Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


August 6, 2010

Yesterday we had a gig in Josselin, which is about an hour and a half from Quimper. We had our earliest departure yet, at 10, slightly later than Hannah wanted because of the time needed for Dave, the bus driver, to have between trips. The journey was broken-up with a stop in Quimperle for coffee.
Josselin is a lovely medieval town, but does suffer from the problem that it wasn’t designed for big vehicles. We followed the instructions from the tourist office, but still had to squeeze through some narrow roads. We were dropped close to the basilica, where we performing, and the equipment was stowed there. Then Hannah negotiated with the castle ticket office to get a reduced rate tour of the castle. She succeeded in getting half off and we got a tour from a guide who hadn’t done one in English before. She started well, but got confused as Hannah tended to repeat words in clearer English and the choir kept behaving like a panto audience booing baddies and awhing at love stories. One of the latter got the guide into a fit of giggles and she had to stop doing the tour in English Ans switched to French and Hannah did the translation. It was all very interesting and everyone really enjoyed it and were much impressed with the castle. Likewise, the guide was impressed with us,saying we were her best group every, and she came to the concert in the evening.
After the castle tour was done, Hannah had arranged for us to sing some songs in a little square at the entrance to the castle, bounded by it’s walls, ticket office, tourist office (in ancient, pretty buildings) and a small chapel. An excellent setting. We did the stock ‘Over the Rainbow’, followed by some Abba and Beatles, for the first time on the tour. This generated a small audience and Rachel shook an offering box for choir funds.
Then there was time for lunch and for folks to admire the town. The climb up the basilica tower was very hard work, but worth the views, apparently.
At 5, Hannah had us singing again, this time in front of the basilica, surrounded by bars and cafes, so an audience was provided. They seemed to enjoy it. After that came the wait to set up the kit, as there was a service and mass in the basilica until 7. We got that all set up with no problem.
An unusual aspect of this concert was that the toilets were at the back of the alter, and so some nodding and bowing was needed on the way.
The performance of the concert went well. Again, the acoustics were excellent. The sustain pedal on the piano developed a squeak, which could be heard during quiet music. The audience was more than Tuesday’s, with probably more than a hundred people in total (there was a lot of coming and going).
The main incident was in the second half, when two arrivals did some heckling. The particularly drunk one did a drum impersonation during a fanatic rest during a song, followed by other random noises. At the end of that song, Hannah turned and quietly asked him to leave, which thankfully he did. His friend remained (on whom Hannah noticed fresh needle marks). Then during Chris’s introduction to the next song, he heckled saying this was all hypocritical, he didn’t like us singing in English, it wasn’t right in a church and he didn’t believe in God anyway (this is Hannah’s translation, as he was speaking French). Hannah asked him to leave, and he said no, to which Hannah replied “we’ll wait for you then”, so he got up and left. A very brave and well handled situation by Hannah.
As Josselin is quite a journey from Quimper, we were late back and all quite ready for a good night’s sleep.


First Day and First Concert

August 4, 2010

Yesterday was the first full day of the choir staying at HQ, B&B Quimper Sud. The planned departure for our day trip was just after 1pm, and so most of the choir took the opportunity to pop to the centre commercial next door to do some shopping or browsing. It’s quite a large shop, probably offering anything you can buy on the Isle of Wight under one roof, so there is plenty to browse. Once again Hannah and I stocked up on a supply of water for the choir, and, Hannah hoped, refreshments for the interval of the evening’s concert. A treat for Hannah and I was that we were having Ella for the day, so she could join us for a day on the beach. Unfortunately the beach day didn’t happen, because the weather wasn’t bright and sunny.

The trip for the day was to Loctudy and Ile-Tudy, before the opening concert in Pont L’Abbe. We got to Loctudy, via an only slightly nerve-wracking detour into Pont L’Abbe (which did mean we found the church for the concert well in advance), and parked up by the docks (sounds attractive). A shortish walk to the bac pieton (passenger ferry, just a small launch), which takes people (and lots of bikes it seems) between Loctudy and Ile-Tudy. The choir were too numerous to fit on the ferry, so half went in one trip and half in the second, after some arguement with the captain to prevent queue-jumpers meaning some choir folk having to wait for a second time. In Ile-Tudy we all split up, with some folks having lunch in one of the local restaurants, others walking around the town and generally relaxing. We didn’t see a great deal, as the restaurant we chose, while serving excellent food, was very slow, so by the time came to do a quick promotional sing, we had barely finished our lunch.

We did a quick rendition of ‘Over the Rainbow’, which impressed the gathered locals and visitors (some of whom did come to the evening concert), just before it started to rain. This meant we queued for the return ferry under hoods and umbrellas. All-in-all, a rather quick but enjoyable trip.

Ella had fun with us, seeing the choir and during ‘Over the Rainbow’ stood with me at the back, and I think joined in a bit. She went on the first ferry back with Hannah, and was upset to find I wasn’t on it, asking if I was going to get the boat or swim. Awh.

