Thursday, 16 October 2014

Blowing my own trumpet!!

On Tuesday this week, hubby and I went to Birmingham Town Hall for a concert by acclaimed trumpeter Alison Balsom. Although we'd come to know of her through listening to Classic FM, her programme for this series of concerts included a fair mix of Classical, Jazz and Show tunes.

One of her passions is about encouraging new players and together with a company producing the new 'pTrumpet' she has become an ambassador for getting the instrument more accessible.

A group of children were invited to perform a new fanfare as part of the concert - they had only been given their trumpets a few weeks earlier and here they were, in front of a large audience, demonstrating their newly-acquired skills!

But introducing people to the world of trumpeting didn't stop just at children for Ms Balsom - one of the programmes on sale had a special hand-drawn trumpet on one of its pages and the lucky recipient was invited to the stage to have a go at playing too! ........and guess who was that lucky winner....?!

As I made my way through the labyrinth of corridors down to the stage I began to think I should have sent hubby instead!  However, I was greeted with rapturous applause as Alison presented me with my very own trumpet! I had a quick 'mini-masterclass' from Ms Balsom, thrilled to have a complete novice on the stage to prove that ANYONE could have a go and make music.

After failing miserably to manage to raise more than a few squeaky splutters (but providing much mirth in the audience!) yours truly took a bow and I was applauded off the stage complete with trumpet, case and accessories!

So now I can say I've 'shared' the stage with a world-class trumpeter! 

(and after a few lessons, maybe I will be able to
 'blow my OWN trumpet'
and live up to the name of my blog!!!)

Friday, 26 September 2014's up, duck?

Oh my - it's nearly October and I've only made four blog posts this whole year.....only FOUR!!

I don't know where the time goes to (well, yes I do really, if I stop and think...) but I decided I really must start carving out blog-time again!

To re-kick-start my interest in photography I grabbed the camera (the proper one, not just my phone!) before DD and I went for a walk to look for some Autumnal colours this afternoon. The leaves are just beginning to turn from pure green to those with a hint of yellow and orange and I have a feeling that with the currently unseasonably warm days (and rather more cold nights!) we may be in for a spectacular Autumn 'show'!

But....all we found were ducks and boats......oh well, all good practice for trying out some of the techniques my cousin over in New Hampshire 'educated' me on, this time last year.


I'll share some more piccies later, now that I'm attempting to get back into blogging - can't guarantee to also get back into the regular writing that I used to do......unless anyone can suggest a writing-meme they know of, perhaps....?

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

'The Heat Is On In Saigon....' ( - but it's getting chilly here!)

We were off to the West End again this week - it was a birthday treat for DD - to see the new production of 'Miss Saigon' - again! (well, we went to see it when it re-opened here in London in May - it was for MY birthday treat that time! ;-p)  The cold and wet weather was not enough to dampen our spirits, even if we did require umbrellas! (.....Autumn seems to have arrived suddenly, out of the blue!)

....just one more shot....

At the risk of being a musical-theatre-bore I have to say this production is truly stunning!!  (...and after the dozen or more times we've seen it, it just keeps on getting better!)

.....and the helicopter's back, of course!

If you are in the UK I'd highly recommend you invest some of your hard-earned £££s in a ticket; worldwide readers - bombard Cameron MacIntosh and his production team with emails until they agree to take the show back out on the road!

If you haven't already seen it - here's a clip!

(and if you HAVE - well, just ENJOY!!!)

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Beautiful boating weather....perhaps not!

You've heard of 'getting all your ducks in a row'......well, this time it's boats, rather than ducks (but one just sneaked into shot!)

Now that Spring is finally arriving and the soggy Warwickshire countryside is drying out enough to make walking rather than wading an option, I ventured out along the nearby Oxford Canal yesterday morning.

It's a while since I last came this way but very little has changed; some of the narrow-boats at the boatyard are still 'parked' up waiting for warmer weather and people to hire them - it'll soon be Easter and they'll be gliding up and down the canals regularly.

There was a slight break in the clouds as I turned round and headed for home and was greeted with a "Mornin' Missus!" salutation from the driver of a floating 'craft-shop' (judging by the signs on the side and the carvings in the windows).  As I snapped a picture, he chugged off into the distance - slow, calm and sedate.

 A great antidote to the helter-skelter world we live in these days!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

As Doc Brown would say - "GREAT SCOTT!"

