Category Archives: Folk Music

Summer Update and KITTENS.

Hi there Blogasphere!

It’s been ages since my last blog, as I’ve given myself a little summer break, so here is a MEGA POST with updates of various summer happenings …

I’ve been having a lovely summer, enjoying the Tour de France, which came right past our house! We had a great street party and featured in the local paper.

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The whole event was brilliant – from the ‘caravan’ of sponsors that came through the village ahead of the Pelaton (including Fruit Shoots! How could they see to steer those things?), to the sense of camaraderie between those of us who live here and those who were visiting. It was so well organised and really brought out the best in everyone. You may notice an absence of photographs of any actual cyclists – truth is, they were just too darn quick! None of my frantic clicking turned into anything worth sharing!

We’ve also done our usual bit of travelling, including Sidmouth Folk Week where we had a great time, seeing all the gang from around the country whom we often only see that week of the year, and celebrating the life of our friend and Sidmouth stalwart Ralphie Jordan, who passed away in December. It was also lovely to spend time with our collective parents who came down on holiday too.


This is a picture of my parents’ Parson Russell puppy, Alfie. I didn’t take too many photos at Sidmouth, as we were generally busy playing, but it was Alfie’s first festival, and he was really very well behaved, so I thought he deserved a mention.

Further good news was the marriage of my friend, Heather on August 1st (Yorkshire Day). This gets a mention on here because it was a very joyful occasion, but also because of the crafty nature of our gift to her and her husband, Dave. As I have mentioned on here before, the boy indoors is a musician and sound engineer, so what were we going to do for a gift but record the music of the service for them and present them with their own CD?! This was particularly relevant as Heather is a music teacher, and the music for the service was written and arranged for her by two of her ex-students. But … what is the crafty knitter going to do for her contribution to this gift? … Well, I’ll tell you what … she’s going to make a cover for the CD sleeve out of … wait for it … knitted blanket squares! Here you go … retro-funky, no?

The square patterns were from a lovely book called ‘Blankets and Throws to Knit: Patterns and Piecing Instructions for 100 Knitted Squares’ by Debbie Abrahams (published by C & B Crafts). It’s a great book but my blanket making always gets overtaken by other projects, so I average a few squares a year. I may manage to complete a blanket at some point in my lifetime. I live in hope.

Speaking of other projects … Behold, the sparkly purple top of anarchic lace (well the back thereof), my first experiment with freestyle lace knitting! It’s great fun and so refreshingly stress-free as you can’t go wrong!



In addition to some crafting this summer (more reveals to come in the next weeks and months!) there has been much growing and preparing of one of my major passions in life … FOOD! Here are some ‘arty’ photos of some green peppers I grew!

Anyway … Now for the big news! Time to introduce you to the latest additions to our family: William and Theodore (Bill and Ted).








They are great, and are keeping us very busy!

A little bit of social media news before I say goodbye for now …

Firstly, for those readers who also use Facebook, I have set up a group on there called ‘Daily Positives’ where people record and share the positive things that happen in their daily lives. I did this to provide a counter balance for all the tragic things that appear in Newsfeeds, and it’s proving to be quite popular, so if you fancy a look we’d love to share our good news with you on there!

Secondly, William the kitten has taken to Twitter (!!) so if you fancy following him and keeping up to date with his and Theodore’s antics and life in the Madhouse, you’ll find him at @williamthecatt. He’d love to see you on there!

Anyway, enough daft ramblings for now … time to do some proper work – or maybe a cup of tea and a bit of knitting …

All the very best of loveliness and thanks for reading.


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Hello everyone,

Ever noticed how being ‘on holiday’ can be so flipping busy??? I really love summer, but there can be times when our sort-of itinerant lifestyle can get a bit hectic!

Last weekend took us to my favourite festival of the year: Gower Folk Festival. We’ve been really lucky in that the boy has been booked to play there for the last few years and we’ve had the chance to enjoy this magnificent festival in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. In previous years, other gigs on the same weekend have meant that we have only been able to enjoy part of the festival, but this year we had an entire free weekend, so were able to enjoy the whole thing.

I took a LOT of photos, and have been editing periodically all week (in and among other travels and adventures!). So here are some of my favourites:

We got there in the late afternoon, after fun and games on the M4, in time for sound check, and then for the boy to do his thing in the evening. They were playing for the evening Bal (like a ceilidh, but French), so there was lots of dancing and I was too distracted to take too many pictures – also, I have hundreds of these already! But here’s a couple of him doing his thing:

The first image shows him drinking out of his quart pot, while looking like he might be about to play his Hurdy Gurdy (the true instrument of rock and roll) and in the second he is playing the cittern that he built for himself.

We also got to spend the weekend with some of our lovely friends from around the country, and it was a pleasure to watch them doing their thing!

