February 2011

Being involved in this was one of the most exciting things I’ve done in a long time.

Circle, by Eva & Manu

Now, back to the sand filter.

I didn’t like the weather forecast earlier in the week. And sure enough, constant light rain meant we couldn’t record the video outside today. To make up for it, Eva and Manu will play the song live on streaming following the filming tomorrow. I’ll post the time and link as soon as I know what the weather is going to do. They’re rehearsing it next to me right now and I can tell you it’s a beauty.

Thank you to everyone for sending in your words. Let’s see what Eva and Manu can do with them in the next 24 hours. (I’m glad I’m not a songwriter today!)

In the meantime, you can visit their blog and hear what they’ve written so far on their epic European tour… here.

Come back tomorrow and see what you’ve done…

By this time tomorrow, you could be part of an international songwriting sensation. Let me explain.

The musicians

We have a couple of musicians staying with us right now, who are travelling around Europe in a campervan writing their first album together. They are called Eva and Manu and they look like this:

They are not new to songwriting. They both went to Berklee College of Music in Boston (which is a pretty big deal actually – ex-Berklee students can be found all over your iPod). Manu has already released one album and Eva has five or six to her name.

The idea

While I was working in the woods yesterday, I thought it would be very cool to have Eva and Manu write a song while they’re here. To add a little spice, I thought maybe they should write it in 24 hours. And because social media is doing such amazing things in the world at the moment, I thought maybe everyone else could write the words.

They said yes. Now it’s your turn.

The rules

a) In the next 24 hours, you can leave one word in the comments section under this blog post. (If you are shy, you can send an email instead. And if you can’t choose one word, send a couple – just don’t go mad.)
b) At 0900 tomorrow morning (French time), I will give the words to Eva and Manu. They will then have just 24 hours to write the song. This will be filmed and posted here immediately.

Got that? You and your friends write the words. Eva and Manu write the song. If it’s good enough, it could even be on the album.

I am going to start the whole thing off with the word: Hands.

The lorry came back with sand for the sand filter:

I wonder what the French is for déjà vu.

A few months ago, the woods behind the Shack were utter chaos. I’d started coppicing the sweet chestnut so we’d have wood for next winter and, in five to seven years, a steady supply of poles for fencing, yurt maintenance, firewood, furniture and whatever else we decide to have a go at.

But I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. So I would cut an overstood chestnut down, chop the generally straight trunk into two-ish-metre lengths and leave the awkward top bits lying around. Often, I would work until I was too tired to lift the chainsaw and so bits of trunk would be lying around too – hither and, to my shame, thither. Which meant at some stage I would have to go back in later with a billhook and tidy up.

That stage came a few weeks ago and closed a chapter on this silly, knees-bent-running-around working practice.

Now, when I go in to cut coppice, I take a chainsaw AND a billhook – and tidy up as I go. Seems simple, doesn’t it? (I also stop a few minutes before I am exhausted.) I suspect, with a not very sad backward glance, I may be growing up.

Here’s what the woods behind the shack look like now:

The mud on the left in the foreground is one edge of what will be the pond. The box on the right there is full of Interesting Rocks found while digging out a tree stump for the pond and trench for the pipe running from the sand filter. Got some real beauties in there, I can tell you.