Hello one and all and welcome to my news page. Here you can see me as my two alter egos the ever efficient secretary Prudie Jones, Evette the Spivette and plain old little me as you catch up with all that is current in my world. Regrettably unlike Prudie my spelling is quite frightful at the best of times due to my dyslexia so I shall apologise now for anything which might be shamefully mis-spelt. In the mean time I hope you find this page fun, entertaining and informative and become a regular visitor to my site.

Chat soon & keep reading
Fiona Harrison
A Voice in a Million

Merry Christmas & Stepping into the Festive Season!

Paul and I Between Christmas Shows!

I’m afraid I can’t spend too long on my blog this evening. I’m busy with the Christmas season and it’s important I get to bed tonight at a reasonable hour. I’ve been working hard, often performing two shows daily, mixing fairy tales with Christmas favorites and it’s important I pace myself and not burn myself out too soon. I’m no stranger to burning the mid-night oil but with my current work load I can’t afford to cheat myself of sleep.

I’d like to start by thanking every-one for your lovely Christmas cards and good wishes for the season. I’m woefully behind with my cards this year and I’m trying very hard to catch up between

Opening A Full Sized Advent Calendar!

shows and failing miserably, while still attending to my office work and e-mails. I’d like to thank Gordon especially for my beautiful Rita Hayworth Christmas card and my mystery fan for the lovely book of vintage stamps. They are delightful and it’s so kind of you to think of me and to take the trouble of sending them.

I can’t believe how quickly Christmas will be upon us and how much I need to get ready before Christmas Eve. I’ve two shows that day one in Harrow then onto Amersham. Afterwards it’s straight down to Porchester Castle to sing for midnight mass at St Mary’s Church followed by a couple of shows on the South Coast before heading back up to Bushy to perform for Chanukah at Bushy United Synagogue. The next day I’m singing in Birmingham, New Years Eve Paul and I will be at Warwick Castle and then I’m straight into Happy New Year shows. I need to get all my packing, music and costumes sorted by Sunday evening so I really need to get cracking!

New Look’s Red Shoes Take Two!

All this singing is hard on clothes and costumes and when it comes to shoes I would rather buy a good quality pair of expensive shoes every time. If you follow my blogs you will know I went shopping for red shoes a few weeks ago and already the bright red New Look pair are starting to fall apart. They match my Christmas dress perfectly and are extremely comfortable to wear. They were the only shop which had the right shade of red so I went back a week later and bought another pair as I knew these shoes wouldn’t last the course. Even though I change into them when you are singing and dancing shoes wear quickly and I can’t stand to see scruffy

Meeting Up with Santa!

foot wear on stage.

I’m pleased to announce I now have a new You tube banner which you can see by clicking the link.

Karen has been working extremely hard on my web-site and I’m keen to give my site a new look which will be a project for 2020/21. At the moment I can’t quite decide how the new design template should look as we move my web-site into wide screen.

Last weekend Paul joined me for a couple of my shows which took us to Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. I shall leave

Merry Christmas From Paul and I!

you with a few of my photos from this week.

That’s all my news for now. Have a Lovely Christmas and New Year. Keep Following and Toodle Pip!

Meeting Daleks, Disney & It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas!

Meeting Up with a Dalek!

This last week has been very much business as usual as I’ve been traveling from show to show. Although on paper I’ve been performing the same show ” A Fairy Tale Christmas Spectacular”, in reality I’ve been adding in variations depending on my audience and no two shows so far have been alike. Some audiences like to sit back and listen where others just want to get down and party. I’ve had plenty of both and I’ve enjoyed working in the musical differences. Fortunately I’m not short of repertoire and I’ve something to suit all tastes from Disney, Sing-along, Christmas Carols to Rock and Roll.

Going Disney with the Cast from Frozen!

“A Fairy Tale Christmas Spectacular” is a new show for this season and Richard’s musical arrangements have been going down extremely well, especially his “Oliver”medley. I’ve seem to have hit upon a gem there as it never fails and my new Mary Poppins arrangement of “Feed the Birds” is also proving to be a great success with audiences.

