Sunday, October 28, 2012
We took a cab down from home, stuffed wheelchair in, cabbie very helpful. and dropped us off fairly close. Not far to go, and it was dry when we got dropped off. And it stayed dry while John trundled me to the shop... Easy access, so great! First person we saw was Emily, and she recognised/remembered us from Port Eliot Festival. She greeted us, and then went off to put her lippy on. Smile!
Becky had some nice new Doc Marten's.
Here's Emily and Becky working together over the the keyboard....
Lucy talking with someone.
Emily tuning up...
I sat at the front of the venue, we talked with an ardent fan from the Wirral, who I hope gets to see this post. It was wonderful to be so close to the band in such a small and intimate place. Thank you to Dr Marten's Liverpool for such a great and accessible place to see such a great band!
Here's one of my favourite songs, Circles.
Here's another of my favourite tracks - ShutEye. This and the track it segued into closed the gig.
This was the last songs of the evening. As we left Emily told Becky that we'd been at Port Eliot to see them. So we left on a high, and found that it was only mizzling outside. Parked wheelchair under a sheltered part of L1 so I could have a ciggie (shameface) and when the rain more or less stopped John yomped the wheelchair over to the road where we were lucky enough to get a cab immediately! And so ended a wonderful eveining!
I videoed the whole wonderful gig, you can see it here. Though in my usual disorganised manner I seem to have put everything up twice! Ah well, it's good to listen to plenty of Stealing Sheep!
Posted by Maggie at 8:57 pm
Thursday, September 27, 2012
It seems this is my 200th blog entry here! So this is a post about a weekend at home in Liverpool, and I promise I will return to Port Eliot Festival again soon... It will be good to re-visit some of the best weather we saw this summer as well as returning in memory to a magical place.
Our friend David came to stay last Friday with his partner Nell and her mum Jenny. Nell had organised a weekend singing workshop at various venues round Liverpool, the workshop was led by Stephen Taberner. Saturday morning David was able to visit the Cast Iron Church of St Michaels in the Hamlet once he'd helped deliver Nell and Jenny to the morning's workshop (In the Crypt of the Catholic Cathedral), then it was off to Elmswood so he could help John record some of his songs.
Come evening saw a wonderful sundog, so knew that we were in for dirty weather... Well, I do watch the weather forecast too!
On Sunday David and John went to visit the Unitarian Church on Ullet Road. Both Churches were open as part of the Liverpool Heritage Open Days, which this year are extended from a weekend to a month as part of the Liverpool Biennial. Then back to Elmswood again to finish recording, and so David could bring his equipment back here ready for the journey home to Cambridge.
I would have loved to join John and David on their visit to the Unitarian Church, as when I first became ill with ME the Liverpool Central Group of the ME Association used to meet in the Library there. A delightful pensioner called Alf (I'm sure he was in his 90s) used to open up the room for us, build a coal fire if it was cold, and brew us some tea. But we'd been invited to attend the final session of the workshops, where the choir would perform in the Anglican Cathedral, so I knew that I could only do one or t'other.
We arrived at the Cathedral towards the end of Evensong, which was running a little later than usual as it had been an investiture service. I was in the wheelchair, so was very glad there was a lift up into the Cathedral! It was nice to sit and take a look at the Cathedral during the end of the service, it must be around 30 years since I was in it last! I was surprised that the stone it is built of is less dark and forbidding than I remembered it as being.
There was some debate as to whether the choir would sing facing towards the back of the Cathedral (which would have been a nightmare for me as there was a flight of steps down towards the window you can see in the video below) or facing towards the main body of the cathedral. Fortunately for me the latter was decided on. While this was going on I was trundling around, and a lady looked at me and said "I have serious coat envy"! I thanked her, and she went on to tell me "I like all your yellow"! Hat, scarf, handbag and shoes... Well, I couldn't resist the chance of getting dressed up a bit! LOL!
