Letter 3

Well, I’ve just got back from the South of France and it was gorgeous as usual with inspiring sweeping hills and scented paths underfoot, but unlike usual, it was rather cold and windy and my hair became one huge dreadlock.

However, since returning home I’ve written a new song – this time on the guitar which I’ve been trying to play properly since June. I’ve promised myself that if I keep practising for six months then I’ll buy a decent one. I have written two songs on guitar now and they are very pared-down and simple compared to my normal, but I like them for it.

I’ve been continuing with learning to drive heavy horses and I’ve got a lesson tonight, so it’s out with the steel toe-capped boots! Although like horse mountains, they love to take off and career up-hill which is exhilarating and fun as long as a car isn’t coming the other way cos there’s no room to pass… Their names are Ansty, the older wiser sensible one, and Tom the handsome skittish one. Ansty is the old type of Shire with a Roman nose and very hairy legs and Tom is like a blown-up version of a smaller horse, very pretty indeed. They are both rather interested in my dog Freya who (understandably) takes to her heels when they get too playful.

I saw a rather shocking but amazing thing yesterday. I was sitting looking out of the window at the birds in my garden when a kestrel came down and chased one, crashing through a holly tree in the process but (sadly for the little bird, happily for the kestrel) catching it only feet away from me.

I am working on a new record with the poet Brian Patten, whose work if you don’t know it you should check out; he’s fantastic. I would recommend ‘Armada’ or ‘Love Poems’ to everyone. Basically, we are doing a whole CD of my settings of his love poetry and we hope to tour the UK when the record comes out next autumn. Yesterday we worked on five new songs (including the guitar ones…) and I’m really happy with the way things are shaping up. Then we went down the river in his boat to a big boat moored in the middle of the river which is a cafe, and my poor old dog managed, just, not to fall in and we sat up there and watched cormorants and big flash boats go by. I think I prefer the cormorants.

– Caroline Lavelle

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