This is a particularly beautiful image of my lovely friend, Nancy, during a duo set with her husband, James:

Nancy 1

And our friends, Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer:

Vicky Nyckelharpa 1 Vicky Smallpipes 1

Jonny Sazouki

Vicki is playing her Nyckelharpa and her Scottish Smallpipes, and Jonny is playing a Sazouki (a hybrid of a Turkish/Iranian Saz and a Greek Bouzouki) that was made by Colin Kendall, our friend in Bury, Lancashire, who taught Jon lutherie (instrument making). I’ve mentioned Vicki on here before, in a post about hats, as she crochets hats (called Nyckelhats) and sells them to fund her new instruments: Music and crafting in harmony!!

Another brilliant part of festivals is getting the chance to see friends that we don’t otherwise see. Our friend Charlotte Goodwin, who lives in Cardiff, was there and it’s great to talk craft with Charlotte, because as well as being a great fiddle player, she makes the most beautiful things! Here is a bag that she made (from TIES!) and a cover for her fiddle case that she’s crocheting (the yellow tacking stitches are not permanent!)

Charlotte Fiddle Case

Charlotte Bag

We had a lovely time, and as ever, it was sad to leave.

Gower Moon

Love, and happy Solstice to everyone!

Thanks for visiting!


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Aviemore and Boat of Garten


Hello World!

The lack of blogging recently has been indicative of the size of the workload I’ve been dealing with recently. Anyway, as of this morning that is all FINISHED, and I’m now on HOLIDAY until I start my PhD in September. I still have my University tutees, whom I’m supporting through their double projects in various aspects of Autism Studies, and I have a bit of consultancy and an academic writing job to do over the summer – but all of this can be done from anywhere with an internet connection and I have lots of exciting travelling planned.

Actually, the travelling began last week, as the husband, the lovely friends (the workload) and I escaped to the Scottish Highlands for a week, prior to a gig with the band in Edinburgh on Friday night. We had the best time, and as we’re all photography-geeks, lots of photos were taken! Here are some of my favourites:

There were my favourite people …


In a Cottage

Park Bench

Some beautiful scenery …

Tree of Doom

Scary thunderstorms in the Cairngorms!

There was lots of lovely food and drink!

And we organised a great session in The Old Bridge Inn, in Aviemore on the Monday night. This was a lovely irony, because had we not been in Scotland, it is very likely that we would have been at our regular session, at The Old Bridge Inn, in our village, which is also on a Monday night!

The Blurry image is Jon playing his Hurdy Gurdy – I love how it expresses the energy in his playing!

We had a really great time, and then rounded off the week with a gig at the lovely BAMFest in Bedale – a great festival, well worth a visit next year! Now I’m waiting for J to get back from this weekend’s festival in Nottinghamshire … Summer is really here!

Have a great week, and thanks for visiting!

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Dulcimer Tunes

Hello world! … Not much time to post anything significant this weekend – and the view of my desk that has comprised my weekend would probably not be too interesting to the rest of the world. So instead, I thought I’d share a couple of tunes with you from a gig that Jon and I did in Holland a couple of years ago.

Given that my concertina was the star of my last post, I think it’s the dulcimer’s turn this week! (This is a Hammer Dulcimer by the way, for those that don’t know, but care about such things.)

The tunes are The Roman Wall (from the fiddle playing of Adam Grey and learned by me in our local pub, from Pete Coe) and Bean-Setting, a variation on the Morris tune.


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Hello everyone!

Well, here we are in May! And in the words of the lovely Padstow May Song ‘Unite and unite and let us all unite for Summer is a-commen today!’

For those unfamiliar with the folk customs surrounding May 1st, they are linked to the Pagan Festival of Beltane, which is the first day of summer and is celebrated on the first day of May. These days, this is marked most widely by Morris dance (and related) sides hauling themselves out of bed in the wee small hours to ‘dance up the sun’ at dawn on Mayday. This is considered necessary to ensure a good summer, plentiful harvest etc. Well … certainly around here in Yorkshire there isn’t too much evidence of summer’s arrival, and I found myself commenting on Facebook ‘To all the Morris-ers who danced up the sun – great effort, but what have you done with it?’

Anyway, in addition to getting all excited about May traditions, this week has seen the boy and me take a trip over to Manchester for our friend’s PhD exhibition. Lucy has been researching folk traditions, dances, kits etc from an ethnomusicological and visual arts perspective, and ahead of her viva, she staged an exhibition of her work at the People’s History Museum in Manchester. It was really interesting seeing lots of familiar and less familiar traditions on display and there were performances from some of the groups she had consulted, including the Cheshire Carnival (Fluffy) Morris, which isn’t generally performed outside of their own competitive events, so was a treat to see.

