Kathryn Tickell is best known for being the finest Northumbrian piper around and arguably the best there ever has been. I first heard her play at the Rothbury folk festival about thirty-five years ago. I heard her before I saw her. It was the open pipes competition, and I had missed the start. As I was making my way into the hall, I could hear this wonderful lyrical pipe music being played. The style wasn’t quite right for any of the pipers I knew. On the stage was a twelve or thirteen year old girl.
“It can’t be her”
was my initial thought, but it was, and if I remember correctly she won the competition.
Having told you what a brilliant piper she is, this “Song I Love” doesn’t feature her pipes.
It is Kathryn’s reconstruction of her mother’s reminiscences of being a girl brought up on a Border farm. Lots of the things she says remind me of my upbringing on a Border farm, about ten or fifteen years later and on the Scottish side of the border.
It features Kathryn’s fiddle (she is almost as good a fiddle player as she is a piper) and her spoken voice.
There isn’t a YouTube video so I have embedded a Spotify track. I’m not quite sure how it works because I haven’t tried it before.You might have to register to listen.
I said in a previous post that in my opinion the road cycling season starts on the first Sunday in February with Le Grand Prix Cycliste la Marseillaise (l’Ouverture), but if you are Belgian the season started today with Omloop Het Neuiwsblad. It is not the longest or the hilliest of the cobbled classics, but as it takes place at the end of February it often has the worst weather. Rain, sleet snow, wind and temperatures hovering either side of freezing are common. It is a race for hard men, and women. The women’s race runs on the same day, on a shorter slightly different course, but the same finish.
Last year’s Het Nueiwsblad was a classic it this respect. The British rider Ian Stannard won it. The phrase “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” describes him well. The pundits reckoned that the conditions today might be a bit too easy for him. There was only light rain forecast and the temperature was a positively balmy 8°C.
The race followed its normal scenario, in that a break of eight riders went clear from the start and built up a maximum lead of about six or so minutes. The racing started for real on the climb of the Taaienberg where Tom Boonen made is now traditional lung opening attack, just to see how the legs are. A few kilometers later Boonen and his Etixx-QuickStep team mates attacked again and this time split the field, only former winners Sep Vanmarke and Ian Stannard could follow. Vanmarke had a puncture at an unfortunate time and although he tried he couldn’t get back on.
The situation was three Etixx-QuickStep riders against Ian Stannard. It should have been no contest. what followed was depending on your point of view, either a textbook example of how to win against the odds or a textbook example of how to lose a race that you should have won. The video below is of the final ten or so kilometers, the commentary is in Dutch.
Ian Stannard plays his cards absolutely right, down to conning Niki Tepstra into leading out the sprint.
Etixx-QuickStep can redeem themselves tomorrow in the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne race where Mark Cavendish should be one of the favourites
After winning this race last year, a crash at Gent-Wevelgem, where he fractured a vertebra wrecked the rest of his season. If he can avoid that sort of bad luck this year we could see the first British winner of De Ronde van Vlaanderen since Tommy Simpson.
Anna Van Der Breggen won the women’s race, which unfortunately I can’t find a video for, Eleonora Van Dijk was second and Lizzie Armitstead third.
I found this pre-election flyer from my local (Lib-Dem) MP Tom Brake stuffed through my letter box today. In it he asks me one question.
“Would you be happy with a Tory MP?”
The answer is obviously no.
However I decided to check Mr Brake’s voting record on They Work For You, and as far as I can see we might as well have had a Tory MP for the past five years.
I’m sorry Tom but I’m through with holding my nose and voting Liberal Democrat to keep the Tories out. My vote is going to the only party that has even quarter of an idea about how to get the United Kingdom back on the right tracks and that is the Labour Party. Though as Billy Bragg said recently on Facebook;
It’s a mark of how constipated our political discourse has become when the ideas put forward by the bishops of the Church of England are more attractive than current Labour Party policy
srack= pairs of shoes that a shoe rack is designed to hold;
sf= the pairs of shoes owned by the female (hopefully sf < 100);
sm= the pairs of shoes owned by the male (must be > 0);
y = the number of years that the shoe rack has been installed;
tm = the tidiness factor of the male;
tf = the tidiness factor of the female;
sactual = pairs of shoes in the hallway on or near the shoe rack
sactual = srack + (sf y / tf) + (sm y / tm)
Off we toddled to IKEA to get a new shoe rack, and a new table to put in the porch so we could put a plant on it. The table goes in the porch and has the plant on it, not the shoe rack. At this point I suppose I should mention that we had gone to IKEA the weekend before to get a shoe rack and a table for the porch and came back with a bathrobe, two sets of battery operated fairy lights and a bread basket. Hopefully we wouldn’t get quite so distracted this week.
