Daybook Entry – New Year’s Eve 2016


021114_2314_DaybookEntr1.jpgFor Today… the last day of 2016

Outside my window… I can hear some isolated bursts of fireworks going off locally. The weather is mild to cold but not frosty yet.

I am thinking… about some changes I need to make in myself, my outlook, my worldview and my expectations.

I am thankful… for so, so much! Where to start? Well, first and foremost I am thankful for the ever present grace and love of God in my life. My faith in him (and his in me) has got me through so much this year and I am thankful to have reached this point still in one piece.

I am praying for… Charlotte and Kieran who are dealing with the most heartbreaking loss anyone can imagine; my brother who is going to be having an operation in a couple of weeks and is facing a long recovery time afterwards; Roy, Margaret, Iain and Megan who will be taking a big step next week; Emma who is starting a new job on Tuesday; Ethan who has got a high-pressure time ahead this term.

I am wearing… a happy smile this evening as I look back at what has happened this year.

I am creating… a new way of thinking. I have come to realise that my thought patterns and behaviour patterns need an overhaul if I am to ever make progress with my life. For example, I am desperate to write a full length novel but fear of failure is holding me back. I know I have the skills (talent is as yet still untested), but I keep talking myself out of doing anything about it because I think my story is not good enough, or that people won’t want to read it and so on. I am trying to create a new way of thinking about myself where I concentrate on the positives of what I’m doing rather than worrying about the (unknown) negatives.

I am going… to put my new thinking into action over the coming weeks and let’s see where we are by half term.

I am wondering… whether I ought to do something about my physical health as well as my mental health this year…

I am reading… “Speaking in Bones” by Kathy Reichs. I was fortunate enough to receive an Amazon gift card for Christmas which I have already bitten into and bought this latest one in the Temperance Brennan series. I have had my eye on it for a little while and I was really chuffed to be able to buy it on Boxing Day. I’m nearly at the end of it and to be honest, I can’t wait for bedtime tonight so I can go and finish it!

I am hoping… that our financial difficulties will be eased this year, if not resolved somehow. I have faith that we will be ok.

I am learning… to ease up on myself, to lower my expectations, and to celebrate the small things.

In my garden… we have a gazebo erected over our deck area at the back of the house. We put it up there for Christmas Day so we had somewhere dry to put the settee out while we had the long tables set up for dinner. We haven’t got round to putting it down yet but I rather like it and might persuade Kevin to keep it for a while.

In my kitchen… we have some snacks and treats waiting to eat while we watch the final Harry Potter film later on tonight.

A favourite quote for today…

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A peek into one of my days… I’m going to cheat here and show you a few photos from December as there’s too many to choose from!

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A bonus little video for you: filmed outside our house on Christmas morning as we played for our neighbours before church. Hope you enjoy it!

One of my favourite things… is planning and researching things for writing about. One of my least favourite things is spotting when “research” becomes “procrastinating” and getting a move on and to get writing.

Post Script: This year has been a year of spectacular highs and devastating lows, and this is my chance to acknowledge those difficulties and joys and to say a public thank you to everyone who has got me through it all.

Those of you who have followed my blog over the months and years will know that from time to time my mental health takes a hit, and that my family’s financial situation is not particularly secure or hopeful. This year has been the worst we have endured and we have come close a few times to crossing the line. However, we have been blessed on so many occasions by the kindness and support of family and friends who have seen us through. With gifts of food and other necessities, and on more than one occasion the gift of money, our family and friends have literally saved the day. Ethan would not have been able to go on the trip of a lifetime with the music centre had it not been for an anonymous gift of a substantial amount of money which was put through our front door the day before the deadline for payment. More recently, we were facing a very lean Christmas with no spare cash to be able to buy any presents for anyone but again, from anonymous gifts, we not only were able to get some gifts for our children but we have enough now for both Kevin and I to be able to replace our glasses in a couple of weeks. We are both desperate for an eye test and new glasses but until this money came in, we were getting very anxious about how we were going to pay for them. As I said, we have been extremely blessed and we are so grateful for everyone who has helped us in 2016. The grace of God has been in abundance in our family this year!

