Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Merry Christmas!

Hi all,
Just a quick one to wish you all a very happy festive season.
I've got all my shopping done, presents bought and cards sent.
Although I have to admit that my christmas cards were a bit of a disaster - I missed the posting date, then tried to write them all in a hurry, and wrote 'merry christmas and all the best for 2008' on the first 30...I thought briefly about opening them all and changing it, but decided just to send them as they were...some people might not even notice, and it'll probably give a few of my friends and family a laugh at my expense...
Anyway - there are loads of things I should be getting on with, but I'm getting into the festive spirit, and ignoring them all!
Went out last night to a couple of local hostelries, the Riverdale and the Hollybush. Good to meet some people who remembered my Granny & Granda Robson and who talked lovingly of them, and their time at Willow Bog Farm.
Better go now - I've got presents to wrap up!

Wishing you all the very best for 2009.

Thursday, 4 December 2008


It's totally white here! It looks fantastic but I'm glad I don't have to drive anywhere today. I've got the rayburn on full blast, and the fire on in the living room and am quite enjoying the feeling of being safe, warm and somewhat removed from the rest of the world.
The dog went out for his walk this morning and came back with loads of little balls of ice festooning his ankles - looked very silly. Maybe I should get him some little dog boots?! (Okay - BIG dog boots!)
Playing in Sedbergh tomorrow, so I'm a bit worrried about driving there/back, but I'm going to try not to think about it until the morning, when hopefully the roads will be a bit clearer.
All for now,

Monday, 1 December 2008

New Hartley & Rothbury

Had a really nice night in New Hartley - I think Peter and I were more relaxed at this concert than any of the others. I'm not sure why - there was just a very friendly atmosphere.
Then last night was Rothbury. It was lovely for me to be back there, and to see many old friends and neighbours. I even got a little tearful when playing Rothbury Hills!
I've played on that stage at the Jubilee Hall many times, since I was about 10 years old entering the fiddle competitions at Rothbury Traditional Music Festival, and so has Peter (in fact he admitted to finding it hard not to keep smiling ingratiatingly at the area of the hall where the fiddle judge always used to sit!!)
The weather has turned extremely wintery and cold over the last few days, so the drive home was taken very slowly and carefully, going over the bleak moorland roads, where the headlights were picking out the beautiful (but worrying) glittering sparkle of frost and ice. Got home safely though, and had a couple of glasses of a rather nice New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to celebrate!
All for now,

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Bellingham & Holy Island

Just in the middle of doing a few local gigs with Peter...Holy Island last night and Bellingham the night before. It's been great playing near to home...very near, in the case of Bellingham, where we got Dad up to sing for the encore (very unrehearsed, but seemed to go down well!) We were playing in the town hall which has just had a new heating system installed...and it's certainly working!! (Unlike St Mary's Church on Holy Island, where the heating had been on since 11am and it was still freezing!)
Thanks to John at the Riverdale Hotel for his hospitality after the concert - much appreciated.

And then it was on to play on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, which was a real privilege (despite the chill!) Although we had taken a PA system with us we decided to play acoustic, as it sounded so lovely in the church, and somehow it just felt right to play with just the natural sound in that beautiful setting. So we were a bit quieter than usual, but we had a lot of positive comments from the audience so I think it was the right decision. It actually felt really good just to stand there and play, just us, with no amplification; it's a long time since I've done a concert like that.
And we were playing just in front of the oldest wall of the oldest building on Lindisfarne...
It was quite special.
And tonight it's New Hartley Community Centre - now that should be a totally different experience!!
All for now,

