Tuesday, 24 July 2012

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

I think it is time for me to say a fond farewell to this blog.

I need one online identity...one that links everything together and, since setting up my drawing a day site, that online identity has become Art Is Autobiographical. I post a picture on there everyday and talk about what has inspired it....sometimes I go into more depth about what is going on...sometimes I don't. Now that I have my Etsy Shop it makes even more sense for me to have one place where I can be found. I am going to transfer all the posts from here to Art Is Autobiographical as well as my 'List of blogs I follow' (so that I can actually start following you all again!). 

I hope that you will come visit me at my new online home.

So lovely little blog

"So long...and thanks for all the fish"

Monday, 23 July 2012

I Need Your Help AND You Could Win An Original Drawing

I have not been here in an age and now I'm here asking for a favour....Yup, I am totally shameless!

I have set up an Art Is Autobiographical shop on etsy and I am trying to raise awareness of it's existence! Could you write a wee blog post (or just a couple of sentences in one you were planning to write anyway) to give my site a plug?

As a thank you to everyone that shares the information on their Blog/Facebook/Twitter page I will be holding an additional 'win an original drawing' competition where the winner can choose ANY original from all the pictures that have been put on the blog so far...no monthly restrictions.

Here is a graphic you can use (It should link to the shop) but incase you are having any problems the website address is http://www.etsy.com/shop/ArtsAutobiographical


Thank you

(Oh, and if you do help out please let me know so that I can include your name in the draw. I don't want you to do your bit then miss out!)

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

My Dream Of You - a new Novel by DJ Kirkby

Today is the online Launch of an exciting new novel by the fabulous DJ Kirkby so pop over to her blog and leave a 'pick me' comment on her 'My Dream Of You' blog post and you could win one of these exciting prizes. 

Prize One - 
A Bothams of Whitby champagne afternoon tea hamper custom made for the My Dream of You launch party. The contents of hamper are:
Apricot & Orange Teabread
Butter Rice Madeira Cake
Butter Syrup Tea Biscuits
Apricot and Almond Jam 8oz
Resolution Tea Box 80 bags
Small wooden tray
750ml bottle of Fratelli Berlucchi (2006) Brut
A limited edition (signed) paperback copy of MDOY. (Unfortunately this prize open to UK entrants only due to complications with posting all the contents of this hamper to other countries...but I'm not complaining cause it means that there is a slightly higher chance that I will win!)

Prize Two - 
One of five limited edition (signed) paperback copies of MDOY (open to worldwide entrants).

Prize Three - 
A character named after you in her next novel (open to worldwide entrants).

Prize Four - 
One of 15 MDOY fridge magnets (open to worldwide entrants).

The winner will be announced on DJ's blog on Sunday June 11th.

What's that? What is the book about? Well let me tell you

Is it a crime of passion or cruel twist of fate?
One summer’s day Betty let love carry her a step too far. That exquisite sun dappled afternoon became one of her best memories but also the catalyst for the worst experience of her life. Now elderly, Betty has been running from her past since she was a teenager, and it’s about to catch up with her. Will the experience be as awful as she fears or wonderful beyond imagining?

Praise for MDOY:
“D.J. Kirkby writes with compassion and energy, creating characters you can really care about.”  Sarah Salway (Canterbury Poet Laureate)

"Evocatively written, My Dream of You is an absorbing read filled with interesting characters, plot twists, and emotion."  Talli Roland, bestselling author of Build a Man

“A tale of motherhood, of hope and of love. Truly touching” Caroline Smailes, author of 99 Reasons Why


About the lovely DJ:
Denyse lives in the South of England in a house otherwise filled with males - husband, boys and pets - she writes to escape the testosterone.
She is the author of Without Alice, My Dream of You, and her book Special Deliveries which is currently with her agent.


