|Ten winter days
||[Dec. 10th, 2015|12:56 pm]
From Sunday morning, when we discovered there was no heat in the house, to Tuesday evening, when I came home to cautiously returning warmth, ten days, during which I have posted about nothing but plumbing. But that's not the only thing I've been doing.
To begin with, Sunday was jam-packed. Once we had booked a British Gas visit for the following morning, we set off for the Open Sudios event in the Ouseburn: this condensed account is mainly just a place for me to store some links. The shop at the Mushroom Works is always worth a visit, and I enjoy their '20x20' promotion, in which artists offer a framed 20cm square for £20 - this year I even bought one of them! The Toffee Factory is a great location right on the Ouseburn, and no doubt whatever goes on there is vibrant and creative and all that, but since it isn't occupied by artists' studios as such, there isn't much to see. This year Chloe Rodham and Tim Lozinski were showing a video of her puppets, which was interesting enough to make me want to return to see this more extended piece of work. It's not going to happen, though, not with all the Christmas preparations I have not yet started...
We lunched at the Cycle Hub Café, at the mouth of the Ouseburn, with splendid views up and down the Tyne. I was very taken with the seasonal flower arrangements, but the soup was excellent, too. Revived, we relocated to Cobalt, open for the first time in several years, downstairs loud café in a barn-like space, upstairs very smart, all white walls and glass panels - evidently a work in progress. We spoke to Susi Bellamy (I liked her madonnas, and some angels on the same lines, renaissance paintings coloured in with flat patterned areas) and to Helen Smith, who uses her artwork for social ends, which is of value in itself but doesn't predispose me to like the work - except this time I did. We clearly share a fondness for photographing other people's laundry.
Back to Lime Street, where Jim Edwards now has his own street level gallery, and has taken to painting starry skies (and sketching for his own pleasure, some very pleasing and entirely different compositions of pebbles). Neither Northern Print nor the Seven Stories bookshop was able to tempt us - we were pretty weary by this stage - but in 36 Lime Street we followed the music, and found Tim and Rhona Dalling busking at the end of a corridor. They suggested we visit their friend Maria Sears in the basement, so we made one last visit, and I'm glad we did: I bought some pretty things (as presents, and not all of them will be presents for myself). I was so tempted by the 'Musicians of Bremen' pieces, and might have succumbed to temptation if any of them had reflected the line-up in Dorten Yonder's song (or if I'd seen the version with penguin triumphant shown on the artist's 'website coming soon' [headdesk]).
Next stop the Lit & Phil, for the closing event of the Books on Tyne festival, in which Gail-Nina Anderson interviewed Neil Pearson, who is a collector of and dealer in rare books, as well as an actor. There had been no tickets left when I called in earlier in the week, but it was a wild and windy day, and we hung about waiting until it was clear that some people would not bew turning up, and slipped into their seats. So we got to sit in the warm and listen to people talking entertainingly about books. Afterwards, over a glass of wine, I was able to ask Neil Pearson whether, when he traced his love of books back to the days when he read Worzel Gummidge, he was aware that for some collectors Worzel Gummidge was a very desirable title (it was the very first Puffin Story Book)? He didn't; some collections are too obscure even for the collectors.
The day ended with a concert at the Sage: Sweet Liberties, one of these projects commissioned by EFDSS and others to bring together a bunch of folkies and encourage them to produce new music around a theme - this time around the anniversary of Magna Carta, and, if I have this right, the history of parliamentary legislation in the protection of liberty. It wasn't a total failure - Nancy Kerr was involved - and durham_rambler and I both enjoyed the concert. But, discussing it afterwards, we both reacted by thinking of existing songs we would rather have heard: less new material, more Leon Rosselson, please!
And that was Sunday.
Monday was eaten up by getting quotes to replace the boiler. On Tuesday D. arrived bearing fan heaters and firewood, and we made an open fire. On Wednesday we took him to the pub quiz, and had a sociable evening (and our team won, which is not unusual, and dates back well before durham_rambler and me joining the team). On Friday we cleared the dining room table, and had a proper dinner party, which was fun.
D. left us on Saturday morning, and in the evening durham_rambler and I braved the winds and the water to drive to Barnard Castle to hear Martin Simpson, who was playing at the Witham. In fact our journey wasn't too bad, though anyone coming from the west would have had a hard time, and the audience was much diminished - pity, because it was a great show. I could (very easily) have done without the enthusiasts in the row in front of us repeatedly calling out requests for Buckets of Rain (funny the first time, but not that funny). Good to hear a couple of Dylan songs making their way back into the repertoire, especially North Country Blues, very topical. I still yearn for that album of Dylan songs Martin Simpson never made.
The main excitement of Sunday was watching the final two episodes of Doctor Who; from which you may infer that it wasn't a very exciting day. On Monday we were up early to welcome the builders, and on Tuesday we spent the day at the planning appeal over the County Hospital site, which I may or may not post about at greater length: I'd quite like to know how it turns out before I do. After which I went to the Graphic Novels Reading Group, and we all went out for a Christmas meal afterwards. Which brings us round to where I came in.