Posts filed under ‘great people’

musical stories inspired by life in Gloucester

Imagine it’s 2010 and you’re reading this in the week that I actually wrote it ….

‘Sorry I haven’t a clue’ on BBC Radio 4 was broadcast from Cheltenham a couple of weeks ago and Jack Dee set the scene by saying ‘Cheltenham is often referred to as the gateway to the Cotswolds‘.  Proud ‘mmms’ rippled through the audience and then laughter when he added ‘and if that’s the case then Gloucester is the ASDA of the Malverns’.  Having lived in Cheltenham for the first half of my life and Gloucester for most of the second half I can happily say I’d choose ASDA City over Cotswolds Town! Gloucester has a lot of heart and is a down to earth patchwork of people and cultures and with a rich history.  

We’ve lived in Gloucester for over 12 years and made some good friends here.  The naming of ‘best friends‘ that seemed so important as a child ceased being necessary when I married my best friend in 1998.  Our dearest friends come hand in hand with lovely others now so how could I possibly single out any one person, other than G.  Well I couldn’t but I completely understand the affection with which some people are able to name that one special ”best friend” in their life.  G is one of them when it comes to our friend Dan.  And what makes Dan worthy of this title?  Well, I won’t embarrass him by sharing all his wonderful qualities and endearing quirks here but the strength of Dan and George’s connection is tied to their shared passion and talent for music.  They’ve created some of the most moving tracks I’ve had the good fortune to smile, sway and cry to and I’m sure the quality of their music making is rooted in the depth of their friendship and their openness to love and let go in equal measure.  Music reviewer Stephen Morris said ‘their music is as sumptuous and gorgeous as it is poignant and imaginative”.

Nocturnal City Journal album cover copy

(click on the album cover to listen to Nocturnal City Journal)

The music Stephen was referring to was ”Nocturnal City Journal’‘ , an album of 10 tracks telling the stories of imaginary residents of the old worn out historic English city of Gloucester.  Big Blue Sun made a limited run of CDs and once these sold chose to make their music as widely available as possible on-line.  So you can listen and download any of their 4 album recordings from Soundcloud or Bandcamp.   

One of my favourite Dan/George collaborations is ‘Wisdom is Blue’ which contains the thought provoking lyrics

”How come making war can be called keeping peace? 
How come lovers are the ones we mistreat? 
How come everything is equal till you’re sitting in my seat? 
Wisdom’s a colour and the colour is blue.” 

Thanks for bearing with me if you’re still reading thus far. It probably seems a bit random to have tweaked this post rather than hitting delete on 7 year old copy. But it serves to remind me how G’s need to craft beautiful, meaningful music runs through him like the writing through a stick of rock.  Although Dan no longer lives in Gloucester G continues to be inspired by the City we live in and has been awarded funding by the Arts Council to develop his creative practice making music inspired by and performed in 8 iconic spaces around the City.

G recorded his first piece of new music last week in St Mary de Crypt Church with a choir and string section.  It’s going to be an amazing musical journey you can follow each month via his Musical George Moorey Instagram page.

G is such a natural networker and collaborator and his SPACES project is bringing together not just musicians but writers, poets, photographers and film makers.  Each performance is being filmed and will culminate in an interactive trail next year as part of Gloucestershire’s History Festival.

Image credits:  Dan and George with guitars on the beach in Brighton in 2007 – shot by Tom Oldham.  Photographs on Big Blue Sun album cover and the Spaces project photographs – shot by Shane Young.  Film maker Chris Watkins discussing documenting the St Mary de Crypt recording.

November 17, 2017 at 1:28 pm Leave a comment

a (would have been) 100th birthday

11-5-12 - Euan holding nan's hand* 4BWe would have been celebrating my Nan’s 100th birthday today if she were still with us. She died 4 years ago which seems a lifetime ago in terms of her absence from my childrens lives but is just a blink in terms of the miss from mine.  She was such a beautiful, funny, loving soul and my childhood is filled with memories, both momentous (taking the train to Weymouth to stay in a caravan two days ahead of my parents arrival!) and ordinary (the best maker of dippy eggs and soldiers and banana fritters).  If I close my eyes I can still hear her voice over the crackly intercom at her flat – ”oh it’s you Nic, I’ll buzz you up’‘ in her lovely Forest accent and with so much surprise and delight you’d have thought I hadn’t pre-arranged it at all.

