Arts One Rocks

Arts One Rocks make the Sgt Pepper album cover

My daughter made me special proud this weekend – she rocks!

Lizzie is part of a group of young musicians called Arts One Rocks.  They meet on Saturdays, to learn and rehearse rocks songs as part of different band formations.  The students range in age from 13 to 18, and they learn a range of instruments as well as vocals. Lizzie plays guitar, and is very good at it, in my humble opinion!

Last September the group embarked on an ambitious project to learn and perform all the tracks from the iconic Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, culminating in an incredible performance the following March.  And seven months of dedication and effort reaped their rewards.

Some of the extended Coady Clan came along to support Lizzie and her friends, 15 of us in all.  The show was an amazingly high standard, preceded by a short documentary film of the Fab Four themselves talking about the concept of the album followed by the student’s thoughts on the project.  From start to finish the quality and emotion of each song shone through.  The whole group were relaxed and looked as if they really enjoyed being centre stage.  Having followed Lizzie’s and the group’s progress through the various levels I can safely say this was by far the most accomplished performance to date. Hard work certainly did pay off, in no small part down to the teaching staff who have coached the young musicians over the past years.  Mr Ingham and Co, take a bow!

I took some photos, below, and other half took phone video of the two songs Lizzie performed on.

Good Morning Good Morning

Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band


Maturing with Age

Vintage Port

The run up to Christmas is always a busy time of year for many people, but in our house especially so, with three out of the four of us having birthdays from mid November onwards.  Of particular significance this year is my middle daughter who recently turned 18.

Happy birthday Lizzie!

We had a fabulous celebration – family and friends met in the local pub so Lizzie could buy them her first (legal!) drink then went back to ours for a bite to eat and to continue the celebrations.  Her big sister baked an amazing chocolate birthday cake in the shape of a guitar, in recognition of one of Lizzie’s many talents. (In fact, my eldest daughter has her own talents, apart from cake making, which can be seen at her Dead to Me boutique!)

Hand made chocolate birthday cake

Tasted as delicious as it looked!

The occasion also meant sharing a bit of a treat we have been waiting almost 18 years to indulge in.

When Elizabeth Maura was baptised, she was given a gift of three bottles of vintage ruby port by a couple of her Dad’s friends, ones that we hoped would stand the test of time and mature with age.

So, under the stairs for the past (almost) 18 years have been laid two bottles of Croft and one bottle of Feuerheerd, both a 1985 vintage, the year Lizzie was born.  For the  occasion, we bought a special wine decanting funnel, with a sieve and some muslin, with the added intention of documenting the momentous event in pictures.

Vintage Port

Vintage port gathering dust for 18 years

But like so many things in life, it didn’t quite go to plan!

A call earlier in the day from my youngest’s school following a crack to the head while rushing out of the last lesson, meant that I spent the early part of the evening escorting my blood covered son first to our GP surgery and then to the local Accident and Emergency department at St George’s Hospital in Tooting.  To be honest, I wouldn’t normally opt for A&E, which is why I went to see the GP nurse first, but all she was able to do was wind a bandage round his head and suggest I take him to the hospital, to be on the safe side!  And while I was expecting a long wait and the possibility of missing the evening’s celebrations, I was pleasantly impressed by the service we received, and the fact he is a youngster meant we were triaged in the children’s A&E straight away.  The treatment he received was first class and thorough too, having lots of tests for any signs of brain damage before having his head wound glued.  The NHS at it’s best in my opinion. The only downside for him was not being able to play sport for a week while the glue dried, not to mention being banned from washing his hair!

So while I was away on ambulance duty, my husband set about decanting the port – we chose one of the two Croft bottles, and by all accounts it went pretty well, apart from the cork disintegrating and the bottle having its fair share of sludge! It was eventually left in a decanter to settle.  Sadly, no photographs to record the event.

Croft 1985 Vintage Port, opened after 18 years

(Spot the mid-November Mo!)

Finally arriving late to the pub to join the others, we headed home, ordered far too much pizza, before embarking on the port tasting ritual.  And actually, it was rather good!

Quite delicious and perfectly accompanied by a variety of cheese and biscuits, the port was soft, smooth, rich and fruity, in a subtle and mature way.

I’d like to think those attributes apply similarly to Lizzie, either now or in the future and we will see how that pans out in three years time when we sample the next bottle as Lizzie turns 21.

A father and daughter moment

A hug from Dad

But for now the celebrations are over and it’s time for Lizzie to knuckle down to some serious study and, with our support, help her achieve the much needed A level grades to obtain her University place of choice.  And therein lies another tale…..

Saying farewell to a special lady

Mr Kipling's French Fancies, make exceedingly good Nanny Cakes

A few days ago I attended the funeral of a special lady.  Her name is Yvonne and she is the mother-in-law of my husband’s brother and grandmother to two of my many nephews and nieces.  She was 88.

I didn’t know Yvonne as well as the many others who came to offer their last respects, but I do remember her fondly, and apart from wanting to pay my own respects, I also wanted to be there to support my husband and our family.

