Tag Archives: music

Morris Dancers

I was walking down the sidewalk in Brighton when I heard the jingle of bells. Yes, like jingle bells. But it’s May in England, so it wasn’t Santa. No, no, no. As I walked along the sound grew louder. I turned a corner and there they were — Morris dancers. In full regalia, congregated in front of a old Sussex pub, drinking beer, tuning their fiddles, and jingling.




They were from Guernsey, and they knew their stuff. Beers down, they picked up their fiddles, accordions, guitars, drums and tambourines, and, jingle bells tied to their knees, they twirled and line-danced, flicked white hankerchiefs and bashed sticks in a centuries’ old English folk dance ritual hailing spring.




The crowd grew, drawn by the music, and the shouts and growls of the forest monsters.





Just a typical spring day in Merrie Olde Englande.




The Tango Lesson

I’ve dusted off my tango shoes for some private tango lessons.


I have the most marvellous teacher in Alan. Lucky me.

Did you know that in 2009 the Argentine tango was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List? It’s not just a dance… it’s culture!

Here are some of my favourite tango clips…



…two brothers (the gauchos used to practice tango with each other in the Argentine bordellos while waiting for the ladies)…


…Gotan Project…


Sally Potter and Pablo Veron in The Tango Lesson…


…Roxanne from Moulin Rouge.


Alan runs the popular La Mariposa tango club in Balham, South London and he and his partner Ros offer both group lessons in Balham on Sundays or private lessons in Battersea. If you’re in London and are looking for some great teachers, give Alan a ring on 0207 652 3633 or 0782 595 2378.


Opera in the Square

My friend Tangogirl invited me to the free opera in Trafalgar Square the other evening. “I’ll bring a picnic and wine — you bring dessert!” she said. “It’ll be fun!” Well, she had me at “wine”.

It was another glorious day in London. I spent the afternoon in the bookshop of the The Building Centre in Fitzrovia , www.buildingcentre.co.uk . They have an amazing 3D model of London on display in the lobby there, which I always find endlessly fascinating.


I thumbed through books and magazines for inspiration for a client’s job, and finally bought a few which I took outside with me and flipped through while I drank a latte and watched the world go by.



Time was rolling on, and I walked through Soho to Trafalgar Square, where the buskers were out…


…and the air was filled with the strums of Spanish guitar.


(He was very good and I bought his CD). Then I edged my way through the crowd to my rendez-vous with Tangogirl at the Landseer Lions at the base of Nelson’s column.


We found each other and headed into the square where we settled on a step with our inflatable cushions and picnic blanket and spread out our supper of Italian delicacies.


Coincidentally I’d bought delicious ricotta-cream filled canolos (canoli?) for dessert, and our wine was Pinot Grigio, and we were about to watch Puccini, so it was an Italian evening all around.

Trafalgar Square filled up, and, at 7:30 the Opera began — La Rondine with the marvellous Angela Gheorghiou broadcast live on screens all around Britain.



A park, a picnic and Puccini — summer is made of this. http://www.roh.org.uk/about/bp-big-screens

Road Trip to Victoria

So, Jamjarjude, Ralphie and I piled into the car and headed off to Victoria on a very rainy day. But we’re intrepid travellers so a little rain didn’t put us off, no, not at all. First stop was Beacon Hill Park where we walked along the cliffside path looking out into the fog for orcas (they’re out there, but we couldn’t see them)…

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…checked out one of the tallest totem poles in BC…

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…and the starting point of the Trans Canada Highway, which, at 8030 kilometres (4990 miles) is the longest national highway in the world.

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Next stop was Craigdarroch Castle (actually a very large house) www.thecastle.ca , the Victoria home of Robert Dunsmuir and his family, the Scottish-born coal baron who was one of Canada‘s richest men…

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…where someone was getting married.

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Then, our stomachs called and it was time for fish and chips on the pier at Red Fish Blue Fish www.redfish-bluefish.com

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…where we had THE BEST halibut and chips…

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…and where we were eyed by a ravenous gull…

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…and watched a tall ship come into the harbour.

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After lunch we meandered along the waterfront…

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…and along to the BC Parliament Buildings…

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…past the statue of the wonderful Canadian artist Emily Carr…

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…to the famous Empress Hotel (known for its high teas)…

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…where the tulips were in full flower.

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Having walked off the fish and chips we were ready for dessert, so we headed to Murchies Tea Room (est. 1894) www.murchies.com

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…where I had a uber-luscious chocolate dacquise…

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…and Jamjarjude had a pistachio one.

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Outside once more, we were serenaded by Victoria’s famous Darth Vader violinist (and very good he is too) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHaoOBHXaXE …

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…before we found ourselves in front of Victoria’s famous Roger’s Chocolates (est, 1885) www.rogerschocolates.com

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…well, when in Rome…

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And then we piled back into the car and headed home. Thumbs-up Victoria!

A Night Out with Stuart and Jon and Roy and Silent Lou

It’s been ages since I’ve been out on the town to the theatre. Jamjarjude clocked that Canadian writer and raconteur Stuart McLean was in town http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuart_McLean so she rushed down to the Port Theatre on the Nanaimo harbourfront…

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…and grabbed the last two tickets just a step ahead of another last minute punter. Well done Jamjarjude! So off we went, primped and polished, to enjoy a night of Stuart telling stories about Dave and Morley and the Vinyl Cafe which he has written down into lots of books so we can take home a little of his humour and enjoy it in bed before lights out:  http://www.amazon.ca/Revenge-Vinyl-Cafe-Stuart-McLean/dp/0670064742/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1362194738&sr=1-1

Stuart is pretty much what you’d imagine a Canadian Garrison Keillor played by Jimmy Stewart would look and sound like. Very, very engaging with stories about hapless vinyl-record-shop-owing Dave and his long-suffering wife Morley that had me wiping away tears of laughter. If he ever rolls into your town, run, don’t walk, to the ticket office and elbow your way to the front of the queue!

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(Picture from his 2009 Maritimes tour on http://www.cbc.ca/vinylcafe/about.php )

Stuart likes to have local bands play at his storytelling gigs and last night was no exception. Jon and Roy (and silent Lou) shared their laid-back tunes, They play the kind of music you want to hear on the car radio while you drive down country roads on a chilled out summer afternoon but can never find because all the stations are playing Eighties pop mixed with a bit of Hotel California. C’mon radio guys, play some new stuff! I’ve heard Hotel California so much I even know all the words! Play Jon and Roy! I got into their music so much I bought their latest CD…jon and roy 002

…which they very kindly autographed for me. 🙂

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I’m also learning that being a blogger is a pretty good chat up line, and I got them to pose for a picture.

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Cheers, guys! (That’s Jon on the left, drummer Roy in the middle and new guy Lou). Have a listen to some of their tunes http://www.myspace.com/jonandroy and have a look at their website www.jonandroy.ca .

Sometimes, a last minute look at your local What’s On magazine is a very, very good idea. Thanks Jamjarjude!