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April 12th – May 24th

April continued into May in Southampton with a wealth of enjoyable weather; I began to wonder if ‘Approximately 345 Days in the Cold’ was really an accurate title for my video journal. Although it still sometimes pours or hails without warning, the majority of the time we have experienced quite warm temperatures and sun. When I say it is warm, I mean it is about 20 degrees Celsius, but here, with the humidity, it feels more like what 26 or so would feel in Adelaide.

Our main activity during this time was simply to enjoy the outdoors and make music for Feathers, Wood ‘N’ String, avoiding spending money on activities in order to pay for our return to Australia to see everyone for Christmas in December. One particularly lovely Sunday afternoon we sat with a tea thermos, writing and brainstorming for writing lyrics together in the sunshine. As we did this, all around were examples of people doing things we can’t do in Australia; specifically bringing portable barbecues of all varieties onto the Common to cook picnics, which they were enjoying with beer and cider. In Australia parks are generally ‘dry zones’ – i.e., no alcohol, and when the weather is sunny enough for a picnic, it’s probably fire ban season, so no barbecues in the park either. So the idea of this kind of gathering, of which there were many, was quite unusual to us.

We recorded quite a lot of Feathers, Wood ‘N’ String music during this time, including a fast electric hornpipe, a slip jig, King of the Fairies and four original songs, Epic, The White Sea, Firelight and Versions. We also obtained some percussion in the form of a cajon.

We also eventually got in touch with the nice folks at Triple J Unearthed to check if it was okay for us to make a profile, as Australian citizens, though not current residents. They said “go for it!” So we created a profile page here: https://www.triplejunearthed.com/artist/feathers-wood-n-string, took some ‘band’ photos and uploaded a few of our tracks.

Once the dance tracks were finished I set about making some dancing music videos. I found it harder than I expected to get the Irish dancing community excited about electric guitar Irish dance tunes, but I had a lot of fun all the same.

It was also Mother’s Day in Australia during this period. It took us a while to work out how to do something for our Mums long distance, but eventually I had the idea to create something similar to the film and poem creation I’d done for Emily’s birthday, with Lloyd contributing music.

I was also very lucky to have the sort of dancing family who would decide to hold a Mother’s Day tea for my Mum! I joined in via Google hangouts and it was very lovely.

Other things that occurred around this time included: Meeting Susu, the university student union cat, when on campus for job interviews. Meeting several other cats of Southampton, one of which was extremely friendly. Finding numerous butterflies of species I haven’t seen before around the Common, including a small blue one which appeared very busy with a dog poo. Beginning my “women in STEM and trades” writing project. Finally getting a National Insurance Number and enrolling to vote here. Celebrating Charmaine’s birthday long distance. The beginning of outdoor season for archery for Lloyd, which apparently mostly involves sun in one’s eyes and wind, but at least he’s getting outdoors! Creating a WordPress page for Feathers, Wood ‘N’ String as our website; that can be found here: https://featherswoodnstring.wordpress.com/. And finally and amusingly, Lloyd giving everything in the flat including me its name in Irish on a sticky note to help with his language learning.

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