Category: Music

Music and Friends (by )

Just at the point where Jean started to take to playing and learning songs for the keyboard/piano, our hammond organ decides to die. We are hoping we can still fix it but it is going to be a major job 🙁

So a friend of ours said we could have an old keyboard of his, it used to be his grandmothers. We picked it up at the weekend with a little musical distraction!

Jean playing with an epic synth keyboard set up

For Jean spotted his epic set up with phone and mic stand and coloured buttons all set up to the computer 🙂

He also has a tank drum from Bali, I love these instruments so he let me have a play and of course that meant Mary had to have a play!

Mary playing with a tank drum from Bali

It was great seeing friends at the weekend - some of whom we've not seen for 3 or 4 years!

Of course after school yesterday my poor old struggling laptop was kidnapped for music recording / song making to happen - this mainly seemed to consist of Jean shouting at Mary for talking over the recording!

Once again I've been amazed by our wonderful friends 🙂

Steel Pan Drum Making (by )

Dear Alaric and Jean you asked for ideas for welding projects for presents for me - you know already that I would like a tank drum but I would also like what I call a Calypso Drum - these used to be used at the carnivals when I was a kid and also during the candle light parades and things. I prefer the ones without drilled holes but if they are easier to make then that is fine 🙂

This one looks like a lot of work - from having spent time round industrial workshops as a kid I kind of had it in my head you just bashed empty oil cans - the sort my bro/uncle David makes into BBQ's. And I'm sure there was a drum made from the bonnet of a car or maybe they just let me play with non-sharpe metal and stuff to keep me entertained as a kid!

Also there is this little beaut which is painted and stuff - I didn't know they came painted - it is lovely but about £80 and isn't as many notes I don't think.

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p.s. you might need to enlist the help of musicians in Cheltenham Hackspace for tuning though Jean you are always moaning at my wrong notes so you should be able to do it yourself! Remember Alaric you do have oscillerscopes!

Within and Without Virtual Launch Party (by )

This weekend is the virtual launch party of my poetry, music and art album Within and Without. It went live at 10 am this morning 🙂

There will be give aways and postings of links, explanations of the recordings, videos and more. I am running a Facebook Event, a Google Plus Collection as well as blogging across various platforms 🙂

I will be going until 11 pm Sunday evening!

Within and Without is an on going art, poetry and music project that I started several years ago. This is the first part and contains the visual poem A Stranger Dream which is also a colouring in book I have produced. Some of the colouring in sheets or art visuals are included in the download along with art work from a sister book not yet released that goes with the track Winter's Heart.

The whole download costs £1 and comes free with any merch purchase you make. If you wish to just just purchase the merch you can go to my Etsy shop.

I hope you all enjoy the work.

Fun Palaces Gloucester (by )

Sunday was the first ever Fun Palaces weekend in Gloucester with events all over the UK. The event in Gloucester was organised by the accessible theatre company Two Can run by Nickie Wildin.

Preparing for Fun Palaces Gloucester

I was pointed in the direction of Fun Palaces by a mutual friend as it's ethos is similar to the Cuddly Science (my puppets and sci-craft activities) mission statement - Science for All and the idea that everyone should and can be part of science, art, music, sport = culture.

Cuddly Science Space Craft banner in the window for Fun Palaces

As a grass root, community driven event it needed contributors so we took the Puppets and did Cuddly Science and junk modelling and I did a poetry set.

Drawing and colouring at Fun Palaces

Alaric helped with bunting and the girls did a lot of colouring!

Two Can Accessible Theatre craft workshop

There was a wide range of people who came along and took part which is absolutely ace as part of the issue I have is our society is increasingly segmented meaning people find it hard to relate to others as they have never had interactions with people who are different to them.

Two Can Theatre paper mosaic being created with local

This included Phillip who sleeps in shop doorway most nights and who was excited to help decorate his home as we stuck the artworks up in the window. Mary decided he was her new best friend and cried when he left.

Two Can Accessible Theatre craft workshop

The space itself ie the shop was donated and the furniture for workshops was loaned from the community enterprise The Furniture Recycling Project.