Interestingly I’ve added in the monkey song from The Jungle Book  “King of the Swingers”or in my case “Queen of the Swingers”. I commissioned  this arrangement a few years ago for a special event and included “Abba Dabba Do – Said the

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas!

Monkey to the Chimp” in the medley. Afterwards I was never able to find a proper place for it in my other shows until now. It’s great to bring it out from my back catalog and perform the number again especially as it opens up with Tarzan’s famous jungle call.

Disney never ceases to be popular and while I was shopping in Milton Keynes I caught up with the cast from Frozen. I’m currently working on “Let it Go” which I’m adding into some of my January shows.

I’m always working, and having a new repertoire this season has enabled me to think more about my singing technique. Sometimes it’s easier to start from scratch with new songs and as I’ve introduced a lot of modern Disney numbers it’s enabled me to re-think. I’ve had something of a break through with regards the taming of my vibrato which is all down to how I think about sustaining the note. Everything is in the right

My Friend the Dalek!

place, it’s just a case of mind over matter and working to improve.

On Sunday night I had the pleasure of performing for a 50th Birthday party in my home town of Leighton Buzzard which included a special guest appearance from a Dalek no less! I’ve also been to Peterborough and later on this week I’m back in Milton Keynes and over to Cambridgeshire. On Monday I caught up with all my friends from L&D radio in Hitchin and on Saturday I’m performing in Much Hadnam.

That’s all my news for now as I must get to bed and ready for tomorrows


Keep Following and Toodle Pip!

New Facebook Banners, Dresses & A Fairy Tale Christmas Spectacular!

Dressed for Christmas with my friend Joe!

Hello every-one and yes “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” to quote my second song in for this season. I confess I don’t really have much to write about this week other than I’ve been working mostly two shows daily and busy bedding in my new show “A Fairytale Christmas Spectacular”. I confess I haven’t taken many photos these last few days as I’ve had some tight turn around’s dashing from venue to venue. Already I’ve been to Oxford, Peterborough, Milton Keynes and Sandy. I always enjoy this time of year as it’s exciting going from show to show and adapting content to suit each audience.

Trying On My New Red Dress!

Certainly in these last few days I’ve had quite a few Christmas parties to do and all with slightly different briefs.

It can take a few performances to get a new show to sit right but this year everything has gone really well and the new fairytale arrangements have been going down a treat. The rehearsal time I spent has really paid off and if anything I have more fairytale repertoire than I need which is already paving it’s way to another show. Large repertoires allow me to be more creative and work in musical variations depending on whom I am singing to.

I’ve also had the pleasure of wearing my new dresses which I had adapted for this season. I had my last fitting on Saturday and now it’s full steam ahead. A lot of though goes into my dresses  and they have to be hard wearing, not crease and with stand a lot of wear and tear. So often I don’t have time to

Dress Fitting – Pretty in Pink!

change and more often than not I have to turn up at venues already dressed, rig and then it’s straight on stage.

My red dress for this season is made from best quality crepe fabric. It moves beautifully and by adding the white peal trimming it’s given the dress a new lease of life. It’s also wonderfully comfortable to wear. As for my pink cocktail dress that was. I’ve added a new bolero and had both the dress and bolero re-trimmed using trimmings I bought in Fulham at Accessories of Old Vintage. It’s completely revitalised and fits my fairy tail theme perfectly for this year

Other news and for those of you who follow me on Facebook I expect many of you have already seen, but I have had some new banners designed for my Facebook pages. I thought we were long over due for a change and these designs are all down to my new web-designer Karen Hardicker and photographer Angela Adams as we press forward into 2020.

Keep Following and Toodle Pip! 😉

A Fairy Tale Christmas, Red Shoes & The Launch of the My Fair Lady Promo Film!

Fiona Harrison as Henry Higgins

Why Can’t The English Teach Their Children How to Speak!

It’s been a very exciting week with a couple of “My Fair Lady” shows back to back. If you caught my last blog you will know I was down in Mill Hill performing at the synagogue on Wednesday and then I was straight up to Birmingham with the show the following day. I was booked to play at Bournville Gardens Village and my show couldn’t have gone better as they have a small theater with stage lighting, which makes for the perfect setting.

