Tuesday, 30 July 2013

All this abundance

 I'm very lucky to have parents who have a very large and productive garden. I get to enjoy all the benefits of their harvest without putting in much effort at all (though I did do a massive amount of watering for them throughout the recent heatwave).
Currently we're enjoying black and red currents, red and white gooseberries, sunberries (these are the ones that look like raspberries but darker) potatoes, beetroot, chard leaves, mange tout,  and beans of various descriptions. We've already had a massive strawberry crop which has resulted in many jars of jam.

 I also love these roses which grow wild amongst the currents


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Queen in waiting

With all the new royal baby at the moment, I want to talk about a different type of royalty.
Carnival Royalty.

Though the sight of young girls dressed up in dresses wider than they are tall, wearing full make up and having complicated lacquered hair may bring to mind beauty pageants; a sort of English, suburban, less-orange Toddlers and Tiaras (a show I am inexplicably drawn to, that and Dance Moms, why oh why do I watch such nonsense?) these girls are something rather different.
I've tried to find out about why we have Rose/Carnival Queens and when the tradition started but, surprisingly, there's not a lot of information out there. I can find out that there are lists of Rose Queens going back to the start of last century and that there have been all sorts of different titles linked to the language of flowers such as different coloured roses representing things like love, charity, virtue, friendship etc. Even after finding that out, discovering the origins of rose queens remains elusive. I could hypothesise wildly and say it's all linked to Green Man and sacrificing virgins to ensure healthy crops but thats just my imagination, all I know is that it's an old tradition. Sometimes there are also little boys dressed up in page boy suits bowing and waiting on their older sisters.

I took these pictures at my town's carnival on Saturday. The girls were preparing to be presented to the judging panel. I'm not entirely sure of the criteria for judging the girls or what they would win. I think a lot of the girls are involved in raising money for and representing their chosen charity, so maybe that would be part of it.
The judging process starts with the home royalty who enter the arena and curtsey spectacularly to the judges, to the audience and then to the other girls already there. I have no idea how they manage to do that elegant, down to the floor curtsy, I would fall over and then be stuck in such a wide dress like a beetle on it's back.There are several different categories of royalty, mostly decided by age. I spotted; Queens, Junior Queens, Princesses, Personality Princesses, Rosebuds and Petals.
A lot of the process is a little confusing to me. I'm not sure why so many girls would want to spend every saturday all summer long prancing around in constricting clothes. But maybe I'm not princessey enough. I knew a girl at school who was a Carnival Queen and her young daughter is now one of the tiny princess ones. They both seem to really enjoy it. I hope all the girls do.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Gospel Choir of the Year!

I've written previously about the fact that I'm a part of an amazing gospel choir that I really love. We have a fun group of superb singers and incredibly talented directors who are able to make us sound fantastic.

At the beginning of the month we went down to London to compete in University Gospel Choir of the Year competition (UGCY). The choir had already won last year before I'd joined so we had high expectations that we'd do pretty well again. I was also really intrigued to see all the other choirs and find out how different everyone's styles are.
We're quite a big and diverse choir, there are regularly around 80 of us for concerts and our Christmas concert had over a hundred of us squeezed on stage. Some of the choirs were pretty small in comparison with around 20 members. This has a big impact on the way we perform. It would be pretty tricky to get all of us to do the very energetic dance moves that some of the choirs did in time let alone having enough space for everyone to move freely without hitting each other. Similarly smaller groups can't have the depth or volume of singing that we have. A couple of choirs only had 2 or 3 tenors which makes a massive difference compared to our 10.
It was a really nice weekend, we spent Friday evening  rehearsing and then picnicking on Clapham Common before separating to go off and spend the night at London based choir members' homes. It was really nice to get to know different people from choir who I hadn't necessarily spoken to much. Saturday was filled with rehearsing and sound checking for the evening's show as well as practising the song that all the choirs would sing together. We had a couple of hours over lunch time to sit in Golders Hill park and enjoy getting everything perfect while in the sun.
For the evening concert, we had 6 minutes to perform. We had a medley of 3 songs, the first, In This Life, was written by our fantastic musical director Dave Onac, then a sweet spiritual song called Bow Down and finally an upbeat Kirk Franklin piece called Stomp.

We must've done really well because we won!

It was an amazing experience and such a great thing to be able to be involved in. I'm really looking forward to starting rehearsals again after the summer break and all the fun things we get up to over the next year.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Al fresco crochet

 I've still not entirely finished my big ripple blanket, but with the weather being so lovely I'm not really inclined to have it draped over me while I add the border. These little granny squares however are fantastic for hot weather. I wrote previously about how I'm using up ends cut from my blanket and having a lot of fun mixing colours to make some very patchy squares. I'd already reached 20 squares in my earlier post. I've added another six here and have nearly run out of yarn, I think I'd have enough here for a scarf but not really anything much bigger. I'm enjoying mixing the colour combinations anyway

Saturday, 13 July 2013

It's hot!

I've not posted much recently as I've been spending most of my time outside, in the garden or in parks or on one amazing occasion by an outdoor swimming pool.
It's all bright and beautiful outside at the moment and I'm enjoying sitting outside reading and licking ice lollies at all times of the day

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Trolley Dancing (yes exactly what it sounds like)

A couple of weeks ago I was at Bradford Mela. The Mela has dad some problems in recent years with flooding in the parkwhere it was held, so this year they moved onto the newly refurbished and paved City park in front of the town hall.
These trolly dancers were one of the acts performing, they're so strong! It was really interesting to see such an every day item used in an interesting and beautiful way.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Life recently, weddings, babies and large mobile hippos


I spent quite a bit of time in June in one of my favourite places in the world, the West Yorkshire city of Bradford.
I went over to celebrate my friend's wedding and to cuddle babies who are nearly a year old now.
I also enjoyed Bradford Mela, where I saw that amazing and enormous hippo, met up with lots of friends and enjoyed some surprising sunshine