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  • Clare Teal -
    the quotes for transforming the frog swamp back into a swimming pool have varied wildly I m hoping the really expensive and hopefully excessive quote must have included individual rehoming programs for each and every frog pond skater and newt If not looks like we ll have the frog swamp for another year Muddy is trying to program my brain to think of weeding as a form of relaxation Judging by the amount of green critters springing up on what seems like an hourly basis we re going to be in a zen like state for the foreseeable future Great excitement over at the bird feeders Mr and Mrs Black Cap are still hanging out which according to this week s Winter Watch is unusual for this time of year On Saturday a couple of green finches enjoyed a spot of lunch at the no mess sunflower heart feeder We haven t seen them before or since so maybe they were just having a ride out on account of it being the weekend Last Friday I heard a thump at the window and looked up to see a blackbird doing its very best to escape what I m pretty sure was a sparrow hawk perched momentarily on the decking Much as it was horrible to see the blackbird so distressed it was breathtaking to see a bird of prey at such close quarters Today I intend to plant the garlic purchased at the Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight last year I m hoping I m not too late as I meant to do it in December but apparently they need cold frosty weather to do their thing so we might be in luck Due to badger bulb snuffling I will be planting them in pots and using John

    Original URL path: http://www.clareteal.co.uk/index.php/winter-watch/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Clare Teal -
    January is mainly a time of reflection and thumb twiddling in the jazz calendar I can t believe that this time last year Muddy and I were en route to New Zealand neither can I fathom that we ve been living in our new house for 5 months WHERE DOES THE TIME GO In the midst of a tour I d say the busier you are the quicker it goes but then in quieter periods time also disappears very sneakily I ll look up from my computer after what feels like a couple of hours to find it s already gin and tonic time with very little done and not a child in the house washed Time however never goes fast in the dentist s chair or whilst filling out tax returns or hoovering yet it whizzes by in good company Fantastic meals in amazing restaurants never last as long as I d like but then neither do bottles of lovely wine Muddy can spend hours and hours and hours on the phone arguing an hour long call feels like minutes to her The internet gobbles up time like nobody s business A recent survey by sky Broadband suggested that 1 in 4 of us spend more time online than asleep and that over half of us suffer e anxiety if we re unable to check emails or Facewhatever every 10 minutes My main New Year s resolution is regardless of how fast or slow it goes to enjoy every minute I can and to not stress and worry Like so many people I feel utterly ruled by TIME and as 2013 is the Belgian year of change I intend to rebel a bit just to see if the world will actually end I wish weight was as easy to

    Original URL path: http://www.clareteal.co.uk/index.php/where-does-the-time-go/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Clare Teal -
    Well roughly six o clock When one of us happened to notice That the washer had er stopped And just like that dear reader It had ceased to go around With a drum chock full of water It d flippin broken down It was one night before Christmas When Comet came to call Hey are you a reindeer I bellowed down the hall No I m a delivery man With a very heavy box You poor thing there s 72 steps I ll see you at the top That was in the past my friends So fast forward to this year Muddy s sister and husband Are flying over here The annex bathroom s tatty The shower tray is bust We ll replace the tiles and shower tray And hoover up the dust It ll only take a day or two The plumbers both concurred It ll only take a day or two Well possibly a third It was when they moved the toilet That Mud s chin hit the floor As every single floorboard Was rotton to the core They worked and worked and finished the job Upon a midnight clear And by the time you read this Helen

    Original URL path: http://www.clareteal.co.uk/index.php/stuff-happens/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Clare Teal -
    on Wednesday afternoon we were already running 45mins late I then learned students were protesting outside Westminster I think because they ve changed the time of Home Away joking aside I truly believe everyone should be entitled to a free education and on any other day I d be out there routing for them With the car finally parked we scurried to The Mansion House Boris gaff where I fell rather spectacularly over my suit bag in my nice camel coat not real camel you understand although I do now have a bruised hump A nice banking type gentleman scooped me off the floor by which time Muddy and Grant had also come to my aid With a foot swollen sore and bandaged but thankfully not broken I regretted packing my 5 platform heeled Elton John glitter boots We were there to perform at a fundraising dinner for the cricket charity Chance To Shine After a lovely meal and a big auction I hobbled to the stage and did my stuff By midnight we d dropped Grant off at Chiswick and were heading to the M4 only to discover they d shut it again then whilst frantically looking at the map for an alternative route I clamped down too hard on my soft mint and broke a tooth yes on a soft mint I d only been for a check up last week where after a lecture on daily flossing I had been praised unlike Pam Ayres for looking after my teeth By 2 o clock we were a mile away from home and then thanks to another road closure this time due to flooding we were suddenly faced with a 10 mile diversion but even though the weather has added about an hour to every journey we ve had

