Winterlude

In case you were wondering I’ve not gone away.

(Of course, you may not have noticed.)

Life has been a bit hectic. If I ever was in any doubt, being retired is no holiday — not if I want to live a little. Well, live a lot.

In no particular order, here are some of the things I’ve been involved in over the last few weeks.

1. Playing the keyboard part in a Haydn Mass for a Sunday service in a local medieval church. (PS: it boasts a hollow yew tree said to be two millennia old.)
2. Accompanying the local choral society for rehearsals, leading to a concert in Brecon Cathedral where I sang in the tenor section. (This featured the Mass in D by Dvorak, Haydn’s Te Deum and choruses from Handel’s Israel in Egypt.)
3. Attending Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra rehearsals, playing the piano part, and performing in two concerts. (Film music by John Williams — 85 this year — was the theme, including items from The Cowboys, Warhorse, Jurassic Park: The Lost World and E.T., plus selections from Episodes IV, V and VII of Star Wars.)
4. Accompanying a student performing for the opening of a Confucius Classroom in a local school. (The goal of this UCL Institute of Education initiative is to help local schools to start or strengthen the teaching of Chinese language and culture.)
5. Accompanying students for instrumental exams. (Cello, violin and euphonium, since you ask.)
6. Conducting the local choral society performing a capella carols around the town. (And if it wasn’t for a recent heavy dump of snow which led to cancellation, I’d’ve today been singing with another choir a concert of Advent music by Praetorius,  Gabrieli and other contemporaries, all accompanied by sackbuts and a cornett.)
7. Not all activities have been musical: I’ve been clearing a wild patch of ground of vegetation and rubbish so we can do something with it in the coming year, and we’ve attended a couple of events in Hay Festival’s Winter Weekend. (Hay-on-Wye is one of the globe’s Town of Books, running a famous literary festival every summer.)

There we have it: a busy few weeks which has precluded much blogging. I can’t guarantee there’ll be much literary blogging this side of Christmas, or anything but random following of fellow bloggers’ posts.

But I’ll try. 🙂

16 thoughts on “Winterlude

    1. Thanks for the advice, Gert! Options include a two vehicle overflow carpark (for visiting family), a small tree or two (to do our bit for combatting climate change) or raised vegetable beds (in case the apocalypse arrives sooner than expected). But not all three at once. Up till now it housed the National Collection of Bindweed, so anything’s an improvement.

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    1. Still fitting in some reading — I’m appraching the penultimate chapter, Stefy, so not too long now! Even though there are are couple more Christmas concerts to prepare for I’d go doolally if I couldn’t manage reading time along with performing. So I’m not signing off before Christmas yet! (And I will find time to catch up on all those blog posts of the last week that I’ve neglected. 🙂 )

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    1. Ah but, Laurie, this is a little different from ‘working’ (as is ‘working to live’) as it’s truly living to work — and anyway one can hardly count making music as work! There’s great joy in supporting young musicians to do their best as well as enjoying what they’re playing; huge fun in rehearsing and performing great music, from Renaissance masterpieces to memorable movie tunes; and immeasurable delight playing sacred music in context or presenting pieces to appreciative audiences. But you and I know exactly what you really mean — retirement isn’t at all about putting your feet up and watching daytime TV …

      Instagram — yes, I am a little addicted to it at the moment, but posting a photo is the task of moments, while crafting a post involves blood, sweat and tears. At least I think so! Glad you like the pics. 🙂

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      1. Yes, of course I was being facetious! When I think of retiring, it is somewhat like this in that I can do more of what I love…there are so many trail walks with my name on it all over the world…however, putting my feet up sometimes does sound pretty good, too 🙂

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        1. Yay, glad we’re on the same page! By the way, my favourite fact about the word ‘facetious’ is that it contains all the vowels in the English alphabet — in the correct order!

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  1. earthbalm

    Merry Christmas Mr Calmgrove. It’s good to be busy although you seem to have been particularly BUSY. The last few days have seemed a great time to read Terry Pratchett’s “Wintersmith” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wintersmith) though I’ve continued transferring files to the Cubase format – supply teaching work seems a little thin on the ground this time of year, just when the money would come in very handy. Have a great festive season.

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    1. If schools are closed due to the weather there’s sadly even less chance of supply work, but maybe there’ll be a flurry when they re-open before the holidays. Good luck on that front … my memory is of a final week of showing videos that pleased few of the youngsters for most of the time. That and endless Top of the Carols requests to bash out on the old joanna while lusty voices sang raucously!

      Cubase, the very name is a blast from the past! I barely started to navigate that in the early noughties before I gave up fulltime teaching. But then I’m a bit of a techno-wimp so would never have progressed very far with it.

      I too would have liked to have got to this Pratchett by now but, as you say, I have been otherwise preoccupied. Just finished the last Austen, so may be able to tackle that Anne Bronte before the year’s end.

      Anyway, still a fortnight to go, but still time the wish you the very best for Crimbo!

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      1. elmediat

        It is when I get hit by collateral busy even when I take shelter in my quiet computer/book-pile library man-cave , I am felled by a task out of the blue. What is a retire introvert supposed to do ? 😀

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        1. Like you I’m a retired introvert and oscillate from self-imposed busy to wishing for that man-cave, but again like you — whisper it — daily/extraordinary tasks appear like malign magic on the job-sheet. Like it or lump it is the sensible solution, but occasionally I’m not sensible …

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  2. MrsB_inthehills

    Whoever said retirement was peaceful had clearly not got to that stage! I’ve stoppped telling people that I’ve retired because they put you into a box marked ‘little old lady with a perm and an anorak who goes out with her shopping bag on wheels to get a bit of fish for tea before settling down for a night int front of the telly’.

    Obviously you’re not in that box either!

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