So once off the ferry it was straight on the bus and back to Pont L’Abbe to get set-up for the concert. All hands got the equipment out of the bus, across the busy square and into the church. There was some confusion about how much setting up we could do, as we weren’t sure whether the church was still open for daily worship at that time, and also where to get changed into our concert garb, and indeed where we could go to the loo. Also, after setting out cups and nibbles and drinks for interval refreshments, we were told to take it all away, because the bishop would disapprove. Once all was set-up and everyone was changed, we had a quick rehearsal and I think we were all quite amazed by the acoustics, which were excellent.

The concert itself was very good, from our point of view. The audience wasn’t big, which wasn’t surprising because although Hannah had expected the people she’s arranged it with to publicise it, they hadn’t. This was the reason why when we’d visited the Office de Tourisme in Quimper, they couldn’t find it in their event listings. The people who were there were excellent, though. They clapped when we did, copied the actions we did, enthusiastically applauded, and at the end gave a standing ovation. The contributed generously at the end (the concert was free, so we took donations), and many comments indicated that they wished more people had come and enjoyed the concert as they had. The performance was a little rough around the edges, but nevertheless, the sound was good and there were no blindingly obvious mistakes. The introductions to each song were read by various members of the choir, in French, and those went well too. As it was the first time we used all of our shiny new technical equipment, it was its first test too, and apart from couple of hitches that were fixed during setup, it went swimmingly too.

Afterwards, we packed up tout suite, some folks got a swift half in a local bar, and then it was straight back to the hotel and straight to bed for hard earned rest for most of the choir, I suspect.

Hiding Things from Mummy

March 28, 2010

This is one that Hannah said I had to blog. Hannah was baking a cake today, with Ella’s help. When it was all done, Hannah had some bits that had been chopped off to shape it, and we all had a bit. Ella also took a bit for her dolly, and took it out to the garden where her dolly was. Hannah followed her out, though Ella didn’t know Hannah was there. Hannah overheard her saying to her dolly, ‘This is your bit, but I’m going to have and don’t tell Mummy’.

Out on Business

February 13, 2010

In a strange coincidence, both Hannah and I have had separate trips to Paris this week. This is strange because IBM hardly allows travel, given the economic climate, and Hannah doesn’t often do school trips (this is the first since Ella was born, I think). So that fact that we’ve both got trips in the same week to the same place is weird. Anyway, the overlap was quite small: Hannah left on Wednesday morning and I returned on Wednesday evening, having left on Monday morning. Hannah is back on Saturday evening. My mother, Clare, has provided most of the consistency for Ella this week, who’s got another cold.

My trip to Paris was very good. There were several of us heading there, including people from the States, who I have either met face-to-face only a couple of times or not at all, so it was really great to see them. The reason for the trip was to meet some other folks in another IBM team, and that was very productive too. We had the opportunity to experience Parisian hospitality in a few restaurants, which was pleasant. Our hotel was very nice: a Holiday Inn, much better than several of the ones I’ve stayed in here in the UK, some of which have been mentioned in this blog before. It was a bit of a long (in time) taxi ride from the hotel to the office, because of the traffic. There was some debate whether public transport would be quicker, but some in our party were a bit mass transit phobic. All-in-all, a good time was had by all.

I’ve only had sketchy details from Hannah about how her trip is going. Like mine, the weather is cold and snowy. Their visit to the Eiffel Tower was restricted to only the first viewing level because of the weather. Yesterday Hannah said she’d not had any sleep for 48 hours, and she is labouring under a cold as well.

So it doesn’t sound like Hannah is going to be well set up on her return to start on Ella’s potty training, which is what we have planned for half term. Joyful. I mentioned this to some folks at work, who encouraged me (sarcastically no doubt) to blog about it. Maybe I will, if I can spare the time from cleaning floors, pants, trousers, bed sheets etc.

BTW, the title isn’t meant as a pun or euphemism, in reference to the last paragraph.


April 4, 2009

Ella is becoming far more responsive to new words. Quite often when she likes something and points and you tell her what it is she’ll repeat back a good approximation of what you just said. Last night, for example, it was noodles, which she liked, despite having rejected them before. She said ‘noodars’ in response to Hannah and I telling her what they were (originally she thought they were ‘chees’ from a distance). Another quick pick up was from pointing a the picture on one of my tshirts of the cartoon character Tin-Tin having breakfast, and she repeating Tin-Tin back as ‘t-t’. Another word and action that is amusing Hannah currently is ‘hunger’ with a rub of the tummy, which we think means hungry, but could mean ‘full up’, as Ella’s response to asking if she’s hungry after she’s just eaten is ‘hunger’.

Hannah is now off for the two week Easter holiday, and looking forward to spending more time with Ella. We have Miriam and Mark (Hannah’s sister and her husband) visiting next week, and possibly my Mum and Chris over Easter weekend, so it will be quite busy. I’m not taking extra time off, other than the bank holidays over the Easter weekend, though – have to save up for occasional days off.


