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Weedon’s Wanderings: 20th June 2018

SS Hope

IT’S THE HOPE...

If, like me, you’re a fan of the film Clockwise then you’ll be familiar with this scene: John Cleese playing Mr Stimpson (a state school head) is on his way to be honoured as chair of the (otherwise public school) Headmasters’ Conference; but everything goes wrong, hilariously, despite his meticulous planning and rigid adherence to the clock; now he is sitting by a country roadside, dressed only in a monk’s habit, being comforted by one of his truanting sixth formers, and he says “It’s not the despair, Laura - I can cope with despair. No, it’s the hope...!”

I’ve decided to make that my motto. 

We received our new data SIM card, installed it in the mobile phone and drove up to the mast on the hill, equipped with phone, laptop and mouse, and Bucket Loads of Hope, all crammed into our tiny Smart car. Tony held the laptop at a crazy angle while I attempted to connect it to EE via my phone. A mouse doesn’t work too well on just your knee, and the laptop screen was invisible in the bright light. But in the end we got there - we uploaded a short test video I’d made, downloaded what turned out to be thousands of emails that had waited patiently for this moment, punched the air and drove home.

Hope burnt brightly for a while, until my email buddie replied that my test message arrived, but without the video attachment. And from that moment on, nowt...

In the old days I’d have gone to Lydney NatWest with my laptop and stood in the (always huge) queue, nonchalantly uploading my work via their strangely open internet. But they shut the bank permanently this month, so even that avenue is now a cul de sac. 

I could despair and just give up the unequal fight of trying to connect to the 21st century in the Forest of Dean. But I find it impossible to admit defeat. You see, it’s the hope...

 

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Weedon’s Wanderings: 30th May 2018

Clanna lake

Welcome to my new office!

They say that home is where your heart is, and now my office is where my internet connection is: on a bench by a lake in a wood just ten minutes strenuous rural walk from home. 

We’ve tried, and failed, with everything else: landline; 4G mobile; even a gurt antenna  strapped to the roof of the house. But we are now officially termed ‘unconnectable’. So dear old EE have supplied me with a data SIM for my mobile which I put in when I reach the lake, via which I can connect to their mast on the hilltop. Then I link my laptop to the phone and data flows like water.

Which is all very pleasant on a dry May morning. I’m just wondering what it’ll be like up here in November...?

Weedon's Wanderings: 18th May 2018.

Warsaw Radio mast, courtesy of Wikipedia

TRYING: VERY!

We've been exploring all the various methods for connecting to the Internet from our forest home.  I had hoped by now to be able to upload my blog by a method which, if not fast and furious, was at least more moderate in megabytes than our current 0.3.  We have trialled two supposedly foolproof mobile internet systems since I last wrote. One was fabulous - as long as we drove to the M5 near Gloucester, where we scored a blistering 40+.  But there had to be a better way. So they sent us the all singing and dancing Superfast home model - which managed ... 0.3. 

" But you're only 0.7 kilometres from the mast," the tech guy marvelled.  "You should be getting terrific speeds."

"Yep, but you haven't seen the hill in between," I suggested.  He got out his contour map.

"Oh, crumbs. I see what you mean. More of a mountain actually..."

So the next (and presumably final) episode in this saga is that a man with a ladder and very tall antenna will call on us and put it up on our house.  Will it be so tall that it peeps above the prow of the 'more of a mountain', I wonder? 

You may wonder how I'm sending you this.  Well, if you live next to the M5 at Gloucester, take a peep out of your window.  You'll see Tony ferrying me up and down while I beaver away in the passenger seat on the tiny screen of my iPhone 5s...

Weedon's Wanderings: 24th April 2018

Box of tissues

THE WEEDON WAY

We've just left the lovely crowd of music lovers who are enjoying a week of camaraderie and melody at Seacroft Festival, run by Organ & Keyboard Cavalcade magazine.  For me, it was a tearful farewell as our plans have altered quite suddenly in this past fortnight, and we won't be returning there in future. Why? Well, Tony and I clock up 143 years in age this year and, although we are both very fit and motivated in most respects we both have our weak spots.  Mine is that I can no longer lift anything and I can also be floored quite suddenly by allergies. And Tony's Achilles heel is that, after 38 years of well controlled diabetes, his sugars have recently gone crazy. A chap who could be 'glowing in the dark' one moment but out cold with a hypo the next shouldn't be driving hundreds of miles and lugging gear about. 

So we have had to withdraw from those activities which make up concert touring. Everyone has been so kind and understanding, including those people who had booked me, my fellow artists who are standing in at short notice and the dear folk who make up my audiences.  I'm going to miss seeing you all very much.
 
But you know the old saying: a bad Penny keeps turning up. As that particular door shuts, and we return to the Forest of Dean to 'mend' dear Tony, another set of doors is flying open in my mind. 

I've wanted for ages to produce more materials for learning about music, under the heading 'The Weedon Way'. I already have in mind items about composing and playing by ear, and I welcome other suggestions. I hope to find some way of uploading snippets to YouTube despite our lack of broadband. I also look forward to doing lots more composing and arranging and uploading the results for sharing. 

So, despite my recent tears, I'm now smiling again and excited about how we can continue our relationship over the ether. Watch this space! 

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Weedon’s Wanderings: 8th April 2018

Sibelius sauna shed

GETTING IN A FLAP

We’ve been surprised by catching whooping cough - we’d always assumed it was a childhood illness.  But then we are just big kids. The word ‘whooping’ made me think of whooper swans (which you can see and hear here and here).  From there it was a short step to cranes (here and here). And from there a shorter step still to the beautiful 5th symphony by Jean Sibelius... 

The final movement has a stunning theme, which is sometimes said to represent Thor swinging his hammer.  But I was more convinced by Christopher Headington’s argument that it was inspired by swirling autumn leaves and the wing beats of migrating cranes.  Sibelius composed from a pretty shed by a lake in his native Finland, directly under the cranes’ migration route.  CH felt that Sibelius was sitting in his hut, feeling rather down through being off colour, with the dead leaves skittering around outside, when the huge birds passed overhead on their way South for winter.  What do you think: is this a mythical figure doing some heavy-duty DIY, or the haunting depiction of birds, and summer, deserting a darkening Scandinavia together?

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