shepline | the journal

shepline: the journal

On the seventh day of advent: carolling in the square


[tags | band, carols, carrolling, christmas]

I never really think that Christmas has begun until I play some carols. Yes, we’ve been playing Christmas music at band since November but that is rehearsal for the concert next week and so doesn’t count. This morning Emma and I headed out, she too enjoy the Abingdon Christmas Market, and I to play my flute with a few others from the band in the square.

The Round Table were selling mulled wines and mincepies from the table behind us and the aroma just kept on wafting over us as we played. The market too was good, with a stand of lovely leather goods and some reasonably priced leather bound journals for sale. Must check out The Old Leather Works again sometime.

1470193_10152178138584155_2020999907_nBetween sessions, Emma and I headed across the square to the Throwing Buns cafe for a gorgeously warming hot chocolate and bacon and brie pannini before more playing…


Next, we’re off out to a pub somewhere near Abingdon for Emma’s work Christmas meal. Should be fun!

Originally published at shepline: the journal">shepline: the journal</a>. You can comment here or

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On the eighth day of advent: Let Christmas begin


[location | Oxfordshire]

[tags | advent, band, carols, christmas, festive, flute]

Traditionally it is the weekend closest to my mum's birthday (25 November) and Stir-up Sunday that launches my preparations for Christmas. It's not until I play my first carols though that I truly feel Christmas. Today Emma and I headed down to Abingdon on Thames for two sessions in the market square amongst the Christmas Market. When we arrive, some of the band are already playing a last minute, third, session, and it is the perfect accompaniment to some impromptu Christmas shopping.

We have new carol books this year, which some of us have never seen before in our lives. What's more many of the carols are in 6 flats! Six flats?! It seems the carol books are Salvation Army ones. That explains it then, Salvation Army carols would be written foremostly for brass, and thus the crap key signature for anyone in of a woodwind persuasion.

Following the morning of carols and Christmas markets (including a yummy stone cooked chicken salad on a bed of coleslaw for lunch), we returned home - Emma to a sleep, having only had 1½ hours sleep the night before, whilst I put the Christmas lights up outside and found a home for the large bale of hay we have acquired from Fringford Feeds...

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An improving sort of day...


[location | Oxf]

[tags | band, frustration, northern lights, piccolo, work]

Today has not been the best of days - a bit too frantic and stressful to be likeable. After the server migration yesterday (which went well) there was just a bit of snagging to be done on some of the pages, including the new news pages to ge the images to display. In the process of sorting this out I spectacularly and catastrophically broke things. Not good. So I spent most of the day trying to get it working again, sitting in the server room with The Guardian on my Kindle for company as I coax the server back to life. And I did fix it. All by myself - I got myself back to where I was a couple of days ago. Which is good.

Today wasn't all bad though. I learnt some sign language from Kirsty, which was fun. I can now ask someone what there name is and tell them mine. I probably can't understand anything they say to me, but you know, baby steps and all...

Had a particularly good blow at Abingdon Concert Band tonight, which included playing mostly the right notes in the mostly the right order and almost at the right speed. I even played piccolo in not only Beauty and the Beast but also Pirates of the Caribbean and was heard in a not objectionable way. Which is encouraging. And hey, as a band we were even playing so well that Sunday's extra-rehearsal has been canceled. Here's to a nice weekend to get out in the country instead!

Due to a high solar storm, the Northern Lights are apparently particularly active tonight. I've found this really cool website for forecasting where and when you will see them. You can even sign up for twitter text alerts for it.

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Brave Not Foolish


[location | Oxfordshire]

[tags | abingdon concert band, band, piccolo]

I'm not sure if anyone noticed (this is probably a good thing!) but bravery won out and I played piccolo tonight at band. Just the one piece, Beauty and the Beast and it wasn't too beastly. I think I need to be more confident and blow out more and that *should* give me better tone and hopefully people will notice (in a good way).

I'm just pleased I did it. Kind of a brave thing to pick up the smallest instrument in the band and play something no one else is playing! Or at least I think it is! :-)

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On the eleventh day of advent


[location | Oxfordshire]

[tags | band, flutes, music]

When at full strength there now seems to be an amazing twelve flautists in our band. This month's concert should therefore stand as a watchword that one shouldn't take lots of flutes for granted, for worryingly at tonight's rehearsal there were only three flautists present and none of us were going to be of the three who were scheduled to play at Saturday's concert.


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Watching the Weather


[location | Bicester]

[mood | high]

[tags | band, concerts]

I’ve been keeping a close eye on the weather forecast. Yesterday it looked promising for an outdoor firework spectacular of a concert in Bicester’s Garth Park. That was yesterday. Today it has been decidedly more damp. Wet even. Today, it rains; it is raining; and the prognosis is not good.

I have my hair cut and then return home to settle into cleaning my house. It is a good job too, as the estate agents call to say that the Mr S of Jay Close is booked into seeing my house. This is could news, as Mrs S saw the house earlier in the week, and so they must be seriously considering (the possibility of) buying mine if she is sending him along.

I have some lunch and then head off to my afternoon rehearsal – joining up with my comrades of Abingdon and Bicester Concert Bands. The massed army of 14 flutes join our two oboes and collection of clarinets on staging erected to the front of the bandstand – this makes us the only one’s left in full openness o the elements with the audience having a choice of ‘mess tents’ erected around the edge of the park like a roman camp. We top and tail the pieces before going ‘silent’ for the 4.30 wedding in The Garth.

In the time between rehearsal and concert, the rain comes down again, and when Emma arrives with Grannie, it is with some reluctance that we head off to sit in a wet park for the evening.

The rain clears though, and the sky, laden with clouds even brightens a little. Flags adorn the audience and the bandstand – the concert is glorious success – even during the second half when the rain comes down it does not dampen the audiences’ spirits. The firework finale, to Handel and Dam Buster’s is both dramatic and spectacular.

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