I’m so proud of this show and yesterday Judson sent the finished “My Fair Lady”  promo film through which has now been up loaded to You

On Stage at Bournville Gardens Village!

tube and added to my web-site. My promo has been a long time in it’s creation but it was worth the wait. I’m really proud of it and I’m glad we weren’t tempted to cut corners compromising the finished result.

Judson and I took a long time on getting the opening graphics just right emulating many of the ideas used in the original “My Fair Lady” film. The flower shots were taken in the public gardens while Judson was working out in Vienna. These shots look like they have been shot in technicolor really giving the promo that glamorous Hollywood edge.

Feed the Birds from Mary Poppins!

I enclose the You Tube link and I hope you all enjoy watching it as much as I did making it.

This week it’s all change and tomorrow I open with my new “Fairy Tale Christmas Spectacular” show. I’ve been rehearsing and yesterday evening I was in the recording studio with Richard picking up the last of my musical arrangements before Christmas. There is nothing more exciting than a new musical arrangement and this year I’ve been investing heavily in music for the show. You could say tomorrow is going to be D-Day when

Fiona Harrison in Hotters Shoe Shop

Shopping for Red Shoes at Hotters!

everything will be coming together and I’m just praying I will remember all my words.

Once again Richard has surpassed himself and this Christmas I am introducing lots of new Disney number plus Richard has put together a wonderful Disney medley which I tried out for the first time earlier this month when I was singing for the Poppy Appeal in Birmingham. I also have a new Oliver arrangement which went down well in the Summer when I tried it out for the first time and yesterday I picked up “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppins. I have other arrangements in production with Richard for next year as I’m

Fiona Harrison buying Hotters Shoes

Finding a pair in Cherry Red at Hotters!

planning to expand this fairy tale theme further.

A great deal of thought goes into my dresses and better still I was able to have a few of my existing dresses re-modelled for this season. Some of you may remember when I went down to Fulham in September and bought a number of glamorous trimmings from “Accessories of Old Vintage”. Well those trimming are really coming into there own now and have made such a difference to my Christmas dresses.

Shoes are also a very important part, and when it comes to red I have three red dresses all needing a different shade. Last Saturday I ventured into Milton Keynes on a mission to find red shoes and sure enough I was able to come away with three different pairs. My first pair were bright red and came from New Look. The dark Ox blood ones came from , House of Fraser and for the Cherry Red ones I went to Hotters.   So I now have everything covered.

That’s all my news for now, keep Following and Toodle Pip! 😉


We’ll Meet Again at Portchester Castle & My Fair Lady for Mill Hill JACS!

Fiona Harrison on Stage at St Mary's Church Portchester Castle

On Stage at St Mary’s Church!

Fiona Harrison with the Rev Ian Meredith Portchester Castle

Paul and I with Rev Ian Meredith!

Once again I’m in something of a dash and between shows. Today I’ve been performing in London at Mill Hill Synagogue my “My Fair Lady ” one woman show and tomorrow I’m off up to Birmingham to perform at Bournville Gardens Village. It’s great to have a couple of performances of the same show back to back as it keeps the lines fresh in my brain. With this show there is a lot to remember and today’s show couldn’t have gone better as I sung, danced, narrated and acted my way through the entire “My Fair Lady” score. I’m looking forward very much to performing the show again tomorrow and I hope the Birmingham audience will enjoy it just as much as today’s Mill Hill audience did.

Last weekend Paul and I were down in Portchester performing at St Mary’s Church at Portchester Castle. Once again we had a good audience and I had been booked to perform the music of the 1940s for a special Remembrance show. The church had been beautifully decorated and Paul and I performed the “We’ll Meet Again” show in two half’s. To begin with I sang a sing-along selection in my ATS uniform and then for the second half I changed into my 1940s evening gown.

Fiona Harrison on Stage at St Mary's Church Portchester

On Stage at St Mary’s Church!

For this part of the show we introduced popular Big Band and Swing tunes, songs from the Hollywood movies, the Vera Lynn classics “The White Cliffs of Dover” and “We’ll Meet Again” and concluded with a British themes medley . Paul sang a selection of Sinatra numbers  which went down extremely well with the audience as they all sang along and waved flags to our grand finally.

