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  • Clare Teal -
    that don t in the great scheme of things matter that much where once I would have made copious frantic and furious phone calls to people in call centres far away who sincerely understand your frustration madam but actually couldn t give half a hoot I have decided instead to put the kettle on and look out of the window Next door I see are having their garden extensively redesigned there s a suspiciously large hot tub shaped hole in the top left hand corner just what you d expect to see in a Georgian Crescent next to it a young man holds what looks to be a sharp edged spade you could do a lot of damage with a spade like that I bet it could easily slice through any amount of delicate internet cables he doesn t look particularly guilty though so we ll give him the benefit of the doubt The wisteria on the west facing house across the way is looking marvelous and growing at such a rate its more like hysteria I always thought wisteria preferred to be south facing maybe it s on a mission to grow round the corner What a beautiful morning bright and crisp I could get used to looking out of the window instead of working Nice cup of coffee and these two biscuits in my hand though supposedly low calorie are surprisingly tasty and the water tastes much better since we de scaled the kettle The water in Bath is rock hard our insides must be awash with scaly deposits On a brighter note here comes the cutest little dog with his owner oh but that s not particularly cute I thought all dog owners by law had to carry little bags with them I could shout out of

    Original URL path: http://www.clareteal.co.uk/index.php/no-broadband-again/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Clare Teal -
    we haven t really been able to settle Both brought up in the country I think we feel a need to reconnect with our rural roots oh and I d like to grow tomatoes and we d like two little dogs Attended the Homebuilders convention at the NEC was fantastic fun and fuelled our dream of actually building our own house but with another busy year of work lined up it doesn t seem the right time yet Besides as we found out last time unless you ve got an inordinate sum down the back of the sofa you can t do anything without first selling your own house After enjoying New Zealand s beautiful countryside within a week of our return the flat was on the market again We both decided not to look at any other properties until we d had a firm offer I don t know how it happened Rightmove can be dangerous but we ve only gone and done it again So here we are two years on in EXACTLY the same situation again and this time I think we re even more smitten Last time we were so sure we d get the mill that the furniture buying began immediately and now boxes of stuff lay gathering dust in the attic including a massive clock face with a diameter of 5ft We re not buying anything in advance this time but in preparation for taking on my first garden I am attempting to keep a basil plant bought from the supermarket alive Three weeks in and I m thrilled to say it s still with us even though we ve all been watering it Our hero is also very excited about moving he bought me an idiot s guide to growing vegetables for Mother

    Original URL path: http://www.clareteal.co.uk/index.php/possible-move-fingers-crossed/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Clare Teal -
    the fire sirens sounded shortly after which our cable car ground to a juddering halt It was whilst suspended hundreds of feet above the ground gently swaying to and fro in the breeze I made a mental note NEVER to accompany a person suffering from vertigo and possibly some form of Tourette up a mountain again Needless to say we walked down in flip flops or jandles as the kiwi s call them in fact they invented them Once grounded we enjoyed again and again the calming properties of that New Zealand nectar Sauvignon Blanc 06 Mar Now to South Island It was on the ferry crossing between Wellington and Picton that we saw our first pair of Royal Albatross initially I assumed Kate and Wills were big seagulls till Muddy pointed out the tiny red billed gull flying next to them Incredibly some of these chaps can reach a wing span of up to 10 feet Here s the thing New Zealand is cram packed full of the most fabulous wildlife imaginable Once landed safe on the South Island we excitedly headed for Nelson we d been told it was a quirky arty foody sophisticated kind of place surrounded by incredible scenery and it is but these aspects were difficult to appreciate from our expensive motel situated on the noisy main road out of Nelson opposite the Tile and Slate centre grrr Forty miles up the road in Marahau we found the gateway to Abel Tasman National park Its NZ s smallest park but my is it beautiful We walked along miles of breathtaking coastline Instead of camping which many people do we caught water taxis to and from our accommodation The Marahau Lodge was fabulous with gardens full of the most incredible songbirds tui s and bellbirds mainly There were many finches and these really cool little dudes called silvereyes but I think my two favourites were the NZ pigeons nearly two foot long with a glorious iridescent finish and the purple swamp hen or Pukeko brilliantly blue black with bright red bills they fly very well but take offs and landings can be a little ungainly which only made me love them more From Abel Tasman we headed to Kaikoura on the east coast famous for it s sea life During our boat trip we saw between 200 300 playful and very small dusky dolphins jumping and somersaulting swimming rings round the mad people in wetsuits wanting to hang with them It was unlike anything I d ever seen As we were heading back Muddy spotted 5 orcas who apparently can turn off their sonar for hunting The duskies who were still jumping about willy nilly needless to say hadn t seen the orcas Killer whales are magnificent but I really didn t feel up to seeing an Attenborough type hunting display involving cute little dolphins being chewed up especially at 5 in the morning on a rough sea Thankfully they heard my cry of Run little duskies and as one turned and swam to safety 28 Feb New Zealand IV scary Situated in the middle of the North Island Tongariro National Park is New Zealand s oldest National Park and home to three pretty spectacular active volcanoes Tongariro Ruapehu whose frequent eruptions keep everyone on their toes and Ngauruhow pr Nar a ho ee or Mount Doom if you re a Lord of the Rings fan The Tongaririo Alpine Crossing is one of the country s most magnificent tramping tracks and believe me there are many 19 4km of much up ness and equal down ness Since planning our trip this hike had been no1 on our list of things to achieve so we booked a sunrise crossing which would involve walking the first 7km or so in total darkness wearing minors lamps upon our heads We arrived at the park in beautiful sunshine All three volcanoes clearly visible That s when the reality of our actions hit closely followed by a sense of mild terror and definite unease actually that might have been more to do with the state of the Youth Hostel suite we d booked That afternoon while Muddy read I studied the route on google map and saw the thin ridge near the summit we would have to traverse Muddy suffers from Vertigo but I knew how much she wanted to do the walk so I decided not to mention it as we d probably be doing that bit in the dark That evening due to unsettled weather our sunrise crossing was cancelled but we were advised to be ready for pickup at 5 30am I don t think either of us had slept more than an hour Catherine was our guide we boarded the minibus and met fellow walker Silke a young German estate agent working in Singapore The weather was horrible as were the bobble hat and waterproof trousers but the packed lunch looked good Weather on the mountain can change within minutes as a group of German youths found We were in thermals fleeces and full waterproofs they were in jeans and t shirts with no compass Catherine had stern words with them and sent them back to the hostel We encountered snow fog rain and 60 mph winds and despite the fact that we didn t see any of the incredible lunar like landscape including either side of that thin ridge near the summit phew we still felt that we d achieved something incredibly special I ll certainly never forget it and the packed lunch was very good 22 Feb Work returns but in Wellington In total we spent 6 weeks in glorious New Zealand Having never been away on holiday for more than 12 days it really was the trip of a lifetime one I would jump through any number of hoops to repeat Towards the end of our trip we got down to the task of releasing our latest record Hey Ho through EMI As a

