Friday 31 October 2014

Happy Friday

'Celebrate the small things' is a bloghop instigated by VikLit on her blog Scribblings of an Aspiring Author and co-hosted by Diana Wilder, LG Keltner @ Writing Off the Edge, Cyborg Mom (Katie) and CaffeMaggieato @ mscoffeehouse. Details are here

This week, I'm celebrating having had a couple of days off. On Wednesday I had lunch with my 'boys' at a cafe in town that didn't look that promising from the start, but actually served up one of the best panini I've ever had - and believe me, I've eaten A LOT.

Don't shoot me down, but I've never understood the whole Halloween thing (though I have friends who mark Samhain, which seems slightly more sensible). I was the spoilsport mother who didn't let her children go trick-or-treating, but if you and yours are traipsing the streets tonight pestering folk, I hope you stay safe.

Sunday 26 October 2014

Litte bird in a big sky

My neighbour must have forgotten to put his clocks back, because this morning he was clattering around outside before eight o'clock. Through my sleep-fog I could hear a ladder being shifted and a couple of gruff voices making plans for the job in hand.

Quite determined to have some sort of a lie-in, I made tea and then went back to bed with poet Simon Armitage for company. I'm reading his book Walking Home, which is about him following the Pennine Way in the 'wrong' direction, from north to south. This is one of the books that was revealed in last weekend's reorganisation and I seem to remember I bought it on impulse in Waterstones as a BOGOF or some such. It's a cracking read, as you might expect.

However, it's made me want to strap on my own walking boots and set off into the wilderness. Such terrain is in short supply in Northamptonshire, so I settled for a seven-mile figure of eight across the fields yesterday. I'm a townie, but even I can spot a red kite - they're very common round here, but not keen on posing for photos.
I also managed to snap some sort of falcon perched atop a tree. I once interviewed Bill Oddie, but none of his bird knowledge rubbed off, so I can't be more precise than that. Again, apologies for the quality of the photo, but it was taken point-and-shoot style with the zoom on max. The route also took us past a field of alpacas.

My neighbour has just set to with some sort of graunching machine. Time for some loud rock music, I think.

Friday 24 October 2014

You can't have too many bookcases

This week's principal celebration is the purchase of yet another bookcase, which we have installed in an alcove in our front room in a space that has appeared since Joe and his drumkit moved out. We bought it from the British Heart Foundation furniture shop in town, which is always our first port of call for household stuff. It's amazing what bargains there are to be had, although you can tell some of the stuff is house-clearance, which probably means someone died, which is sad.

We've moved some reference books and non-fiction titles into this new bookcase, which has created room elsewhere for a bit of a sort-out. We spent a happy afternoon rearranging, moving books to a new shelf and then back again, creating a pile of books for the charity shop and then reclaiming them, and deciding what goes where. His Lordshop is as avid a reader as I am, but does not have an editor's brain. For instance, if you have a book that has been signed by the author, do you put it with other books by the same person or with other signed copies? If you have an anthology of Doctor Who short stories, do you put it with other short story collections, with TV books or somewhere else? Discussions were held.

Eventually everything was stored, but during the process we discovered several books we'd forgotten we'd bought and hadn't yet read. This means we have both added to the teetering heaps on our bedside table.

Next job: sort out the CDs.

Have a good weekend, folks.

'Celebrate the small things' is a bloghop instigated by VikLit on her blog Scribblings of an Aspiring Author and co-hosted by Diana Wilder, LG Keltner @ Writing Off the Edge, Cyborg Mom (Katie) and CaffeMaggieato @ mscoffeehouse. Details are here

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Pictures at an exhibition

Elaine Medcalf is a writer and poet, but is also a photographer. Her first exhibition at the Alfred East Gallery in Kettering, jointly with Val Sibley and Sue Feetham, is called ‘TriAngles: Catching the Moment’. She kindly agreed to share her experiences of this venture.

  • How did you choose which photos to include? Did you liaise with Val and Sue?  Your three styles complement each other very well.
Thank you for saying that the styles complement each other. We’ve been out as a threesome with our cameras several times, with much drinking of tea included. We realised that we like photographing the same things so when we decided to do the exhibition we already felt comfortable about showing our pictures alongside each other. Once we’d decided on the pictures we wanted as individuals, it was easy to choose the prints we thought went together.