Some high spots have punctuated the seemingly endless struggle to “get by”, such as our family camping holiday in Wales this summer (again, paid for as a gift to us – and boy are we glad for that gift!). We were joined by my brother and his family for a few days, which was a great experience, and I got to enjoy some spiritual time in a very special part of the world. I finally finished my studies and I got my degree this summer which is an achievement I never in a million years thought I would ever do. Kevin and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this year too, which, as with my degree, is an achievement and milestone I never thought I would ever see. But we did and I am proud to have made it with my best friend and partner in life.

Daybook Entry – 24th February 2016


Daybook EntryFor Today… 24th February 2016.

Outside my window… it is a chilly -1 and each star is like a little chip of ice in the sky.

I am thinking… about who fascinating it is to cross paths with new people.

I am thankful… for my musical gift.

I am praying for… my old friend Jason who is in a high dependency unit tonight after a significant and serious surgery today.

I am creating… a plan for a screenplay. Can’t publish it yet but watch out, it’ll be coming soon!

I am going… to be leading our Lenten Bible study tomorrow night with my friend Helen.

I am wondering… whether this scratchy throat will develop overnight or will disappear.

I am reading… a really crappy novel that is nice night-time reading but not worth commenting on really in amongst the reams and reams of notes and critical essays I am reading for my studies…

I am hoping… I can make a good headway on my children’s literature assignment tomorrow. The official deadline is tomorrow lunchtime but I have an extension until Tuesday because I have been a bit poorly.

I am learning… to say “no” and to take some rest when my body tells me I have to.

In my garden… I have recently put out a new bird feeder filled with nuts and seeds but there hasn’t been many visitors yet. I might have to add a bit of something extra to tempt the birds in.

In my kitchen… Emma and Gemma made a delish meal tonight of pasta and a “sauce” which was stuffed FULL of vegetables. Very, very nice.

A favourite quote for today… this is from our Lent challenge at church, and it is a video I created for the verse “The Lord is my salvation”.

A peek into one of my days…

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This is my friend Dot and it was taken on Saturday at our Deanery Away Day which was held at FC United. It was a great day and we had a good old natter about stuff.

One of my favourite things… is watching people blossom when they are given encouragement and praise.

Post Script: I posted yesterday about the question of whether Britain should remain in or leave the EU, and it has sparked a bit of a debate it seems. Have a look and see, and please leave me your thoughts if you have an opinion or an observation about it. I’m keen to find out if other people are as confused about it all just the same as I am.

 

 

 

View from the PamCam – a Todmorden “Belfie”


Friday night is music night!! Well, it is in the Calderdale valley where Todmorden Brass Band rehearse. We have had a cracking night at band again tonight playing with some really lyrical and beautiful moments all evening.

Here we are – our first “belfie” (band selfie). I had to take two pictures because my arm isn’t long enough to get everyone in on one shot. Say hello to Todmorden Community Brass Band.

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We are busy rehearsing for our annual anniversary concert in a couple of months and I am trying out a few different pieces in the meantime, so tonight we played a cobbled together version of “Sunset” (which will be less ‘cobbled’ now I’ve decided which hymn tune we’re going to do it with and I will get down to arranging it properly in a couple of weeks), a brass band favourite “Miller Magic” which is a medley of four of Glenn Miller’s finest pieces, and “Famous British Marches”.

I am proud of my band – they are becoming masters at sight-reading and the musicality within the band is astounding sometimes.

A big shout-out to Dan on drums tonight. He’s the 13 year old brother of our senior drummist, Chloe, who was at a rehearsal with her new school band tonight (her new school being Chetham’s School of Music…). Dan sight-read Miller Magic and really got stuck into the drum solo in St Louis Blues March, and he did a cracking job during Famous British Marches too. He was a star tonight – Chloe, watch out he’s after your seat!

