Here is a lyric video for a new song called ‘About Everything’ which will be on my next album. The song was inspired by conversations I had a few weeks ago with two friends in Australia, Sammy Lou Jones and Steve Thompson. This is my original demo version as we haven’t recorded it properly for the album yet but I wanted to share it now. I guess we all want to do something to help relieve some of the anxiety people are feeling.  I hope a song may help.

Sending you all love.

xx

A year ago today we got off a plane in Brisbane and drove up into the hills behind the Sunshine Coast to our new home, the old goat farm where we used to live.

After 12 years in a one-bedroom, first-floor flat in Bath with the constant roar of traffic from the main road out front and the clatter of trains out the back, it took some time to get used to the space and silence of the Obi Obi valley. Not that it’s silent though – the sound of the birds and the cicadas are constant. Living here so close to nature, you become very preoccupied with the wildlife.

Latest creature highlights include: our resident cane toad having a bath in my bucket of worm wee (it’s good for the skin apparently), me practically patting the head of a deadly Eastern Brown snake lying in wait among my pumpkin vines, a hyperactive Huntsman spider bouncing around our living room which I couldn’t catch so I pretended to Christian that it wasn’t there, the thin cattle in the valley filling their bellies at last with sweet green grass after the rains came, and the flies landing with precision timing on our ribbon mic just as I’m about to finish recording a guitar part for my new album…

…which is progressing, despite the flies. Guitars are nearly done so it’s the string parts next which could be interesting considering I’m going to try and record all the parts myself. I already have a cello and viola and I’ve just been given a violin by a good friend so that’s my string section sorted – it just remains to be seen if I can play the violin and viola upside down like a cello and not make it sound like a cat being violently strangled. We shall see…

In the photo I’m holding my first corn on the cob from the garden and looking extremely pleased with myself as you can imagine. I have since been brought back down to earth by some ruthless birds who shall remain nameless (my mother-in-law has decided it was crows but they are sacred in Buddhism so I’m not making any hasty allegations) who have eaten most of my crop the bastards. Ah well, I’m sure there’s a lesson in patience here somewhere… or possibly pride before a fall? At least they haven’t eaten my sunflowers.

Hope all’s well in your world.

xx

You can see more photos from my life in the Australian bush on Instagram.

I’m shocked and saddened by the tragic loss and devastation of people’s lives in Australia with bushfires out of control. Here in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, south-east Queensland, you can smell smoke some days and see the haze in the air from fires in the area.

But right now in NSW and Victoria it looks like the apocalypse. Christian’s aunt and uncle were among thousands evacuated this week from southern NSW. His sister is trying to get back home to Melbourne with highways cut off by the fires. It is terrifying.

And all the while the prime minister Scott Morrison ignores the fire chiefs’ warning that climate change is creating the conditions for the country’s worst fire season yet. But this is not about politics, it’s about people.

It’s Christmas Eve here in south-east Queensland, hot and humid at 8.30am.  Storms are forecast for today so we’re hoping – praying – for rain.  This must sound strange to you if you’re in the UK with all the floods there.

Despite the heat (46 degrees the other day), we’ve been recording my new album.  Shane our drummer comes up from Brisbane and we set up in our big open living space at Shaktu, Christian engineering and me enjoying immensely that I don’t have to do anything but sit there and be bossy :).

Having all the patience of a hopeless Buddhist of course I cannot wait for you to hear the songs we are recording.  I was amazed to discover that 9 out of 12 of them are in a major key which says something for my state of mind this past year.

And now it’s Christmas which in Australia means prawns and beer.  Tonight is our family party on the farm.  The goats will get a big serve of the silverbeet I’ve been growing for them in the garden.  Months of weeding and watering gone in 5 minutes!

I hope all’s well in your world.  Thanks so much for your support – wishing you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

xx

Yesterday it rained. Here in the Australian bush – tanks running dry, brown grass everywhere – it felt like a miracle.

On our farm we are not on mains water so we rely on a spring-fed dam. Every day it gets lower and lower. And it’s been boiling hot – midsummer temperatures at the start of spring. Apart from yesterday’s brief downpour, the spring storms haven’t materialised.

But it’s not the water and it’s not even the bush fires that concern me the most right now. It’s the creatures.

12 years ago I lived on this same farm. I got used to the spiders everywhere, the mice, the cockroaches, the beetles, the ants, the zillion bugs and mozzies filling the air… every day they were all there, buzzing and scurrying around.

When it rained the floor of our shack would be filled with frogs of all shapes and sizes. Every evening huge Huntsman spiders would be dangling from walls and mirrors.

Yesterday there were no frogs after the rain. Of all the other creatures that used to live with us, you see the odd beetle or bug here and there. A mouse or gecko or the occasional spider might appear in my yurt. But they are very few and far between.

