14-Dec-2014 Pressure? What Pressure?

Posted December 14th, 2014 by jivauk and filed in jiva

contents-under-pressureLess than two weeks to Christmas, only one free day left in the diary.

We have things mostly under control – cards and newsletters posted, prezzies bought, tree and lights not put up (might not get around to it in time this year), ‘Silent Night’ still not recorded.

By this time next week we’ll have completed our Songwriting evening class at Newcastle College, and will have put together a portfolio of recordings and lyrics produced during the course (posted to Facebook and SoundCloud), provided a CD to the tutor and signed off the course assessment booklet… this course certainly took up more time than we had envisaged – the weekly schedule was usually something like this: driving to and from college (1 hour minimum), attendance at college (3 hours), transcribe classnotes scrawl into something more legible (1 hour), coursework songwriting exercises (4 hours), recording and mixing what we’d written (3 hours), email and Facebook correspondence with tutor and fellow classmates (1 hour)…. sheesh!

By the end of the year we have three website projects to complete – there will need to be much burning of midnight oil to meet those deadlines, but we’ll do it… we always do.

Val has spent an inordinate amount of time organising Allan Taylor’s birthday concerts – it’s not until September 2015, but there’s all manner of emailing and researching and reserving and booking and troubleshooting and publicising AND keeping copious records so we know exactly who said what when in reply to which question asked by whom on which date etc… aaarrrggghhh (Jimmy keeps his head low concentrating on web stuff so as not to disturb Val’s train of thought). Things are hotting up on this front now as we are finally in a position to accept confirmed bookings from those who’ve previously expressed an interest in being there. And, of course that means more work for Val.

And, of course, we mustn’t forget jiva – 11 more scheduled performances before Christmas and 3 between Christmas and New Year. That means we theoretically have three free days on 27, 28 and 29 December – but theory and reality are different things entirely… we could spend those 72 hours non-stop working our way through our backlog of items on our To Do List and we’d still not get through everything.

Feeling pressured? Just remember…


Jimmy & Val (jiva)

07-Dec-2014 Rest

Posted December 7th, 2014 by jivauk and filed in jiva

RestsRest as in repose or relax?
Rest as in remainder?

Which is it? No prizes if you guessed correctly… for the rest of the year there will be little or no rest for jiva.

As we write, it is 18 days until Christmas – in that time we have 16 scheduled performances, the final 2 evenings at college night classes, 3 website projects to update, an important web design progress meeting to fit in (finding dates when all interested parties are available is proving very difficult), the Christmas letter/newsletter to finish (including numbers to be crunched for 2014), and this year we really must must must find time to do a Blue Room recording of “Silent Night” (we’ve been saying this for 6 years now, and still haven’t found time to do it!).

In addition to two lovely jiva care home concerts this week, Val has done two days of temping and Jimmy has finished off an overdue audio mixing project (by the way, his new Sennheiser HD6 Mix headphones are spot on). We managed to take a little time off to head out to the Biscuit Factory to see George Welch (our walls are adorned with two of George’s “Dennis the elephant” paintings, with another one commissioned). Jimmy has also been doing some long distance teaching of web design and DreamWeaver and WordPress etc – and, would you believe it, horror of horrors a sneaky piece of malware ended up on his new desktop PC following installation of some software from a well-respected and totally legal site… after reeling in disbelief as his screen became cluttered with pop up adverts and automatic website redirects and attempts to change his default browser and home screen he calmed down and set about obliterating the pesky thing – ZAP! KAPOW! BIFF! (Batman, anyone?). Everything is now back to normal with all shields back up to full strenth and even more vigilant monitoring in place.

