Ndlovu Youth Choir are in the Finals!

Those who read my rather irregular ramblings might remember some posts about the Ndlovu Youth Choir. They went viral with a version of The Shape of You (Ed Sheeran) and did a fabulous version of our national anthem in the Anthem Project. Now they are taking America by storm in America’s Got Talent.

And they are in the finals!



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Day trip to Exeter Cathedral for a special Embroidery exhibition — Stitched up with Thread

With our little cottage is starting to feel more like home, we decided that the time had come to plan a day trip to get to see a little more of this part of England, especially with my course commencing in less than two weeks. The RSN had advised that some of their collection pieces […]

via Day trip to Exeter Cathedral for a special Embroidery exhibition — Stitched up with Thread

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Sing a Song

The cockatiel is much better, pretty much back to his old self. He whistles to go out, but the weather is getting cooler and I don’t want him to get sick again. He’s no youngster.

I was hoping to get a video of him singing ‘Jan Pierewiet’, but he spots the phone immediately and hides behind his slice of brown bread, peering out suspiciously. I was hoping he would become an internet sensation – Cranky Cockatiel, more famous than Grumpy Cat. Maybe next time.

It’s such a pity that so few of my students are willing to sing. I don’t know if it’s just a local thing, but most of them won’t open their mouths. Singing has fallen away at the schools, which may be part of the problem. We used to sing everything from nursery rhymes to folk songs and whatever was a hit at the time. Also so often people laugh at a child’s first attempts to sing. It takes practice, okay! It’s not surprising that many don’t try again.

In my last post I mentioned the Anthem Project. The South African Anthem is something of a patchwork. Five languages (Afrikaans‚ English‚ Xhosa‚ Zulu and Sesotho) and two different tunes. There is a clear change in the middle when it shifts from one to the other and changes key as well.

The first tune is a hymn, previously banned as it was used as an act of defiance by the ‘revolutionaries’. The second is parts of the original anthem in English and Afrikaans. And remember Afrikaans was the language of the oppressors. Yet it is in there. Musical unity indeed. We sometimes forget how far we have come, problems or not.

They are judging the finalists at the moment. Here are links to a couple of my favourites.

One of the finalists – Wonderful voices!

A cappella – unaccompanied singing.

And Marimba Jam

Another finalist

And the last finalist.

A Baroque version.

And opera.

We have elections today.

Nkosi sikelel’ Afrika – God bless Africa


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April 30, 1900 Two Minutes Late

The heroes are out there.

Today in History

Acts of heroism have a way of popping up, in the most unexpected places. Ordinary people rising to the occasion, in anything but ordinary circumstances.

Just recently, two teenage boys chased down a kidnapper on their bicycles, freeing a little girl from captivity.  The Poway, California Rabbi grabs hold of a gun in the hands of a demented killer, losing a finger and saving untold numbers of congregants, in the process.  An eight-month’s pregnant mother-to-be dives into the Australian surf, to save two drowning boys.

This is one of those stories.


Jonathon Luther Jones lived near Cayce Kentucky as a boy, and the nickname stuck. For reasons which remain unclear, he preferred to spell it, “Casey”.

Casey Jones was a train man, working on the I.C.R.R., the Illinois Central Railroad.

CaseyJonesPortrait Jonathon Luther “Casey” Jones

One example of the man’s character comes to us from 1895, when Jones was thirty two…

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Feeling Chirpy

The cockatiel has been on antibiotics for eight days and doesn’t look quite so much like a reject feather duster.

I wanted to get a video of his showstopper version of Jan Pierewiet, and discovered he is shy. Bring up the camera and he scurries off to the back of the cage. But he is looking, and sounding, much better. He wants to go outside, but we are going into autumn, and it’s getting cold. Enjoy your spring, northern hemisphere.

Thanks for all the good wishes for the little bird brain. Much appreciated.

This post is being written on my phone. There is thunder and lightning out there, and I don’t want my desktop zapped. We do pretty hectic thunderstorms up here on the highveld.

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Amazingly intricate art


Steeven Salvat

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A Cantankerous Cockatiel

The other day I went to take the cockatiel’s cage down to feed him and he had a go at biting my thumb. Now that’s not like him at all. He’s not used to being handled, but we have evolved a working relationship where he shrieks when he want to be fed/go out/be covered up or make a noise. I feed him/put the cage outside/cover him or tell him to shut up. When he is in the mood, he clings to the corner of the cage and sings Jan Pierewiet

So I took him to the vet and found out I have a Cockatiel with pneumonia. I didn’t even know that was possible! Poor little soul had a temperature of over 40°. He is on antibiotics and looks like a reject yellow feather duster.

Sick Cockatiel

He’s not a young bird, which may be part of the reason he got sick. Here’s hoping he makes it.

We had a week of load shedding recently – rotational power cuts if you want another term. Level 4, which means the power is off for two and a half hours and on for an hour and a half. All day and most of the night. Not fun. I won’t go into the whys and wherefores. I don’t really do politics here. Someone I heard of lit candles when the power went off and her three year old sang Happy Birthday and blew them out…

I am going to break my ‘no politics’ rule (that didn’t last long…) and provide a link to the Anthem Project. All South Africans are invited to submit their version of our national anthem and I will include links every now and then to particular versions.We are having elections on the 8th May and need all the unity we can get.

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