Archive for June, 2010

Pox and Birthdays

June 30, 2010

A couple of weeks ago Ella developed some spots, and we quickly worked out that she had chickenpox. Fortunately, she never really had it bad. She did have a good spread of spots, but she didn’t really get under the weather, and only once did the itching disturb her sleep. When she started itching we got some Piriton for kids, and that seemed to stem any itching. It did mean she was off school and away from her childminder, Caroline, for a week. I had to cover one day, working from home, while entertaining Ella with bad parenting, ie the television. She did very well that day, I have to admit.

She recovered in time from that to go to her friend, Tristan’s, birthday party, which was held at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. We all got a ride on the train, and it was a lovely, sunny day, so that was very good. Ella ran around the carriage with the other kids and seemed to enjoy it.

This weekend just gone was Ella’s third birthday, and we had our party. My Mum and stepdad (Clare and Chris), littlest brother and his wife (Hamish and Christine) all stayed the weekend, and I was most pleased that my other brother headed down from London for the party with his two eldest daughters, Aliya and Lucy. Ella’s birthday was on the same day as her school fair, and I went there with Hamish and Christine over lunchtime, and Ella had the opportunity to bounce on the bouncy castle, play in the sandpit and in the water table. This did mean she had an afternoon nap, which meant that she woke up just before her party, and had a barrage of relatives who all wanted to say hello at once. I think she dealt with that quite well, probably helped along by the presents she was receiving. I know she enjoyed getting to see her two cousins, and they did too. Apparently Aliya was very sad to have to leave.

The party was a BBQ, and it did clash with the England v Germany World Cup match. Of course it’s a game that will go down in history, so I won’t say anything about the result. I watched it over my shoulder while barbequing with it on the computer, with a slight lag behind the television in the living room where quite a few party attenders were watching. That meant I had their cheers and groans before seeing whatever the event was on my internet stream.

Ella got lots of presents. She got a lot of Duplo, a significant amount of that from us. The usual supply of books and clothes; a Trunki from her Gan-gan; and a Thomas the Tank Engine wooden train set from Granny and Grandpa. She got some dolls as well, just to keep up the girlie element.

All-in-all, a good day with splendid weather, and excellent catering from Hannah and helpers.


WordPress for Android

June 29, 2010

Last summer while in France on holiday I blogged from the WordPress mobile site. This year for the forthcoming Medina High Community Choir tour to Brittany I will be using the WordPress app for Android instead. This should mean less fiddling to load up a website, easier to use tools and less data to download. This is my first post from the app, and it seems up to the task.

Isle of Wight Festival

June 13, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, Hannah was contacted by Rich Wiseman, the pianist for Hannah’s choir, Medina High Community Choir, and music teacher at Hannah’s school. He said that John Giddings, chief organiser of the Isle of Wight Festival, had been in touch with the school to source a choir to back Melanie Safka for her appearance at the Festival. Hannah, being Hannah, lept at the chance and said yes, and so began a crazy journey that ended with the Medina Choir (a combination of the MHCC and the Medina High School Choir) taking to the stage yesterday in front of thousands of festival-goers on a rather sunny, lovely day.

A lot of that journey has been composed of Hannah communicating with Melanie’s people to establish musical criteria (keys, numbers of repeats, etc etc) and actually what songs we’d be backing. The main song has always been ‘Lay Down‘, which was written about Woodstock, which Melanie performed at. Hannah wrote an arrangement for the Choir and we’ve been practicing that over the last two weeks, with Hannah always stressing that this will be a live performance with the lead coming from Melanie and therefore completely open to change compared to what we’d rehearsed. This week the two choirs rehearsed together for the first time on Tuesday, and then on Thursday we all gathered at the Riverside Centre in Newport, just next to the Festival site, to have our first (and really only) rehearsal with Melanie and her son and daughter, who accompany her. That was quite an experience for everyone, and a tricky one of Hannah as she finally had to make the adaptions from the arrangement she had prepared for the choirs to what Melanie planned to do on the day. There was definitely a lot of improvisation that night, amongst sections of the choirs, as much as Hannah directing us. On the whole, the members of the choirs adapted very well, but there were a few mutterings about this not being what we’d practiced.

