Sunday, 23 July 2017

Sensory overload

While number two son and his girlfriend and her extended family are lounging round the pool in Tenerife, and hundreds of strangers endure horrific delays at Britain's airport, Mr Thorley and I have returned, smug faced, from a glorious week in - well, if I tell you, do you promise to keep it a secret? I don't really want anyone else to know how peaceful and spacious and crowd free it is in - Northumberland. Pictured is the view from Dunstanburgh Castle: can there be a finer one anywhere?

I could wax lyrical about our adventures, but other people's holiday memories, like their dreams, aren't really that interesting. Indulge me, though, as I share a few snippets that made us smile and ponder while we were away:

  • Overheard: an oh-so-posh mother at The Alnwick Garden calling to her toddler son, 'Noah, sweetheart, come and see the water features!'
  • Overheard: 'He can't be a dwarf, he's eating a banana.'
  • Also overheard: 'Well, it doesn't bother me, I've got no sense of smell.'
  • At Ford and Etal, we learnt about the fighting at Flodden Field in 1513: 10,000 Scottish soldiers were killed in the two hours that the entire battle lasted. Their king, James IV, was among them.
  • Courtesy of performers Andy and Maggie Watchorn (great name), I now know that the Northumberland pipes are so much easier on the ears than Highland pipes.
  • The lanes on the approach to Holy Island smell of garden peas.
  • A northern Gay Pride event route mentioned on local radio was going down Percy Street.
  • Grace Darling was an amazing young woman. On 7 September 1838, aged 22, she risked her life to rescue the stranded survivors of the wrecked SS Forfarshire
  • It is impossible to enter a National Trust gift shop without buying either (a) a notebook or (b) a book mark.

Back to the grindstone tomorrow.

Friday, 7 July 2017

CTST 7 July

I'm celebrating friends today.

It's funny how things work out. Number two son vacated the premises some weeks ago, but his bedroom and the front sitting room that was largely his space remain vacant, pending a decision on what to do with them (man cave vs woman sanctuary - you can fill in the gaps, I'm sure). Anyway, the decision has been made for us, because our good friend Deb is about to become temporarily homeless while her house sale/purchase goes through. How slow the wheels of property transactions turn. Rather than her having to rent somewhere for a couple of months she is going to move in with us, which will be lovely.

I had coffee and a catchup with a good yoga friend today. We meet in Melton Mowbray, which is halfway between her home and mine, and we always go to the same cafe, Off The Beaten Path, which serves the best cheese scones in the world.  Jeanette always sends me home with my head full of ideas, and today was no exception.

I met new friends and old at a gathering at 3P Publishing this week, too, where writers and wordsmiths of many styles (some published, some not) congregated for nibbles and the sharing of support and inspiration.

There's sure to be more friends about over the weekend, when I go to a big ole Ukulele Jam at Stanwick Lakes tomorrow and then a festival at Corby Rooftop Arts Centre on Sunday - or possibly a summer fair at Johnny's Happy Place (or maybe both). Aren't I lucky?

Have a good weekend, folks.

Want to join in and celebrate with us? Hop over to Lexa's blog here and sign up.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

A lovely turn of phrase

Just a quickie, but I wanted to share this with folk I know will understand. Let me tell you why I'm devouring the Jack Reacher novels of Lee Child. It's because of writing like this:

They passed through the crossroads hamlet with the school and the gas station and the diner. It whipped backward through the headlight beams, three short seconds end to end.

Cracking stuff: so much better than saying, 'It took three seconds to drive down main street.' The boy from Coventry done good.

Friday, 23 June 2017

CTST 23 June

I fully intended to post something midweek, but I was away last weekend in Brancaster, Norfolk, for a quick fix of sun, sea and sand. I seem to have relaxed too much, because this week has felt very stodgy!

Today I'm celebrating the start of what looks as though it's going to be a good harvest up at the allotment. We've already had lots of spinach and strawberries, the first batch of broad beans is in the freezer and the second early spuds are delicious. I've just cooked the first beetroots. They look a bit odd because they're white (don't worry: they're supposed to be), so I hope they taste OK...

I'm also celebrating independent bookshops, because I've just been to one of ours: Harrowden Books of Finedon, where a very helpful woman showed me where to find some poetry books I was after.

We're having a belated Father's Day meal this evening, because we were away on Sunday. Gammon, for those who eat meat, with, of course, homegrown veg.
These are NOT turnips
Have a good weekend, folks.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Wild Words

morguefile.com
The first event of my splendid last weekend was a '"New" Nature Writing Workshop' on Friday with Bridget Holding from Wild Words. We gathered in the Kingfisher Cafe at Barnwell Country Park, a beautiful setting on a beautiful evening.

There is a new take on writing about the natural world that eschews the romantic view and instead connects with the grit of it - see, for example,  H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald, The Shepherd's Life by James Rebanks or the work of Robert Macfarlane. This was the springboard for our two-hour workshop (which wasn't long enough - more please, Bridget!).

We discussed ways into writing - using the five senses; sensations in the body; emotion; movement; and rhythm - then we went off into the park to write. Back in the cafe there was more discussion, but no obligation to share. One of our group remarked on how much more relaxed we all were after our first stint outside, and it's true: we all started to unfurl. It's corny, I know, but it really was as though allowing ourselves to connect with nature opened up something inside us.

Anyway, I came away feeling inspired and with pages of notes that I shall 'do something with one day'. Do check out the Wild Words website here.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Still not convinced we've much to celebrate

Politics, eh? It's a funny old game. Well, I say funny, but I'm not laughing today. I was SO hoping for a change of MP. Hey ho. If you've found something in the election to celebrate, then good luck to you.

Moving on...

On the one dry day of the week, the Women's Tour came to town again on Wednesday, and the crowds turned out to watch the cyclists hurtle around the county and then finish here in Kettering. Amazing stuff.

This weekend it's KettFest, our annual drug-dealer convention - no, sorry, arts festival. You know how you hear yourself agree to something and then when you get home you think, 'Hang on a minute!'? Well, that happened to me last week, which is how come I shall be performing a monologue in the Market Street Mews tomorrow as part of the festival events. Scared? Me? What do you think?! There's so much going on in town this weekend, it will tough to know what to go to; but I'll definitely be dropping in on the comedy festival, where we have eight Edinburgh preview shows on.

I'm patronising a festival in nearby Oundle this evening, by going to something called a 'New Nature Writing Workshop'. I'm not sure what to expect, but we're meeting in a country park - and then I don't know what will happen. I'll let you know how it went.

'Till then, have a good weekend, folks.

Want to join in and celebrate with us? Hop over to Lexa's blog here and sign up.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Just saying

I don't post much on Facebook, but I put a couple of bits up last week that got quite a good response.

Number 1
"In the copy I've edited today was this gem: 'The evening’s presentation by xxx gave a fascinating insight into the application and calibration of electronic torque wrenches.' One can only imagine."

This got more comments/likes/reactions that almost anything else I've ever posted.

Number 2

"There is no excuse for the word 'mentee'."

This also got a reasonable response. When the world eventually comes to its senses and puts me in charge, I shall forbid this word. There is a perfectly fine word to describe someone who is mentored and that word is protege (with accents, but I couldn't get them to appear here). I also hate attendee. What's wrong with 'delegate', 'participant' or 'person who attended'?

What words would you like to banish?