gothams3rdrobin: (me)
We had a very special rehearsal at Superchoir on Wednesday night - it was our first anniversary! :-) One of the sopranos, Cath, had mentioned bringing in cake in order to celebrate - something she does from time to time, and has done since our six-month anniversary, as I recall - so I decided I wanted to do a little something myself, and the two of us made a plan. This resulted in a 'mission' that I was tweeting about in vague terms for the entire day *laughs*

Since Cath was making cake, I decided that I would make some of my home-made jelly. After all, what's a party without cake and jelly, right? I've had a great deal of success with a Jamie Oliver recipe, which basically involves real fruit juice and gelatine leaves instead of those blocks of artificial flavouring that you dissolve in hot water and chill. I made a huge 'traffic light' one (Red, Orange and Green) for Rowan's tenth birthday that was a big hit, and I've also made ones with various fresh fruit juice mixes like pear and apple, or apple and raspberry, that were very yummy. I decided I was going to make another 'traffic light' jelly for the choir folks, but I couldn't actually afford to go shopping till the Wednesday morning so that meant Rowan and I had to be on the bus to the supermarket by 7:30 (thank goodness for school holidays!) in order to get the various supplies we needed and be back in time for me to make a start and still log in to work on time. We were thankfully back home by 8:45, so I had time to make the first layer of three pots of jelly (I have moulds with lids these days! Love them so much!) and still have a calm breakfast before work.

Now, of course, it's not as simple as all that. What ever is, right? There's a couple of ladies in the choir who are vegan, so obviously they're not able to eat anything Cath and I prepared; on learning this some months back, Cath researched alternative recipes for vegan-friendly cakes, and appears to have had some successful results. I didn't have the time to look into and practise making jellies without gelatine, so I had to think of other alternatives. A quick websearch later gave me the inspiration to put together fruit kebabs; quick and very easy - or would have been, had I been able to find kebab sticks!! I asked a member of staff, only to be told that since the barbeque range would be out shortly, the store had discontinued them for the moment *sigh* So this meant that I would have to run out after work and go into town to find them. Picked some up in the very first store I went into (the awesome Kitchens, where I could happily spend quite a lot of money) but then got delayed going home when Rowan insisted on stopping in Burger King for his tea prior to spending the evening with his grandmother. Despite explaining to him that I needed to get back home to put the third layers of jelly in to set (I'd spent my lunch break doing the second layers), he still dawdled *eyeroll* Wouldn't have been so bad except the second layers hadn't quite been set enough for an additional layer when I'd finished work.

As it is, the pots needed a fourth layer in order to be full, but that would only have been possible if I'd been in a position to start it off the night before. I ended up having to ask my mother to give me a lift down the Bay to rehearsal, in order to be able to leave the moulds in the fridge for as long as possible, then having to speak very nicely to the kind bar staff of the hotel about borrowing some fridge space in their kitchen till the end of rehearsal. But in the end the jellies were fully set - even if the layers of orange jelly intended to represent Amber overwhelmed the layers of apple that were supposed to represent Green - and everyone seemed pleased. The fruit kebabs Rowan and I made were also very popular, and the ladies were happy about the carrot, celery and cucumber I sliced up to go with some vegetarian houmous dip I picked up. I was anxious about the dip, since I don't know the full in's and out's of what's acceptable under a vegan diet, but Beth assured me it was fine, and was in fact its most eager consumer! *laughs*

The rehearsal itself went brilliantly; everyone was in a stellar mood, especially Patrick, who began teaching us 'Wings' by Little Mix (an awesome song, if you've not heard it look it up!) - he's been wanting to do it since it came out, so he was brimming over with enthusiasm. And this is a gentleman who epitomises excited energy, so you can imagine what he was like that night! Some of the less experienced choristers were apparently trying a little too hard with learning the harmonies, taking it too seriously, since Patrick felt the need at one point to tell them to chill out! *laughs* I love being in learning mode - I actually prefer it to the gigs, most of the time. We're doing Adele's 'Skyfall' at work too, so it's a good time for me! I wasn't able to go to rehearsal at work the next day, since I'd stupidly forgotten that it was Good Friday that week so I wasn't allowed to swap my day off, and I no longer have my usual childcare options on a Thursday during the holidays. *sigh* Probably going to have to do the same again next week, but at least the practise tracks for 'Skyfall' have been uploaded, so I can practise at home.

Oh, and both Rowan and I very nearly screamed out loud when we went back to the supermarket the following afternoon for some regular shopping. What should we see alongside the jelly and custard, and again on the bread aisle, but some sodding kebab sticks!!! Didn't have any in stock, my arse.... If we'd not been in a hurry, and could have gone up and down all the aisles like we usually do, we would have found them and I wouldn't have had such a nightmare finishing my jellies! *eyeroll*
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
I'm currently having a tweet conversation with the representative of Manchester Airport! *mind boggled*

There's a new series on BBC2 called 'The Choir' where this bloke called Gareth Malone has gone around a number of big companies in the UK and started up workplace choirs, looking at how they effect moral. Which, as you guys know, is what Andrea and George have been doing since 2008! *grins* So we've started hanging out on Twitter while the show is on, commenting encouraging things and - as a useful side effect - raising awareness of Sing & Inspire and what they do.