Despite going prepared with my camera which shoots in HD and also has image stabilisation I only have two fragments of the choir singing to share with you. Battery ran out. And then back up battery ran out. When I come to think of it, it was probably before Port Eliot Fest that I last charged the batteries! So not surprising, but because they last so long I never remember to charge up before an Event. (slaps wrist) Will try to in future. I'm particularly sad I only have a short time of the very beautiful Georgian love song that is in the second half of Part One.
Two day old choir singing in Liverpool Anglican Cathedral - Part One
Two day old choir singing in Liverpool Anglican Cathedral - Part Two
Posted by Maggie at 10:14 pm
Sunday, September 09, 2012
To continue the story...
Offspringette, Becky and Knit Angel at the end of Friday's sessions in DoveGreyReader's Tent
I got yarn bombed by the Knit Angel, a decoration to my hat. Sadly we didn't get a photo showing it. But The Kayaker did, and it's here.
Once things began to be packed up for overnight at DGR's tent we did the zig zaggy trundle with the wheelchair back down the path to down by the river, and then along to the foodie places in front of The House. We chose wood smoked pizzas, and very delicious they were! While I slurped on some G&T from my pre-prepared "water bottle" John enjoyed a pint of St Austell Tribute from the nearby beer tent. Then around 8pm we trundled back along by the river to the Caught By The River Tent for the Stealing Sheep gig.
Stealing Sheep setting up
John managed to push me fairly well to the front in the wheelchair, after all I wasn't in anyone else's visual way! He squatted down beside me so he wasn't either. So I had a great view, and was able to video several full songs by resting my elbows on the arms of the wheelchair.
Stealing Sheep - Gold
What can I say about Stealing Sheep that hasn't been said already in loads of reviews of their first album 'Into the Diamond Sun'? Well one thing that I can say is that they are a fantastic live band. Their sound doesn't rely on a lot of techy studio stuff that can't sound anything like the sound of the real band. They sound like themselves.
Stealing Sheep - Circles
Emily, guitar player, shared with us all that it was her birthday, and invited the audience to go to the Rough Trade tent to share Champagne with her and the band. Which we did, when does a Liverpudlian refuse Champagne? Bought the new 7" single Genevieve, and the band signed it for us. Since then we have purchased the new album, the sparkly vinyl version, which is very sparkly and very pretty and the music's just great too!
I asked Emily about the band's name - why Stealing Sheep? She told us that initially the name almost put her off joining the band! But the name is to do with stealing ideas, you can read more about it here. She also said she thought of it as linked to falling asleep (counting sheep) and hence to the unconscious.
The lighted obelisk that you see behind and above the stripy Caught By The River tent is a landmark we trundled by each day on the way to the Walled Garden where DGR's tent was. We didn't get a daytime photo of it, but John took a photo of the plaque placed in front if it later.
And after midnight a miasma crept out of the Matmos and enveloped the City of SoGo.
Posted by Maggie at 11:11 am
Friday, August 31, 2012
Woke to a sunny morning, three buzzards wheeling over, and a flock of swallows swooping overhead. But by golly it was chilly! The bathroom was exceptionally frigid, so I put the central heating on to warm it up a bit before showering - I like to be clean on my birthday! Breakfast was an omelette, prob should have had muesli, but thought I'd skip it as it was my birthday, why force something so loathsome down on a celebratory day!
First card opened was from John. We both agree that the red sailed boat is surely Ruddy Duck!
Yes, I still need you
Yes, I'll still feed you *
Now you're 64...
* subject to the usual negotiations
Sarah's card arrived yesterday with a large parcel, but I held off opening both till this morning. Strong minded or what! Sarah is well acquainted with my love of hats obviously. The one I wore to her wedding to Mark is marginally smaller I think, but not much! My purple Chelsea/Port Eliot hat might be approaching this size though!
So then I was able to rip open my parcel, and delighted to find this book inside.
John then put up our shark windsock again. The lashed up bamboos had broken in a gale last week, we were lucky to catch it before it disappeared into the next door field. But he found some more bamboos and has lashed it up again... Showed a lovely west wind, but since then the wind has backed (usually a bad sign!) to the South West. And the hills began to disappear, and now it's completely closed in and has been drizzling.
