Email 13th April 2010

Fish 2010 - Flying in Neverland

Dear FishHeads, Freaks, fans and the Company,

It's a wonderful sunny day at the farm and the skies are perfect for flying.

The garlic basks in the raised beds and the new onion sets have filled the gaps in the ranks of those stolen by crows and pigeons.

The cloches are off and the greenhouse overflowing with germinated seed. There are more tomato and pepper seedlings than anyone could deal with and I think a visit to the farmer's market could be on next month.

The leak in the Japanese garden pond is fixed with a well adjudged piece of slate and the three goldfish are perfectly happy.

A few days ago a burst O ring on the filter in the main pond caused a scare and Elspeth came running, all of a panic, on her arrival at the office to tell me there was a disaster taking place. 1700 litres of water had spewed out the filter onto the ground leaving around 27 or so fish of various types floundering in 6 inches of remaining water in the Peter Pan pond.
Hose to the rescue and a drive to the fish shop at Macmerry for some tap water dechlorination liquid to be added gently as the pond filled, and we were back in action.

There were no casualties although I think a couple of them might have got some gill burn as the chlorine wasn't taken out soon enough.
I was a bit worried about the chemical levels as a few of the goldies were gulping at the edge of the pond. A sign of not enough oxygen or the aforementioned burn.

If it's an oxygen problem I may have too many fish in the Pan pond so I think some will be moving over to join the trio in the Japanese garden.
It's always the same at this time of the year when the sun comes out and the temperatures go up. The pond stutters into action and it takes a few weeks for it to find its balance and the algae to disappear.

I cycled down to the shop again at the weekend for some testing kits and discovered that the PH and the nitrite levels were perfect and I once again had a balanced pond!

I enjoy an odd disaster now and again to keep me focused and motivated! :-D

Fitness levels are still going up. I am still smoke-free and so much better for it.

I have a black leather belt that I bought in the States in '97 in Portland when we were mastering the "Sunsets" album.

It has been my stage clothes belt for years and every tour there have been holes added and every month I am away from tour they disappear off to the right as the buckle pin moves left! I have always used it to gauge how much weight I am carrying.

This week I hit the last belt hole, the lowest waistline I have had for years! 8-)

I am still pushing the pedals on practically a daily basis and now cycle down to the pub for a couple of pints as the days get longer.

Last weekend I cycled to North Berwick on the Saturday to pick up the leg of lamb and the weekly meat from Andersons butchers.
I'd come over the Garleton hills by Athelstaneford, popping in for a coffee at a friend's house before pushing on to my parents.
My Dad was surprised to see me walk in the door as he hadn't heard the car! :-)

I admit to a slight cheat on the way back as I got the train to Longniddry and then cycled up the old railway track to the farm. About three miles. :-[

It was still a total of around 14 miles or so and the railway track is a steady climb and made a lot tougher with around 10 pounds of meat on your back in a rucksack! :-D

My sister and her family were up for the weekend so we had a big family gathering on the Saturday in Dirleton at the Castle Hotel.
I drove down with Tara and her boyfriend and we taxied back to the studio after the meal.

I cycled down on the Sunday morning to pick up the Volvo with a dreadful hangover that was slightly diminished by all the fresh air on the 9 mile or so trip from the farm.
I was struggling a bit at the end and running late. It was going to be a push to get to my parent's house in North Berwick and so I had to phone up my Dad and sister Laura to bring James, my young nephew, to Dirleton to meet me as I had promised to take him to his first football match at Easter Road where Hibs were playing Celtic.

I sped downhill into Dirleton to find them waiting and had time to throw the bike in the back of the car and speed into the city to make kick off.
I was a bit rough and badly dehydrated and it was strange getting into a car and retracing the route I had just cycled.
In retrospect I shouldn't been cheap and just got the taxi to the restaurant! :-D

It wasn't a great game (we lost one nil to a dodgy penalty) but James thought it was fantastic. (What have I done? :-D)

We had a roast lunch when we got back with all the family helping out with the prep and cooking.
The lamb had benefited from the journey in the rucksack the day before :-)!

It was wonderful having all the family together here at the farm in quite a long while.
I had to cancel the Christmas get-together because of the vocal operation and this was the first chance we'd had since then. I was glad we were all together this Easter. After recent events it meant a lot to have family around.

Monday was a road trip on the bike up by Liberty hall and down by Samuelston to the pub (it was still a holiday ;-)) where I discovered a herd of Alpacas in a field that threw me a bit when I first saw them as I though I was hallucinating.

I'm enjoying discovering things I have never noticed while driving around in the car and the bike has opened up a whole new world to me in East Lothian.

I'm getting a lot better on the bike but there are still some hills in the area that are teeth- and ass-clenching. The one at Letham Mains on the way back from the Tyneside is particularly gruelling! :-D

The cycling is increasing and the gym work getting longer but I decided to drop the Tai Chi classes last week and to leave it until the next season begins.

I was already 4 weeks behind the rest of the class when I joined and having missed the last two lessons and with the play and other commitments on Friday nights it is just too much for now.