I would like to thank the Reverend Ian Meredith for inviting Paul and I to sing at St Mary’s Church and to all the helpers who worked hard to make the church look so beautiful for the evening not to mention the lovely refreshments. Paul and I

Fiona Harrison at The Kings Theatre Southsea

Poppy & I Out-side The Kings Theatre

will be returning to St Mary’s Church on Christmas Eve for Midnight Mass. I have been invited to sing Schubert’s Ave Maria which I’m looking forward to very much.

I enjoy visiting this part of the world very much and no trip to Portchester/Portsmouth would be complete with-out a visit to the vintage fashion shop the “One Legged Jockey” in Southsea. It’s one of my favorite hunts and on this occasion I was able to pick up a pair of white cotton gloves which I really needed and Paul was able to find a beautiful brown silk scarf. I was very tempted to

Fiona harrison at The One Legged Jockey

Trying on Coats in the One Legged Jockey!

buy a vintage coat and one 60s black one with fur collar and cuffs really caught my eye, but I resisted in between taking Poppy for her walks along the sea-side and by the Kings Theatre which looked very Christmasy!

With the launch of my new Fairy Tale Christmas Spectacular show I have a very full diary ahead of me. On Christmas eve my first show is in Harrow at 11am. Then at 2.30pm I’m on stage in Amersham followed by me driving straight down to Portchester with a quick run through with the organist at 10pm, and then it’s mass at 11pm. It’s hard to believe but by Christmas eve I will have completed 32 shows in one month with only another 5 shows to perform there after taking me up to New Years Eve. This year  Paul and I will be seeing the New Year in at Warwick Castle.

Christmas is just around the corner and I’m busy learning

Fiona Harrison in Portsmouth

Paul & I Out & About in Portsmouth!

words to new songs and putting the last finishing touches together for “A Fairy Tale Christmas Spectacular”. I hope to be in the recording studio this weekend picking up the last of my Mary Poppins arrangements. I open with my Christmas show on the 28th November and then it’s full steam ahead through to the end of the year.

That’s all my news for now but in the meantime I shall leave you with a few photos from this weekend.

Keep Following, Toodle Pip and Bye for Now! 😉

The Poppy Appeal, Singing the 40s at Maulden & Off to Portchester Castle!

Fiona Harrison Collecting for the Poppy Appeal

Collecting for the Poppy Appeal!

Meeting Up With Joe Marling in Pitstone!

Hello every-one I’m back after an intense week of Remembrance shows. In many cases I have been performing two shows daily and my travels have taken me to Birmingham, Maulden and this coming weekend I will be performing at Porchester Castle, but more on that in a moment.

To begin with I would like to start by thanking every-one who helped to support the Poppy Appeal this week. It’s a wonderful cause and my friend Joe Marling, better known to us all as “The Poppy Man of Pitstone” was out every day collecting for this all important charity. Every year Joe stands out-side Mason’s Stores in Pitstone with his WW2 jeep attracting visitors to donate. This year Joe was hoping to beat his target of £4000 and I hope very much he will succeed as the Poppy Appeal does so much for service personnel and their families.

On Tuesday I too was helping with the Poppy Appeal in Birmingham. I had been booked to perform all day by the Royal British Legion at Birmingham New Street Station. My job was to sing  from 8am through to 5.00pm, 20 minutes on 20 minutes off songs from WW1 through to the 1970s attracting passes by to donate. My day

On Stage with The Gospel Choir!

started early although usually with these things it’s a case of singing where necessary to fit in with other visiting artistes.

I left Leighton Buzzard at 4.30am and drove straight to Birmingham New Street Station. I say straight to, as Birmingham is one of those places where you need to have local knowledge. Sat Navs don’t really work due to all the roadworks and the cities famous one way system. Fortunately with a little help from my friends, Mark and Yanto, I was able to get to where I needed to be.

Fiona Harrison on Stage in Birmingham with the D-Day darlings

Meeting Up with The D-Day Darlings!

I had the pleasure of singing for the appeal last year and there is always a great atmosphere at New Street Station. The Poppy sellers are joined by military personnel and together we work hard to invite donations. This year I had the pleasure of working along side the Emmanu-El Apostic Gospel Choir who were just phenomenal and the D-Day Darlings who were in town promoting their show.

