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  • Writer's pictureChristine Collister

Blogpost No1 January 2024

Coming up to the end of January 2024 and already this year is so full of promise I can hardly contain myself! Firstly I’m writing this Blogpost (No1 of 12) for 2024, from my gorgeous step-daughter’s apartment in Sydney Australia. I mean, Bob and I haven’t travelled off the tiny isle for over 4 years and now we’re in Australia! When we made our plans to leave we were tentative and unsure but once the flights were booked (early December) we were flooded with excitement.

The logistics of making sure the house would be looked after in our absence and Sweep of course, took a bit more organising than buying the tickets but it all got done with relative ease. We are so grateful for the love and support we receive as a matter of course but especially for this trip. We know mum is OK and have photographic evidence from both my sister and brother who are, as usual, keeping in regular contact with her. And I’ve even had reports of how well Sweep is doing too. So we’re free to enjoy our time away.

The journey itself happened in several phases. Getting off the island these days has become a bit of a lottery with regards to weather conditions and random cancellations so we opted to give ourselves a buffer and left two and a half days earlier than needed. Our friends Pam and Martin Dury invited us to stay at their lovely home not too far from Heathrow. Those few days alone were a total joy. To be in the physical presence of dear friends for the first time since 2019 was pure bliss. I thought we might be a bit nervous about being in the UK where, let’s face it, there are many more humans than on our quiet little rock in the middle of the Irish Sea, but we were anxiety-free and super excited the whole time.

We had the added joy of meeting up with Ellie, one of Bob’s lovely great-nieces whose gorgeous mum, Vicki, sadly died in December. We were unable to attend the funeral due to weather-related cancellations, though we tried our best to make it happen. Spending time with Ellie and her partner Jacob was so good. A real heart-warming delight. They are such sweet and lovely people.

(no photo of our delightful meeting but found this lovely reminder of happy times with Ellie, Vicki and her mum Jean in York)

And that afternoon Pam and Martin had invited a whole gang of friends (collectively known as The Cupcakes:) to join us for dinner and a much needed catch-up. Again … our hearts were full with gratitude for the love and kindness showered upon us. We certainly made up for lost time.

Then came the first of two long-haul flights that would eventually bring us to our long awaited reunion with those we love so dearly in Sydney. After 26 hours travelling, we were understandably weary but as soon as we saw our gorgeous granddaughters and Jo waving, then running full pelt to greet us … all weariness melted away as we hugged and hugged … and hugged.

We have now spent 11 days here in the glorious sunshine of New South Wales. Mostly giggling uncontrollably with Bella, Chiara and Jo. We have been to many beaches and dipped in the warm water over and over. My daily dips in the Irish Sea are a far cry from these balmy experiences but I will get back to those bracing dips when we’re topside once again … but not for a few weeks yet. All in good time.

The girls are now back with their dad for the next little while so we’ll drive to see friends along the NSW coastline this coming week. More catching up and reconnections with good friends. Life is beautiful.

We chatted with Michael Fix this morning and looked at the possibility of maybe touring together in Australia again sometime next year … maybe. We’d like to. We’ll work on keeping our vibrations high in order to bring that wish to life.

Another wonderful development is that Children Of The Sea will finally be a book/CD by the first week of February! Now that didn’t take long. But I’m so happy with how it’s all turned out. I’ll be delirious when I have a copy in my hands. Wow! The release date has yet to be set and once we know that, there will be a launch gig on the Isle of Man with a UK tour already booked for the end of November. Details so far are now available on the Live page - I’ve got an actual tour. At last! See how the promises are piling up? I’m so grateful that I can resume my lifetime passion of performing for precious music loving people again. I hope to see you at a show this year. I mean it. I need to see you all again.

A very dear friend, Bryan Ansell, who had been ill for some time, died on New Year’s Eve. Bob and I met Bryan and Diane in 2000, not too long after they’d returned to the UK after their 10 ‘post-Games Workshop’ years globe-trotting with their young family. They came to a gig I was playing at the Grantham Arts Centre and as we chatted at the end of the show they invited us for lunch at Stoke Hall the next day. We happily accepted, and despite neither Bob nor I having any real knowledge of the toy-soldier or war-games world — or Bryan and Diane’s lofty place in it — we found much common ground, especially in our mutual and eclectic love of music and literature, and a shared sense of fun and independence. Such an innocent spontaneous meeting led to a wonderful friendship.

