I had to drive the exact route back to Boarding School as a child at the weekend. It brought back the same collywobbles in my stomach. This time I was actually playing the harp at a wedding but it still brought back the same old feeling of dread as I climbed up Sutton Bank Once as children the journey and dread was unexpectedly broken as we rounded a bend near Helmsley and nearly crashed into a bright pink, Chauffeur driven Rolls Royce with the Rolled Gold ‘logo’ painted across the entire bonnet. My sister and I stopped blubbering for a moment to look at eachother and then scanned the back seat quickly before it trundled past. We were completely convinced it was Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall and then couldn’t wait to get back to School to tell the other girls. This time the venue was a bit short of School but they kept hens and they wandered in and out and sat waiting to be stroked by the guests. I have one hen who waits for me every night on the path to the hen house to be picked up and carried and cuddled and placed on her perch. The chicks I hatched at Easter are nearly grown and all look the same – that is its difficult to tell if there are any cockrells. I need some ‘new blood’ so desperately want one. I am optimistic. One of the chicks was constantly escaping and now this same chick is exploring, so much so he forgets the way back to the hen house. I was dismayed the other morning to find him missing but as I went down to the wood with the bucket of feed, he appeared from behind the barn with one of the old hens. That’s my boy!
Well, who’d have thought the taps worked liked that? The hotel was absolutely beautiful – all brand new – must have cost a fortune! I have been to places where the Bride and Groom wanted to have unique photographs so have swopped carpets, curtains and pictures round, sometimes with disastrous results. I have been ‘roped’ in, with minutes to spare, to match the ‘slightly stained mark on the wall’ where a picture once hung, to the exact picture so that the stain was covered up again! Easy done I hear you say – but not in an entire country house hotel with hundreds of pictures! This time the décor was untouched and I was impressed with the bathroom and its miniature ‘beer pump’ knobs stuck up where the taps should be. My first thought was to try and pull one down. As it was stuck fast I looked along the line of basins and realised that most of these little white plastic ‘beer pumps’ had been crudely glued back on again. Oh well, I thought I’ll now try the obvious. They twisted on and off using two fingers and very little effort. Gliding down the Aisle to the theme tune of Black Adder was inspired though – and definitely unique.
I have never been made so welcome, thank you. I have played all over the place, up and down the country and people often ask me ‘where’s good?’. There’s always a pause whilst I think and then I say – well it smelt good! Mr Ali made sure I went home with a huge bag of different dishes to try. They even cooked a special meal for Dave who has such a complicated diet and hasn’t been able to have a standard curry for about 2 years! This time if you ask me ‘where’s good?’ – I can truly answer! AZEEMS in Keighley. I was delighted to have at last fathomed my new phone and answered correctly instead of cutting the poor caller off – and further delighted to discover the caller was ringing to ask me to provide the music for Bradford Literature Festival’s opening night. I received quite a few invites to London last year by surprised guests. They were fascinated by multi-cultural harp music and the full sound I could achieve from the one instrument – all the work making my unique harps and the amazing music from The Books of Caris and Anon is paying off at last!
Everything has been ‘all go’ on the farm for the last few weeks. Dodge the Donkey has been having indoor 5 star service and is now thoroughly spoilt. We let him out yesterday in the morning sunshine and he galloped down the hill out of sight. By teatime the stormy weather had returned and he was waiting by the gate to be let in again! He has, not one, but two, sheds that he can shelter in, but does he? No, he prefers the indoor luxury of a stable and straw. He shares this with the sheepdogs and it is very cosy. The hens had a lucky escape. They live in a little hut in the middle of the wood and a smallish branch came down onto their roof. There was no damage and they laid me some eggs so cannot complain. The duck pond has doubled in size so they are all very happy. On the harp front I am enjoying ancient Christmas carols and gigs dressed as the Snow Queen.
It sounds so romantic doesn’t it and nestles in the bottom of our valley in front of the farm with a babbling brook running through it. As we walked down the other day 2 roe deer and their buck ran from the wood and stood in front of us, almost challenging us to continue into ‘their’ home. They eventually ran off leaping the 7′ wall out of the stream bed up onto the road with ease but stayed within earshot watching us as we did some metal detecting. We have found a ‘hoard’ of … spoons … a few forks and the odd knife or two! Every square yard has produced a spoon over the last few months. We have puzzled for hours as to the explanation and searched old archives and newspapers for evidence of boy scout camps or army cadet camps but to no avail. We even wondered if the local chapel had held an open air religious event – hugely popular in Victorian times around here attracting thousands of people, or had they scattered their spoons like ‘litter louts’ after the annual Whit Sunday swim in the old mill dam followed by jelly and ice cream? The answer is very practical however and we found out quite by chance during a conversation with the local butcher. ”No, he laughed, they had pigs in that field and used to feed them swill from the schools.”