Teamed with my Evy 300 speakers it made a wonderful opportunity for me to try out my new powered mixer amp, the Yamaha EMX7. It didn’t

Ready to Roll with the Yamaha EMX7!

let me down and gave me all the sound I needed for the stations size. It’s a big space to fill with a natural reverberation so when I steeped back and listened to the Gospel choir through my rig I was very pleased with the result. They sounded terrific and that Yamaha EMX7 really does do what it says on the tin “turning a band into an orchestra!”

These sorts of assignments really sort out the women from the girls. It’s a hard days sing and not for the fainthearted. I was on stage from 8am singing for commuters and I’ve learnt from experience to bring two pairs of comfortable

Collecting at Grand Central!

shoes. Regardless of how comfortable your stage shoes are when you are standing for that length of time you will need a change. By the end of the day my feet had reverted to stumps in the ground due to cold and standing for so long. The strange thing is you don’t even notice it until you start to walk again and get the circulation back.

I think by the end of the day I had sung my way though eighty or so numbers covering everything from Puccini to Chuck Berry although interestingly the numbers which went down best of all were the Rock and Roll, Abba and Grease

The Poppy Appeal New Street Station Stand!

songs which got every-one joining in. They proved to be far more popular than the 40s numbers and it was a good opportunity for me to try out my new Disney and Oliver arrangements which went down extremely well.

You always know when you are onto a winner with a new arrangement when you are able to get busy people to stop and listen. It’s not always easy and there are times when you can be singing your heart out to nothing but what matters is people did listen and donate to this all important cause. I sang through to 5pm and afterwards once all my equipment had been packed away I sat

Fiona Harrison at Maulden Village Hall

On Stage with Rosie and Bob at Maulden Village Hall!

down and enjoyed a wonderful meal at Carluccios Italian Restaurant. I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed my sea-bass and chocolate bread and butter pudding for desert. Just what I needed after a hard days singing.

I didn’t get home until 10.30pm and I was straight to bed. I’d planned to leave Wednesday clear although I revived a last minute call to do a show that afternoon so I was straight out again performing a remembrance show which continued through with other performances for the rest of the week.

I currently have 11 x 1940s shows and this season I have had the pleasure of performing a variety from WAAF, WRNS, ATS and Glamour. Saturdays show at Maulden Village Hall had a Glamour brief as the whole village came together to support the Armed Forces charities. I had been booked by Maulden History Society to sing songs from the 1940s, numbers every-one could sing-along and dance too, and what a wonderful

Fiona Harrison on stage at Maulden Village Hall

On Stage at Maulden Village Hall!

evening we all had too. The hall had been beautifully decorated and every-one came in costume.

So often when I get asked to sing for dancing nobody gets up and dances but not at Maulden as the floor quickly filled and every-one got into the Wartime spirit. It really was a wonderful night with a prize for the best dressed, a 1940’s quiz, Bob Gale compered the evening and Mark Stevens was our DJ. We also had a special guest performance from The Alka Seltzer Sisters made up from the Maulden Players while Ron Chimes accompanied them on keyboards and played a

The George Inn Maulden Bar Staff

The Land Army Bar Staff!

selection of patriotic songs for the finally. I’d also like to thank Mark Shephard from the Village Hall Team who helped me dress the stage with my large flags and to Rosie Coyle for inviting me to sing. A great time was had by all!

This Friday 15th November you can catch me on stage performing “We’ll Meet Again” the music of the 1940s with debonair Sinatra Vocalist Paul Marsden at St Mary’s Church, Portchester Castle, Hants.  The show begins at 7.30pm, tickets £8 and are available from the Parish Office on Tel 02392 321380. There will also be a few tickets available on the door, but hurry as I hear they are selling

Tickets Please!


That’s all my news for now apart from next week where I will be down in Mill Hill, before heading onto Bournville in Birmingham with my one woman “My Fair Lady” show before starting on my Christmas season.

Keep Following and Toodle Pip! 😉

Fiona harrison with The Lord Mayor of Birmingham

Meeting Up with the Lord Mayor of Birmingham!

Newark Air Museum, Halloween & Singing for Birmingham Poppy Appeal!