The hour or so beforehand involves a certain rallying of the troops, so there's a bit of chatter going on already - the Manchester Airport tweeter spotted this and sent me a comment, so we've been bantering back and forth a little bit. *grin* I have no idea how people manage to post Twitter threads on Livejournal so I can't show anyone, but it's amusing me no end! *grin*
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
It's the annual Mardi Gras this weekend, and once again we had a spot on the caberet stage - which was rectangular this year, and therefore not as bouncy as the previous octagon-shaped one, but only slightly! We were given a long enough slot for eight songs, which was cool, and a couple of the ladies from the Superchoir came along to hand out fliers for the Superchoir and encourage people to buy our album :-) It was a fun gig and went really, really well - with no hiccups courtesy of the CD player like last year! lol! Though at one point the next track came on a little too quickly, so we had to really focus on Dave - the composer, who was conducting us today - in order to make sure we stayed in time while we settled into the song.

Had to scarper out of the event pretty quickly, as Rowan had a hairdressers appointment that I never got around to rescheduling - I've been really bad about getting things sorted out lately, and I can't stand making phone calls as it is - but we came back afterwards 'cause Rowan wanted to ride the chair-o-planes. He changed his mind at the last minute though - I think the speed of the rides alongside freaked him out somehow? :-/ So we only stayed about twenty minutes in the end.

We then popped over to the lawn in front of City Hall, where they previously had the Olympic rings on display above the pool of the water fountain and have since replaced it with the Paralympic symbol, which is cool. I took pictures, but my phone's having issues with uploading photos right now. I might upload it at another date if anyone wants to see.

On the bus home, Rowan and I had another of our recurring conversations about his academic future - I swear I'm not one of those parents who insist that their primary school age child give serious thought to their future careers, though of course we've had the 'what would you like to be when you grow up' talk. Rowan's seemingly given up on his intentions to be a racing car driver (he thinks it would make him rich! lol!) and has set his heart on becoming an astronomer. I responded encouragingly, saying that I think he might enjoy that since it involves a lot of mathematics. Rowan takes after his Dad in the sense that he enjoys Maths more than English - though I do think he could do okay with English too if he would just get past the mental block he has about it. He loves to read and tell stories, and he's got quite a vivid imagination. We've talked many times about how I think he'll enjoy Physics when he gets to high school, seeing as it's quite a mathematical subject. Rowan wanted to know what he'd need to study in order to be an astronomer - we guessed Maths and Physics - and I also tried to get him to think about what else he could study, both as a back-up plan and for simple interest. Then when we got home I checked the website for Cardiff Uni's astronomy program to see what the entry requirements would be - as we guessed, Maths and Physics A-levels.

My son is ten years old. This is a very strange experience for me. lol! But anything that will put a rocket up his behind academically is fine with me. If he wants to have a goal in mind, even this early, then awesome.

Tonight also saw the return of a long-standing Saturday night tradition; snuggling together on the sofa to watch Doctor Who :-) I'm not going to talk about the episode, for fear of spoilers, but it was very nice to have that hour's cwtch after a knackering day and we finished off a tub of Phish Food that was in the freezer. I am soo ready for the sumer holidays to be over and have life get back to normal, even if it does mean the chaos of Christmas is fast approaching.
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
I tend to think of a million things to waffle about on here, when I'm away from my computer... :-p Then, on the increasingly rare occasions I'm actually sat at a computer (I do a lot on my phone these days, and typing on that thing is tedious) I'm either too distracted by the various things I want to read, or I've gotten it into my head that what I wanted to say isn't interesting enough to post.

This is, I realise, my own blog and I'm as free as everyone else to write whatever the hell I like. And I would like to get back into the habit of writing up notable things that go on in my life - if only to convince myself that I do sorta have one. I just don't tend to... *hands*

Read more... )
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
Hello peeps! Long time no update, huh? Been difficult to find time for anything other than micro-blogging for the last little while - my latest OU course is kicking my arse, and winter is always a hectic time anyway.

But! But but BUT!

This morning we took delivery of the first production run of our album!!! And while I can't help listening back to it and thinking "Yeah, we could have done that bit a little better...", I absolutely LOVE it! When you're right in the thick of the group you don't get to hear the whole effect.

It's not available for download yet - there's still some legal paperwork that needs to get completed, but Andrea's anticipating that being finished in January. Meantime, if anyone would like to have a listen, there's a couple of tracks available on our Soundcloud page. I'm helping to maintain it, along with one of the guys - not sure yet how the site works, but should be fun finding out!

The thing I love most about listening to the album is the memories it brings back of the two days we spent in a recording studio at Newport University; we were hot, exhausted, going hoarse and mainlining Ricola throat sweets, but having the best time ever! I also can't help trying to pick out my own voice, particularly in those moments when the Altos had a solo line. :-)

It's so cool guys! I'm on an honest-to-god album!
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
(Yes, I know - it was deliberate)

Our big fund-raiser at the Tiger Tiger nightclub is tomorrow! *bites nails* While it's not the biggest venue we've performed at (RAH two years ago, naturally) it's the biggest performance we've given to date - we're singing about ten songs, in three sets.

One of the claims staff wanted to be able to sing a special song for the gig, as a specific tribute to Alex and Bethan - Queen's 'Only The Good Die Young', which I absolutely adore. Andrea was initially wary - particularly as there was very little time for us to learn the song - so she said "Fine, but you are going to have to perform it solo." Next thing she knows, Kim has gotten together with Tony and they've turned it into a duet - though not in the same way as the song was originally written, with Brian and Roger taking verses each. This plan was so popular with the rest of us that last week our composer Dave came into rehearsal to listen to them perform it, with a view to perhaps throwing together a two part harmony for the rest of us - despite he and Andrea having a monumentally heavy schedule at the moment.

