It's a Wonderful Life…

…isn't it…?

The Dog that Doesn’t Speak English July 8, 2012

I may have mentioned, once or twice, that my parents have a penchant for rescuing waifs and strays. This week I have received a constant stream of hysterical text messages from my mother. You see, she decided, this time, to rescue a dog from a group of ex pats out in Spain who have been lovingly rescuing and nurturing some very sad cases of animal cruelty and neglect. This dog hadn’t been neutered and, despite only being a baby herself, had gotten caught out and ended up with a litter of mouths to feed. My Mum took pity on this little being and decided she should come and live with us.

Bonita – means “pretty little one” in Spanish

 

Text message received after Bonita’s first night in her new home:

She’s following me everywhere like a lamb. Poppy [my dog] hates her. She has chased the cats out of the house and won’t let them back in the garden. She won’t listen when I tell her to stop

Text message returned:

She doesn’t speak English, what do you expect?

Text message to Mum the next day:

How are you today, much sleep? Still hysterical and a silly English woman getting between a dog and her toys?

Reply:

No. Yes. She’s been on the roof.

My response:

HAHAHAHAHA. You mean the house roof don’t you? How did she get there?

Reply:

Yes. Landing window was open.

Text message back:

Senorita Bonita thinks she can fly. Nuhnuhnuhnunnuh BAT DOG!

That evening, to calm my Mum’s hysterics about having this loony puppy that doesn’t speak English climbing on the roof, we went out for a walk. Surprisingly, the expected arch enemy, Poppy, actually rather likes bat dog now and they walk along side by side like the best of friends.

However, our nice, peaceful walk was interrupted when they both tried to give chase to a pair of wild bunnies lolloping merrily across the golf course. And then.

SQUIRREL

SQUIRREL.SQUIRREL.SQUIRREL.

Turns out our little Spanish one is quite fond of a squirrel. Sees them everywhere in fact. If you have ever seen the film UP you will understand what I mean when I say that she is every inch Dug the Dog.

 

I have also been obliged to point out that it’s very much a “dogs and their owners” thing as she displays “squirrel” tendencies on occasion: breaking off midway through a conversation and interjecting with an entirely unrelated topic. Anyone who has read my post “My Boyfriend Has Renamed Me Jim” will understand exactly what I’m talking about here.

SQUIRREL

 

There, undoubtedly, will be more to follow on the adventures of the dog that doesn’t speak English so stay tuned, lovely readers J

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Interviewing Sarah Lillie July 5, 2012

A Musical Benefit in aid of Breast Cancer Care

Hi Sarah! I’m so excited to see you perform live at New to This Solar System tomorrow night; thanks so much for finding the time to answer my questions

Q. Tell me, how did you get started?

A. Guitarist Ben Hood and I met at Southampton University and have been performing together with drummer Rob Austen since we graduated last July. For the Sevenoaks Festival, Ben and I will be performing as a duo.

Q. So, what you do for your day job?

A.  I live in East London and work as a professional singer. Aside from Ben’s solo work, he also works as a professional songwriter, singer and teacher.

Q. And, how did you get into music?

A.My Dad, Grandparents and Mum were all music lovers, so my sisters and I played music and sang from an early age. Ben has been a songwriter for many years; since watching blues-guitar band Divided by Three with his Mum in concert.

Q. Aside from the love of music, do you have any other creative outlets?

A. We both love cooking, Ben makes incredible paella and I bake most days. I love my knitting, painting and writing too.

Q. Do you have any particular musical inspiration?

A. We’re both big fans of Elbow; their music, lyrics and production are all incredible. I listen to a lot of the female jazz singers including Ella Fitzgerald and Julie London and am greatly influenced by music and instruments from China, India and Africa.

Q.   So, what’s your mission for your music?

A. I’d love to travel with my music, and learn to play more instruments and techniques from different cultures.

Q. Is there anyone in particular that has inspired you or given you great advice to get where you wanted to be?

A. I met an incredible musician called Rob Greenfield at my secondary school who encouraged my singing and song-writing, he will always be a musical inspiration to me.

Q.   Tell me a bit about your history as an artist?

A. I’ve led several acts and bands since school. Then, at University I began performing with Ben, we’ve been gigging, writing and recording together since. We play with friend and drummer Rob Austen and have begun rehearsals with bass player James Williams. We’ll be performing with cellists, a keyboard player and percussionist for some of the upcoming Summer gigs.

Ben joined a band at University and, since graduating, began performing his own material with them. He’s now recording his debut solo album with the same group of musicians.

Q. Are there any especially memorable gigs you have played?

A.Selling out Ronnie Scott’s Bar and the Jazz Club Soho earlier this year with Ben and Rob are two incredible gigs we’ll never forget. One of my most memorable performances however, was a spontaneous, wine-fuelled jazz gig in the crammed cellar of a piano bar in the Latin Quarter of Paris. The owner of Aux Trois Mailletz  invited me to sing with the world-famous house band, it was brilliant.

Q. Do you have any future developments my readers might like to know about?

A.We’re performing at a new festival in Benenden on 10th August called Jack’s Festival, and again at Local and Live Music Festival at The Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells over the August Bank Holiday. We’re in the process of recording for release later this year. Ben’s also been recording his solo album ready for Autumn 2012.

Q.How did you end up involved in New to This Solar System and fundraising for Breast Cancer Care?

A.We met Steph when lead singer of The Find, Jay, invited us to perform for Breast Cancer Care earlier this year. It was a wonderful gig for a brilliant campaign.

