Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Bugs !

Well it's been an interesting 24 hours ! Yesterday morning before breakfast poor old Wilson was a bit sick and feeling nauseous. We left it an hour or so but he kept vomiting just enough to feel wobbly so off we tracked to the Medical Centre ! The doctor was lovely and did all the checks needed, he was only diagnosed with a mild gastric bug but U.S. Health Authority protocol meant that we were all three of us out into our cabin in isolation for 24 hours ! We were armed with anti nausea pills, a bottle of Gatorade ( which we had never heard of !) tissues, blue plastic sick bags and hand sanitizer by the gallon, and other sundrie items for dealing with sick and germs !

I have to say the ship suddenly came to action with cleaning, and three stewards wearing masks came into the cabin, changed all bedsheets, cleaned every surface within an inch of its life, door handles, bathroom etc were sluiced down as if we had the plague ! I was mightily impressed, as by this time Wilson was playing on his iPad and watching Karate Kid 2, feeling under par but definitely with no other symptoms of the dreaded norovirus, and the doctor said so! I am now awaiting the invoice for the treatment ! agh !!!

We rather enjoyed our day, Cecilia was very grown up and concerned, and sanitizer herself thoroughly all day, and we simply relaxed whilst Wilson slept for about 3 hours. Then, after he awoke we ordered a cabin service lunch for us girls, and plain crackers and more Gatorade ( which we now knew was akin to American Lucozade!) and he began to eat a little more.

We played card games, Uno, watched another couple of movies until ordering dinner, by which time Wilson was ready for a chicken breast, some broccoli and a bowl of lemon jelly (Jello) !

A good nights sleep later and he is back to normal, whatever that may be for a 9 year old boy, and we are off into the town of Alesund today.

It was a very good introduction into how well organised, and how careful and particular they are at the first sign of anything remotely catching. I have to say this was clearly not catching as neither Cecilia or I have succumbed to it, or feel in anyway under par !

Interesting part of the cruise, and well done Holland America !

A view of last night's sunset but sadly only from a rather dirty cabin window, as prisoners we still were !



Monday, 31 August 2015

Bergen and Breakfast

Bergen is a really pretty town, a mix of true Scandinavian wood built houses and modern buildings. The place is small enough for it to be a comfortable combination.

We had a superb in cabin breakfast, and this morning, after a very late film watching evening, I had to rouse the two children at 9pm so as to be up when the steward brought the two trays laden with seasonal melons, Greek yogurt, croissants and jam, followed by American strip bacon and eggs 'easyover' ! A feast to set us up for a walk into Bergen and a souvenir shopping expedition !

The sun was hot, but a breeze was blowing off the sea so it was most pleasing, even for a granny and two children ! They are both now ensconced in the Family Pool splashing and swimming very happily. I have declined swimming as the pool is heaving with mums and toddlers and 9's to 17's having way too much fun for an elderly swimmer like me !

Sleepyheads just before breakfast !

The walk not Bergen from the ship was about a mile and a half, so I feel well walked today and the need for any more exercise is fast fading !

Mummy and Papa start school today and tomorrow respectively, so I feel very virtuous still relaxing on holiday, though having said that I did start two weeks ago, and then did a weeks work with the Boarbank nuns ! So I am not really slacking ! I sincerely hope my pupils will have done a good two weeks practise by the time I return to Paradise !

No pressure then people !



Saturday, 29 August 2015

Talented daughters......

Our exciting adventure begins today. For the first time Cecilia and Wilson are having a weeks holiday with me, minus Mummy or Papa ! We intrepid three are embarking on a cruise up the Norwegian Fjords on a ship called MS Ryndam.

I have never cruised with Holland America before, but from the photographs we have all looked at it seems quite splendid, complete with swimming pools, a cinema and a fine dining room. The toys are packed for the youngest party member including a few 'snugglies' from home to take the edge off any homesickness, and the trailer load of make up and nail varnish are ready for the fork lift truck to remove from the quayside onto the unsuspecting ship !

No more work for me for a week - it's all about holidays now. My daughter can get on with the new term in her new job as House Mistress in the Sixth Form Girls Boarding house, combined with moving into the on campus house, without the worry of children not yet back at school and alone in a new environment. She is so looking forward to the job - she adored boarding school as a girl herself and has many ideas for the pleasure and benefit of the girls in her charge. She is an eminently talented woman and will relish the challenge I know. This will be combined with being the Vocal Director at the school, still teaching singing and running the choir as well as her job as Head of The Voice Department at the Junior Royal Academy of Music. She is a muti tasker par excellence !