Sunday, 5 October 2008

2 gigs

Just back from gigs in Alford and Ingleton.
A good time was had by all (well, all of us anyway, and hopefully the audiences too...)
At Alford we played in a rather unusual marquee type thing, all lined inside with billowing white fabric, which was draped so low that it was actually touching the top of my head when I was on stage...Peter and I had to be very careful with our violin bows in case we punctured it!
Lovely friendly audience, and then we wandered over the road to where we were staying (couldn't have been more handy) and discovered that the bar was open and there was a pool table. Fantastic!
Actually it wasn't that fantastic for me, as I didn't win a single game. Even Julian won at least one!
And then the boys (well, boys will be boys) decided to challenge each other to an arm wrestle, so I didn't do very well there either, even though they let me use both arms. Hmmm, sometimes I think it's time we had more girls in the band!
And then it was across to Ingleton. The weather was atrocious, but we beat the rainy day blues by travelling via Bradford and stopping there for lunch....curry of course. And it was superb. Although Peter ordered miles too much and we had enough left to take some home with us (which I just had for breakfast - yum!)
Enjoyed playing at Ingleton - again a lovely crowd, and also the sound on stage was really good, and made us enjoy the gig even more.
And then we drove home, feeling as if we'd been away much longer than 2 days and ready for a rest!

Saturday, 13 September 2008


Just got home from playing at Holy Trinity Church, Ripon tonight.
What is going on with the roadworks/traffic management there??!
It took forever to find the church. No, that's not quite true - we found it easily - but could we find a road that took us there - not a chance!
Had a nice gig. Lovely to have Joss back after his baby (Leon) was (....eventually!!!) born. And very nice for me to see some old friends from Lincolnshire, who I knew when I was about 5 years old!

The boys were off to Bromyard festival straight after the gig, but I was driving home. And guess what....? It was just as impossible to find a way out of Ripon as it was to find a way in!
But - I managed it after a while of driving round and round....and round.
And now I'm home.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Home again home again

Been home for a few days - and it's been sunny! Fantastic! This is what I've been looking forward to for absolutely ages - a couple of days off, at home, in the sun. Brilliant!
I needed a bit of a rest after the Proms thing. It went well by the way...my piece worked, and although we didn't play it as fast as I'd hoped it still seemed to provide a rousing finale, with a great response from the audience (thanks, if any of you were there!)
I know my mum was out there, cheering - it was her first visit to the Proms, and although she loved it she was a little indignant because she got told off for tapping her handbag in time to the music. (Mothers! Can't take 'em anywhere!!)
And Folkestra were totally fab. I think they got the most applause out of anything in the 2 Folk day Proms - the audience loved them.
I wish they hadn't been at the beginning of the 2nd half though - as I'm sure that most of the newspaper critics must have been still in the bar at that point - well that's the only conclusion I can come to as to why Folkestra didn't even get a mention in a couple of the national press reviews I read. I really couldn't believe it - they played and peformed so well, and got such a rapturous reception.
There'll be a new Folkestra lineup come Sepember though, as some of the older members grow up and join the big bad world. We've got a few new young'uns coming in though, so it's all still looking positive.
Anyway - I'm off back outside to enjoy the last rays of evening sun.
Thanks for reading,

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Prom looming

Well, I'm down in London with Folkestra and we're just about to start our first rehearsal for my Proms piece. I'm really excited, but also a bit nervous - although I wrote it, today will be the first time I actually get to hear any of it!!
Wish me luck!

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Proms 20th July

Phew! I've done it!
Today was the deadline for me to hand over the score for my Proms piece, which will be premiered at the afternoon Prom at the Royal Albert Hall on July 20th.
I was absolutely delighted to get the commission to write a piece for the occasion, but it's been quite a challenge...
The piece is written for London Sinfonietta, Folkestra, Hungarian group Muszikas and myself - quite a combination!
The title of the music is 'Confluence' and it is about the imaginary junction where the river Rede (Northumberland) meets the Thames and the Danube.

That particular Prom is a free one - so get yourself some tickets and come and have a listen.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

The Guardian - oops!

