Category: Music

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).

Learning the Recorder (by )

I'm relearning stuff at the moment due to the old whack on the head - so this mainly means I am colouring in but the girls want to learn the recorder and I have a hang up about the recorder...

Anyway to cut a long story short there is a Frozen recorder book on it's way to us and we have received a rather disappointing Elsa/Frozen "recorder" which is a crap plastic all in one moulded toy that is pretty useless but Mary loves it and it was stupid cheap so hey you get what you pay for (I was still narked if it says recorder - I expect an actual recorder!).

With panic I realised the book would probably be all music notation even though it says easy on it. I can't read music, I have a stab at learning it every few years but nope doesn't work. I normally just work things out by sound etc... this is actually what got me chucked out of my recorder class in school.

Apparently according to the then music teacher you can't be a musician without reading music. You can't play music. This crushed me. What had happened was that she hadn't noticed I couldn't read music, I was watching her and the other kids and working it out by ear and progressing nicely. Even when they started setting homeworks it wasn't too bad as it was nursery rhymes and I just worked them out but then... then they wanted us to do "proper music" story pieces as backing for singers or as part of the orchester. I did not know these songs, my parents were not into classical music - BAM a glass ceiling.

They were complex with different sized recorders - everyone else would turn up knowing the piece, after three weeks of this I knew that something had to happen for me to continue with recorder. So I asked my mum if I could have extra music lessons, she said yes and wrote a letter explaining the situation and that I could not actually read the music - could I have extra lessons (paid for) or did they know who to ask etc... to sort this out.

The letter was the death nell - in front of the enter wind section I was castigated - told that if I hadn't picked up reading music by now then there was no hope - I simply could not be a musician.

I left angry, and confused and crying, a hot mist of shame clouding my vision. I clutched my two recorders, one of which was basically shiny knew and the classic dark brown and cream, my nan had bought it for me as I'd moved up a group.

Being me I became kind of resigned and militant about this. I didn't really want to be playing the recorder anyway - I wanted to play the flute. Being a glutton for punishment I went along to the flute try outs. From my prospective it seemed to be going quiet well, I could get a sound out of the damn thing unlike the others in the room. But then the teacher took the flutist aside and hard the mutterings about not being able to read music, or writing for that matter and so on - I would like to add that I was also not the only child in the room at this point but I think the teacher had forgotten I could now hear properly as it was just after the second lot of grommets had been put in.

I doubt my pitch was perfect (I'm pretty sure it wasn't), I don't do sound as just a hearing thing anyway, I like to feel it, if I can't feel it I can't know if it will fit properly.

Anyway they came over to me and I looked up, "I'm afraid your arms are too short for the flute," he said.

"What about the picalo?" I asked - I was desperate to play the flute - this was because a blue telepathic animated character out of a cartoon series called Ulysses 31 played an epic flute made of gold and lights that she vanquished monsters with. Also I had curly hair - somehow I felt that meant I was destined for the flute.

He hesitated, "you have to learn the flute first before the picalo." He said gravely and I left the music room once more with the angry confused mist of shame and tears and snot.

My mother was furious but we could not afford flute stuff outside of the special schools programme.

Then because you know I never know when to quit I went for the choir in the final year of juniors with the same woman. But I was sick on the day the auditions were supposed to happen. When I got back there were four people out of the entire year who were too bad to go in the choir - they were the people I had extra reading lessons with in the special room.

I am a shy person. I was still determined, I was made to stand in the school hall in front of the entire year and given a piece of sheet music that the teacher knew I could not read. I didn't even know what the song was going to be. I was petrified, everyone knew I wanted to be an opera singer (it was down as part of my three fold dream which involved being a spaceman and archeologist so I could look at rocks - I thought as an opera singing I would get to design the costumes, write the stories and build the sets as well as doing singing, dancing and acting).

I recognised the song, I tried to sing, my voice stuck but then it unstuck and I started to sing.

The teacher loomed in putting her ear right in front of my mouth making comments. But I wanted to be in the choir so much I kept going.

She stopped the music, and announced I was in tune but too quiet and there was no place in the choir for people who couldn't pull their weight. Everyone knew how much I wanted to be in the choir. I don't know if I imagined it but at this point I was sure they were all laughing at me. My form tutor came and rescued me and sat on the stairs with me whilst I cried.

"Hey we can't all be good at everything, what if I told you you hadn't gotten onto the football team? You wouldn't be crying then would you?" we both knew I would never have gone for it as I was still learning to run without falling over at this point.

"I would." I said and she looked at me sitting there in her sports outfit she never took off - she knew me and sports, "if I'd tried out for the football team it would be because I wanted to play football so of course I'd be upset if I didn't get it especially if I was then told I was rubbish and would never be able to do it, in front of EVERYBODY."

She smiled and laughed, "Sarah you are amazing, you'll find away, it will be your own way, now come and see the stuff I've got planned for you lot, you're going to be so glad you aren't in the choir."

And I was - we made things and explored things, including creating our own papier mache puppets and sets. I am also still friends with two of the people who were in that group with me.

