Friday, 19 April 2013

Dedicated to Alv

I came home to a package from Alv. I thought I knew what was inside...but nothing prepared me for the beauty of the item inside.

Alv had knitted a beautiful lacy shawl for me. It is a thing of shimmering beauty, knitted with a yarn the colour of the sea and skies,  and she might perhaps argue that it wasn't that hard to complete but when I looked at the intricate stitching..I knew that I am very lucky to count Alv as a friend...and that she is generous and thoughtful..because I know I will never reach the standard of knitting which has achieved, I lack the skill, the dedication, the patience. So, yes I am lucky.

I am not very good at wording 'thank yous' instead I shall simply say "thank you Alv" and share these photographs which I took of the shawl.


Monday, 30 July 2012

Mickey Smith-Cornish Surfing Photographer

I come across many photographers I admire and many photographs I really like. My current favourites are the dynamic, powerful images of water and surfers from one of the world's greatest surfing photographers (I didn't know it existed as a genre either!), Mickey Smith. Originally from west Cornwall, Mickey has made the south-west coast of Ireland his second home.

Here are some of my favourite of his photos. I really think he has captured the might and the beauty of the sea accurately.

Here are some snippets of information about him.

  • Michael Lee Smith grew up on the West coast of Cornwall.

  • Surrounded by sea and stone, ocean elements were ever present.

  • The outside whiled away the sunlight hours, and music filled the nights.

  • Surfing from dawn till dusk, and playing blues and country in bars from dusk till dawn became routine.

  • Life on the road was soon the only one he knew.

  • Friends and family called him myriad names, but one stuck, Mickey.

  • Mick left school at 16 with a bundle of cash stashed from gigging dark corners and headed for the light.

  • Burning and earning cash on the road to waves with weight and consequence became a way of life.

  • Cameras held his hand wherever he went, with rolls of super8 and Hi8 tapes in one pocket, and HP5 and Velvia in another.

  • He followed his heart and instincts, and through the twists and turns of fate, people took a shine to his photography and quirky films.

  • A way of life became a career of sorts, but after many years of travelling to work, the career of sorts had become the way of life, and it was time for a change.

  • One day Mickey decided to stay put on the West coast of Ireland, a place he had frequented and loved since the tender age of 14.

  • The nomads career no longer existed, but strangely enough, his work flourished.

  • Doing things for love alone over a living, helped creativity flow like never before.

  • For years he lived this way, and then tragically, his sister Cherry died.

  • She was his biggest fan, and had always wanted to hear the tale of why and how he did what he does.

  • So he began to make a film in her memory, for her two sons Kalle and Riley to remember her light, passion and inspiration through.

  • The film was called Dark Side of the Lens.

  • Due to many other strange twists of fate and coincidence, people liked his story and felt a connection to it.

  • Thus Dark Side accidentally opened doors into all sorts of weird and wonderful endeavors, even Hollywood came knocking, not once, but thrice believe it or not.

  • Mickey knows he only has his sister to thank.

  • Around that same time his good friend Ben asked him to make a film or two for his songs, so he did.

  • Since, Ben's music has taken Mickey and his family all around the world on a surreal magic carpet ride.

  • Indeed his journeys been laced with new horizons and challenges of late.

  • Most significantly of all, Mickeys girlfriend Rivie recently brought a beautiful baby girl named Eiva into the world.

  • It was beyond revelation and inspiration to the old hobbit.

  • He still tries his hardest to trust his heart and his gut each morning, and is more excited by the sea than ever before.
  • Sunday, 22 July 2012

    St Merthiana's Church of Cornwall

    I saw many beautiful things during my week in Cornwall. I saw windswept moors, twisted trees, pounding seas and vertiginous cliffs, but of all the things which I revisit the most in my mind it is the 'hidden' church of St Merthiana which C showed me. I write hidden as it is ensconced just above a little river valley with wooded sides which guard it.

    I don't know if it was the silence, the translucent green light from the trees, the romantic setting or the unexpected evening sunshine but it left an indelible impression on me.

    The church is 13th century, with some 19th century restoration. The grounds are a controlled wildlife area and the unkemptness adds to the atmosphere.

