Sunday, 29 August 2010

Rudsambee review

Just a quickie to fill you in on tonight's performance. So, I was back for one night only with Rudsambee for the St Giles' festival gig. We started rehearsing at 2 so we could add the percussion, violin and piano. I just sang the first song (which I had had sung that very afternoon for the first time - glad the dear Rudsambee ladies knew what they were doing!) - and the final two - Five Hebrew Love Songs and Cloudburst both by Eric Whitacre. Both these pieces are just mega and it all seemed to go down very well. I was so glad for this final opportunity to sing with the group. It occurred to me tonight, as I listened to the beautiful Komitas pieces, that Rudsambee are seriously good. It was (and has been) a real privilege to sing with Rudsambee Company of Singers over the years. They are a wonderful bunch. Cheers for letting me back for one last hoorah, folks!

We've just finished watching highlights from the High Voltage Festival with Asia on top form. Looking forward to seeing John, Geoff, CP and Steve in December. Can't wait - it is going to be brilliant!

So, we're heading up north for a few days later in the week so probably no new blog update until the weekend. Hope all's well with all.


p.s. if you fancy listening to Rudsambee sing both these pieces then check out the group on youtube (just type in Rudsambee). Both are up there (in previous incarnations) for your enjoyment.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

From Yorkshire to Edinburgh

Well, it's a quiet Saturday with the fam in Edinburgh. I am largely attempting to ignore the festival on our doorsteps as peace and relaxation is much more appealing! I'll get to the Surrealism exhibition at the Dean Gallery this afternoon but will probably leave it at that. Everyone is well here and we're looking forward to catching up with everyone. The concert tomorrow night is at the back of my mind - excited and nervous!

So we spent such a lovely couple of days in Yorkshire (actually, for the sake of accuracy, it was the Forest of Bowland). On Wednesday we visited my Great Uncle Ian (one of our great family characters) before stopping at Aysgarth Falls for a wee walk. The B&B was (in keeping with D's well-known ability to choose amazing holiday accommodation) lovely. Spent two happy sessions under the stars in the hot tub. On Thursday we visited the beautiful Fountains Abbey. I have wanted to visit this ruin for a long time but it exceeded my expectations. Just stunning! And then it was off to Harrogate to Betty's. Now Betty's is a Yorkshire institution - it is a proper old school cafe, famous for its lovely afternoon teas. So, given that it was our three year anniversary (I know! Unbelievable huh!) we treated ourselves to an amazing afternoon tea with cakes and fat rascals and delicious sandwiches and light Rwandan tea. All so good! What a great day we had! Then yesterday it was a long drive to Edinburgh. We decided to take a detour through Dumfries and Galloway as neither of us had ever been. It was a lovely drive topped off by a visit to New Lanark, Robert Owen's socialist paradise experiment. It is an amazing place and all fairly inspiring really. I like my socialist utopias! ;-)

We arrived in Edinburgh just last night and are looking forward to a couple of nice days in Auld Reekie before travelling up to Kingussie via Brechin. This is a fairly unusual holiday for us. Generally we are abroad exploring, but this trip has been great so far. It is just lovely to see everyone and to visit some of Britain's most beautiful places. D has taken some good photos so I'll post them here when we get back home in a week.


Monday, 23 August 2010

Another week begins and a Sunday Review

Hey folks,
Just a quick one post as I take my mid morning tea break. Have just spent the morning working on this Comparative Drama paper. It is now done and sent (huzzah!) so there's something else to cross off my 'to do before we go on holiday' list. Am also just about to send off our applications for new passports in preparation for our November trip to Seattle. I am finally changing my name from 'Altree' to 'Warden' and adding the 'Dr' bit. So if a request for a doctor comes over the aeroplane tannoy then I can answer the call! :-)

We had a lovely chilled out weekend, mostly just reading and playing as the weather outside was a bit dodgy. Yesterday I managed to sit out on the balcony though and listened to Manchester United drop their first points of the season on my radio - boo! Sunday was great as usual. It was good to see our Pastor's wife back as she was taken ill on Thursday night. Pastor gave a couple of great preaches. The first continued the theme from last week about riches. Often people think that Christians are tremendously self-righteous and arrogant. Sadly too often this is true but it should be completely the opposite, as our Pastor shared. He made us all realise how easy it is to become prideful. Definitely a trait to be avoided!

