Feeding the lambs on Clee Hill
For most of March I was unwell and missed out on a busy period of work. Yet what felt like a setback, has, on reflection, been a blessing; from slowing down, to budget management and new insights into where the body-mind-spirit needed to heal. My recovery luckily coincided with blissfully warm weather, and part of my recuperation was sitting under a great oak tree at Croft Castle, where I witnessed a large flock of sheep being herded into the field. What a sight to behold. I was reminded of the Psalm ‘The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want, He restores my soul” – a psalm of comfort and a testament to God’s goodness in the midst of every circumstance. The staff or rod mentioned in the Psalm is used to bring the sheep back to where they should be, under the safety of the shepherd’s care. I could feel God doing the same for me, gently bringing me back to a place of stillness and restoration. We can learn from the monastics that there is benefit in silence, and a deeper clarity in our purpose if we can empty the mind, and rely on God for provision. This Psalm is also full of movement; lying down, walking, eating, leading, guiding, and following, it concludes with looking forward: “your goodness and love will follow me.” God continued to speak to me through this Psalm when I was invited by a friend to visit a farm where she once lived, to meet ‘Lucky the lamb.’ What a lovely way to spend the first day of April! Having the chance to hold and feed a baby lamb felt lucky, almost like a symbol of hope and providence for new beginnings and the onset of summer. As Easter approaches I’m counting my blessings, (and sheep!) and learning to enjoy these priceless, simple moments of joy. The joy of simply being alive. And in light of current world events, – Covid cases and the atrocities we are witnessing in Ukraine, the Psalm has never been more relevant.
A Psalm of David, 23
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
On Monday evening (April 4th) I’ll be returning to Brimfield Folk Club to do a floor spot! I last played here before the pandemic with bluegrass band Grey Wolf. On Monday I will be doing a four song solo set, alongside a few other great folk acts in the round. Hope to see you there!
World Piano Day!
It was World Piano Day last week, and to celebrate I made some preparations with the team at Crumplebury in Worcester for my show with Alistair McGowan in June. We’re really excited to be offering our second show together of piano, comedy and song on June 11th and can’t believe it’s only two months away! There will be drinks and canapés on the terrace on arrival, overlooking the grounds, and watch this space for a pre-supper package and overnight stay option. Alistair is touring his piano show all across the country in April, May, and June with his last show of the season at Crumplebury.
“Wintering” by Katherine May
It’s strange to be reviewing a book about winter, when we’ve just had a 3-day heat wave in the UK, but with snow this week, we’re still not fully out of it yet! This book, named after the poem ’Wintering’ by Sylvia Plath, was recommended to me by a friend. In the same week another friend bought it and posted it to me. It really mirrored my experience this year, facing certain hurdles with health and work – it was a beautiful, tender reminder that our winters and summers are the ebb and flow of life. We all need to ‘winter’ to recharge, recalibrate, and sometimes, just be. Longlisted for the Wainwright Prize 2020, this book is a ‘beautiful, gentle exploration of the dark season of life, and the light of spring that eventually follows’. Raynor Winn.
Power of the Dog – Jane Campion
I love the work of Jane Campion; The Piano and Bright Star are beautiful films. The first woman to be nominated twice for the Academy Award for Best Director, her work is always a feast for the eyes. On Sunday she won the Oscar for Power of the Dog. This is an unnerving film, with a beguiling soundtrack about two brothers whose relationship deteriorates when one gets married. Based on a novel by Thomas Savage, the title comes from Psalm 22 in the Bible about the ill treatment of others. The storyline is compelling, and the cinematography of Montana is spectacular.
Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium
This is a last minute addition to the newsletter as I watched it just last night, having read a recommendation in a book about lent. This is one of THE most amazing films I’ve ever seen! Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is set in a magical toy shop, with living toys and strange flying objects, where Dustin Hoffman plays the 243 year old eccentric owner, and Natalie Portman a frustrated pianist and composer, is the store manager. Eric, a 9 year old genius and hat collector befriends the stiff over-working accountant who he teaches to believe in magic. It’s a magnificent film about the recovery of confidence, belief and hope. Mr Magorium says to Molly Mahoney, who has lost her sparkle and faith in herself ‘Your life is an occasion, rise to it.’ Each one of the characters does exactly this, even Mortimer the Zebra, and their example encourages us to do the same.
If you are looking at alternative gifts this Easter, please do pass by my shop where you can find CDs, vinyl, stationary sets, and soaps! Included with every purchase this month is a special chocolate treat … just for you!
Have a wonderful Easter. Stay well!