Regular readers will know that one important facet of my seaside life here in Dorset is the Island Voices Community Choir. Now, I’m the first to admit that I don’t have a particularly strong singing voice, but I do very much enjoy taking part. We rehearse in a wonderful old stone hall – with a fabulous acoustic – on the Isle of Portland, and we have a lot of fun in the process. There can be few more delightful ways to spend your time than to work with a group of friends to produce a beautiful sound. The intense concentration can take you into quite another world.


Island Voices singing at a Carol Service on Portland

One of the side-benefits of this sort of choir-life is that you get to meet all sorts of other music-making folk along the way. One of these groups is the Weymouth-based Dorset Wrecks – great name, since this coast is littered with the remains of sunken ships, and they are shanty-men. We invited them to our Christmas party – a top-notch musical evening where everyone gets to stand up and sing. And so we all did. There were group and solo performances, and Island Voices themselves had a whale of a time belting out a selection of seasonal pieces, from a medieval French carol to a reindeer-calling song from Lapland.

Towards the end of the evening it was the Dorset Wrecks’ turn to sing us a couple of songs – but first they apologised: “You have such angelic voices,” they said, indicating the choir, “but we just have big gobs!” Well, that’s not exactly what they said, but this is a family-friendly blog.

Anyway, there was nothing to apologise for – sea shanties are work songs, and they’re supposed to be loud. Even so, I reckon the roof of the Peter Trim hall lifted off the walls once or twice. We all sang along at top volume.


‘Heave away, haul away’. The tall ship Marite leaving Weymouth

“Heave away, haul away,” they bellowed, and we bellowed too. “…we’re bound for South Australia!” We were with them all the way, believe me. It was huge fun. I’m still hoarse.

I can’t think of many better ways to celebrate Christmas than to spend time singing with friends old and new, can you?







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