A few years ago, like me, Yvonne was diagnosed with breast cancer.  And, like me I believe, she was a fighter.  She didn’t make a fuss, she just wanted to get on with her full life, while at the same time handling the diagnosis and her subsequent treatment with dignity.  I think that word sums her up.  She epitomised dignity.  The treatment at the time went well, but sadly, other health complications took their toll.

Yvonne Wheeler

RIP Yvonne

When we met Yvonne on family occasions, she would always make a point of asking me how I was feeling, and how I was getting on, during and post treatment.  She loved our kids too, always asking after them.  And of course she loved her own kids and their kids.  She loved life and devoted a lot of it to helping other people.

And in a fitting tribute to Yvonne, the funeral service was as dignified as she was.  The words.  The music.

The words

Yvonne’s grandchildren were brave enough to contribute words for their nan at the service.  My nephew had put together a poem in tribute.  He took his place and began to read the words.  He took deep breaths and pauses, but he was starting to get choked with emotion.  We all felt for him, it was a very emotional occasion.  With no fuss, the celebrant took over the reading of the poem, and we all shared in the moving tribute, tinged with humour.

My niece also found the occasion overwhelming and after a confident start reading Death Is Nothing At All by Henry Scott Holland, the celebrant completed the poem.

I admired both of them for what they did – it’s not easy to speak in front of people at the best of times, let alone at a funeral gathering.  But their reaction kind of transcended the words they were each meant to speak.  The emotion and the meaning was there for all to feel and witness.

The music

Apart from the suitably beautiful hymns, The Day Thou Gavest Lord is Ended, and Amazing Grace, Yvonne’s family chose pieces of music that either meant a lot to her or perfectly summed up her life and the occasion. Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler and The Way We Were by Barbra Streisand captured the mood and emotion of the proceedings, and Beethoven’s Fur Elise added a fitting finale to the tributes.

The celebrant gave us some insight into Yvonne’s life.  She was born into a fairly affluent family but her parents separating in the early part of her life meant a time of great change.  She embraced the changes and later on her new family, and when war broke out she not only volunteered to become an army dispatch motorbike rider, she also met her husband to be.  Within a few months she was married, and soon bringing up children of her own, a very traditional family set up.  Sadly Yvonne’s husband passed away far too early in his life, but her determination meant that her children didn’t suffer as a result.  In later life she loved to meet her children and grandchildren, often for lunch.  One of her favourite treats being Mr Kipling’s French Fancies, which went on to become forever known as Nanny Cakes!

Mr Kipling's French Fancies, make exceedingly good Nanny Cakes

Nanny cakes

Yvonne was known for her beautifully refined diction, and this led to her becoming the voice behind speaking newsletters for the blind in her home area of Wandsworth.  She had a full social life, and enjoyed organising events for the many clubs she belonged to.

The day was rounded off by raising a glass at a nearby pub, sharing memories and indulging in a wonderful feast, suitably completed with Nanny Cakes!

She will be missed. RIP Yvonne.


Everyone loves Downton Abbey

Everyone loves Downton Abbey.  Don’t they?  By the recent acclaim, the awards, the way each episode has become a national institution, there can be no doubt that the TV series about rich folk struggling to make ends meet in a rather large pad in the country is one of the most popular programs currently running on TV.

Take our house for instance.  Myself, husband and daughter (no son, not much drags him away from the XBox on a Sunday evening!) settle down in the lounge just before 9pm, we’ve made our mugs of tea, grabbed a fun size bag of Maltesers (on a diet, 5 1/2 syns a pack!) and we’re ready. We are there, all tooled up, me with my iPhone watching for updates on Twitter, my daughter tuned into the Tumblr fandoms on her mobile, husband taking charge of the remote.  TV programs are such an immersive experience these days, they’ve all got their own hashtags so viewers can share comments, Twitter live updates and Q&As with cast members, there’s no escape.

Cue intro……

Now, I enjoy Downton as much as the next person, but I do feel it’s rather contrived and predictable at times.  Take the first episode of series 4 (or season 4  if you happen to be reading this in the US!).  They like to drop a few obvious lines in there, so it can neatly lead into an important part of the plot. It goes something like this “poor Matthew didn’t leave a will”….”he was young, he didn’t think he was going to die”…….”that’s not like him, he’s usually so meticulous”.

Grab that remote and pause!!

Usually so meticulous??!!  Come on, if that isn’t a lead in to the point where an unknown will is uncovered just before the bailiffs are about to repossess one of Granny’s enormous hats!

And so it came to pass, and no hanging about either, at the end-of-episode trailer for the next installment, there it was, the mysterious piece of paper dropping out of a book.  The  day is saved, along with the dire possibility of the Granthams having to work for a living…….again!

It is fun though, the classic one liners from Granny are superb, and let’s face it, the predictability is definitely part of its charm

But I do have a theory, another predictable storyline, and a bit of a plot spoiler, so if you don’t want to know, look away now……

The Downton cast, with the ghost of Matthew!

The Downton cast, with the ghost of Matthew!


I reckon the ex-chauffeur Tom Branson and Lady Mary will get closer, with their shared grief for their lost partners, and a shared love of their children, who play with each other all the time.  They will fall in love and elope to Ireland, where they will set up a school for poor orphan children in Tipperary. You heard it here first!

Cue closing credits…..

#downton @downtonabbey