Note Number 67…Messing About with Sewing…

Last week I bought a sewing machine. I’ve had one before, in fact, I had the last one for well over thirty years, but then the house got flooded and the old machine took a battering that couldn’t be repaired. Anyway, got a new one, more modern but not too sophisticated a basic Brother model. It does forwards and backwards, zig-zag, zip foot, buttonhole foot etc., and best of all tada…*drum roll* it has a gadget that threads the needle. Beats me how it does it. I do what I’m supposed to do and hey presto…the cotton is through the eye of the needle, but I’ve no idea how!

So the first garment I made was a mop-cap. Success. I need it for a little performance that I’m doing with my local writing group, Story Traders, some of us have written short stories or poems using William Turner as our inspiration. The Bridport Museum are having a Turner exhibition featuring one of his paintings of West Bay. He visited the area don’t you know? The piece I’ve written is a little creative story about Turner on the beach meeting some young people while he’s painting and trying to join in the music, playing his flute. They (whoever they are) do say that he played the flute, albeit usually in private. They found one in his home after he died. We’re performing on Wednesday 3rd Julyin Bridport library, 2.30 – 3.15 and in the museum on the 10th July (I think…not sure of details yet).

mop capMop Cap

Hope I look a bit brighter than this chap when I’m wearing it! 

Back to the sewing. I have a wonderful jacket that I bought in New York several years ago and it is one of my most favourite items. I wear it all the time. I decided I would like to make a copy but of course I didn’t have a pattern. The result was not exactly disastrous but the teacher would definitely say, ‘could do better’. I never realised how difficult making a pattern from an article of clothing would be.

Jacket 1

First attempt at a jacket…I won’t show you the original…tut tut 

Next morning, I took myself off to the wonderful Livingstone Textile shop in Bridport, bought a pattern for a kimono jacket and some fab material…second attempt was a lot better but I need lessons on how to do a collar and also how to measure myself – I chose extra-large…big mistake as it’s about two sizes too big. It will do for Barcelona though,(*see below).

kimono 1

Better effort this time

(didn’t make the black t-shirt underneath, just thought it looked better in the photo) 

Practice makes perfect, but of course practicing costs material and time. In comparison, writing is easier,  because it doesn’t matter how many mistakes you make you can put them right, improving the end product all the time, but, with sewing? Well, once you’ve made a mistake, you’re done for…unless you are very clever and can make a silk purse out of a sow’sear.

CLICHE ALERT!! 

*The Man is off cycling in th Pyranees at the moment (hence I can sew all day on the kitchen table), good luck to him! He finishes in Collioure and will be dropped off in Barcelona. so I’m off to meet him next Thursday for a fabulous five night in a city that I have always wanted to visit. Looking forward to it and will let you know how I get on. Plus, I now have a lovely kimono jacket to wear in the evenings! Wonder what else I can make tomorrow? Better do some writing I think.

Note Number 66. . . A Quick update of Some Good Things that are Happening. . .

 

students

1.    BREAKING NEWS!

I have accepted an unconditional place at Exeter University to do an MA in Creative Writing beginning September 2019. I know it’s going to be a lot of hard work but I am so excited. I’m hoping it will take my writing to another level and I’m fully prepared and committed to putting in the effort needed to be successful. It will, of course mean, that The Man may have to produce a few meals and take the dog out for a walk now and I’m sure my organisational skills will be tested to the limit.  I have never ‘attended’ university. For my BA in Dance Education I worked on line with the Royal Academy of Dance and then went to Durham University to recieve my certificate, (the course was validated by Durham). I’m looking forward to being on campus and suspect that I won’t be the only mature student there. I’m not planning on going to Fresher’s Week, although at least one of my children thinks I should go and even suggested an outfit.

Freshers Outfit

Thanks Joe! 

I’m going to give regular updates on my MA as I go along to let you all know how I get on from month to month. I hope I won’t be too tired and you won’t find it too boring.

images copy

 

2.   RNA – Romantic Novelists’s Association

I have, at long last, sent in a complete manuscript of my novel for appraisal by this organisation of which I am on the New Writers’ Scheme. I’m not expecting great things, I know there is plenty wrong with it (a soggy middle for a start) but it is a wonderful feeling to have written 84,000 words and finish the story that I have been working on for some years.

 

my awesome book

 

 

Note Number 65. . . A Couple of Success Stories . . .

Looking at my blog I see I haven’t posted on here since February! This is not good enough.  I don’t think anything major has happened. . .or has it?

I am now published in a collection called Dorset Shorts along with some other County folk. We were all winning entries in the Dorset Writers’ Prize. It’s a great little hardback publication and I’m very pleased with it. I am going to be reading my story Perception and Reality and one other Ten Green Bottles by Karen Wright, during the Shaftesbury Fringe on Friday 5th July. Yeah!

My other sucess was coming third in a Bridport Story Slam with my Flash Fiction Hot Lips You can hear it over on my other blog www.shortstorypods.com

HotLips

On Thursday of this week I’m going on a short writing retreat to my favourite writing retreat place Retreats for You  By the end of it I hope to have finished the major edits on the first draft of my novel enough to send it off for an appraisal with the RNA (Romantic Novelists Association) of which I am a member under their New Writers Scheme.  I also need to finish some flash fiction stories for Retreat West (not to be confused with Retreats for You — which I often do!) There is much writing to be done over the next few weeks. The Man has just come back from a three week cycling extravaganza in Victoria, Australia. I meant to get LOADS done while he was away but what with the Bridport Film Festival , From Page to Screen, being on, babysitting and visitors etc., those three weeks went by very quickly and now he’s back. Thank goodness. I work better when he’s around.

GB Scratching Head

A lot of headscratching goin on here. . .Let’s hope nothing is broken and he can put it back together. . .

Note Number 64. . .I’ve Done It. . .

Lopesan Villa Del Conde – Day and Night

A long time since I wrote any blog but I haven’t been idle. Apart from a holiday between Christmas and New Year in Cornwall at St Michael’s Hotel Falmouth where the food and facilities were great but the staff and running  of the place left a little bit to be desired. Wouldn’t put me off going again though, but, I just don’t like being called ‘dear’ by the hotel reception staff. We did a quick trip to Gran Canaria in February to stay at the Lopesan Villa Del Conde. Both places were memorable in their own way, but the sun in Meloneras has to be the winner.

Walking the Coastal Path and Cream Tea at St Michael’s Resort

The Man did plenty of  cycling while  we were in Gran Canaria and I did plenty  of lazing about and sunning myself – I did do some writing, which leads me on to the next bit of news.

the end

I have finished the first draft of my novel! *drum roll* It’s only taken about four years! I am aware, that now the hard work really starts with editing., I do feel a great sense of achievement having been able to write the word, THE END. I’m going to a novel-writing retreat from 9-12 March, a bit late you might think but no,  there are people on there who have already written and published one or more books and I think the weekend will help me to move quickly onto the next phase.

Other news is Brexit? No, I’m not going to talk about that except to say that I’m waiting until after the 29th March before I begin to put the dog through any unnecessary blood tests for a planned holiday in France in September.

jpeg

Not Sure Jpeg wants to travel in the car to France…she’s ten years old now  

I’ve been to London to visit the Discover –  Children’s Story Centre and can recommend it to all you people out there with children or grandchildren who have a love of books or even if you’re not book obsessed it’s a wonderful day out with imaginative play  areas inside and out. The day we were there featured a story-time of The Tiger Who Came to Tea, by Judith Kerr. A lovely story (even if a little dated). We went with a child of two and a half and a five-year old and both were entertained admirably. There was a fabulous area containing several child size ‘sets’ of stories about  Mog the Forgetful Cat, also by Judith Carr. We had trouble dragging the children away from there, so many little rooms to play  in and props to  play with.  The centre also has a cafe and a book/toy shop and plenty of toilets placed on every floor!