Fiona Harrison on stage at Newark Air Museum

On Stage with Paul!

Fiona Harrison Sings We'll Meet Again

We’ll Meet Again!

This week I’ve been working flat out catching up with my paper-work in-between performing Halloween shows. I’ve almost caught up and I don’t mind admitting I went with-out sleep to get my second Italian blog installment out for you this week. It’s hard graft especially as my printer went down a week last Friday and it’s taken until this afternoon for me to have a new one installed.

It’s been a real killer and perhaps not surprisingly I’ve been under a great deal of pressure to make my dead lines. I like to set myself high standards and it’s important I keep you all well informed and I don’t let things slip. Unbelievably I had to replace my amp this week too. I think it may have a dry joint and fortunately it goes in to be repaired this Monday. Last Monday evening it shut down mid show just before the interval but lucky I had a new amp in the van which I’d only picked up the day before. I quickly unwrap it and I was up and running again in minutes just in time for the second half.

It’s important to carry back up and that one was a little too close to call. I can’t tell you the amount of adrenaline I used up that night and at times it’s

Paul and Dave Dawes Between Sets!

been a bit like the song – “One wheel on my wagon but I’m still rolling along!” However all things considered it great to come out the other side stronger and now I’m looking forward to a busy Remembrance week and an action packed Christmas.

So on with my blog and firstly I’d like to begin by thanking every-one last weekend at the Newark Air Museum for staging such a great 1940s event. Late October can be a difficult time of year for events as the weather isn’t always kind. However despite a very wet and windy start every-one pulled together to make the weekend a great

Meeting Up with Re-enactors Over Tea!

success. This event has a wonderful atmosphere run by a terrific gang of people who pull out all the stops.

This year Paul and I had the pleasure of working  with Dave Dawes from 1940s radio who linked the event with live broadcasts from  and a selection of songs from the era. I had been engaged to perform 3 shows daily and as always I like to make sure I include a good variety of music incorporating different themes.

Fiona Harrison in 1940s Costume Newark

Enjoying the Museum Displays!

This year we had a marquee and Paul sang the best of Sinatra which the audience really enjoyed. On Saturday I performed  “Those Magnificent Men” WAAF Show, “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” Glamour Show and “GI Jive” a WAC Show.  On Sunday I began with  “We’ll Meet Again”my  ATS Show,  a Hollywood Swing set and finished with “Anchors Aweigh” a US WAVES show. Sadly were weren’t able to go ahead with the Saturday Night dance due to the cold and heavy rain but come the Sunday the sunshine returned and every-one worked tirelessly to make the event a success.

I away make sure I bring plenty of costumes with me when it’s slightly out of season as the weather

Fiona Harrison as a US WAC

Dressed for GI Jive!

can change hourly. With so many different shows it’s important I have all basses covered and sometimes when it comes to glamour it’s not until I’m there experiencing the moment I even know what I’m going to wear until the very last minute.

One of the highlights of last weekend was the Sunday service which was taken by David Moore. Included in the Church Parade was the “Airman’s Hymn” which we sung to the tune of “Melita” and is better known as “The Navy Hymn”.  We also sang “God is Our Strength and Refuge” to the tune of the “Dambusters March” and Denis Turner read the poem “Who are these men” which was very moving.

There was also a fire display and it was lovely to see the vintage vehicles and all the re-enactors dressed up in full kit.

Fiona Harrison in Red

Dressed Warm for the Weather!

This week I start on remembrance shows and on Tuesday 5th November I shall be performing for the Royal British Legion and the Poppy Appeal at Birmingham New Street Station. I had the privilege of singing for the Birmingham Appeal last year and if everything goes to plan I will be singing from 8am in the morning through to 5pm, performing 20 minutes on 20 minutes off all through the day. I’ve been booked to perform music from the Great War right through to the 1970s, something for every-one I hope. So if you happen to be in Birmingham on 5th, do pop along and see us at New Street Station as we work hard

Fiona Harrison as a US WAVES

Making the Most of the Sunshine!

to fill those all important Poppy tins for a very worth while cause.