Quarterly newsletter sign up page: http://djkirkby.co.uk/newsletter/





Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Waiting For A Train At Paddington

I can see:
The curve of the station roof stretching into the distance
A flickering black and orange board announcing arrivals and departures
An Asian girl talking urgently into her mobile
A man concentrating intensly on what he's reading on his ipad
A young boy snuggling into his Mum
A large clock displaying the time
People eating at Yo! Sushi
Plants moving in the breeze
A sculpture of Paddington Bear
A group of people running to catch a train all trailing large suitcases behind them
The beautiful elegance of a conversation using sign langugage (I try not to stare as its considered rude within the deaf community...it is the equivalent of evesdropping)

I can hear:
The rumble of a train approaching the platform
The screech of feedback on a microphone
The mumble of an announcement which is impossible to make out
That underlying hum which comes from being in a busy public place
A coffee machine grinding and hissing
The click of a pair of heels as a woman scurries pst
The theeeerrrrump theeeerrrump of the wheels on a suitcase hitting the ridges of the floor tiles
The rustle of a newspaper
Ice clicking together as the man next to me slurps his drink
A hushed, urgent sounding, conversation in a language I don't understand
Someone coughing
A couple arguing
The tinkle and clatter of someone dropping cutlery
A tut from somewhere behind me
A child crying

I can feel:
A slight tension in the air as people wait for their trains to be announced
A cold breeze moving the hair on the back of my neck and making me shiver
My eyes...hot and tired after a long day at the office
The weight of the book I am writing in
Heat from the arm of the man sitting next to me who is invading my personal space
My rucksack pushing against my leg as it is jammed in the tiny amount of space available between me and the table
The smoothness of the paper as my hand glides over it
The smooth satin of my coat lining contrasting with the rough wool of the outside as it brushes the top of my hand
A slight cramp in my hand from writing (So used to the computer now!)
Bubbles playing in my mouth as I sip my sparkling water
Time passing slowly as I wait

I can touch:
The embossed front of my notebook as it balances on my forefinger
The ridges of paper already scribbled on under my thumb
The faux leather of the chair that I'm sitting on
The glass of chilled water in front of me
The textured waterproof fabric of my rucksack

I can smell:
The oil and dirt of machines
The stale sweat of the man sitting next to me
Frying food
Fish
Liberally applied perfume or aftershave...I'm not sure which
Something sweet and slightly sickly
The aroma of freshly ground coffee
An acrid hint of stale cigarette smoke

I can taste:
A hint of lemon from the slice that is in my water
The slightly bitter aftertaste of coffee

(I did some blind contour drawing after I had written this (including the one here) so pop over to Art Is Autobiographical to see them. They will be appearing over the next couple of days)

Monday, 26 March 2012

Six Senses - Today at 3.36pm.

So there I was...planning on writing a post that would probably start with something along the lines of 'Sorry, I've not blogged for ages' when I realised something...I am blogging. I'm blogging every bloomin day...just not here! It sounds stupid to say but I honestly had no idea that doing a drawing a day would take up so much of my time (Yeah, I don't know why that hadn't occurred to me either *slaps self on forehead*). I think part of the problem is that I am writing about what I'm thinking and what I'm doing as a background to each picture so to then come here and write about what I'm thinking and what I'm doing seems a bit...well...repetitive which would be fine if I was, I don't know, a circus performer (no, I don't know why that popped into my head but I'm going with it) who travels all over the world meeting interesting people but I'm not...I'm a community engagement manager who travels to Tower Hamlets! I do, however, have a plan (be afraid...be very afraid).

Last year, inspired by the lovely Fire Byrd, I did a post called 'Six Senses'. I really enjoyed writing it and, from the comments I got, you lot really enjoyed reading it. The idea is that you stop for five minutes and really pay attention to your surroundings...what you can see, touch, smell etc. So once a week I'm going to take five minutes to myself. I'm going to concentrate on that exact moment in time and I'm going to try and capture it. It solves the 'what the hell shall I blog about?' thing that has been bothering me, it will force me to stop and pay attention to my surroundings (which is always a good thing) and I think it will help me appreciate where I am right now rather than always thinking of the next thing I need to do (and hopefully it will make interesting reading). So I'm going to start right now

(Today at 3.36pm)

I can see:
my netbook which I have propped up on a cushion
the sun glinting off a hand carved wooden boat that was made for me in Thailand
a carved wooden elephant
a spider plant that is looking surprisingly green considering I keep forgetting to water it
a stack of books sitting on a dust covered table top
blue sky
cat nose smears on the window
dust motes swirling slowly in a shaft of sunlight
Lugs sprawled on his back letting the sun warm his stomach

I can hear:
the whirr of my computer
the rattle of a lorry as it makes its way up the hill
the fridge humming
Gai making his way down the stairs
someone laughing
a car door slam
Lugs yawning
the click of my netbook keys as I type
my breathing
the tick of a clock
Chris moving about in the bedroom