March 24, 2009

I thought I should give a plug for the World Community Grid, powered by BOINC, partly because it is run by my paymasters (IBM) and partly because it is doing good work. I’ve been running it at work for a couple of years, and had a while running a related project at home (the global warming one sponsored by the BBC). They do provide me with a little widget with my stats and an icon, but the Yahoo Blog system doesn’t like the html tags it uses, so I can’t put it here (unfortunately).

Packing it All In

March 15, 2009

It’s been a whole month (nearly) since I updated here, which is most remiss of me. Of course, life continues on unabated.

Over the past three weeks or so, we’ve had many visitors: Miriam (twice), her Mark, Clare and Chris, Hamish and Christine (my brother and his wife) and I think Barbara and Brian have stayed over at least once. This has been plenty of quality time for Ella with her extended family. Certainly when Hamish and Christine were here we got out-and-about on the Island and visited various places, including the beaches at St Helens and Shanklin. They also took in some historical sights at Brading Roman Villa, which Ella quite liked too, especially the brass rubbings of coins.

There are lots of things that Ella is doing that I should blog. Yesterday when Hannah sneezed, Ella put her finger to her lips and said ‘shh’, which was highly amusing. Also yesterday, when the three of us were out in Cowes, and Hannah and Ella had gone into a shop, Ella asked ‘Where’s my Daddy?’, which we think is her first properly constructed sentence. She is doing a lot of dancing, and loves to listen to her nursery rhymes CD (which she calls ‘tick tock’ because the first song is Three Blind Mice). She had great fun last week going to Hannah’s friend Maria’s youngest daughter’s second birthday party. Hannah keeps saying that Ella has grown a foot in the past month, and certainly she has grown. She is much more like a little girl now. She has learnt ‘no’, which is ashame, so the reply to almost all questions is now ‘no’, much as it was ‘yes’ before. She isn’t, though, properly considering her answers in most cases.

Tonight Hannah is out, she hopes meeting Jude Law. She is at the Anthony Mingella Movie Marathon, which is showing Cold Mountain. Obviously he isn’t a patch on me.

We have both been busy, as ever with work. In case anyone worries, neither of us believe we’re at risk of losing our job, what with all the cut backs going on. Certainly IBM has been making some redundancies, but mostly in the US, I think. Hannah’s job is more at the mercy of the Isle of Wight Council’s varying strategies on education than any economic downturn.

Potty Progression

February 17, 2009

I don’t think I’ve made much mention of Ella’s toilet training. I call it training, but at the moment we aren’t seriously trying anything. She has learnt the word ‘poo’, which refers to both poo and wee. She’ll say ‘poo’ when she wants her nappy changed. She might say it when she needs the toilet, but she does rarely appear to go after saying it; nine times out of ten she’s already done the act. She has linked ‘poo’ with the potty because she’ll say ‘poo’ and then go and sit on the potty, quite likely without waiting for any clothes to be taken off.

So she has made quite a few connections by herself. She still has to learn to understand the sensations of needing the toilet and then telling us ‘poo’, or maybe by then ‘wee’ as well. She still has to learn that if she does need the toilet and she tells us, then she can be put on the potty and that’s a good place to do ‘poo’. Certainly advances in the use of the potty wouldn’t be a bad thing because she is getting quite big for her changing table, and she is going through a phase of wriggling about while having her nappy changed.

How many times did I write poo?

Trip to Sandown

February 15, 2009

If you live on a small island, and there are sandy beaches, then it is inevitable that you will go and visit a beach in winter. This is what we did today. We went to Sandown, which has a lovely, sandy beach in a large, fairly sheltered bay, which is now surrounded by everything that epitomises a British seaside resort. Everything.

The weather wasn’t too bad considering what has gone before recently. Fairly overcast but not freezing cold. We had a wee walk through the town before heading down to the beach just by the unattractive pier (complete with drunk chav family smoking outside it). Ella loved playing in the sand, fully clothed of course. She rolled in it; ran over it; dug it up; kicked piles of it; jumped on it, etc, etc. We’ve got quite a few photos of her enjoying the sand, and I’ll get them uploaded some time. It was not a pleasant sight when we decided the time had come to leave the beach and walk further along the front in search of a tea shop. We had screams and tears and quite a bit of kicking. Eventually (about 5 minutes later) she calmed down, distracted by some birds, and was sufficiently well behaved to be allowed some organic cheese puffs (aka crisps). We didn’t get to go to the tea shop, and Hannah’s suggestion of visiting the Dairyman’s Daughter in Shanklin was thwarted by the fact is was closed for a refurb.

New Video on YouTube

February 8, 2009

Last week when it snowed across the country, some did fall and lie (for a while) on the Island. That is quite unusual, it happens maybe every other year. I think other parts of the Island had slightly more snow than Cowes. Nevertheless, it was at most a couple of inches, but enough to stop the buses and the piddly little Island Line trains. It was a chance for Ella to experience snow for the first time and I recorded a little of her slosh around in the snow in our front garden. It can be found here on Youtube, and yes, I did pick her up after she fell!