a long matching column of pillars leading you down the valley.   Amazing.  We are still ice-bound on this hillside.  I amuse myself each day by counting the abandoned cars on the road across the valley and wonder when the snow will thaw.