Yes - those were my first words, too, when I heard about the plan to create a stage musical from the iconic 'Back To The Future' movies!

With British Director Jamie Lloyd and music by the film franchise's original writer, Alan Silvestri, it is a production that has been a decade or more in the planning. Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale have reunited their partnership from the original movies to write the new show for the stage.

We are promised illusions, skateboarding extraodinaire and a host of other special effects, along with many of the original soundtrack 1950's favourites.

Due to hit London's West End in 2015, it will be a fitting way to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Marty McFly and his cohorts' first trip in the De Lorean time machine! (...perhaps they should get the 'flux-capacitor' running now, then we wouldn't have to wait!)


Another show, this time already receiving plaudits in the West End, is 'From Here To Eternity'

From Here To Eternity Musical London

Based on the book by James Jones (and of course, the film directed by  Fred Zinnemann) with music and lyrics by Tim Rice and Stuart Brayson, it is turning out to be one of the hit shows currently on the London Stage - we're going to see it this coming Wednesday and I'll report back! (see edit. below video)

In the meantime, here's a sneak preview........... :-)

Edit. 21/02/2014 - well, we had really good seats thanks to an upgrade by theatre staff on arrival! Really enjoyed the show, three or four of the tunes are still bouncing around in my head. The stage production was clever and not too sophisticated so I hope they take this on tour. Just a short run in the West End so I hope it makes it to the provinces. Now I shall have to re-watch the Burt Lancaster/ Deborah Kerr/Montgomery Clift film version and see how it compares - may one day have to read the original book!

Next week: just have five shows lined up.....busy's a hard life! ;-)

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Walking on water ....... not quite!

So here's 2014 and I haven't made ANY resolutions, not because I'd fail hopelessly before the week was out, but because in the past they been mostly negative - you know, 'This year I'm going to stop/give up doing xxxxx.....'

This year I'm opting to take time and 'enjoy' the journey and aim for quality of life. I'm fed up hearing so many people bragging about what they've achieved and then reflecting on what I HAVEN'T managed to do (it sounds like the Anglican General Confession: "I have done those things which I ought not to have done, and I have left undone those things which I ought to have done, and there is no health in me....' !)

To that end, I joined DD this afternoon to resume our previously-frequent walks down through the fields near her house. As you can see, the path petered out.......! And neither of us can quite manage to walk on water ;-p

We knew the fields themselves might be under water -  this was the view as we approached:

Then we got a bit closer.....
.....until all we could do was gaze across the rippling water that had obliterated our path!

Oh well, there's always tomorrow.......probably have a flock of Canada geese sailing by!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Gone, but not forgotten

One of my passions is genealogy - regular visitors here will know that for this year's A-Z blog challenge I concentrated on the joys (and frustrations!) of family history.

Most of it is just names, dates and places, but every now and then there comes a bit of information or a photograph that brings the individual almost 'back to life'.

One such occurrence happened quite recently when an off-the-cuff remark by a family member led to the discovery of a number of letters from WW2 - from a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp.

Donald 'Donnie' Brown was my husband's Great Uncle. He was in the Royal Hong Kong Police Force and when the island was captured by Japanese forces he was interned in Stanley Camp for the duration.

A few of his letters managed to find their way back to his sister in India and we have been privileged to see them and preserve them for posterity.

They make harrowing reading, as they are filled with positive emotions of looking forward to the day when the war would be over and the family could be reunited. Sadly, although he survived and was able to get back to India, his sister was just returning from England. They later realised their ships would have passed each other in Bombay.

Donnie returned to Hong Kong and resumed his career with the RHKP, married and started a family and finally relocated to New Zealand. Though both he and his sister lived well into old age they never saw each other again, although they communicated by letter and phone.

Seeing the cards he wrote from prison, with their Japanese pictograms, brings home an aspect of WW2 in the Pacific that I'd never really considered; in the UK, most of our knowledge of the war is centred on the European conflict.

Reading the four-page letter he wrote on release, unfettered by lack of censorship, it seems a romantic engagement had been called off and he found himself footloose and fancy free......there's a novel in that, somewhere!

And the story of Donnie is still bringing new discoveries, for just today I received this picture at the top of this post - taken as preparations for defence were being carried out; sadly they were not to know how swiftly the enemy would arrive, nor in what numbers that would quickly overwhelm them.

Still, he looks rather dashing, at the wheel - a bit of playboy charm about him!  You may be gone, Donnie, but you are most definitely NOT forgotten!