bye bye no. 58 :(

One of my favourite MotoGP riders – Marco Simoncelli – was killed in the Malaysia race on Sunday.

I have hardly watched any races all year as I have hardly been at home at the weekends – unfortunately I did watch this one, and saw the awful crash. Everyone knew straight away that it was really bad, and I hoped against hope that somehow the outcome would be better than it looked.

He was a rider who has had a very controversial year – some very hard passes on some other racers, and some big names at that! – but also some brilliant, gutsy riding that has had many people shrieking with sheer joy at some of the moves he has pulled off. Some have ended in a crash shortly afterwards, but some have stuck and he had some fantastic results beating the full factory riders on many an occasion.

At the age of 24, it feels so cruel that we won’t get to watch him race again. In a world full of riders who have been drilled for international sports stardom since a very young age, and who seem to have lost all ability to share the joy they surely must feel when they race bikes on the international stage, Marco was someone who stood out as a bit mad, a bit crazy (not least because of his huge hair!), extremely talented, and completely in love with racing.

I have been lucky enough to do some racing, and OK it’s never been anywhere near that level. But the thrill of defying gravity as you tip into a bend, and chasing and/or being chased by someone else, and the sensation of not quite knowing if your next move is going to be rewarded with a higher finishing position or a trip to the gravel (possibly even to A&E!). Well I can relate to those.

Many ask the question, is it worth it? Seeing that crash, I have to say I did wonder. But then I reminded myself of how I feel when I’m on my bike in a race, and I know that it is absolutely worth it. It’s like concentrating everything down into just a few minutes, but those few minutes are so gloriously intense. They may be intensely bad, or intensely good, but there’s no halfway between.

I don’t have any children or other dependents. I am lucky that my family support me in what I do, and are happy as long as I am happy. We have had our own tragedies in my family (as all families do) and we know the importance of seizing every moment and not taking the future for granted.

This sometimes means I am unable to plan for the future – for me it just may never come – and this makes me overly hedonistic at times. I would love to find a way to balance a little bit of planning so I am not left short, and can do the things I want to do, without feeling that I am missing out on the present and not living my life to the full.

Marco, I loved watching you race. I loved hearing you stand up for yourself and challenging those you didn’t agree with. I will take your passing as a reminder that I definitely need that thrill of racing, and I can’t live without it for too much longer.

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Project M

Well. At least I started my blog – but sadly I have not kept it very up-to-date!

I am back from a wonderful holiday in Spain, full of ideas, plans, goals and dreams at last. This is a lovely feeling after an extremely difficult year where I am sad to say I lost all of the above and submerged myself in work…. everything came to a head a couple of weeks ago and I am really glad the holiday was already booked as it was all that was keeping me going at times.

So. Lots of old rubbish has been left behind. I will be on a mission for a couple of weeks while the energy levels are still high – hopefully they will last longer than that, but today it has felt very wintry and I am looking forward to the change in seasons.

Project M is something I dreamt up just before I went away – well, really I have been dreaming of it for a lot longer. The M stands for a few different things – but there are a couple of things it definitely does NOT stand for! Like all the best dreams, it’s big, it’s slightly out of reach but not impossible, I may discover I don’t want it as much as I thought I did, but for now, it will do!

In the mean time, here is a holiday photo. I took a very brave step and treated myself to a wonderful Sunday lunch. Alone. I went out with curly hair, a dress that finished above my knees, I had wine in the middle of the day, and I sat in a restaurant on a Sunday afternoon and just had a starter and pudding. I sang along to some of the music, and wrote lots of silly stuff in bright colours. Nothing bad happened (and this is a worry when I go out with curly hair and a frock that shows my legs – I hate both!). Lesson learned!

The food was wonderful, the (2 glasses of) wine was fantastic and wasn’t too strong so I could walk back rather than roll/sway.

Definitely one of those defining moments and one I shall frequently cherish, especially in answer to when that question comes up – “think of a time when you were really happy”

More soon….

Another busy weekend on the harp front…. prompting some serious thoughts on how long this is really sustainable, and whether I am just tired out because it has been a busy year (harp wise as well as on other fronts), or whether there is a bit more to it.

Saturday – I went harp shopping at Clive Morley Harps. I was there to try the Aoyama Princess Sakura and the Aoyama Vega Special. I took mine to try with them so that I had something I knew to compare them to.

I loved them both in different ways – so now need to give this some serious thought too! I’m not sure I am ready to let go of my current harp 😦 but really he is just a little bit too big.