I start rehearsals on "The Government Inspector" on Wednesday with the Theatre Alba Adult Leisure group and the performances over the weekend of 22/23/24 April at the Netherbow will take another Friday out with the following weekend containing business commitments and meetings down South.

I just can't give the Tai Chi the attention it deserves and after discussions with Foss and Frank last week it looks like we may have some busy weekends over the Summer from end of May onwards!

Fridays are just always busy days and with gigs coming into the equation again it will only get harder to find time.

The diving classes on Thursday nights are also getting more demanding and I have to start seriously studying for the forthcoming exams.
The practical side I am fine with, having dived off and on since 1988 but the paperwork and theory is a real strain.
I didn't take physics at school and hated math. Now I am learning all about partial pressures, Boyles Law and dealing with all sorts of gas configurations and other stuff that is pretty demanding. =-O

Last Thursday I had my first experience in a dry suit in the pool. It was a bit strange at first as all my diving experience so far has been in wet suits. It's a whole different vibe but I soon managed to get my buoyancy in some sort of order and only time and practice will help me get better and more relaxed in the water.

I was really lucky as Paul Martin, a former member of the club, was selling off all his equipment as he hadn't dived for a long time and now had other commitments. It turned out he was a fan who had seen us in Lochgelly on the "13th Star" and previous tours. It also turned out he was roughly the same size as me! :-)
The suit and the equipment had hardly been used and to manage to find it all from the one source and not have to worry about provenance and quality was an incredible stroke of luck.

We came to a deal and I now have the full kit for diving in Scotland and beyond! 8-)

At the end of it all though I will hopefully get my Scottish Sub Aqua diving certificate and be spending a lot of the summer in between gigs and other stuff diving in the Forth and further afield.

There are a great bunch of people at the East Lothian club and I'm sure we will have a lot of fun in the coming months.

Rab Birnie, who I've known for a while from the Tynie, introduced me to the club and has been looking after me, coaching me with the theory and teaching me some tricks with the dry suit.

He also has a canoe and this week or next we are going for a trip down the Tyne river! :-)

Rab as you can tell is a bit of an outdoors man and on Thursday we plan to hike across the hills from Gifford to Carfraemill, about 9 miles or so as the first of the preparation walks for the assault on the West Highland Way in May.

There are now around 20 people walking with us and the logistics and planning are moving forward apace.
I will post a message on the web site with details of how you can support us with donations and any help you can bring in from any sources will be more than welcome.

We have decided to support two charities, Cancer Research and the Children's Hospice Association in Scotland (CHAPS)
The Just Giving web sites are just being set up for Cancer Research and for CHAPS.

Some other news that has happened these last few days is that I have signed on for a movie in September.
It's an independently made Scottish film called "Electric Man" and I have been asked to play the villain (of course! :-D)

You can find out more about the film and the background to the production by logging onto their web site.
I was approached by director and co writer David Barras and met up with him and writer Scott Mackay last week.

I really liked the script and the team behind the film has impressive credentials.
It's the first acting I have done for a while and I am really looking forward to getting involved again.

Any millionaires out there looking to invest in a movie please feel free to get in touch with the team! :-D
There's a great vibe about the project and everyone is involved for the right reasons - to have fun making an independent movie! :-)

The shoot is planned to take around three weeks during which I will also be gigging irregularly with the acoustic set up.

As I said Frank and Foss are well up for this set up and will be participating in the writing for the new album. The writing team is also taking in contributions from other sources with Bruce Watson and Mickey Simmonds offering material.

It promises to be an interesting Summer and Autumn. ;-)

If you have any suggestions of venues that hold around 200 or so and have a bit of character and vibe then please get in touch as we are starting to book in the coming weeks.

My Nikon D90 went in for servicing last week and I handed in a corrupted memory card which I thought was irretrievable and contained a lot of shots from Costa Rica as well as pictures of the winter up here and the building of the fish ponds.
The nice guys at Calumnet in Edinburgh managed to retrieve nearly all the information so hopefully there will be a series of photos heading up to the site in the next few weeks once I start to sort through them.

With all that's been going on in my life I decided to allow myself some retail therapy when my publishing royalties came through.
The D90 is over 5 years old now and close to retirement.
When I went in to Calumnet to arrange the service I couldn't help but notice the bright shiny new Nikons in the display cases and after a bit of deliberation with myself and some haggling I ended up buying the new 300S model and picked up a 70-200mm F2.8 ex demo lens at the same time.

I am righteously fully locked and loaded! 8-)

It's a huge manual to get through but the potential I am offered by this set up is immense and perfect for all the activities I am planning this year.
As I said in a previous blog I need to either sort out an on-line camera course or get down to Haddington Camera club to start another learning curve.

The first shots I will be taking and sending up for your perusal are going to be of the garden which is bursting into life. The array of bulbs and spring flowers is dazzling and with the sun shining until later in the evening every day there's a feeling of new life and adventures around.

I have itchy feet and a desire to fly again :-)

lots of love

Onkel Fish x
 

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