They stayed up all night last Thursday working on it, before going to London for the weekend for their own gigs/networking/etc, then spent Sunday recording it for us so it could be uploaded to the website by Monday morning. We have then had the rest of the week to learn it in our own time, before the rehearsal today. Naturally Andrea was really anxious whether or not this would be enough time, but you know how people can rally together with enough motivation? Yep. We belted it out, and made her cry *chuckles* Several of the choir were tearing up too - particularly those who actually knew Alex and Bethan, but some just for the sadness of losing a child. To me the song is an open letter to Freddie Mercury, and he's been gone for such a long time now - Sting's 'Fields Of Gold' on the other hand... combine that with the imagery of a certain advert for a cancer charity back when Rowan was a baby? I used to bawl my eyes out!

Anyway, we have a two hour rehearsal tomorrow afternoon when we're gonna run through everything, with the Swansea guys able to join us too. They've been trying to negotiate a once-a-month rehearsal for all of us, to make things easier when gigs come up, but so far it's not happened. Most of the Swansea members haven't gone through the big 'Born Free' medley we did for the Albert Hall, which of course we have to perform tomorrow, so it's really important we have that one nailed.

It's been a bit of a nightmare the last few days though; Mam's having Rowan for the night, as it's a lateish gig at a nightclub, but her cousin's husband passed away suddenly and the funeral is tomorrow. In the Valleys :-/ She wanted me to see if there was anyone could collect him from school for her, but the person I used to be able to rely on moved away over the summer, and Rowan's best friend went to visit his Dad in Crewe for the weekend after school today. Everyone else I could have approached either already has afterschool clubs to deal with, or no longer feel the need to hang around the schoolyard so I don't get to see them at all! So in the end I've had to take him out of school for the day - something I do as rarely as I possibly can - and keep him with me till Mam can get the train back after the funeral. I just hope she doesn't have to stay too long in order to not feel like she's running away and snubbing the family.

I can't wait! I'm excited, nervous.... it's going to be a hell of a night. And then next month we get to record!

So...

Aug. 28th, 2011 12:53 pm
gothams3rdrobin: (eddy writing)
The summer hols are almost over once more - thank god. It's been trying, as always, and I'll be glad when I no longer need to arrange childcare for Rowan while I'm at work.

He spent the first week camping at Chepstow Racecourse with the St John Ambulance, and he seems to have hated every minute of it. I missed him while he was away, and didn't get anything done that I had planned - I mostly came home from work and crashed out for the evening. I did take the opportunity to go see 'Captain America', though I would have preferred not to go alone. Such is my life, however.

Since he got back, he's spent the first three days of each week at his usual holiday club in a nearby leisure centre, then Thursdays with his grandmother. On Fridays I've been taking him with me to the rehearsals I've been running for the alto section of my choir - though only one or two ever turn up, and they're usually the ones that make the effort to attend the regular rehearsals every week and only need a little bit extra practise. The whole point was for the people who've missed several weeks, or are new, to get the chance to catch up! *sigh* I realise it's not easy for everyone to make it - I get excuses about meetings and team lunches and all sorts - so I try not to let it get to me. It can be hard to reign in my inner Rachel Berry though, when I hear people in my section bemoaning how they 'don't know this one' - they're not even practising at home! *grrr*

Anyway. After the rehearsal is done, Rowan and I go get a bite to eat and spend the afternoon doing something fun. Usually it's the cinema; we've seen 'Harry Potter', 'The Smurfs' (though in 2D - I recommend the 3D as I think we missed out in certain places. Didn't expect to, as most of the 3D in the films I've seen have been shoehorned in) and yesterday we went to see 'Glee In Concert'.

Best. Use. Of. 3D. Ever!

I don't care if anyone's sneering at the screen now, 'cause we went to see that. I loved it, and so did Rowan.

Last Friday I took Rowan swimming - something I haven't done since he was a baby, though he's spent time in the pool over the last couple of years through school. We were in the water for about two and a half hours, and loved every minute of it. He can't actually swim yet, but his confidence in the water is wonderful; we messed around with the floats a lot, pulling each other through the water, and he would cling to my back while I jumped around, both of us laughing like idiots. The last hour or so, we were deep in the middle of the pool - one of the advantages of me being short and him being tall is that we can currently mess around at more or less the same depth - and he was launching himself off my thighs into the water, trying to do somersaults. The only sad thing about it was that they never put the wave machine on the whole time we were there *pout*

The next day, we were joined by Rowan's classmate Lewis, and Lewis's little sister Eryn. Their parents were having to move house - all the way to the other side of the city too, so they've had to change schools.... *sulks* - so we kept Lewis and Eryn entertained for the day. They have four kids in total, the eldest being old enough to help out with the move, but I wouldn't have been able to cope with the toddler as well. Rowan's excitable enough when he has friends around, but when Eryn's around it's like they're a pair of Tazmanian Devils! *laughs* Neither of them were truly naughty, though I had to tell Eryn off more times than I'm used to 'cause she kept running off, and Lewis is always well behaved. We took them bowling down the Bay, which went well, then they cleaned me out on the amusement arcade *sigh* But I think they all had fun, and their Dad came to collect them just as I was dishing up some pasta for their tea. Going to miss having them all around, but hopefully the 'net will help with keeping in touch.