D and I went for a wee drive after the evening service and ended up in beautiful South Carlton, a lovely village just outside the town. We are fortunate to live in a really pretty place. Last night I was very thankful for the big skies of Lincolnshire. At times the landscape resembles that scene in North by Northwest! And it is all so close by - just a short drive! Our health kick continues to go well and we are both enjoying the challenge actually. A game of squash in store tonight though D broke the strings on his racket last Friday (he's just too strong!) so he'll be using a hire racket. Hopefully this gives me a bit of a chance! Our squash games have become a regular part of our week. We're both improving...though D seems to improve quicker than I do!
Anyways, I'm off to uni for the next couple of days to get a couple of jobs done before we go away. Then we'll be all set for our jolly holiday. We can't wait to have a few days of peace and catching up with friends and fam. I'm taking the old Mac Book with me so I'll post some details about our trip when I have a chance.

Until then...

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Aching after Body Combat... was my third class back to Combat today and I went for it! So sweaty and tired! All this is part of a health kick chez Warden. We are both trying to loss a couple of pounds and tone up. No big deal but we are eating better and working out a bit more. Actually I'm enjoying the challenge and, after only two weeks, we both feel a wee bit better for it. I must say, I love a bit of exercise - I guess I am pretty fortunate to enjoy working out! Anyways, I'll keep you posted on our progress.

So, what has happened since the last post? Well, as usual for my quiet, research-based summer, not a lot. I've started preparing for next term's classes and am looking forward to both the courses I am teaching in the first block. I am co-ordinating (first time for everything!) a course in technical theatre (I know, I know...) so am brushing up on my gobos and prosceniums. All fun. The Book is coming on well and I'm just about reaching the point where I need another big library visit. Am also currently writing a short review article for the journal Comparative Drama. Could do with getting that finished today really.

Heard of two sad deaths this week. The great literary critic Sir Frank Kermode died on the 17th. I saw him at the Edinburgh Festival a few years ago and you was extremely gracious and interesting. His articles for the LRB were also thought-provoking. Also on the 17th came the news that Edwin Morgan had passed away. He was a great Scottish poet and makar, and was really the last surviving member of that great generation of Scottish artists (in the broadest sense of the word). Two grand old men of culture sadly leaving us.

We are looking forward to our holiday which starts on Wednesday. If you're in Edinburgh then we'll hopefully see you at the weekend. If you fancy a performance at the festival then I am singing with Rudsambee on Sunday night at St Giles. Last night I had my first dream about trying to perform without knowing any of the words. Expect many more of these dreams over the next few nights. I haven't sung in anger since I left Rudsambee (7 months ago?) so it could all be very interesting! Holiday should be very jolly though. I'll write a couple of posts while we're away to fill you in on our trip and hopefully (courtesy of D's iphone) we'll have a couple of pictures to share with you as well. Anyways, this paper beckons. I'l listen to the football while I'm writing and hopefully my fantasy league team will do the business.


Tuesday, 17 August 2010

A quick break to fill you in on the weekend

I'm currently grappling with my paper for a conference in Seattle in November (we're going trans-Atlantic!) and it is proving tricky so I thought I'd have a quick break to write a post about the weekend. Listening to a radio programme about Tony Blair and Iraq which is making me want to throw things (is a war worse than starving a country to death through sanctions? I'll leave that with you...) - the show seems to have found a collection of the most ignorant people on this good green earth and have asked them to share their intensely passionate but wholly unsubstantiated views with the great British public.'s finished. Just as I felt my blood beginning to boil over.

Anyways, peace descends again chez Warden...we had a lovely weekend. Saturday was spent doing Body Combat (slightly less painful this week) and sorting out old clothes (always a rewarding sort of job). On Sunday Mum and Dad arrived. We visited Burton Waters so Dad could look at the boats and then enjoyed fish and chips at our old favourite, The Elite. They stayed over and it was very good to see them. Last night friends from church came over for dinner. A good time had by all. It goes without saying that Sunday's preach was excellent. Pastor spoke on that section about the rich man in Luke. It was a very balanced sermon - nowhere in the Bible does it say that it is wrong to have money, or wrong to enjoy the things money buys. It does encourage us to be generous, not to place any worth on what we own (money can just fly away) or to worry about the things we have. Lots of food for thought. I might come back to this in a later post.

It was also the first weekend of the new Premiership football season. Since top-flight football has been almost completely defined by how much money a club has, I have been much less passionate about it. As a teenager I was a Manchester United obsessive (btw how good is it to see Eric Cantona back on our televisions?) but my commitment has waned over the years. This year though, D and I are participating in a fantasy league where you choose your players and earn points depending on how well they play. I had a pretty good first weekend really, especially given that Drogba scored a hat-trick. At least it will make sure that this season is slightly more interesting.

