Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Polka V

I was driving home from a gig last Friday at midnight, shattered and freezing cold, trying not to knock my bruised and calloused fingertips on the steering wheel when a band came on Radio 3 that sorted me right out.

Frigg are a Finnish folk string band with a brilliant, lively sound, fusing traditional Scandinavian music with bluegrass and Irish trad.

My own amateur thrashings I'd given my fiddle in the previous hours were quickly put to shame by their masterful playing. Scandinavian traditional music is similar to Irish in many ways, but with more complex syncopation and rhythms.

I've been listening to the only album of theirs on Spotify, Oasis, but I can't wait to hear their newest album Polka V. They are very inspiring to me!

I sat in the car when I arrived outside my front door to listen to the end of the session, despite the burning of my eyes. You can find the Radio 3 session here if you fancy it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A strange feeling of satisfaction

I'm in a strange delirious phase at the moment in which I love everything and everyone, probably because I have read hardly any news or current affairs over the last two weeks - I had got used to the low level anger and desperation that consuming daily news leaves you with so it's nice to be rid of it for a while.

Of course I'm also very happy about the fact that we have finally bought a house and moved in, after a year of searching, saving and disappointments.

I feel like we have struck gold moving where we have - our (OUR!) house is impossibly cosy and our new town is perfect. Despite little sleep (probably another reason for my delirium) from the antics of a slightly ill toddler and an attempt at stopping co-sleeping, it's a joy to wake up recently. Our bedroom window looks out upon a wide estuary, you can't see the water but you can see England on the other side and the sun rises over a flat misty expanse, glowing through the very early mornings my son now subjects me to.
A bowl of Amaretti biscuits my mum brought down
I have only ever lived in huge cities/their suburbs or the middle of nowhere. A small distinct town is a new phenomenon for me and I absolutely love the atmosphere here. Within five minutes we can amble to the local library where Moss got his library card (with elephants on), join the fruit and vegetable co-op where you order a bag of food for £2.50 a week, go to our first ever toddler group, go to the bookshop, get coffee beans in the deli, have a cake in the coffee shop, walk round an enormous castle, visit a tiny museum and lovely gift shop, get meat from the butcher, fresh bread from the bread stand, go to the market on Saturdays..... a few more minutes away from our town are ancient abbeys, a really lovely craft centre, ancient forests to explore.A little further still are all the things I enjoyed living near in Cardiff, with Bristol just a few miles in the other direction.

Lovely new book (left) goes with another book I had already (right)
It's the perfect place to do all the things I've wanted to do for ages, shop locally for food, support small businesses and make a home in a small, friendly community. I'm so determined to live in a more eco-friendly way, and to live in a town set up to make that a reality is very motivating. I'm going to write about it to motivate me more. There are so many more things I could do in addition to washable nappies and recycling..

Strangely, the thing I am loving most at the moment is the fact that I am being made redundant at the end of my work contract in a few weeks time. I have learned a valuable lesson over the last few years that when things like this happen, it's usually for some good reason. I have been unemployed, homeless and friendless before but something always turned up at the very moment I lost hope. I will still work. I won't have that security of a set wage coming in each month, but I will have the new challenge of balancing more freelance work and hopefully putting more time to expanding the band I'm in as well, something I've been hoping to do for several years now. Maybe I could even use my qualifications and do some therapy when my son goes to school.

Feel free to batter me over the head with these words when I'm working in Poundland in a few months time.

New bedroom with my Gumtree bedside table and throw my mum brought back from India (now I must only have white sheets)
My dad's wife gave me her unwanted vintage  Le Cruset pan set. Excuse me while I scream in gratitude!
I've been meaning to read this again for ages before seeing the film. Now I have a 40 minute train commute to work there is time to finish my beautiful pocket edition (from my local bookshop) and disappear into the comforting world of bacon and eggs, seed cakes, pipes, dragons, misty mountains, deep dark forests,  elves and straw beds.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

New house

Hello friends. A few frantic days later and we have moved and unpacked a few boxes. Our new house felt like home from out first night we spent there, it's always so comforting when things fall into place so neatly and fortuitously. Chepstow is glorious and I can't believe how lucky we are to live here.

Our internet is not connected yet (has anyone EVER had a positive experience with BT?) so I will have to write more later...

Here are a couple of pictures of flat-pack furniture we've thrown up so far:

Friday, February 8, 2013

Klezmer violin: me playing Tzigane

Just something I recorded a couple of years ago - me playing a solo Tzigane that we used to play in the Klezmer band.

Klezmer is Jewish music and I love it forever and ever. One day I'll be in another Klezmer band... I can just feel it..

Monday, February 4, 2013

Change before you have to

In 10 days we'll be living in a new house.

Two and a half years ago, just before we left our previous flat, I felt the strange and irrational fear that we wouldn't be as happy somewhere else - as if after the final time we slammed the door at the top of those grubby communal stairs, wheeled the bikes out the door for the last time, bade farewell to the plaster lions on next door's gate posts and drove away down the tree and park-lined street, we would somehow leave behind the pleasure and minutiae of our daily lives, aspirations, arguments and laughter between those walls, that it was all a matter of chance, circumstance and location, easily shattered and transient.

Of course that was ridiculous fantasy as our current flat has seen some the most intense and best moments of my life. I laboured for 48 hours here, I played klezmer in the living room, had barbecues in the stony garden, saw my first born smile, laugh and walk for the very first time across the carpets, worked solidly for hours on my landing office, saw the sky turn and the seasons change again and again on the black roofed houses outside the windows where the giant pine has loomed over us, dripping cones right on schedule onto the neighbours unmowable lawn.

It's now time to leave again and trust that a new house and new town will give us what we need. There is nothing we can do but trust. I'm slightly apprehensive and drowning myself in slip jigs to prevent illogical thought.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Religious Metaphor

Two quotes on religious metaphor that spoke to me lately:

"Half the people in the world think that the metaphors of their religious traditions… are facts. And the other half contends that they are not facts at all. As a result we have people who consider themselves believers because they accept metaphors as facts, and we have others who classify themselves as atheists because they think religious metaphors are lies.”
Joseph Campbell, Thou Art That: Transforming Religious Metaphor

"Life exists only at this very moment, and in this moment it is infinite and eternal. For the present moment is infinitely small; before we can measure it, it has gone, and yet it exists forever…. You may believe yourself out of harmony with life and its eternal Now; but you cannot be, for you are life and exist Now.”
Alan Watts