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Christmas is coming and my priority has not been writing Christmas cards or buying gifts but instead concentrating on creating the annual Dreamsville website's annual festive audio-video presentation.

The music was completed a week ago now, a six minute piece of drifting, nebulous, spacey melancholia,...but getting the visual accompaniment together has proved troublesome. The music was not without technical problems either, some of which slowed the completion of the track dramatically. (Too involved to go into details here, but suffice to say it took far longer than it should have taken but all, eventually, was in place and awaiting the video component.)

I'd gathered camcorder images from the streets of York but really wanted to include sequences filmed in the interior of Castle Howard with its beautiful, softly lit rooms of old Christmas magic. I'd managed to spend an afternoon there capturing exactly that. But when transferring the footage to my computer in readiness for editing it to the music track, I accidentally pressed the wrong button on my camcorder and erased the entire thing. My poor eyesight seems to cause regular problems along these lines but this one was disastrous.

So, next day, I drove out to Castle Howard again to try to reshoot the footage I'd lost. Emi and I got there in time for lunch and availed ourselves of a sandwich in the cafe before walking around to the front door of the grand old house to film the wonderful Christmas interior decorations once again.

Turning the door handle to gain entrance brought no result. The door didn't open. I twisted and rattled it several times but it didn't give. After a moment or two, the door was opened and an official Castle Howard lady poked her head out and said, "we're closed." Astonished, I replied "but last admissions are 4 pm and it's now only a couple of minutes after 3." She, in turn, replied that, no, today it was last admissions at 3pm and we were too late to gain entry.

No-one had informed us of the change. We've been regular visitors to Castle Howard for many years and have a 'Friends Of Castle Howard' annual pass and last admissions to the house have always been 4pm, not 3pm. But it seemed there was little we could do and so drove home without being able to restore the lost footage.

All that was left was for me to set to work with the remaining York footage, so that is what I did. Not ideal, but at least something to work with.

Now, a good few days later, I've arrived at a final cut and just need to convert it to a 'Quick Time' file, then copy it to a memory stick and pass it to webmaster Jon Wallinger to upload to the Dreamsville website, hopefully in time for fans to see and hear it before Christmas Day. Duty done for one more year.

Now I need to catch up with various neglected domestic duties. Did manage to assemble the Christmas Tree in our lounge, drape the lights and garlands on it. Emi has added the baubles and other decorations to it. But she also has been preoccupied with various floral work these last two weeks...conducting Christmas wreath workshops as well as taking orders for floral decorations and commissions for front door Christmas wreaths. A busy time of year for us both, one way or another.

My 70th birthday coming up on Tuesday and I haven't made any arrangements for us to go out for a meal or anything. Just haven't had the time to sort it out. 70 seems like such a big deal for some people, but, for me, it's not any different from any other birthday these days. Just another year, another notch on the bedpost, another abstract number which, somehow, doesn't relate to who I actually am, nor where in the scheme of things I'm supposed to sit. Time, whether we conceive of it as the past or the future, is somehow irrelevant, there is only NOW, this moment, eternally. Everything else is memory, illusion, or imagination..Santo and Johnny's 'Sleepwalk' comes to mind...I think we're all, (or at least most of us,) sleepwalking our way from the cradle to the grave. Perhaps awakening might seem too harsh, too real, too NOW...

'Tread softly, for you tread on my dreams'....


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