Lockdown Blog

As Covid took hold, enforced lockdown became the norm, and we all had more time on our hands than usual, I decided to write a BLOG. It started in DECEMBER 2019 and ended in JUNE 2021. It would have been good to continue it for longer, but it was such a lot of work, I chose not to.

Howard the Artist

While sorting out my Mum's stuff last week, I discovered some drawings that she'd removed from my bedroom wall in Whitley Bay. I had left home and so they redecorated my bedroom. My dark red walls were now pattered blue wallpaper. Oh dear. I am so glad they kept my...

Walking with Charlie and James

I enjoyed a grand walk on the Ridgeway with Charlie and James. Chris was meant to come too, but after confirming, he later found out he hadn't checked his diary properly and could no longer come. We started our walk at Scutchamer Knob, walked South to the road,...

Ridgeway walk

Three Birthdays!!

This week three of my lovely lads had birthdays - Rob 30, Harry 3 and Reuben 3. We went to Savernake Forest to explore and enjoy a picnic. What a wonderful day - the sun shone and the rain held off until we were ready to leave. There was much excitement when Summer...

Harry’s birthday May 2021

May turned out to be wetter than expected, so rather than going to the pub, as originally planned, Harry came round to our house, and brought his little family with him. He came in wearing his Hi Vis vest and proceeded to fix everything with his new toolset. His...

Birthday boy

Farmoor Reservoir May 2021

I really enjoyed my trip to Farmoor Reservoir and a walk there, and the thing is that it's the first time I've visited. I have passed it countless times to and from gigs. I'll be going again soon. It's fantastic. I was surprised at how big the place is. Walking...

An old puzzle

Yesterday, I did a clear out of some of the stuff that came from my the house I grew up in, in Whitley Bay. Hidden amongst the piles of many interesting letters was a bag containing one of the 1950s jigsaws I used to do as a young boy. I thought I’d have a go at...

Besselsleigh Woods April 2021

I wanted to see some more bluebells before the season was over, so Annie and I headed off for Appleton and walked to Besselsleigh Wood (just off the A420). I had a tough time of it. Carrying my camera, stool, backpack and walkie takies, I managed to drop stuff,...

Besselsleigh Woods

Folk Weekend Oxford (FWO) April 2021

This weekend was Folk Weekend Oxford 2021 (the event previously know as the Oxford Folk Festival). The whole shebang was put together virtually, using Zoom, YouTube and Facebook. What a mammoth task, but thankfully, no mammoths were hurt during the weekend. Well,...

Howard playing with Rose Hips

My Bands

It’s Bank Holiday Monday in May 2021 so thought I’d while away a few hours tweaking my websites. This post is about my bands and I will elaborating on them during the next … well, who knows?     I play for several different bands and dance groups in and...

Snelsmore Common May 2021

I got an early morning text from Rob asking if I'd like to go for a walk with him, Summer and Reuben. Yes please!! We met at Snelsmore Common at 10am and had an absolutely lovely walk for an hour or more. Reuben was very funny as he kept seeing Gruffalos and...

Reuben Hill

Cornucopia April 2021

Patrick collected me and off we went to Jean’s back garden in Grove. Cornucopia practice of course! I had a beer (thank you Patrick) and homemade biscuits (thank you Jean) and really enjoyed playing while Patrick and Jim fiddled, and the ladies danced.  ...

Cornucopia

Tumour Rumour April 2021

Today was a big day. Annie and I went to see consultant neurologist Miss Stana Bojanic to discuss my brain scan results. The good news is that tumour is not malignant, but rather a slow-growing meningioma. She showed us the scans, what different bits showed and the...

Badley Wood

AJ’s wedding band April 2021

Annie and I went to a band rehearsal for AJ and George's wedding! Anna Jane and her fiance George Hoolhouse will be married in June 2021. Very sensibly, they’re arranging the day of celebration to fall within a budget they can afford. Spot on. It’s a really dumb...

Passing Signs with guest bass player

Introducing Miss Enid Hill April 2021

Today we travelled north to see Jamie, Kat and our newest granddaughter Enid. We had a lovely drive and arrived at noon. Jamie lit the barbecue while Kat finished bathing Enid. We spent the most relaxing time with baby, beer, food and splendid conversation about...