    Original URL path: http://www.clareteal.co.uk/index.php/category/clares-blog/page/16/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Clare Teal -
    not abundant being greatly different from both its parents in this respect The vines are enormous bearers and the fruit is very firm and carries well The Loganberry being super high in vitamin C was fed to sailors of the British navy in 1900 s to prevent them getting scurvy I m not sure how much of this delicious fruit Muddy and I will get to enjoy but it s good to know that none of our badgers will have to worry about scurvy 25 May Jingle all the way Whilst at university a friend introduced me to a chap called NIgel Stonier who worked in the music industry Nigel was in fact still very much is a songwriter and producer of distinction He also wrote a lot of jingles for commercial radio I remember the first jingle I sang it was for a mobile phone company in York I was a quivering wreck by the time I reached the studio in the small Cheshire village of Hale I had no idea what to expect On hearing the track for the first time I knew I d be able to sing it which is just as well as I only got to hear it twice more before recording began It was the first time I d had my voice professionally recorded and I was hooked Working with Nigel gave me the opportunity to learn a bit about studio technique which microphones suited my voice what kind of mix I should have in my headphones to make sure I got the best results but it was the writing side that intrigued me most writing 30 and 40 second mini songs to spec Nigel let me get involved and one epic day we journeyed down the M5 from Birmingham where I lived at the time to the city of Bath We stopped off at Michael Wood Services to write the jingle we would be presenting to the client just an hour or so later it was a jazzy affair based on George Formby s Fanlight Fanny the Frowsy Nightclub Queen It was a beautiful sunny day and I remember thinking as we neared our destination an interior design shop in Larkhall what a beautiful part of the world I wouldn t mind living here Nigel often demo ed his jingles onsite I guess I thought we d be shown into an office but no I sat on a roll end of carpet and sang our tale of papers fabrics drapes and chairs quality from the name that cares we finished with a guitar flourish There was a pause before the owner said We do Venetian blinds too a quick rewrite and he was happy So here I am some 17 years later driving from Bath where I ve lived for 16 years to a studio in London to record a selection of new jingles for BBC Radio 2 I doubt very much they ll be George Formby inspired 17 May Learn from experience As we re trying to move house Muddy thought she d apply for a credit card in case we needed a bit more financial flexibility over the next few months We were both amazed when her application was declined and she was advised to have her credit rating checked I immediately assumed someone must have stolen her identity and was now living the life of riley in the Bahamas running up heinous debts in Muddy s good name We looked online at a number of credit checking companies and plumped for the one we d both heard of For 15 99 a month you can have full access to your credit report and history even better you can take advantage of the free 1 month trial After a couple of phone calls the pin number required to see your report on line finally turned up in the post It turned out that Muddy s credit score was more than fine it was the fact she d never applied for a credit card or store card before that caused this credit agency to stop her application to the bank Go figure Now that our minds had been put at rest Muddy attempted to cancel her contract still within the 1 month trial she d specifically rung to find out the cut off date To cancel your account please ring us by the 12th May no worries I d set a reminder so at 2 10 on Saturday Muddy rang to cancel I m sorry madam the department you require closed at 1pm but your trial doesn t actually run out till the 13th Brilliant thanks I ll ring them to cancel tomorrow Ah well unfortunately they don t open on Sunday s you ll have to call back on Monday Grrr Poor Muddy repeated the whole process on Monday and whilst she has successfully cancelled her account the company won t refund her 15 99 At this point the matter ceases to be about the money but the principle The company had actually taken the money from her account on the 11th They admitted to having listened to the original call again and admitted yes they had indeed said she could cancel by the 12th but will not admit that the fact by the 12th actually means on or before the 11th and that this is misleading to the customer I m sure you re all a lot more savvy than us but beware my friends Beware 09 May Food glorious food I think it is safe to say any notion of diet eating sensibly well and truly went out the window this weekend Friday found us at one of our favourite venues the Barnfield Theatre in Exeter The gig was sold out with a waiting list and the crowd was in the mood for fun Grant has been very busy writing new arrangements and this additional material is bedding into the latest show very nicely A great concert preceded

    Original URL path: http://www.clareteal.co.uk/index.php/page/17/?page_id=2 (2016-02-15)
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  • Clare Teal -
    asked me this week Oh about 12 years Actually I love this phase of touring Having released a record last year I m now free to work towards the next one which means a very varied and ever changing set list containing current favourites items of spring cleaned old catalogue songs I ve been meaning to have a crack at and most excitingly brand new songs that haven t even been written yet It s my kind of gig whether the audience feels the same way remains to be seen Last week I was up in Manchester with the Royal Northern College of Music Big Band I ll be honest I was a little apprehensive knowing that the college has no jazz course so is predominantly classically based Believe me standing in front of a band that can t swing is like sitting in a traffic jam knowing your plane is about to leave I had nothing to fear these young musicians were great and I had a grand time working with them Being classical players they all had good tone and more importantly the enthusiasm to get the feel right I decided to throw in my version of Snow Patrol s Chasing Cars at the end of the concert which would require just piano and additional male voice The key to this delivery is utmost tenderness and simplicity the temptation for the pianist to overplay can be overwhelming but Liam Waddle from Selby nailed it The beautifully complementary vocals were supplied trumpeter Mark Brazier The week before had seen a delightful gig up in York at the Theatre Royal As I was signing CDs Muddy whispered in my ear See that tall chap over there He works here his mum first brought him to see you when he was