I can feel:
the weight and heat of the netbook on my lap
a slight breeze cooling my toes as it comes in through the window
the soft cashmire rug under my foot
the bottom half of my right leg starting to go numb because of the way I am sitting
the soft cotton of my top
a thread on the frayed bottom of my jeans lightly tickling my ankle
a stray hair touching my cheek

I can touch:
the smoothness of the netbook keys under my finger tips
the warmth of my netbook,
the slightly raised stitching of the cushion my netbook is sitting on
the smooth silk of the green cushion next to me
an ice cold can of Irn Bru next to me
a bead of condensation that is forming on the can

I can smell:
fresh air coming in through the window,
a hint of paint (someone somewhere must be decorating)
cut grass
the Issay Miyaki perfume that I put on this morning.

I can taste:
Irn Bru
a slight honey aftertaste left by my lipbalm

I'm hoping that these will get better the more I do them but I don't think that's too bad a start. Please remember that you can always visit me at Art Is Autobiographical if you want to see how the drawing is going...oh, and if you follow the blog you will automatically be entered into a competition to win an original drawing. I put all the names in a hat and select one at random ever month so you have a chance to win every month.

Monday, 19 March 2012

99 Reasons Why by Caroline Smailes

Caroline is a wonderful writer! She writes unusual books with storylines that stay with you long after you have put the book down (Check out In Search Of Adam, Black Boxes and Like Bees To Honey if you don't believe me!). Today is the launch of her latest book 99 Reasons Why. It is only available as an e-book and it offers something rather special...you get to choose the ending! There are 11 in total...9 will be accessed as part of the book, one is featured here and one will be handwritten and auctioned for charity.

So what's the book about? Well....

Kate isn’t like 22 year olds. She’s got a job to do for her Uncle Phil. Each day, she spies on The Kevin Keegan Day Nursery across the road from her bedroom window, writing down all of the comings and goings in her notebooks. That’s how she spots her little girl in the pink coat. She likes her, and it isn’t long before Kate asks her mum to steal the girl for her. Plans are made.

But then, quite unexpectedly, Kate flashes her breasts out her bedroom window at the little girl’s father. And that’s the reason why nothing will ever be the same again…

There is no one ending to Kate’s story, instead there are nine possible outcomes which you can navigate through your ereading device. Each is different, and each exposes a little more of Kate’s utterly wonky world.

One of the endings -

Reason 99 - Why I was only worth ninety-nine quid.

It’s been six days since the little girl in the pink coat went missing and me Uncle Phil’s in me bedroom.

We’ve been watching the little girl in the pink coat’s mam on the news. She was appealing to the public for witnesses.

‘Didn’t realise she had a mam,’ I says, looking at me telly.

‘Everyone’s got a mam, pet,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

‘She sold her story to The Sun,’ I says, looking at me telly.

‘Got a few quid,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

I nod.

‘She wanted nowt to do with that bairn before all this,’ me Uncle Phil says, looking at me telly.

‘Do you know where she is?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.

‘Belle?’ me Uncle Phil asks me.

I nod.

‘She’s safe,’ me Uncle Phil says to me. ‘Your mam’s keeping an eye on her.’

‘Can I be her mam?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.

‘No, pet, you’re a filthy whore,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

I nod.

‘Can you make Andy Douglas come back, Uncle Phil?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.

Me Uncle Phil shakes his head.

‘I love him,’ I tell me Uncle Phil.

‘Andy Douglas is your brother, pet. You didn’t seriously think Princess Di was your mam, did you?’ me Uncle Phil asks me.

I nod.

‘You’re a cradle snatcher just like your mam,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

I nod.

‘Your mam miscarried when she found out I’d been banging Betty Douglas. Betty was expecting you,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

I don’t speak.

‘When you was born, your mam went mad and I ended up buying you from Betty Douglas for ninety-nine quid,’ me Uncle Phil says.

‘Ninety-nine quid?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.

‘I paid a hundred but got a quid change for some chips for your mam and dad’s tea,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

‘You bought me?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.

I’m a little bit sick in me mouth.

‘It was the right thing to do,’ me Uncle Phil says to me. ‘I got Betty Douglas pregnant straight away with Andy.’