Hmmm...it looks like this blog has been read and quoted in the Guardian newspaper.
My last post was about the SPNM concerts I've been doing (one still to go in Cheltenham in a couple of weeks)
Anyway - the other day someone said to me that telling Guardian journalists that people shouldn't come to my concerts was not the best possible career move...I was totally baffled, and remained so until I saw the article in question and worked out that the quote could only have been taken from this blog.
I really appreciate the fact that am lucky enough to have some very supportive audiences, who are willing to take a chance and come and hear some of my stranger projects without being too put off. BUT - I do think that in return it's only fair that I try to explain in advance what it is that I'm doing, so people can decide whether it sounds like their kind of thing or not, and decide whether or not they want to give it a go.
SO - I'd put a bit of an explanatory note on this blog about the SPNM project (which I've been really enjoying) and the Guardian decided to include only the line "Basically, if you like very traditional music then this may not be the concert for you." ("said Kathryn Tickell") And, yes, it's true...but if I had only one sentence with which to publicise that concert that wouldn't have been the one I would choose!
I don't suppose the SPNM (or Cheltenham Festival) were very impressed with me about that particular bit of publicity...!
Anyway - for future reference, for any journalists reading this...all the forthcoming concerts you can see on the gig list will all, without exception, be absolutely wonderful, and of course EVERYONE is going to love ALL the music and I thoroughly recommend that as many people as possible come to see us, all the time.
k x

Friday, 30 May 2008

SPNM 'Folk from Here'

Just thought I'd better tell you a bit about two rather different concerts that you'll see listed in the gig list, one in London next week and one in Cheltenham in July. They are listed as being part of the SPNM 'Folk from Here' series and they are being produced by the Society for the Promotion of New Music. The SPNM has in the past concerned itself mostly with contemporary classical music, but with this series it is changing the focus a little (under the direction of it's current Artistic Director - my pal Kuljit Bhamra, tabla maestro!)
So - these concerts will feature me & Kuljit, Marie Fielding on fiddle, Jonathan Meyer on sitar and Julian Sutton on melodeon playing some (very) new music written especially for us by 4 composers chosen from the SPNM shortlist. It's all been a bit scary (for the composers as well as us I think...it's not the easiest combination of instruments to write for...!) and we end up half hidden behind banks of music stands, trying to read all the notes the composers have written for us. Eek!
It's been a really interesting and challenging project to be involved in, and I've really enjoyed the unusual sound combinations of the instruments (particularly the pipes and sitar - I want to do that again!)
Kuljit, Marie and I have also written new pieces for the project, and there are a couple of fiddle reels (just to give us a break from music-reading!)
Basically - if you're into very traditional music then this may not be the concert for you, but if you're feeling daring and want to hear something very, very different then we'd be delighted to see you.

oops - yes it's been a while!

Okay - I accept the gentle reminder, and here I am!
It's been an absolutely ridiculously busy few weeks, with various different projects, some touring, some composing, some University stuff (rather stressful for all concerned, as it's assessment time... marking deadlines...responsibility...eek!) It's all good, it's all interesting, but the challenge is in trying to get through it all, keep calm and enjoy it!
Anyway - just another few days before I actually get some time at home. Can't wait! I'm hoping that the weather will be fantastic and that I can go down by the river (only a hundred yards or so from the house) light a fire, drink some wine and cook some sausages and generally relax, enjoy the weather, the scenery and the break (although possibly not the crazy dog who will no doubt be galloping round the field at top speed, occasionally running into the river, shaking himself all over me then careering off again, stopping only to bark furiously at anyone passing by on the other side of the river!)
Off to France tomorrow morning, then back the next evening. More Uni marking on Monday, then down to London on Tuesday, home again Thursday.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

New stuff!

Hello! We've been away for a little jaunt down to Worcester & Oxford. We'd had a few extra rehearsals beforehand to try and work out some new material...and we succeeded...and we played it...and we were very happy!
It's great having new tunes to play - a little nerve-racking to start off with, but exciting.