tiger

Bridport has not let us down this winter with so many films, plays, comedy nights etc., it’s impossible  to keep up. This week the Electric Palace has hosted a Mike Leigh Film Festival and The Man and I went to see Secrets and Lies. Brilliant film with some superb acting from Brenda Blethyn and Timothy Spall. Afterwards there was a Q&A session with Mike Leigh and Andrew Dickson (the musical composer). It was wonderful to hear them speak about film making and collaboration between composer and director. The music for Secrets and Lies is so good that you hardly notice it – which is how it should be. A member of the audience asked Mike Leigh how he chose his actors and he said that first and foremost they had  to be character actors and intelligent. He didn’t want anybody with a big ego. I loved watching the film but it made me feel a tad regretful. If I had my time again I would definitely have worked harder at my acting career. Maybe go to drama school, RADA if they’d have me. Oh, how I would absolutely love to be in a Mike Leigh film. *sigh*

Secrets and Lies…try and find it online or on a DVD such a brilliant film.

Can’t believe it’s nearly the end of February and March is looking very busy already. Must fit in more time to write my blog – I’m sure I have tons more to tell you but  hey, the sun is shining and it’s time for a cuppa!

cup of tea

 

Note Number 63. . . A Cowboy Story for Christmas.

christmasboot

Wayne Hollis Jackson was driving along the old Eagle Trail on his way back from the range. He was still a good fifteen mile away from home and the snow was hitting the windscreen of the truck like a hail of Lux soap flakes. The Jackson’s had always been cowboys, but he was sure glad not to be riding a horse in this weather. After a hard day, he was looking forward to getting back to a warm fire, and a fine bit of good Texan tucker that his momma would have ready for him at the house. His watch read six-thirty, and he had reckoned to be back before seven, but with the worsening weather, he began to doubt getting home at all.

A while later he was passing the McVale place, squinting to see where he was headed, he could just make out Mary-Lou McVale standing by the side of their station wagon flagging him down. He pulled over as close as he could, drew his hat down over his eyes and gathered his sheepskin coat around his body, opened the truck door and ran to Mary -Lou putting his arm around her.

‘What’s up Mrs McVale?’ he said.

The words came tumbling out, a torrent of panic.

‘The pick-up’s broke, the baby’s coming, the phone lines are down, there’s no mobile signal and Joe’s away working on the rigs. He was getting here for Christmas, but I think that ain’t possible now. The baby’s not due for another three weeks but the contractions are coming fast. I don’t see how I’m gonna make it to the hospital. Rightly I should have had my mother here but like I said, the baby’s not due for another three weeks.’

‘Well mam, I’ve delivered a fair few calves in my time, can’t see it’ll be that much different. Let’s get you inside, out of this blizzard.’

‘Won’t your mamma be worrying ’bout you?’

‘Guess she will but there’s nothing I can do ’bout that now. Anyways, she’ll likely think I’ve stayed up at the bunkhouse what with this weather and all.’

‘There’s some stew on the stove if you need a bite to eat.’

‘Why, that’s a mighty good idea, I could be here some time.’

For the next five hours Mary-Lou paced around the living room of the one storey house, moaning and groaning and Wayne comforted her between contractions. He tried to stay relaxed and not let on how nervous he felt about the imminent birth.

‘Do you think, with it being Christmas Eve an’ all, you might have a boy?’ he asked.

‘What, you mean, like a second coming?’ Mary-Lou kinda spat the words out.

‘I was just saying.’

‘I think it’s here,’ yelled Mary-Lou before dropping onto all fours and bellowing.

Wayne manoeuvred her onto the couch.

At just gone midnight, a beautiful little baby girl bawled her way into the world.

‘Oh my,’ said Wayne, ‘a new beginning. Aint that something? What are you gonna call her?’

‘Well, I don’t rightly fancy Waynette, but maybe Holly would be nice, a bit like your middle name? And it is Christmas day after all.’

Wayne stared at the little baby.

‘Imagine,’ he sighed, ‘if Jesus had been born a girl, the world might have been a whole different place.’

cowboy stork

This story was originally created from a prompt set as homework for a writing group that I have just joined, Story Traders, in Bridport. We had to take a character or two from a Christmas Carol or Song and write a story putting them in a modern setting. I chose the Cowboy Carol, which I love and I think my kids loved it too. If you don’t know it, you can listen to a version of it here. 

Note Number 62. . .November Round up . . .

