Monday, February 3, 2014

Random Stuff and big news!

Well 2014 has got off to a whirlwind start! I can't believe January is already over.
New conductor in band, busy in school, trying to get organise a bathroom renovation (it's been 17 years!) and then the usual bits and, kids, etc.
I've a few photos that I want to share, been meaning to put these up for quite a while. This first one is the driveway in to the place where we have our orchestra rehearsal. It does my heart good every time I drive in here!
 This is the road that leads up to that driveway,  I think it looks like a tunnel ahead! It often has potholes so one has to drive very carefully!
And I have some very exciting news! Eldest daughter applied in her college for an exchange programme for next October, and she has got a place in .....TOKYO!
I am going to miss her soooooo much, but I am excited for her. Such an opportunity!

This last photo is a pub in Dublin that I pass on my way home from work...never been in there but it looks lovely, a good combination- music and pub!
 Hope everyone is keeping well, I'm off to visit y'all now!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy 2014 and Final Video from 2013

Tonight, as one does, I've been looking back on 2013: what a year it's been!
My overwhelming feeling is one of gratitude, because it has been a really good year for me. I know it has been very difficult for many of you, and lots of my friends, both online and offline, will be glad to say goodbye to 2013.
Some years are like that, I've had my share of them too. I think that getting older has made me relish the good times, because I know that life is a mix of good and bad/difficult, so my feeling is "ya gotta enjoy it while it lasts".

The final video of 2013 is of a momentous event in my musical life...the Massed Horn Choir playing Bohemian Rhapsody. The honour of playing in this concert, in memory of the son of a dear friend, was huge. Listening back to the video, I savour the feeling of "I just can't believe this could be happening"! In a good way!

I hope you enjoy it. If you don't want to listen to all 6 minutes, listen to the final minute or so...the horn sounds are so beautiful at the part.
I'm standing to the left and behind, the girl with the beautiful long red hair, roughly centre of picture.

Wishing you all a very happy and healthy and fun 2014!

Thursday, December 26, 2013


At last I've time to update this poor, neglected blog.
I hope you all had a happy, peaceful and healthy Christmas time. My mantra, as this busy time, has been "it's a season, not a day" and it's been a great help to know that whatever didn't get done in time for 25th. might get done on another day! Or might not!

So, after an interval of over a month, New Ross JFK memorial is today's topic.
It didn't go quite as expected, but well enough. A friend travelled down with me, but we got lost en route and instead of arriving 30 minutes before a rehearsal/runthrough, we arrived 15 minutes before the actual performance. I was quite upset, and felt rushed and not in control, and of course this caused the little mishap that followed.
Taking my Horn out of the case, I let it fall and now have 2 horrible dents which will have to be fixed. Thankfully, they do not seem to unduly affect the sound, as I couldn't leave it in to be fixed because I needed it to play!

In all this chaos, I forgot to ask my friend to video the performance, so all I have is a photo, but it is a precious one.

This is just after the performance, with Vincent, the composer. You can see the JFK memorial and eternal flame in the background, and to the right of the picture is the spot where JFK made his quayside speech when he visited New Ross in 1963, just a few months before he was assassinated.
I asked Vincent to autograph my music, and he wrote the most beautiful words, telling me how proud he is of my achievements and the musical journey I am on! 

The piece was played again in the National Concert Hall the following Tuesday, and I got a piece of video so you could hear it. I'm not playing, but I'm a proud Mamma cos Zoe is playing tuba in it! I found that I had to turn up the volume on my laptop to hear it, so I hope it will work for you.

There have been several other musical adventures in December, more to follow.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Blogger is driving me mad!

Firstly, I'm trying to upload a small video clip from the New Ross concert, and after 30 minutes it still hasn't finished!

Now blogger seems to have deleted my entire list of blogs I follow!
The only thing I have to go on is my own list of followers, which I can use to get in to your blogs...please be patient with me while I try to sort this out.....arrrgh!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Two exciting Musical performances!

Once again, my poor blog has suffered while life has been very busy.

I'm trying to juggle things, and each day something does not get done: I am trying to alternate what gets passed over.
But life IS for living, as you all have pointed out to me here, so I know you won't judge me for being absent for so long.

The exciting things! Firstly, a friend who is a well known composer was commissioned to compose a piece of music to commemorate the 50th anniversary of JFK's untimely death. He invited me to play this piece, on 22nd November, at the quayside in New Ross, Wexford. It was from here that JFK's great, great grandfather left Ireland to find a new and better life in America. An eternal flame, lit from the one that burns in Arlington cemetery, burns on the quayside.

