📘Book 2: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll (physical book, five pages)🐰

SUMMARY IN A SENTENCE: Bored Alice falls down a hole, following a white rabbit who is in a hurry, and is soon confronted by mysterious objects, seemingly left just for her own adventure.

WHAT I LOVED: The invitation to be curious and to be open to possibilities. Indulge in the whimsy.

QUOTE: “For, you see, so many out-of-the-way things had happened lately, that Alice had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible” and “Oh my ears and whiskers, how late it’s getting”

I rescued this copy from my parents’ house after the book had been given to my mum when she was a child. I love its quirks: the inscription in the front to my mum, a note from the author telling readers that the Hatter’s Riddle has no answer at all, the dark smudgy print.



📘Book 1: We Swim To The Shark, Georgie Codd (physical book, 18 pages)🦈

SUMMARY IN A SENTENCE: Georgie looks to overcome her fear of marine life through travelling to Thailand, learning to dive, and swimming with the biggest shark in the world: the whale shark.

WHAT I LOVED: Georgie talks to you like an old friend, with wit and humour; the story compelling. The emotion is contagious: in one chapter I’ve experienced exhilaration, fear and hope.

QUOTE : “It is absolutely possible to conquer fears you have at the beginning, and just go really far with it”

Ironically, just after I finished this I found and lost a mouse in the kitchen. My mind is going crazy: ‘Where is it?’, ‘Is it looking at me?’, ‘What if it dies behind the cupboard?’ which made me resonate with the fear response described in Georgie’s book. The mouse is still on the loose. 🐭



A new chapter: #TwoPointSixChallenge

It seems a distant time where I was going across the country, busking to raise money and interacting with wonderful people. However, another year, and another charity challenge.

The #TwoPointSixChallenge was created by organisers of the London Marathon and other mass participation organisations, to help save the UK’s charities following the devasting impact of coronavirus. Today, on what would have been the fortieth London Marathon, they have called for individuals to choose a charity and a cause, based on 2.6 or 26, and to get fundraising.

I have been volunteering with BookBound: a literary festival set up in only a few weeks to bring book lovers across the world together. For my #TwoPointSixChallenge I am reading the first chapter of 26 books on Sunday 26 April. As this is the eve of the festival, I am kickstarting the event’s fundraising by donating to Mind mental health charity.

The 26 books I am reading are:

  1. A Manual for Heartbreak, Cathy Rentzenbrink
  2. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
  3. Archipelago, Monique Roffey
  4. Armada, Ernest Cline
  5. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote
  6. Clear and Present Danger, Tom Clancy
  7. Dark Town, Thomas Mullen
  8. Dracula, Bram Stoker
  9. Five on Treasure Island, Enid Blyton
  10. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
  11. Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton
  12. LA Confidential, James Ellroy
  13. Meatspace, Nikesh Shukla
  14. Melmoth, Sarah Perry
  15. Midnight in Chernobyl, Adam Higginbotham
  16. Northern Lights, Philip Pullman
  17. Paradise Sky, JR Lansdale
  18. Running for the Hills, Horatio Clare
  19. Solaris, Stanislaw Lem
  20. The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler
  21. The Bomb, Gerard De Groot
  22. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
  23. The Dog Stars, Peter Heller
  24. The Heavenly Table, Donald Ray Pollock
  25. We Swim To The Shark, Georgie Codd
  26. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne

Please donate to raise as much as you can for Mind on BookBound’s JustGiving page


Fundraising flautist’s festive finale

We’ve made it – the end of the challenge!

Coming into the final busk I was confident that with Christmas approaching and needing just £70 to get up to £2000 that we could reach the extended target. December’s busk was on a beautiful sunny day and we were perfectly placed just past the tills of a very big garden centre. Customers were so generous – we raised over £270 for Marie Curie – one of our biggest totals yet which sky-rocketed us to raising £2200 across the year.

Thanks to my busking buddies who faithfully came with me to every busk, up and down the country, in all weathers. They kept me motivated, made me laugh and contributed to the success of each busk, whether shaking a bucket, creating signs for A-boards or taking photos. Our furthest points have been Durham (north), Sidmouth (south and west), and Histon (east).

Many people have asked what I am doing next. 2019 will be a year off from a flute fundraising challenge although there are many things I want to do for fun. I’m creating a 19 for 2019 list – inspired from the Happier podcast.  I want to read books from authors of all 12 South American countries. I want to go to a clubbercise class. I want to dust off my bike and become confident on it again. And lots more that I have not thought of yet.

Thank you for following and I hope it has inspired you to take action to do something in 2019. This challenge just started with a thought. I had no idea how it would work but I took the first steps and this is what it blossomed into.


Busk 12 ish: Cats, cake and Christmas carols

November’s busk was a bit of a luxury: within my home, surrounded by my friends and family, tea and cake, and without any worries about the weather or getting to the venue on time.

This busk was also a first as I used Facebook Live to broadcast my busk to the outer world. At least one person watched (and even commented!) I have to say that the technology aspect was quite confusing but Mark’s technological expertise meant I soon had my phone connected to Facebook Live both literally and metaphorically through his tripod.

The audience were very appreciative! They abandoned the tea and cake in the kitchen to come and listen, and readily applauded from time to time. They requested Christmas songs, hummed along to Broadway tunes, and were genuinely glad they were there. What more could you want?

We were raising money for Leicester Animal Aid. I visited them in May to meet them (see title image) and I am proud to announce that we raised over £300 for them during this busk: the most successful busk of the year to date. Recently I have welcomed a cat into my life: Smudge. Although she was not from Leicester Animal Aid, she was a rescued cat and she brings much joy into my day. I am hoping that our fundraising will help other cats find their ‘forever home’.