    Original URL path: http://www.clareteal.co.uk/index.php/the-mansion-house/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Clare Teal -
    BBC Big Band alongside Richard Shelton and a three part harmony girl group from Glasgow called The Swing Cats followed by a trip with our regular trio to Taliesin Arts Theatre one of our favourite venues near Mumbles in Swansea Sunday found us walking The Worm s Head at beautiful Rhossili not only did we battle the elements but Muddy and I also freed a sheep who d got his be horned head stuck in a wire fence Monday was a real treat an opportunity to see the inspirational Van Morrison at relatively close quarters perform to the packed Forum in Bath Van was in fine vocal form and the band were brilliant Alistair White was stupendous on trombone Before we set off to see Mr Morrison and after reading a terrifying report stating that some 44 million breeding birds have been lost from these shores since we last won the world cup due in large part to an increasing lack of seed and grain Muddy and I thought we d step up a gear up on the bird refueling front so to sit alongside our lovely traditional wooden bird table we purchased a hat stand type affair where you hang many and various feeders from many and various hooks The long pole of which is inserted into a round heavy metal base I suppose choosing the windiest day of the year to give it a whirl was in hindsight foolish for whirl it did We woke up to find the entire structure A over T on the floor and random feeders bird seed and nuts splayed EVERYWHERE Mr wood pigeon and Senor squirrel were holding court whilst the robin tits and sparrows drooled in anticipation on the fence We don t know at this stage whether the culprit was

    Original URL path: http://www.clareteal.co.uk/index.php/van-whirl/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Clare Teal -
    all I was good for was a big glass of wine and a catch up with Muddy Saturday morning suitably refreshed I headed to the supermarket for last minute bobbins It was busy which meant I was late starting my Malaysian beef curry Muddy s authentic chicken curry was delicately simmering whilst I was still in the queue Curry done sip of coffee look at the clock 1 hour to shower and get ready before heading off to appear at a dear friend s school concert Bum I ve got to make the meringue I d only made this particular meringue twice before once in New Zealand with my University mate Aloma on that occasion it had gone super well however when I d made it for our hero s birthday just last week it had not been up to much I think the problems are occurring at the whip the egg whites till you get a stiff peak consistency stage I have no problem getting to the bendy peak stage or the raised bump of a peak stage Anyway I was 15 minutes late for soundcheck Sorry chaps I had to wait for the meringue to come out of the oven Our drive to London via the A303 early early the next morning was absolutely stunning a crisp frost lit up by a beautiful sunny clear day The starlings gave us a morning murmering even Stone Henge looked quite cheery We were heading to Western House to appear as a guest on lovely Sir Terry Wogan s Sunday morning Radio 2 show alongside writer actress presenter and flippin Celebrity Masterchef Champion Emma Kennedy As it was remembrance Sunday I sang Ivor Novello s We ll Gather Lilacs followed some time later by Snow Patrol s Chasing Cars both accompanied

    Original URL path: http://www.clareteal.co.uk/index.php/meringue/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Clare Teal -
    get home chuckled the older lady standing next to me As the queues mounted up we got chatting literally about the price of kitchen roll and the lack of cashiers only 5 counters were open Every few minutes the woman on the intercom would hysterically beg members of staff to come to the checkout counters It turned out to be a futile exercise As a newcomer to Glastonbury I enthused about how much we were enjoying our life here how friendly the people were etc she leaned in closer We used to have everything we needed here before the likes of them points in the direction of a purple haired woman with neighborhood witch written on her tie dye t shirt moved here you can buy as many crystals as you can carry but you can t buy a pair of pants here these days it s getting serious Whilst I pondered as to whether or not them wore pants the dear lady proceeded to tell me all about next week s carnival which is by all accounts amazing The Glastonbury Chilkwell Guy Fawkes Carnival dates back to 9th November 1854 These days a procession of beautifully lit floats proceeds round the town we are of course working Other Glasto news a pair of very cool pied wagtails have moved in by the frog swamp also the squirrel has out baffled his baffle and was seen this very morning crouching on the top of the bird table covering his eyes in a if I can t see them they can t see me type gesture Yet another huge date in the South West calendar occurs tomorrow when our hero turns 22 how has this happened Having saved up for years he recently traded in his clapped out banger for an