2002 - Nan & Tom at Christmas  I wrote a little bit of Nan’s life story in a post to mark her 96th birthday, the first birthday we had without her.  She was born a triplet and one of 14 children so I’m sure life was challenging at times.  Yet she always responded to any suggestion of that with  ”we were lucky, there’s always someone worse off than you.  It was hard sometimes but we had a lot of fun too.  Mother always had a smile and joke so we did too”.  And then she’d cry laughing as she recalled stories of sleeping in the bath or 6 to a bed or scrumping apples in her knickers.

N&G 16-4-76 + nan & grandadEuan was 15 months old when Nan died and when we visit Gloucester Cathedral he always asks to light a candle to remember her.  When L is older we shall start to show him photos and videos of a very special person he never had the chance to meet.

Collage - E with Granny copy

September 23, 2017 at 6:23 am 2 comments

seasons of life

I really like looking at photos and exploring the sometimes hidden story they tell.  I’m full of curiosity about other people’s pictures and love how someone’s face can light up as they re-experience the sights and sounds of a single moment or point out some small detail barely noticeable in the background.  ”Goodness look at my hair, what was I thinking”.  ”He kissed me for the first time under that tree”. When I look at baby photos of my beloved boys it taps all my senses including reminders of milk coma smiles and that beautiful indescribable scent of a newborn baby’s head!

The photo above of a peacefully sleeping 5 day old baby Luca brings up all sorts of memories for me about the first week of his life, not least because I wasn’t actually there when it was taken. It’s titled ”Luca with Katherine while I was in hospital” on my laptop and was sent to me by a very special friend.

I didn’t realise the enormity of it all at the time.   I’d had a terrible night with my post-natal body cycling through fevers and chills and was almost relieved when my midwife said she needed to send me back to hospital to be checked out for a probable infection.  I felt wretched but found it a surprisingly easy decision to make. The phrase ”put your own oxygen mask on first’‘ sprang to mind and I understood for the first time what that really meant.  The best way to Mother my boys was to let someone else do it temporarily so I could focus on getting the medical attention I needed.  It was a decision made easier to bear knowing I had someone I totally trusted with the care of my newborn baby.  Luca would not go hungry as I was cup feeding him expressed milk due to his tongue tie.  Most importantly he would be held and loved and sung to by K while G took care of his brother.  Every Mum needs such a friend for the days when two hands and one heart just don’t seem enough!

So this is post is dedicated to all those beautiful people who step in just when we need them most.  The friends who are always pleased to hear from you even when it’s been a while and who never make you feel bad for asking for help so soon after your first ‘‘hello, how are you?”.  Katherine wrote a beautiful article about life on the other side of such friendships and as it was published a year ago today on BritMums.com it seemed a fitting time to share it here.  Katherine wrote:

“To you, with the children, who let me in.

Do you believe in seasons of life? I do.
So many articles these days are written by (and for) people in specific seasons of their lives. Some from Mums to other Mums, lamenting the sleepless nights and vomit in their hair. Others from single women to single women lamenting the loss of friends or irritation of endless baby photos on social media. Some also from women trying, but not able, to become a Mummy. Heartbreakingly honest letters of the raw grief and the painful jealousy that envelopes them when they see another scan photo of social media.

This, however, is a letter from me. Katherine. 32, single, no children. It’s not how I’d hoped I’d spend my 32nd year and certainly not what I’d planned, but I’m learning that it is what it is, my season of waiting.

My season of waiting
When your friends begin to have children it’s an exciting, amazing time. You wonder how you became old enough for this to be a reality, secretly glad that you aren’t the one staying up all night feeding yet still desperate for the first cuddle. When the next friend, the friend after that and the friend after her have a baby you begin to realise that this is your reality now. Your friends are settling down and starting their own families. This is a strange, limbo era for me. One which I trust will, as all seasons do, come to an end. But trusting in that hope, which for me comes from my faith, does not mean that it hurts less.