After the windsock went back up I became a Boat Widow again... Three hours later he came back, more boat problems (centreboard jammed half way down), so off into Abersoch to talk to some people. Meanwhile Duck is on a borrowed deep mooring.
Now he's back again, and we are listening on BBC iPlayer to DoveGreyReader on Radio Devon's Interactive Lunch (begins about 2.08 in). (Note: this will disappear in a week from today) So lovely to hear dear DoveGreyReader on my birthday!
And then it was time to listen to Stealing Sheep on Woman's Hour (about 33.55 minutes in) from this morning. This is another one that will sadly only be available for a week. But a great live acoustic version of their new single 'Genevieve' on it, so do have a listen. We went to their gig at Port Eliot, which I haven't managed to blog about yet, but here's the video I made then of 'Genevieve'.
Chicken in the oven, so think I will sign off for now.
Posted by Maggie at 7:04 pm
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Once the new tent was up and decorated and running we all scroogled in and waited for Tracy Chevalier to arrive. I was entertained to see a big bumble bee lazily floating around the flowers in the tent. Unfortunately I didn't manage to capture it on camera.
Dove Grey and Tracy Chevalier began the session with a "show and tell" about their quilts. Dove Grey's quilt was one she started for her firstborn, Tom. Who co-incidentally was the dovegreyreader official photographer, as well as being about to reach his 30th birthday! Still not finished, but she assures us that she
will might in time for his 30th.
Tracy's quilt is, I think - not enormously up on quilting - a traditional American quilt pattern. Before reading us an extract from her new novel, Tracy told us a little about how she likes to work. As part of the research she does for writing she tries out the things that she is writing about. She also mentioned that research can go too far, citing a novelist who went several times some hundreds of miles to find out about making guns, that eventually resulted in about 3 lines in the final novel. Her new novel is about a Quaker woman who after emigrating to America gets involved with the "underground railway" for escaping slaves.
The extract Tracy read to us told how her main protagonist is trying to make sufficient quilts so she can get married. Her future sister-in-laws are prepared to lend her quilts, but want to have them replaced as part of their own dowries. Our heroine makes quilts by piecing, in the English fashion, her new (about to be) family complain it takes too long, and suggest she should stop making quilts in that way, and make them using applique which is faster.
After questions about 'Girl with the Pearl Earring' amongst others, Tracy signed books... She has recently edited a book, 'Why Willows Weep', sold in aid of the Woodland Trust. She was kind enough to sign my copy to give to my dear Mum-in-Law who had broken her wrist and was in hospital at the time.
Once this session was over, I caught a photo of Dove Grey with Michelle Roberts, who was to speak on Saturday about Angela Carter.
Tomorrow is my Birthday - I'll be 64. I may well not manage to continue this saga tomorrow... So I'll share a picture of the view from our caravan with you before closing this post.
Lots more to come, including Stealing Sheep!
And then the moon began to rise! So have to share this. It's a Blue Moon on my birthday tomorrow!
Posted by Maggie at 7:42 pm
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
This morning an email dropped into my Inbox from Tom Kindlon, from an email he had received:
I regret to advise that Dorothy passed away last week from a rare form of cancer. She battled hard for the past year and eventually to treatment and the drugs took their toll. Her funeral will be held in Leongatha, Victoria, tomorrow. ------- (snip) I am not sure what age she was. My guess is 70-75.* Dr. Morris, who had M.E., did her PhD on M.E.: "Double Disability: Lived Experience of Australian Tertiary Students with ME/CFS." She was a former teacher. Tom *I like to give such information as I imagine many people, like I am, are interested in/concerned about risk of death.
I was fortunate enough to meet Deemee at the MERUK Conference in Cambridge back in 2008. I was very saddened to hear that she has died. We had quite a correspondence years ago when I was early on in my time as a Co-Cure Moderator. I remember how much she loved roses, but had to lose them from her garden due to drought. It was a real joy to meet Deemee at the Conference.