Also, a fond farewell tonight to Sara who has been with us for about six months from the US. She has been playing bass trombone with us but sadly has to return home next week so we won’t be seeing her until September if she can make it back across the pond. She takes our love and best wishes with her back Stateside and we will look forward to her return in the future.

 

I’ve Got The Joy!


One of the joys of community banding such as we do at Todmorden Band is that we have a great deal of choice about what music we play at what time of the year. At this time, many – if not most – brass bands are preparing for the area contests, which serve as a qualifying round to the national finals held in September. The bands all have to play the same piece of music as proscribed by the contest organisers, so all fourth section bands across the country will play the same piece, all second section bands will play another piece and so on. It means that January and February are made up of rehearsals for this particular contest – it is a prestigious one to win, and so those bands who take part take it very seriously and practice like mad for it.

But at Todmorden, we don’t have constrictions on our music like that and as a consequence we can play music to suit us, our mood, our upcoming concerts etc and we don’t have to worry about every dot and every quaver.

We have our annual anniversary concert coming up in April and so we are leisurely picking our way through some pieces that may or may not see their way through to the programme that night. Last week was the same, and to be honest I think I pushed the band a bit and there were some sore lips still tonight from it! I thought I would be gentler with them tonight and so we had a bit of a quieter night.

Until the end, when we played this march (video below). It’s called “Goldcrest” and it is a Salvation Army publication. The trio is based around a certain hymn tune which I’m sure you will recognise. I do hope it makes it on to our anniversary concert programme in April and I am almost certain it will be on our parks programme too. After an evening of gentle playing, this was a fiendish piece to finish with – sorry chaps!

This is not my band playing it, but I do hope you enjoy this march as played by my friend Hiroe’s band, “Brass Neo” in joint concert with Hammonds Saltaire Band.

 

The Joys of…


…Banding

After the highs of Christmas comes the lows of clearing out the pads.

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Not the best job in the banding calendar but gotta be done or else we won’t have Christmas music next August.

After the big clearout a few months ago where Gill my friend and Librarian nearly had heart failure, I didn’t want to put her through it all again so soon so I enlisted the help of Kevin my husband.

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Thanks Kevin (and sorry Gill! Hope this makes up for the last one xx)

Roll on the spring repertoire 😉

Rushcart Festival


I had a lovely time yesterday playing with the Littleborough Band at the annual Rushcart Festival. Yes, that’s right, I had a lovely time PLAYING. I thoroughly enjoyed putting my musical head on for an hour or so and exercising my cornet blowing muscles for a change. The music was great fun to play and I enjoyed sitting second man down to an old friend of mine called Steve who I haven’t seen for quite some time. In fact the last time I saw him was a couple of years before I got ill so as well as playing alongside him, it was nice to catch up with him in between pieces too.

But what about the Rushcart bit, I hear you ask.

Well, seeing as though you did ask me, let me tell you what the Rushcart festival is all about.

Traditionally, church floors were covered with rushes to help keep the dust down and to provide some sort of warmth in the winter and they were replaced every twelve months. Most churches would make the annual clear out and re-rushing into some sort of a festival and all the local people would get involved in some way or another. In northern England, particularly Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire, this coincided with the annual Wakes Week which was when the local mill would close down for a week to enable essential repairs and cleaning etc, and the workforce could enjoy a week of leisure time. As they had no work to do for the mill owner, they were available to help out at the church.

The process of recovering the floors was broken down into stages, beginning with the gathering of rushes from the river banks and ponds. The cut rushes were then loaded onto a cart. It was a skilled job to properly load a cart so that the rushes didn’t fall all over the place and it became a very competitive business between neighbouring towns and villages to see who could build theirs the biggest and the highest, or the most elaborate and highly decorated.