Work's been as dull as ever, and there's less work to go around at the moment too. We get our work allocated to us through an Excel spreadsheet - and hasn't that been a nightmare, having up to thirty people trying to work off the same file simultaneously! - and they've recently started training up previously 'phones-only teams to do some of our work. Which, of course, means there's less for the rest of us... *eyeroll* I really hate coming in of a morning to find maybe an hour and a half's work for me, then have to spend the rest of my - admittedly short - shift trying to locate more. My productivity always seems to suffer when I have to go looking.

There has been a new development, however. They're looking into testing how feasible it would be to have staff working from home. I think the main focus is on 'phones staff, as IT will have to install a system and phone into the work area of whoever tests it, but I emailed the Ops Manager asking whether this would also apply to someone like me since it would be very, very easy to arrange. All I would need would be access to the database software that hold's the policy files, the excel files we work off, and my work email account. I didn't hear back from Wayne, but a couple of days later I'm included in an email to those who have been selected to do the trial! I honestly don't know how well it would work out for me - I don't have a room I can use as an 'office', just a small desk over to the side of the living room where the home PC is. But depending on how they would expect me to organise my work hours, it could make things a lot easier for me regarding childcare - or I could find being at home extremely distracting. I honestly don't know, but it might be fun to find out. Plus attending choir might be a bit of a challenge, since it's a thirty minute bus ride each way. The trial's supposed to be for between four and six months - we'll just have to wait and see.

My new course for the Open University begins in about six weeks! *bites nails* It's a music course, and I've been going through their preparatory programme to revise the music theory I was supposed to have been taught during my GCSEs. As I'm sure you can imagine, the music department in my school wasn't that well funded and it was considered a 'bird course' by five out of the nine pupils in my class. I've been learning how the Sibelius software we've been provided works, mostly by painstakingly typing in scores out of my collection of song books - that is the best fun ever! And it helps cement some of the mechanics of music into my head as I go so it's not a waste of time. I'm really looking forward to the course itself, and once Rowan's back in school I'll have the majority of my Fridays back to get stuck in before it actually starts in October.

We have lots happening in the choir too; Mardis Gras next Saturday, which should be a blast, then we have a gig in London a couple of weeks later!! Just a small one in a hotel in Picadilly, but it has some sort of link to the BAFTAs? *hands* Then at the end of September we're throwing a party at the Tiger Tiger nightclub as a fund-raiser for our album, before we get stuck in to actually making it at the end of October! \O/ I honestly can't wait! We should have the actual discs in our grubby little paws by Christmas!
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
LJ appears to be having some major downtime this evening, so it's very likely I'll be posting this the day after I write it ;-P But still...

Stuff and things happen, of course. Hard to say how interesting they are to the observer, since they're rarely very interesting to me...

In which I babble about Myfi, sucky stuff at home and work, and the choir! )
gothams3rdrobin: (Default)
Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus, pawb! Happy St David's Day, everyone!

I didn't get to say anything yesterday because I wasn't home until midnight, and quite frankly I was too tired to make a coherent post. We had a gig at the Lyric Theatre in Carmarthen, West Wales, yesterday evening and we spent the last two hours of the day travelling.

My day mostly progressed normally; dropped Rowan off at school, went to work. Rowan and I both had Welsh rugby shirts on, and he was taking part in the school's Eisteddfod festival. Me, I didn't have anything going on at work - the only thing our 'Ministry of Fun' organised was a poetry competition about 'how great it is to be Welsh/live in Wales' *yawn*

However, at two o'clock I high-tailed it away from my desk and down the lift to join my fellow choristers on the coach that was waiting outside. I chatted to Jan in the seat behind me as we drove over to Swansea to collect the choir from our office there, then Jan moved and Zoe came to sit next to me in order to make space on the coach and we chatted for the rest of the journey. We did try and rehearse, but the CD player on the coach kept jumping. It took an hour and three quarters to get there, and we made it on time for our scheduled sound check at four o'clock - though typically they weren't ready for us. We used the time for warm ups and last minute rehearsals, though, so all's good. Though we were quite exhausted when we got done an hour later, as our routine is quite wearying, us not being professionals or anything.

We all then retreated to the Wetherspoons pub down the street for our dinner, as we had two hours to kill before we needed to get ready. And it was Steak Club night! \O/ I had a yummy rump steak with a jacket potato. Zoe and I were debating whether we wanted to get dessert too, but eventually we reasoned it would sit too heavy while we performed. The last thing you need when you're trying to sing, particularly when there's some degree of movement involved. We chose to pop into the Co-Op store next door on our way back to the theatre for some treats for the journey home.

I managed to sneak myself into the second row for this gig, much to my relief and Melissa and Zoe's slight annoyance. Mel probably because she's used to having me in the front row with her, and Zoe because she ended up in the front in my place, where she's usually near the back. Zoe thankfully didn't hold it against me, but Mel? Who knows. She attempted to 'tell' on me, likely assuming Andrea would coax me back out of my hiding place again, but she ignored it. Did make it a little harder to see her directions, but it did make it slightly easier to hear the rest of my section. If I could just have been someplace in the middle rather than right next to the sopranos, it would have been near perfect.