    If you ever happen to be in the west of England, St Merthiana's Church is worth seeking out. It's about a mile inland from the habour village of Boscastle and apparently it makes for a beautiful, if exhilerating walk.

    I said to C that if I ever got married I'd like to get married here and we joked about where all the guests would park, if they even found the church. I wasn't joking about the marriage part though.

    Taken from the road.

    The verdant cemetary on the valley side

    Sunday, 8 July 2012

    West Country Roadtrip

    My tyres are pumped, oil checked. "Is it between the minimum and the maximum mark?", "yes, Dad". Numerous copies of the RAC's number have been planted in various places. My suitcase is packed. Umbrella, sunglasses, jumpers, suncream, thick boots, light trainers. This is the first time I've holidayed in Britain for many years and you can never be too prepared for all climatic eventualities. Do I miss a straightforward pack as for sunnier, reliable climes? Perhaps. we have the crashing Atlantic, and castle ruins that sit on cliff topss, and wild beaches, and moorlands that transport you to a scene from The Lord of the Rings. We have Dartmoor ponies and tors, exquisitely gentrified country houses with English gardens in full summer bloom. And tricky, fluid Celtic words and pasties.

    So yes, this summer I am eschewing the lure of the exotic and staying on my own island to go on a summer holiday in the West Country. I do not know if the lady who has kindly let me stay with her has wi-fi, but if it is possible I will be writing about my adventures in Cornwall here. Adieu!

    Wednesday, 20 June 2012

    Review of Witch Light

    This Irish blogger's review of the beautiful, wonderful Witch Light is far more detailed and eloquent that mine would be!

    Wednesday, 30 May 2012

    Camera Necklace

    Anyone who knows me will know that photography is one of my passions. If your jewellery and accessories can say something about who you are, then even better. I managed to find some camera charms on eBay and tuned one into a necklace. As well as the camera, the necklace is comprised of a long, antique gold-coloured chain and the camera charm is attached with some old clock cogs, to add an interesting detail.

    There's something very therapeutic about playing around with some small parts and seeing if you can make something interesting.

    Tuesday, 29 May 2012

    Adventure to Reculver and Blean Woods

    At the weekend I finally had a chance to take a closer look at Reculver towers, near Herne Bay. I've seen the ruins many times when flying past on my way to another part of the coast and I have always promised myself that one day I'd stop and stand in their shadows.

    Reculver Towers are the two towers of the ruins of St Mary's church, built by the Romans. The towers which still stand were actually added to the original Roman church in about 650AD.

    The Reculver Towers are located in Reculver Country Park, The Saxon Shore way skirts the country park so you can walk or cycle along the coast. There are picnic tables in the park and we sat and had a lovely, albeit windy,  picnic.

    Afterwards,  we drove to Blean Woods where 35 pairs of nightingales return to every spring. The nightingale has one of the most beautiful and distintive songs of any bird and was a great inspiration to the English Romantic poets. Unfortunately we didn't hear any nightingales that evening but I have heard reports of nightingales being heard in Boughton and Appledore as well as Blean. They sing between May and the beginning of June so I'm running out of time but if not this year :)

    (a nightingale!)

     We came across a group of enthusiastic bird spotters who were standing transfixed by another very strange bird cry. One of the bird spotters, a gentrified elderly lady, whispered to me that it was a nightjar.

    Nightingales or not, the woods are a beautiful place to be at dusk. There are plenty of birds species singing and on a summer's evening I can think of nothing better than sitting in the woods with just a picnic and the birds for company. There is a car park which was still open when we left after 10pm, although there is plenty of road parking if you were worried about your car getting locked in the car park.

    Wednesday, 16 May 2012

    Britain's Bluebells

    Estimates suggest that up to 70% of the world's bluebells bloom in the UK. I anticipate their arrival every year and when their particular shade of violet-blue does sweep the woods and flower beds I know summer is on the way. Now we are in the second half of May, some of the bluebells are looking a little tired and I know it is nearly time to say good bye to them until next year.

    I found these beauties in Brenchley Gardens in Maidstone whilst waiting for my bus.

    Some of the most popular places to find bluebells are here (including the famous Ashridge Estate in Buckinghamshire).

