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!
Phew! The weather has cooled down – the hotter and more stormy it gets the more strings break! The quick way to get a string on in the middle of a concert is to get a ‘used’ one and thread it through the 1 mm diameter hole from the back. Not that difficult I hear you say, but the humidity was so bad the wood had expanded and the string holes had nearly closed up and to get better sound there is a wooden panel on the back of the harp with sound holes, just big enough to get your hand in to carry it, so you have to thread it through one of these holes as well! The ‘torch’ on the mobile phone is held with the other hand directed at the spot. I actually had a lunchtime recital in one town followed by an evening one so had the chance to have a long walk. I ended up in the graveyard where is was lovely and cool and was drawn over to a huge monument nearly covered by saplings and ivy. The first thing that hit me was the date – 8th August 1833 – the same day but 182 years ago. I pulled some leaves back and read the incredibly sad story that four l9 year old lads from this town had taken a ‘pleasure boat’ out on Lake Windermere and it had overturned and all four had drowned. The townsfolk had erected the monument because, I read, they were ‘sympathizing with the poor family and friends’ of these boys. The monument stands in Newsome Church in Huddersfield. On a happier note … I have nearly, but, not quite, finished my dress for my son, Luke and Susans’ Wedding this Saturday. The harp has already set off on its journey to Ireland. Can’t wait … 🙂 x
the bridesmaid ran over and plonked her head-dress on my head and then ran off again. Ten minutes later she was back and danced to the Irish Jig I was playing and snatched the head-dress from my head and gave it to the Groom. I have nearly finished my dress for my son’s wedding in August. It started months ago when I spotted some pink/gold dupion silk on Keighley Market. We rummaged deep and found some matching organza. I had twenty quid in my pocket and spent the lot on some of each. Week’s later whilst sat in a hospital waiting room I spotted a biro on the window ledge, grabbed a leaflet advertising ‘PALS’ from a display stand nearby and started sketching and designing the dress. When I came home I had to check how much material I actually had to work with but with a few adjustments I started to cut it out. My son and his fiancé had printed RSVP cards with suggestions to tick along the lines of:- ”YES, I AM COMING WITH BELLS ON”, ”YES, I AM COMING BUT NOT SURE ABOUT THE BELLS”, ”YES, I AM COMING BUT HATE BELLS” etc. My son has since told me that no-one quite understood any of that. Luckily I have been asked to play the harp in Church, in Ireland so of course they are going to get BELLS – and needless to say none of the guests will be left in any doubt – I have also made myself new matching sets of bells, one for each ankle …
To my Wife
Your smile is radiant your heart is as warm as the sun
You fill me with joy and make me feel number 1
Your energy , your tenderness , your ingenious and your warm caress.
Your youthfulness, playfulness , to me you are simply the best.
The talent you possess the way you work things out with your cleverness .
To me you are my everything whatever life may bring
Scarlets ribbons emblazoned against a bright blue sky.
I think back to the time that we first met
And I smile as we shook hands how could I forget?
You took me home and loved me and you fed me too
You put me back together without using glue.
You filled my heart with love so earnest
And that spark of love became a raging furnace.
Before I met you I was broken unfixable and so I thought
But with your patience , a great love you taught
A love so special that I am so grateful for
I love each day more and more
I do not feel worthy of the love you give
You are so special and it is for you that I live.
We have been married 8 years now
Gosh the time has passed “Holy Cow”
As I take your hand in mine again today
I will think back to our wedding day
Where a garland of flowers filled you hair
And it was our special day and we did not have a care
I love you my mad harpist , joiner , farmer , friend
My love for you I could not pretend .
I love you freely , and you make me the happiest man ever
To me you are my everything whatever life might bring
Scarlet ribbons emblazoned on a bright blue sky.
Whilst visiting the Photography Museum in Bradford we all noticed that my face and hands appeared black on the heat imaging camera screen! My circulation is terrible but I hadn’t realised just how bad it was until then – the place was lovely and warm! The more I play the colder my hands get – it’s always been the case and I can still play whilst outside in the winter! (I have hand warmers hidden in my pockets though) Came home for a hot cup of tea which reminded me that my Dad visited Chicago in the 70s and came across his very first teabag. He had just landed and being a typical English Gent searched for a cup of tea. He was sat in the café with his pot of tea looking very puzzled at this little bag. He always carried a pen knife so he got it out to cut the bag open and make his cup of tea. He was quickly joined by the Sheriff and nearly got arrested. Instead they became very good friends for the rest of his life but it seems so long ago now when we didn’t have teabags!
Really enjoyed the reception and venue last night – thank you Black Dyke Mills. They weren’t joking – it was cold, but there were settees and comfy chairs where people were snuggled up under blankets with hot water bottles. Lots of wine bottles and picnics at the chairs and tables. Luckily they had a pa system as the space was vast and my expensive microphone decided to break alas … I have another one but it needs a mic stand which at the moment is being used as a ‘gibbet’ to dry a batch of hands for some more puppets we are making! One of our parrots, Bennie, is still very sweetly saying ‘hello’ to the rabbits who now live opposite her! She is absolutely fascinated and spends here time watching them from her low perch. In the summer last year when we moved the parrots outside in the sunshine they were all quite happily chatting away to the hens who came to peck at any seeds thrown from the cages.
Dave was unwell and had picked up a bit of a bug. Normally this would not have held him back but his immunity is not as good as it should be and he laid on the sofa for most of the morning in front of the fire . After a light lunch , Dave and I decided that we would head off to Hebden Bridge which is a small mill town located just over the moors from ourselves. I purchased some hooks to hang clothing from over the wood burner and we went for a cup of tea in the famous “waterwheel” cafe
Dave just had a cup of tea and I joined him but had a small bun
Dave was fascinated as just outside is a river and the cafe owner has made the most of it as the cafe has a archimedes screw which is computer controlled.
Dave also noticed the picture on the wall of a skeleton playing the harp and just had to get a photo of it as he found it highly amusing
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
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 .
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 .