To the many I’ve drifted away from, it’s ok. I know that you exist in a strange new world now. One that terrifies and delights you in equal measure. Once someone carelessly uttered the phrase, ” you wouldn’t understand, you’re not a Mum.”
Do you know what? You’re right, I have no idea, but I pray every day that one day I will. They didn’t mean it with any malice intended but boy did it hurt. I’m fully aware that something untouchable now separates me from those who’ve started this wonderful and exhausting new journey and for some of those relationships the foundations weren’t there to sustain the difference. Thankfully, you are different.

Who is this ‘you’ I’m referring to? You are the women who let me in. You are the many women of my life who became Mothers before me and didn’t shut me out. You are the ones who shared your scan pictures with me, knowing that I would genuinely get joy from seeing your fuzzy little shadow of a tiny but perfect human. You are the ones who allowed me to rest my hand on your tummy knowing how excited I would be by a single kick. You are the ones who allowed me to visit the hospital in those first few precious days and spend time holding your pride and joy, breathing in the unbeatable smell of milky baby. In the early days I try not to interfere, afraid to intrude on this intense and wonderful time but you invite me in. You breastfeed on a rocking chair while I lie on the floor beside you chatting aimlessly. I listen, genuinely interested, to your stories of nappies and weaning and in turn you then listen patiently to the stories of my day. You don’t need to do that, you could make an excuse or yawn a lot and I would leave, but you don’t.

Mummy friends
We walk around parks and you manage to multitask, juggling a toddler, an ice cream, a stuffed rabbit and still holding a conversation with me. I know that your priorities have shifted but I don’t feel like a nuisance. As your children get older I delight in the school uniform pictures and the trips with you for school shoes. You don’t think twice about having me with you. You welcome me into your home wholeheartedly at the end of a long day. You are back at work, exhausted but you, your husband and your children behave as though I am meant to be there, part of the family. Birthdays, New Years Eves, holidays are no different, you share your family, your precious ones. You give me the honour of entrusting your child in my care, knowing that I will love every second of imagining, just for that evening, that I could do the immense job of motherhood.

“The problem with women having children much older…” My patient begins during a recent visit, I brace myself…..’‘Is that you can’t enjoy them as Grandparents, as much, when you’re older.”
I reflect for a moment, sad for my parents that they are still awaiting this joy and sad for myself that I’m the one responsible for withholding it. They will be wonderful Grandparents, I know they will.

Being on my own is the one part of my life that does not fulfil me. My friends, family, career, faith and home do and I’m proud of all that I’ve achieved but my ultimate goal is that of Motherhood, it’s yet to be reached and feels further and further away.

You have held me while I’ve cried for this missing part of myself and encouraged me in dating endeavours even when I’ve been less than enthusiastic. You have put up with me becoming periodically upset and lamenting the same point over and over without becoming short tempered with me. You have given up time that could have been spent with your husband or your children and spent it with me. For all of these reasons I love you, my Mummy friends.

Thank you for sharing the most precious people in your life with me.”

 

June 29, 2017 at 12:41 pm 2 comments

March memories

You may have come across a photographic scavenger hunt called 26 Things?
Kate in Brunei blogged her colourful results of the November challenge and I was intrigued by the concept of bloggers around the world snapping the same 26 words with such individual results.  November was too cold and grey in England to feel inspired but Kate’s 16 things challenge coincided with the first signs of Spring and a new resolve to go for a walk on my lunch breaks.  Perfect timing, thanks Kate.
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CELEBRATION

”cat mum home with stuff for cat cake, now having a little cat party” wrote G.
 ‘you know how bonkers that makes us sound, don’t you?’  cat mum wrote back.
Making a cake to celebrate the cats birthday amounted to turning a tin of Sheba upside down on a plate and decorating it with treats to look like a cat face.   Weird 6 legged spider was more the effect we ended up with!  Nevertheless the cats loved it and we barely made it to the end of ‘Happy Birthday dear ‘  before they’d finished it.