    Next year I'm hoping to fulfill a dream and take a trip to Buckinghamshire to photograph the bluebells on the Ashridge estate at sunrise. Fingers crossed.

    Sunday, 6 May 2012

    Five Things I Like to Do

    A while back, I started a 10 questions-10 day challenge. I forgot about it but have now remembered.

    Question 6 is to list 5 things I like to do. This is going to be hard as I like doing a lot of things.

    1) Listening to the radio whilst crocheting or cross stitching. I don't have a television but I DO have a radio and I would choose a radio over a television any day.I got my first digital radio a couple of Christmasses ago and it has become an indispensible part of my life. If I want to find new bands and songs I listen to BBC Music 6, if I'm feeling nostalgic I'll select Absolute 80/90/00s and be transported to my past. I love the French radio station I can get with its emphasis on electronic music. Occasionally I listen to hard rock stations or else I'll dart over to Radio 4 for the shipping forecast and interesting debates. I've even been known to listen to the hypnotic beats on the Punjabi radio stations. I can sit there for hours, with my hands working and my foot tapping.

    2) Talking. Anyone who knows me will know that I love to talk. I will happily debate about anything. I like it when my Dad makes dinner and then we sit at the table and talk afterwards. I love walking and talking. Sometimes customers will tell me a story while I'm serving them and it is always the highlight of my day. I remember the British Diplomat's wife who told me about Rangoon, Mr E, the 71 year old lady who encouraged me to draw. The tree surgeon who outlined his typical work day for me, the Dutch girl who touched my hand because I knew what Flemish was and then chatted to me about languages for 10 minutes, the regular customers who pass by and always have a few words to offer me. I love sitting around a table with  friends or family, some food and drink to hand, and talking about anything, telling stories, sharing anecdotes and laughing.

    3) Packing a picnic for an adventure in Kent. (ok, so this is arguably 2-in-1 like the first but they do go together). A summer's day, sky bight blue. I get up early and pack a picnic for a day out. All my favourite foods, divided plates and colourful straws. My camera is fully charged. A mix CD has been made. I set off in my car and drive around, over, and through Kent, seeking out castles, beaches, pretty villages, gardens, views and the sea. Yes, if I were to die and the chance to choose how to live my final day I would pack a picnic and head to one of my favourite castle and bays in Kent.

    4) Staying up late. I thought it was a leftover form my student days; but no, I'm just a night person. I love the quietness and the stillness. There is a privacy about night. Few people are around so there is no need to socialise if you don't want to. You can be alone and be yourself. I have my best ideas at night, flashes of creativity. Most of all I love night in an empty house. Without being able to see outside it's like living in your own kingdom. I loved my little appartment in Germany, at night. I loved the quietness of being 9 floors up and seeing the stars from my balcony. 1am and I could eat mashed potato if I wanted and write. I love light and sunshine but there is definitely a magic about night.

    5) Walking. At dusk best. With my latest Spotify playlist. I'd love a dog and a number of people have said " don't forget you'd have to take it for a walk every day" like it's a bad thing. Having to go for a walk every day is one of the many reasons TO get a dog.

    Wednesday, 2 May 2012

    Knotted Choker and Camera Withdrawal

    I bought a couple of shell pendants in a sale and knotted some green cord to hang it form.

    I've always really liked chokers and now my head is spinning with ideas for other choker ideas. Pay day was a week or so back so I bought a few things on eBay. It's amazing how vast the range of items for sale on eBay is.
    I bought some antique gold coloured camera charms which I'm very excited about receiving. I think you can get a charm in just about every imaginable style so I'm tempted to put some themed bracelets together, even if they're already been done.

    My camera battery has died on me. I miss it a lot but am grateful for my iPhone which is capable of producing some high quality and very interesting images.

    This was taken in some woodland nearby. It doesn't look like it was taken in a heavily residential area, and it's a good reminder that there are photos to be had everywhere if you look closely enough.

    A little blurred admittedly. Still, I like the whiteness and how it 'glows' in the grass.

    With my camera out of action (hopefully temporarily) I will have lots of opportunities to exploit my iPhone and its potential.