It’s been a marvellous fortnight of mad activity, heaps and heaps of music, meeting new people and reconnecting with others, and madly missing me dawg!

While I’ve been gallavanting around Tasmania enjoying the music festivals and socialising till I aged a couple of years in the space of a couple of weekends, my poor hapless hound Alfred the Great, stayed home with Patrick (my poor hapless life partner), my mother, our three cats and Lockie – my sister’s new dog! Now Lockie is quite a cute dog who inspires Alfred to grin and purr – unexpected behaviours in the average dog – you may be starting to get the gist of Alfred’s true opinion of being expected to welcome a cousin. As you can see from this candid shot, poor Alfred is in despair having moved from only dog in extended family to one of two. Poor wee mite.

And to make matters worse, on both weekends while I was in Tasmania I was pretty much impossible to communicate with. Not because of a fit of the snippies, but because of technology oh yes indeedy!

Weekend on in Cygnet, there was no mobile coverage for my trusty irritating portable telephonic device which has an insensitive touch screen when it comes to using the correct characters, but a monsterously sensitive send button so I find my self spontaneously sending messages in three parts (brrrring I hear the Optus cash registers ringing away as I text complex messages like “I’m just about”…gone…”half an ho”…gone…”ur away, so be very careful not to touch the stove knob or you’ll almost certainly be electrocuted”…message send failure). Where was I – apart from I hate my mobile phone – Ah yes. In Cygnet I was as elusive as Greta Garbo except for the fact that I did not ‘vant to be left uloooone’. I wanted to text Patrick and check on the critters and send messages to my ancient parent. I did manage to send two texts by standing on the edge of a gravel parking area on the property where we were so delightfully billeted and by reaching as high as I could, on tippy toes balanced on a log. Easy peasy!

George Town was a different matter. There you get a jolly fine mobile signal as I discovered a few years ago after ‘mobile silence’ making my way up the east coast between festivals, having said something a little controversial about Pulp Mills and attracting the ire of some of the locals and the interest of the media, I arrived to quite a bit of feverish text and telephonic activity once I was in range. But this time the problem was me. The last thing Patrick and I said in our final exchange as I left for the airport was “Well at least it’ll be easy to stay in touch this time.”, which was potentially perfectly true had it not been for the fact that a) I left my mobile on the kitchen bench and b) my sister – as canny as me in so many respects – had remembered hers, but not her charger.

But technical hitches aside, what a wonderful weekend it was at the Tamar Valley Folk Festival. Our concert was very enjoyable for us, and I think for our audience. We met some lovely people who had some very interesting stories, I had the chance to do some MCing which I really, really enjoy – it’s the bossy bit that attracts me most I think and that I have permission to talk the leg off an iron pot while technical things go on around me – most people in George Town know quite a bit about Alfred too now. And in all of this there were two stand out bits. The first was this absolutely essential lesson in ‘tremelo’ playing on the Mandolin. An incredibly nice and friendly (and fine) mandolin player, Rosie, showed me how to hold my hand – the wrist angle and where to rest on the bridge – and voila! I could achieve a tremelo pick that was half way to respectable straight away. Thanks be to Rosie I say.

The second,  and for me one of the most important parts of a visit to George Town and the Tamar Valley Folk Festival, was the visit out to the elderly people’s home past Low Head where Moira, Bruce, Stephen and I (in the past it’s either been just me or Moy and I or Neil, Moy and I) played to some of the residents while they did their Monday morning activity, which on this occasion was making table arrangements of fresh herbs. We played a set to a lovely and responsive bunch and were cheered and moved by their warm welcome. Then we trooped into one person’s room who was not mobile enough to make it out to the activities room and we assaulted her with ‘The Water is Wide’. Poor thing looked quite alarmed at the prospect, but bravely I think, went with it and absorbed the beauty of the song and hopefully that of our playing. I have rarely been so moved or felt so honoured to play for someone. I know Moy was in bits too, and we were all very affected by the brief interlude.

So thanks Tassy for everything, despite the technical hitches of both our making. We got back to find more Pozible support and are filled with new energy to try and play Unsung Heroes to as many mobs as possible. Bit puffed now. Got  a cold. Have to be at work. But what a start to the year! Woohoo!