‘I’m pregnant,’ I says to me Uncle Phil. ‘I’m pregnant with me brother’s baby,’ I says, and then I throws up on me purple carpet.

‘You’re a filthy whore,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

‘What am I going to do?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.

‘You’re going to have the baby,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

‘Have me brother’s baby?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.

‘Then I’m giving it to Betty Douglas to bring up,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

‘You what?’ I says to me Uncle Phil.

‘It’s the right thing to do,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

‘I can’t—’ I says to me Uncle Phil.

‘It’s either that or I’ll make you disappear,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

I don’t speak.

I’m thinking, they’re all a bunch of nutters.


You can buy it here

Friday, 10 February 2012

And January Winner is.....

Here are all the entries

and here they are in the hat
(erm, just ignore the wine glass in the background)

and the winner is....Juniper :-D. Congratulations lovely lady.

Commiserations to everyone else but hey...there is always next month!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Caught!

I thought I had got away with it...but today it caught up with me!

We did a seven mile Nordic Walk on Sunday.

In. The. Snow!! (I hope your impressed cause I was bloody amazed that Chris and I managed to drag ourselves out our pit at 8am on a snowy Sunday morning to go walking!). It was actually rather lovely (I know! Who would ever have imaged?!). The last time we did that walk we went up one huge curving steep hill that damn near killed me. I must have stopped at least five times! This time I made it up TWO rather huge curving steep hills and didn't stop once...mainly cause I had Steve walking beside me telling me that I could do it! It wasn't fast and it probably wasnt pretty (unless red and wheezing does it for you!) but I did it and you know what....yesterday the old legs were not feeling too bad!

Today? Well, all I can say is that it appears to have caught up with me.

Ouch!

*wobbles off like an old woman*

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Win one of my drawings

In order to celebrate making it to the end of each month in my 'drawing a day for 365 days' attempt I have decided to give away one of the drawings featured in that month. All you need to do is click on this link 'Art Is Autobiographical', then either add yourself as a follower or input your e-mail address in the 'follow by e-mail' box. I will put all the names into a hat, select one at random and that person can then choose which drawing they would like from the previous month. You only have to enter once and you will have a chance to win each month.

I'm doing this as a way of making sure that I keep it up...your e-mail address will not be shared with anyone else or used for anything else.

Feel free to share this on your blog/Facebook Page/Twitter.

I will pick the first winner on Friday the 10th of Feb
...good luck folks

Monday, 30 January 2012

Burns Night

When Chris turned 40 I bought him a book of Burns poetry dating from 1878. Its in amazing condition considering its age and it claims to contain everything he ever wrote...letters, poems, songs, epistles, epigrams and epitaphs. We were invited to our friends house to celebrate Burns Night, we took it with us and he read the address to a haggis before we had our meal. It reminded me just how much I love Robert Burns poetry! The language used and the imagery conjured up really is something to behold so yesterday I sat down and re-read one of my favourite poems and I've decided to share it with you...it is quite long but well worth a read! (Don't worry, I've included translations).

Tam O'Shanter:

When chapman billies (Fellows) leave the street,
And drouthy (thirsty) neibors neibors meet,
As market days are wearin' late,
And folk begin to tak the gate (road);
While we sit bousing at the nappy (Ale),
And gettin' fou and unco happy,
We think na on the lang Scots miles,
The mosses, waters, slaps and stiles (Breaches in hedges or walls),
That lie between us and our hame,
Where sits our sulky sullen dame,
Gathering her brows like gathering storm,
Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.

This truth fand honest Tam o'Shanter,
As he frae Ayr ae night did canter,
(Auld Ayr, wham ne'er a town surpasses
For honest men and bonny lasses.)

O Tam! hadst thon but been sae wise
As ta'en thy ain wife Kate's advice!
She tauld thee weel thou wast a skellum (A worthless fellow),
A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum (A talker of nonsense, a drunken fool);
That frae November till October,
Ae market dat thou wasne sober;
That ilka melder (any quantity of corn sent to the mill is called a melder), wi' the miller
Thou sat as land as thou hadst siller (money);
That every naig (Horse) was ca'd a shoe on,
The smith and thee gat roaring fou on,
That at the Lord's house, even on Sunday,
Thou drank wi' Kirkton (the village in which a parish church is situated is known as a kirk-town) Jean till Monday (Jean Kennedy ran a reputable pub in the villiage of kirkoswald).
She prophesised that, late or soon,
Thou wouldst be found deep drown'd in Doon!
Or catch'd wi warlocks i' the mirk (Dark),
By Alloway's auld haunted kirk.