Ada Lovelace at Fun Palaces Gloucester

Ada Lovelace the puppet came out and even did a few little jigs on the street to let people know we were there! Also it is coming up to Ada Lovelace Day again so it was good to let people know about Ada!

Ada Lovelace at Fun Palaces Gloucester

The puppets and sci-craft help engage people who have a tendency to be scared of science and is part of how I break down barriers but my workshops are also flexible so I also did general junk modelling and spoke to people about junk art and upcycling - I even have a booklet on the stuff I've written now!

Cuddly Science Space Craft workshop for Fun Palaces with Two Can Theatre

Some truly amazing pieces came out of the workshop from tweeting pop out birds...

Junk art 3D-2D birds

To fire breathing dragons and thanks to Mary lots and lots of night vision goggles!

Junk Model Dragon with Salaric Craft at Fun Palaces

Running workshops is exhausting but fun and everyone seemed to really be enjoying themselves 🙂

Salaric Craft at Gloucester Fun Palace

We also got to promote the Cheltenham Hackspace as there was a skills exchange board, Jean also kept trying to put my on it to teach stuff like knitting! People were asking about the Hackspace and I found several people had initiatives that could do with junk modelling, comic book creating or cuddly science 🙂 So it was really kind of epic for us!

Alaric and Jean adding things to the skill exchange board

Then there was the bingo! With Beryl 😀

Lingo Beryl prepping for Bingo at Gloucester Fun Palaces with Two Can Theatre

Turns out I suck at bingo but the lady who won one of my Love: A Stranger Dream candles loved it and Phillip won the cake and then insisted on sharing it with us all. It was an epic cake I am kind of sad I failed to get a photo of it!

Bingo, craft, cake and science at Fun Palaces Gloucester

Two ladies from Gloucester Cathedral came along to tell us about the projects that are and will be happening there including letting people know about their breakfast club and that they are getting solar panels!

Gloucester Cathedral is going green!

I love the Cathedral space so it was great to hear about things especially how they are planning on turning the front bit into a community garden.

Finding out about what is going on at Gloucester Cathedral

They had also bought with them pictures of stained glass windows and some of the green men carvings for colouring in which went down well with everybody but especially with Mary 🙂

Stained Glass Colouring with Gloucester Cathedral at Fun Palaces

Then it was Spoken Word time - I opened the set with my visual poem and narrative piece Reclaim the City which is part of my Found Poems of the Concrete series. People seemed to like it - I went for the Gloucester theme rather than Fun or Palaces.

Saffy performing Reclaim the City

I had made booklets for everybody to take away with them as it relies on the images and also I know I personally find it hard to recall stuff when you get bombarded with a lot of cool new things - so it is there for people to look at later if they wish.

Saffy getting the audience to participate in poetry

Of course I then made the audience participate in Windy Gloucestershire which I was going to read but kind of transposed into singing without me actually noticing!

Portrait of Alaric by Jean

I also did Summer Sun another song-poem but this time I did do the spoken version. Jean took some photos the one above of Al and the one below of the poet from Food for Thought which is a poetry night that happens at Cafe Rene.

Food for Thought Poet at Gloucester Fun Palace

Then we had the brilliant Donna Williams who is a sign poet, in Donna's case she uses British Sign Language or BSL. Sign language is something I've struggled with since the head injury - according to my kids I used to sign nursery rhymes and things for them and my husband says I was quiet militant about this incase any of them ended up with hearing problems like I had as a child, I wanted them to be able to communicate - because not being able to communicate is the MOST frustrating thing. My mum says the main issue is that I knew the rudimentary of 3 different sign language systems, enough to help in classrooms and when I used help her at the day centre but I was not proficient as it were, and now I've got all three of them all muddled up in my head.

Donna Williams signing cat poetry

Interestingly I understood what was being signed but would not have been able to sign back at all. And also Donna did run through what some of the sings meant as well as vocalising some of the poems.