The gig itself seemed to go really well; Andrea was certainly very positive in her feedback, regardless of the fact her job involves motivation. I think she'd been somewhat nervous, particularly with our version of Oasis' 'Wonderwall'. And there were a couple of songs in our programme that either the Cardiff contingent or the Swansea one hadn't had enough time to polish - as is always the case, somehow. But we pulled it off. We came away thinking we were probably the high point of the show, bracketting both sides of the interval; the other acts on the bill were the Pontadulais Brass Band, and the brother of the Tenor from the GoCompare commercials (If you don't know what I mean, feel free to YouTube - it's a Marmite thing, and personally I think it's hysterical) and Andrea said we were the only one the relatively small audience cheered for. For some reason I never notice that sort of detail.

We then had to hang around till the concert was done, so we could take a bow at the end. This meant hanging around in the changing room and chatting. It got a bit warm in there with so many people milling about (Can't imagine how it would have been if we still had the numbers we did two years ago when we did the Albert Hall!) so Zoe and I followed the example of several others and hung out in the entrance way for a bit to get some fresh air. We entertained ourselves by looking at the posters for upcoming shows and thumbing through the theatre's schedule booklet.

Took us a little while to locate where the coach was parked waiting for us; while the driver was able to drop us off outside, the street arrangements in Carmarthen didn't allow for him to wait for us outside at the end of the night, so we had to try and find him. Unfortunately Andrea didn't quite manage to follow his directions properly, so we got a little bit turned around *grins*

The journey back to Swansea was a bit uncomfortable; the seats on the coach are somewhat narrow and my companion somewhat on the larger side (as, alas, am I) so I ended up sitting slightly off the seat, with the lowered arm rest digging into me. Plus the pregnant soprano I'd been stood next to for the performance was somewhat nauseous, and needed the driver to pull over at one point. Once it was just us Cardiff-iffians we were able to spread out and be more comfortable. It was quite entertaining as Tony and Richard were so exhausted they were a little punch-drunk, and the banter that flowed was on the same level as a night at the pub. There was joking, there was random breaking into song - I had a great time. It was past eleven thirty when we got back to the office, and Zoe kindly offered to drop me off on her way back home. I was so grateful, as the last bus on a Tuesday night is eleven o'clock and the taxi fare from town to mine is about twelve pounds. Thanks to Zoe I was home by midnight, eating the microwaved soup I'd picked up for my supper. Wasn't very nice though, and I wished I'd just stuck to cereal, but I hadn't banked on being able to get a proper steak dinner.

While all this was going on, Rowan was enjoying a sleepover at his friend Lewis's house. My parents are enjoying another holiday in Gibraltar this week (and rubbing everyone's noses in it over Facebook *wink*) so even my usual rather limited childcare options weren't available. Thankfully my high-school friend Gawain is working locally this week, so his wife - who I've also gotten to be good friends with now that our sons are in school together - was able to cope with a fifth child in the house and agreed to babysit for me. She took him to school this morning too - which is a good thing because I slept right through my alarm this morning! I think my brain subconciously knew I'd taken the rest of the week off work to work on my assignment that's due on Friday, and subsequently allowed me to sleep in. Didn't get as much done today as I would have liked, but I'm back on the school run tomorrow morning and that makes it easier to get into the library and get stuck in.
gothams3rdrobin: (Default)
Okay, so I was sorta told off this week for not updating this thing properly recently. I guess this means I bore you for a bit about what's not been going on around here...

Cut to save the flists )
gothams3rdrobin: (Default)
Well I did it! I finally got to sing at the Mardis Gras - and with a solo, no less! Well, sorta.

It's been a really long day, as we started off in a rehearsal in work at noon, so we could polish off this and that. It was also the only chance I had to practise the solo with Hayley from the Swansea office (I told you it was a 'sorta-solo'). She and Laura used to come out to Cardiff for the rehearsals, 'cause the Swansea choir didn't take off on the first attempt, but the second one has been successful - thanks in part to our fantastic efforts on that 3-SGMs-in-one-day back in April.

We practised for an hour, by which time we were boiling hot (air-conditioning in the meeting rooms? What is this of which you speak?) and I'd already been in my tidy shoes for two hours so my feet were starting to hurt. I really should start carrying them with me to put on when we get there...

We then traipsed over to the Mardis Gras itself, which was on Coopers Field, behind Cardiff Castle. Only a ten minute walk from the office, but in my shoes.... *winces* We all got kinda lost at first; most of us followed George and Andrea down one part of the fairground, but then had to quickly high-tail it in another direction when they realised they'd taken a wrong turn! *laughs* We made it to the Cabaret stage just on time.

The stage itself was one of those jerry-rigged pagodas, and it had a very unfortunate support pole right up the centre which made it a little tricky for those in the back rows. Also, the flooring was a bunch of triangles secured together with what looked like plastic tape - whenever we did any moves the damn thing bounced! I felt so sorry for the guys and the sopranos, who were almost permanently on the sides of the stage, 'cause the one time we swapped places with the guys it was like dancing on a trampoline!