The loaded cart was then paraded to the church and lots of activities sprang up around the parade which turned the rushbearing into a festival over the years. As with most traditions, it died out with the advent of modern flooring for one thing and for the changes in mechanisation in the mills meaning that Wakes Weeks also died out. But luckily, there are pockets of people who work hard to keep the tradition alive and one of those groups keep the rushcart festival going in Littleborough on the outskirts of Rochdale.

It is a two-day festival held over the weekend and the band were invited to play on the bandstand in Hare Hill Park to welcome the rushcart as it arrived from the town centre, having been pulled by the local rugby team. There were lots of other things going on yesterday: a Viking re-enactment group, lots of food stalls, local produce, several rings of Morris men dancing as well stalls for children, face-painting and so on. The weather was kind too as the sun shone all day. Ideal festival weather.

Here are some photos of the rushcart and the Vikings in action.

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Daybook Entry – 29th August


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FOR TODAY
Outside my window… it is dark and windy. Rain is lashing the window panes and I am listening to the gutter overflowing past my bedroom window.

I am thinking… that it is a good time to be tucked up in bed!

I am thankful… that my bed is so comfy.

In the kitchen… is my airing rack with Ethan’s bedroom rug drying on it. It was handmade by his grandparents and is very thick wool, which is a nightmare to dry and takes a couple of days to do so. It has already been moved about half a dozen times in the last two days to capture the moving warm spots in the house.

I am wearing… I’m ready for bed so my sleep t-shirt and shorts.

I am creating… stock for a craft stall I am doing in about 6 weeks’ time. I am building up a supply of kiddies hats, cot blankets and small toys/key rings etc.

I am going… to conduct another performance by the Todmorden Community Brass Band tomorrow at Dobroyd Castle. I’m looking forward to it really. We have a great band at the moment and we are having a fab time in rehearsals which spills over into our performances. We’re providing background music tomorrow which is nice as I don’t have to think of any jokes to tell the audience!

I am wondering… what Terry the Terrapin is thinking most of the day. Is he happy? Is he bored? Does he dream of a life outside the aquarium? Does he recognise me because I’m the one who feeds him? Does he ever wish there was a Mrs Terry to play with?

I am reading… I am between novels at the minute but I have decided to make an effort to get through Milton’s Paradise Lost. I’m making headway and even though the language is antiquated and a bit heavy going, it’s surprisingly readable once you get into its rhythm.

I am hoping… I can earn some money from my craft stall. If this one is successful I’m hoping to repeat it before Christmas too.

I am praying for… I am giving thanks for Rita’s continuing recovery; I am praying for healing for my friend Jane who is going through chemo after a mastectomy; things are financially difficult for us at the moment so my prayers are for my little family, that we can weather this storm and God will look after us.

I am looking forward to… a time when I can earn properly again.

I am learning… my instincts about someone have been correct all this time, and whilst I have always made allowances and tried to explain/excuse their behaviour and attitude as being down to other things, all along the truth about them has been there in my face and I should have trusted my instinct about them.

Around the house… is evidence of my extensive crocheting this week. Plastic boxes of yarn which are usually stacked neatly and out of sight are out for easy access, and the big box of stuffing I have for my toy filling is also out because I have made a few owls this week. Oh yes, and the little tail ends of yarn where I’ve snipped off the ends are ALL OVER the place. They stick to socks and everything so end up in the weirdest places…

I am pondering… how to go about marketing my craft stuff so that I can make some money but don’t overwhelm myself in the process.

A favourite quote for today: “I quite liked the music we played tonight, especially that Coronation Chicken” (from my friend Gill whose auto correct on her phone is almost as bad as mine and didn’t recognise “Coronation Scot” haha!)

One of my favourite things… is the sound of brass, especially playing hymn tunes.

A few plans for the rest of the next few days: gig tomorrow, church Sunday, back to school shopping for Ethan’s uniform and school supplies Monday or Tuesday, more crocheting and more reading.

