Its now been 8 months since Paddi passed away yet I still find my self up & out the door as I have been for more than a decade to wander the fields behind the house. As the seasons change so does environment so the view is never really the same twice & if I’m lucky I get to see wildlife too.
The wheat fields were a golden colour & the gentle rumble of the combine will be felt as the lane fills with tractor & trailers in a frenzied bid to get the harvest in.
Covid may have wreaked havoc on the wider world but not in these fields. I consider myself most fortunate to have been able to escape here on a daily basis to try & cling on to a sense of personal freedom.
Freedom like trust a very flimsy often underrated commodity until you no longer have it. Whilst lockdown had the feel of living in some sort of house arrest now our mobility is being governed by need to zealously conform to a myriad of conflicting rules & regulations.
So with no gigs to go to the answer was to set up a fund-raising project that led to hosting what I have dubbed a ‘micro festival’. In the role of ‘crash test dummies’ we live streamed a segment into an all day music event with a largely virtual audience. The scaled up version is likely to take place later in the year. This project is still ongoing but has been severely affected by the unpredictable announcements connected to covid concerns. More of that to follow as time goes on so be warned!
Then when out of nowhere came the chance to travel North for a live music it was too good an opportunity to miss. Daughter & I set off to Newcastle for a hotel I last stayed at back in the late 1980’s. With The Hunna headlining supported by Jaws & Bare Roots it was a total ‘no brainer’ to go especially as we could combine our visit with some sight seeing & meeting one of my daughters old ship mates.
It was a curious set up but for all intents & purposes it mostly felt like a gig & the portaloos were the cleanest I had ever had the privilege to use. So may be some of the changes were for the common good! I certainly am glad I made the six hour drive to listen to those bands play they were all awesome in their unique way.
The staff at the venue were lovely & I have never in all the gigs I have gone to been greeted by name when collecting my preordered drinks. My daughter & I joked that perhaps we were the only ones drinking Pimms but hey who cares it was a warm evening & that was the perfect beverage. We bought a mask to support the organisers in the hope they will get to run more & I was given a Hunna Hat as a thank you for organising the trip.
Live music lifts your soul especially when you can sing at the top of your voice & dance along even if a little self consciously in your own little pen. Quite a contrast to the gig I had attended in London prior to the lockdown where 10,000 of us had jostled together in an amorphous blob.
Not sure when we get to alight from the current crazy train but for now I have the memories of those few days to sustain me. The measures currently emplace seem to be designed to suck every ounce of enjoyment from peoples lives. As the dark nights approach coupled with the restrictions I can only wonder at the impact to the nations mental health. I now also have major reservations about the methods of data collection that inform these decisions. I am not convinced that young people are responsible nor is the virus spread just limited to social situations. The work place seems just as likely & it will be interesting to see how the incidence of sick leave rises with the approach of ‘cough & cold’ season where it will be virtually impossible to differentiate between the conditions.
Newcastle we loved you, we had a fantastic break returning home to gloriously un-seasonally warm, balmy weather to catch up on some gardening. Bye for now & stay as safe as you can.
Pulling into the Visitors Centre (not appreciating that post Labour day the opening hours change) it was getting late but despite having to wait while the person in front of me was sworn in as some kind of Ranger I managed to ascertain if we were quick pitches might be available.
After a bit of confusion we worked out that a number of slots were indeed free & nestled Martha into one. Realistically we knew that climbing to the top of the dunes was probably not sensible as during the day it would be too hot & we didn’t know the area well enough for long distance night hiking especially given the mountain lion warnings.
Taking a short exploratory walk around we headed back for supper & a beer where upon the notion of watching the sunset from one of the lower dunes struck us. Flinging the flute in the back pack we set off across the dry river bed & headed for the smaller mounds of sand.
The sunset was indeed beautiful which was probably more than could be said for my flute playing but we had a laugh given how windy it was & we only had phones to record the noise I was making on. Concluding ‘westernised’ music was not conducive to the surroundings trying to play the examples of native songs in the dark with no idea what they should sound like was more than challenging.
Like many ancient cultures the music originally would not have been written down & I have come to understand ‘playing the scenery’ was an accepted way of composing tunes. That is my excuse & I’m sticking to it! Later sharing this tale with my guitar teacher we concluded that this was a sound concept could be of use in any musical composition.
Heading back in the dark we picked our way carefully & amazingly found the track back using only our wits & natural moonlight. It truly was a magical place for as we traversed we were treated to calls of wild coyote that clearly were roaming in the mountains beyond the dunes not to mention other wild life that joined us at breakfast time the next day.
Pricey though the fuel here had been filling up lessened the risk of running out & meant we could get a head start in the morning.