Saturday, 22 November 2014

the weather, Wood End Gallery, the Old Forge Tea Room, Christmas, O2 tennis, and the woes of the Labour Party.

I love the way us Brits talk about the weather all the time but I guess that's because it so varied and occasionally surprises us. I met a lady a couple of years ago who was born and brought up in Durban, South Africa. She'd recently moved here and was astonished at how varied the weather and had learnt to talk about it like a native. She recounted her previous life in Durban where apart from a few days each year the sun would rise without fail and everyone knew exactly how the weather was going to be - hot and sunny. Boring? Yes a bit, but I do miss the big yellow thing in the sky when all we've got is the autumn drizzle.
The photography exhibition at the Alfred East is now all packed away and another selection of art work is up on the walls so I'm busy organising the next adventure. I've restocked the wall at The Old Forge tea room in Cranford with some of the left over pictures. Thanks to Rob and his team who have supported me since the beginning. As well as gazing at the pictures on his wall you can always tuck into his lovely grub - all at very decent prices and served with a smile. Have a look at the tea room website here. I've found a new venue for pictures and went yesterday to meet Angela who has recently opened the Wood End Gallery in Pertenall, near Kimbolton. She kindly accepted two prints of mine to put alongside some lovely art work and crafts from local artists. Have look at her website here. The two prints appear below with one of my Christmas card images. I've had the cards printed ready for sale in the next few days.

Apart from the little short story up on Amazon Kindle (The Game) the writing has taken a back seat for the last couple of months so running up to Christmas I intend to work hard on re-kindling my poetry scribblings. I've been spurred on by a couple of books I bought recently -The Rattle Bag edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes and Poetry Notebook by Clive James. The first is a large collection of poetry identified as favourites of the two editors, themselves well known poets, and the second is a bit of a memoir of poetry by the lovely Australian critic. As many a creative writing tutor will tell you 'you can't write if you don't read!' So pencils and post-its at the ready.
Middle life came to play a couple of weeks ago when I ventured to the big smoke to watch tennis at the O2. Younger son made his way up to London from Canterbury to watch the tennis with me and later we met up with older son and went out for dinner as a threesome. Both boys enjoyed showing their old mother how to get about in the city as she might not have managed it without them. I had a great day - watched the world number one strutting his stuff on a tennis court and being entertained by my favourite two young men on the planet.
Christmas is coming in case you didn't know - I love all the fuss and bother, cooking and eating with friends and family, can't wait.
Well done Emily Thornbury for showing us all what she really thinks of normal people. Poor old Ed now really does have his work cut out to prove that he and the rest of his party have respect for the voting public, especially the ones they need to convince to vote for them.

So until we meet again, have a good couple of weeks x

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

TriAngles again, photographic vs computer skills and WW1

Its been a busy month, but a nice one with lots of socialising which has kept me busy and happy. But the past four weeks have also been full of photography, writing and middle life which has been great. Our TriAngles Photography exhibition has been going well with the lovely comments from people, both friends and strangers (which is always good) still coming in. Last day of viewing is this Saturday so then it will be a case of picking up the unsold pictures and paying the gallery bill. So I wanted to say a big thank you first to my two photography team mates, Val and Sue, for their encouragement and support through the whole process, and to all those who gave such lovely feedback and of course thank you to those who bought pictures from me. Its been an interesting experience which has given me a lot of confidence and expertise which will be good for the future if I ever do something like this again. A writing friend of mine, Julia Thorley, 'interviewed' me about the exhibition for her blog, if you're interested to know more click here to have a look.

Talking of photos, my other half and me visited Wisely near Guildford, the home of the Royal Horticultural Society, for their 'Taste of Autumn' show a couple of weeks ago and a grand time was had by both of us, it was lovely. The RHS run the Photographer of the Year Competition and the winning photographs were on display within the gardens. All of the pictures were good, some were stunning, and the ones I really liked were the  close-ups of flowers and creatures which I found mesmerising. But... one or two of them in the little blurb at the bottom of the picture made it clear that the image was a mixture of two or sometimes three different photographs bought together under the clever magic of photographic software. I'm not sure about this. Surely in a 'photography' competition it should be about the strength of the photographic skill, not computer know-how. I certainly use my computer to perfect the images I've taken but this normally amounts to a crop or two, contrast adjustment to enhance texture and the painting out of the odd something that you didn't notice as you closed the shutter. Am I being picky? What do you think??

Like most of us I've been reading and viewing the WW1 centenary commemorations with interest and emotion. So many lives being lost and the stories that surround them being hard to bear sometimes. I wrote a poem a few months ago and was pleased to be told that its being published in an anthology entitled 'In Flanders Fields' by forwardpoetry, an online poetry publisher who goes onto publishing physical anthologies which can be purchased. I've written out my poem below - hope you like it.

A letter from Passchendaele
We had the hot summer at Ypres,
which sweltered leaving us dampened
and close.
Wrapped in your English wool khaki
chafing every hold, me with black
Belgian hair, and eyes of green.
No language yet, just looks and touch
with delicate steps learning Flemish
by the day, and love in the night.
With the race to the sea you were gone,
leaving promises carved strong in my mind
with the rain, and the rain, and the rain.
The worst for thirty years, making mud and slime
mix with blood and salt water, and in the fading
light each day the demons come and settle
their wings on my heart, speaking stories
of mustard gas, bayonets, bullets and mud drownings.
I worried how I would find you if you fell.
In December you walked through my yard weeping,
with a look of fear never to be spoken of again
as we travelled together through the next fifty years.

I follow Stephen Fry on twitter and he used the word 'clickbait' the other day in one of his tweets as a term for  something that encourages us to click on a link to find out more - brilliant and funny!

And finally my latest short story 'The Game' is at last born, and is on Amazon Kindle sitting pretty besides the other two stories I put up there earlier in the year. Its cheap and would fit into a tea-break, for those of you who fancy a look at it - hope you enjoy and hope there aren't any spelling mistakes!!

Have a good couple of weeks x