    Original URL path: http://www.clareteal.co.uk/index.php/glastonbury-gazette/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Clare Teal -
    couple of them melted in hot water to make said stock and marveled in the fact that Tuesday dinner was packed with the goodness of nearly 3 chickens Anyway shove the chicken bobbins back in the pan and cover and simmer for an hour till heartbreakingly tender then whip them out the pan and into a warm oven and furiously boil the remaining sauce for 10 minutes till reduced to syrupy loveliness the sauce not the cook put chicken back in the pot and serve We accompanied it with crisp savoy cabbage smoked bacon and tasty baked potatoes with a bit of left over crème fraiche Autumn s here 12 Oct The heat is on 2 Saturday 7 01am So many things could go wrong I thought to myself over breakfast Seemingly I was the only hungry person staying at the hotel After all these months of preparation in a few short hours the rehearsals for our BBC Leeds community big band were about to start What if half of them don t turn up What if they ve changed their minds Right at the start of this project someone I know took me aside saying You re crazy I tried something similar before and it was a DISASTER get out now while you can I replied Absolutely not If I can t find a brass section in the land of brass bands then I m an idiot Of course the last part of that sentence may be true 10 30 Yorkshire College of Music and Drama All of our musicians have turned up eager and early Everyone s a bit nervous including me including Grant Windsor our musical director who is in a practice room under a mountain of music including our 4 mentors who are onboard to tutor and tighten each section within an inch of its life After a few words we get cracking I spend the morning visiting each section in their various practice rooms First off I sit in and watch Ben Castle son of legendary performer Roy Castle take the reed section through their paces All our musicians are most competent and many play regularly in local big bands orchestras and other ensembles but few have had the opportunity to work at close hand with top flight professional session musicians all of whom have worked with the biggest names in the pop rock and jazz world all of whom are experienced big band players and more importantly all of whom are wonderful people and great educators I next visit Martin Shaw tutoring the trumpet section which includes 2 or 3 stalwart brass band men I am immediately excited by the blend of sound I m hearing On to the trombones mentored by Ashley Horton who within 2 hours is honing a great tone Our rhythm section are the backbone of the band and range in age from just 14 to 19 are making a lot of exciting noise under the watchful eye of bass player Mark Hodgson I leave on Sunday grinning from ear to ear and bursting with pride You know I think this might just come off 26 Sep MYJO Last Thursday evening I had the absolute pleasure of performing alongside a fantastic group of young musicians in the thriving metropolis that is Solihull MYJO or the Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra was formed over 40 years ago by Mike Beaumont Their much loved current director John Ruddick took up the baton in 1981 and hasn t put it down since Back in the good old days between 1975 and 2005 when Radio 2 held its annual BBC National Big Band Competition MYJO waltzed off with the coveted first prize no less than 11 times There is no age limit to join MYJO but youngsters can only stay till they are 25 Many of today s great players have passed through organisations such as MYJO and NYJO the National Youth Jazz Orchestra they are a hugely important stepping stone for players wanting to make their living playing music professionally With rehearsals about to start for our very own Leeds Community Big Band I took real inspiration from John and the gang I read somewhere the secret to holding the interest of young musicians is repertoire and my goodness MYJO s repertoire is astonishingly varied and always brilliantly played This week the special guests were announced for our Big Band Concert on October 30th at Leeds Town Hall Pop sensation Olly Murrs will be joining us alongside Grammy nominated American jazz singer extraordinaire Gregory Porter So we have a couple of super talented singing guests a gathering of some of Yorkshire s finest musicians now all we need are a bunch of top class arrangements to make the whole thing sparkle Thankfully with Grant Windsor as musical director I have absolutely no worries Our concert will cover not just the hey day of Big Band Swing but also celebrate pop music throughout the ages from the 1930 s right up to current day It s all for a great cause as proceeds go to Children In Need so come along and support live music and your local community Also I heard recently that the brilliant Leeds born singer Peter Grant is performing a special concert in Yorkshire this Saturday as part of Fallfest Peter has such a great voice and his songwriting just gets better and better Fallfest now in its second year will hold the concert at Glusburn Arts Centre and it promises to be a belter The hills are indeed alive with the sound of music 12 Sep BT I rang BT two weeks and one day before we moved house After a week I rang to check on the order they d lost it This resulted in a connection delay of two weeks and one day The line at the new property had been disconnected BT said we would have to have a new line installed I did mention at this

    Original URL path: http://www.clareteal.co.uk/index.php/category/clares-blog/page/13/ (2016-02-15)
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