I should probably have said that I was going to be away for a while, but one never knows quite who might be reading this blog and taking notes, passing them on to shadowy and nefarious organisations along with those pictures of me walking to Central Saint Martins via the data-capturing cameras at King’s Cross. Anyway, I have been away for a while, three wondrous weeks up in the Lake District to punish the body (walking) and revive the soul (everything else).

View from the bar at the local hotel…

Whereas in previous years we have tended to take each day as it comes, this time around I sat down early in the break and wrote a tentative programme of things to do, based on the projected weather (mainly rain). Thus it is that we have flown birds of prey, held snakes, ridden horses (mine was an immense beast by the unlikely name of Colin), dined joyously with friends, climbed peaks, traversed forests, chatted with locals, played games and, finally, packed it all up and headed home.

Wasdale Head.

I was busy on the cantata as well, getting far enough ahead to consider one of the movements pretty much finished and three of the others very close to that state. As I got further into the writing process for the fourth movement, though, I became less and less satisfied with the basic material, to the extent that it is currently undergoing full rewrite, but I have until the end of this month to get the piano score into shape, so I am fairly happy with it. The style is my ‘extended tonal’ one, so written for non-professional singers but without too much compromise once the sound world has been chosen, and I hope that it will be interesting enough to keep the performers decently occupied.

Whinlatter Forest.

I have learned a decent amount about my writing process over the past three weeks as well, enough to want to be able to tweak the way that I go about sketching and scribbling at the start of a process. Although it sounds odd, I tend to add in too much material at the very start of writing, which then has a tendency to push me down blind alleys, when by being just a little more sketchy about things I can make the process smoother a few weeks down the line. A lesson learned.

On the way down from Scafell Pike.

So it was a fine break, but it is also good to be home, back with my scores and toys and Dylan the cat, of course, who appears to be even more clingy since his return. Apparently I even found some time to moonlight at the Edinburgh Fringe…or did I?