So today it is back to the book. I am just about reaching the end - our holiday is just round the corner and we are looking forward to a break. I think I need a change of scenery and some time away from the book! I'm also looking forward to seeing the students again. This summer has been an amazing privilege - I spend days sitting in my office at home, writing, reading and thinking...perfect! But I can't wait to see the students. Anyways, I'm off to get some lunch. D bought me one of those lovely Innocent veggie pots. Oh too yum!

Have a great week one and all.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Another fun list

Ok so for my Friday list this week I thought I'd go for my top five poems after grappling with the top five book issue for just too long. So...(in no particular order):

Walter de la Mare, The Listeners.
I love this poem so much, mainly because it was one of my Granny's favourites. Given that we had a shared love of all things poetic I had to include it. When I read the first two lines - "Is there anybody there", said the Traveller,/ Knocking on the moonlit door - I can always hear her voice.

The Bible, Psalm 139
OK, so it's impossible to place Biblical poems alongside these other examples but it is my favourite psalm. Incredible poetry and, best of all, it reminds me that I can't go anywhere where God is not. Very encouraging.

W.H. Auden, Musee de Beaux Arts
Perhaps an odd choice given that it concludes with the unnoticed death of Icarus but this poem is one of Auden's best. It is such an insightful presentation of the problems of the contemporary world. People are so concerned with their own business that things like compassion and empathy seem to disappear. Still an amazingly timely piece.

John Donne, Batter My Heart Three Person'd God
I could have chosen a number of Doone poems, including a fair few that are incredibly risque! I love Doone because he never limited himself to just one genre and was always contentious. This poem, like many of his others, is just so amazingly passionate.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways
Oh, goodness I'm struggling. I should've given myself a list of ten! Rather than go with Robert Browning's terrifying My Last Duchess (this is my favourite one to teach as it always takes students by surprise!) I thought I'd choose a poem by another member of the Browning clan. I have a hand-painted version of Sonnets from the Portuguese (again, a present from Granny) and all of them are just beautiful.

So, there we are. As usual, I hope this gets you thinking.
I am sitting in my new Jack Wills cardigan. Just lovely and cosy while the rain lashes down outside.

Enjoy the evening

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Nearing the end of the week and 50,000 words

So, as of the end of the day (just about to go and make tea) I am just 600 words short of 50,000 words for the Book. Not bad given that I have a year to go. Now I'm not saying they are 50,000 good words but they are better than nothing and will give me something to work with over the course of the next year.

Still enjoying my new Wii fit. It is really amazing and I'm already seeing and feeling the benefits. I'll try Combat again on Saturday morning and see if I can notice any improvement. And now I have a groovy new tracksuit to work out in. This morning a pile of new clothes arrived for me. I hate clothes shopping in the high street. It's stressful, too busy and there are too many people about. D buys almost everything online which is so much more jolly. Some cool new tops, a great Gant jacket and a pair of Nike trackies came as well. Ah online sales...what joy! He has an unbelievable knack of buying the right size. Whenever I go into a shop and try on a pair of breeks they never fit; whenever D order me a pair they always fit perfectly. It is a miracle. I am attempting to renew my wardrobe given that I am approaching thirty and should now look like a proper lady rather than a student. Gradual changes a foot.

Off to prayer meeting tonight and then a quiet, working weekend in store until my parents arrive for a couple of days Sunday lunchtime. Looking forward to some fun times with them. We might even sneak in a breakfast at Zoot. We'll see.

I'll try and post another list tomorrow if I have a chance. Was thinking perhaps of posting my favourite book list but I always get into a pickle with that one. Too many books, too little space and how can one compare Wuthering Heights to A Suitable Boy to Ackroyd's biography of Dickens? Have just started a new book after finishing A Voyage for Madmen. It is Tristam Hunt's biography of Friedrich Engels and so far so readable. It has been sitting on my shelf for a while. Engels has always fascinated me. His Conditions of the Working Class in England is the most entertaining and challenging Communist book (I think, though you are welcome to throw things..yes, yes I know it is a bit naive in its philosophy...whatever) and he lived and worked in Manchester. Interesting guy and Hunt's biography is supposed to be great. I'll write a review when I've finished it but don't hold your breath - it is a quite large!

Anyways, time for tea. Hope all is well with all.

