Archive for July, 2007

I love Spanish flamenco music

July 23, 2007

I adore the gutsy sound of Spanish flamenco music. I went to a concert recently and there were two guitarists and drummer playing gypsy flamenco from the south of Frence. – Great stuff. I wrote a review of them as I am wont to do. I have great trouble in trying to use plain English – I always sound as if I am talking through the top of my head – so, if you can bear with me, I will keep trying to come down to earth and write approachable reviews.
Here it is if you have time to read it:
Review of Lost Gitanos in the Mathodist Church Ely
Matthew and Graham Austin, two Ely residents who contribute to the daily running of Ely Cathedral, have an amazing talent. As “Los Gitanos” their guitar playing displays phenomenal virtuosic techniques that get right to the heart of the impassioned gypsy flamenco music that they play.
At their concert in Ely Methodist Church recently, accompanied by Crispin Semmens on drums (tabla or cajon), they drew the listeners into an exciting world of earthy, emotive music. Their strong fingers flew across the fingerboards in a faultless blur, at one time striking very clear folk melodies at another branching into rolling chords that adapted and changed, taking us to unexpected places. Captivating rhythms were enhanced with percussive fingers on the guitar case and with Crispin’s sensitively attuned drumming.
The atmosphere was exhilarating, involving us in moments of frenzy (e.g. “Rhuma de Manitas”), gentle amorous contemplation (e.g. “Amor d’un dia”), melancholy (e.g. “Sol del Moro” or contentment (e.g. “Caminando por la Calle”).
Ely is very fortunate to have such a talented trio in its midst. It is no wonder that they are in high demand and that they have played at fascinating venues such as the International Festival of Gypsy Life and for Hollywood superstar Cate Blanchett at the private celebration to mark the end of the filming of “The Golden Age”.
Their next major event will be in Ely Cathedral on September 6th 2007. You are advised to book early.
Rosemary Westwell

recycled teenagers on the language learning front

July 8, 2007

I’ve spent most of the day in the company of good friends. But this was no ordinary get-together – we all want to improve our French (what little we speak) and one way or another we are indeed learning new words each time we meet. As we are no spring chickens (I’d better say I am speaking for myself here) we know that it is probably going to be difficult, but there is little to say that we can’t learn a language as quickly as we did when we were young. We forget that when we were young we had all the time in the world to play at learning – when I was little I certainly didn’t have to do the shopping, clean the house, take the children backwards and forwards from school, do the ironing, gardening, admin and letter writing and go out to full-time work. So, if we recycled teenagers can still learn – who is to say that we can’t learn as well as we could when we were youngsters?

letter from the UK

July 8, 2007

I write a letter to my friends across the seas on a monthly basis. I try to give a taste of ordinary life in Cambrdigeshire (UK) from the eyes of an Aussie-born semi-retired recycled teenager. Please feel welcome to read these letters as I paste them in my blog.

June 07

Well, I guess we have to admit ‘flaming June’ was indeed ‘flaming June’ but only in the Aussie colloquial sense – i.e. we had sunshine very occasionally and enjoyed the rain that we missed in April instead. I hope you had some good times yourself. I had looked forward to strawberries and the tennis at Wimbledon – the strawberries I have been enjoying very much and Wimbledon only occasionally in between the rain. Getting on in years I am starting to sympathise with those quaint ‘old’ characters I have met previously – like my dear old landlady at Manor Farm in Peterborough. She used to sit almost on top of the TV to see it – now that I am developing cataracts it seems, I too am having to perch myself very close to the screen if I really want to see – many of those fantastic plays at Wimbledon were missed by me for I could not see the ball! Still the replays new to Wimbledon were very helpful. Fortunately I am told that there is a quick and easy operation they can do to restore my sight.

Family are all fine. Daughter Susie quiet on the home front – her end of term looming. My John (husband) is the same although a wound he has on his right hip has proved to be MRSA positive. This month I was honoured to be invited to baby sit the grandchildren Elisabeth (10, disabled) and James (coming up to 2). Parents Jenny and Jon did all they could to make it easy for me and I even managed to get together my usual healthy salad lunch along with their different meals. I planned a proper sit down lunch family-style. I should have known better – both children really did not want to sit at the table so I remained in glorious isolation watching them from afar as the food was carried and dropped around the room. Mid meal, there was no mistaking it – each one in turn needed their nappies changing – the worst kind for the day, of course.  Not the most pleasant of meals I have enjoyed recently. However, it was lovely to play with them (when they would let me) and to see how they are developing. James loves his fruit and he made himself very popular with me by calling me ‘Nanna’ and I think he learnt ‘plumb’ pronounced ‘umb’ by him.

The course at the language school in Cambridge finished on the 8th of June. The staff is very conscientious and I was determined to get them to smile at least once before I left. I made them my Guinness and Walnut cake and left it for them to take a piece at coffee break time. Next to it I left a recipe for fruit cake – not a proper one but a hilarious version given to me by Jenny’s mother –in- law (Anna), which suggests you regularly sample the vodka or whatever to test its quality and gradually gets more and more confused until it ends “Who wants fruitcake anyway!” It brought a few chuckles from the staff as planned

I’ve enjoyed some fantastic concerts – an amazing violinist and a concert at Fordham which featured the Saffron Walden Choral Society conducted by Janet Wheeler. I knew her from my days at the King’s School Junior School when the junior choir went down to the BBC to record for her – she produces schools programmes. I knew she was going to be good because I saw her in action as she tidied up my choir ready for recording.

Piano pupils are working towards exam soon and spa parties continue..

I hope all is well with you? RJW

creative banking

July 2, 2007

I once thought that of all the institutions there are, you could trust banks to try to get it right, at least. A few seconds late with payments and they soon whack on the interest – they never seem to miss. Then I had a sneak look at my accounts online on the 1st of June. To my horror the bank had obviously ‘made up’ the dates. Entries of money being taken out had been listed using tomorrow’s date! If we tried to send post dated cheques would they accept them? – I think not. The other trick they have, I notice, is making you sign for currency that you have not actually received in your tiny hot hand while they hug it behind the bullet proof screen behind the counter in the bank. How are we to know that the teller is not suddently going to grab the money and run? – after all, we will have signed to say that we have received it already. Methinks I am going to look sideways at my banks’ activities in future. RJW