A peek into my day… we played this tonight at band (see Gill’s text message above). This is a professional orchestra playing it and we are a community brass band, but this is Coronation Scot for you:

 

 

Come and join us at  http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/ and join in!!

The Joys of Banding


What a day….what a bloody day….

We a band job today which is something that I normally look forward to, and today started out as no exception. But it just started off badly and then went worse.

We were due to meet at the venue at 11.30am ready for playing at noon, which meant leaving our house at 10.30am to make sure we had plenty of time to arrive, and then park, and then lug all the gear to the stand. The venue, incidentally, was an archery field in the middle of Hebden Bridge, a small West Yorkshire town that is a tourist attraction for most of the year round and is a really lovely place to visit. We have visited it many, many times in the past as part of days out with the family or for craft fairs or band competitions and so on, but we have either travelled there in convoy with other cars or on a band coach, or when we have been meandering around the Calderdale valley and we have “happened upon” it by accident.

We should have remembered that when we set off from our house slightly late this morning (10 minutes over time) as, with just a quick glance at the map and not quite trusting the sat-nav on my phone we set off not quite knowing where we were going.

The first thing that went wrong was that we should have filled up with petrol on the way home from band last night but we had had a nightmare there too and we were late home and tired (the junction on the M62 that we come off to get home was closed and we had to do a big detour, putting us about half an hour later than usual).

So the first stop was at the petrol station to fuel up, and onto the M66…and straight into a queue. Oh boy…

I was driving (Kevin’s back was playing up yesterday and this morning he was bent into a semi-permanent paperclip shape and had to take strong painkillers to even get out of bed) and once we’d got going properly on the M62 I felt a bit better.

The sat-nav tried to tell me that the best way to get to Hebden Bridge was to go through Todmorden (where we rehearse) but having glanced at the map earlier and clocked that Hebden Bridge was halfway between Todmorden and where we would come off the M62 if we carried on to past Huddersfield, I was convinced that motorway (faster) driving would get us there on time. At that was my first mistake.

We got off the M62 at Elland and followed the road signs (and with half an ear on the smug sat-nav) towards Halifax/Hebden Bridge/the end of the world. Unfortunately, when we got to Sowerby I did that thing and listened to the sat-nav, which took us down what looked like a back lane rather than the main road. You know when you’re driving with a sat-nav there are two rules to abide by? The first one, “listen to the sat-nav” and the other, “don’t listen to the sat-nav”…and the skill is knowing which one to do when. Well, I got it wrong and decided that I knew best and carried on the main road.

Mistake number 2.

According to the estimated time of arrival on Her Royal Smugness’ face, we were only about 10 minutes late at this stage, which, although frustrating and disappointing, wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

But then, because I thought I knew better than a satellite-driven, NASA initiated, Google-peddled little app on my phone, we ended up going along a side road, that led to a small lane, that led to a farm track that eventually ended up as a bridleway somewhere on the hilltops overlooking Mytholmroyd (the next village over to Hebden Bridge).

Not too bad time wise, but then we hit a “road closed” sign and a diversion sending us further up the valley side. The very helpful people who were standing by the sign told us “yeh cahn’t ger dahn thur…” and then carried on with their conversation. I should point out that this was in the middle of nowhere and apart from the two people talking in front of the sign there was not a soul to be seen for bloody miles. Not a building, not a vehicle, not a blessed soul. It might have been helpful if they could have said “…but you can do down THAT road there and you’ll be there in a jiffy, old bean”.

But they didn’t, so we ended up looping back through miles and miles more of little lanes, country tracks, bridle paths and even a footpath at one point (which was cobbles, not even a metalled surface). Fifteen minutes later, and after following a series of diversion signs and arguing with HRS sat-nav (no, we are NOT going to drive through that farmer’s field, no matter how indignant you get madam!) we ended up back at the same point.