STRIPEYGorgeous Smiley Stripes yarn bought using a voucher 2 years after I was given it! Casting on is a little overdue but in the next decade I hope to make one of these
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EMPTY Can’t get enough of those crispy greens!  As well as Kale, Spring greens work well – less crispy, more chewy.
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A GAME

The ‘scrambled snake game’ as Tom and Kim call it.  We all love the story of the Gruffallo and played this board game during their visit to England last summer. They hadn’t come across snakes and ladders before and thought we were cheating when we told them snakes always meant slide down and not climb!
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NEWA dedicated flower bed inspired by our visit to Durham’s Botanical Gardens last year.  Poppies, Cornflowers, Love-in-the-Mist and some scented flowers sown. Weeds and flowers emerging but I can’t yet tell what’s what at the moment!

WORK
I use Gloucestershire Car Share scheme to get to work.  My lift share partner had two weeks off in March and I got the bus instead.  The journey home begins here.
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GROWING
I planted some cuttings from Henri’s redcurrant bush in November.  They resembled dead twigs until March when the tiny buds that had formed started to open up.
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HOME-MADEA naughty treat from my dear friend Mel who bought them from her church bake-a-thon.  The lady who made them is a lovely, sweet, scrummy character apparently, just like her cupcakes. They raised £1000 – that’s a lot of cupcakes!
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FAVOURITE
My new favourite mug (another fab Mel gift). We don’t do small mugs in our house but this one’s jumbo even by our standards. 500mls in one very huggy mug
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BLUE
I’d happily cycle to work if there was a more pleasant, less hazardous route. Sadly this cycle route sign indicates the shared pathway that circles the business park.
It stops and starts at the bus stop on the main road. Boo.
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EVENING
Billy is our loyal evening companion and always sleeps like this to watch films with us (my outstretched legs are buried underneath him)
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PATTERN
Last Summer I bought 100 flowers to knit and crochet. Unhappily for me all the small delicate flowers are crocheted not knitted and I can’t work out the patterns.  I browsed Ravelry instead for a knitted pattern and Julie’s strawberry flowers have been sitting at the top of my favourites list ever since!  By happy coincidence I was already following Julie’s Little Cotton Rabbit’s blog so it felt like bumping into a friend unexpectedly (Julie’s Hedgehog pattern never made it on to my needles either – shocking I know!)
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FLIGHT
Mikey loves sitting on the back wall:  the wheelie bin is his launchpad!
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YESTERDAY
Yesterday, the last day of the challenge, coincided with a visit from Al and Rafferty. After lunch we raided the book box and settled down for some very cute story time.
My heart smiles every time I recall Raff’s ‘pink I think‘ answer to ‘What colour is Mikey?’ (our black cat).
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FABRIC
A very generous hand-made gift from dear Bilbo for G’s music room.  I’m ashamed to admit we still haven’t hung it yet – bad little Hobbits!
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LOUD

Huge loud potential but actually G’s music room is a gently creative space where instruments are strummed, bashed and plonked with a delicate touch.

April 29, 2011 at 9:15 am 9 comments

bonfire night


pretty sparklers, lovely friends and Jenny’s apple crumble with custard. Perfect.

November 6, 2010 at 9:28 pm 13 comments

the place to bee – Durham’s Botanic Gardens

I’d never seen so many bees in one place – a veritable hive of activity in the lavender bed at The Botanic Gardens in Durham back in August.  We spent a peaceful morning strolling round woodland and bamboo groves with our dear friends Dan and Ruth and their lovely boys.  We spied on birds in hushed whispers from within the hide  and found art work* intermingled with plants and trees from around the world.
I loved the swathe of colour created in the wildflower beds and have seed packets at the ready to scatter in Spring for a Durham inspired wildflower corner at the plot.