Sunday – I did a wedding at Woodhall Manor, just outside Ipswich. I met the bride and groom at a wedding fair earlier in the year, and had lots of email contact with them regarding their music choices so I felt really involved on the day. The bank holiday weather needs no further comment, but they were absurdly lucky and were able to hold their ceremony outside in the Dovecote. I was slightly distracted while they signed the register, as a very noisy dove was cooing right by the microphone being used by the registrars. I was sat under the mic and it was a very strange noise. The whole front row was quietly giggling and I could see them and hear the dove! I must have been more distracted than I thought, as apparently a wasp almost landed on my nose and I didn’t even flinch!!

Here are some pictures….

Tucked in the doorway out of the wind (and slightly dubious skies!)

The front of the manor house…

Looking rather smart I feel!….

Yesterday I had some rehearsal time with my mum, preparing for my up and coming recital on September 18th.

We are working on Girl with the Flaxen Hair and the First Arabesque, both by Debussy. I have done the first one on the piano – Debussy is one of my favourite composers. Last time we played together it was all a bit thrown together, but this time we are both determined to put a lot more effort in. We are hoping to put some more music together and do more concerts in the future (and hopefully some weddings/background stuff too).

Tomorrow night I have a rehearsal with my friends Frankie (singer) and John (jazz guitarist) – they are also joining me for a couple of numbers in the concert. The theme is Harp and Friends, so while a lot of it will be solo, I am also hoping to show a bit of how versatile the harp can be, and it will be nice to have some company in front of all those faces, however friendly they are!

In between all this I am fitting in a full time job…. my next weekend off is October 8th-9th so it will be a long slog until then. My heart is being pulled in both directions at the moment, both musical and day job. Lots of decisions to make but there is no immediate rush.

Hedingham Castle

just a quick one, slightly out of order, but had to add this as on ITV last night there was a trailer for the new Jonathan Ross series coming up.

I played at the very same castle in the trailer on 6th August – Hedingham Castle in Suffolk.

Probably my favourite venue so far – fantastic acoustics, incredible atmosphere….the only bad thing from a harpist’s point of view, and it was a pretty big one, was the stairs situation. Fortunately I had been forewarned by my harp teacher (yes, even at the grand old age of 32 I still have a teacher!), and took my star of a Dad with me. Dad was a complete hero and helped me all the way up the wobbly steps.

 and then up the spiral staircase….

then up some more nice shiny wooden steps….

to about half way up the keep, where the double windows are.

The photo in my profile picture was taken in the Banqueting Hall. It was worth all the effort, and my dad, who was listening out of sight in the basement, said the acoustics were such that he could hear every note. Congratulations to the bride and groom!

The Jonathan Ross trailer is here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/video/2011/aug/17/jonathan-ross-itv-promo

Saturday 20th August

Saturday’s wedding was absolutely stunning – the church was in an incredible setting, on a private estate in north Suffolk. As I drove up the incredibly long drive, I felt like I was in Pride and Prejudice! And was it not for the fact that I was in a car, and had a double action pedal harp** in the back of said car, I could have been!

Just as I was pulling past the main house on the Sotterley estate, I was greeted by a beautiful little Patterdale terrier called (as I was later to find out) Beetle. She barked to say hello and then followed me all the way round…and into the church. The church wardens knew her very well and sent her off, so she made herself comfy in the boot of my car!! Sadly no photos of her, but here are some of my harp πŸ™‚

The church is the wonderful St Margarets at Sotterley. Chatting to the vicar afterwards, I found I was in good musical company as the Opera Babes had performed at the church a couple of years before me. One of them lives in the parish.. but bizarrely, the other one lived 2 doors down from my lovely ex-parents-in-law and her dad was my ex husband’s scout leader, and came to my first wedding! Six degrees etc…. what a small world.
Anyway. A beautiful and very personal service, and congratulations to the bride and groom, who were set up on a blind date by the mother of the bride. Cue lots of “Mother knows best” comments from the vicar πŸ™‚
** NB harpists and other harp enthusiasts will of course know that the double action pedal harp arrived much later than the P&P era!

First post!

So. After weeks of mulling and contemplating, at last I have set up my blog.

Strings – I’m a harpist
Wings – see above. Plus my race bike is a Honda and therefore has wings
Things – life in general

I’m running away to hide from the world for a couple of days but will start properly when I have resurfaced!

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