Singing about sheep and celebrating the landscape.

It’s been a busy couple of days with some knitting connections, though rather tenuous!

Yesterday I went to a choir rehearsal – my former workplace , Newcastle City Council, has had a staff choir for several years. I am a founder member of the choir and still involved since I retired. We have been practicing for a lovely civic event. Every year the mayor of Bergen, Norway, one of the City’s twin towns, presents the City with a beautiful big Christmas tree and this year we are one of the choirs who will be singing at the presentation ceremony. Here’s more about Newcastle’s relationship with Bergen and its other twin towns .

This year’s Lord Mayor is originally from Sheffield and has asked us to sing the Yorkshire version of While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night (sung to the tune of On Ilkley Moor Baht ‘at) , so we were working on that. There are lots of verses to get through, but the arrangement is lovely (in four parts) and I’m enjoying singing soprano on this one. It’s not too high and we get some nice harmonies and echo the ‘flocks by night line’ I haven’t got a recording of us but I found this which gives you an idea of what it sounds like

After singing about sheep (or shepherds) yesterday, Today I saw lots of sheep while I was driving to The Sill – the amazing Landscape Visitor Centre, close to Hadrian’s Wall at Once Brewed. The Centre includes a youth hostel, cafe and gift shop and an interesting exhibition about the landscape and its connections to farming, leisure, industry and conservation. It also has the most stunning views across some of Northumberland’s hill country towards the Wall, especially from the roof, which is easily accessible up a fairly gently sloping path. On my last visit I spent ages using the augmented reality technology which enables you to “fly” over the local landscape and beyond .The Centre is well worth a visit.

I was meeting up with family and our friend M, who is herself a skilled knitter and has even knitted Fair Isle with the locals while visiting Fair Isle itself! We had a delicious lunch and then I sneaked into the exhibition, while the others were chatting in the lobby area – they noticed a lovely moving projection onto the floor of animal and bird footprints and birds flying by. The sheep in the exhibition weren’t very fleecy though!

Here in Northumberland the hills are steep and covered in poor soil. It’s hard to grow crops like cabbages and corn, but super for sheep, so…..without this landscape (and the sheep and their wool) we’d be cold!

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