Ah, gentle dames! it gars (makes) me greet
To think how mony counsels sweet,
How mony lengthen'd sage advices,
The husband frae the wife despises!

But to our tale: - Ae market night,
Tam had got planted unco (Unusually) right,
Fast by an ingle (fire), bleezing finely,
Wi' reaming swats (foaming ale), that drank divinely;
And at his elbow, Souter Johnny,
His ancient, trusty, drouthy (thirsty) crony;
Tam lo'ed him live a vera brither-
They had been fou for weeks thegither!
The night drave on wi' sangs and clatter.
And aye the ale was growing better:
The landlady and Tam grew gracious,
Wi' favours secret, sweet, and precious;
The Souter tauld his queerest stories,
The landlord's laugh was ready chorus:
The storm without might rair (roar) and rustle-
Tam didna mind the storm a whistle.

Care, mad to see a man sae happy,
E'en drown'd himsel amang the nappy!
As bees flee hame wi' lades (loads) o'treasure,
The minutes wing'd their way wi' pleasure:
Kings may be blest, but Tam was glorious,
O'er a' the ills of life victorious!

But pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flower, its bloom is shed!
Or like the snowfall in the river,
A moment white - then melts for ever;
Or like the borealis race,
That flit ere you can point thier place;
Or like the rainbow's lovely form,
Evanishing amid the storm.
Nae man can tether (tie up) time or tide;
The hour approaches Tam maun ride;
That hour, o'night's back arch the keystane,
That dreary hour he mounts his beast in;
And sic (such) a night he take the road in
As ne'er poor sinner was abroad in.

The wind blew as 'twad blawn its last;
The rattling showers rose on the blast;
The speedy gleams the darkness swallow'd:
Loud, deep, and lang, the thunder bellow'd:
That night, a child might understand
The deil (devil) had business on his hand.

Well mounted on his grey mare, Meg,
A better never lifted leg,
Tam skelpit (rode with careless speed) on through dub and mire,
Despising wind, and rain, and fire;
Whiles holding fast his guid blue bonnet,
Whiles crooning (humming) o'er some auld Scots sonnet;
Whiles glowering (Staring) round wi' prudent cares,
Lest bogles (Spirits) catch him unawares:
Kirk - Alloway was drawing nigh,
Whare ghaists and houlets (Ghosts and owls) nightly cry.

By this time he was 'cross the foord,
Whare in the snaw the chapman smoor'd (Pedlar was smothered),
And past the birks that meikle stane
Whare drunken Charlie brak's neck-bane:
And through the whins, and by the cairn (Stone heap)
Whare hunters fand the murder'd bairn (child);
And near the thorn, aboon the well,
Whare Mungo's mither hand's hersel.
Before him Doon pours a' his floods;
The doubling storm roars through the woods
The lightening flash frae pole to pole;
Near and more near the thuders roll;
When, glimmering through the groaning trees,
Kirk-Alloway seem'd in a bleeze (lit up);
Through ilka bore (Crevice) the beams were glancing,
And loud resounded mirth and dancing.

Inspiring bold John Barleycorn!
What dangers thou canst mak us scorn!
Wi' tippenny (Two penny), we fear nae evil;
Wi usquebae (Whisky), we'll face the devil! -
The swats sae ream's in Tammie's noodle (the ale so wrought in Tam's head),
Fair play, he cared na deils a boddle (A small coin).
But Maggie stood right saie astonish'd,
Till, by the heel and hand admonish'd,
She ventured forward on the light;
And, wow! Tam saw an unco sight!
Warlocks and witches in a dance;
Nae cotillon brent-new (Brand new) frae France,
But hornpipes, jigs, strethspeys, and reels,
Put life and mettle i' their heals:
At winnock-bunker (window seat), i' the east,
There sat auld Nick, in shape o' beast;
A towzie tyke (A rough dog), black, grim, and large,
To gie them music was his charge;
He screw'd the pipes, and gart (made) them skirl (scream),
Till roof and rafters a' did dirl (vibrate).
Coffins stood round, like open presses,
That shaw'd the dead in their last dresses;
And by some devilish cantrip (spell) slight
each in its cauld hand held a light,-
B which heroic Tam was able
To note upon the haly table,
A murderer's banes in gibbet airns (Irons);
Twa span-lang, wee (small), unchristen'd bairns;
A thief, new-cutted fre a rape,
Wi his last gasp his gab (mouth) did gape;
Five tomahawks, wi' bluid red-rusted;
Five scimitars, wi' murder crusted;
A garter, which a babe had strangled;
A knife, a father's throat had mangled,
Whom his ain son o'life bereft,
The gray hairs yet stack to the heft (handle):
Wi' mair o'horrible and awfu',
Which even to name wad be unlawfu'.

