August 1, 2020

Is anyone else finding that time is being unfair? One minute you’re thinking: Ah, I’ve got weeks and weeks to get on with xyz. The next you realise that weeks and weeks have passed and you still haven’t even started xyz…

During lockdown I was determined to achieve, achieve and achieve some more. For example I should learn to play that ukulele I bought ages ago. I should learn to sing ‘properly’ (I do sing a lot, but ‘properly’? – hmmm, no). I should record that harp CD. Most of all, I should write book three.

So how’s it going?

UKULELE: I have picked up the uke a few times but can still only play three chords and it takes me a seriously long time moving from one chord to another. And it makes my fingers hurt.

RECORDING: I try to record...

July 1, 2020

Another month of this peculiar year has flown by and I hope you're all hanging in there. I miss friends but continue to be very grateful for husband, garden and cat. I am still immersed in harpish and bookish things in my little corner of Exmoor. I'm happy to say there’s been cause for celebration this month. Clue:

Yes! My second book was published in the USA and Canada on 16th June. It's been out in the UK since March with a different title (AWAY WITH THE PENGUINS) but America is huge! We toasted the success of the book with pink bubbly - and my fluffy penguin, who is named after one of the characters, inevitably got into the photo too. I’ve realised that penguins are generally more popular than harps, so I’m thinking thi...

June 1, 2020

The potatoes are coming on nicely, the rockets are rocketing, the tomatoes are in fine fettle but why oh why is there not a single bean?

So yes, I'm resorting to vegetable news. I could go on about COVID-19 but I think we've all had enough of that particular C-word. I could certainly say *** about politics but I'm not going to let that happen because I'm here for the music and books. And there's not much to report in either of those departments to be honest, but, for what it's worth:

MUSIC

I play the harp to myself every day. I'm practising my arrangements of Christmas carols if you must know, because I don't think I'll be performing again before November. I'm trying to record some but making very little headway as the mysterious ways...

May 1, 2020

It's immense, isn't it? When the year began we never imagined life would change so much. We're all finding different ways of coping. Mine is to try and focus on the good and lovely things.

Fortunate as I am in so many ways, I'm desperately sad for anyone who is alone, scared, ill, overworked, financially threatened or grieving for loved ones at this time. I also feel for anyone undergoing lockdown without a garden or access to countryside. While I worry this might rub it in, I’m going to risk posting some Exmoor nature photos - because I'm keen to share what I can of the good and lovely things. They cheer me along and I hope they might cheer you along too.

So, without further ado…

There's good and lovely human activity going on a...

April 1, 2020

This blog is not what I expected it would be. I thought I’d be describing my lovely book launch, all the friends that came to support me, the flowers, the penguin-themed cupcakes, the song I wrote about penguins and how nervous I felt about everything but how glad I was I’d done it… Then I would go on to enumerate the many author talks I had lined up in libraries and the literary festivals where I was to be a speaker and teacher. Not forgetting of course, all the harp gigs, many of them in Care Homes. I was going to be very victorious and very, very busy.

Not so. Because, like everyone else, I am self-isolating and the full diary is now only full of crossings-out. Coronavirus - Grrr!

Fact: I’m one of the lucky ones. I live in a magic...

March 1, 2020

“You have to wait for the well to fill again,” I was advised recently by a fellow author. I’d just been complaining that I didn’t seem to be managing much writing at the moment. In fact the only writing done by me so far this year was song-writing. Pretty pathetic, heh? Call myself an author? Aren’t we always told that authors are supposed to write every single day?

But the inspiration wasn’t there and, strangely enough, beating myself up wasn’t helping in the least. I know you are meant to just start writing any old thing and the ideas are then supposed to come. I’d tried that. They didn't. Writers' block? No. Just plain exhaustion. I realise now what a herculean effort I made get book 2 finished and then the minute it was done the...

February 1, 2020

I welcome February with enthusiastic, wide open arms. It’s the month of snowdrops and I’m slightly obsessed with snowdrops… and the days are getting longer, which has to be good for things like cheerfulness and hope.

There were two gigs at either end of January and one very important weekend in the middle. I teach harp (my students range in age from 8 to 90) but this was an opportunity to be a student myself again – how lovely! I was one of a large harp group at Halsway Manor, learning by ear several pieces none of us had ever heard before.

A great time in beautiful surroundings, and a challenge not so much for the fingers but certainly for the memory…

This was a pointer for me. I have memorised so many pieces now that I think my bra...

January 1, 2020

The portal of a new decade, and my thoughts are a whirl. I do have an excuse, though: 16 harp performances in the lead-up to Christmas, each with individual challenges and demands. Several weeks-worth of practice with singing and pedal loop all slid down the drain because of a nasty virus which deprived me of my voice. Plan B (a programme of instrumental-only music) was successfully implemented – big phew! - but I’m still in recovery.

Christmas itself is exhausting, too, isn’t it? Our guests have just left. Over the last week, between cooking, eating, walks, chat and music, we’ve played many, many board games, including a new favourite, Settlers of Catan. My metaphorical mind, as always, draws parallels. Catan is an imaginary...

December 1, 2019

I’ve gone a little penguin crazy. Well, sometimes you just have to give in to your natural impulses… and mine have been all about buying penguin products recently. For example, here are my new penguin scarves…

... my new penguin bag…

                  ...  and my new penguin angel chimes. 

It’s all in a spirit of celebration. Because in November I was sent the advance copies of my forthcoming novel AWAY WITH THE PENGUINS. It will hit the bookshops in March and is already available to pre-order. I’m really glad I pushed myself so hard over the summer and it’s such a relief to be at this stage. As you might glean, I’m just a bit excited about it!

My debut novel, ELLIE AND THE HARP MAKER i...

November 1, 2019

It’s never really been my thing. It has an aura of loneliness. Even the word sounds like a negative: SO LOW! To be honest, I see myself more as a team player. I love, love, love being part of The Hummingbirds, the a capella singing quartet where I have a line of music all to myself which works in harmony with the other three parts. And I love my role in Foxwillow Trio, adding that vital element of harpishness to the mix. The jokes, banter and friendship are a real joy, too.

However, in the past few months I’ve been branching out on my own a lot. I’ve been doing Care Homes as a soloist for several years, but now there are far more formal performances with everything depending on just me and the harp. I did another solo fundraising co...

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