As you might expect when a bunch of musicians gets together, there was a great session, and Jon took this photo of me playing (which I have edited.)

Me and Concertina

It was a great night!

Much more work to do over the next few weeks so probably not much time for blogging, but THE END IS IN SIGHT. Lots of fabulous things planned over the summer, travelling to festivals, folk clubs and other gigs with the gang, and the camera will obviously be coming too!

Mayday Greetings and Beltane Blessings to everyone – Here’s to summer!

Thanks for visiting!

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Santa Georgia!

A few minutes late for the day itself … but in honour of St George’s Day I thought I’d share this fabulous song: ‘Banks of Burdocks’ written by our lovely mate, Nancy Kerr and performed here by her with her husband, James Fagan and Jess and Richard Arrowsmith as ‘Melrose Quartet.’

I think it’s just wonderful, and a lovely alternative ‘take’ on St George’s Day!


Enjoy! And happy St George’s Day!

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Hardy’s Well

Hello World!

So … it’s been a while since I blogged. Lots going on in my world and not much time to write about it! Also, this blog has generally had a crafty theme and, embarrassing as it is to admit, my crafting output has been sadly lacking of late. There are two main reasons for this: Firstly, I’ve been very busy with work/life etc, but also, I’ve been trying to re-teach myself how to crochet in preparation for some lush projects I have planned for the summer. So much has been going on, but just not necessarily with much to show for it. Be patient folks!

I have, however, been out and about with my camera (and fabulous new (to me) Pentax telephoto lens – which is about a third the weight of my old one! Woop!). I have lots of lovely photos waiting for my editing attention. Here are some to be going on with, of a regular session at the Hardy’s Well pub in Manchester. I’m not great at portrait-type photography at the best of times, and a session scenario presents its own challenges as flash photography generally isn’t an option and lots of movement means that slower shutter speeds are generally out as well. So basically, it’s a question of opting for monochrome, cranking up the Iso, and away we go … !

Here are the results – it’s a great session in a great pub with great friends. Wish I’d done a recording to embed so you could have the full experience! Anyway … here you go:


You’ll notice my lovely friend Zoe, knitting! I love crafting in sessions and ceilidhs. Some of my best work has my favourite tunes woven (knitted, stitched, crocheted) into it!

Hope you’re well, and enjoying good tunes of your own!

Thanks for visiting.

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Sweet Sunshine and Lovely Nancy

Now then … Hope you’re enjoying the spring light as I am! It’s been beautiful around here today, including the most perfect ‘Golden Hour’ where I had to get out with my camera. Recently, hanging yellow bikes of various sizes have been appearing all over our village. This is to mark the fact that in just a matter of weeks, the Tour de France is going to be travelling through the village (passing the end of our little terrace.) These yellow bikes are in such lovely places, and I’m sure this isn’t going to be the only photo I manage. Apart from anything, there’s a life-size one on top of the pub, and it, along with the chimneys is just dying to be an HDR perspective shot. Just as soon as I can figure out how to get high up enough in the right place without actually becoming Spider-Man.

Anyway … To be going on with –


On an unrelated topic – my lovely mate Nancy Kerr has started a blog about her music and songwriting, and about traditional and folk music more widely. Nancy is an award-winning singer and fiddler and what she has to say is definitely worth a read. You can find her lovely musings here.

Love and peas, and thanks for visiting.


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Ok, so 2 posts in a day may be a tad excessive, but I’ve been messing around with photography again, specifically testing out HDR on my beautiful concertina.

Can’t help but take the opportunity for a bit of Tina-Geekery though … so if this isn’t your thing, skip to the Pickies!

For those who don’t know (but would like to) this instrument is an English Concertina. It is a chromatic ‘squeezebox’ with the same pitch range as a fiddle. It was invented in 1830 (ish) by Charles Wheatstone. The one pictured here is my favourite of my concertinas and is the one I usually play. (It had a particularly enjoyable night out last night, playing in a session in Manchester!) It dates from approximately 1906, though as it is a Lachenal make it is not possible to date it precisely. Louis Lachenal was originally Wheatstone’s foreman, but set up his own business making concertinas. The reason why his instruments can’t be dated is because of a fire in the factory that destroyed the archives.

This particular instrument was made for the Salvation Army who, around the time the instrument was made, had concertina bands as well as brass bands. This instrument came from my father-in-law’s Citadel in Doncaster. It is a ‘New Model’ with rosewood ends (which is quite unusual) and has steel reeds and domed metal buttons. It is a thing of beauty and makes a fabulous sound!

A fairly accurate representation!

A fairly accurate representation!

And some silliness!

Thanks for visiting!


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Great Names for Beers #101!


Is good, no? I think I sense another blog theme in the making.

Wonder if anyone else fancies sharing their ‘finds’ … ???

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