London, UK

Well, well, well.

We’re already two full weeks into the new decade. It’s raining in London (although that should come as no surprise), almost everyone here has either given up alcohol or turned vegan for the month, and I’m sitting in a cosy corner of one of my favourite restaurants, in Soho, preparing myself for the exciting year ahead. I’ve given myself lots of New Year’s Resolutions – like being able to do a proper unsupported handstand or ten perfect burpees (if you don’t know what burpee is, you’re lucky) by the end of the year – as well as renewing some of my best ones from last year – like making sure I have eight hours of sleep (or at least eight hours in bed) five nights a week, and trying to eat at least one meal at home each day I’m in London.

How are these going so far? Well, I think. What was interesting was that I woke up on New Year’s Day this year at 8am without a hangover, ready to get stuck into tasks (and a particularly healthy breakfast). Usually, December 31st is one of my guaranteed party days. It falls in the middle of our Christmas break, so it’s an opportunity either to see with some of my friends here in England, or to travel abroad and experience how different cities, countries and people ring in the new year. I’ve been very lucky to spend New Year’s Eve everywhere from Sydney to Tokyo and Moscow over the past decade, and I know I’ll cherish travelling abroad again at this time of year in the future.

But this year, my flatmate Jessie and I didn’t go quite so far. On the morning of December 31st, we jumped on a train from Paddington Station to Penzance, which is the right at the southwestern-most(?) corner of Cornwall (at the end of the train line, as it happens.) The journey from London lasts just over five hours, and takes you along some of England’s most beautiful coastlines. We were going to Cornwall with the sole aim of having a quiet new year. If you read my past blog post from December, you’ll know that I had vocal surgery to remove a polyp just after the end of our Christmas tour. One of main challenges I faced was that I had to reintroduce my voice very slowly. That meant 48 hours of total silence immediately after the operation, followed by a number of days when I had to increase the amount of (very quiet) speaking I was doing very gradually. By the time I left for Cornwall eight days later, I was technically able to talk as much as I wanted, although the volume had to be under serious control.

Thankfully the operation was a great success, and my recovery is still going very well. I’m singing again, and loving the process of exploring parts of my voice that had felt compromised for a while. As for Cornwall, I learnt that it was a place of exceptional beauty. Hilariously, though I’ve performed on six continents and travel almost addictively all over the world, I’d never been to Cornwall before. Jessie (who had also never been, although less surprising since she’s from Missouri) and I spent time exploring what must be some of the most beautiful towns in England (places like St Ives and Mousehole, which is also a wonderful name), and I also managed to find gluten-free pasties, which was a great relief. We played countless games of Bananagrams, which for those of you who don’t know is like speed-Scrabble without a board, and I slept like a baby throughout my stay. I got back to London just over a week ago, feeling rested and excited for the year ahead, and since have been pottering around the city, exercising and seeing friends and, continuing as I started, prioritising long nights of sleep.

Not that I had any doubt about the success of my surgery, but to feel so good about my vocal recovery at this point is a real relief. There’s so much this year to look forward to – not least our two joint concerts with The Swingles at the London A Cappella Festival at the end of next week, and the release of our Finding Harmony album at the end of this month – that I wanted to start the year with my best possible foot forward. I’ll also celebrate the tenth anniversary of my first concert as a King’s Singer this October, which proves to me how remarkably quickly time can fly. Thank you to my wonderful surgeon, as well as to the glorious county of Cornwall, for making this little vocal adventure as painless and seamless as possible. I am hugely grateful.

For now, I hope you each enjoyed a fantastic New Year, and that 2020 promises to be the brilliant it should be!


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