The only creatures that seem to be doing well here now are the flies. Even the mozzies seem to be strangely absent. But the bellbirds are still singing in the wood next door so they must have something to eat.

As I write this, a small Huntsman spider has suddenly appeared high on the wall of my studio – the first I’ve seen in months. As if to say, we’re not done yet. I’m guessing that without us here polluting the world, nature would recover pretty quickly.

I never thought I would miss a cockroach or a March fly. But something is happening and it’s happening fast. In a country where the Prime Minister denies the existence of man-made climate change, it is terrifying.

xx

Finally, after months of writing and arranging new songs, we started recording my new album yesterday. Our drummer Shane Nesic came up from Brisbane and Christian set up the big living room in our home Shaktu as a recording studio (Shaktu is shack no.2 on the farm). Despite the heat, we got drum and bass tracks for the first 3 songs done. Today we start on a song I only wrote a couple of weeks ago, so I guess the long wait to record has been a blessing in disguise. There’s another song too which has made the A-list which I wrote while I was in the UK a few weeks ago.

News from the farm… we now have a very cute baby goat called Sonny, the result of our buck Frankie’s Great Escape a few months ago (he leapt through a hole in his fence and then leapt on as many goats as he could). More kids are due to be born today so it’s possible Christian will have to go from being sound engineer to midwife at the drop of a hat. Frankie is very sweet-natured for a billy goat but I’ve been feeding him silver beet and cabbage leaves and so he now yells at me every time I go in the veggie garden.

It has been boiling hot – far too hot for spring. So hot in fact that I went swimming with snakes the other day (not bad for someone who used to have such a phobia I couldn’t even look at them on TV!). The veggies in my garden wilt in the midday sun but revive again as I spend an hour each afternoon watering them. Some days the air is hazy from smoke – there have been fires in the area and being surrounded by trees makes us vulnerable. We’ve talked through our fire plan – what we would take with us if we only had 5 minutes to get out.

But right now I’m not thinking about fires or snakes or even baby goats… I’m thinking about these new songs and how incredibly lucky I am to have Christian and Shane to help me record them. I’ll keep you posted on progress…

I hope all’s well in your world.

xx

Today is World Mental Health Day.  Yesterday I went with Christian to Brisbane and sang some of my songs for the young people on the mental health ward at Queensland Children’s Hospital.

We performed outside in a rooftop garden with a big colourful mural on one of the walls and views of the city all around.  It made me think of the mental health unit in the south-west of England I played in where the garden was a bare patch of dusty brown grass with a high wall and not a plant in sight.

People here tell me mental health services in Australia are not good but from what I’ve seen so far they are a lot better than the UK.  Here you get referred to a psychologist and psychiatrist without having to have reached the point of being either suicidal or psychotic before you get any help.

For someone like me living with bipolar disorder where the chemical imbalance in my brain sometimes feels like I’m walking a tightrope over a canyon, that early support from a mental health team can mean the difference between a blip and a full-blown crisis.

Yesterday’s gig was my first mental health hospital gig in Australia, the first of many I hope.

xx

My new obsession with growing things… as well as our veggie garden in this video, out the back of the shack I’m also growing sweet potato, watercress, basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines, pumpkin, watermelon, rock melon, red peppers, garlic chives, lemongrass, sage, rosemary and lavender. One of the good things about being bipolar is you don’t do things by halves :).

On Saturday I played Maleny Music Festival, my first festival since moving back to Australia and our first gig back together with drummer Shane Nesic in 12 years (you can see a clip below). We really enjoyed it – thanks to everyone who came to see us. Christian and I also performed the next day in the songs for social conscience slot where I sang ‘For Free’ and ‘Woke Up’, the song Greenpeace used for their 2009 Copenhagen climate change campaign. We also performed ‘Over The Waterfall’ and ‘Start Over Again’ at the festival finale.

Spring is here and yesterday I was back in our huge veggie garden. It now takes over half an hour to water all the beds. We had Christian’s 90-year-old uncle Barney staying who took over the watering while he was here and did a proper job of it so it’s all burgeoning like mad now. I am particularly excited about my snow peas – mange tout in UK-speak – which won’t ever make it into the kitchen as I can’t stop eating them in the garden!

We’re doing a few local gigs with Shane while we’re working on the new album – Maleny Youth Festival in a couple of weeks, then a charity fundraiser for Save The Rivers, a campaign to support Urannah, part of the original homelands of the Wiri and Birri peoples of the Birri Gaba nation. At the end of September we’re doing a very special gig on the deck at Crystal Waters, a lovely permaculture commune near Conondale, and then in October performing at the Eudlo Music Nights festival. Details of all these gigs can be found on my website.

It’s early morning and the kookaburras are laughing in the trees. After the plague of white cockatoos we now have black cockatoos which usually means rain which would save me a lot of time in the garden. But for now, the sun is shining…

Hope all’s well in your world.

xx