Music, Music, Music. And More Music.

CDs? I have a few!

Even though I rarely buy them these days I still have a pile that I haven’t played & am getting to know. Despite my enthusiasm for new music I’m still old-fashioned enough to be into ‘albums’, not just single tunes. When I play a new CD I like to ‘get to know it’, as an entity in itself, not just a collection of individual tracks, so I’ll give it a good few plays before adding it to my collection and moving on. Unless of course, it’s rubbish! Then it gets fewer plays…

Being CDs, often ones that I bought some time ago,  they tend to be of older music, unlke the Spotify choices in my last post which were mostly newer.

Often they’re for playing in the car; I haven’t quite got my act together with digital music there yet – but I will. Because of that I like to have them in some specific and different flavours.

There’s the Mellow One: for winding down, relaxing. I often stick this on when I’m driving home late at night and want to relax before bed.

Then I like to have an Up-Tempo One. Something fast, lively & uplifting. Great for driving on a motorway or in preparation for a night out! Uusually fast, energetic rock or some bangin’ dance tunes!

At the moment I also want a Feel-Good Summery One. Warm weather: chilled, but uplifting, happy songs for a hot day. Yes, I live in Wales: never say I’m not an optimisist! And we do get some lovely warm days here y’know!

Aside from a few sundry picks that I just like the look of I also have a Wifely One! Yes, the “Separated and who gets the CDs?” thing! No fights here though: we seem to have been pretty clear about whose was whose. I think it’s fair to say that I’ve been into music more than her, although she has some great picks. I’m onto the last one – it feels momentous…

What I’m playing at the moment? These:

The Mellow One: ‘The Sound of Bread’

I did say there was some older music here! ‘Bread‘, fronted by David Gates with Jimmy Giffin, were a laid-back Los Angeles based ‘soft-rock’ band that was popular in the 1970s, known for their slow, countryish West Coast ballads. They’re sometimes “a bit sad Ted!” but they have some great songs, & my pick from this “Best Of” type album is the iconic ‘Guitar Man’. It wasn’t a big hit at the time but remains one of their best-loved songs.

 

The ‘Wifely One’: Original Music from the Motion Picture ‘Shine” feat. David Helfgott

I love many different kinds of music, including ‘classical’, and this album is a pleasure from start to finsh, full of wonderful music. ‘Shine’ is a bio-pic about David Helfgott, an Australian-born classical pianist who struggled with the mental illness schizophrenia. Superbly played (as an older man) by Geoffrey Rush, the film highlights his musical virtuosity and his personal problems, although his family have been very critical of its portayal of the latter. Helfgott himself provides the piano soundtrack. Anyone who’s seen the film will understand that there can only be one pick for a top track from this, the infamous and tortuously difficult ‘Rach 3‘!

 

The Feel-Good Summery One: 37 Brits 2001 Hits, Disc 1

You’re driving around in your car, it’s hot, the sun is shining, you have the windows rolled down, people around town seem almost happy: all seems right with the world. This is the sort of music I want playing! This is a mixed bunch, as you’d expect, with some stonking tunes & some – let’s be honest, rubbish – but overall I love it. Best of the bunch – although probably not the most ‘summery’ choice –  has got to be the fantastic Iggy Pop (again!), this time with Death in Vegas playing the stunningly sinister “Aisha”. (Warning: the video is quite ‘steamy’: best avoided if easily offended!)

 

The Loud One: The Freeborn Brothers, ‘Gypsy Hobo Trash Grass’

I’ve never seen anyone even remotely like this lot. The Freeborn Brothers  are a bunch of young Polish guys who are all incredible musicians. Every year as part of their Europe-wide tour they stop off to perform at a tiny pub in my small Welsh town, and just for the cost of a donation or two. They are honestly one of the best live acts I have ever seen, not only unbelievably talented musicians but also terrific showmen, taking their music into the realms of performance art. They are also very funny. Musically they’re hard to classify: a combination of traditional Polish ‘folk’ music, bluegrass & punk! I think. They simply have to be seen to be believed, and I am very grateful that I’ve been able to. The track I’ve picked is called ‘Down to Hell’.

