When I arrived all the staff were in panic – the chairs, covers and purple bows were all set up outside in the grounds of the ruined Abbey. Of course it rained! It was all hands on deck setting up the chairs inside and draping the covers and bows over bannisters to dry. I took one look, ‘parked’ the harp up in an alcove, and set off to find the bar. It was deserted, all but an ‘honesty’ book. Having far too many strings and a strict music list I walked in and filled a pint-glass with water. The bride was late (very late as it happens as her driver inadvertently drove into well known roadworks costing her half an hour). Finally the room was ready, the bride arrived, calm and beautiful, and the sun shone brilliantly outside. The ever popular, Dodge, hasn’t starred in this blog for a while but he gets a mention tonight. He has pushed the fence over letting Donald and Daphne out again. It took an hour and two packets of cakes to get the escapee ducks back into their pen last week. The theory was to pen them up for the first few weeks to get them used to their new home and then try and let them out in the daytime. They have now left their wooden duck house and decided to live under the tractor.
The scene was set – high up in the Dales, miles from anywhere, in a small orchard, the couple holding hands under an arch of roses – I was playing the theme from ‘Out of Africa’ and a bird flew past … the harp was covered from top to bottom! I carried on playing but the guests were amused. They decided to leave it be for good luck. The drive up was amazing. The slopes of the fells were blue with bluebells, the leaves weren’t out it was so high up and the bog cotton made the marshy valley bottoms white. I passed an old caravan on the way to Appleby. It was pulled by a matched pair of black feathered feet horses, an old lady bent over the traces being cheered on by her grandchildren at the side of the road. Her face was old but the sparkling blue eyes that looked out were one and twenty. Dodge hasn’t starred in the Blog this week as he is in his favourite field and behaving quite well. He is fascinated with the new ducks, Donald and Daphne. He spends hours with his head over their fence drinking from their pond instead of drinking from the trough at his side of the fence.
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!
I stuck homemade eyes and a large conical nose onto my fluffy, sausage duster, stuck the whole lot onto a massive cushion and tied two smaller cushions on the sides. I then rigged it on top of the step ladders and stood it on the balcony overlooking the wood and paddock. Amplifier and microphone set to the weirdest echo settings and I started my Easter Egg hunt with a conversation between my 10 year old stepson and ‘The Simomurf Bird’. He respectfully answered all the Bird’s questions and promised he would find all her stolen eggs. I love treasure hunts and successfully dodged two rams and 20 hens to lay all the clues and hide the eggs. The weather here today was beautiful with not a drop of wind so I could balance the eggs in trees and on top of walls. The hens were completely confused with the pink and golden eggs and I resisted the temptation to hide them in the hen house. I placed an egg on the tractor seat – Stix, the cats, favourite sleeping place and he guarded it from a safe distance. One of the hens started laying eggs on this seat and I didn’t notice for a while because Stix was laying on top of them! I am playing the harp in the Doctor’s surgery again this week and I have two new pupils which is wonderful.
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.
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 .
Apologies for not updating my blog sooner but I have had a extremely busy few days.
On Friday I performed at a wedding at a local venue . I was extremely pleased to be asked to play at this wedding I had met the Bride and the Groom beforehand at my home which is something I sometimes do in order to get a much better idea of what the couple want at their wedding.
I wish the couple all the very best and a long and fruitful life together.
It took me a lot longer than normal to get home as a incident in Keighley had occurred where someone had been injured .
Dave my husband has been in a bad state of health recently following a close call with a pulmonary embolism and so it was with some relief that I found him feeling a lot better than he had been over the recent weeks
Dave continues to re-design and build my new website as well as starting research for his new book.
We had a flash flood late last night at the farm so in the pitch black we had to erect ladders to clean out blocked gutters around the farm
The strength of the water brought down some dry stone wall so Dave my husband is hoping for some drier weather tomorrow so that he can get on with rebuilding that
Tomorrow I am teaching so I have been busy tuning the new harps, sorting out the parrots and I am still in the process of wiping a layer of dust off everything after all the building work which took place in the house during the last couple of months.