  • Once you’ve taken the pictures and they are on your computer, do you change them in any way?
I have very simple picture handling software on my computer – nothing like Photoshop or Lightroom, but I’m happy to take out the odd fly on an otherwise perfect rose, or a speck that has suddenly appeared across the lens.  There are some very magical things that Photoshop and Lightroom can do, such as  moving something over to the other side or putting in a water reflection when it was never there, that I wouldn’t do.

  • Who curated the exhibition?
The gallery offered to curate for us, so with a couple of suggestions from us about certain pictures that we thought would look good next to each other, we left it to them and we are really pleased with the display they’ve come up with.

  • You have had pictures in small exhibitions, I know, but how different was it to be the ‘star of the show’?
It was more nerve-wracking than I thought it would be.  I’ve small collections of prints in local coffee shops and had a print or two in amongst a whole load of others at the Open Exhibition at the Alfred East, but having an exhibition with my name on was something else. Once the preview day was underway and the positive comments from friends began to appear I was reassured, but it’s always a bit scary when you put something you really like up in view of the buying public. It’s like baring your soul.

  • How much support did you get from the gallery in terms of logistics, admin, publicity and hands-on help?
The staff at the Alfred East Art Gallery were brilliant and we soon learned that they knew the answer to every question. Katie Boyce was our main contact and she was amazing at getting us organised. They have the facilities to produce flyers, posters and a whole email community to which they send regular info about forthcoming exhibitions, as well as a magazine that finds its way all over the town to advertise what's showing. All this was all included in the hire price. Yes, you do have to pay them a fee to hire the gallery.

  • What lessons have you learned? What would you do differently next time?
First, not to worry too much because the gallery really will look after everything. The process coincided with me developing a new style of displaying my photos, which made it a bit complicated early on because I kept changing my mind. If you're thinking of doing it, just make sure you know how you want your pictures to look.  The only other bit of advice is 'just do it’, as the slogan has it.   

  • What’s next? Do you have any plans to combine your pictures with your writing - perhaps an illustrated poetry book?
I’ve always had an idea of combining my poetry with my photos, so maybe that’s on the cards.  Also, the positive comments and the sales I’ve had so far have spurred me on to consider other avenues for my pictures, such as agency work and further exhibitions.

TriAngles may be seen until 8 November. You can keep up with Elaine’s activities via her blog and read her stories on Kindle.

Friday 17 October 2014

Happy new hair-do

Today I'm celebrating a new haircut. Well, perhaps celebrating is putting it rather strongly, because I'm not sure if I've gone a bit too short this time. I look like a squaddie. Hey ho, I expect it will grow - and we are in hat-wearing season if all else fails.

I'm at a funny age (aren't we all, I hear you cry) where hair is concerned. I'm not exactly ravaged by the march of time, but I'm clearly too old to be naturally dark all over any more. However, now that my hair is above my ears the grey is REALLY showing. What to do? Is it time to admit defeat and accept what nature has in store for me, or should I keep covering up? Maybe I should gradually go lighter and lighter and ease myself towards blonde. The trouble is that my eyebrows are dark and only certain people can get away with the two-tone look - see Billy Piper, for instance.

The stripling hairdresser who saw to me yesterday talked me through a bamboozling array of hi-lights, lo-lights (note the spelling), semi-permanent tints, quasi-tints, caps, foils, peroxide levels, bass notes, meshing, developers and finishers until I began to feel like Mel Smith in the 'gramophone' sketch from Not the Nine O'clock News. Anyhoo, I've got an appointment in five weeks' time to have something done - not quite sure what, but it will probably be fine.

Have a good weekend, folks.

'Celebrate the small things' is a bloghop instigated by VikLit on her blog Scribblings of an Aspiring Author and co-hosted by Diana Wilder, LG Keltner @ Writing Off the Edge, Cyborg Mom (Katie) and CaffeMaggieato @ mscoffeehouse. Details are here

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Unaccustomed as I am...

The monthly spoken word open mic nights have resumed in town. I nearly went to the first one to see what it's all about, with a tiny thought at the back of my mind that I might take my courage in my hands and do a turn. In the end, I didn't make it, but I gather it was a great success: standing-room only! I'm probably not quite ready for that.