There were major technical hitches right at the beginning, as the first track on the CD wouldn't play properly. They'd chosen for us to start with the 'Born Free' medley we did at the Albert Hall, which requires Jo and Tony to lead off with the 'Eee-oooh-eee-ooooh' section from 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight', but the CD player kept starting the track a few seconds in, so we would still be singing that song when we should have started singing Sting's 'Set Them Free' *facepalm* After a couple of tries, Andrea decided to jump ahead in the programme to 'Valerie', based on the arrangement by Amy Winehouse. This is the one Hayley and I do a solo in, doing the Amy Winehouse trills right at the end, and it seemed to go pretty well. I had to somehow get myself over to the mike with 'confidence' *raspberries* George suggested during rehearsal that I pretend to be Freddie! *laughs* I think I'll leave that to Costas though, for his solos in 'Somebody To Love'!

After that we did Rhianna's 'Umbrella', but our arrangement was based on the version by 'The Baseballs' (If you haven't heard it, go look it up! It's wicked!). This is a hell of a lot of fun, and I don't know how we managed to dance with the stage bouncing the way it was!

We should have wrapped it up with 'Somebody To Love' - one of the first songs we learnt when this started two years ago, and much as I love Queen I am so tired of singing that damn song! - but we decided to give 'Born Free' one more try once we'd finished. Andrea said to start in with the 'Whimbaway' section, but what do you know! The CD player decided it wanted to play the track properly this time! So Jo and Tony had to rush forward to the mikes so they could sing their solos! Andrea turned to the audience and gave a "Well, how about that!" gesture, and everyone was very amused. The crowd had been so patient during the initial technical glitch. Personally I think there was some fate involved, as 'Born Free' is what we usually finish with due to the amazing arrangement of 'Can You Feel The Love Tonight' at the end of the medley.

The audience seemed to like us :-)

I would have liked to have stuck around and explored the Mardis Gras with Rowan, but neither of us had eaten in hours and my feet were absolutely throbbing by this point, so I hobbled him down to the main shopping streets via the cashpoint (We could have eaten at the fair but I hadn't enough cash on me. Plus Rowan would have been begging me to let him go on the rides too....) We had lunch in Burger King - and I really need to avoid that place for the rest of the year! - before hobbling home. I'm really, really glad that I threw a stew in the slowcooker this morning, as I am so knackered I don't think I could contemplate having to cook something!

Next gig is in the Millennium Stadium itself! \O/ We're going to be on stage with Only Men Aloud, Catherine Zeta Jones, Katherine Jenkins.... gonna be awesome. I think we're only singing the national anthem, but what a rush that's going to be!
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
Last night we had our second of three rehearsals in Pontypridd with the 'Sing For Life' choir - made up of cancer survivors and family members of cancer survivors/victims. George was videoing us on her iPhone, and while the quality's not good the sound is brilliant!

Stupid LJ won't let me embed the video *raspberries* so here's the link:
http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=442048838828

I'm in the middle of the crowd, towards the back, behind Laura from my choir who filled in for SFL's Nikki in the solo. The people jumping around at the front are Patrick and Emma, who conduct the SFL choir most of the time.

Such a brilliant, though exhausting, night! Could barely get out of bed this morning to take Rowan to school!
gothams3rdrobin: (Default)

The Admiral Inspire Choir from Aurora Video on Vimeo.



This is our entire performance at Cardiff's St David's Hall in April - that day when we did three staff meetings in a day, and were absolutely cream crackered by the end. You would not believe how exhausting performing those two medleys is.

The camera is on me soooooo much! *whines* And I look AWFUL!!! I've had my hair cut since, but Iesu Grist.... Can't say as I look any better now, if I'm honest.
gothams3rdrobin: (Default)
Today was my annual appraisal - been with the company seven years now! o.O I always dread these things, as I'm not comfortable talking about myself and never know what they actually want of me - management-ese sucks! Last year I actually burst into tears, even though my manager at the time wasn't being nasty with me. I just get that defensive and wound up.

This year was a completely different story. I was given a ten page document to go through before the meeting; ten lists, printed landscape rather than portrait so not as much as it sounds, where I had to rank myself on a scale of one to five. Things like how well I relate to my colleagues, whether I am confident of my procedural knowledge, things like that. My manager and I were to then go through the lists, discuss my responses, and he would give his own responses.

I have something of a mental block on giving myself top marks in anything, so I mostly gave myself fours, along with a few threes - mostly my attitude to my workload, procedural changes etc. I explained to my manager and senior that, while I do what is expected of me, I'm not above having a brief gripe about it. They were pleased with my honesty, and my manager either went along with me or gave me a four instead. When he wasn't going along with my choices, he usually marked me a five or a four, which was astonishingly awesome. Not once did he give me a lower score than I myself had.

As a result, I left the two hour meeting in an extremely good mood. The relaxed chat and free breakfast didn't hurt either! ;-)

I then had a choir rehearsal straight afterwards; we practised a Glee-type rendition of 'Lean On Me', and began learning our parts for 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered' (six-part harmony, guys!! o.O) Very cool.

Rowan's not been very well this week, bless him. He had a bit of a cold on the weekend, and Sunday was a special activity day in West Wales with the St John Ambulance. It was wet and absolutely freezing that day, unfortunately, so when he came home that night the cold had fully taken hold. He was poorly all through Bank Holiday Monday, sleeping most of the afternoon, and hadn't gotten over it by Tuesday so we had to stay home. He was well enough to go back to school on Wednesday, which was ironically the first day this week my mother would have been able to look after him for me. She got made redundant from the office, and finished there last Friday, but she volunteered to work a little overtime at the supermarket on Tuesday to help with the inevitable post-Bank Holiday chaos.

