At first we thought we were lucky – beautiful white cockatoos flying overhead and settling in the trees that surround our goat farm. But then they discovered our macadamia trees and the thousands of nuts on the ground. Word got round and soon we were counting fifty white cockatoos happily munching away on our driveway. The screeching and squawking starts at 5.30 in the morning and carries on until sundown. We are trying to be Buddhist about it of course but without much success. I guess patience you can only learn the hard way! They will move on eventually…
On the positive side, our shipment finally arrived having been thoroughly quarantined by Australian Customs. Having only had my acoustic guitar with me for the past 3 months, I was so delighted to have my keyboard back I immediately wrote a new song. I’m really happy with it. The trouble is my song list for my next album is getting longer and longer by the day and I don’t want to let go of any of them. Another Buddhist practice then!
Christian has now set up his studio and so once we can record something without deafening backing vocals from white cockatoos we will get to work on my new album. New songs have been pouring out of my head since we arrived in Australia and six of them will be on it. I can’t wait for you to hear them.
I hope all’s well in your world.
To celebrate World Bipolar Day, I’ve been sharing the video for ‘Over The Waterfall‘, my song about being bipolar, which I performed in Sydney last week at the awards ceremony of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders.
I wrote this song after being referred to mental health services during a severe depressive episode in 2012. When I first heard this version of the song, created by producer Nigel Butler for my album ‘Bird Inside A Cage‘, it was a turning point and I began to recover. The album was released in 2013. The video for ‘Over The Waterfall’ was made by my partner and bass player Christian Dunham. It has been shared across the world.
Just back from Sydney where I received an award for public service and advocacy from the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) and performed at their awards dinner cruise in Sydney Harbour. Thank goodness for sea-sickness pills (I am Piscean but hopeless on boats!). It was wonderful meeting so many people who work in psychiatry all around the world to help people who are bipolar like me. Thanks to Marylou Selo for the photo of me performing on the boat with my partner Christian Dunham. My award is a massive block of glass with a chunk of lithium suspended in it which thankfully I managed to get past Virgin Australia’s hand-baggage weight check.
Now after the hustle and bustle of Sydney we’re back in our ‘real world’ of trees, cattle, horses, wallabies and bellbirds up in the hills behind the Sunshine Coast. Amazing how quickly you lose your immunity to the city. It was fun but I’m so glad to be home…
Emily travelled to Sydney, Australia to attend the annual conference of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) and receive the 2019 Mogens Schou Award for Public Service and Advocacy in recognition of her work promoting music for mental health. The awards ceremony took place during a dinner cruise in Sydney Harbour where Emily and her partner Christian Dunham performed for the 180 guests attending. The audience was made up of leading healthcare professionals in the field of psychiatry from around the world. The photo is of Emily with renowned American psychiatrist Robert Post and mental health advocate Marylou Selo.
Emily was chosen by renowned Swiss photographer Matthieu Zellweger to feature as part of his photography project capturing the highs and lows of bipolar disorder. He came to the UK to photograph her and included her in his new book ‘ Worlds Beyond’. This work is featured on the first page of Lens Blog, the highly-regarded photojournalism blog of The New York Times.
Our goats are in disgrace. They may look cute but they are in fact extremely cunning. My mother-in-law left the gate open by mistake the other day and they saw their chance… not to escape but to tip over a barrel of grain and roll it until the top came off (I kid you not). They then proceeded to gorge themselves on a hundred dollars’ worth of top-quality feed. This of course led to terrible indigestion and diarrhoea on an epic scale. They haven’t been out in the paddock since and are lounging around the dairy looking very sorry for themselves.
It’s quite hard being a Buddhist in the Australian bush. The flies are out in force because of the rain and they love dive-bombing my face. The more you swot them away the more they come after you. I’m learning it’s best to leave them be unless they are in your eyes or mouth. I am just a bit paranoid about them laying eggs in my hair (what’s left of it).
We’ve cleared out the yurt. Christian built it for my birthday back in 2004 and it used to be my meditation and songwriting space. I can’t believe the wood and tin is still standing after all the tropical storms of the past 10 years but it’s pretty sheltered by two huge lychee trees. Inside we found the debris of a decade of rubbish – old building materials and stuff piled high in boxes full of rats nests. We wore boots and gloves and thankfully no snakes were in there, only two enormous spiders that gave us both a fright. The yurt is too far gone to start using it again so the plan is now to rebuild it.
What was really lovely was finding a load of old photos from when we lived here before – all the gigs we did here when I was just starting out as a singer-songwriter. I hope we’ll be playing again in Australia before too long. If any of you have any suggestions for small venues or house concerts here please contact us.
Yesterday we went to Brisbane to buy a double-bass for Christian but came back with a gorgeous cello for me. I felt like a kid at Christmas when I woke up this morning! You can see me playing it on my Instagram feed.
I hope all’s well in your world.
After a busy 2018 on the road, Emily is taking some time out from touring as she has just relocated with her husband Christian to Australia. They will be doing gigs in Australia later this year and touring the UK again in 2020. If you want to know when and where you can see Emily play, please join her email list.
You can follow the story of Emily’s life in the Australian bush on her blog, on Facebook and on Instagram.
New blog post today from the Australian bush… follow Emily’s story here on her website and her Instagram feed.
Yesterday I saw my first snake. I’ve been dreading this but the fact that it was only about a foot long and we were inside the car was a big relief. I could even say that it looked sweet. (The snakeskin we found draped over the rafters on our porch is somewhat bigger but I am trying to be brave.)
We’ve been clearing the enormous veggie garden which hasn’t been used for a long time so the beds are all full of huge weeds. We can only do this either at the beginning or end of the day as the sun is so hot. We are going to start planting in the next few weeks as it gets cooler. We’re coming into autumn here now.
Coolabine is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘place of koalas’. There are only a few houses dotted here and there along the valley – you can’t see any from the shack, only the back of a barn in the distance. It’s part of the Obi Obi valley, a sacred meeting place for the south-east Queensland tribes who used to gather here every few years.
I’ve been writing songs on my beautiful Maton guitar which has been a bit neglected over the last few years as I got obsessed with writing piano songs. My keyboard is still on a ship heading to Australia so in the meantime I’ve been remembering how much I love playing guitar. I’ve written four new songs, one of which you will definitely hear on an album someday.
I hope all’s well in your world.
It’s 4.30am. Still jetlagged, I’ve just finished my meditation practice and made myself an enormous cup of coffee. The cocks are crowing but it’s dark outside. I can hear the sound of cicadas and the crazy kookaburras laughing in the trees. Earlier a dingo was howling in the hills that surround the shack.
After 11 years in a sterile, creatureless flat in England, we are back in the Australian bush. Here wildlife dominates every waking moment. Even if it wasn’t for my snake phobia I’d still be mindful of every step, of the spider webs lying in wait between the orange trees. Yesterday morning we were clearing up a pile of maggots. Last night I trod on a bee.
It’s getting light. The darkness fades leaving a mist over the Obi Obi valley. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be here.
Hope all’s well in your world.