Monday, 9 August 2010

The weekend and a book recommendation

Well, what a happy weekend we had Chez Warden. After doing my first Body Combat since moving to Lincoln (ow, pain, oh the pain!) Saturday was spent on a Warden adventure. We ended up at a lovely village called Woodhall Spa famous for its cinema in the woods and for being the home of English Golf. There is also a rather impressive cake shop...just in case you are ever passing through. A walk in the dense, humid Lincolnshire air and afternoon tea in the woods. Lovely! The Pastor was away yesterday so we had two lovely old gents providing the sermons. All good stuff as usual. We even took a picnic to the marina to enjoy the sunshine.

Today I finished A Voyage for Madmen, based on the 1968 round the world yacht race. D recommended it to me. It is an incredible story and describes the experiences of the nine men in vivid detail. I think what will stay with me is the age-old question, 'what is the point?' All the men asked themselves that question at some stage in the journey. The nine had different intentions in this question but it remained key for them all. It is a question I have asked many a time and I seem to ask it most when I achieve my goals. Isn't it strange when get all you want, it is only then that you realise a little of the futility of it all. There is always something else, something more/better/more impressive etc. We are strange beings, huh? Anyways, give this book a read and be amazed at the tenacity and complexity of the human mind.

Today has been another happy day of book writing. I am still bashing through the argument for the Language Chapter. It is proving to be a little difficult to clarify. I have no doubt that it will come shining through by the end of the week.

Life is peaceful and quiet Chez Warden at present and we are enjoying it very much. It certainly won't stay this way forever but I'm glad for time to think, walk and write. Just wait until term approaches!


Friday, 6 August 2010

Lists, lists, lists

Good evening,
So, given that my life is fairly dull right now (at least dull to everyone who doesn't have a morbid interest in the historical avant-garde) I started thinking this morning about bringing some much needed readability to my blog posts. So I thought I'd start posting some lists. I love a good list, in fact my life is governed by them. So, here's the first (and if I remind anyone of that bloke in Nick Hornby's High Fidelity're probably right):

Top Five Favourite Films of all time
Now I don't claim to be a film buff at all. In fact of all the artistic genres this is probably the one I can take or leave. This is in marked contrast to D who is a bit of film fan and despairs at my lack of knowledge. But here goes...

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
This film reminds me of a lovely Edinburgh evening when D promised he would take me to see this film if I accompanied him on the Christmas Big Wheel. After 10 minutes of high vertigo terror we went down to the Omni Centre. And I cried...a lot! I don't usually cry at films (ask my Mum who thinks I am terribly cold-hearted!) but this film really made me think about wonderful spiritual truths. I also want to be Lucy Pevensie!

The Great Escape
I love this movie. Moving, funny and historically interesting, it's got it all, including the amazing Steve McQueen on a groovy 1940s motorbike.

An odd choice you may think for a nearly 30 lecturer but I still think this is the best animated film ever. Sister (, she wasn't Christened that!) and I used to watch this whenever we were off school. In fact, as I remember, it was our only real video for quite a long time. Everything else was taped off the telly. I also saw it on my first ever trip to the cinema. Granny B took a whole load of us to the cinema in Wilmslow (?) and I still remember how exciting it all was. Smelly and I could recite the whole script with accents!

So I only actually saw this film last week but it creeps into my top five (obviously these things are subject to change) simply due to the way it got me thinking. Contrary to the impression given by my last choice, I actually like films that make me think a bit. Well casted and brilliantly directed, this is a film that will stay with me for a good long while yet.

A Beautiful Mind
My final choice was a tough one. There are a number of films I have really enjoyed, not least the new Sherlock Holmes, the X-Men series (I'm a sucker for a good super hero), Spinal Tap, the Lord of the Rings trilogy etc ad nauseum. But for the last of my top five I've plumped for A Beautiful Mind. I find this film academically inspiring even though it is about maths! I still remember being surprised by the psychological twist the first time I saw it (only me?) and the soundtrack is mega.

So there you go...With any luck that got you thinking. I love this sort of thing. I'll post others on different topics and hopefully it will mean that summer blog posts are slightly more interesting while I am chained to a computer writing the book.

In other news we have finally booked our summer holiday. Given that we are going away in a couple of weeks it's about time we made concrete plans. So, in typical Warden fashion, we are staying at a beautiful B&B in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales for a couple of days before heading north to catch up with Edinburgh friends (and for me to sing at St Giles in my comeback gig - yikes, nervous isn't even the word!). Then it's off further north to the Cairngorms for a jolly few days with Charlie and Liz and some peaceful walks around Loch Garten. Lovely. I'll take some photos for the blog.