As Tammie glower'd (Stared), amazed and curious,
The mirth and fun grew fast and furious:
The piper loud and louder blew,
The dancers quick and quicker flew;
They reel'd, they set, they cross'd, they cleekit,
Till ilka carlin swat and reekit (till each old bedlam smoked with sweat),
And coost (stript) her duddies (clothes) to the wark,
And linket (tripped0 at it in her sark (shirt).

Now Tam! O Tam! had thae been queans (young girls),
A' plump and strappin' in their teens,
Thier sarks, instead o' creeshie flannen (Greasy flannel),
Been snaw-white seventeen-hunder linen (the manufacturers' term for fine linen)!
Thir breeks (these breeches) o'mine, my only pair,
That ance were plush, o'guid blue hair,
I wad hae gien them aff my hurdies (Hams),
For ae blink (look) o' the bonny burdies (Lasses)!

But wither'd beldams, auld and droll,
Rigwoodie (Gallows-worthy) hags, wad spean (Wean) a foal,
Lowpin' and flingin' on a cummock (jumping and capering on a staff),
I wonder didna turn thy stomach.

But Tam kenn'd (knew) what was what fu' brawlie (full well)
"There was ae winsome wench and walie (A hearty girl and jolly),"
That night enlised in the core,
(Land after kenn'd on Carrick shore;
For mony a beast to dead she shot,
And perish'd mony a bonny boat,
And shook baith meikle corn and bear,
And kept the country-side in fear.)
Her cutty sark (short shirt), o' Paisley harn,
That, while a lassie (girl), she had worn,
In longitude though sorely scanty,
It was her best, and she was vauntie (Proud of it).

Ah! little kenn'd they reverent grannie,
That sark she coft (bought) for her wee Nannie,
Wi twa pund Scots, ('twas a' her riches,)
Wad ever graced a dance o' witches!

But here my Muse her wing maun cour (Lower),
Sic flights are far beyond her power;
To sing how Nannie lap and flang (Jumped and kicked),
(A souple jade (girl) she was, and strang (strong),
And how Tam stood, like ane bewitch's,
And thought his very een (eyes) enrich'd;
Even Satan glower'd, and fidged fu' fain,
And hotch's (hitched) and blew wi' might and main:
Till first ae caper, syne (then) anither,
Tam tint (lost) his reason a' thegither,
And roars out, "Weel done, Cutty-sark!"
And in an instant a' was dark:
And scarcely had he Maggie rallied,
When out the hellish legion sallied.
As bees bizz out wi' angry fyke (Fuss),
When plundering heards assail their byke (Hive),
As open pussie's mortal foes,
When, pop! she started before their nose;
As eager runs the market-crowd,
When "Catch the thief!" resounds aloud;
So Maggies runs, the witches follow,
Wi' mony an eldritch (unearthly) screech and hollow.

Ah, Tam! ah, Tam! thou'lt get thy fairin' (deserts)!
In hell they'll roast thee like a herrin'!
In vian thy Kate awaits thy comin'!
Kate soon will be a woefu' woman!
Now, do they speedy utmost, Meg,
And win the keystane (Witches, or any evil spirit, have no power to follow a person any further than the middle of the next running stream) of the brig (bridge);
There at them thou thy tail may toss,
A running stream they darena cross;
But ere the keystane she could make,
The fient (ne'er) a tal she had to shake!
For Nannie, far before the rest,
Hard unon noble Maggie prest,
And flew at Tam wi' furious ettle (design);
But little wist (knew) she Maggies mettle-
Ae spring brough of her master hale,
Bit left behind her ain gray tail:
The carlin claught her by the rump,
And left poor maggie scarce a stump.