Have heard from another friend that when Deemee moved house she was able to plant roses in her new home. Which is some comfort in a way.
Thank you Deemee for your friendship, and for all you did to help ME Patients.
Posted by Maggie at 8:24 pm
Monday, August 27, 2012
Friday morning we woke up pretty early to a lovely sunny morning, after mug of tea in bed I donned my wellies over my jim jams, plus my trusty jacket, and crutched the nine mile hike towards the dreaded toilets. Was warned off before I made it all the way - two ladies told me that they were all full. Thank you ladies, saved some of my precious energy! So crutched back (good thing I wasn't desperate!) to the tent, and made use of the bucket we'd brought "just in case". (NOT the flower bucket in case anyone - Fran? - is worried!) Next time we'll take something like this with us. OK, TMI, but it had been something that worried me! I guess it's all part of the rich festival experience!
John fired up the little gas stove again and we had more tea followed by a bacon, egg, tomato and fried bread fry up followed by another couple of mugs of tea. I had woken several times in the night to the thunka thunka of music, which went on till about 3am I think. But was cosy wrapped in my duvet cuddling my hot water bottle, so slept pretty well all things considered. Some of our neighbours had found the music more intrusive, and all who passed as John was cooking were almost visibly drooling!
After breakfast we set off towards DoveGreyReader's tent in the Walled Garden. I had a bucket (not THAT bucket!) of flowers brought from our garden that I was clutching against my knees while also trying to hang on to a pair of crutches and a walking stick. We did stop off at the toilets en route, just to be on the safe side.
John had found a zig-zag course up the hill, past the Elephant Field, that did actually prove mostly possible for the wheelchair, though once or twice I got out and crutched it so he could get the chair over the roots growing across the path. I was so glad that John had searched out this route, as it meant we didn't have to ask for more help from the friendly people in the site office who had said they could arrange a buggy ride. Much better to be independent if at all possible in my experience.
We finally found our way to DoveGreyReader's tent, through a lovely doorway that reminded me immediately of the entrance to "The Secret Garden". I asked a bearded man (I had seen photos on DGR's blog before) if he might be Bookhound, and he acknowledged he was, made us feel really welcome. Dear DoveGrey arrived soon after, and gave me a big hug. It was a very emotional time for me, as have been following her blog for ages (6-7 years?) now, and she was so incredibly kind to me 5 years ago when my parents died. Got ensconced comfortably in the entrance to the tent, and began to do some knitting.
Oh, also managed to deliver the bucket of flowers to Fran (in charge of the entry to The Flower Show as well as floral decorations in DoveGrey's tent), who managed to make some nice arrangements combined with lots of other flowers that she had brought along too. I apologised for the "fragrance" of the Elephant Garlic flowers (they were rather pungent!), but she pooh-poohed that, said that one of the flowers she'd brought (I sadly didn't catch the name - Hen something?) had rather stunk out her car on the way!
We did have a couple of heavy showers in the morning, I sheltered under DoveGrey's big garden umbrella, and at one point I was entertained to have the gazebo lifted up and over me and it! I should have taken some photos.
Our first author in the DoveGrey Tent was Susie Parr, author of The Story of Swimming. She spoke about loving to go into the sea to swim, take a look at what Dove Grey had to say about her talk. The main thing that I took away from her talk was what she said about going to visit Byron's Pool. She went there, it was horrible and polluted and full of litter, had council warnings about not swimming... But she had travelled so far to visit that she decided to swim anyway, foul thought it was. This is the pool that Virginia Woolf and Rupert Brooke are reputed to have swam in together naked. Very sad that it isn't really available to swim in now. But how many rivers are?
After Susie Parr had spoken we all had to leave the tent, so it could be struck and replaced with a bigger one. John gave a hand taking stuff out, removing bunting, and so on. While this was happening the rest of us sat outside and knitted!