    Original URL path: http://www.clareteal.co.uk/index.php/rncm-back-in-england/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Clare Teal -
    airport to the hotel kept me quiet after the peace and tranquility of New Zealand Hong Kong even at this early hour was already buzzing We were staying on HK Island just west of Central with it s much celebrated shopping centres and restaurants Our hotel was smack bang in the dried fish exporting part of town It was a fascinating place tiny back streets full of bags and sacks of many and various dried sea creatures not to mention jar upon jar of dehydrated pointy things we didn t ask Muddy saw a chap taking his pet bird for a walk in its cage I missed it being transfixed by a bunch of pensioners in the throes of a complex tai chi routine The following morning we were picked up early and taken to the Asia TV studios where extensive beautification was applied Hong Kong is very humid cue super frizzy hair When he finally stopped laughing hairdresser Alistair who didn t suffer fools sorted the situation nicely After a lovely interview with a very beautiful man called Ming who was sadly unfamiliar with Flash Gordon Muddy and I were taken to a most famous and fabulous Dim Sum restaurant in the New Territories The afternoon was spent meeting and rehearsing with band put together by the record label and what a lovely bunch an American pianist Canadian bass player and Italian drummer From the venue it was dinner with Ashley the head of the record company and his wife Lolita at another famous restaurant this time specialising in fish Muddy is allergic to shellfish but i got the opportunity to try things from the sea I never knew existed The day of the showcase was a busy one with interviews at Hong Kong s equivalent of the BBC

    Original URL path: http://www.clareteal.co.uk/index.php/gig-in-hong-kong/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Clare Teal -
    to repeat Towards the end of our trip we got down to the task of releasing our latest record Hey Ho through EMI As a music platform New Zealand is relatively small but those artists who do make the effort to tour there are rewarded with grateful and enthusiastic crowds Most of the promo was carried out in Wellington it was pretty surreal meeting DJs who have been playing my records in New Zealand for 10 years A terrific city the most southerly capital city in the world containing it seemed to me more restaurants than people I could happily live there We stayed in the art filled Museum Hotel an imposing black building with an enormous golden hippopotamus standing guard somewhere around the second floor In 1993 the museum Hotel was facing demolition to make way for the brilliant National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa rather than allow that to happen to owner just had it moved across the street on a specially designed railway tracks after much planning the 120metre journey involving a 90 turn took less than two days and arrived in perfect condition less than 1cm out of line Our apartment was stunning containing two king sized beds a fully fitted kitchen with washer dryer a huge bath and separate shower for 130 a night and free wifi In fact we found all the accommodation incredibly reasonable from youth hostel to motel to hotel When I wasn t doing interviews we explored the city Te Papa is an amazing museum in which you could happily spend a whole day and all free of charge Cuba Street is where you ll find a good deal of the city s restaurants and tempting though it was to eat at Wellington s best Indian where lunch was 7

    Original URL path: http://www.clareteal.co.uk/index.php/work-returns-but-in-wellington/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Clare Teal -
    the South Island These two steaks are very over done I asked for medium rare and this one s bordering on charcoal love I m very sorry about this you see we cook our steaks by temperature rather than feel I see how quick can you do me another steak It ll take at least 20 minutes 20 minutes I think that might be where chef is going wrong Ah well we got free carrots and a crème brulee We d had such a lovely day I didn t mind The Otago Peninsular juts out of Dunedin and driving round it reminded us so much of the beautiful Scottish Highlands A must see wildlife tip off had found us driving miles and miles down a dirt track avoiding the sheep till we reached a small parking area a short walk through a couple of meadows led to an almost deserted beach just Muddy myself and 3 sea lions They were like gi normous loose skinned cows In sea lion world the chaps eat as much as is earthly possible before the mating season then as soon as it s over go on a diet From Dunedin we drove to the adrenalin capital Queenstown AKA Screamstown stopping only to watch the crazy people leap off the Kawarau Bridge home to the original 43 metre 141 feet bungy jump they were attached to bits of elastic but still Not really ones for daredevil activities our most extreme outing involved going up a mountain in a small cable car or skyline gondola Putting the vertigo to one side I thought Muddy was doing very well till the fire sirens sounded shortly after which our cable car ground to a juddering halt It was whilst suspended hundreds of feet above the ground gently swaying

    Original URL path: http://www.clareteal.co.uk/index.php/more-on-south-island/ (2016-02-15)
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