I don’t know about you, but November came and went with such speed that I keep thinking I’m only half-way through. Here’s a quick recap :

1st/2nd The grandchildren came to stay for one night. We had  tea with them all in the afternoon at The Seaside Boarding House in Burton Bradstock, then drove off into the sunset taking the little darlings with us and leaving the parents to enjoy a romantic dinner for two and a night away. The sunsets at the end of October and beginning of November were truly stunning.

sunrise

This is  actually a sunrise not sunset…photo taken by my daughter Emily Rickard (you  can find her on pimpyourrental or emilyrickardstylist on Instagram — it’s worth a look) 

3rd November The Man and I went to see The Wife at the Electric Palace in Bridport. Good film, good story etc., probably a little overhyped, but then aren’t they all these days?  Glenn Close was wonderful but then she looked just like our friend Jan from Bristol, so we were distracted by thinking how much fun it was to see Jan carrying  on with Jonathan Pryce, on the big screen.  The film is about a writer who receives the Nobel  Prize for Literature — but then we learn the truth behind his legendary writing, (The Wife). . .all is not what it seemed.

the wife

Sorry that I can’t find a photo of Jan for  you to compare…

6th  Bridport Film Society (I am on the committee) showed Land of Mine. I had watched it before and saw so much more in it, the second time around, isn’t that often the way? It’s based on a true story, when, in 1945 the Danes used young German POWs to clear the 1.5 million land mines that had been set along the coast. A harrowing but brilliant film.

7th/28th My Wednesday afternoon Laban Dance is back in full swing. Wendy has us dancing with towels — hmm, you may well ask. It’s brilliant actually. We all love following her choreographic ideas,  whilst all the time she encourages us to create our own sequences. Wendy bases a lot of the  dancing on myths and ancient stories of the  Gods.

From the 12th – 16th I went on a Flash Fiction Writing Retreat, run by Amanda Saint from Retreats West and held at Retreats for You in Sheepwash, Devon. It was a brilliant three days of writing, working with other writers under the excellent tutelage of Amanda. We each created at least three pieces of flash fiction per day ready to take home and lick into shape. Some pieces will be put in the bin, some developed and I’ll maybe start a few new ones. I need to have nine stories ready for April 2019, for publication in November 2019. Of course, Amanda will not use all of them but I’m hoping to send her a few that she won’t be able to refuse.

Retreats  For You Outside….Happy Writers Inside

19th Almost as soon as I had I returned to Bridport, we had to rush off to Bristol for babysitting duties. Then to  Maidenhead to visit our other granddaughter and from there to London, where we spent two nights in the city. I had lunch with an old friend that  I hadn’t seen for about  8 years — it was such fun catching up. Fortunately, I remembered that she always wore amazing earrings.  Shock horror! I had left my earrings in Bristol so had to  borrow a pair. There was no way I could lunch with Sheila without a decent pair of rings in my ears. Do you have friends with great fashion or accessory tastes? Not that I bother to ‘keep up’ with anything it’s just that sometimes one has to stop and think about these things.

my borrowed earrings copy

My Borrowed Earrings (rather nice I think – thanks step-daughter Jackie)

21st The Man and I went to the Jermyn Street Theatre in London to see Billy Bishop Goes To War.  Based on the true story of a fighter pilot from WW1. What a treat that was. The theatre is very small, seating only 60 or so people and the action takes place right in front of your nose. If you need the loo you have to walk across the stage area, but of course you can’t do that when the show is in progress. Charles Aitken played the younger Billy Bishop and Oliver Beamish played the older Billy Bishop. Both actors were honestly superb, creating believable scenes of war in the mud and trenches and in the skies. The staging was brilliantly put together so that the action could take place all over the world without any changes.  Hard to explain but it  was clever. I cannot wait to go back to this little theatre, what a find.

 

Left-hand side is the set. Right-hand side. See how close the  front row is? 

On the 24th November I was asked to judge the Young Farmers’ Entertainment competition. Not knowing what to expect I went with an open mind and full of interest (and full of cold for that matter). It  was a great evening, with four clubs  taking  part, each one giving us a performance for no longer than 30 mins including  set-up an take-down. The programme was as follows.