Of course I also then went and joined lots of choirs, and learnt the guitar and have sundry instruments in my house. Now I know I am not brilliant at music and I know I panic when ever technical stuff is mentioned but I love music.

These events did mar music for me though and looking at it now from where I am as an adult I feel that, that music teacher was most definately in the wrong. She was also my second year class teacher so I would have been 8? She was my least favourite of the junior school. I did revisit the school once before my work experience (which was in the infant school anyway), I made a special trip to her classroom to tell her how I'd been excepted into the choral society as well as having performed in a local performance of Joseph and his Dream Coat and so on - what I didn't mention was that I still wasn't having any school music or drama classes as I was still having to go to a special room to learn to read and write properly - I did however mention that I had been given a solo without being able to read music. I am glad I didn't know the term passive aggression as I would not have done this and I feel that in all honesty it needed to be done.

So back to the here and now as I am sure I've blogged about this story a couple of times before!

I have a recorder that I play merrily we row along to get children to sit down at readings and workshops. It turns out to be the only song I can remember since hitting my head though Jean says I could play lots of hymns (makes sense they are songs I would have known well enough from church to work out by ear).

Anyway she doesn't get recorder lessons at the school - she's had a bit of uke but they are not a big school and the teacher who could play, left... so I taught her merrily we row along. It took her about half an hour to master and remember and now she is playing it CONTINOUSLY!

Then I was struck by the panic - she was asking for other tunes and I can't remember any and I don't think I was particularly good anyway. That and the realisation that the book though saying EASY recorder would no doubt expect music reading skills... I turned to youtube.

I found this vid of Happy Birthday.

My dad was coming down the next day - it was his birthday - it took me 15 mins to get it down pat and I then remembered it in the morning for the kids to sing along to.

I was so proud of myself.

Jean is keen to learn and Mary has always loved the recorder 🙂

(She is now 4 and not the little thing in this video!)

The first thing that happened was my mum mentioned the teacher and we both had the same thought, if I can teach myself using youtube videos whilst suffering with the tail end of a head injury then how the hell did a qualified teacher stuff it up?

I realise I was a "special needs" kid but still... also there were like over 60 kids in my year - that is a 60 strong choir that was not a super duper choir so would 5 "bad voices" have made that much of a difference espcially if they were far away from the mics? And was it coincidence that we were all the "special needs" kids? I'd never thought on that connection before but it is there.

Anyway - I think I need to rest and then learn another song... well actually I am also setting up a section on here of educational stuff so Jean can find it when she wants to learn without me. It should also be useful to others and I may include links to good education workshop leaders etc... not really decided yet.

One last thing - it turns out I know random stuff about the recorder and sizes and stuff and got very defensive when Alaric suggested that only kids play them and that you never see adults playing them!

Day 13 – Winter Blaze (by )

Winter Blaze

I love the sunshine through the woods especially in the snow - though I have to say I am relieved to live in a warm house these days and we haven't had good snow for the last couple of years. I've been looking at the sky alot since starting the paintings 🙂

Also I have been listening to lots of the Celtic Women 🙂 Mary refuses to believe that I am not one of the singers but this is purely as she had curled her hair in one of the shows and has a dress like mine.

Finally I Get One of My Dreams (by )

This week has been harsh - I am not going to lie about that - there have been Drs trips for Mary (she's fine and her skin is responding to the cream but really - two skin conditions?!), finding I had missed the deadline for the resubmission of course work that had been done the first time and I accidently submitted the wrong piece due to muppetness etc... BP seeming to be actually quiet high from the monitoring I've been doing and pulse perminately at about 100, someone kicking our door and egging our house and visits from the police and yeah - so rough week.

But I always wanted to be a in a band, I always thought it would be with my Bro and then when I got to uni I discovered that everyone else was an accomplished musician and I could play the first part of a Tori Amos song badly.... and erm... course work and medical stuff and yeah well...

I always dreamed of jamming and making stuff up as we went cos it sounded right.

Today I was downloading and printing forms to apply for various things (mainly art and science stuff today) when Jean appears with her guitar - it is not the pink one she got around when Mary was born as she wasn't really using that as it was PINK and Mary claims it as her's as it's pink but a few weeks back one of the parents in the play ground just asked Al if we had use for a child's guitar and he said yes.

She loves it and has been faffing about with it and Mary is happy as now the pink guitar is officially her's. Anyway she looks at me and says 'can we record a song Mummy?' I almost said no I am too busy as it is I told her I had to finish what I was doing, she sat and she played what she wanted to have as backing. I gave up and set the laptop up to record.

I am so glad I did!

The tuning is her own special tuning where the top E (the thin one at the bottom (yes I know!)) is actually an F and the G is an A but the others are all standard tuning. She then wanted some wind sounds over the top which we recorded in a separate channel, she added filters and that was that!

She is now making plans for an album and musical future for us both - so at 33 I think I may have just started a band with my not quiet 9 yr old daughter! Who musically I think is much better than me 😀

As far as the singings concerned I think I was channeling Jim Morrison or Nick Cave or someone - Jean did point out that I almost started singing another of my songs in it. Jean was desperate to share this piece but worried people wouldn't realise it was her work, she was really pleased to see her name on it.

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