We did manage to buy a shoe rack called “Tjusig” and a table called “Grennen”. We actually bought two shoe racks in the hope of at least temporarily overcoming the “Law of Shoe Racks”. By the way does anyone know how IKEA thinks up their product names? Are they just random letters thrown together to sound vaguely Scandinavian or do they actually mean something?
I took some photos of the assembly process. Unfortunately I can’t bring you hilarious tales of ineptitude. I am actually fairly good at assembling flat packs and the like. I am an engineer so, I can interpret drawings and normally see how something fits together.
Read the instructions and make all the components aka “bits” are present and correct.
First step; assemble the legs using the correct cross-bars; the threaded ones.
Using the trusty IKEA Allen Key fix the cross-bars.
Fit the locating dowels to one set of legs and assemble the cross braces
Insert the wood screws and tighten using a cross-headed screwdriver (or trusty multi-tool device)
Fit the second set of legs – remembering to fit the location dowels first.
And that’s it. If you want to stack them two high (like me) there are a couple of fish plates to fix the racks together so you can’t knock the top one off.
Using a proper screwdriver instead of a Trusty Multi-Tool would have made the job slightly easier, but it was raining and I couldn’t be bothered to go out to the shed to get my tool-box.
As you can see the “Law of Shoe Racks”is already coming into play.
I borrowed this from Jack Monroe’s blog – I actually meant to save it to my food blog so I had it easily available, but put it on the main blog by mistake – but it is good enough to share with the world. If you are interested in eating healthily and economically her blog is worth a follow.
These are my sad black bananas. I wanted to make them happy again, by making them into supercake.
What do you do when you have a pile of black bananas sitting in the fruit bowl? I don’t even know how this happens – I generally work from home, bananas are my go-to snack because I can reach them and don’t have to do anything except peel them and shove them in, yet all too often my darling other half leaves a small pile of them on the chopping board with a hint to Do Something About Them. Sometimes they get sliced and flung in the oven to make dried bananas for the kids, sometimes I whizz them with yoghurt, milk and oats for a breakfast smoothie, but today I fancied neither of those things. It’s freezing. And raining a bit. And I’m a bit tired and gloomy. What I wanted…
Well actually it’s the 2nd, but I thought up the concept for this post on the 1st. The first Sunday in February* is a special day in the world of cycling. It is the day that the World Cyclocross Championships are held and it is also the day of the Grand Prix Cycliste la Marseillaise (l’Ouverture), which for me marks the beginning of the Road Race season. I know there have been races going on in the Southern Hemisphere for weeks now, but in some things I am a traditionalist, and since at least 1980 this has been the first European race of the year, so for me it still marks the opening of the season and the promise that spring is on the way.
A distinctly un-spring like Tabor in The Czech Republic hosted this years Cyclocross championships. There were four races; Junior men, Under-23 men, Elite men and Elite women.
They were all pretty good races, but the Elite Women’s race was a classic. With half a lap to go any one of five riders could have won, in fact it was only right toward the end that the eventual winner Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and Sanne Cant pulled away to fight out the final sprint to the line. The video below shows the highlights;
After that the Elite Men’s race was, well not a let down, but didn’t quite equal the women’s race for excitement. The highlights are below;
Again if you want to watch the full race click here.
Mathieu van der Poel who won the race is the youngest ever winner. He is a few days past his twentieth birthday. He is also the first person to follow in his fathers tyre tracks. His father Adri van der Poel won the World championships in 1996. His cycling pedigree is impressive. His maternal grandfather is the great French cyclist of the 60’s and 70’s Raymond Poulidor.
The average age of the podium for the Elite men’s race was lower than that of the Under 23 race. The silver medal winner Wout Van Aert isn’t much older than the winner. The bronze medal winner Lars van der Haar at 23 was the old man of the set.
Nic Jones was one of the finest singers and guitar players to come out of the Folk Revival. I remember going to hear him at the Marsden Inn Folk Club back in 1976 and being completely blown away by his performance.
A near fatal car accident in 1982 cut his career short. He performed a few gigs in 2012-13 accompanied by his son but has since stopped performing in public. The BBC made an hour-long documentary “The Enigma of Nic Jones: Return of Britain’s Lost Folk Hero”. I was part biographical and part following him on the run up to his first comeback gig. Unfortunately it is not currently available on BBC iPlayer or YouTube but it can be bought as a DVD from Nic’s official website nicjones.net
I like all Nic Jones’ work and could have chosen any one of a dozen songs to showcase the talent that we lost that night back in 1982, and we did lose something special . Although he still has a fine singing voice, he no longer plays the guitar or the fiddle.
The song I chose is this one “The Isle of France”*. from the album “Noah’s Ark Trap”. It shows off Nic’s fine guitar playing and I like the story that the song tells.