Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Half-term, plumbing and Wayne Marshall

Business tends to drop a bit at the school half-term week, so this is usually a good time to do other jobs which have been waiting for a while.  I started out with the best of intentions, sorting out paperwork, bank reconciliations, invoices and doing a general stock check and tidy up.

But on Monday afternoon I heard the sound something like that of a tap turning on.  Mystified I tried to find the source of the noise, and when I got into the kitchen about 30 seconds later, found 1 cm of water on the floor, rising fast!  After a tussle with the stopcock, I managed to turn off my water and mop up.  No more work done that day!

So the plumber turned up, identified where the leak was roughly (in the floor), managed to restore a small (cold, not hot) water supply in the kitchen only, and then started to hunt in the floor for the leaky pipe.  Unfortunately the pipes were concreted in and in the process of excavating he hit the gas pipe, thus leaving me without heating and cooking facilities just in time for the coldest night of the year!

Then he went home, no doubt to a warm house with hot and cold running water.  Fortunately I had some coal and lit a fire to keep myself warm in the evening, got a microwave dinner and wrapped up well.

On Tuesday morning the next plumber turned up, made an attempt to repair the gas pipe but couldn't as it had fractured completely.  It turns out the local water company decided to massively increase the water pressure on Monday afternoon, and the cold water intake pipe gave up the ghost.  The really good news?  My insurance doesn't cover the repair to the pipes, just resulting damage, which didn't happen as I was on the spot when it happened.  So the answer was to replace the offending pipework, bypassing the old stuff.  This meant running the pipes around the door instead of under the floor.  Cue plumber number 2, several long copper pipes, a pipe bender and a blow torch.  Here is a snapshot of the new pipework running above the door - lovely eh?  Bear in mind each of these pipes cost me £108 (ok, they're a lot longer than this snippet shows, but still...):

So after the flood, parting with over £300, 5 hours of workmen and mess, and the cleanup, I really needed something to cheer me up.  Today I went to the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester to hear a lunchtime concert by organist/composer/conductor/general musical superman Wayne Marshall.  He played Messiaen's Les Corps Glorieux - I'm generally not a Messiaen fan but hearing his organ music played so well live was relaxing and uplifting.  It was recorded for later broadcast on Radio 3, they're having a Messiaen season to commemorate his 100th anniversary in December.  I have become quite a fan of organ music lately, but it really does sound much better live than recorded.  I intend to increase and improve the selection of books I carry for organ - I hope to do this after Christmas.

So, my half-term week hasn't gone quite to plan so far - how was your week?

Friday, 24 October 2008

Being Green - The Winter Journey

In a post in July, I showed how my parcels start their journey to my customers, and how green they are - most of them go to the post office on foot, through the fields and past the sheep.

Well now the winter is approaching the very pretty route I show you becomes less pretty - a couple of days ago we had had so much rain the ground was waterlogged, squelchy, muddy and at times dangerously slippy.  So it's now time to switch to a different route and I thought I would post a few photos.

The journey starts the same, but instead of going uphill through the fields, I divert to a track (above).  This road is hundreds of years old and shown on 17th century maps, but as you can see its lower reaches have not been maintained in recent years.  It is stony, which gives grip but has a small stream running down it in the wet, due presumably to a broken field drain further up.  This is a haunt of goldfinches, greenfinches, robins and dunnocks, and I always see little birds flitting away as I approach.

On the way uphill, I took another photo showing the village where I live and work.

Further up, the track improves as it gets closer to the farm and some houses.   If you have eagle eyes you may notice a traffic cone sitting in the field.  Why?  No idea, but it's been there all year!  The sheep don't seem to mind.

After this, a footpath takes me to join the path I normally use before crossing the A road (see the post from July further down this page).  This route is a bit longer, but much safer and easier in the wet weather. 


Once I have taken the parcels, I have another alternative route home which I sometimes use if I am feeling very energetic or it's a nice day, as it was today.  This follows the roads, so is over twice the length and time of the other ones.

The last month has been very busy with the start of the new school year.  I have odd spurts of interest for specific books - A Tuneful Introduction to the Third Position for example, where I sold out of stock three weeks in a row.  A Standard of Excellence Book 1 is a popular beginner brass tutor with schools in my area, Team Strings 1 for Viola is this week's bestseller.  

That's all for now - I do hope to be adding more stock to the website in the next few weeks, will let you know when it's done.


Saturday, 11 October 2008

Christmas Gifts

It's taken a while, but I have now completed the Christmas gifts section on the website. I have tried to select gifts of different prices and characters for all members of the family. For practical gifts, the music bags are a great buy - good value for money, durable and will prevent the "I can't find my music" routine as you are trying to get the offspring out of the door to the music lesson!

The quaver coffee mugs are my favourite gift item - a classy and simple design that will brighten up any kitchen. For those who have a tendency to break mugs, the treble clef mug is a good option - a thicker construction means this should be less breakable.

In regards to stocking fillers, for kids there are instrument badges, for adults the Classic FM books are firm favourites.

So, do your Christmas shopping early - I even have wrapping paper for your gifts.

I have also got a great selection of Christmas music now - for solo instruments or groups. I will still be adding to it over the next few weeks, but if you are looking for carol collections, they're all there, whatever your instrument or ability. Check it out by clicking here

That's it for now - happy shopping.