East Sussex, UK

Home at last! Stephanie’s worked wonders to keep the home fires burning for the past few weeks, and I arrived home to find three energetic daughters (and one dog!) to welcome me back to the family. I have to admit to feeling slightly groggy today (a three-day trip to China will certainly do that to you…) but 10 glorious days of sleeping in my own bed are upon me, and life feels good. We have some business in London on Monday and Tuesday, including a rehearsal with the great John Rutter in advance of our Christmas concerts with him in December, but other than that I can catch up on home life with impunity.

One of the marvellous things about this time of year is looking ahead to Thanksgiving and Christmas – we celebrate both because Stephanie and the girls are all US citizens – and think about the wonderful food and drink. Being on the road means that for much of the year I don’t have the chance to pick what I’d really like to eat, and food is important to me. As is wine, and we hardly drink anything while we’re working. And so, I feel entitled to spend a good deal of time planning and preparing good meals for all such big occasions. Stephanie bought me a carving class at Simpsons (a wonderful, traditional restaurant in London) and I’m taking that up in November, in order to be prepared for carving duties on the big days. I think it’ll be v satisfying indeed.

And then, of course, picking out the wine to go alongside the food is a real treat. I got interested in wine about a decade ago and, since then, I’ve enjoyed tasting local bottles as we travel around the world. We limit tour consumption, strictly, but if there’s no concert for a few days it’s always nice to be treated to a local bottle by a promoter. I’ve discovered grapes and wines that I never knew existed, in countries as far-flung as Armenia, Hungary, Chile, Canada and New Zealand, and have enjoyed building up a “taste map” of the world as we travel.

Work never quite stops, of course, and I have a few songs to brush up on before our GOLD album launch, on 30 October, just before we head across to the US for the 50th season-launching tour. Hope to see some of you there!


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