where am I? (Israel part two)

That moment when you first wake up; that feeling that you can’t quite remember where you are. I had exactly THAT this morning.

And then I remembered, it’s Part Two of our Israel adventure and the futon-like bed in which he and I were lying was on a kibbutz. A really religious one.

So, I knew that we needed a day trip, it’s just that I hadn’t exactly planned what that might be when I booked the kibbutz part of our trip.

Being in this environment (where we pretty much stick out like a sore thumb) had actually been a real plan though. I’m the least likely person to seek out extra curricular religious observance except that I have this insatiable desire to appreciate different cultures and ways of life. MIX THIS with a constant irritation that we live too much of the good life, I woke up right here.

Anyway we hiked (up + down Mount Arbel) in intense heat, chilled our boots as we swam with locals in the Sea of Galilee (actually a lake) and ate dinner by the Jordan river, a popular baptism site.

Tomorrow we’re off again.

Sea of Galilee

are you following me on Instagram @lifeofyablon?  There you’ll find many more pictures + stories.


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mount of olives (Israel part one)

Camera in hand, I unlatched the hotel fire door and crept out onto the scorching roof. It was 5 o’clock in the afternoon but still intensely bright and a solid 30 degrees.

The view. The whiteness. The intensity.

Suddenly I was aware I had company. A waiter on a break. He too was just staring out at the city view.

Where are you from?’ he asked.

London’ I responded.


This is my city.’ He informed me.

[more Silence.]

‘Where do you live in the city?’ I grew curious.

On Mount of Olives, just over there.’ He pointed.

I told him that we had been hoping to go there this evening to watch the sunset over the city. But that we had been advised that it might not be best. ‘Things can get tricky up there’ a taxi driver had warned us.

My waiter looked emotional.

‘Your taxi driver is right. Enjoy my city but there is unrest so please take care.’

Mount of Olives, Jerusalem.

are you following me on Instagram @lifeofyablon?  There you’ll find many more pictures + stories.


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adele, all woman

Thursday night at Wembley

As I sip my morning tea, I wonder how she feels sipping her hot lemon and honey.

The devastation, the frustration, the lack of … Finale.

Adele, this morning, is even more the woman, mother and sensible human she was yesterday. The doctor has advised her not to sing tonight and tomorrow night, the remaining 2 nights of her tour. She has already caused her vocal cords damage and there’s more at risk if she pushes herself further.

Decisions are never easy, until they’re made and the moment has passed.   No Wembley show feeling can substitute health. No crowd fury can trump a feeling of humiliation … if she finds herself departing the stadium mid-set.

So the woman and her voice have spoken.

And next time you don’t want to miss out on something but find yourself forced into submission, maybe remember the 98,000 fans you won’t be disappointing?

Meanwhile, Adele, only hum and sip to that soothing tune.

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live to ROCK

When Small left his previous school (slightly prematurely), my only concern was for his saxophone playing. For he does love to belt out those tunes and playing solo to a backing track at home just isn’t quite the same as being a part of a school jazz ensemble.

And, while I contemplated how to sort this situation, I started to think a bit more about the music schedule so many of our children follow:

D flat major, sight-reading, music theory, aural tests, graded pieces…

And that feeling of playing a solo in school assembly…

None of it felt that great. Or fun. Or exciting.

The facts are that we DO love our children to learn, play and appreciate music. Plus there’s all that evidence to show just how beneficial music is for their sanity, particularly as they hit all those teenage hormones.

While I was on the verge of Facebook posting for a musical solution, I was introduced to Chris and The Band Project.   I immediately called him and tried my hardest not to whine as I described what I felt Small really, truly needed. I’d only got half way through explaining my music mission when I realised Chris and his team deliver EXACTLY this.

band practice with tutor Stu Cooney

To be clear, I’m not about to describe the conventional Royal Academy type of music. It’s more of a smelly, recording studio, grainy type of music experience. Because my boy (along with so many other boys/girls) is finding that a real music escape route does actually exist. In the form of a band.

How rock ‘n’ roll does that sound? Small is in a band and he loves it. In fact, he says it’s a highlight of his week. And do you want to know why? Because he actually makes music and feels a part of something cool and different and fun and… YES this is what I reckon learning to love music is all about. Isn’t it?

The Band Project was something I learnt about from another mum. Her son plays the electric guitar well and I suppose most schools struggle to know how what to do with that sort of talent. But The Band Project doesn’t feel anything like school music. It’s unconventional. The band tutor (not even called teachers) adopt a pretty unique way of talking to and motivating the bunch of music making kids.

‘What sort of music are you into?’ my son was asked the first time he turned up. ‘I mean, what really makes you want to play the sax?’

Chris Mountford – founder of The Band Project

And when I asked if there was any music he should take home to practice, the rather cool dreadlocked musician tried his best not to snigger: ‘We’re just jamming, Mum!’ the tutor responded.

I’m sold. Not on the gig (but I’ll buy all the tickets and rock along to whatever his band belt out) but on the way this Band Project makes these kids feel. And the way they choose to spend their weekend. As we drive away from the NW1 recording studios, I see other kids hanging out at Camden Market and know that this band might not hit the charts nor even record an album but they will absolutely feel great about themselves each Sunday, hum those tunes and might even feel that music is indeed part of their lives.

And all this is just MY point of view, as a parent. Ask him if you want to know how he felt at the band’s first gig yesterday. Ask him why he can’t stop smiling when he talks about it.

More information about The Band Project can be found here




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