It was amazing how fast the new tent went up. Meanwhile Tracy Chevalier had arrived and met up with DoveGrey. It's a shame this photo is focused on the wall behind, but I love the big smiles!
More on Tracy Chevalier, and our Port Eliot adventures soon.
Posted by Maggie at 10:32 pm
Saturday, August 25, 2012
I'm very late posting about our wonderful time at the Port Eliot Festival, but want to keep a record of it so I can look back.
I've been following DoveGreyReader's blog for well over 5 years now. The last few years I've been reading her descriptions of the Port Eliot Festival, and kind of wishing I could go, sit in her tent and listen and knit...
Earlier this year we decided to try doing some more exciting stuff following the house purchase and renovation, so we visited the Chelsea Flower Show, though I wasn't sure how well I'd manage in the wheelchair! And it worked OK once the heat of the very hot day had passed.
So when DoveGrey began talking about this year's Port Eliot Festival I suddenly thought 'Why don't we go?'! We looked at the Port Eliot website, and we looked at the camping, and before we knew it we'd got tickets and booked a Hotel Bell Tent to glamp in! First ever Festival for us, at age 63 and 66!
Wednesday morning at 11 am saw me limping round the garden collecting lavender, roses and thyme flowers to help decorate DoveGreyReader's tent, with a few purple dead nettles thrown in for good measure along with some Elephant Garlic flowers - very "fragrant" these!
We left just before 4pm on Wednesday, travelled as far as Taunton and stayed overnight there as we were worried the journey was too long for me in one go. It clocked up as being 307.1 miles from outside our house to the Festival Car Park, so I think we made the right decision
Arrived at the Festival site on Thursday at ten to 12, were fairly well up the queue to get in when the gates opened at midday. Managed to find the disabled parking, and as the stewards didn't know where the Hotel Bell Tent encampment was John phoned Roberta (Bobbie), who was disabled liaison as well as covering a number of other tasks. She was a bit busy at the time, but arrived sooner than expected and drove me and the heaviest of our gear (thank you Bobbie!) down to Hotel Bell Tent, where the crew carried it all to our pitch. I felt a bit like an explorer following a line of porters!
This was Hotel Bell Tent's first time at Port Eliot, and the land they were allocated was right next to the swamp ("this area prone to flooding"), which John immediately named the Matmos. It took John a further 4 trips to get all the rest of our stuff (!), but in the meantime I began to sort out our luggage in the cavernous tent, and make up the beds. We had two queen size air beds (already blown up thank goodness!) but had decided to take our own bedding plus a hot water bottle for nesh me!
After something of an explore, we were warned we would never get the wheelchair up the hill to the Walled Garden, we returned to tent, sat outside and surveyed the view while John sampled some Symonds Scrumpy Jack and I had a G&T.
Looking out of our tent we saw two rows of bell tents in front of us, then two huge oak trees, and an encampment of tipis beyond. To our left Port Eliot House, to our right more tents across an arm of The Matmos, behind us the main body of The Matmos, further still behind though out of our sight The River.
While I was sitting out in the wheelchair a family with two small boys came past our plot. One of the boys looked at me and kindly asked "Did you break your leg?" I replied "No, I didn't, I just ran out of energy." At which his Mum responded "So you have to eat up all your sausages and vegetables so you don't run out of energy."!
Our tent is just to the right of the bronze flag lit by the sun.
By this time I was pretty tired so got curled up in bed while John went off to find some food. He came back with a burger but I'd gone to sleep and he couldn't wake me - I was very tired after all the travelling. So he ate the burger himself, and told me the next day it was the best one he'd ever had in his life!
Then he went off to explore some more, found a possible way up to the Walled Garden that might be wheel chair possible ready for Friday, and managed to catch the Bayou Brothers in the Cabaret Tent. He even snagged a gold necklace from the beads they threw into the crowd.
