February is here!

Hello and happy Monday to you! I’m actually writing this on Sunday evening, so it’ll be ready to go live on Monday evening as I’ll be playing in Leeds (more on that later perhaps).

But firstly, we made it to February! Let’s all give ourselves a pat on the back for making it through January. The days are getting longer, the sun is occasionally actually visible and it’s generally not quite as grim as it has been. Personally for me January was a month of house-hunting, running, yoga, practice and teaching.

The past few days have included much more intense practice than usual, as I’ve been called up to play the harp for La Boheme in Leeds next week – starting on Monday. I’m so excited about it but it’s meant marking up and learning sixty-three pages of music in less than a week. Actually it’s been fine and I’m really looking forward to it. Times like this are made easier by the fact that I like to practice for everything I’ve got coming up in the next six weeks – even if it feels silly and as though I’ll be ready in heaps of time – you never know when you’ll get a last minute call and have to drop everything for a few days.

Speaking of practice, I’m now up to day twenty-one of the #30daypracticechallenge on instagram, so give me a follow if you’d like to see what I’m up to.

Those of you who read last week’s post will know that I’ve signed up for Audible to get me through the training runs in preparation for the 10K I’m doing next month. Well, I finished The Girl on the Train and I have to say I really enjoyed it. I was slightly disappointed to guess who did it quite early on but that didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book. I’m now eagerly waiting for the end of the month and trying to decide which book to listen to next. Until then I’ll be reading The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman, I was so into His Dark Materials so am really looking forward to this.

Yesterday (Saturday) was a complete break from the usual schedule (well I still did a little bit of practice), as we had a family day over in Blackpool, my dad’s hometown. We spent some time with my uncle and two aunties, two cousins & a fiancee, my sister and my dad – yea my family is huge but they are all so special to me and I really cherish the time we spend together. The photo at the top of this post is my dad practising for Sunday morning’s church service at Highfield Methodist Church in Blackpool, and my sister Joanne singing along.

So I think that’s it from me this week. Next week’s post is likely to be a run-down of shenanigans that went on in Leeds over the course of the week. I’ll see you there.

A

x

p.s. as well as subscribing to this blog, you can follow me on twitter, instagram & youtube.

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Live YouTube Concert and life update.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I did a live ‘concert’ on YouTube last Sunday evening. I finished playing feeling rather pleased with how it had gone, only when I watched it back I realised that the sound quality was nowhere near what I’d like it to be:

So have a watch if you like, but chances are I’ll switch this video to private shortly as I can definitely do better than this. Thing is, I don’t know where the issue is, was it the internet connection? Was it the microphone on my laptop? I’m not tech-savvy enough (yet) to be able to livestream from my digital camera. Maybe someone who knows about these things can explain it to me in words of one syllable?

Currently, I have a couple of options, scrap the idea of a livestream and just record a video on my camera to upload later, still in a concert format, but not live, or just go back to videos of individual pieces. What do you reckon? I’d love some feedback on this.

No gigs to report this week (thanks, January) but plenty of teaching is happening, which is good. Have you ever thought about having harp or piano lessons? If yes and you live in or around Manchester, please get in touch and we’ll have a chat about harp or piano lessons.

In other news, the house hunt continues, and to be completely honest, it’s been an emotional week. We put an offer on a house and it wasn’t accepted, by which point I’d already decided how I wanted to decorate it and how I wanted to arrange my new music room:

But we’re having to leave it and have found a couple of other houses that we’re very interested in, so I will try to remain detached and just see them as piles of bricks until I have a set of keys in my hand.

I’m learning a lot about patience in this process. We thought we’d found our home last July but it wasn’t meant to be. Now I’m glad that house fell through because we’ll end up somewhere much better for us.

Moving on, I’m currently in training for a 10K race in March. I signed up for it last year thinking it’ll be a great deadline to make me get out and do some running over winter. Ha. I’ve never been ankle-deep in mud so many times in a single month than I have this January, but my partner Tim (of Chorlton Personal Training) has devised a programme for me and I’m pretty much sticking to it. It’s hard but I just think to myself that the harder the training runs feel, the easier the actual 10K will feel, right?!

I think I’m becoming delusional.

So on all these training runs, I have to admit I was getting pretty sick of my ‘Gym’ playlist on Spotify – although do feel free to check it out – it’s all songs I love but by now I’ve just heard them too many times. In a quest for something different to listen to, I’ve signed up for Audible and downloaded my first audiobook – The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I’ve almost finished it and am loving listening to it while I’m out and about. If you have audible (or if you just love books) please leave me some recommendations that I can add to my wishlist.

As ever, thanks for reading and don’t forget to give me a follow on instagram, facebook, twitter & youtube! I’m currently halfway through a 30 day practice challenge on instagram so I’m posting a little video each day of what I’m working on. Maybe I’ll catch you there?

Let’s chat soon,

A

x

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Porto!

I’m back! Freshly tanned and totally refreshed from ten days staying in Porto with some of my lovely friends. So I thought I’d post about it and let you know what we got up to (and make you just a little jealous).

As you can see from the photo at the top of this post, Porto is beautiful. Not only that, the food is amazing and the people are super friendly.

We sampled the local delicacy known as the Francesinha – basically shove as much meat as you can into a sandwich – sausages, steak etc, top with a fried egg, cover the whole thing in cheese, drown it in a sauce – the main ingredient of which is booze, then add fries.

Yea, don’t eat these every day:

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We drank a lot of red wine, and a lot of port – it’s rude not to, right? We took a tour of the Cockburn’s port cellars and tasted some of their port afterwards.

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Everything is so cheap out there. In a supermarket you can get a lovely bottle of wine for €2.50, a bottle of nice port for €8 – and a proper meal out in a restaurant can be between €5 and €10. It’s ridiculous! Apparently in England we just get ripped off when we buy anything.

We had a day trip to see a Medieval Festival, which was fabulous.

Lunch: 1 rabbit.

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Wine: 1 Euro.

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I got the chance to read some books that I’ve been meaning to get round to for ages.

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I (finally) finished Stephen King’s Needful Things  – very creepy. Then I read Life of Pi which was fantastic, one of those books that you just can’t stop thinking about after finishing. I then started Solar by Ian McEwan, which is very good so far. I intend to keep reading as much as I can now that I am back. I so enjoyed not having my phone at all for those ten days, and only sporadic internet access to check for emergency emails. It meant that the group spending time together meant conversation, playing cards, cooking, and just enjoying each other’s company as you can clearly see here:

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We played the card version of Monopoly – Monopoly Deal – for hours and hours. It is so addictive and well worth checking out if you haven’t seen or heard of it.

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I also finally learned how to play poker! With Monopoly money of course…

So all in all, a fantastic trip. Big thank-you to Artur Pereira for hosting us so generously – we love you! Here’s to the next time 🙂

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