The music is really beautiful, and the rehearsals are going well. There will be about 50 musicians, and it is such an honour to play. Hope it won't rain! I will post photos!

No sooner had I recovered from the shock of that invitation, than another one landed in my inbox! Another friend, who is a professional musician and horn player, is organising a concert for charity on 1st December, and he has put together a "Mass Horn Ensemble" to play Bohemian Rhapsody and a Wagner piece. And I will be one of the 32 horns playing!!! I am very excited!

To keep my feet on the ground, I have been trying to walk daily, and on the weekends I  made it to the beach, which is so calming and good for the soul! These pictures are from those walks.

Tonight, I got started on making my Christmas Aromatherapy products. I had offered a local women's group to give them 25 creams; they will sell them at a Christmas Fair and put the proceeds to good use.
Got those finished tonight, here they are, packed and ready to go, with a tester jar

 Tomorrow I have to start making more creams for sale!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Harvest and Autumn

I've been having some fantastic walks and blackberry foraging expeditions with my friend Patricia.
We discovered a lovely little patch, very close to where both of us live, and it has been so much fun to pick the berries, chat, then go home and make jam and crumbles!

Even a handful of berries livens up an apple crumble! I use eating apples, then it needs very little sugar.

The same friend invited me to a Hallowe'en "Samhain" (Irish word for Hallowe'en) party. I wasn't sure if it would be my kind of thing, all I knew was that there would be a bonfire and that it was alcohol-free. I decided to give it a go, as everyone else had plans, so a party was definitely better than sitting home alone!

It was about 40 minutes drive from Dublin, down winding country roads, but we got there just fine.
A beautiful sweeping driveway led to a huge, well-lit house, and as we parked, people were assembling and greeting each other. We registered and paid, then went and had a cuppa.

We were invited to write out something we'd like to let go of, wrap it around a twig and offer it up to the fire. That's my twig in the picture above!
About 8.30, everyone was invited outside for the bonfire ceremony, and my word, what a bonfire! I've never seen one so big, or so well built. It lit first go, and flames licked the sides and in seconds it was a well established and warm fire.

 We all put our little twigs on the fire, stood and chatted for a while, and listened to some drumming.

Then there was dancing in a huge room in the house, and a lovely looking butternut squash curry with jasmin rice. Oh, and chocolate brownies! And more tea!

The dancing was electric! It was hard to believe that it was an alcohol free scene, and there were people of all ages. We really enjoyed dancing to the rock beat, and when we got tired there were some bean bags to relax on. I took the above photo from my bean bag! The muslin with autumn leaves was a very effective decoration.
We explored the house a little too: it's used as a Shamanic healing centre, and they had massages and other things on offer in the beautiful rooms.

Just like Cinderella, we had to leave the ball at 12.00, as Patricia had to collect her daughter and friends from a disco.
We certainly enjoyed the night; I was so glad I had accepted the invitation!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Culture Night

Just home from a most amazing night.

The orchestra I play with, who rehearse just once a month (as opposed to Band, which is twice a week!), were invited to play in Castletown House for Culture Night.

Culture Night is a fairly new phenomenon in Dublin, where lots of places open their doors/ hold events free of charge. Buildings that are normally closed to the public open up for the evening too. There is always a great buzz around the city, and the country too, as the popularity of it has spread nationwide now.
Below is a picture of the beautifully restored Hunting Room, where we played.

We played in Castletown last year too. This year was even more special for me! We had been working on Beethoven's 7th symphony for much of last year. It is very challenging, even for great players. The 2nd movement featured in The King's Speech. We played it at our summer concert in June, in a church in Co. Kildare.
But this time, the 1st Horn guy was unavailable, so I was on my own, which to me is terrifying.
 However, I decided to "feel the fear and do it anyway", got down to some serious practice over the past 2 weeks, and did it!

Castletown is a most beautiful place; the grounds are amazing, and it's just 30 minutes drive from my house!
 I went straight from work, so had about 20 minutes to walk around and take these pictures.
 Isn't it beautiful?

Lest you think it's all meadows, peace and quiet, there is a small airport nearby, so planes are overhead if you care to take notice!

I am so thrilled to have played a very difficult piece of music, and solo Horn! All the work was certainly worth it, and has given me a  new-found confidence.
On a high!!! And once again, I reflect on and express gratitude for, this marvellous musical journey that I am on. It has already taken me to places I would only have ever dreamed of, and I have made fantastic friendships along the way.
There is no destination here, it's all about the journey. A good philosophy for life!