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Weedon’s Wanderings 15th October 2018

Picture of cider label

BE-CIDER OURSELVES!

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a couple living in a tourist hot-spot, must be in want of a visitor to make them look at it.” To hugely mis-quote Pride and Prejudice, it takes fresh eyes to appreciate one’s surroundings, doesn’t it? And our latest visitor led us to find a firm called Severn Cider, a little brewery in a gorgeous old rectory on the riverside. It lies up a narrow lane which opens out onto pretty cottage gardens. The shop is a little cellar at the back of the house, packed with bottles of cider and perry, jars of pickles and - soft toys? Yep, after being offered generous samples we came away clutching bottles and a cute little wild boar toy, very much a native of our Forest of Dean. The friendly owner even cut us a bunch of grapes from his vine.  Boy, were they sweet and juicy!

You may be wondering what all this has to do with music? Well, a recent TV documentary commented how little things can trigger distant memories. And for me, the word ‘cider’ really set me off. For a start, I grew up in a cider orchard. We had 76 large trees and Father allocated one tree to each family in the village. Come harvest time, they’d all turn up with ladders and sacks and we’d have a jolly time picking together, with tea and cake in abundance. Father used to juice our share of the apples in a (clean) dustbin, using a propeller on his electric drill, then put the mush in a pillow case and squeeze it through the mangle. The juice would plop down into my (also clean) baby bath. Once fermented, it was pure nectar. It probably explains why we kids slept so well at nights.

About this time, a record appeared on the Light Programme. It featured Nina and Frederick singing - you’ve guessed it - ‘Sipping Cider Through a Straw’. As usual, YouTube came up trumps when I searched for it. So here’s some music at long last...

I never realised that Sipping Cider was what they term a ‘call and response’ song, but this clip demonstrates that clearly. And it turns up in a wide selection of versions here, here and here.

Had cider inspired any other composers? Another search threw up The Wurzels singing ‘I am a cider drinker’ which was far bawdier than I remembered. (I worked for Bob Barrett, who recorded The Wurzels at EMI Records, by the way). As they used the tune of Una Paloma Blanca for this song, it was hardly a cider-inspired composition, just a set of new lyrics. But I did stumble upon an attractive piece of film music, written by Rachel Portman, for the movie The Cider House Rules. I seem to recall that was a good film, and worth another watch.

Despite our supply of cider, I have been busy on the computer, uploading sheet music and accompanying recordings. So my next blog will be the grand unveiling of that. In the meantime, if you’re feeling thirsty, take a look at Severn Cider on-line. Bottoms up...

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Weedon’s Wanderings: 12th September 2018

Fireworks

HALLELUJAH!

We are pleased to announce a new arrival at 9:30am this morning: to Penny and Tony at Weedon Music a working broadband connection! We’ve waited since the 26th January 2017 for this joyous event. In the end, we went on bended knee to BT who have pulled out all the stops and got us up and running with immense efficiency. Now our broadband speed has rocketed from 0.3mbps to 6.1. OK, not exactly Superfast, but it makes all sorts of things possible which had only been pipe dreams since we moved here. 

Thank you for your patience while we’ve been struggling. Please bear with us a little longer while we put our new plans into effect. But it will definitely be worth watching this space.  In the meantime, perhaps you would like to join with us in a rendition of Handel’s mighty Hallelujah Chorus. If so, just click here.

 

 

 

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...

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