Now, what this tale o'truth shall read,
Ilk (each) man and mother's son, take head:
Whane'er to drink you are inclined,
Or cutty-sarks run in your mind,
Think! ye may buy the joys owre dear-
Remember Tam o'Shanters mare.

(The bridge is still there and you can cross it!)

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

So my caged drawings got me thinking...

...about my inner demons and what a big part they have played in my life over the years. For those not following my Art is Autobiographical site, I have done a couple of drawings (as you can see) based on the idea that we form our own cages and bend their bars to fit our view of what we can and can't achieve...that we can be our own worst enemies and that sometimes we capture ourselves! They are based on my battles...

When I was younger those inner 'you can't do this' voices really dominated...to the point where I think I subconsiously sabotaged what I was doing so that I could say 'Well, I knew I was never going to be able to do that anyway'...kind of a self-fufilling prophecy! Its improved as I got older...in my mid twenties I took a stand (ha, took a stand against my inner demons...how daft does that sound!) and decided to go for what I actually wanted to do...hence my move into the Charity Sector. I was out of my comfort zone but as I learned and pushed myself forward they got quieter and quieter...then I would do something stupid like say 'Of course I can be Chief Exec and run this company' and they would come back with a vengeance! Still, I did it and again they went quiet. Its funny though...how and when they rear their ugly head...I had no problems about moving to Thailand, none about the work I did there and none about how I was going to cope moving back. They were pretty big things so why were my demons not there telling me that I couldnt do it? *shrugs*

When I got accepted to Uni...well, those of you that have followed my progress know how much of a panic I was in after my induction! It got better but each and every piece of work had me freaking out that it wasn't going to be good enough...I wasn't going to be good enough. I have literally spent the two and a half years that it took me to get my Masters degree in a permanent state of 'I can't do this'. I think it was my fear of failure that pushed me to work as hard as I did which, whilst the outcome was good, the process wasn't the nicest one to go through. I actually wrote a paper about it for my 'managing self and others' module at Uni which led to my dissertation tutor writing 'I am glad you didn’t fall flat on your face at graduation – a more realistic fear than your similar fears about intellectual pursuits' in reply to my e-mail telling him that I had managed to go up the stairs, across the stage, down the stairs and back to my seat without falling over! (Hey, I was in heels...it was totally possible!!).

When I was a kid I thought I could do anything...so when do these demons arrive? Where do they come from? When do they piss off and leave you alone? I know that its not just me that has them...I think everyone has them to a greater or lesser extent...I guess the main thing is how we deal with them. Mine? Well, mine are still there but I am happy to report that, having got my Masters with distinction, they are now a hell of a lot quieter than they have ever been and when they get shouty I am much better at telling them to shut the hell up! (and just in case they are listening...I can and I bloody well will!)

(Oooh, a serious post...that doesn't happen very often!)

Monday, 9 January 2012

Nordic Walking

For the last two years/eighteen months I have done no exercise at all...and I mean none!! Most of my time has been spent sat on my backside either doing the reading I needed to do for Uni or writing essays...and when I took a break from that I was working on my art which is another activity that doesn't really require much physical exertion! Last year was particularly bad as I struggled to get my dissertation done...basically I got up, went into the study and stayed there till it was bed time. Exercise, even just getting out the house, was the last thing on my mind...I really did become a lesser spotted house dweller!

This year I have decided that I want to be a bit more active...I want to lose some weight and get fit. Not the gym...I've tried that before and I'm just not a gym going kinda gal...its not my thing and I go for a bit and then end up giving up. I had heard good things about Nordic Walking...that it helps with weight loss, improves fitness, helps with posture, is 80% more effective than going to the gym AND it has the added benefit of being something that is done outside and that Chris and I can do together. Soooo...this weekend Chris and I signed up to go on an introductory Nordic walking course. Our guide and trainer was the lovely Steve who runs Gemini Outdoor Adventure ltd and you know what? I can't recommend him or the course highly enough (Seriously, if you live locally then click on the link and sign up...you won't be sorry you did!).