My favourite part of the garden?   This grassy knoll for the squeals of delight it squeezed out of Rory as he hurtled down it!
* Botanic Gardens Artwork: Millennium Bug by local artists Graeme Hopper and David Buxton

September 29, 2010 at 9:30 am 9 comments

the ‘Ministry of Food’ exhibition part 2: Digging for Victory

…so you know I visited the Ministry of Food exhibition last week?  After catching a bus at stupid-o’clock I arrived on the steps of the Imperial War Museum snow flecked, cold and very early.  I was wondering how best to phrase a plea to let me in early when a member of staff arrived beside me swipe card in hand.  In a perfect moment of serendipity (making a fortunate discovery by accident) when I asked if she could let Lisa, the Press Officer, know I’d arrived she answered ‘I’m Lisa, come on in‘.

While Lisa and her colleagues made a few final preparations I introduced myself to another early bird called Steve.  We exchanged stories about how we came to be there and immediately I was struck by how many fascinating tales I’d be leaving London with.  This is Steve’s story (I hope I tell it as well as he did and rest assured Steve you didn’t bore me one bit!)

I’m no celebrity snapper:  Steve Thomas is not a household name but his great grandfather was during the Second World War.  Well not a household name exactly:  if you google William Henry McKie you won’t find any clues to his notoriety.  Steve’s great grandfather was the oldest member of the Acton Gardening Association in 1941 and very well known locally for the prizes, medals, firsts and specials awarded for his flowers and vegetables.  But it was being photographed driving a spade into the ground on his plot in Acton, West London that his legend was made.  W H McKie was the owner of the iconic booted ‘foot all the Nation knows‘ on the Ministry of Food’s ‘Dig for Victory‘ poster.

Thanks for sharing your great grandfather’s story so enthusiastically Steve and sending me the newspaper cutting below (tickled by that advert for the three piece suite too!).  Feel  free to add anything I missed in the comments!  (For readers who find the news print a little small to read click on the image to magnify it). 

The Acton Gazette, 7th February 1941

If you’re still undecided about whether the exhibition is worth the trip to London take a look at what some of today’s household names had to say about the exhibition on the opening night 

© Ministry of Food poster – Imperial War Musuem
See The Imperial War Museum’s YouTube channel for other interesting videos

February 17, 2010 at 10:26 pm 17 comments

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Welcome to my once-about-gardening-and-cooking blog that is now mostly about our life in Gloucester with a boy, a baby and 3 cats.

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When a home made cake + butter icing + sweets turns into the best birthday cake for my special 6 year old.  I'd accepted I was going to have to buy one as there was no time to fit in baking around L.  And then G accidentally took the car keys to work and our walk to collect them bought clarity - we went to the park, L napped and I baked.  I feel so pleased I've maintained my tradition of making E a cake afterall :0)
#nipitinthebudblog #gloucesterlife #birthdaycake #loveharibo And here he is, our lovely whopper!  Uncanny that I showed this picture to Euan yesterday of him aged 3 hrs old and this morning when he woke and asked if he was 6 yet it was the exact same time!!!! "But I don't feel like I'm 6 and 3 hours old Mummy". Such a wonderful life with this curious, funny, gentle, kind, Lego loving boy.  Happy Birthday beloved Euan x
#nipitinthebudblog #gloucesterlife #10lbbabyboy 6 years ago today I took my last waddle to the allotment to pick green veg for a vitamin packed last supper.  I knew baby was on his way but had a feeling he wasn't going to be quick about it.  It's his birthday in 2 days time and I'm so excited for him, my darling Whopper (he was 10lb 2oz and my bump in this picture is 48"!)
#nipitinthebudblog #gloucesterlife #ginormousbump  #10monthspregnant Amazing customer service from @tatterhood_ to help make sure her framed Mother poem arrived in time for my Mum's 70th birthday.  So many other wonderful poems available as postcards and her new book is also in stock on her website.  Go check her out, she's ace :0)
#motherhood #70thbirthdaygift Roadies.  When your Dad @musicalgeorgemoorey has a gig coming up and doesn't want to keep lugging his kit downstairs it becomes THE place in the room to sit!  #spacesgloucester #gloucesterlife So lush, they've made a den under the table and called for the iPad so they could watch their favourite Netflix episode inside.  #5minutespeaceandquiet
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