I am at my most creative first thing. As soon as daylight seeps through the curtains, I start to feel the need to get going.
This simple act requires preparation however – An early night without wine is very necessary in order to have the energy and wherewithal not to roll over and sleep a bit longer! It is worth it though, the peace and solitude of an early rise is a gift which lasts the whole day.
After shaking off all feelings of slumber, I run happily down the stairs and I’m rewarded by the excited disposition of our cats, who greet me exuberantly. I open the patio doors to let them out and the fresh new air in.
The chorus of birdsong is refreshing, and it is a treat. One of nature’s precious gifts to those who meet the deadline of an early start. There is not another human soul around, and I revel in the fact that it is just me and nature.
Nature’s music is all around – the early morning hum of bees and the gentle sound of a soft breeze as it rustles the leaves in the trees. These sounds filter into my mind just in time for my practise regime. I’ve never been one to do hours of practise. I find that good quality, focused practise for one hour or less suits me well. I have to feel inspired to play, and absorbing the sounds and other delights which are present in nature fuel my ability and will to create music.
I like to complete most of my work before lunch, I find that the afternoon is best spent planning the rest of the week, or doing ordinary tasks that don’t require much effort.
An evening stroll to take in the sea air is a wonderful way to wind down and prepare for sleep, so that I am rested and rejuvenated for another early start to the next creative day ahead.
This was filmed in 2005 I think! I was interviewed by the well known travel journalist, Simon Calder. They were featuring ‘Saints and Sinners’ of Cornwall. My part came under the latter!
I was filmed at Roche Rock where there is the legend of Jan Tregeagle, a real nasty baddie if ever there was one! He sought sanctuary in the hermitage at Roche Rock, and this story led to me composing the track ‘Legend of Roche Rock’ off my album ‘Sacred Landscapes’.
The day of the filming was memorable in terms of the weather – it was overcast and cold – very fitting for this story!
The director wanted me to sit on top of a rock and play – it was a bit too windy for that, and the wind was blowing my bow all over the place! They very kindly placed a blanket on the rock for me to sit on – as there was a puddle of rain water where I was sitting!
Simon Calder was very kind, and kept offering me his jacket to wear in between shots!
The promise of summer infuses the air. Daylight lasts now until 9 o’clock at night, and suddenly the days are lasting twice as long. We have time to go out at night, free from confinement, time to walk freely along the coast and fill our bodies with the fragrance of the sharp, sweet sea air.
All around there is a profusion of may blossom and a sprinkling of bluebells. It is easy to imagine fairy folk sitting on top of the delicate blooms, once the humans have gone home to their beds. The night is magical. Golden light radiates all around as the sun begins to sink into the horizon, scattering jewelled rays of light as it descends.
Cot valley is a gorgeous place near St Just, a haven for wildlife and its resulting nature lovers. We follow the winding path down the valley and turn off over a tiny stone bridge. The river tinkles musically over the rocks and down to the sea. As we reach the headland, we pause and appreciate the magnificent view. The sea is a deep, mediterranean blue, with a sky to match. The waves roll in forming criss cross patterns as they follow the current. A lady, perched on a rock, sways gently to herself, the sound of the sea soothing her, while nearby, in a camper van, a man heats up food in a saucepan, ready for his ‘dinner with a sea view’.
We walk further round the coastal path, and a sign near to an exposed mine alerts us to the fact that the rare choughs are nesting nearby. We wait a while in hope, waiting for a precious glimpse – but to not avail. Meanwhile, out at sea, an inshore lifeboat and a helicopter carry out a rescue exercise.
Time to head back, and a solitary raven soars overhead. The soft beating of his wings hush the landscape to sleep. It is an evening of peace and enchantment.
Since setting up my home studio, I have been able to create freely and without restraint.
I have worked with some fantastic producers in the past, and it has been a pleasure to have their input, but being able to record my work at home has meant that I can get my ideas down quickly, and work on my music whenever inspiration comes to me. Sometimes in the middle of the night!
As a classically trained musician, I studied the piano alongside my main instrument, the violin, as it was required in order for me to get a place at music college. Playing the piano as a solo instrument led to me writing a lot of my music as a result of improvising. What I love about the piano, is being able to play in a natural, fluid way, and in a commercial studio setting, I often felt that playing along to a click track was at odds to this, particularly when the music I was writing was atmospheric and soloistic in nature. Having my own piano at home – which I have played on since the age of twelve – feels comfortable when composing and recording. Many studio keyboards do not have the range of notes that a piano has, and having the use of two pedals to create an impressionist soundscape is also an important factor for me.
Nature and the landscape is an enormous source of inspiration for me, and musical ideas come quickly to me when I am able to tune into them. My studio at home is surrounded by a farmer’s field, and has views overlooking the hills. It is a wonderful base to work from – I just have to make sure the farmer isn’t driving his tractor when I’m trying to record, but that is a small price to pay!
April is a joyful month – a cocktail of elemental delights. It exudes the promise of the summer sun yet to come, as the clocks leap forward and draw out the evenings. The evenings finally lose their gloom, and the days feel longer. Our spirits begin to lift.
We are brought to our senses and jolted out of our reverie by the fresh, sudden outpouring of an April shower. It is exhilarating nonetheless, even though it wakes us momentarily from our dreams of a summer holiday. It is a relief that the seasons still seem to be in order, rather than the monotony of one damp characterless period of time.
The sun appears over the hills, a bright and cheerful face, which is mirrored in the friendly faces of the primroses which adorn the hedgerows. A deeper yellow is found in the impressive celandines which boldly appear in glorious, buttery carpets.
Pink and red waxy camellia are still showing their amazing array of gorgeousness – they have been around since Christmas, and are still going strong. They are in it for the long haul.
A lone bumble bee is a surprise garden visitor as it drones hopefully around the plants, most of which are still dormant and waiting for their special time to emerge.
It is a time of hope – the shackles of winter are being cast aside, although the chill of the night air and the grey clouds which bring forth an icy shower are still a reminder.
Here in Cornwall, the sudden appearance of a traffic jam reminds us that the holiday season has begun, as people start to visit our fantastic location.
I sit in a queue of cars, wind down my window, and feel the hesitant warmth of the spring sunshine as it beams down on my face. A couple of jackdaws hop about with a large crust of bread in their beaks. This is a time of hope and new beginnings.