Jamie, Enid and Kat

Badbury Clump bluebells April 2021

Annie and I drove to Badbury Clump (National Trust). We were fairly early so had our breakfast with us. We followed our usual pattern; Annie goes for walk while Howard takes photos (that’s a walk too but with lots of stopping and starting). Then we meet up at a...

Badbury Clump

Wantage Community Church April 2021

I was delighted to be invited to play bass in the worship band today. Annie (my minder for the day) accompanied me (no, not on tambourine!) and set up my bass amp, bass and iPad stand. I was still suffering from dizziness, but keeping myself fairly still I was able...

WCC worship band

Scutchamer Knob April 2021

Annie and I drove to the car park on the Ridgeway just above West Ilsley, and we walked to Scutchamer Knob and back. Although it sounds like a gentleman’s affliction, our destination was an early Iron Age barrow. It is a semi-circular bank but originally it was...

A red kite flies across The Ridgeway

I heard that… pardon? April 2021

Today I went for an appointment to SpecSavers. To have my hearing checked. So the guy put headphones on me and gave me a buzzer and sent all sorts of noises at me. I dutifully pressed the buzzer each time I could hear a noise. Anyway – much to my surprise the very...

Passing on the baton April 2021

I took the plunge today. I stopped receiving email sent to my work email address. The reason is that I have sold First Ideas Limited to my wonderful son Gordon Hill. Over the past 9 months he and I have been sorting ourselves out, passing things over and so on....

Howard and Annie in the garden

Easter Sunday 2021

Having been abandoned by the usually dutiful Annie, I spent Easter all alone. Well, no she didn't abandon me and no, I wasn't alone. That was just a bit of drama for effect. Yes, Annie had gone to visit AJ for Easter, but the trip had been planned for some time and...

Harry Cool

Loud Sound March 2021

Saturday morning – Annie kindly drove me to the JR but this time came in with me. We were there for nearly 9 hours (similar to yesterday) but it was worth the effort. Once more I was examined and tested, had a cannula fitted, and this time an MRI scan. My goodness,...

Dizzy March 2021

I awoke on Thursday 25th March 2021 feeling very poorly. The room was spinning, my vision was blurred and I was seeing double. I thought nothing of it. Just a one-off. The next morning the same thing happened. So Annie rang 111 and after answering many questions, a...

When the music stopped March 26 2020

Vale Islanders. Sadly, no gigs with this dance group took place. The Vale Islanders got together a few times in a paddock to try and work out some socially distanced versions of dances (to give that authentic Black Plague vibe) but it turned out to be a bit too...

HUG Zoom

Live Music during 2020

So, no more live music for Howard in 2020? Well, no. Using the well known “let’s do this” algorithm, I managed to play loads of times this year. I almost always played outside where it is breezy and therefore, very safe. May 2020 VE Day I busked in our street,...

Whoosya in "Wantage Presents"

Streamed music 2020

Jigworks. One of the biggest impacts of corona virus was that I have only done one paid gig in 2020 and that was with Jigworks Ceilidh Band. I normally do around 50 or 60 gigs a year (with various bands and a mixture of paid and unpaid events). The one I did with...

Slow Session streamed live

Gordon’s 30th Birthday

Gordon had an amazing family celebration for his 30th birthday at the Upton Smokery, near Burford. I'd not been to one of these before and was so impressed with the layout, ambiance, and of course the food was out of this world. My favourite was the salmon. Lots of...

The Vale Islanders

January 2020 was when we held Christmas Party (saves the December rush) held at our favourite country pub The Fox in Denchworth. Little did we know that we were but a few weeks away from the oncoming plague. So I thought I'd a pen a short post on the side. Annie...

Vale Islanders

Collision!

It is the 1st of December 2019. My phone rang and it was Gordon "Dad I've been in a car accident". I could hear that Gordon was sedated and in a state of shock as he spoke. I remember panic rising in me and my heart starting to pound as the adrenalin kicked in. I...