HelenEdith's Blog

The minutiae of my life, plus website updates and book reviews

Entry for March 14, 2008 – Music, Tractors and Wind!

Posted by HelenEdith on March 14, 2008

It’s a month since I last wrote anything here. Where has the time gone!

Last week I had musical activities two nights running: on Tuesday I took my bassoon to work and went straight from work to the home of a cellist who had arranged for me to meet up with her string quartet to run through some 18th Century bassoon concertos by the Nottingham composer Henry Hargrave.

These are charming but fairly lightweight pieces, and the same thematic material crops up more than once in the course of the three bassoon concertos. We ran through all three concertos for bassoon and strings and came to an agreement to offer Concerto No.I for performance at Bromley Music Makers in May, when the programme is going to consist entirely of British music. The music secretary has lots of offers of 20th Century music, so she’s intrigued by this piece, which should be different from most of the rest of the concert.

Now I’ve got to practise the bits in the final movement that give the bassoonist a bit of a workout!

During the Tuesday night session, my bassoon wasn’t playing bottom F properly. I found a workaround, but on Wednesday I had a good look at the bassoon and discovered a spring-loaded wire which had unhitched from behind the little post it should have been tensioned on and put it back, and hey presto, my usual fingering worked again!

It was just as well, because Wednesday evening I was meeting up with the augmented Marlowe Ensemble for an evening of music making. I figured I’d never manage to sandwich a day’s work between two evenings out, so I took Wednesday off. It paid off, as I felt full of energy for my evening’s exertions, which turned out to be:

  • Haydn – Symphony 104 “London” in D Major
  • Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy – Overture “Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt” Op.27 which my clarinettist neighbour Terry who knows German translated for me as “Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage”, which is a little easier to say without sounding rude!
  • Mozart – Magic Flute Overture
  • Johannes Brahms – Symphony No.4 in E Minor Op.98 – which we didn’t play all the way through. We had clarinets in C that evening, so we made sure we did the third movement, which requires them (or requires the clarinettists to take the parts home to transpose)

Now, on to the tractors. I’ve been admiring the tractors that roll off the production line at the New Holland tractor factory at Basildon. I can see part of the factory from the office windows, but when I drove up Cranes Farm Road the other day and went past the other side of the factory, I passed the parking lot where the completed tractors are parked.

Last Friday, I took my camera with me, and at lunch time I drove my car to the Cranes Farm Road end of the Festival Leisure Park, where I parked it and went for a walk up the road to the tractor plant. I took a few pictures of the Festival Leisure Park and found evidence of spring along the way, but eventually reached my goal: that parking lot full of tractors. I would have liked one red one to add a touch of something different, but the red ones aren’t parked in that lot, so I got a picture of a sea of shiny new blue tractors. That’s the picture at the top of this entry. More of my pictures from last Friday can be found here.

The weather forecast for this week wasn’t good, with high winds forecast. Having seen the forecast on Sunday evening, I’d pretty much made my mind up that I would need to work from home on Monday, and in the morning the traffic reports confirmed that. The huge cable-stayed QEII Bridge over the Thames Estuary was closed and M25 traffic from both directions was having to use the tunnels at Dartford. Trying to fit eight lanes of traffic into four lanes doesn’t work very well and there were delays of an hour to cross the River. Working from home was the only sensible solution.

The wind dropped on Tuesday and I made it into the office. Going home, the Bridge was open, but only just: there was a 30mph speed limit in place, and I wouldn’t have wanted to exceed it.

Wednesday’s my usual home-working day, and with the winds picking up, I didn’t volunteer to attend the office as I’d home-worked earlier in the week. It was actually just as well I was home that day as Stephen’s Mum called us a bit after 6:30pm to say that she was on the floor and couldn’t get up and Stephen can’t get her up unaided. She wasn’t hurt, just stranded, so we piled in the car and went and rescued her.

Come Thursday, wind wasn’t the problem, but a multiple vehicle collison was. Two northbound lanes were closed at the Dartford Crossing, so we were back to 1-hour delays. I emailed work and said I was signing on from home and would come in later if the traffic improved. It hadn’t done so by 1pm, so I ended up working at home for the day. That was fortunate, too, as the doorbell rang and it was the delivery man with my order of Permajet papers, which had to be signed for. I’d been on the lookout for them, and as Stephen had an unexpected extra shift at the Hospice Shop, had I not been home, my paper would have had to go back to the depot and been tracked down later.

Today I logged onto the traffic reports and they were unbelievably good. There were no little speedometer signs on http://www.trafficmap.co.uk/ anywhere along the stretch of the M25 that I use. They even had a matrix sign switched on somewhere down near Sevenoaks announcing 12 miles to Dartford in 12 minutes! http://www.trafficmap.co.uk/ is great for finding out information like that. I got a good run all the way to Basildon and managed to show my face in the office for the second time this week.

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