The week also saw the last SWAP-NE get-togethers of 2014 – Friday was an evening of in depth critique and suggestions for improvement for 3 songs submitted by members and Saturday was a SWAP Soiree courtesy of Steve and Carol (aka Fool’s Gold) who offered their legendary hospitality to us all. A grand way to round off the year for our songwriting group. But we cannot just leave it at that… no, no, no; plans are already being hatched for 2015. Dates are already fixed for next year and we’re working on the programme. Also, at the behest of members, we’ve created a Facebook page (not to replace the www.swap-ne.co.uk website, but to supplement it and to advertise our presence to a wider community – interested in coming along to see what we get up to? Let us know.). It has the snappy name of SWAP – NE (who would have guessed?), but it’s web address is… wait for it… the very unmemorable…


In order to change it into something more meaningful we need to have at least 25 “Likes” for the page – then, and only then will Facebook allow us to SWAP the web address for something better. The songwriting group doesn’t have 25 members, and not all of our members have Facebook accounts… so, guess what? Yup, we’re asking for your help to get the ball rolling – please “Like” the page, pass it on, encourage your friends (real and/or virtual) to like it too. Thanks – we really appreciate it.

Gotta go now – no rest for the wicked…

… or for jiva, life is good, very very good.


Jimmy & Val (jiva)

30-Nov-2014 Shame On You

Posted December 7th, 2014 by jivauk and filed in jiva

Did we do any shopping on Black Friday? Most certainly we did.


Did we get embroiled in the mayhem and madness seen across many stores? Absolutely not! The spectacle of people surging around, pushing others out of the way, climbing over barriers, knocking people to the floor, ripping items from shelves, snatching items from children, screaming abuse and threatening physical violence to passing shoppers and store staff is beyond despicable… and we will have no part of it… these people ought to be ashamed.

Yes, we did pick up a bargain online – something we’d been pondering on buying for a while, but the normal price always gave us second thoughts… but at 40% off we reckoned it was worth plundering the credit card a little. And yes, we did venture into Newcastle – not because it was Black Friday, but because it was one of the few days in our calendar where there was free time available. Well, we say free time, and we say available – but that’s never the case as we always have a mountain of things to do, lots very pleasurable and some less so.

But that’s life, and very good it is too – looking at our calendar for December there are very few “free” slots, and that’s just the way we like it… we’re looking forward to a December literally jam-packed with performances right up to the end of the year (including shows on Christmas Eve, Boxing Day and New Years Eve).

We’ll not be joining the Cyber Monday frenzy, nor the pre-Christmas bargain hunters, the Boxing Day sales, or any of that… we’ll concentrate on sharing the jiva blend along with some Christmas cheer.

Bah! Humbug? … Shame on you.

Jimmy & Val (jiva)

23-Nov-2014 Situation Normal

Posted November 23rd, 2014 by jivauk and filed in jiva


Having reported a non-working phone line… it has magically righted itself. Strange, but good…

Strange in that we’ve not changed anything, fiddled with sockets or plugs or cables or any such stuff – it may be that since we logged the fault BT may well have been doing something somewhere and found a fault and fixed it. We’re not complaining – far from it… indeed we’re really pleased.

Good? Why good? Well, apart from the obvious relief that communications with the outside world have been restored, the timing couldn’t have been better. The day after we cancelled the scheduled engineer visit we got a call asking if we could do a short notice booking and, as luck or chance or happenstance would have it, it turns out that they wanted us the very afternoon that BT were to have come a-calling! We’re already booked to play for them in December at their Christmas do, but could we possibly squeeze this one in too? Yes indeed, we could and we did.

We count ourselves very fortunate to be able to go out performing as often as we do. It’s wonderful to see smiling faces, and tapping feet and some dancing too – and we usually have a good chat and maybe share a reminiscence or two over a cup of tea and a biscuit… a good time had by all. The government and health services keep telling us that five portions of fruit and vegetables per day are “good for us” – well, we can honestly say five portions of jiva shows per week are even better!

So, five care home performances, an evening class at college (with very time-consuming homework to do as well), a website design makeover, long-distance international web design and tech tuition, and an evening meal with Jimmy’s son meant that we were ultra busy – situation normal then.

Having been out of sorts for quite some time, we’re pleased that things are getting back in the jiva groove… and, on the subject of groove, the coursework for the Newcastle College songwriting course has pushed us into writing outside our normal parameters – with some surprising and interesting results, some good enough to keep while others are best left to decay on the shelf as a tick in the box for “Yep, completed that assignment – phew!”. We’ll probably be giving exclusive previews of some of them here on the blog, so be afraid… be very afraid.

Situation normal, life is good… not a SNAFU in sight.

Jimmy & Val (jiva)