Thursday 30 August 2012

The Last Bank Holiday

In the UK we've just had our last Bank Holiday until 25th December.

The rain fell...

The wind blew...

The sun hardly showed itself...

But we had fun out and about, visiting family and doing real Bank Holiday type activities, like taking our grandchildren for their first steam train ride:

Today the local children went back to school. I watched them going down the road wearing new school uniforms with sharp creases in their trousers, perfectly tied ties and plenty of room to 'grow into them'. It reminded me of when I used to send my kids off to school. I even shed a few tears. How soppy is that? 

So the holidays are truly over and, like I said, the next one in the UK won't be for four months [Message to Government: Can we have a few more please?] but in the meantime I have a camera full of photographs and a whole load of memories of a lovely time and that's very precious.

What's your favourite way to spend a Bank Holiday?

Thursday 23 August 2012

My Writing Den

It's been a long time in the making but it's finally finished. All it needs are a few extra cushions and  a bean bag for lounging. It's already inspired me to write a new picture book story. I'm feeling quite excited about this one. It's been a while since I completed anything brand new. [Do you ever get too hooked up on editing old stuff and forget to generate new?]

By way of a reminder, the space used to be a glory hole behind a partition in Daughter's bedroom, and this photograph shows Mr A practicing his amazing DIY skills,

And this...

          ~~~ roll of drums ~~~ 

                  the finished writing den!

And there's more...

This is the view from the window. The garden is yet another example of Mr A's handy work and his favourite place to be. Clever, isn't he! J  

[If you look really carefully you can just see Mabel-the-cat half way down the lawn. It wasn't long before she pattered up the stairs to join me. Daughter's bed makes a perfect cat-day-bed. Must change the quilt cover before her next visit!]

So now you know where I'll be writing from now on. Where is your most inspiring place to work?

Sunday 19 August 2012

We all have our limitations

I've just been on a photography course. I took my little compact Canon camera with me, the one that's taken all the photographs on this blog, the one that I was really fond of.

It was an excellent photography course, theory in the morning, practical in the afternoon, but I now know that my much-adored little camera won't do all the fancy things that we learnt about in the morning session. I want it to take a portrait with a blurred-out background, catch a bird in flight or a water droplet in mid-air.

I did love my camera until I had its limitations pointed out to me. So before I go out and spend vast amounts of money on a high-tech version that could capture a flea taking flight from a pin head I thought I'd share my favourite four photos that I took during the second part of the course using my very small, limited-capacity camera.

The Door: The keyhole to this door was thick with cobwebs. It hadn't been opened in a long time. Maybe not for hundreds of years. I do love doors.

The Thistle: Not a bad image for a dead thistle!

The Horse: Getting up close and personal. I'm just a teeny bit afraid of horses. They're so huge but this one was rather a sweetie, [even if I did lean on an electric fence to get the shot - ouch!]

The Stone Rose: I love those tiny specks of lichen, a basic form of life on an old and crumbling gravestone.

We all have our limitations. The important thing is knowing what they are and working within them. This little Canon Compact Camera knows that it can't catch water droplets in mid-air but it can still take a fine picture.

So do I stick with my compact camera or do I get an all-singing, mid-air-droplet variety? Any suggestions?

If you're interested in going on a photography course, I'd recommend this one which is run by Glen Tillyard from Digital Photography Courses. He runs regular courses for all levels and abilites and he's based in a little village in Leicestershire.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Tom Bear's Bath

My new writing den is still not completed [sigh] but I’ve dragged in a chair so I can sit at the window and write this post.

If we hadn’t altered Daughter’s bedroom to accommodate my den then Tom Bear’s bath would never have happened. The memories would still have been caught up in his dusty fur.

Charlie the cat is suspicious of the damp bear.
I used a bowl of soapy water and a cloth. I didn’t want Tom Bear to be soaked through and through. I carefully wiped his head and ears and through the smell of musty wool came memories, a pink frilly dress that I bought for Daughter, the hair ribbons, the baby ballet classes.