Posted by Maggie at 7:56 pm
Saturday, May 12, 2012
What can I say? Long Time No See! Sometimes Life just keeps Happening! But here we are in our new home, been here a while now. I'm crazy gardening at the mo with more seedlings than I know what to do with in the kitchen, utility and porch... It's been so cold and wet it hasn't been nice enough to begin hardening most of the plants off, though today I've finally got some broad beans and Cherokee Trail of Tears beans out in the front garden.
The back garden is looking wonderful after all of the rain we've had recently, though the lawn really needs mowing again. Here's the beautiful azalea in full bloom.
I did plant some peas and beans in root trainers that we kept outside (well, we stuck them in the blow-away green house if it was going to be horribly cold at night when they were just sown). Took so long to come up that I thought they'd all died, which is why got so many seedlings in house now as chitted some on wet kitchen paper and only planted when they began to sprout. But here's the ones that were planted outside. Soon as John gets the bean frame built we'll plant the Trail of Tears beans and the (climbing) Telephone peas. The broad beans and early peas will have a space in the other side of the veg patch when I've finished weeding it and moved the Love in a Mist (Nigella).
We have a female woodpecker who has been visiting very often the last couple of weeks to feed on Coconut Treats (suet with insect flavour!). She is very greedy and stays feeding even when we're out on the patio - usually she is very shy and flies off if she sees us. Suspect she may have a brood of hungry youngsters, so is catching food for herself when she can.
Today, 12th May, is Florence Nightingales Birthday, and also International ME/CFS Awareness Day. Had my 20th MEversary back in March. I continue to be disabled, am very limited as to what I can do, but as I hope you see from the above I still enjoy my life. You can see my previous International ME/CFS Awareness Day posts over in the right side bar, right underneath the Blue Ribbon Logo: MY ME/CFS AWARENESS DAY POSTS.
Have been having a lot of pain in my right shin for about a year now, so went to see my GP to get it checked out back in November (I think). She suggested I might be Vitamin D deficient (she told me that deep muscle pain can be a problem if you're Vit D deficient) and a blood test proved she was right. I guess that given I am fairly housebound it's hardly surprising. So am now on supplements, though they haven't had much effect on the pain in my shin yet. I'm also working on getting out and sitting in the sun to expose my limbs... Well, currently it's only my arms as far to cold to expose legs! LOL! But I wonder how many other ME/CFS patients are Vit D deficient. Pain is just regarded as part of the illness, I wonder if some of that deep muscle pain might be down to Vit D deficiency. Recent guidelines suggest anyone over the age of 60 should supplement with Vit D anyway. And also it appears that vast numbers of the UK population are Vit D deficient due to the advice to avoid the sun and put on sunblock - it's all been a tad overdone!
I also have high "bad" cholesterol, so have had to change my diet considerably - we're eating lots of fish now, at least 2 portions of oily fish a week, plus other fish too. As usual, exercise is something that can help with high cholesterol, but it's not something I can do.
So that's a bit of an update on what's been happening round here.
I've been really enjoying a blog called Young House Love recently. Two young parents in Richmond, Virginia, doing up their home frugally. It's a lot of fun to read, and I commend their efforts to be as environmentally friendly as they can be as well. It's made me think that maybe I should retrospectively take a look at the rebuild and renovation of this house. While we haven't done the work ourselves, it will still be fun to look back on it in the future. And we certainly took enough photos to be able to write about it all.
This is what we started with.
And this is what the house looks like now.
Well, about a year ago! Front garden is a bit different as we got rid of the gruesome poisonous laurel bushes and have replaced them with some climbing roses. We just got some trellis to train them up (over?) and John treated the trellis the other week, he's left some interesting patterns on the front drive!
We wouldn't normally make such a mess, but the drive has to be replaced as soon as we can afford it as lots of the flag stones are broken from the skips being dumped on them during the extension and renovation.
We've been in for getting on for a year now. And still have to get lots of stuff over from our old home. Hopefully we'll be able to do more sorting now that the days are longer and at least the worst of the winter should be over by now! Though have to say a couple of days this week it's felt more like winter than spring.
Posted by Maggie at 6:25 pm