In the middle of Mascagny’s Intermezzo

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 …

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Major and Minor

were cart horses when I was a child in our village.  I’m not that old but when all the other farms had tractors the Tinkler sisters kept theirs just as it had always been.   They must have been in their eighties with buns, longish dresses and they wore pinnies most of the time.  It was one of the biggest farms in the district and I loved watching those horses work.  Their farm hand was called Tommy and he kept frogs in the bath of his farm cottage, bought 7 lots of fish and chips every week for his suppers and only washed his feet after hay timing to get rid of all the seeds which irritated him.  He always chatted to us kids when a big group of us walked back and forth to school.  There was an old lady who lived opposite him who was very old and stooped, she actually still wore a long dress and black shawl and picked dandelions every single day to eat.  She never spoke to us but half smiled, it was very difficult for her to move her head as it was permanently facing down.  They are cutting the grass here in this valley tonight as I write – two and three massive tractors side by side – so different – the Tinkler  sisters would be upset I suspect.  I played the harp at Ribchester last night and have only just realised I never even advertised it!   It sold out almost immediately.  I prepared the harp ‘Chorus’ polishing her till she shone and then she broke a string so last minute I loaded ‘Mystical’ into the car and did a quick dust with the inside of my dress before I started to play.

A poem from my Husband

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.

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.

The Field of Spoons

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.”

A rainy Saturday

I looked out of the window on Saturday morning and the rain was coming down in great sheets across the valley , the sky was ashen grey and the whole house felt a lot colder.

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

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.

http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/lifestyle/news_real/11253138.Fiona_Katie_Roberts_is_plucking_at_the_heartstrings/
I have put a link to Fiona Katies last interview with out local journalist
below
http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co….atie_Roberts_is_plucking_at_the_heartstrings/

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

Donkeys and sleighs

Was too busy doing Winter Weddings these past two weeks but the weddings were particularly amazing – every year winter weddings seem to take on a new high.   The ‘tech’ teams for the lighting are now arriving in huge artics!   The old country house hotels I work in are transformed into wonderlands – either with huge ‘Victorian’ mechanical Christmas toys or ceilings lit up with thousands of tiny lights so that when you look up you think there is no roof and you are literally looking up into Heaven itself.  The weather was either wet and grey – in which case it was lovely to be transformed – or it was deep in snow ‘deep and crisp and even’!   Back at the farm Dodge the donkey was unimpressed however.  He loves to work and we are looking for a small cart for him.  Growing up we had a donkey called Flossy and Dad commissioned a proper sleigh to be made one Christmas.   Wooden reindeer antlers were strapped onto Flossy’s bridal and there were secret wheels set under the skids out of sight.   She pulled this sleigh around the houses where we lived and Father Christmas sat in the sleigh and gave out presents.   Occasionally disaster would happen as Flossy loved sherry and mince pies.   She was quite a large donkey and if she tried to set off up the garden path she completely forgot about her precious cargo and it was left stuck in the gate hole as she grabbed her booty.

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 … 🙂