I rubbed Tom’s arms... The pink frills were discarded, replaced with black. Just a phase.

I scrubbed his chin... When she practised her flute I’d stop my chores, sit and listen.

I rubbed at his tummy... When she got her degree we ran together up the steps of the University to see the words on the notice board, 1st class honours.

I worked the soapy cloth around his feet rubbing harder with each memory... her packed bags, a move to London, a first job, a new life. That was when Tom Bear climbed to the top of the wardrobe, all those years ago, and he only just came down and now I have to thank him for reminding me how proud I am of her and how precious our memories are.

Friday 10 August 2012

Five Favourite Flowers

We've been to Ireland to help friends celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. If you've ever been to Ireland to help anyone celebrate you'll understand why we're both still feeling a little weary. How do they party all night and then carry on partying from lunchtime the next day? At their age? *groan* *yawn*

So I'm spending time in the garden regaining a little strength and clarity of thought. Mr A has excelled himself this year. Our garden is amazing in spite of the rain and here are my five favourite flowers that I photographed over the last two days:

In 5th place comes echinacea - I love those tiny bobbly bits (not a technical term) in the middle.

4th sedum - The tiny flowers fascinate me.

3rd geranium - We have a number of different geraniums in our garden. I told someone at the party in Ireland that we almost had the National Collection. Wrong person to tell little white lies to!! He has over a 100 in his garden and he started quoting Latin names at me. I went and chatted to someone else.

2nd gladioli - There's just the one spike opened so far, such an elegant shape.

In 1st place comes the rose - I couldn't blog about favourite flowers without including a rose although I had trouble finding one that hadn't been mushed by the rain. When I was a kid Dad bought me a rose bush of my own, deep red, lovely perfume, and he was the only person to ever call me Rosey Posey. Roses have always been my favourite flower.

Friday 3 August 2012

Turning Ourselves Inside Out

I was browsing my blog stats this morning, [No, I’m not totally obsessed with my stats. I just like to look at them now and then!] and there are two blog posts that have been visited far more regularly than any of the others. I’m not sure why but I suspect it could have something to do with turning ourselves inside out. Allow me to elucidate:

Me in psychedelic mode
The most popular post by far is the one where I talk about Op-art, those psychedelic images that we loved so much in the 60s. In those days I just thought they were pretty patterns but I now know that they were a representation of the way the world looked when on a drug-induced LSD ‘trip’. Almost an entire generation wanted to find out exactly who they were. They wanted to get inside themselves. Although I was a teenager in the 60s, I was as naive as an Enid Blyton character and so I'm not typing from experience. I’ll never know what it felt like to be on LSD but I do know that quite a few overdosed, some never fully recovered and, rather than looking inside themselves, they only ever succeeded in turning themselves inside out. [See what I did there!]

The second most popular post is the one where I talk about finding history in holes, the way historical finds are always way below the level of our present day buildings. I mused about whether we were raising the level of our world higher and higher so that one day we might even ‘reach the moon’. Yes I was being fanciful but thanks to Anne at MorningAJ I was given some insight into the phenomenon. In her comment on that blog post she told us the following: 
‘Darwin did a study about how things get buried underground. He found out that earthworms bring literally tons of soil up to the surface overnight (as a team .... not each) and that is how things get buried so quickly .... The earth isn’t getting fatter. It’s turning itself inside out!’
Thank you, Anne, for educating me and for providing me with the title of this blog post!

So there you have it! Both of my top posts are about being turned inside out. 

Sometimes I wonder if I spend too much time looking inside myself. It certainly feels, when things go wrong, as if I've turned myself inside out. Maybe I should spend more time on the outside... or put another way, maybe I should get out more! [That was meant as a joke... I think!]   
Do you spend too much time looking inside yourself? 
And if you’re a blogger, do you have certain blog posts that appear to attract far more visitors than other posts for no apparent reason?