I told Sheila what would happen if she didn't behave.

I told Sheila what would happen if she didn’t behave! ha ha!

I did warn her that retribution would follow!  We found this photo going through old albums.  I think it was in Châteauneuf-duPape. Doesn’t seem to have had much effect.  I’ll have to try again.

à bientôt

Gites in the Loire Valley




Francis doing what he does best.


This season has been a fabulous time for sharing my piano with guests and what were we playing? …… well an assorted repertoire, including my favourite and beautiful piece of music of all times, the “Moonlight Sonata” composed by Ludwig Van Beethoven! Never a bad choice!  The touching fable of Beethoven who could not hear, meeting a blind young woman who shouted into his ears ‘I would give anything to see the moonlight’ and so inspiring him to write the piece of music to portray through a beautiful melody, the beauty of a night bathed by the moonlight just for the young girl who could not see it with her physical eyes.  It’s marvellous stuff and I love it!

So I was taken by surprise on arriving home on the evening of my birthday to find Brian seated alongside neighbours and guests with an aperitif waiting for me. But then a bigger surprise on getting out of the car, I heard our guest (Francis, a professional pianist with the Ulster Orchestra – weren’t we lucky having him staying here!), playing ‘Happy Birthday’ on my piano! But then followed my favourite Moonlight Sonata (apparently Brian had told him of my love of this piece), then Chopin, Haydn, Mendelssohn and for the finalé, Offenbach’s famous Can Can!! (and not a sheet of music ……)!! It was an awesome performance! I felt very, very, honoured and the moment will stay in my mind as the best birthday surprise ever Francis!

I had a good music teacher and started to play at the age of seven, continuing until I was seventeen studying LCM to Grade 8.  Sadly I never completed that last challenging grade because  I found it too difficult to commit the time as I was studying so many other subjects then at college for my career. I did not know exactly where my career path was leaning but sadly I did not choose music even though I loved it and have always regretted that decision.  I had very supportive parents throughout and their encouragement was tremendous but I couldn’t continue and they had been very disappointed. The story gets worse because after I got married and left home I had to part with my piano.

Birthday cards

Some of the multitude of cards which I have received from all over the world.

My mother decided not to let me take it with me because as we would be moving around constantly she was worried about the damage it might do after all  they are a moving nightmare being very awkward and difficult to handle – I could understand her point. So over the years sadly I became less nimble fingered and out of practice.  She mellowed as she got older and eventually I did get the piano but I think on the last count to our amazement we discovered we had moved twelve times and with the piano six times – all successfully with one exception when my heart skipped a double beat as I saw my piano being dangerously manhandled – what horror!!  Orientation is vitally important when moving pianos and uprights need to remain vertical.  I appreciated moving it down a flight of stairs was challenging ………! but these guys flipped it on its side (?!) and then flung ropes around it to do whatever next they had in mind! But I panicked at this unexpected manoevre fearing their mistake could damage the internal mechanism – when questioned they told me they were about to get it down the stairs like this but they looked stressed and one bad bump could cause permanent damage!  So as my mother’s fears suddenly came back to haunt me (“yes pianos are large, very heavy, fragile and expensive instruments young lady”) and by now my nerves in shreds fearing the worst, they were halted ‘tout suite’ with a quick exchange of explitives! I can still wince at the thought of it!

Everyone has questions and stories to tell about their pianos! What sort is it? How old is it? Where did it come from? How big is it, etc., and I listen with great interest.  My piano is an Eavestaff Mini Royal Piano era 1940’s, there are not many around.  Its claim to fame is that it was played by the late actress and legend, Diana Dors  at a hotel near Ashbourne in Derbyshire in 1956.  (Diana Dors was the English equivalent sex symbol of the blond bombshell of Hollywood, Marilyn Monroe, and she had bought fame to the Potteries after marrying her third husband Alan Lake who was born in Stoke on Trent).

Guests have tinkled away merrily this year and it was suggested that we mention we have a piano at Le Clos des Guyons! These days, because I have a few problems with my fingers it impairs my playing, but as long as I can still enjoy that Sonata and Brian can stand the noise I shall persevere!!!