Talking of talented daughters, my MBE is now safely ensconced in a very beautiful bespoke box frame designed and made by Emma Noble, daughter of my pupil P. I, who rely only on my ears and not my eyes, left it entirely in her most artistic and capable hands. Now it is finished I could not be more delighted with its clean and classical lines. It had to be carefully and thoughtfully mounted inside a box with both the medal and the case displayed, and so it has been done ! Thanks Emma, whose website shows other examples of this very talented young woman's artistic works. Go to ......

My pupil E has a talented daughter too ! I received a most amazing photograph of her, which, in E's words echoed the name of this blog. The difference being she called the photograph 'Dancing in Paradise'. As a younger woman Henri was a professional dancer and traveled the world for a good number of years until her own life became one of wife and mother. My goodness I am astonished by the line, balance and poetry in her movement - she says it is not quite right, but standing on a rock which is so narrow and so near the sea, frankly it looks very right to me !

I have other pupils with very talented daughters also ! One has just done the most amazing thing of all and given birth to another little daughter - Congratulations Greta ! Another's youngster has just made an amazing recovery from a dangerous brain operation, a recovery for which we are all so grateful, well done Shadri ! Another is, as I write, enjoying a top notch course at Cambridge University to which she was invited due to her mega high achievements at her School, Dollar Academy, well done Mhairi.

It's been a rare and wonderful summer in Paradise and beyond !

Ah.......I must now arise, shower and we three little maids from school must set off on our journey to Harwich to catch a slow boat to Norway ! Will update.......





Thursday, 27 August 2015

Sister Act, The Sound of Music and The Song of Norway.......

What a truly lovely five days I have had at Boarbank Hall with the Augustinian sisters. It is the first time I have visited in the summertime and seen the flowers in full bloom and the immaculate lawns as well as the fabulous sparkling clear view of the Bay and Sands - hence Grange over Sands ! I am writing this in the newly refurbished and furnished large drawing room at Boarbank Hall. The sun is streaming in through the windows and it is all peace.

We have worked very hard this week and all those sisters who are regulars for individual lessons are moving on technically with the speed of Usain Bolt ! Sr M sang a total of around a dozen top B flats in her three lessons, and she a lady of 70 this year, and another Sr M has been able to get to that place where we can relax the mouth shapes a little and the sound is warmer, rounder and more open, having controlled it well, but definitely over the last few years. Young Sr S has managed to nail register management and she can transition between head and chest like a professional. Given that the Office is all around her 'join', that, for her, is nothing short of a miracle ! I tell her, it is not a miracle it is technique and the brain to use technique ! She just smiles and calls it a miracle. Essentially what it means is that the daily singing of the Office is much easier. It will never be completely free from flaw but it is much much easier.

We worked on Elijah Rock, the three part negro spiritual which we sang with Inner Sound a few years ago - it is fast bluesy and punchy and they loved it ! One sister said in the first session on it - are you going to make us sing like 'Sister Act' ! I replied that if I could, indeed I would ! I loved that film and recall some sisters many years ago saying to me, that they thought the producer must have visited some abbeys in the preparation for the film as it had a 'real ring of truth' !

We had a few sisters missing for one reason or another, and always very good reasons - as I only come once or twice each year they hate having to miss it - so not every singer had been to every session, thus our final performance of it in the chapel had a rough edge here and there, but the general quality is now very good, and they learn quickly and thoroughly !

I am so privileged in that the sisters invite me to meals with them each day, and I think I am finally learning the times of each one, which changes occasionally, and I end up being late, much like Maria in The Sound of Music ! I whizz up the stairs through the corridor between enclosure and guest house finally reach the kitchen door and arrive in the refectory trying desperately to cover my panting ! On those occasions when I have go the time wrong a lovely sister quietly knocks on my room door to fetch me.....then when we get to the dining area all the sisters are silently and patiently waiting for us to take our see why I hate getting the times wrong !

I am leaving today to drive south for a holiday on a Holland America cruise ship with my two grandchildren ! That is a first, and I do hope I have enough energy and enthusiasm to keep them happy for the week! We will first stop at Bergen before traversing the Fjords, where I was once before on a cruise and visited Edvard Grieg's house which was so beautiful overlooking the Fjord, so we have a third film reference, The Song of Norway which I remember watching in the cinema one free evening when I was a 19 year old at Blackpool Festival !

Please be sunny, then they will swim to their hearts content for a whole week !!



The gorgeous drawing room with the newly renovated painted frescos which encircle the room.