Anyway, the day itself was sunny, which was a relief because we’d been told we could take nothing to the site, because there weren’t the facilities backstage to keep piles of our stuff. We gathered just outside the backstage entrance, looking rather odd amongst the festival-goers, as they were brightly dressed and looking summery, and we were all in black. Once taken into the backstage area, we were left right behind the stage with quite a long wait in the sun (I’ve got a red head now). Hannah did some warm-ups, and when Melanie arrived we had a quick run-through of ‘Lay Down’ to take on some final amendments. While Melanie was onstage, we were all huddled in the wings watching her, checking out the size of the crowd, watching the roadies and technical crew behind the scenes, admiring the amount of technical kit back there (lights, cables, amps, desks, mics, everything and all very black).

We walked as Melanie sang the final chorus of ‘Ruby Tuesday’, before a quick capo change on her guitar and we were into ‘Lay Down’, the piece with the shortest rehearsal time in MHCC’s history but with the biggest audience. It was very different being on that stage to anything I’ve experienced before: a) it was huge; b) you couldn’t hear anyone else because of the size and being outside; c) the audience just went on and on over the field. You can see ITV2’s editted transmission of the song on YouTube. I can report that we got a cheer as we came on, and as we went off. A couple of shouts were for specific members of the Choir, so there were some groupies out there. 🙂 It was a fantastic experience, even though it wasn’t the most demanding piece of music I’ve sung.

I can safely say that everyone in the Choir loved it, and Hannah was very pleased with how it went. Lots of people were saying on Facebook that they were still on a high hours afterwards. I guess the biggest disappointment was how quick the actual performance was, it really did feel it was over in the blink of an eye. It’s great to look at that stage now and be able to say ‘I’ve been on that stage and sang where the likes of Jay-z, Crowded House, Pink and Paul McCartney have performed’.


June 6, 2010

I feel bad because the last few posts have been about Twitter projects and I haven’t said anything about Ella for 6 weeks, so I feel a bit guilty about that. It’s been a busy six weeks in her life, and I’ll just talk about two things: potty training (yuk) and school.

I was probably a bit unsure about potty training last time I blogged, but we’ve come a long way since then. In terms of wee, we’re quite safe, and Ella will almost always request to go when she needs to wherever we are. Indeed she can even hold it for a while so it doesn’t have to be a completely mad dash for a toilet. Number 2s or poos are not so good. She’ll occasionally warn us, but it’s still far from reliable. This means she is still usually in pull-up nappies. Maybe we’ll only have to change them once or twice during the day, but it still lingers on. Ella is noticing she is getting too big for the changing table at home, so maybe she’ll finally take the hint from that. In the good weather we’ve had recently, we have taken the opportunity to just put pants on, but as a result a couple have gone straight in the bin to avoid disgusting cleaning up operations.

Since the last blog about Ella she has started at pre-school one day a week. I spent some of her first day at the school with her, and she settled right in and wasn’t all that bothered that I wasn’t around when I hid away for a bit having a cup of tea, so when I left halfway through the morning I wasn’t too worried that she’d be upset I was gone. It was weird watching her in that environment, independent of either of her parents, mostly especially when she was feeding herself her morning cereal snack. She looked just like a proper kid, all grown-up, not at all like a baby. A very poignant moment. Since then we think she’s settled in well. The school says she’s great and they are very happy with her. She can be a bit clingy/moody when I drop her off in the morning, but she isn’t actually that bothered when I leave. I am surprised that it doesn’t tire her out that much, ie she doesn’t need a nap when she comes home (naps generally having gone by the wayside now).

The other point of note is her story telling. She does make up some very strange but cracking stories these days. Birds pecking her nose, swings in the forest which go on fire and the firemen coming, all sorts. Obviously she’s got a good imagination, which is nice but sometimes you need to take what she says with a pinch of salt.