 

Another Summery One: ‘Sounds of the Summer’, from ‘The Big Issue’ Magazine

I’ll be honest: I mostly chose this one from the title. It’s not my idea of ‘summer music’. Summer nights in a sweaty night-club or at a festival maybe, probably not for pootling around in my car! I first played it while in the kitchen cooking with my daughter Ellie (8); in hindsight probably a mistake. We both noticed about the same time “Daddy, they’re saying some rude words!”. I put on the Brits CD instead: that was better! I do like the music though, even though it wasn’t what I was expecting. My favourite so far is probably the seriously funky, Mark Ronsonesque ‘The Turnaround’ by The Herbaliser.

 

Dermot O’Leary Presents: The Saturday Sessions 2013

This album is taken from the former X-Factor host’s BBC Radio 2 show where top musical acts would perform live in studio, often doing covers of well-known songs. It’s full of beautiful live music, and this is among its best: James Blake just on piano covering Joni Mitchell’s ‘A Case of You‘. Entrancingly beautiful!

 

Let the music play on….

 

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Outdoor Messy Play!

It’s the best place for it, in my experience. ‘Outdoors’, that is. The clue’s in the name: Messy Play. It’s messy!

It all started with an old tin of Smash* I found in the kitchen cupboard.

It was spotted.

“What’s that, Daddy?”

Such innocent little faces. Such a loaded question. Continue reading “Outdoor Messy Play!”

How to Cook

You may have noticed  – and the readers of this blog, all 3 of you, I’m sure are smarter than the average bear – that this purports to be a parenting blog.

There’s a bit of an elephant in the room here though. Cooking is quite an important part of raising children, & it’s not my strong-point: hence the absence of posts about it.

I’m not suggesting that you cook an elephant, by the way: I suspect even an AGA couldn’t manage that. Plus, I’m pretty sure it’s illegal.

Continue reading “How to Cook”

Flying Solo, Part 2

Well we moved to our tiny little house in Wales so that the Mummy could spend less of her time commuting & more of it with the twins.

Life has its little ironies doesn’t it? Every now & then she has to go to north Wales, & today was one of those days. The roads between north & south Wales are really slow: winding, mostly single lane, over mountains & through valleys. It’s actually quicker to get to the north on the motorways from our old home in the Midlands!

She had left home before the twins were awake. They were with ‘Karen’ & her little group between 8.30 & 3, but it was still up to me to get them up, washed, dressed, make their breakfast, prepare their lunches, pack their bags & meet any ad-hoc needs that arise. It all went without incident, although it was obviously a mistake trying to feed myself as well. Next time I either get up earlier or don’t eat!

When I picked them up at 3 I was welcomed by running hugs & shouts of “Daddy!” by 2 happy little children. I love that. There had been a couple of minor upsets – Ellie seemed a bit wary of a new older boy there – but overall they’d had a great time.

For once the sun was out today! We spent a lot of the rest of the afternoon rolling around in the grass in our tiny garden. We had fun, inside & out, but they are still really demanding. They’re physically very capable, they’re smarter & are becoming very interested in asserting their independence & a lot less interested in being told what to do & having their lives run for them. I believe it’s called ‘The Terrible Twos’.

I mean no disrespect at all to parents of single children, or even of 2 or more of different ages – diligent parenting of any flavour deserves maximum respect in my opinion –  but I’m convinced that looking after twins has a difficulty level several magnitudes higher. And triplets? I can’t imagine that!

“You want some water? OK, I’ll get you some water”- “Oh Jake – did you hurt your knee? I’m coming!” – “It’s OK Ellie: it’s just a worm, it won’t hurt you” – “You finished your grapes? Yes, I can cut up some more” – “Yes, you want some water” – “You want some water too? OK” – “You’re stuck? Just a minute, I’m coming” – “Jake don’t take that, Ellie is playing with it” – “Ellie, don’t hit Jake!” – “Yes, I’m getting your water” – “And grapes” – “Ellie’s on the trampoline now, Jake, you can have a turn soon” – “Don’t eat that please – it’s really dirty!” – “Mummy will be home after dinner”. And so on.

And this is when they’re playful & happy…

By dinnertime I was already pretty tired. That however went amazingly well: for the first time I can remember they both pretty much cleared their plates! And I’ve no idea why! After a very silly fight over the trampoline it seemed obvious they were getting tired, so I resorted to the tried & tested: “Who wants cake?”. Fight over, instant attentiveness.

Luckily I did actually have some!