My last assignment for my current OU course is due on Wednesday. Guess what I'm going to be doing during my day off tomorrow? Also, when is the weather gonna make its mind up? I turned the central heating off last week 'cause the flat was boiling, and we've had rubbish weather last couple of days - I am freezing!
gothams3rdrobin: (Default)
Rowan has a project for school, where he has to give a presentation to his class about Berlin. They all had to choose a city on Monday, and for some reason that's the city he decided on despite having no clue where it was or anything else about it. When he told me about it on Tuesday morning, I asked why he hadn't chosen Seattle instead, since I know tons about that place and could help him with it. But apparently it was too late to change his mind :-/

I took him to the library yesterday afternoon to find some books about the place so that we could make a start. I have my final assignment deadline just a week or two after this report is due, so I need him to be as far ahead as possible before I have to start focusing on my own work. We found a couple of good books on Germany in the children's level, then grabbed some tourist guides from the main library before finding a table to sit down at and work through the list of questions we'd made up Thursday night.

Unfortunately, Rowan just wouldn't get his head in the game and make notes on the answers we found. While I know I'm going to end up doing all the work on this assignment - which is to be on Powerpoint - I'm trying to encourage him to find, and note down, the information himself so that he knows what he'll be talking about. I don't know if there's going to be any form of Q&A afterwards - I very much doubt it - but I'm sure his teacher will know if he's just reciting what I've told him to say... :-p

I had to drag him out of the library after about half an hour, 'cause our whispered exchanges were getting a little too heated and there were people there genuinely trying to study for exams. We ended up sitting in a stupid, overpriced café in St David's new 'Eastside' food section till closing time while we battled to get some notes down.

I said many, many times that I'd had enough and was about ready to take him home, but he really wanted to go see the Kenyan Boy's Choir perform in St David's Hall that night. They'd come into the office Friday afternoon for a press thingy with our choir (we pretended to have a 'sing off', it was awesome! *grins*), and I'd told him all about them. I was reluctant, cause it was quite a late show and even the cheap seats were a tad on the expensive side, but we'd had to actually ask the box office staff how much they were *grumble grumble* and that only served to make him even more determined to go.

We did eventually get some work done, despite many tears and harsh words, and went to see the show. We both thought they were very good, though Rowan fell asleep towards the end and missed an opportunity to get up and dance on stage with them! *laughs* We were in the third row, despite having gotten the cheap seats, so we had a pretty good view. I'm not sure if it was just because I'd seen them in a meeting room at work the day before, but I thought the acoustics were terrible - there wasn't much in the way of a microphone setup, so the general sound was somewhat uneven and the soloists were very quiet. I know from experience how bloody hard it is to hear yourself on that stage, but I'd thought that was because the acoustics were set up to the audience's benefit rather than the performer's. :-/ Ah well - it was still a good night.

Today we're going to be searching the web for pictures to use in the powerpoint presentation. Should be far less stressful than yesterday....
gothams3rdrobin: (me - contemplative)
As is our tradition during the school holidays, Rowan and I went into town to see a film. We got tickets for a late afternoon showing, seeing as there were so many other families with the same idea as us, and had some lunch in Burger King. We then spent a couple of hours mooching around the shops and just generally hanging out. He's been on holiday from school for the last week, but has been spending the day at the sports camp while I was at work, so this is the first day of the holidays we've had to spend together.

The film we went to see was the new Jackie Chan film, 'The Spy Next Door'. I'd read some bad reviews, saying it was quite a boring film, but I didn't care - I'll watch just about anything Jackie makes :-) It certainly wasn't a cinema masterpiece, but I still thoroughly enjoyed myself and Rowan thought it was pretty cool too. I would very happily watch it again.

The thing that amused me the most, was that the villain of the piece was played by Magnus Scheving, otherwise known as Sportacus from 'Lazy Town'! Apparently his Icelandic accent can pass for Russian... ;-p But he was very, very good, and his athletic skills meant he was very capable of keeping up with the kind of action you get in Jackie's movies. Very, very cool. :-)

Been absolutely loving choir over the last couple of weeks, as we've started learning a variation on the Glee adaptation of 'Lean On Me' by Bill Withers. It is soooo much fun, you guys! Our SGM is on the 14th, and we're having to do the Michael Jackson and Born Free medleys again, so this is like a breath of fresh air. Plus I just love it! :-) We're learning it for something we're going to be doing in the summer with the Tenovus 'Sing For Life' choir - another of George and Andrea's projects, where the members are made up of Tenovus employees and cancer survivors. They're learning our version of 'Somebody To Love' as well, and we're all going to perform together.

Right, gotta persuade Rowan to go to bed now. The cinema made him sleepy, and he's getting a headache now apparently. But then, the silly goose has been up since about half six this morning - why is it that you can't get kids out of bed for love nor money when they have to be somewhere, but when it's the holidays or a weekend they're up at the crack of dawn?
gothams3rdrobin: (Default)
It's been very busy lately; had an assignment due yesterday for my OU course, and also a gig last night at the Museum of Welsh Life in St Fagans.

I think I royally screwed up the assignment - plus I uploaded it to the server at one minute past midnight. Which is one minute after the twelve hour grace period ends... *sigh* Ah well.

The gig at St Fagans was actually work-related; all the heads of Personnel from all our international ventures had come in to Cardiff for a meet-and-greet type conference, and they'd put on a meal at the Workingmans Club transplanted from its original location in Oakdale to the museum.

