The new year started with a cold swim in a deep water pool on the Stiffkey marshes.
The friend who came with me is an interesting guy – a barefoot running coach and Movnat trainer who travelled widely in the Pacific in his younger days and ran a successful tour company in Africa.
I love the wildness of these saltmarshes – the flocks of migrating geese, winding creeks, shining banks of mud. It’s a disorientating place at times. I remember wading a creek once and looking up to see the cirrus clouds sweeping at a steep angle one way, the mudbanks distorting the reflection of the sky and tilting it away, the ebb tide running swiftly seaward around my feet. I lost all sense of a level horizon. On the sands, lakes of water, millimetric in depth, would catch the image of a boat far out at sea and project it landward creating the illusion of a vessel steaming across the mud flats. This place inspired my first album Shapes of Sleep.
In my guitar practise now I am returning to the piece Jonathan Dove wrote for me to play at the Aldeburgh Festival. I love this process of returning and finding new things in a familiar piece. I’m applying principles from Alexander Technique and Tai Chi to the opening fingerings and enjoying the resulting flow. Effortless and resonant playing is a wonderful thing.
Joshua Ellicott will be arriving in the next couple of weeks to begin rehearsals for concerts later in the year so my focus is on voice and guitar repertoire.
It’s a new term at Norfolk Centre for Young Musicians and some exciting progress from my guitar students. Teaching the principles of learning and performance to instrumentalists, teachers, sports people and anyone, has become a focus of my educational work. The performance classes at NCYM are a real joy.
I’m trying to work out a way of kindly stifling our cockerel charlie’s propensity for a 4 am aubade. The hens love him but the neighbours don’t… oh the power of different perspectives.
First ice swimming of the year in Dave’s pond. Here’s a film of him jumping through the ice – mad ice plunge
I came along later and went in more sedately and with fewer scars …
Four ball juggling is now more consistent. Cross hands juggling with 3 balls is nicely in the groove.
I have stepped up my tai chi practise – having explored many forms of exercise over the years I am still astonished by the unique feeling of relaxed strength that this art form creates. It is not the empty waving of hands that many people view it to be but a lethal martial art, a sophisticated philosophy and an extraordinary way to manage one’s wellbeing.
A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemmingway
Daily Rituals – Mason Currey
The Art of Love – Ovid
The Stolen Years by Hugh Faulkus – a lovely nostalgic book that I have enjoyed countless times.