Rebecca as not seen before

Care of a recent visit to Margot, we finally got to see Rebecca’s appearance in the 1989 Patches Annual.




a, b,c or d?!


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Retirement in the Costas

With due thanks to Margot, we had a brief taste of the life of a retired Brit living in Spain. As anywhere, it seems the more you put in the more you get out, and it was good to get a sense of the real Spain (and some of her issues) from locals we met. Infrastructure much better than the last time we visited, and a new government about to be sworn in (albeit with the EU demanding yet more cuts to public spending). However, if what you want is sun and cheap living, there appear to be worse places to live.

Slightly surreal to temporarily join the local choir to practice parts of the Messiah, but as us singers know, there is nothing like choral music for bringing people together.


Beer and tapas in Almoradi


Hot springs at Archena, near Murcia


Hot springs at Archena, near Murcia


Marina at Torrevieja




Post market and post lunch at La Marina

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Caravaggio sandwich

Preferring to celebrate the latest birthday on Friday rather than Monday, Rebecca and I took time to visit the Caravaggio exhibition at the National Gallery. A quick lesson learned about reading the small print and the exhibition title (‘Beyond Caravaggio’ involved lots of friends and acquaintances, with rather less of the master on show than expected). Of those there, the paintings from Caravaggio himself seemed to far outshine his contemporaries – but the exhibition is certainly worth a visit. We learned about light and dark, story-telling, metaphors and death. The evening lecture from Andrew Graham-Dixon was a revelation and revealed many dark secrets about the painter. The sandwich came from the excellent lunch at Le Gavroche – the set business lunch is really quite exceptional and recommended.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

In the company of Angels

Join Southern Voices for our next concert in Winchester Cathedral Quire on Friday 4 November for a choral collection on the theme of angels.

nov-2016-poster-windowAngels and archangels have inspired some fine music through the ages, and this concert will includes examples from the 15th and 16th centuries (Isaac, Palestrina), the 17th and 18th (Dering, Borthiansky) and the 20th (Chesnokov, Tippett, Tavener, Drayton) as well as examples from notable current composers (Patrick Hawes, David Hamilton). In a first for Southern Voices, we will be singing the Hamilton and one of the pieces by Patrick Hawes ‘in the round’ to get an ethereal effect as befits the music!

The choir will be directed as usual by our musical director Katherine Dienes-Williams, who will be joined by Paul Provost at the organ and cello, and daughter Hannah Dienes-Williams on the violin.

Tickets are on sale at the Cathedral Box office. £16 full price, concessions £14 and children 16 and under £5. It will be a great concert and we would love to see you there!

The programme includes:

Factum est silentium – Richard Dering
Ige Herouvimy – Bortniansky
Prayer to a guardian angel – Patrick Hawes (cello – Paul Provost)
Angelus Domini – Patrick Hawes

St. Bride, assisted by angels – Judith Bingham (organ)

Angelus Domini – Palestrina
Angeli, archangeli – Heinrich Isaacs


Plebs angelica – Michael Tippett
How like an angel – Paul Drayton
Angels – John Tavener

Les anges – Olivier Messiaen (organ)

Factum est silentium – Patrick Hawes (violin – Hannah Dienes-Williams)

Ige Herouvimy – Chesnokov
Angele Dei – David Hamilton

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Brittany and Somerset

A few words on recent visits to Brittany and Somerset for our ‘annuals’ this year. Together as a family for a week, then a follow-up week for ‘Er and me in case we needed it. In the event, and even with another rural retreat in France, all was well and a second complete holiday following immediately on the tail of the first was a complete bonus. Highly recommended. Rural locations in Brittany and Somerset meant visits to out-of-the-way locations that would not normally expect a visit – such as Brest, Lesneven or Kingsbury Episcopi – each with its own attractions. But we also went to the more popular attractions including Mont St Michel, Rennes, Sparkford and Yeovilton.