That’s all my news for now apart from my new My Fair Lady Promo film is well on it’s way and last weekend I used part of it to record a message to all my friends who were celebrating Vale’s 50th Birthday Dinner. I leave you with a link and some photos from Newark.

Keep Following and Toodle Pip

Part 2 – Off to La Scala, Italian Fashion, Milan & A Trip to Pavia!

Fiona Harrison & Paul Marsden in Milan

Paul and I Shopping in Milan!

It’s been all go here at Harrison HQ since returning home from Italy. I have so much catching up to do. Since I wrote part one I’ve completed  twelve shows in as many days, gone from my Wrens Trafalgar show straight into Halloween, had a heart stopping moment with my amp going down mid show, not to mention my printer giving up the ghost the same week, appointments to keep, arrangements to pick up from the recording studio, new songs to learn and the pleasure of singing for Newark Air Museum’s 1940s event. Phew!

Fiona Harrison at The Duomo

Guiseppe and I at The Duomo!

In fact I will be writing up Newark’s 1940s event in my next blog as I have some great pictures to share with you all, many of which you might have seen on my Facebook pages. But for now I’d like to tell you more about my Italian trip and our days when Paul and I had the pleasure of visiting Milan with our host Guiseppe and friend Franco.

Milan is a wonderful city and on this occasion we had the pleasure of visiting it twice. On our first free day Paul and I took the tram into town with our host Guiseppe to The Duomo. I’d never ridden on a tram before and it’s a great way of seeing the city and all the different styles of beautiful Italian architecture. Once we reached our destination we decided to have lunch at the roof top restaurant opposite The Duomo. Milan’s leading department store is situated directly opposite the cathedral and once you reach the sixth floor you

Fiona harrison and Paul Marsden Looking Over The Duomo

On Top of the World!

are presented with a choice of restaurants. Our restaurant looked out directly at the cathedrals roof where you could see visitors exploring and making the most of the cathedrals views.

I can see why Italy leads the way in fashion. What Milan is doing now we do five years later here in the UK and it’s hardly surprising that  visitors come from all over the world to shop in it’s department stores and at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele which bosts some of the best designer shops in the world. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is Italy’s oldest active shopping arcade and a major landmark. Housed within a

The Famous Bull and Turin’s Coat of Arms!

four-story double arcade in the center of town, the Galleria is named after Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of the Kingdom of Italy. It was designed in 1861 and built by architect Giuseppe Mengoni between 1865 and 1867.

The arcade has four mosaics portraying the coat of arms of the three capitals of the Kingdom of Italy (TurinFlorence and Rome) plus Milan’s. Tradition says that if a person spins around three times with a heel on the testicles of the bull from Turin coat of arms this will bring good luck. Naturally I had to have a go and it’s a

very popular place, as visitors queue up to have their photograph taken withFiona Harrison at La Scala their heel on the bull’s genitals.

It’s still very much a mans world in Italy and Italian men aren’t afraid to be fashionable. Certainly around the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele there’s no shortage of men’s designer shops all sporting the latest trends and labels. It’s interesting to note that men’s jackets are going back to double breasted with higher cut wider lapels and skinny trousers. Ladies fashion wasn’t quite so obvious although I did spot a trend for abstract tapestry on coats and trousers.

Fiona Harrison at La Scala

Inside La Scala!

While I was in The Galleria I treated myself to a new pair of leather gloves and then we continued to walk though to the other side of the road to the La Scala Opera House. Paul and I had the pleasure of visiting the La Scala museum the last time we were in Milan. We enjoyed it so much we decided to go again. The theater has received a number of improvements since we last visited including an extended fly tower which is now 56 meters high and is the same height as the Tower of Pisa. The museum has a wonderful collection of art work featuring many of the stars from the world of Opera and Ballet. I particularly love to see

Fiona Harrison with Maria Callas at La Scala

Me with Maria Callas!

the ladies in their beautiful costumes and 19th century fashions.

The following day we returned to Milan with our friend Franco and this time we traveled in on the underground. Coffee drinking is very important to the Italians and it’s often done on the go standing up at bars. Franco is the sort of man who needs his coffee fix before he can move forward with the day as we did the bar thing and then dinned in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. It’s a wonderful place to sit and dine while watching the world go by. It’s also a popular place for photo shoots and even Paul was snapped by

Paul Marsden at Botsalino

Paul Shopping for Hats at Borsalino!