So back we go, and round the loop again, past the same set of cows in the same field that we passed about 20 minutes previously and Kevin in the front seat frantically trying to get hold of someone from band to let them know that a) we were going to be really late now and b) we were hopelessly lost.

We managed to pick up a wider country lane, and were heading in the general direction of Hebden Bridge but were worryingly still on the tops of the valley and not heading anywhere down it just yet, when we did pick up a road that looked promising.

Oh you little bugger you. It turned out to be a con, and we drove up a (very) steep incline – cobbled again – where there was a steep ravine to my right and a dry stone wall to my left. Now our car isn’t that wide, but it felt like it was about six inches too wide for this particular track and I accidentally (well I wouldn’t do it on purpose would I?) hit the wall on the passenger side.

It was around this time that my nerve began to fail and I began to cry. Pathetic eh?! Not only were we late, but we had about 20 colleagues from band waiting for us in a field SOMEWHERE in Yorkshire, and we were lost, and we had the music in the boot, but I’d just driven into a dry stone wall which my husband (funnily enough) thought was something which I should be remonstrated about. I can’t tell you his exact words, but they were something along the lines of “goodness gracious my dear, that was a little close, I think you may have breached the edges of the road somewhat”. Or words to that effect…

Anyway, tears and tantrums over (all the while desperately driving along the stupid road) and I decided that my instincts were strong enough to bring us back down the valley without either listening to Her Royal Smugness or following diversion signs that were sending us round and round in circles, and I found myself back…in Sowerby where we’d been about 45 minutes earlier.

By now, it had gone past noon the time we were supposed to be playing and I had bitten most of my fingernails down to the painful bits. I had another little cry as we hit a traffic queue in the centre of Sowerby but what could I do? Kevin was on the phone to bandsmen at the venue, Ethan was in the back saying “are we there yet?” and Her Royal bloody Smugness got silenced without mercy once we’d hit the A58 again.

We had a new ETA of about 12.30, which meant that we were only about 15 minutes away when my bladder made its presence very uncomfortably felt. No matter, we were quite close by then and it wouldn’t be long… or would it?

Traffic jam in Mytholmroyd
Traffic jam in Mytholmroyd. You can see the standing traffic ahead for miles

We hit another traffic queue on the approach to Mytholmroyd which took about 15 minutes to negotiate through (about 2 miles in 15 minutes sums it all up really), and just as we were about to hit Hebden Bridge (hurrah!) we saw Liz our chairman running along the road in her band uniform, flagging us down.

Did I mention that our car was full of gear and we had 4 folding chairs on the back seat with Ethan? Well, I don’t know how she did it but Liz got in the back and managed to squeeze herself in on top of the chairs and direct us in to where we were due to play. By now it was getting on for 1pm, which is when we should have been starting our second spot, but we made it with oooh seconds to spare.

While the boys set up the stands and handed out the music, I made use of the facilities (which amounted to a very wobbly toilet in a shed in the middle of the field, with handwritten instructions on the wall on how to flush it) but I didn’t care. At least it wasn’t a tree by the roadside!

We suffered the usual sort of ribbing and teasing – well deserved if you ask me – and we finally got underway. Only an hour and a bit late.

And then it came to the homeward journey.

It took us two and a half hours to make a 45 mile journey to get there, and once we’d realised that Hebden Bridge is only 4 miles away from Todmorden (durrrr) it took us a little under an hour to get back home again.

Kevin's superior boot-packing skills on show here. This is us packed up to go home. He is demonstrating his 3D Tetris skills as level expert here - there are 2 cornet cases, a bass trombone, a box of music, my conductor's case, my conductor's stand, uniforms, spare shoes and my bag all packed into the boot. And it's only an Astra!
Kevin’s superior boot-packing skills on show here. This is us packed up to go home. He is demonstrating his 3D Tetris skills as level expert here – there are 2 cornet cases, a bass trombone, a box of music, my conductor’s case, my conductor’s stand, uniforms, spare shoes and my bag all packed into the boot. And it’s only an Astra!

I haven’t written about the argument we had with a tractor (met at speed on a downhill stretch of pathway, and as I’m no good at reversing, reversing uphill and round a bend to let it past us is something that has traumatised me and I will need counselling for in the future). Nor have I written about the “check engine light” that kept flashing on and off whilst we were cruising at altitude above the Calder valley. And neither have I written about the suspicious ticking sound from the engine that started just after we left home and which prompted me to remember Kevin telling me last night that he “should really check the oil in the morning before we set off”.

So lessons learned today:

1. Check a proper map before you set off.

2. Listen to your sat-nav.

3. DON’T listen to your sat-nav.

4. Make sure you fill up with petrol well in advance.

5. Find out how close places are to the band room, it will save an awful lot of time!

6. Make sure you check the oil to stop unnecessary (and very scary) ticking noises from the engine.

7. Learn to reverse uphill and round bends on narrow country lanes.

8. Don’t bounce off dry stone walls when avoiding 1000 foot drops on the other side.

9. Your husband loves you really and doesn’t mean to shout when you put a huge scrorp (scrawp?) mark down the side of the car and a dent in the back door.

10. Banding is fun. Honest.

 

 

Whose Round Is It?


You know it’s nearly Christmas when you have sat for 2 hours in a pub playing carols with your mates. Which is just what I did tonight. Hic!

Very good fun and well received by the punters the carols tonight were at the Lancashire Fold pub in Middleton. I couldn’t face beer tonight so I kept to gin and tonic. Made the 12 days of Christmas a bit difficult to follow out of the red book (if you are a brass player you’ll know what I mean by that!) so we didn’t play that and just stuck to the simple stuff…like the Snow Waltz and carols.

Love it!!

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My New Year’s Day


Usually New Year’s Day in my house involves a lot of resting, maybe a little walking, a lot of tidying up and maybe a bit of food, but this year was just a teeny bit different.

I saw a request from one of my Facebook/Band friends (who plays in another band) for players to help him out on a job today. I made contact and said that I could provide him with 2 cornet players, a trombone player and a bass player (myself, Kevin, Ethan and my friend Phil). I asked him what the job was and was over the moon to find it was playing for a spell before the match at the Etihad stadium….home of my beloved Manchester City! Blooooo Mooooooon!!!!! I couldn’t turn that chance down could I?? I’ve been playing a bit over Christmas and was feeling in fine fettle so it was with a glad heart  I ironed our uniforms this morning and set out for the job today with my husband, my son and my best friend.

It was absolutely fantastic. The park around the stadium is a bit like a theme park. The atmosphere, the shop, the refreshment vans and stands, the big screen, the music, the mascots, the TV crew…..FANTASTIC! We were due to play three spots before the match and the first one of those was going to be on the main stage outside the City shop, right next to the entrance turnstiles to the pitch. It was rather cold but we stood in our uniforms and were filmed on MCTV which is broadcast on the internet as well as around the ground. The sound was amazing! We were small in number but mighty in sound and it was a real joy to be part of. We played a couple of marches and a couple of popular tunes, the best received being “Blue Moon”, the City song.

We had a quick break and we were able to put coats (and hats!) back on again while we moved to another spot at the end of the main concourse to play another couple of spots. It was getting REALLY cold now so we were glad of the chance to put another couple of layers on. There was an Arctic edge to the wind and there was no way it was going to blow round us….it was most definitely doing its best to go through us!!

There were a couple of interviews going on on the big screens while we were playing and the first big star we saw interviewed was The Hoff himself. He was in the ground though so we didn’t see him in person, but I was really excited when they started playing the James Bond theme music as they brought out Timothy Dalton onto the very stage where we’d been stood not half an hour earlier! I was stood not six feet away from him and got a couple of cracking pictures. Here’s one of the better ones.