Donna Williams Sign Poetry

Mary's favourite was about cats 🙂 I did video it but have since found a better recording on Youtube.

I have written about sign poetry before including here, though interestingly I can't find the stuff about the American poet who started my interest. I am wondering if it was in an essay for my PGCert or something.

sign poetry at Gloucester Fun Palace

Donna was lovely and I think I've seen her/met her before but I am still really struggling with face recognition at the moment! To the point that I could not work out who Nickie (the lady who had organised the event!) was when I arrived.

Twitter @DeafFirefly

Mary loved the event and Phillip so much that she had a melt down when it came time to pack up and leave. (And I mean melt down)

Human billboards and lots of bunting

It was an amazing day and I hope we get to do it again next year. I met lots more creatives and found out about stuff in Gloucester - this is something I suck at - I will end up going off to Swindon, Bristol, Brum, London etc... and then finding out that there was a big culture spoken word, art etc... thing happening round the corner but only AFTER it has been and gone!

One last thing the decor of the shop was fab!

Shoe people Horse graffiti Flying pig graffiti Keep out mini door at Jolt Gloucester

Health, Weight and Stuff (by )

So everyone has noticed I've lost weight - and yes I have 4 stone all told except that it's been stuck at 9 and 1/2 since about the summer. I ate loads and didn't have a clue about calories after the head bang but at the same time actually was kind of just randomly loosing weight too - the net result was that though I was eating lots including 3 breakfasts one day if Jean is to believed, I lost half a stone bring me to the 9 and a half. And there I have stayed :/ I put on a quarter of a stone over christmas - I have lost that again - I am still not in my target weight and I still have the dreaded belly flap which is as the Dr warned more flappy than ever.

But that's fine - I am keeping an eye on cals but trying to loose weight via exercise now - my pedometer is bust so no more gaming inspiration and it turns out that I need that as a driving factor 🙁 Due to change with schools and the climbing wall and Al's job there has so far this year been no climbing, swimming or proper running - boo and hiss.

I do however have my exercise bike which I believe is coming up for it's 2nd birthday! It is a recumbant and though I am surprised that people are still commenting on the weight as I haven't actually lost any I probably shouldn't be - the shape of my body has been altering to accomodate the weight lose. This means I get to wear stuff I wore as a teen again - it also means that my bum has less padding so that my legs are now apparently longer and the issue I had with being too short in the leg for the bike is no longer an issue. The upshot of this is that the special chocks my dad made me so I could cycle without damaging my knees had to be taken off the bike!!!

Also I finally reached the 1000 km I was hoping to reach on the dam thing the Christmas after I got it - instead a year later and I missed the christmas deadline again! But completed the challenge on valentines day 🙂

Of course I started a new challenge - a new 1000 km of which I have managed 200 km already 😀 the improvement from when I began on the bike is astronomical - I can easily do 300 cal burns on it now in one sitting! I really like reading whilst cycling or binge watching scifi or fantasy epics/series, it is set up in front of the TV.

Health wise I seem to have a few remnants from the head bang - still hopeful for a full recovery and am working my way through a concept of super better. I have been failing at writing, at blogging but that's ok - I will get there. Yesterday I was at the nuerologists and it was a struggle to do his tests and things like that still make me zonked.

But I played my first game of scrabble Jean beat me 294 to 234 - I think she is one of only 2 people to beat me as an adult the other being my friend Olly who had done stuff like remembering all the two letter words! I was alarmed at how hard it was to play though and that my score was way below 300 I would normally consider a score beneath 350 to be a bit pathetic 🙁

Anyway social board games are good but I have to be gentle, sadly computer games are right out at the moment. I've also set myself the challenge of learning the flute - it's something I've always wanted to do, it's a new skill, uses both hands (I am struggling with my left hand side).

I am water colour painting like a loon and trying to get my pencil sketching back - having issues with faces - if I measure and put guide lines in then it's fine if I don't it's all crooked. I'll get there - setting myself challenges and goals and trying to complete things and put them out there for people (I did set up a Patreon account for those who would like to help me in this).

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