Nordic walking is done in groups (which is a really nice way of exercising cause we all kind of cheered each other on) so there were seven of us that had signed up for the course. We met up on Saturday morning at 10.30am, were all given walking poles that met our specific height requirements and then the day started by learning the basics. It is funny...you look at it and think that it is something that should be really easy to do, and it is, but you do need tuition to make sure that you get it right. The weekend course was brilliant! If we had been only doing an hours class then the next time we picked up the poles I think we would have spent a lot of time going back over the basics again...by the end of the morning I think we had all pretty much got it. We had lunch and then went for a fabulous walk that took us across fields, brooks and through a very pretty little village. Oh, and we stopped for coffee and cake!!

Just before the end of the first day Steve made us do an exercise which was really interesting...and I don't think I would have believed it if I hadn't experienced it for myself...he had us plant our poles in the ground, walk up a small hill and back down again without them and then he had us repeat the exercise using the poles...my god what a difference they make!! Not only did I get up the hill quicker but I felt less exausted the second time! (did you hear that...less exausted the SECOND time!). I was tired at the end of the day (we finished at 4.30pm) but exhilarated.

Day two was amazing! We met up at the same time, got in a couple of cars and drove to a parking area next to part of the Cotswold way. What a way to exercise! The sky was blue, the sun was shining and we were walking along woodland paths with views that took your breath away! Steve was brilliant...he managed to spend some one-on-one time with everyone as we walked, gave tips on technique and was really encouraging which, I have to admit I needed from time to time!. (There was really only one climb that I stuggled with but with support from Steve, Chris and the rest of the group I made it to the top...and that was a great feeling!).

Today my body feels tired and a bit achy but not in a 'OMG I'm never going to be able to move again' way it feels achy in a good way. Put it this way...I have done no exercise at all in about two years, I have just spent a weekend walking (12 miles...that's how far we walked!) and yet I am not long off the phone asking Steve to order two sets of poles for us...yup, we loved it so much that we are buying our own AND we are meeting up with Steve and the group again on Tuesday evening to go for an hour and a quarter walk. I tell you...if I can do it then anyone can!

(If you are interested Steve does cover quite a big geographical area and regularly goes walking all over the country. I'm sure he would probably be more than happy to come to you if you could get a group of people together...there is no harm in asking!)

Friday, 6 January 2012

This year I will be mostly drawing...

So I have been thinking for a while now that I should really do something that would ensure that I don't let my art fall by the wayside. I did so little last year due to all things Uni and I really missed it! I spoke (Ok, so it was more of a moan) to Chris about it and for my Christmas he bought me a fabulous present...he signed me up to take part in 'The Sketchbook' project which is being run by the Art House Co-op in Brooklyn. The idea is to bring as many artists from across the world together to take part in creating an Art Library. There are a number of categories to choose from, you select one, they send you a small sketchbook which you then have to fill and send back. The sketchbook is then professionally scanned and becomes part of an online digital library, is exhibited in New York and the best bits from all the different sketchbooks become part of a series of limited edition art books. Pretty cool eh! I had a look at the categories and the one that stood out for me was 'Create and Capture' so that's the one I picked and I got to unwrap my blank sketchbook on Christmas day. There really is something quite daunting about all those blank pieces of paper looking at you but I bought a second book and starting making notes and playing about with ideas so I can now start filling the actual book.

THEN

I started pondering what I was going to do with myself once the book was done (which it needs to be by the end of March). I find that, although it makes me very happy, my art always seems to take a backseat to everything else...its the first thing to go when things get manic and actually, given the calming influence it has, it should probably be the last thing to go! I wondered whether trying to discipline myself to do a drawing a day would be a good idea. It could be done anywhere...on a train, waiting for a bus, whilst watching the TV etc and the image doesn't even have to be any good I just have to make sure that I keep practicing (good way to improve my skills). I thought about it and then didn't do anything...the idea was just there...lurking at the back of my mind...until...I went over to the lovely Jennifer's blog (Realia) and discovered that she was taking the bull by the horns and had committed to taking a photograph a day for a year (Her photography is fab and you can find her photography site here). She put me to shame so I decided to join her!

I have now set up Art Is Autobiograhical, which I have backdated to New Year Eve, and I will be posting a drawing a day there. If you are interested please pop over and cheer me on

(You can get there by clicking on the tree pic at the top of this blog and there is a 'follow by e-mail' option on the site for those that want to follow my progress but don't want to have to visit the site every day).