The Ansell’s gave us an open invitation to use their beautiful home as a base for any future touring, welcoming us as part of their family, and for a wonderful brief 18 month period we even lived in the old courtyard at Stoke Hall. We have fond memories of ghosts, ancient plumbing, brandy, Greek tragedies, gardening, fabulous feasts,Texas and general knowledge crosswords in the Telegraph that Bryan — who Bob always referred to as a rare font of actually useful knowledge — excelled at! They were beautiful, rich delightful times that we will cherish always.

Bob and I are so grateful to have known Bryan, to have called him our friend, and to have loved all his amazing passions and eccentricities. We will continue to love him through the many memories we shared. Our deepest love goes out to Diane, Marcus, Emma, Maria and Alicia.

In keeping with last year’s promise of sharing some music each month I thought I’d share this strange little demo I created when we were still living at the Courtyard at Stoke Hall. Bryan encouraged me to look at the Classics for inspiration and leant me many of his wonderful books exploring Greek Mythology to find inspiration. Obsession  was the first song I attempted and is based on the story of Narcissus. It was pre-Logic days and I really had no idea what I was doing but … there’s the basis of a song that might one day find the light of day.

I’ll leave it here for this month and will see you on the other side of February with more news of Children Of The Sea and maybe a new musical piece to ponder. You just never know.

Until then dear reader stay well and keep rising above the turbulence.

Much love

Christine x

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  • Writer's pictureChristine Collister

Blogpost 12 December 2023

Well we’ve made it dear reader! Another whizz round our glorious Sun. Are you ready to strap yourself in for another adventure on our beautiful blue planet? I am!

So much has happened this year. So many challenges and changes with mum’s developing Dementia. A bad fall in February where her right shoulder was broken, marked the beginning of a sharp downward turn in her overall health. In June her mental well-being was measured by a regular “memory test”. Last year she managed 15 points out of 30. This year? 4. Not our finest moment. Soon after this revelation, she lost her place at the Day Care Centre she’d been attending since early 2018.

Mum’s been in full time care since the beginning of October. She was quite ill the first three weeks of her stay but once a chest infection, UTI and lymphedema had effectively been addressed she’s been relatively good. In fact her mobility has really improved. Apart from the fact she refuses point blank to go to bed and instead insists on snoozing on a chair in the lounge - she’s doing well. Bless those amazing carers who happily let her be who she is.

I wish I could say wholeheartedly that she’s great and has found a new lease of life.There are days however when she’s upbeat, witty, full of mischief and trying to help others in a less capable state. But these occasions are becoming rarer. When they do happen, we appreciate the small moments of connection and delight. Our glass is half full even when it’s not.

Bob and I, on the other hand, have bounced back remarkably well. It took me a few weeks longer to find my bounce but we’re well and truly on our way to being on an even keel.

In March this year Vicki, one of Bob’s lovely nieces, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive brain cancer. A terrible blow to the whole family but especially her partner of 20 plus years, Pete and two gorgeous daughters Ellie and Billie and of course her her lovely mum Jean. Vicki and Pete married soon after this life altering news. Vicki played her cards with such courage, strength and honesty and her characteristically wonderful sense of humour. She had a wide circle of family and friends that all adore her. She was and will remain an inspiration to those of us privileged enough to have known her. Vicki died Dec 4th surrounded by her close family. There is such heartbreak.

Bob and I arranged to leave the island (first time in nearly 4 years) to attend Vicki’s funeral Dec 19th. But the weather gods were against us and we were unable to leave due to storms. We watched the beautiful and often laugh out loud service via a live stream. One of Vicki’s many strengths were her amazing organisational skills. She wrote her own eulogy and arranged everything from music to Celebrant and Wake. It was one of the most moving, poignant and eloquent celebrations of life I’ve ever experienced. There were passages presented by or on behalf of family which were every bit as moving. We were deeply saddened and deeply disappointed not to be there in person. Rest easy now Vicki, know you are loved beyond measure.

Children Of The Sea is nearing the end of its creation. All moving parts involved in the making of the physical CD and book are now with the manufacturers. We don’t have a date yet for receiving the final product but … fingers crossed it might be the end of January/beginning of February. It’s been a very long and drawn out process but I hope you all feel it worth the wait, once we’re ready to release/unleash it out into the world. Your continued patience and excited anticipation are required just a little longer … but soon, very soon.

