Sunday, 21 May 2017

Feeding the soul

A scene from 'Dreaming Our Woods'
I don't have much of a daily routine, because my work is different each day; I rise and retire at varying times, depending on what the day promises; and I eat when I'm hungry, not at set times. However, even I'm feeling out of kilter at the moment. The 'Dreaming Our Woods' performances were wonderful, although I say it as shouldn't, but the post-show comedown has been bleak. What on earth am I going to do with myself now it's all over?

Well, one thing I've done today is to attend 'Continuum', the last event of the Our Woods festival, postponed from March when storm Doris was in town, so once again I found myself in the Corby woods thinking, 'I've never done this before!' A fabulous walk led by artists Carol Miles and Jo Dacome found me lying on my back looking at the tree canopy through a mirror-prism device to mesmerising kaleidoscopic effect; and making a show of human bluebells with sheets of Perspex. All great fun.

They say that if you want to be creative you should mix with other creative types, and I've certainly been doing that recently. Early fruits include a short story in the current issue of Ireland's Own magazine.

I really must get back to normal, though - or as normal as I ever am. This week I shall get more exercise, eat better and, as a result, I hope, sleep better. So much to do, so little time.

Monday, 1 May 2017

This week I shall be mostly trying to stay calm

I am about to embark on a week of full-on rehearsals for The Show on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (tech week, the professionals in the cast are calling it). I'm most concerned about the fact that we are in the theatre until 10pm each night and that is usually bedtime.

This means you probably won't hear much out of me until next Monday, apart from the occasional warbled song line and the soft shuffle of my shoes as I practise in the kitchen; so here is a book recommendation to keep you going.

I entered a competition recently for which Lauren Collins was judge. In the interests of research and as an excuse to go into Waterstones again, I bought her book When in French, subtitled 'Love in a second language'. I was expecting some kind of romance, with translation jokes and, yes, there is a bit of that: but this book is actually a love note to linguistics. As the jacket blurb says: '. . . sharp, funny tale of bilingual romance and learning to speak French. Part acerbic love letter to that language and part meditation on language itself, When in French is so charming it made me want to learn french, too.'

If you have any interest at all in how language works - and I know I'm preaching to the converted here - you need to read this book.

That is all.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Celebrate the small things 28.4.17

On Monday I promised myself to take things a little easier this week. The best laid plans...

It's been a good week, though. Lots of extra rehearsals for the show next week (eek!) and plenty of work to keep me busy. I even managed to put together a couple of competition entries.

Having had a bit of a mental breakdown on Sunday when out clothes shopping, I actually managed to buy some jeans this morning. When did that get to be such a complicated task? When did they start giving styles names? And are we really wearing high waistlines and tiny ankle cuffs? Anyhoo, I shall take them out for a test run this evening: I'm playing my uke at a ceilidh, and there will be dancing.

Also this week, I have a letter in Leisure Painter magazine titled 'Yoga for Creativity, as a reward for which I have been sent a copy of Places of the Mind, a beautiful art book that I would never have thought of buying, but that I can see I'm going to enjoy.

Have a good weekend, folks.

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

Monday, 24 April 2017

Taking things a little easier?

Good morning, world. It's only just starting to get light and it's so cold I've had to switch on my little radiator to take the chill off.I always have an early start on Mondays, because I teach a half-nine yoga class, so I have to be up, fed and digested in good time.

It's no hardship, really. My desk faces the window that overlooks my garden, so I've just been watching the birds having their breakfast while a visiting squirrel tried to join in. We have a family of blackbirds, and despite the fact that the babies are now quite chunky, it's still the parents that are running around chasing mealworms and other tasty morsels.

Last week was tough, but only in a first-world-problems kind of way. Am I now at the age when I must remind myself not to do too much? Surely not! And yet, by Friday teatime I was feeling quite trembly. This week I shall practise what I preach, and be kinder to myself.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

My first webinar

Call me old-fashioned ('You're old-fashioned!'), but I've only just taken part in my first webinar - and what a delightful portmanteau word that is. Despite by newbie status, the tech element was very straightforward and it was a pleasing way to spend an hour.

I was alerted to 'What Happened Next? Plotting a Story' by Helen Yendall on her excellent Blog About Writing. The free webinar was presented by Barbara Henderson of Penguin/Random House’s The Writers’ Academy, and while it didn't really tell me anything I hadn't heard before it was a useful reminder of the basics of story, plot and narrative. Of course, it was actually a taster for its forthcoming online course 'Constructing A Novel', also with Barbara Henderson, but at £799 that's a bit out of my reach.

There were a couple of writing books recommend: Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell and Writer With a Day Job by Aine Greaney, plus the novel We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. I'd be interested to know if any of you has these and whether they're worth buying.

And remember, folks: if there's no conflict, there's no story.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Celebrate the small things, and other snippets

Despite the fact that I've worked my wotsits off this week, I'm still basking in a little post-Wales glow. On our way home we popped into Bodnant Gardens. We're National Trust members, so we always try to visit a property when away. We were there quite early, so it was relatively quiet and still. The grounds are fabulous (there's no house to visit) and we came away quite determined that we need a rill and a watermill in our suburban patch - not to mention a sequoia (see pic). Dream on!


Sequoiadendron giganteum 'Pendulum', Bodnant
And so to this Friday's  celebrations. Chief among them is that someone close to me has had good news relating to a health issue; and elsewhere, a friend seems to have overcome some issues that have been plaguing her for months. On a less significant level, but still worth celebrating, the hop seeds I gave to Clive as a joke Christmas present (he brews his own beer) have germinated and are poking their leafy heads above the compost. There are other plants bursting forth, too, all of the potentially edible variety, so there'll be some serious allotmenting to do in the coming weeks.

This brings me back to Bodnant Gardens, where a Kipling quote on one of the information boards reminded us that:

'Gardens are not made by singing "Oh, how beautiful!" and sitting in the shade.'

Happy Easter, folks. 

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

Monday, 10 April 2017

Sea breezes

Feel free to suggest your own caption!
As luck would have it, we caught a break with the lovely weather at the weekend when we took a combined birthday/wedding anniversary jaunt to Llandudno. You can keep Lanzarote: give me a bit of British seaside any time. We walked and mooched, and laughed and ate, and generally had a splendid time. If you've never been, don't be put off by its reputation for being an old folks' resort. It's absolutely beautiful.

One of the many hilarious moments came when we were strolling along the pier, ice-creams in hand. As soon as we stepped out of the shelter of the awnings, poor Clive had his cornet whipped from his grasp by an enthusiastic gull - possibly one of those in the photo above, which we took a short while later.

Tweedles Dee and Dum
There were moments of literary reference, too. The excellent Snooze restaurant had Dylan Thomas quotes here and there on the walls. Clive was delighted to see from the menu that my Arancini rice dish included Panko breadcrumbs, which are produced in the bakery where he works. Small world - a point emphasised by the fact that he was in an Italian restaurant in Wales eating a Polish pork dish.

Back to the literature. I didn't know this, but apparently Llandudno was a favourite holiday destination for Alice Liddell, the real-life Alice from Lewis Carroll's stories, and to this end there is a Wonderland trail through the town (see above). The town's website says that the Walrus and the Carpenter are the names of two big rocks off the West Shore. And as if that wasn't enough, there is also a plaque as part of the North Wales Film and Television Trail (who knew!) commemorating the fact that The Forsyte Saga was filmed in the town.


I wrote lots of notes for use in future writings. Do think this means I can claim this as a business trip?