Letter 9

The concert at the Ocean seems a long time ago now, but I enjoyed myself so much there; after the first couple of minutes, I felt like I had lots of friends round to my house for an impromptu gig. Everyone was so friendly and generous. I can’t wait to go back and do another. That concert was slipped in on a day off from another Chieftains’ tour. This one was just the UK and one gig in Paris which was lovely; I saw my old friend Hector there and we went in search of the perfect tarte aux fruits to have with tea in the afternoon and all we could find was only worthy of London… however, the company made up for it.

I have taken up running! A girlfriend of mine has just completed five marathons in five days – an almost unbelievable feat, and possibly a benign manifestation of madness, but nevertheless inspiring. I can only run two miles and some days find that hard, but I’ve been at it for two months now and have even allowed myself a new pair of running shoes. The dogs come with me, but Kitty hates it and hangs back hoping for a handy hammock and someone to peel her a grape, so I sometimes leave her at home to laze about. It’s a pity cos she’s the one that really needs the exercise as she’s on the substantial side of slim…

The ducks are laying like mad; for those who are interested, ducks are not like chickens and don’t stop laying when the day-length shortens, so they are quite happy laying throughout the winter. Also, the old saying ‘It’s not that you have too many slugs, just too few ducks’ is very true. A wonderful alchemy. Unless you’re a slug of course. In which case, you’re probably not reading this. Last night, at 4am the dogs woke me with a huge barking fit of the sort that makes you imagine an imminent massacre or alien invasion, and the ducks were going mad too – so thinking there must be a fox about (and having heard sinister tales of foxes chewing through chicken wire) I leapt out of bed and down to the bottom of the garden to find the ducks were terrified and this morning I found the undergrowth that surrounds the wire trodden down. Worrying.

I’m really looking forward to the gig in Italy – apparently, it will be in an amazing castle setting in Milan. It may be a little chilly however, cos it’s outside and at the end of October! It’s for a festival for the Celtic New Year so that will be very interesting too. There’s going to be a bigger band than normal – all the usual suspects; Clare, Harvey, Jackie, Emma, Mike and a new percussion player Tomas, plus a string quartet. Fantastic. I’ve done (and so has Harvey) new string arrangements for the bigger line-up and can’t wait to hear them. I’d love to say hi to any Turning Ground listers who might be around… Have a lovely autumn or fall depending on where you are.

– Caroline Lavelle

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