Oh, and we've just booked Asia gig tickets for December. Front row centre. Woohoo!

That's all...a quiet weekend ahead. Doing Body Combat tomorrow for the first time since leaving Edinburgh. I won't be able to move on Sunday morning!


Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Middle of the week

Welcome all,
You haven't missed anything - I am still chained (in a perfectly lovely way) to my computer. It was the language chapter today. I'm still finalising the actual argument for this one so it is quite slow process...but enjoyable as ever. Tomorrow afternoon I might relocate for a couple of hours just to get a change of scenery. Stayed in today because we had some serious weather in Lincoln - proper rain! Generally it only rains at night in Lincoln (this might be a subjective supposition but it certainly feels like that) so it was a bit of a surprise to wake this morning to the sound of heavy raindrops on our windows. D pragmatically noted that it was good for the fields - he really is becoming a proper Lincolnshire farmer sort!

Today my lunch break was taken up with some physical fun. What should arrive Chez Warden yesterday but a Wii Fit Plus - a present from the Boy. What fun! And what hard work! Tried a couple of the tougher yoga moves today and didn't realise quite how out of shape I was. Glad I could sweat it out alone in my living room. And then tonight it was a quick squash game. D was victorious as usual but I won a couple of games. I have just had a bath in the vain attempt to stop my muscles from aching. I am not really unfit but certainly less fit then when I lived in Edinburgh and had the gym on my doorstep. Attempting to do something about that as I near the thirty mark. I was mistaken for a student again the other day though so I can't be looking too old and hagged. As I replied to the poor girl's apologetic email, I find as I enter my fourth decade (oo-er) that I now take that as a great compliment. Here's to another ten years of people thinking I'm an undergrad! In honour I might lie in bed all day tomorrow, eat Super Noodles for lunch and read The Feminine Mystique...I joke, I joke...

Over tea we continued with our nightly episodes of Life on Mars. We sadly don't have many more in the series. I will be very sad when I have to say a final goodbye to Gene Hunt! The series has just got better and better.

Well, I'm off to check the wrestling results from Monday night (a bit late this week) and get a drink. D is lying on the lounge floor playing Football Manager and we are listening to Davey's Disco. After a good wodge of Van Halen we are now (just for me) on to John Wetton's greatest acoustic numbers. Sweet!

Enjoy the week

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Sunday Review

A slightly different Sunday Review for you tonight blog fans. With D away in Edinburgh I decided to pay a visit to another church - New Life, Lincoln. While it isn't entirely my cup of tea I was super impressed by all their social projects (seriously, these guys are doing some amazing work) and by their drummer who was surrounded by a perspex box a la King Crimson's Robert Fripp. Be still my slightly proggie beating heart! Spent the rest of Sunday watching Mark Webber win the Hungarian Grand Prix, eating ravioli (my absolute favourite!) and reading a new book. After finishing Leviathan last night (you must read this book) I turned to a D recommendation, A Voyage for Madmen by Peter Nichols. It documents a 1969 round the world yacht race. I know a bit about this story already as D is completely fascinated by this story. I'll give you a review when I'm done.

The only good thing about D's absence was complete control over the remote! And last night I indulged my guilty love of musicals by watching the Proms celebration of Stephen Sondheim's 80th birthday. Now, I don't universally love musicals; there are a great many that drive me bonkers (don't get me started on those band-based shows!). But give me Oklahoma (especially if the lovely Hugh Jackman is starring) or West Side Story and I'm away. I also love Sondheim's musicals. A great many of them are pretty political actually and he is master of wonderful tunes. The highlight of last night was the fabulous Bryn Terfel as Sweeney Todd and then performing 'Everybody Ought to Have a Maid' from Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. He even danced! It was one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time. Actually this musical is close to my heart as I remember my Dad performing in it. He was magnificent, of course. It is a bit of a racy show so it was also a little alarming! Catch it on iplayer if you can.

Anyways, a week of writing beckons. After completing that bloomin' Regionality paper I am now back to the book. I have about three weeks to go until our holiday and I want to get the whole book planned. It isn't an outlandish ambition but it'll take three weeks of hard work. I'm thoroughly enjoying the writing process though. It feels as if it is slowly coming together. And, with D back, everything feels better. I did enjoy the Skype chats (especially as the Warden/Young clan were in situ so we could have a nice catch up); I even watched the Rugby League on Big Dave's TV via Skype. But modern technology isn't as good as just having him around.

See you later in the week