This is the first time we’ve been involved in the Sevenoaks Festival so we’re really excited to be performing this year.

And I’m sure everyone is really looking forward to seeing, what is sure to be, a stellar performance tomorrow night at Sevenoaks School for the Breast Cancer Care Benefit Concert. It’s been lovely getting to know Sarah Lillie and I wish you all the best for tomorrow evening.

To all those that are thinking of attending, tickets are available on the door and you are guaranteed to have an amazing night of music whilst raising funds for a very worthwhile cause. I look forward to seeing some of you there!

 

Interviewing Amy Coulshaw July 3, 2012

As those of you who read my blog regularly will know, I have been interviewing the performers listed for the New to This Solar System concert at Sevenoaks School this Friday. Today, you can read my interview with Amy Coulshaw.

Hiya, Amy, thanks very much for giving up your time to answer my questions: I know you are extremely busy at the moment but it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to get to know you before the Breast Cancer Care Benefit concert.

Q. So, I would love to hear a bit about your background and how you got into music?

A. I live in Kent after moving up from Devon three years ago following a mixed bag of destinations growing up: spending the majority of my childhood in Brunei. It was here that I first started training classically as a singer at the age of six.  Having spent several years working professionally as a performer and singing teacher I have since begun a career in childcare which I love but I still take any opportunity I can to help out at charity events with my music!! I have always had an incredible passion for music, especially singing and have done since I was a toddler. I could barely speak but always managed to sing nursery songs!  This passion is even stronger today and I spend a lot of my spare time playing the piano, singing and writing songs.

Q. Is there any one in particular that has inspired you to keep singing?

A. My family have been the inspiration behind my music as, if it wasn’t for their love and support and belief in me, then I wouldn’t have been given some of the amazing opportunities that I have been lucky enough to have.

Q. So, having spent most of your life as a songstress, are there any particular stand out events that you have been asked to perform at; or anyone you have worked with that has been memorable?

A. I have been lucky enough to perform at some incredible events; the most recent being a spring ball at the Honorary Artillery Company house in London in aid of Help for Heroes. In terms of working with someone; as a classical singer, a real highlight for me was when I was given the opportunity to have a master class with Benjamin Luxon and perform with him!

Q. How did you end up involved in New to This Solar System and fundraising for Breast Cancer Care?

A. After moving up from Devon, I initially got a job working in Fatface in Sevenoaks which is where I first met Steph [for those of you that haven’t yet read my previous posts, Steph is the organiser of the Breast Cancer Care event that Amy will be performing at this Friday]. Steph is an inspiration for all women who suffer with breast cancer and is the reason I support and care about such an important and incredible charity. Steph soon found out that I was a singer and straight away put her faith in me asking me to perform at the annual BCC event, even though she hadn’t heard me sing (I did point out that I might be awful but she still went ahead anyway even asking me to do it the following year!) It’s because of these events that Steph asked me to perform at New to this Solar System, which I am honoured to do.

Amy, it’s been a real pleasure getting to know you and I’m very much looking forward to seeing you in action this Friday. Thanks again for your time. I hope some of my readers will come along and lend their support to your cause.

 

Interviewing Dan Clews July 1, 2012

Once again, lovely readers, I have a fantastic blog guest for you! I interviewed Dan Clews to give you all an insight into the artist before he performs at the New to This Solar System event next Friday.  Dan is donating his time and his musical talent to help raise funds for Breast Cancer Care at the Sevenoaks Music Festival event. For anyone that wants to see Dan (or any of my other New to This Solar System guests) in action; I’ve been told there are still tickets available.

Dan tells me that his day job, fortunately, largely revolves around: playing music, teaching music and recording music. He also mentions that he sells the odd Christmas tree [I, for one, will be asking him more about this on the night]. Dan has always been surrounded by music as his father is also a musician and he tells me it was a natural progression for him to follow that path too. When I ask if he has any other creative outlets, Dan tells me that he has a huge interest in music videos.

Q. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Dan! So, tell us, who are your musical inspirations?

A. Paul Simon, Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan did I mention Paul Simon?

Q. What is your mission as an artist?

A. To play music that makes people feel like they’re not alone.

Q. Have you had any set backs in getting where you wanted to be?

A. Always, it’s not for the faint hearted, but I love what I do.

Q. Is there anyone in particular that inspires you or gives you great advice to get where you want to be?

A. My wife and my son – always.

Q.  Are there any especially memorable gigs you have played?

A. I’ve done Local & Live in Tunbridge Wells and I also played on the Arctic Circle once.

Q. Have you played at any particularly outstanding venues?

A. Definitely: playing at the Hammersmith Apollo and the Shepherd’s Bush Empire were real highligh

ts for me.

Q. I’m sure my readers would love to know about someone amazing you have performed with?

A. I recently played a duet with Tim Minchin in front on 5,500 people! That was pretty amazing!

Q. Do you have any future developments my readers might like to know about?

A. Well, there’s the Secret Garden Party on the 21st of July, Local and Live 2012 on the 25th of August, Over The Moon Festival on the 16th of September. Plus, as of recently, people can also find me on iTunes!!

Q. How did you end up involved in New to This Solar System and fundraising for Breast Cancer Care?

A. I believe Cancer is personal to everyone: I don’t know any adult that’s not been affected by it in some way. I met Steph at one of my gigs and we got chatting about her events. I’ve lived in Sevenoaks most of my life

Thanks, again, Dan for taking the time to answer my questions: I’m sure my readers are now all looking forward to seeing you in action at New to This Solar System on the 6thJuly – and so am I!