Dodge the Donkey is no game

He’s done it again.  The weeks go by with routine harp lessons, feeding the hens, cat and dogs – everything follows the same pattern with the same sounds.   Then you wake up to an unusual sound.   This was like what you would imagine a scarp/breakers yard to sound like.   Ear splitting sounds of metal banging metal, wood splitting, dogs barking … and a donkey braying.   A few seconds of panic and then you realise – its got to be Dodge.   Scramble into clothes, get the ‘bribe’ bucket ready (peelings mixed in with pony nuts), shove your feet into wellies, unlock the doors and follow the noise.  We had locked Dodge up in his winter stable as the rain was unrelenting the other night.  He had smashed the door past the locks and then smashed the outer door open.   Then he had decided to go back in and upset all the metal feed bins and ransack the last of the hay, neatly piled.   Arghhhhh!  He saw me coming and quickly slid the bar on the old metal garden gate with his nose to let himself onto the drive.  I shook the bribe bucket enticingly which stopped him in his tracks then I had 2 seconds to get a head start, sprint across the farm yard and open the field gate before he galloped through the garden towards me.   I dumped the bucket in the field entrance and dived into the hedge just as Dodge did his emergency stop to get his pony nuts (all four legs outstretched in front skidding on the mud).  Chorus the harp gets an outing this week for an international corporate event – the sound of that harp is improving with every week so I am looking forward to it immensely.

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

paddling in the puddles

”Rain, rain go away, come again another day” …  The puddles around here are very deceiving – every now and then we get sink holes and you step in and your foot is sucked down – usually to just above the top of your wellies so that the cold muddy water rushes down your leg.    Hmmmm!    The garden around the house is drenched or under water and we scrape the ditches and drains clean with a special hoe to keep the water running down hill!   At boarding school the back door out onto the fruit gardens was constantly flooding.   The water used to creep down the corridor and we used to ‘dare’ to test its deepness.   It was usually Sister Janet Elizabeth’s job to sort it (JE for short) and she hitched her habit and red petticoat up into her knotted waist rope.  Nuns started off with a plain black rope and ‘achieved’ up to 3 status knots.   One was for chastity but I cannot remember what the other two were for.  I did wonder though why they didn’t automatically get them all at the start.   Anyway the nun’s habit is totally impractical for flood defence work and the poor woman got thoroughly soaked.   We liked JE and had a lot of respect for her so used to crowd into the corridor and cheer her on.   In the summer we used to volunteer to pick the raspberries and strawberries – we had to whistle constantly and an old nun was ordered to sit in an equally old deck chair and listen.   I was never any good at whistling but some girls claimed they managed to eat loads.   A Christmas wedding today – all the old favourites – ‘I’m dreaming of a White Christmas’ – during the signing of the Register – and in my favourite hotel … 🙂


A pupil tripped up in my rather cramped music room (it has 31 harps, a grand piano, 2 organs, 1 cello, 2 violins, 1 guitar, 2 banjos, 3 lyres, 2 dulcimers, 3 mandolins, various percussion and stringed instruments from around the world, and the frames and wood needed for another 2 harps – yet to be built).  In her attempt not to fall on a harp she did some fancy footwork but to no avail and she landed on the bottom of the soundboard.  Luckily she was unhurt and this blog is for you to let you know the harp is now repaired – just like I tried to tell you!!!   Repairs are not a problem and this harp is as good as new – in fact better as I have incorporated a better base!  I loved playing in the Doctor’s surgery this week.  A first for me although I frequent hospitals, nursing homes and hospices.  A lot of surprised patients but they loved it (thank you).

steampunk and puppets

I am nearly ready with black button boots, long wool coat trimmed with velvet and matching hat …   As a hobby I make the clothes for ventriloquist puppets.   In today’s outing the Sultan of Khaidalu, Mr Jinx and a vicar will accompany me to the Steampunk Festival in Haworth.  They are all suitably dressed.   The Sultan of Khaidalu has swopped his massive turban for a stovepipe hat, decorated with Victorian ribbon and 2 feathers – one bright red, donated by my parrot, Lils, and the other, copper black from one of my hens.  I always loved dressing up and have wardrobes full of harp costumes – Elizabethan, Georgian, medieval etc and when I am out playing my harp people come up to me and ask if I would like a box of ribbons or buttons which they were just about to throw out.  I treasure each button and keep them in old tins on the kitchen shelf.  My kitchen is very different as it is the hub of all my creativity.   Harps get made on the table, there is usually a sewing project on the go and in and amongst the cooking gets done!

The roar of the waterfall

Tonight as I locked up I could hear the roar of the waterfall going down the Goit just across the field.  Dennis, the goat is living in the wood there at the moment eating the remains of the wild Iris and blackberries.  He has a little wooden house that I drag around for him.  The Goit is a deep mysterious place.  The village kids dare eachother to try and walk up it.   It is possible but you battle brambles and such slippy shale that you invariably slip straight back into the stream if you try.  I have lost my footing and slipped the full 15 foot or so down the steep side straight into the stream.  It is normally quite shallow and rocky.  Old builder’s bags and feed bags, buckets and bottles find their way in there and I clear them out, but after a heavy rainfall it changes into a torrent of brown water taking any loose rocks or debris.   The waterfall drops about 10 foot  and from the other side is a vantage point at the side of the track.  So many people have stopped a while to lean on the wall and look that the wall has worn smooth.  Well tonight I am finishing another paper mache head.  It will be made into a puppet eventually but there is hours of work ahead.  The harps Chorus and Copernicus have started to ‘sing’.  At the moment they sound beautiful but only a glimpse of their full potential.  I reckon by next Summer they will sound so rich.