Sturminster Newton YFC – Sturminster Newton’s Got Talent
Sherborne YFC A Night at the Oscars
Marshwood Vale A Day at the Races
Puddletown YFC Puddletown YFC Entertainments

They were all brilliant, I had a good laugh and enjoyed the music and singing. It  was difficult to choose a winner but in the end I went for Marshwood Vale. A fast paced and hilarious day at the races. I even forgot my cough and cold for a few hours.

Marshwood Vale YFC

Marshwood Vale winnng group receiving their prize — photo courtesy of  them…hope they don’t mind I nicked it off facebook. Your’s Truly is looking a little pleased with herself don’t you think? 

I haven’t included every single thing that was in my diary for November,  you would have become bored, (perhaps you are anyway) but, we had some lovely dinner dates, a game of cards, a haircut, a writing meeting, among other things  and of course The Man did some cycling. All good stuff,  culminating with lunch at the Station Kitchen in Bridport  on Friday 30th  November – my son Thomas’s birthday. He would have been 35, but sadly left us when he was 27. The family never forget his birthday. Most of us can be seen sporting odd  socks for the day – a speciality of his. Lunch was good, he would have enjoyed it. Especially the bit where The Man spilt his water all over  my lap.

The Station Kitchen decorated out for Christmas. . .and my Sea Bass.  Yummy. 

Thomas and Me

And finally a throwback to 1983. . . lovely smiling mummy and son

What was that hair all about Ninette? 

Note Number 61. . . Be Aware, be Very Aware. . .Is there a day for you?

calendar

It seems to me that every day is an Awareness day for at least one thing, often several, be they animal, vegetable, mineral or abstract. A couple of weeks ago I saw on Facebook that it was International Day of the Pug! I couldn’t believe it. Okay if you have a Pug I suppose. I began to browse the Internet for other National and International days, and was astonished to find that there are hundreds in the UK and probably thousands in America and elsewhere in the world.

This month I’m attempting NaNoWrimo – National Novel Writing Month. . .It’s a website where you can join other writers and attempt to scribble 50,000 words during November. I probably won’t manage it but I want to finish my novel by Christmas and this seemed a good way to try and stick to my goal. https://nanowrimo.org

It’s also Movember https://www.awarenessdays.com/awareness-days-calendar/movember-2018-mens-health-awareness-month/ when men grow their beards and moustaches to increase awareness of men’s health.

kissing lips

Mwaah!

National World Kissing Day is the 6th July, apparently, this day started in the UK but is now worldwide. And, you’ll love this, the record for the longest kiss was set in 2005 at 31 hours and 30 mins!! Did they not eat, drink, breathe or anything else during that time? I will have to look up the rules. http://www.holidayscalendar.com/event/world-kissing-day/

World Egg Day was on the 12th October this year so we’ve missed that which is a shame as Meringue, Coddle and Soufflé would have enjoyed contributing. I’ll have to put it in the diary for 2019.
https://www.incredibleegg.org/world-egg-day/

hens2

My absolute favourite is International Talk Like a Pirate Day 19th September — shiver me timbers, that’s hilarious — I’m definitely considering a party for that in 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Talk_Like_a_Pirate_Day

pirate-clip-art-pirate-clipart-3

Here are a few more awareness days that you might not have heard about. . .I’ve picked one for every month from now until October 2019. But there are many more to choose from.

Hug a Bear Day 7th November (my mother’s birthday)
International Mountain Day 11th December (Climb every . . .)
National Popcorn Day which is every 19th January
Random Acts of Kindness Day 17th February (a lovely idea)
International Plant a Flower Day March 12th 2019
International Dance Day 29th April 2019
International Day of Living Together in Peace 16th May (I like this one)
International Picnic Day June 18th 2019 (strawberries and cream — oh there’s probably a day for that!)
Children’s Art Day 6th July
International Left Handers Day 13th August
World Rabies Day September 28th
World Smile Day 7th October

You can start your own awareness day if you like but I think it might be hard to think of something new. . .or find a spare date!
http://www.national-awareness-days.com/starting-your-day