Spanish Cosmopolitan magazine who were doing a feature on men’s Italian street style. I didn’t have the heart to tell them he is English!

Afterwards we visited the Leonardo da Vinci museum which is also up stars in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. I had hoped very much to see Da Vinci’s Last Supper but unfortunately it’s closed to the public on Mondays and tickets have to be bought on line at least a week in advance. As we weren’t quite sure of our plans before coming away I hadn’t been able to organise this. However little of the original painting still exists due to the amount

Paul Takes Coffee with Franco!

of restoration which has taken place over centuries so visiting the Leonardo museum did gave us something of Leonardo’s genius to enjoy. Although the museum doesn’t focus on his art it has examples of his drawing designs displaying his ability as a inventor with working models which I found very interesting.

As I mentioned earlier Milan is all about design, with fashion at the top of the list. While we were in town there was a special Louis Vuitton exhibition charting the designer from when he first opened his luggage company in Paris back in the mid 19th century through to the present day.

The Perfect Vuitton Handbag!

The Perfect Vuitton Handbag!

Entitled the Capsule collection it had some wonderful examples of luggage recording the different times in history from piratical military design through to the glamour of ocean-liners and Orient Express train travel. It also had examples of Vuitton’s fashion label and I particularly enjoyed looking through the Louis Vuitton catalog charting the Paris fashion shows and designs over the last ten years. Good classic design never dates and I fell in love with one particular handbag for it’s simplicity. The clue is in the Vuitton handle as variations on V designs often appear in his collections.

The next day Franco and his wife very kindly took Paul and I to see the beautiful Charterhouse Monastery in Pavia. Known as The Certosa di Pavia  It is is situated in Lombardy, northern Italy, near a small town with the same name 8 km north of Pavia. Built in 1396-1495, it was once located on the border of a large hunting park belonging to the Visconti

The Charterhouse Monastery of Pavia!

family of Milan, of which today only scattered parts remain. It is one of the largest monasteries in Italy.

Certosa is the Italian name for a house of the cloistered monastic order of Carthusians founded by St. Bruno in 1044 at Grande Chartreuse. Though the Carthusians in their early centuries were known for their seclusion and asceticism and the plainness of their architecture, the Certosa is renowned for the exuberance of its architecture, in both the Gothic and Renaissance styles, and for its collection of artworks which are particularly representative of the region.

Paul and I inside the Monastery!

Sadly were weren’t able to take photos inside the church but out-side the architecture is breath taking as we were taken on a tour around the church and monastery by one of the monks. Afterwards we visited The Ponte Coperto (“covered bridge”) or the Ponte Vecchio (“Old Bridge”) which is a brick and stone arch bridge over the Ticino River in PaviaItaly.

The previous bridge dated from 1354 and was a replacement for the original Roman construction. It was heavily damaged by Allied action in 1945 and a debate on whether to fix or replace the bridge ended when the bridge partially collapsed

Paul at the Ponte Vecchio Pavia!

in 1947. The new construction began in 1949 and is based on the previous one, which had seven arches to the current bridge’s five. The current bridge, like its predecessor, bears a chapel.

It makes for a wonderful photo opportunity and Paul and I made the most of the location while basking in the Italian sunshine. Oddly enough I sing the phrase Ponte Vecchio in the aria “O Mio Babbino Caro”  so it was lovely to actually visit one.

Of-course all good things have to come to an end and for Paul and I to have had the opportunity

Fiona Harrison in Pavia, Italy

Enjoying the View in Pavia!

to perform in Italy and to have visited all these wonderful places will stay with us always. These are once in a life time opportunities and it’s important to make the most of them when they come along. A huge thank-you goes out to our host Guiseppe and all our Italian friends who have made our stays so enjoyable and Paul and I look forward to catching up with all our Italian friends again soon.

In the meantime it’s back to Blighty and in my next blog I shall tell you all about our 1940s shows up at the Newark Air Museum’s 40s event.

Enjoy the photos, Keep Following and Toodle Pip! 😉

Sight Seeing in Pavia!

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