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Bank holiday Highclere

What to do on a bank holiday Monday at the end of May? Highclere Castle, of course. After a quick driving lesson for Livi (flawless hill start btw), it was off to Highclere sneaking in the back way. Long gone are the pre-Downton weekly trips on a Sunday afternoon, care of a nominal annual membership fee. However, the castle was empty enough actually go inside for a change, the tea shop was as welcoming as ever, and the grass still soft enough for headstands. All rounded off with a trip up Beacon Hill.




Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Madrigals for a Summer’s Evening

Join Southern Voices for our next concert of madrigals in New Hall at Winchester College on Saturday 16 July.

MadrigaleThis concert will comprise some of the best madrigals from Italy and England, including L’Amfiparnaso: – one of the first musical comedies, a unique combination of commedia dell’arte and fine music composed by Orazio Vecchio. This precursor of Italian opera was written in 1594 as a Christmas entertainment for the Duke of Modena.

The concert will be conducted as usual by our musical director, Katherine Dienes-Williams. Tickets are £16 (full), £14 (concessions) and £5 for age 17 and under. Tickets are available from the Cathedral Box Office or by calling (01962 857275).

Early indications from rehearsals are that the music is entirely wonderful, although there are rather a lot of Italian words to fit into the notes given… It is going to be another excellent night of music-making in a superb venue that is new to Southern Voices.

The musical programme will include the following:

  • de Wert – Donna se ben le chiom’ho
  • de Wert – Vaghi Bschetti
  • de Wert – Misera che faro
  • de Wert – In qual parte si ratto
  • Gabrieli – Del gran Tuonate
  • Montiverdi – Ecco mororar l’onde
  • Gesualdo – Moro, lasso, al mio duolo
  • Gibbons – I tremble not at noise of war
  • Vecchi – L’Amfiparnaso
  • Morley – April is in my mistress’ face
  • Morley – Now is the month of Maying
  • Gibbons – The silver swan
  • Wilbye – Sweet honey sucking bees
  • Wilbye – Draw on sweet night




Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Hovercraft at Lee on the Solent

Having passed the Hovercraft Museum at Lee on the Solent a number of times when it was firmly shut, the news that it was opening on Saturday mornings was met with glee from the old man and me and less enthusiasm from the old dear. So when Bryony visited in February, it was a good opportunity for some father/son – grandmother/granddaughter bonding time – but separately.

BTW, museum well worth a visit if you are into that sort of thing – you would struggle to find anything similar elsewhere.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Monet and Canary Wharf

Strange bedfellows, but an interesting combination on the day. We visited the Royal Academy ‘Painting the Modern Garden – Monet to Matisse’ back in February.

The paintings at the RA were wonderful. Particularly worthwhile for me were the ‘Gardens of Silence’ collection and the final hall with an enormous triptych that had been gathered together for the exhibition. Definitely worthwhile booking the first slot, getting there early and then starting at the end first.

We then shot to Canary Wharf via the DLR (go from Bank for a brilliant view of the City). Although I go there often Rebecca has never been and it is good to revisit through the eyes of a first time visitor. The new Cross Rail terminal is particularly impressive.

New phone with a photo scanning button…

PS We visited Monet’s garden in 2013 – as reported earlier.


Filed under Uncategorized

V&A Shoes: Pleasure and Pain

A late mention of the recent excellent exhibition at the V&A where there were shoes a plenty, from the lost Cinderella Swarovski crystal shoe, through the Red Shoes, Egyptian sandals, tudor boots, the latest 3D printed shoes and all places in between. I am sure there was a reason as to how they were laid out, but it passed me by. A quick tour round the fabulous Cast Rooms before lunch at the evergreen Bluebird. Unusually traffic disappeared from Regent Street from early evening onwards for the London Lumiere – so one obviously had to walk down the middle of the road to take advantage… Excellent lights in Leicester Square.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized