Monday, February 19, 2018

Littles Camp Report Winter 2018

After last weeks bit of a break, I am writing an account of how that six days and a bit spent at "Littles Camp" went although there  are some group rules about what information I can share so do bare with me.
Littles Camp is in some ways a bit like a spring or summers camp for actual children except it is for those 18+ who are in differing ways more 'like a child' and so the first thing to say is it isn't in any way connected to anything kink or sexual.
It's really a place where many of us can let out amongst others our child-like selves and while to make the thing happen we hire a place and look after our own catering needs, outside of that we're in a child-like place, what I call 'Little Space' so we do activities and act from "the child within".
The place we go to is in excess of one hundred fifty miles and that is after taking a lift with a  friend a few tens of miles away so in order to do that, I needed to catch two buses to our local rail station which is the biggest in the North-west Midlands and catch the train to South Staffordshire before meeting them then taking a bus to their place the day before.
One thing I do wish to comment upon is what you might wear because we all see and hear different things but the first thing to say is you don't have to dress any different because it's less about dress and more about that child within but different folk do things do things different some more infant others, more dressy and there some of us who wear things more like school or school age uniform depending how our little/middle side comes out.
In so far as it went with me, the first thing after taking my coat off at my friends was to get into my black pinafore dress before having a cup of tea and getting one of my dollies out before getting on to helping to make our evening meal which was Lamb Chop, Mashed Potato and boiled Broccoli.
I peeled and chopped the potatoes ready for boiling before butter was added for the mash and setting the table while they looked after the mashing and  cooking the lamb chops.
On the Saturday morning I helped with packing the car with not just our personal stuff but those things we had bought for for other people such as games and bread.
Seeing their were a number of local traffic issues, we decided to go via Halfpenny Green, the M5 and M40 motorways before criss-crossing  through Cambridge to East Anglia where our large venue was.
It took us about three hours thirty so we arrived around a quarter to three in the afternoon which happened to just in time for Sally and Karen who'd arrived a little earlier to offer to do what Britons call a "Bacon Butty" - literally cooked back bacon between bread which as we'd eaten before half past nine in the morning was very much appreciated that we had with some cakes.
Shortly after that I set up my room, fixed a drink and rested until about a quarter to six as I soon get tired so normally take an afternoon nap until my friend called me because it was getting toward time to fix some food.
Most people having arrived by now also were fixing food but that involved ordering Indian food and collecting it but we decided to fix our own so I had get utensils out and peel potatoes for some mash with our steak pies, the best in the Midlands which was soon enough done.

One group activity we did was doing jigsaws three of them  although I think we met our  match with one based on Chocolates that we really struggled with  and the London Underground (Brit speak for Subway) where we did get around 75% of it done but struggled with the masses of pure white bits that we couldn't slot in even though we knew they just had to.
On the Sunday a small Tatty Teddie was found outside my door and after a while it emerged so had everyone else as Kelly had left them which I though was a lovely idea.

Something I and I think a couple of others did was colouring so it was as well I bought my pencils and one book although there were  other things to colour in to which I did as I find both relaxing and also helpful with my hand-eye co-ordination.

On a few days a group of us including myself decided to walk varying distances around the neighbouring countryside, being alert to the local wildlife, vegetation and the solitude enjoying being in the fresh air, feeling care free.
On Monday, Victoria who was a member of the group but isn't able to come much, spent a few hours with us having fun which was a nice unexpected treat.
As well, that day saw Jennifer put on film show  with Paddington Turns Detective, an assemblage of Donald Duck cartoons plus the Laurel and Hardy classic Help Mates that we enjoyed and her home made sound movie of a 1999 steam trip from Birmingham to Liverpool Lime Street which featured a few stations I am most familiar with. Ice Cream cones were served during the interval.
A little surprisingly that home made film was a hit with everyone!
The all purrpuss nekomimi (look that Japanese word up!) put on a Music Quiz  that was won by Daisy and Suzy with second prize going to Fudge and Jillian. It was said there was something for everyone in it but I couldn't possibly comment.
Tuesday saw Alice doing a kind of Princess Hunt where you have to find them all to win a prize which was fun as rushed up and down the building looking everywhere for the princesses (and I mean everywhere including the Laundry!!!)
When it came to the catering side we had cold meat salads thanks to Daisy and Suzy for midday, Beef Stew with granary bread  followed by Rice pudding which was consumed in two helpings by the CatGirl thanks to Karla and Caroline, a  turkey roast thanks to Sally with others and Fish and Chips that collected by Jillian an order having been placed.
I should mention Andi's unforgettable 'Poncakes'  -at least that's how I  pronounce it, made totally by hand (not one ready mix was used) served with castor sugar, lemon and treacle which is something else that I had two off. All of which were truly scrumptious.
On the Wednesday we left after packing everything we'd taken with us and shared but because we needed to leave before mid morning several of us had done some packing before and generally tidied things up ready for the venues staff to come in and clean.
For me though this wasn't the end of this adventure after encountering  showers with temperatures around 2 degrees C  as we made our way toward Northamptonshire whereas it was really pretty sunny where we'd set off from we arrived back at my friends house.
After helping unload the car in two stages as it was a bit wet, the coal fire was lit and we had a cup of tea with cakes spending our time talking about the everything we'd all done and catching up on some tv such as Call The Midwife and The 2018 series of Great American Railroad Journeys travel documentary.
We had back bacon, mushroom, black pudding, sausage, fried eggs and bread for evening meal all bought locally from independent stores which was very yummy.
On Thursday I departed catching a train earlier than planned but itself delayed due to some incident at Birmingham that lead to one railway platform being taken out of use just as I had climbed part way up the stairs for it!
That wasn't the only odd thing as the internal information system with its electronic display and spoken announcements were so out of sync that it announced we were approaching Smethwick Galton Bridge where in reality we were going the opposite direction actually passing Mossfields, Stafford!!!
Thankfully getting the cab home at the other end was a lot more straightforward  and my driver was pretty talkative.
I'd like to thank everybody who was there contributing *something* to our littles camp not least those who "Bigged Up" to fix food and so on and also Jennifer for looking after me throughout the whole period.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Classical sacd round up part five - Jean Sibelius

While I'm away this week on a action packed littles meet up I thought I'd post the latest update on my increasing collection of Classical music super audio cds that also play on regular players.
The history of the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius's and my encounters with recordings of his works goes back to records from the 1960's and 1970's by the Austrian conductor Herbert von Kajaran for EMI and DG and in the early days of cd collecting,  I bought a four cd set by Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra but felt much of that didn't get that deep into the compositions.
It also sounded very lean and flat.
For Christmas I got a new five disc set but on super audio cd that also plays on regular players of the six symphonies by the pioneering  orchestra owned  label Lso Live from MDT Classics in Derby.
 This replaced the six symphonies and added a part choral work Kullervo which usually occupies a whole disc plus The Oceanides and Pohojola's Daughter that had been issued over a few years on individual discs.
Coming in this form, it was also discounted meaning for little over £20 I could get a complete set in the very finest quality.
 Taking a look at it, what we have is a box with the discs in individual sleeves and a booklet but also included for those who have home theatre blu ray systems is audio only blu ray so if they don't have super audio cd equipment they can play them back in high resolution surround sound.
 While looking at how to take the core of my Sibelius collection to super audio cd for it's greatly superior sound, I spotted a recent record that was an ideal add on to that five disc set by Chandos.
It's a superb recording by the acclaimed violinist Jennifer Pike of his Violin Concerto that comes with six short works, "Tone Poems" that includes favourites like Finlandia, Valse Triste and the Karelia Suite on one very well filled disc.
The Bergen Philharmonic are noted for their recordings by the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg but conducted by Andrew Davis are well in their element.
Finally to replace an older disc I had, I got this newer recording by Finland's Lahti Symphony Orchestra of the Lemminkainen Suite from which the "Swan of Tuonela" comes from coupled with the Wood-Nymph on BIS.
This resetting and upgrading in terms of sound and performances of Sibelius's work coupled with addition of a number of new compositions to my library has added to my appreciation of this composers work.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Nancy in the Sixth

After a bit of a break here's a return to our book series, Nancy at St  Brides/Maudsley and its heroine.