I had a quick look through the other Blogposts of 2023 (only mine you understand I mean there are a lot of other Blogposts in the world!!:) just to remind myself of what’s gone on over the last 12 months and the overwhelming evidence is, that I obviously love the garden and all things to do with growing fruit and veg. Even at my rudimentary level it’s such an exciting and heart warming inspiration to play with and in Nature. Gratitude abounds!

There has been very little in the way of musical activity this year but I sincerely hope to make up for that in 2024. With the release of Children Of The Sea I’ll be able to tour a solo show - complete with projected imagery and also using the tracks I created for the CD as accompaniment which I think will work really well. Then as a second half I’m thinking a solo set of acoustic versions of songs from past releases - a mixed bag consisting of what I can reliably remember and perhaps what people request? Have a think and let me know what you’d appreciate hearing. Thanks.

The biggest news going forward is that Bob and I have finally been able to arrange a trip to see Bob’s gorgeous daughter and our twin granddaughters in Sydney. To say we’re excited is the understatement of the year! We’ll be there a few weeks before the girls go back to school which is wonderful. We’ll also be able to see my brother Paul in Perth on our way back. All in all our hearts are super grateful and excited and full to the brim with love to share with those beautiful beings of light that mean so much to us and who we haven’t seen for 4 years now. Bella and Chiara were 8 and half when we saw them last. They’re 12 and a half now. That’s a massive amount of growing up we’ve missed out on. We love Jo and her gorgeous girls so!

Once we’re back on the topside, the real work begins on preparing Children Of The Sea for release. Date as yet to be decided. But I’ll definitely be having a launch gig on the Island to celebrate that long-awaited event! Watch this space …

If you’re interested in the details of the past months of 2023 feel free to revisit or read for the first time those previous Blogposts found below this most recent one.

I try to bring you an interesting musical something-or-other each month and here in the final throes of 2023 I'm sharing a wonderful song taken from The Soldier of Orange. My good friends Tom Harriman and Pamela Phillips Oland are the composer and lyricist. The show has been a fantastic success in Holland since 2010. When plans began to bring the show to London in 2016 Tom asked me to sing the vocal demos in English (written in English originally they were translated into Dutch for the original show) . I was excited and honoured to be asked. Tom is an amazing composer/musician and directed me in the performance. Something I'm not used to at all. But I loved the experience and I particularly love this song. For some reason Soundcloud and YouTube no longer let me add their icons here so all I can do is share this link if you don't mind travelling all the way to Souncloud, here it is:

Having just celebrated my birthday I am full of love and appreciation for family and friends who mean the world to me. My gorgeous husband, Bob, is a truly remarkable man. He has been a huge support through the whole of our beautiful connection - 13 almost 14  years married, 23 almost 24 together. But particularly over the past 4 years … he’s been truly amazing. I could not have done any of the caring I was able to for mum, without his unwavering love and support. I just felt the need to acknowledge that fact. Thank you.

This is where I wish you all the best of all possible outcomes for the coming year. May we each find strength when needed, love and kindness often and peace beyond understanding. Know you are loved beyond measure … I really do appreciate you!

Till next year dearest reader ❤️ Stay well and keep rising above the turbulence!

Much love

Christine xx

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  • Writer's pictureChristine Collister

A short but heartfelt Christmas message:

Ola gorgeous reader I just wanted to wish you a wonderful, warm and peace-filled Christmas. I will be creating an end of year Blogpost for you between now and New Year's Eve ... but these few Christmassy musical moments will be past their use by date by then.

So here for your Christmas delectation is an accapella version of In The Bleak Mid Winter - enjoy! For some reason I can not get the Souncloud Player to show itself - the link should take you to the audio.

The other seasonally appropriate thing I wanted to share with you is a wee video of Christmas song moments from my guest appearance with local choir Manx Voices that took place on Dec 15th ... I'm just a bit tardy getting it to you! Think of it as an early Christmas gift ;-) x

It seems Wix isn't playing nice the day before Christmas and its usual user-friendly features don't want to play. C'est la vie! I will leave another link for you should you wish to follow it all the way to YouTube?

Sending you the warmest wishes I can muster! Have a beautiful time. See you next week!

Stay well and Keep rising above the turbulence!

With love and endless blessings!

Christine x

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