Earlier this week, Robin spotted 2 frogs in our pond. By the time she had got her camera, one had disappeared, but you can see the remaining one, alongside our two goldfish.   We don’t really know if these are the result of the frogs spawn we had a couple of months ago, or perhaps this is the frog that laid them. In any case, he/she seems happy enough and to be making friends with the goldfish. Another good piece of news, is that we have just been allowed to ‘adopt’ Bobby, the downstairs cat who had taken up residence in our flat. He doesn’tRead More →

As the weather has been better over the last week, we’ve done a bit more in the garden. I thought you might like to see one of our ferns after I trimmed off last year’s foliage: It looks almost pre-historic – but healthy. In the couple of decent weeks we’ve had, Robin and I visited Herstmonceux Castle Gardens where we encountered this amazing Juniper tree. And I’ve been able to enjoy my lunch in the graveyard at St Michael’s when I practice there. A team of volunteers have been bringing it under control and it looks lovely with all the wild flowers. Let’s hope thatRead More →

Hi everyone. I hope you are all well. I went to Brighton yesterday (check-up at the dentist) and the place was crowded. Difficult to find a parking space and people sitting outside in the sunshine (but wasn’t it still cold?) drinking coffee, even wine at 2pm. Thankfully my teeth were declared to be in good shape. Each time I make the journey to Lewes or (less frequently) elsewhere, I try to do at least two things in order to justify the journey in my own mind. So before going on to Brighton, I spent a happy 2 hours practising in St Michael’s Church in Lewes.Read More →

Hi everyone. Today I think I brought a fresh meaning to ‘hanging out our Smalls’ On Saturday we had an outing to two Garden Centres. There’s a little one in Willingdon Chalk Farm Nursery where we bought some lovely plants: 3 hydrangeas; a Heavenly bamboo (which is not a bamboo at all, but we hope it is Heavenly with lovely variegated leaves); and some Heucheras. Three new Heucheras (in the foreground) and one old one hiding behind the Hibiscus tree which will make it a bit shady there, but apparently Heucheras quite like a bit of shade. And standing proudly behind on the left is a bit ofRead More →

I’ve just looked it up, and Spring doesn’t actually begin until 20 March, but I sense it approaching, and this morning our little Apricot sensed it too: As you can see, it’s a very young tree – placed against our south facing wall – but it’s full of enthusiasm! And I see light at the end of the tunnel regarding Covid and Choirs. I had my jab a couple of weeks ago, so I’m approaching full immunity, and I guess many of my choristers will also have been jabbed. There seems to be a suggestion that we may be allowed to meet again from MondayRead More →

Hi everyone. I hope you are all keeping well during this 3rd lockdown. It’s a bit depressing being locked down again, but I’ve decided to make sure I do a few things each day, including phoning friends, writing the occasional blog and organising musical life in the 2nd half of this year. It would be easy to just write off everything until the Autumn, but I like to retain a positive outlook, putting things in place so that they can happen if at all possible. So here’s what I’m up to and maybe you can help me with a few ideas of your own. MyRead More →

Christmas Song Recital – Revisited Last Friday Ruth Kerr and I gave the first iteration of our Christmas recital, and it went very well with an audience of 35 – many of whom were Ruth’s singing pupils or singers in one of her choirs (she conducts both Paddock Singers and Brighton Chamber Choir ). We are repeating it this Friday 18 December at 6pm (last week it was finished by 7.10pm) and we’ve still got 5 tickets available (£10 each) so if any of my readers (in particular) fancy booking one, please email me quickly nick@nickhoughton.org.uk. As I said in my last post, our programmeRead More →

This is the organ at St Michael’s in Lewes, where we are moving towards the completion of our rebuild. Andrew and John removed much of the organ in early September to their workshop on the Isle of Wight. The two manuals you see here have been refurbished. The buttons below each keyboard are pistons. Each piston selects one or more stops, so the  five pistons under each manual allows the organist to ‘bring out’ a particular selection of stops on that particular keyboard. OK so far? There used to be just 6 pistons below each manual and now there are more: six extra General pistons below the SwellRead More →

Well here we go again – 2nd Lockdown starting on Thursday, just in time to make sure Ruth Kerr and I can’t do the 1st (and 2nd) of our three recitals on Friday! Ruth and I have put together three recitals: German song; French and English song; and Christmas song. We decided we would not advertise the specifics of our programme in advance, and definitely none of those contagious paper programmes handed out on the night! Instead, we were going to introduce pieces as we went along. But to give our disappointed punters a taster, here’s one song we recorded when we rehearsed a few daysRead More →

Komm, Jesu, komm On Saturday we held the final workshop in our Bach Motet series which started back in January. J.S.Bach wrote 6 motets, all with just organ continuo accompaniment. Most were written to be sung at a specific funeral, but that’s not to suggest that they are in any way funereal! Most are bright and exciting. Four are for 8 voices; one is for 5 voices and just Lobet den Herrn is for 4 voices (which is also the only one with an independently written organ part). With workshops every other week in January, Feb and March, we just got Jesu, meine Freude in before lockdown andRead More →