Thursday, 20 December 2012

Kurt Elling

Recently I heard on Jazz FM one of the tracks of ‘1619 Broadway’ performed by the above gentleman and it made such an exciting impression on me that I just had to go out and purchase the album, which I did do while visiting my brother at Stratford-upon-Avon on Tuesday.

I have just finished playing the CD through now and am so moved by the slick expertise of the whole album that I have had to sit down straightaway to talk about it.

I am quite blown away by the way Kurt manoeuvres his voice, to swing his melodious way through eleven old favourites with such ease and panache. The jazz arrangements are very modern but the harmonies and rhythms are so sublimely eloquent that it has brought a wetness to my eye and a lump in my throat, which I haven’t experienced for some time. Kurt Elling’s voice is wonderful and  he weaves his way through numerous improvised phrases with such ease and style, while his voice, breath control and range is magnificent. The CD will remain a favourite of mine for a long time and I shall keep my eyes open for other albums.

To quote one of the tracks in the album, written by Sam Cooke;

‘You Send Me’ Mr Elling.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Frosty Fotos





Wintery webs





Freezing Face  (but my klaxon bracket still shows a happy one)

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Granddaughter and Godunov

The days at Warwick pass by swiftly but quietly, as the year hurtles towards its Solstice. The weather remains variable, alternating between periods of wet but mild spells and clear cold snaps, slipping easily from one to the other as if the system was navigating a chequerboard. At the moment there is freezing fog outside and a severe frost is forecast for tonight, making both the ‘Squirrel’ Stove in the Saloon and the ‘Epping’ Range, aft in the Boatman’s Cabin, work hard to keep us comfortably warm inside.

It’s not the sort of evening to encourage one to venture out.

I am glad therefore that it was last weekend that I travelled to Malmesbury instead to see my son Alex and family. He and Catherine have a daughter Penny who is now six months old and I met the little lady for the first time on Saturday.

And she’s lovely too; a very bright happy little girl who looks just like her Mummy. But then I suppose every doting grandfather tends to have exactly the same feelings at this time.

I arrived on Saturday and Alex collected me from the train station at Swindon and then on Monday morning I travelled with him on his way to work and caught the train back to Warwick from Bath. It was a long and tedious journey involving three changes but it was a wonderful weekend which I had been looking forward to for some months.



Grandfather and granddaughter with the same silly grin


But mostly my time here at Kate Boats has been quiet, and so I’ve had a chance to get a myriad of small jobs completed. I have made the most of the 240 volt hook-up from ashore in as much as I think everything aboard has been washed thoroughly in the machine and of course it’s a pleasure to have the decadent use again of the electric kettle and toaster.

And you know? I’ve even cleaned ship on occasions.

Life is wonderful.

But frequently too I have been travelling to Stratford-upon-Avon, where my brother David lives out his bachelor existence. It’s good always to see him as we get on very well together.

Of course living so close to the Royal Shakespeare Company he visits the theatre regularly and though it is always well booked up and I normally have to make do with his description of the different productions that he has seen, he managed recently to get a ticket for me as well. This was a thorough, though unexpected treat for me.

It wasn’t a Shakespeare play that we went to see but Alexander Pushkin’s ‘Boris Godunov’. I had never seen it before, either as a play or the operatic version by Modest Mussorgsky and as in the past I had struggled to follow other Russian contemporary literature, by Chekov and Tolstoy, I was rather anxious that I might even let myself down by nodding off in the middle somewhere.

However this production adapted by Sir Michael Boyd and directed by Adrian Mitchell was performed beautifully with great spirit and understanding by the understudy members of the cast and it just shows how versatile and professional these RSC players are. I didn’t even feel like dropping off to sleep once and was gripped totally the whole way through by the vibrant production.

Well done the RSC.

Monday, 3 December 2012

The Winter Skipper

Well! I think it’s a disgrace! Don’t you?

All he managed for November was two postings! He should feel ashamed of himself.

As usual, it’s left to me to extrapolate his credentials from the mire again.

……. Well you know what I mean.

It’s just not good enough though. It’s a good job he has me around I think.

The Old Man’s not been aboard at all very much actually. He’s been going off regularly to Stratford-upon-Avon and places to see his brother and other friends as well. He does seem to make the most of this time of the year to catch up with things like that. It’s a ten minute walk to the railway station and then he travels everywhere from there.

I’ll bet he gets into the ‘Old Railway Tavern’ too with their big TV screen. I’m sure he loves watching the live football the sneaky old so and so. But he don’t tell me much and I have to use my common sense a lot.

I don’t know why he doesn’t have TV on board. I know he’d like it. All normal people watch TV so why doesn’t he?  All I know is that his little face lit up like a Halloween pumpkin the other night when Janis appeared on the computer screen very clearly, all the way from New Zealand, with the help of Skype, which is the same as telly really……. I’ll tell you he's definitely an odd ‘un ….. as well as being ockard. I have an awful job to work him out sometimes.

But I’m happy, sat quietly here on my own waiting with great patience till the end of February when we can cruise again. But for the last month we’ve had lovely weather in a November-y sort of way. No ice anyway and we could have cruised beautifully for all that time. I don’t even mind ploughing my way through the ice. It’s so exciting ….. But I know the Skipper’s worried about ripping all the paint off my bottom and having to get me re-blacked afterwards. And as he loves his country overnight moorings, I also think he worries about getting iced in somewhere during the night, miles from a fresh water tap and a shop.

The poor old chap….

So here we stay tied up snugly at Kate Boats with nothing better for me to do but count the ducks that pass by.

Hey Ho!