Ellie had been complaining of tiredness even before dinner so we headed upstairs quickly. Then it got chaotic. They were fighting over nearly everything: my battery checker, the baby monitor, my (out of juice) phone, anything. Running around, chasing, shouting “Mine!” “No, mine!”, snatching, tantrums. I was forced into “If you’re going to fight over it nobody’s having it!” confiscation mode. I think they were both not only overtired but also missing their Mummy.

There was also a poo incident, of which I’ll spare you the details. The cushion cover is beige; I’m pretty sure it’s washable…

Well I somehow managed to get them in their sleepsuits, in bed & with their milk without any major injuries or damage. As usual I read them a bedtime story. Now they’re fighting over ownership of the animals in the bleeding book!! “My bear” “No my bear!”, “My bee!” “No my bee!”. There are actually 2 bees, 1 each. The logic of this suggestion just doesn’t seem to register.

I have to admit at this point I got cross! “Please stop fighting! Both of you!”. I didn’t shout, but my voice was raised. And thankfully they seemed to calm down. Although most likely out of pity for poor struggling Daddy.

And we never got to finish the story. Will Rabbit find a new home? We may never know!

Then I accidentally managed to send them off to sleep with a laugh & smile! I asked if ‘pretty please’ could I go to sleep now? “Pretty please? With cheese?? And peas?”. Adding words 1 at a time that rhyme & were (sort-of) food-related. “And beans?”, “And grease?”. I was tired, OK? “And sneeze?”.  And was getting a little silly. Ellie especially found this hilarious & was soon asleep with a smile on her face, looking at me with an expression that seemed to me to be one of pure love. Jake, putting up his usual fight, followed soon after.

They’re very trying at times, these twins of ours, but it’s moments like that that make it all worth it & that remind me why being their Dad is still the best job in the world ever.

Poor Mummy though! She arrived home after they were fast asleep on my shoulders & so didn’t actually get to see them at all today. She tucked into the dinner I’d left in the oven while I stayed with the sleeping beauties so she could spend some much-needed QT with her friend Dexter.

So: Phew! This is a big week workwise, so I may have to do this again very soon! At least we know we can do it anyway.

There are flights to the North aren’t there? Or maybe we could hire a chopper? Anyone know how much that costs? Sigh…

This post is not only for The Crumby Mummy’s ‘Terrible Twosday’ blog hop but also for this month’s Multiple Mayhem Carnival. Have a look at them both: there are always great posts there!  Just ‘click the pics’.

MultipleMummy

From Whiskey to Whisking

Last Tuesday was Shrove Tuesday, the last day before the voluntary privations of Lent. In Latin America they let rip: they let it all hang out in a mad orgy of exotic costumes, dancing-girls, music, dancing in the streets; the ‘Mardi Gras’, or ‘Fat Tuesday‘. Eat, drink & be merry: for tomorrow we diet!

Here, we make pancakes.  And, with huge imagination, we call it ‘Pancake Day’. Rock’n’roll!

Actually I love pancakes. And as a Dad of increasingly active twin toddlers I’m pretty sure I don’t have the energy to jump around in the streets with beautiful, scantily clad Brazilian girls, and…

Oh, never mind: I’m not even convincing myself here! But I do like pancakes.

So at their church playgroup on Tuesday we made pancakes. The children put them together & the organisers cooked them, then we all ate them.

I was given the job of breaking an egg into the saucepan & amazingly I even managed it with reasonable competence. Then Ellie was given the responsibility of being Chief Egg-Whisker in Residence. I’m not sure why, as she’d never done anything like this before. The only things she’d stirred or whisked before were things which mostly do not belong in a pancake, & that for only as long as it took us to make her stop. The organisers, seasoned campaigners in the subtle arts of The Pancake Day Playgroup, must have seen in Ellie the secret sign of The Whisker of the Egg.

Either that or they noticed that her top already had yellow spots on it which act as a convenient mask for any spare bits of egg that may land there. Or that, being male, I was unlikely to notice any egg-stains anyway, or be too bothered if I did. And they would probably be right on all counts.

Well their eggy ESP seems to have been spot-on, as Ellie took to egg-whisking as if she’d been doing it all her young life! All we did was stick the whisk in her hand & away she went. She needed no help nor encouragement from anyone & whipped up an eggy pancake mix in no time.

I was astonished, as I often am with both her & her brother these days.

And she, along with Jake, continued her journey to Masterchef in a different playgroup the next day, which was my Silent Sunday post yesterday.

My little girl is growing up!

And the pancakes were delicious.