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Timothy Dalton – James Bond in The Living Daylights and Licence To Kill as well as the dodgy supermarket manager Skinner in Hot Fuzz

Once we’d played it was a quick jaunt back to the cars to leave instruments there, and we were given our complimentary tickets to go in and see the match. We were sat four rows back from the front, right behind the corner flag so we had a cracking view of the action. We were close enough to call out to the players on the pitch and we enjoyed a bit of friendly banter with the subs when they did their warm-up exercises as well. I hadn’t realised Peter Crouch (who played for England) was a Stoke player and it was great to see him warming up pitch-side. Poor lad got some stick from the City fans, all good and friendly though!

By the time we got to sit in our seats, I was absolutely freezing cold. Band pants and band shoes are NOT recommended for sitting watching a football match in January in Manchester. They are great for the stage where there are lots of lights and it’s generally a boiling hot environment because they are nice and delicate (thin) and look great when not wrapped round the outside of a bandsman who is turning blue in the wintry North…..

However, there were plenty of chances to stand up and clap and cheer and generally pump blood back into my poor legs and feet. City were by far the better team and poor old Stoke were outplayed from the kick-off so there were lots of chances to stand up and get the blood circulating again. It wasn’t quite enough to stop my poor old feet and calves feeling like they were made of porcelain though and by the end of the match it was painful to walk up the steps to get out of the ground.

City won 3-0 and they were three cracking goals. Two of them were scored at our end of the pitch and because we were so close to the pitch-side we had a BRILLIANT view of them both. The first goal was scored in the opposite goal in the first half and my poor old eyes couldn’t really see it (thankfully they replay all the key moments on two big screens so we did get to see it a couple of times then). There’s nothing quite like that feeling when your team scores is there?!

It took a while to get out of the ground afterwards. If you can imagine what 47,000 people look like when they are all mobile at the same time then you can imagine why it took us nearly an hour to get home when it would usually take us 15 minutes!

We got home, came in and got changed (into warm clothes) and went out again to the Toby for our tea. I just fancied a “proper” meal today and as we didn’t have anything in, we decided to go for a carvery meal. Good choice! I’m sat here now nearly an hour after we got home and I’m still as full as a bucket. Funnily enough, I’m still also freezing cold. My feet are ok now but my legs, back and neck all feel like I’m sat in a cold bath. I think it will be fleecy pyjamas in bed tonight for me….brrr……

Here’s a selection of photos I’ve taken today.

Kevin changing his music over before the match
Kevin changing his music over before the match
Our little band today. Based on the Besses O' Th' Barn band, I have renamed our ensemble "The Brass Monkeys" just for today
Our little band today. Based on the Besses O’ Th’ Barn band, I have renamed our ensemble “The Brass Monkeys” just for today
My view of the pitch today
My view of the pitch today
My men! Phil, Ethan and Kevin engrossed in the match
My men! Phil, Ethan and Kevin engrossed in the match
Me and Kevin, attempted by my dodgy camera work
Me and Kevin, attempted by my dodgy camera work
Peter Crouch warming up (he's the lanky one)
Peter Crouch warming up (he’s the lanky one)
Moonbeam - one of the City mascots
Moonbeam – one of the City mascots
City being busy at the Stoke end of the pitch
City being busy at the Stoke end of the pitch
Final score - 3-0 (a bit too bright for my phone camera to pick up properly)
Final score – 3-0 (a bit too bright for my phone camera to pick up properly)
Post match feed at the Toby carvery
Post match feed at the Toby carvery
Emma and Sam tucking in to their dinners. Emma's Yorkshire pudding is nearly as big as her head!!
Emma and Sam tucking in to their dinners. Emma’s Yorkshire pudding is nearly as big as her head!!

So – a bit of music, a bit of football, a bit of banter, a bit of Hollywood glamour, a bit of lovely dinner and a whole lot of fun. I hope your day as been as interesting as mine has been.

Happy New Year!!!