So there was I, singing on the stage in the very room where they held that Ball in the Doctor Who two-parter "Human Nature/The Family of Blood" *geeks out*

The gig went well, despite some pretty ropey rehearsals. I think we actually nailed 'Somebody To Love' for the first time in over a year! :-p I could actually hear the harmonies us Altos usually mess up, and we hit the crescendo at the right point - which is almost unprecedented. The audience were whooping and cheering, which was great, and they also started clapping along during the final song (The 'Born Free' medley we took to the Albert Hall) at Andrea's encouragement. This did make things difficult, however, as they were not clapping along with the beat so we had to forcibly tune them out so as to not lose our rhythm.

The real fun came afterwards, when we left the Hall to make our way home. It was around eight thirty by this time, and black as pitch out there. St Fagans is a mostly open-air museum, and we'd made our way to the Hall through a quite well lit, but lengthy path, and we all wanted to take the shorter route back to the main complex. This, however, was not so well lit and they've closed down one of the old houses for renovations, so the regular route was not available - and we couldn't see that in the dark! *laughs* So we ended up heading towards the storage sheds, and had to backtrack to find the temporary path that goes alongside the house. Suzi was, of course, in ridiculously high heels, and Jo and I had to hold her steady as we went over the cobbled path in the dark *giggles*

Then we had to find out how to get back to the carpark. I was somewhere in the middle of the group, so I followed along when they didn't take the normal turning towards to the exit (I've spent many a Saturday at St Fagans with Rowan and Mam - it's free). Of course there was no-one to let us out through the complex, but one of the staff did turn up and point us to the proper exit. I then got myself a little confused and was insisting we were supposed to take the normal exit on the left, past the rest rooms. But in my defence, I couldn't see that the service gate was unlocked! ;-)

Tomorrow, we're attending the funeral of a long-standing member of staff who passed away last week after a battle with cancer. I didn't know her personally, though several people I work or sing with did, and she came to see us when we sang for Tenovus at Llandaff Cathedral. Her family asked if we would attend the funeral in order to boost the sound of the congregation during the hymns, so they wouldn't sound as weak and lacklusture as normal. I feel rather uneasy about attending, as I never met the woman, but I feel like I should anyway as part of the choir. God knows enough of them are going to be bawling their eyes out rather than singing - including George and Andrea. George used to work for the company so she knew the woman, and has taken it quite badly. I don't know if Andrea knew her, but by her own admission she's one of those people who will well up during such an emotional scenario - they had moments just today when we were going over the hymn list to ensure we had some familiarity with them.

All this has meant that we've needed extra rehearsals this week; three in all - one Altos-only practise and a regular rehearsal in preparation for the St Fagans gig, and one today ready for the funeral. So I've been having to work on for the last four days to try and make up for the three hours I've been away from my desk during work time. Wasn't easy, as we ran out of work half an hour before I'd planned to leave on Tuesday, and I left after just an extra half hour yesterday so I could get Rowan from school on time. Leaving an hour later than normal tends to make me just slightly late picking him up, since the whole stupid reshuffle of the bus system, and I was working to a deadline yesterday.

Ugh... I am tired now. Forgot to set the V+ to record last night's NCIS, so I watched them in bed at midnight since I was still awake after trying to finish my assignment. Means I didn't get to sleep till gone 2am - I know, stupid. Ah well...
gothams3rdrobin: (Default)
Okay, my choir at work are doing the Glee version of Golddigga for our upcoming SGM, and we need a copy of the song to practise with.

I can purchase the song itself for eighty-nine pence, or I can download the album for seven quid. This makes a huge difference from buying the CD at a tenner a pop.

However, the choir directors have finally put up placeholders on our webpage for the practise MP3's for the Glee songs we're gonna try - though there's no files linked for download yet. *sigh*

Do I wait and see if they get around to uploading the files, or do I download the album? We need the track for the Alto practise session tomorrow....
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
So it occurs to me that I haven't shared with you guys the pics from last years adventures with the choir at work! Despite my horror at how badly I photograph these days, I wanted to share some with you...

Spring 2009 )

Cardiff Race For Life, July 2009 )

The Institute of Directors lunch, Summer 2009 )

The Albert Hall.... )

Also, there's a clip up on YouTube of the guys at the Cardiff Mardis Gras, doing the Michael Jackson medley we're now rehearsing again for the 2010 General Meeting. I couldn't be there 'cause I was in London for Mel's hen weekend, but I wanted to share it anyway.



The sound and picture is ropey, naturally, as it was taken on someone's camera in the audience, but it apparently sounded really good if you were there. George cringes at even the mere mention of it, but I think she did well in her solo. I would have been in the group dressed in red.
gothams3rdrobin: (christmas tardis)
I have more virtual snowflakes - and this time I can actually thank the people responsible!

So, Diolch yn fawr i (in no particular order, 'cause I love you all!) [livejournal.com profile] alryssa, [livejournal.com profile] catwalksalone, [livejournal.com profile] insevens a [livejournal.com profile] suzvoy!

Just come home from another gig - this time at Llandaf Cathedral, here in Cardiff. I'll post more about it tomorrow - or maybe Wednesday, as Rowan has a show of his own tomorrow night - but I'll just say that tonight we were on the same billing as the Treorchy Male Voice Choir. They were absolutely awesome, and seemed quite pleased with our performances too.

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