It also gives me optimism that I can reach £2000 in December’s busk as I need under £150 to reach that figure. As it is the 22 December I am hoping that people will have Christmas cheer and goodwill! Then that is it!


Fundraising Flautist hits £1500

Sometimes a busk teaches you that you need to have faith and not listen to the story in your head. The Durham busk coincided with Storm Callum. The weather forecast on 13 October at 11am was described as ‘strong winds and thundery showers’, with 100% chance of rain and 42 mile per hour winds. At 10.45am I was pacing up and down our AirBnB staring at the rain, thinking how nobody would come and it would be a miserable hour.

I arrived in the Market Place and had a little shelter by Tesco. I hadn’t played a note before someone came to me, said they had read about me in the paper and gave me a £20 note. Infact, Durham was the busk most likely to donate notes and the only one where I had to dry the money off afterwards! Mark was doing a sterling job as a busking buddy as both bucket holder and flamingo umbrella holder, although the flamingo’s eye fell off part way through the busk which provided some amusement.

The people of Durham were also very friendly and made some lovely remarks. My good flute friend Mike popped down and bought me a cup of tea and Gavin from the Northern Echo took some photos and a video. You can read/watch his report online. I also used to conduct a flute choir whilst I was in Durham at university and the current president came down to donate, even though we had never met. Humanity is a wonderful thing.

We raised over £100 which means that we have now broken the £1500 barrier. The Samaritans of Central Durham are refurbishing their centre to improve it for their drop in service users and this money will go towards that. My aim is to get to £2000 in the last two busks. Please help me out if you can by donating for November’s busk on my JustGiving page or coming along to my last busk on 22 December in Stapleton (Leicestershire)

I hope you enjoy the photos below: me, when I graduated, cloudy Durham, my busk and me when I played in the University orchestras (thanks Chris Herbert for the picture).



Blog 12: Crewe

I was invited to Crewe by my cousin and her two beautiful daughters who live in the area, to raise money for the NSPCC, for a Sunday afternoon busk.

Sometimes in busks you need some kindness and some good luck and in this busk we got both, raising around £90. One new experience was a man with a puppy standing near to where I was performing. It was identical to an Andrex puppy. If you ever want attention then get a puppy! It certainly gave me a smile.

I also got a donation from a gentleman who said “from one musician to another”. I also try and take this approach when I see buskers or musicians – you’ve got to show them some love!

We celebrated another successful busk with hot chocolate, coffee and cake, before heading back down the A50.

We’re around £1400 total so hoping to get to £1500 in October, when we go back to my university town, Durham. I’m looking forward to going back to my second home – not only to raise money for the Samaritans of Central Durham but to return to the cathedral, Durham’s many cafes, and its beautiful scenery.


Busks 10 and 11: Bonus busk and Brizzle

A couple of weeks ago I heard from a lovely lady who lived near to me whose niece was getting married in Leicester. The niece was philanthropic:the invitations had helped an Indian charity. The aunt asked if I could busk at the wedding breakfast to raise money for LOROS – a local hospice. Of course, I accepted! It was a wonderful experience as I had never been to an Indian wedding. The families were so hospitable and I got well fed with lots of vegetarian goodies. I was just playing Western music but there is a potential opportunity for me in the future if I can play some of the Bollywood favourites. Kind donations from the guests meant that over £160 was raised.

The next day I was on the road to Bristol, the location of my next busk. I was raising money for Help Bristol’s Homeless – a charity that builds temporary accommodation to help homeless people to find their feet again. One of my favourite moments was from my busking buddies. They like to join in by singing or rattling the collection buckets in time. ‘Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina’ is a particular vocal favourite, with ‘Do You Hear The People Sing’ perfectly suited to a bucket rattle. They are dangerously enthusiastic.

We also recently decided it would be good to have a uniform – so we’ve got some Dairy Milk purple hoodies and tops. You definitely can’t miss us now!

The next stops are northern: Crewe and Durham, before returning to Leicestershire for the final two busks.




Busk 9: Queens Road, Leicester

I woke up on the day of the busk to a bittersweet noise. Rain. Lots of rain! On one hand this was a beautiful noise – it had been so hot for the last few weeks. I also knew that rain is not good for busking.

Luckily, the weather gods were on my side and the rain stopped just as quickly as it had started! This busk was a local busk – I’d lived nearby a few years ago and I did a quick walk by my previous house, just like old times. A local deli had said that I could busk outside and had also been helping to promote the busk – great to get support like that.

A representative of the Wild Honey charity also came along to meet me and explain the good work that they do. It’s always nice to get to know people in the charities I am helping – especially as it had such a local impact.

One feature of Queens Road in Leicester is that it has several cafes with outdoor seating. This meant that although it was early in the morning, people heard me whilst they were nursing a cup of coffee and then came over. One poor lady came over at 11.29 to say that she’d come to listen to me – alas, I was finishing at 11.30. She hadn’t realised the time. She appreciated the one song she got to hear. (I have to get a street permit which allows me to busk and collect money for a specific period of time).

We raised just over £72 – more than I thought – which takes us to over £1100 in total.

To celebrate I also ordered some purple Fundraising Flautist tops/hoodies – as if the flute music wasn’t easy enough to identify. I can’t wait for them to arrive.

Next stop is Bristol on the August bank holiday weekend where I will be raising money to support Help Bristol’s Homeless.