My mother has no such qualms about performing. She is quite a regular on the 'circuit' and can be seen reciting monologues and doing poetry readings at various gatherings in north Staffordshire. One such recent engagement was at a harvest supper, where she had been requested to read a little something to the assembled villagers.

She told me. 'It was a nice meal, pleasant company, and they seem pleased with what I'd selected - a mixture of the profound and the humorous. In fact, they were rapt! As well as polite applause between some of the poems, there was some good clapping at the end.'

She was brought back to earth, however, when no sooner had she sat down than a chap (the church warden or some such) leapt to his feet and announced: 'And now we come to the moment we've all been waiting for: we will now draw the raffl1e!'

Ah, fame is a fickle mistress.

Friday 10 October 2014

Happy Friday, everyone

Well, another week has flown by, which can only be good for the bank balance. I've been very busy again, not only with teaching but also editorial work.

Last weekend's 21st birthday celebration went well, albeit rather low key. Boys just don't make the same fuss that girls do.

Saturday saw me at a private view at our local art gallery where my friend and fellow blogger Elaine was co-hosting (is the right verb?) an exhibition. (This is where I saw my GP - see Monday's post.) It was a lovely occasion - check out her talents here.

I'm off to a music thing tonight to see Mark Geary, then there's more folk on offer tomorrow in the charming form of Seth Lakeman.

Might have a lie in on Sunday.

'Celebrate the small things' is a bloghop instigated by VikLit on her blog Scribblings of an Aspiring Author and co-hosted by Diana Wilder, LG Keltner @ Writing Off the Edge, Cyborg Mom (Katie) and CaffeMaggieato @ mscoffeehouse. Details are here

Monday 6 October 2014

The doctor will see you now

'This won't hurt...'
I was at a lovely social occasion on Saturday, where the great and the good of the local art scene allowed me to join them for afternoon drinks and small talk. More on this story later, as they say.

I was on my own and I didn't know anyone other than my host, but was happy enough dropping in and out of conversations, and generally milling - that is, until I saw a face I recognised. He wasn't a friend, nor even an enemy. Worse, it was my GP. What to do? This is a man who has seen me through two pregnancies and various ailments over the last twenty-something years. I don't see much of him (not as much as he has seen of me!), but I'm fairly sure he would have recognised me, even if he couldn't bring my name to mind.

What would you have done?
  1. rushed over and renewed his acquaintance:
  2. nodded in recognition but nothing more; or, as I did,
  3. kept your head down and your gaze averted, bobbing and weaving your way round the room to avoid bumping into him?

Friday 3 October 2014

This week's celebrations

I've missed a couple CTST Fridays, because I've been so busy, but I couldn't let this week's go by unmarked, because we have a proper celebration this weekend as number two son turns 21. Happy birthday, Joe. There will be beer and pizza tonight; never let it be said that we don't know how to party in the Thorley household.

Have a lovely weekend, folks.

'Celebrate the small things' is a bloghop instigated by VikLit on her blog Scribblings of an Aspiring Author and co-hosted by Diana Wilder, LG Keltner @ Writing Off the Edge, Cyborg Mom (Katie) and CaffeMaggieato @ mscoffeehouse. Details are here


Wednesday 1 October 2014

'Practically perfect'

I was under the impression that my family are the best, but it seems not - at least, not according to Mrs Perfect's posts on Facebook.

It turns out that not only is her husband the most attentive, handsome and considerate, but he can also cook! Her children are the world's most attentive offspring who never forget a birthday or anniversary and, indeed, will often produce something beautiful and hand-crafted to mark the occasion. Nieces and nephews are setting the world alight with their talent and ingenuity, while also finding time to raise thousands of pounds for charity. Older offspring excel at music and the arts, while holding down top-level jobs and managing happy teams.

And then there's the grandchildren, with their ditsy clothes and oh-so-appealing pet names. These are the best-behaved tots in the world, who sleep through the night, sail effortlessly through teething and chow down on organic cauliflower without a second thought.

Really, it's just too exhausting. Imagine having to keep up - and keep up with - all that.

Description: Real Girls Aren't Perfect Perfect Girls Aren't Real