On another note - thanks to those of you who have been in contact to say you enjoyed 'The Durham Concerto'. For those of you who don't know about it, it's a new piece, nearly one hour long, written by Jon Lord (ex keyboard player from Deep Purple, and a real gentleman) for cello, violin, Northumbrian pipes, Hammond organ and orchestra (Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.) It's been performed twice - in Durham cathedral (fantastic place to play) and Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, and seemed to go down very well both times.
Following a conductor has never been my strong point, but I think I played more or less in the right place at the right time!!

The Folk & Trad music degree course at Newcastle Uni has resumed after the Easter break, so I'm heading off there in a few minutes to do some work with the 3rd year Ensemble groups. Quite looking forward to seeing/hearing them again - I must have missed them!

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Fareham & Gosport Easter Festival

Phew! It was a bit of a stressful day for us on Saturday - we set off at 7am - plenty of time (we thought) to get to Fareham by 4pm...but no.
There was an accident up ahead of us on the motorway, which resulted in it being closed for several hours, and we just had to sit there, waiting...
For the first half hour or so we were joking about how it could be a re-run of our gig at Sidmouth Festival a few years back (when we got there with minutes to spare, abandoned the car in the road outside, thrust the keys at someone who looked vaguely trustworthy so they could park it somewhere, and were on stage doing the first number five minutes later!) But three hours later, when we'd travelled less than 2 miles, we knew it was going to be much worse...

Many, many thanks are due to the Festival organisers and sound crews, who shifted things around, and re-organised everything so we could still play. Thanks too to the other bands who played at unscheduled times, and of course to the audience that waited for us. THANKS!!!

I think in future, if we're playing at the other end of the country we have to give up relying on the roads, and just get there a day early!

Back home in Northumberland the daffodils are out (but looking slightly battered after the farmer's cows escaped and came to live in our garden for a couple of days) the hens are all (4) laying, and the dog needs a haircut...

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

trip out

I've got a few days at home, during which I am supposed to be composing some music. Deadlines are approaching, but not fast enough...as usual I'm doing anything apart from compose until the last possible moment!
Tonight I've decided that rather than get on with my own music it would be far more inspiring to go and hear someone else's, so we're about to drive up to Musselburgh to hear Mr McFalls Chamber (and friends) performing the music of Martyn Bennett.
Martyn was an old friend of mine (he played on my second album, Borderlands, back in the mists of time when he must have only been about 13 years old!) and his death in 2005 was a real shock. Even though I knew he had been battling Hodgkins Lymphoma for several years he just seemed too young and too talented to just suddenly not be there any more.
One thing about music though is that it stays with us - so it will be wonderful to hear Martyn's music tonight, and great to meet up again with the maverick ensemble Mr McFall's Chamber.
Better get ready to go - the hens have to be shut away, eggs collected (hopefully) and the dog taken round the field.
All for now,

Monday, 17 March 2008


It's out! It's available at gigs, and (as of this afternoon, hopefully) from the website...!
It's a no-frills pretty honest representation of what Peter and I do live (and called, appropriately enough, 'what we do')
Hope you like it,

Thursday, 21 February 2008

It worked!

And I promise not to just talk about dinners in future - I was sent copies of all my old journal entries from the old website and it was a bit embarassing how many of them were about food!
It was funny reading them all - when I get home next week I might see if I can re-post some of the better ones - it seems a shame that they've all disappeared.
Better go and pack my bag,

Is this working?

If you're reading this then I suppose it must be!
Sorry it's been such a long time since I wrote, but the website got redesigned and nobody told me what my new password was!
I'm off on tour today with Peter - playing in Salford tonight.
We're very well equipped - he got a sat-nav for Christmas, which should be handy. Peter's present to me was the Good Pub Guide, which I'll definitely be taking - it's good to be able to plan where you might stop for lunch (and a good pub dinner isn't that much more than a horrible service station one, and in much more relaxing surroundings)
Anyway - I'll stop now and see if this has worked.
Hope Peter & I might be playing somewhere near you,