Originally written in 1935 it is a little more modern than the earliest adventures although we are still very much in a twentieth century mind set where girls would just wonder around woods by themselves with just a bike.
This picks up from The Best Bat although that was a mini novel and sees Nancy and her chums return as they thought to would be the Upper Fifth having taken their School Certificate examinations (a kinda precursor to the British GCE O levels people before 1987 took in the Fifth Form - aka Year 11 in post 1990's terms showing competence in the "Three R's" and other subjects ready to leave school for further study or employment).
I say that because we learn though family circumstances some who would of been in the Sixth left for overseas Colonies of our Empire such as South Africa, some to gain employment needed because their families faced lack  and others won scholarships to colleges and this meant the Sixth for this term would have precisely seven pupils which wasn't viable.
The Head Mistress, Miss Hale, sees actually her Fifth forms are unwieldy with rather more pupils than desirable and decides to move up those more academically capable in other respects mature members such as Nancy to the Sixth.
This is where the story proper begins because on the same day Nancy got moved up to the sixth she was promoted to a vacant prefectship triggering much trouble at Maudsley, their day school.
We learn about Clemency Walton's long standing jealous of Nancy that was triggered by a big misunderstanding that was not discovered until terms end and this jealous came to a head when the games committee proposed to make Nancy the captain of Cricket, this was far more than she could bear.
By the use of school gossip, not least the idea that an offer to play for the Lady Foresters cricket team had been accepted and to whom did play against Maudsley when in fact Nancy had not more for getting between work for the Guildry, Clemency manages to divert this honour -a mere formality given her cricketing and captaincy skills - from Nancy to herself.
But this isn't all in this story of jealousy running amok for Nancy had been down to play for an important school match encounters Ryllis Rutherford also of the the Sixth in something of a scrape offering her the use of her bike only not to make the match and facing being accused of 'cutting' it.
Clemency seizes her chance aided by the Second Form teacher who is the only other person with the final say on the team selection who is out of action with a cold, for malicious action to remove her from one selection and to call for practice sessions in away that Nancy would not of know and to which it would be easy to belittle her.
In the midst of this there is a scholarship -the Woodford-Leigh - for organ playing to which Nancy and Clemency are practising that requires a suitable instrument to practise on for  examination. Clemency swaps days to use the organ at St Ninians church with Nancy which would be fine other than several stops of it were damaged which naturally upset their organist Mrs Patterson apart from requiring repair. Because of the day it occurred on, all involved conclude it must of been Nancy as the swap was only agreed between the two girls before Bijah, a junior, who had attended thinking she'd hear Nancy playing saw Clemency but fell asleep and was rescued by Mrs Patterson makes an unplanned intervention.
It was a chance remark by the new junior schoolgirl  while taking tea with Mrs Patterson talking about her dog, that she know Clemency was playing that very day that unmasked Clemency's refusal to own up and let Nancy take the blame for something she was not responsible for.
Clemency is demoted not just for her use of a rumour she knew not to have been tested to get Nancy removed from the cricket captaincy and team selection but even as a prefect for her underhand ways.
The sorts of issues are not even today untypical of school life or indeed in other fields where we observe others work against people either making unfounded accusations or letting them stand because however wrong they are (and they know it) it suits them to let it happen and not hold out for what is true.
The moral lessons set I feel still stand in Twenty-first century Britain.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Preparing and stuff

It's a busy time for me with just over a week before I'm away for short while so there's sorting and freshening up things to go as not only is there just so much room in my case plus any 'hand luggage' there is the fact it's damaged pawed wobberly me that's carrying it until I get a friends so I can't take tons of stuff with me either 'just in case' or for a change every few hours for several days with all the co-ordinating that takes.
That means I restrict it to a few things I'm comfortable with that co-ordinate with  common 'base layers' which sounds rather close to uniform which you could say it is.
 Great Britain is a country where very many schools, State and Independent have uniforms that pretty much have to be adhered to the style of which has change for a good number over the years although the current trend is toward more traditional forms such as the pinafore perhaps a backlash from the late 1990's, early 2000's fascination with more casual almost track suitish  'sporty' attire that also influenced Girl Guilding uniforms.
Believe me I'm much happier with that kind of approach as it makes managing and picking out what to wear much much easier.
Another kind of preparing of a less pleasant kind is getting my head together for Thursday when the funeral service for my Aunt will be held as currently there's a three week waiting list for them at least in my district and at least the service is within walking distance.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Weird Wintertime

Sometimes the seasons seem well a bit weird to me  having spent part of last week with strong gales that blow rather a lot like next doors fence into the garden  and left the curb side here covered in debris.
Yesterday I even went out wrapped up well walking in the sleet getting very excited!
 Then, that being said having had only on Tuesday some sleety stuff, would you of expected to see the Catkins out? Well when I was out walking late last week as I find it good for my mental health as well as physical fitness I did spot them on our subsiding public meadow that had trees planted on to help stabilize things as everything was starting to fall in a hole.
 Equally in our subsidence hit village would you expect to see Crab Apples growing on the other trees in the middle of Winter although I think the top ones a bit off? Seemingly we do as the birds flutter past this oasis of calm by the main road.
 I was having very much the sinking feeling as I stood trying to steady myself as my shoes were going into the ground but as you can see some even fell off but it didn't look as if they'd been pecked by the local bird population.
No wonder the wildlife feels confused!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Classical sacd round up part 4 - the Beethoven edition

As readers are aware I bought last year a Super Audio cd player that plays those discs in addition to regular cds and I have been buying a number to add to my classical cd collection that goes back to the early days of cd.
Beethoven is a major composer and so a set on super audio cd of his symphonies was something I had been looking for.
This set is one I am familiar with as it was issued for the first time on cd in 1991 and I bought it in early 1992 during one lunch break putting it out of harms way until I got home
If you look the sticker indicates like most for Europe discs, it has a ordinary layer and the super audio cd layer on the one side so it can be played on practically any player
 There are six super audio cds in the set with two symphonies per disc on four and a bonus disc that has some thirty minutes of rehearsals for the Ninth

As you can see although this is called a box set apart from that bonus disc really all you get is a short booklet outlining the history of Herbert von Karajan's Beethoven symphonies recordings for DG is a slip case as the discs are otherwise identical to the originally released individual ones and just fit in.
There's no attempt to put them in as the 1991 mauve cd box set into space saving multi cd cases or of the use of card or paper sleeves.
The recordings date from 1961 through 1962 and were issued in early 1963 on stereo lp records and was the first stereophonic series issued by DG.
One reason I bought this is I am less taken to the combination of the use of replica original instruments  the sounds some of which I'm not keen on and of the tendency to play it faster and often less consideration than traditionally had been the case which is very much the current flavour in performed and recorded  classical music.
In general I would say these remain amongst the most consistent sets of Beethoven symphonies recorded with the Ninth being one of the finest I've ever heard for the singing of the Ode To Joy with only the Sixth, the Pastoral a little fast in playing although I feel it does hold together well even if it is different to most.
The recording quality for the period is very high and unlike a good number of modern recordings where lots of microphones are used and fed to multi-channel recorders before being mixed, this was done with simple stereo pair with just the odd 'spot mic' to aid the odd section of the orchestra which captures the scale of performance better in my opinion.
To go with this set, I needed some Overtures that traditionally were added to the lp record versions and so I bought this modern set played by the Bremen Chamber Orchestra that also has a multichannel sound layer as well as stereo.
 Around the mid 1990's the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra began a project of recording a collection of central classical repertoire at low cost enabling people to build a useful self contained collection that would aid musical appreciation.
At the time they were issued in conjunction with Tring records on regular cds a good number being well worth owning which I bought at the time but they were recorded at better than regular cd quality using the dsd technology used by super audio cds and briefly issued on sacd in association with Membran Records.
One of the discoveries of that era was the Manchester, England born pianist Ronan O'Hora and he recorded a superb account of Beethoven's Violin Sonatas 5 "Spring" and 9 "Krutzer"  with the violinist Jonathan Carney. It sounds really smooth .
That title was one re-issued on sacd around 2005 which I recently bought  to join my increasing number of classical recordings in this format.
When it comes to recordings of Beethoven' piano works I'm generally in the camp that prefers Wilhelm Kempffs recordings including his 1965 stereo piano concerto cycle but these have not been issued on sacd for North America and Euope. Indeed titles from Deutsche  Grammophon usually only show up as very limited releases in Japan with large price tags.
 One recording I did like of the Fifth piano Concerto growing up was Christoph Eschenbach's 1973 account with the Boston Symphony Orchestra which was recorded in four channel ("Quad") multichannel sound too  for DG and issued in late 2014 by PentaTone on sacd coupled with an account of the Third with the London Symphony Orchestra.
I decided to add this issue to my selection of Super Audio cds by this most important composer.

Monday, January 8, 2018

On the loss of a dear Aunt

Today's entry was not the planned one but as one increasingly realizes not every eventuality lends itself to such an approach not least anything involving people.
We received a telephone call on Wednesday from Mom's brother in law saying my Aunt who had been unwell for a period moving into a care home about five miles away for about eight months following a fall, showed that she wasn't really safe to be 'at home'  even with some supervision, had died having contracted pneumonia on New Years Day.
That didn't particularly surprise me as I had seen over a two year period when I visited her, a marked deterioration in her condition an her moving from limited informal oversight from family and neighbours to more formal careworkers coming in and a 'careline' being put in although she always looked after her personal hygiene and ate well.
My Aunt was one of the central characters in my life because I often visited her at least once a week if I was 'home' myself as it was a home from home where given the many issues and incidents on my weirdo family history that would break out. I go spending hours with talking about things as she'd try to settle me down from the drama around my home life having left often with a book, some money and my plushies.
She lived with her parents because she needed a some support although she worked for a good number of years at automotive factory locally until taking retirement and so that unit was in my ways an alternate family for me that did accept what we know would see as a more child-like regressive side from my teens and older.
They also spend a lot of time talking to me about pasts, my families pasts, their pasts and how we ended up where we did encouraging me to talk more about what was was on my mind and why it was troubling me.
This was a link I kept up for a very long time so outside of my regular at least once weekly  visits I go with Mom around birthdays and Christmas, chatting along the way with her neighbours and indeed it did get to me this christmas past as it was a ritual I missed from the previous year.
The one thing I know is I'll miss her.