Harpa wheel

Yesterday I got back from a wonderful course at Halsway taught by Vicki Swan. It was a lot of hard work but fantastic fun. I have lots of playing improvements to work on, and lots of new tunes to learn. This year will be remembered as the year of the scaffolding!


I was staying (along with most others on our course) in the annexe rather than the main building – it’s also rather lovely.

Halsway annexe

The marquee provided a bit of shelter from the wind (or occasional damp) or even the sun. There was another course running, for songwriters. They seemed to leave discarded pens all over the grounds!

On the Wednesday evening we escaped to a pub in Watchet, Pebbles Tavern. This was a great place and they (and their customers) seemed to appreciate our largely unknown (to them, and sometimes to some of us!) repertoire. I volunteered to be a driver so this was my pre-dinner refreshment:


Notice yet another discarded pen on the table! We managed to remember to take group photos in the pub before we left.


Vicki had warm-up exercises arranged for us on each day, the Thursday one being a walk up onto the Quantocks ridge. The weather could have been better – it restricted the view a bit (though from the ridge we could – just – see Wales), and we got a bit damp up at Halsway Post.

The morning session break included another go at the “cup game” that Vicki had used as part of the Wednesday warm-up.

After more learning we had the usual parade and group photo in Halsway Manor grounds. Lots more fun (though the songwriters told us off for playing when they were trying to make recordings – no warning notices of course!).

Here’s Vicki’s photo which was the result (many thanks Vicki):

nyckelharpa players

We also manged a harpa wheel this time – the September events are now really too big for this, as Halsway doesn’t have a big indoor space that’s suitable for the number of instruments. Various views to choose from! Nice to have two kontrabasharpas, and Vicki’s Moraharpa and “Sienaharpa” (it’s what she calls it!) in the centre. Now I wonder if I really should think about building that Moraharpa … 🙂

Here’s Vicki playing the Sienaharpa: