This last week has been a busy, but beautiful one. I’ve driven almost a 1000 miles, the sun has continued to shine gloriously – and I’ve spent time with some very special people.
The week started with going to a park with my beau and his family. His youngest nephew is currently doing a project for his art GSCE and so we took him to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park to capitalise on his recent interest in photography. Set within a historic 500 acre estate, the place is ideal for walks in the countryside, for visiting installations and exhibitions, as well as walking amongst contemporary open-air and bronze art sculptures by important figures such as Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore.
It really is stunning – and there is something for everybody – including the obligatory gift shops (selling books, unique pottery and jewellery) – as well as several cafes serving homemade cakes and food. Our nephew got some fantastic shots for his project and he also felt really inspired when he saw the results of his labour. I seriously think we could have a future photographer in the making! Of course, I had to take some too – (one should never be without one’s camera!) and I have collaged a small selection below.
The sculpture park also holds a special significance for me, due to a ‘walk of art’ piece that was created to coincide with the building of their latest visitor centre. For a nominal charge per name, supporters could have their loved ones names stamped into the metal path situated just outide the main entrance. Thinking it was a beautiful idea, whilst supporting local heritage, my family and I paid to have my two late sister’s names placed within the piece. For a small glimpse of the path, see the first set of pictures above.
As the park is situated right next to the motorway, from here I drove the 100 miles to my parents to collect my mum for my graduation ceremony. You’ve already seen a few pictures from that here. It was such a fantastic day in Manchester, surrounded by friends, family, fellow students, tutors, course directors, visiting guests and dignitories from the charity and afilliated unversity. The cake was made especially for us, complete with a star for each of us graduating – and had two layers; one chocolate sponge and one fruit cake! It was very yummy! Despite flowing wine, nibbles and much laughter – there wasn’t a professional photographer on site, so sadly there is no M.A. shot, as such, to share. I took alot of photos myself, as did my beau and my colleagues – but it would have been good to have had one professional photograph, complete with blue backdrop, to frame for my parents – especially as I don’t like any of the individual photos of me that were taken!
My mum stayed for three days, which I was really pleased about as she was desperate for a short break. Despite living in an attic (and having to endure endless flights of stairs!!) she had a wonderful time. I am very much like my mum in many ways – including our need, every now and then, to visit the seaside. It’s hard to explain, but I always feel truly healed and rejuvenated when I’ve been near the sea. I could honestly stand there and look out towards its horizon for ever!
I haven’t visited the west coast of England for a very long time, and as the nearest place geographically to me is Blackpool, thought we’d have that as our starting point. Neither my Mum or I had been there for many many years – and after spending an hour there, it was easy to see why!
It is currently out of season, which doesn’t help – but the place was covered in roadworks, barriers and scaffolding – so much so that it took me half an hour of winding around back roads, to get from one end of the esplanade to the other! The perfect time of year to complete work admittedly, but this, coupled with the large drunken and stoned community that seemed to be walking around (on a Tuesday afternoon) made me quite happy to move on! Blackpool has become quite synonymous with hen parties and stag do’s this last decade – but even the locals seemed dangerous! It’s not a place I intend to return to in a hurry! Travelling north towards Fleetwood became even bleaker, and possibly wasn’t the best stretch of coastline to have chosen for our visit! Give me the beautiful east coast of England: Whitby, Robin Hood’s Bay and Runswick – any day!
The sun shone brightly though and it was wonderful to see the sea and eat local fish and chips – and I also managed to get a few nice photographs of my mum and the local scenery. I think she’s looking pretty good for nearly 76! The following day saw us at garden centres, eating cream teas and shopping – before chilling in the evenings. I think my Mum loved being generally spoilt for 72 hours – with breakfast in bed and all of her meals cooked.
The week ended wth a couple of great days at work (I love doing music with my students!) and was completed by a house party at a friend’s house in celebration of his birthday. The theme was ‘pre-teen’ and included lots of sweets from our childhood (sherbert dips, refreshers, penny chews, fizzers, drumsticks to name but a few) along with party games such as ‘pass the parcel’ and ‘pin the tail on the donkey’!
His original idea of ‘no-alcohol = just pop’ was over-ruled by most and by the end of the night we had lots of people aged 20 & 30-something dressed as cowboys, indians, rosey cheeked and pigtailed girls all slightly tipsy! I went dressed in my favourite pair of fleecy PJs, complete with teddy, bedtime book and black eye! I do have some photographs – but they’re far too embarrasing to post here!
All in all – a great week ;-)
The fog and mist evident on my previous blog’s photos has been around for a few days – and despite causing sometimes hazardous driving conditions, has enabled a few beautiful photographic opportunities.
Driving home the other night from a friend’s house – I did a detour to go via THWL (that house we love) and came across a stretch of trees through which the fading light and mist looked stunning. I couldn’t help but stop and take a few photographs! The photos all came out quite dark so I used some computer software to lighten them – and was amazed by the tremendous range of colours that I found within the original pictures. I had lots of fun playing with the different features and came up with a range of images which I believe could look great framed! Wanna see?
As I was being snap happy along the deserted roadside, a big car stopped and then reversed all the way down the road to where I was! I wondered if it was the local policeman or farmer demanding to know what I was up to, so I started preparing my answer as the vehicle came to a stop and the driver wound down the window. It turned out to be an amateur photographer who had also noticed the beautiful scene and was interested to know if I was a professional and how the images were turning out. Thankfully my beau was in the car several hundred feet away waiting for me, otherwise it could have appeared quite creepy! I was pleased with how the images turned out anyhow.
The other news is that THWL (that house we love) has gone! It came up on the estate agents website just yesterday that the house had been let :-( I am really disappointed, but yet am being very realistic about it all. At this moment in time we really couldn’t afford it – but with no other houses that we like around at the moment in our price range, the experience has left us pretty despondent. I’m sure something else will come along that we love!
I had been intending to re-visit the house with a view to negotiating the rental cost with the owner – but now it’s too late! For all you deep thinkers out there, I am a believer in what’s meant to be etc etc etc – but, has my lack of action and concerns this last month re:the house actually changed our fate??? Should this house have been our home? It definitely felt like home when we were walking around – we could see ourselves living there – and we constantly talked about the house as if it was going to be ours…but now it’s going to be loved and become the history and fate of someone else! What’s your view?
My beau has been off this week – and I’ve had a few days spare too – so we made the most of it by going out for a couple of day trips. We visited a beautiful antique mill / warehouse over in Manchester and fell in love with many different things – all out of our price range! A guy from our local second-hand market has a shop there, so he showed us round the whole place, talking to the other sellers and teaching us about different things to look for in period pieces. It was really interesting – and I was happy to lose myself there for a few hours.
The actual day of my birthday (yesterday) saw us visiting places alot closer to home. We started the day heading for Haworth – home of the Brontë family and famed for their trio of sisters’ novels and poetry. For those of you still unfamiliar with the name – the sisters wrote great 19th century novels like ‘Jane Eyre’ ‘Wuthering Heights’ & ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’. The parsonage where they had lived for most of their short lives still stands, overlooking the church and bleak graveyard – and is now a museum in their honour.
The village itself is stunning, reached by a steep cobbled street and full of quirky little cafes and gift shops – including an apothecary and lace shop. It’s well worth a visit, should you ever be in the West Yorkshire area.
The weather was misty and foggy – and whilst a fairly damp day, made for some wonderful photographs in and around the graveyard! Want to see?
From here we drove on to East Riddlesdon Hall, a 17th century manor house near Keighley. We’d never been before so took in both the house and the gardens as part of our visit (before the gift shop and cafe of course!) It has two Yorkshire rose windows (a sign of wealth), a walled garden, a ruined wing- and apparently ghosts to add to its mystery! Want to see?
From here we went on to the town of Ilkley – where we took in some shops, the local area and eventually some good ol’fish & chips which were b.e.a.u.t.i.f.u.l! An absolutely wonderfully cultured and fun day wth my beau – a chat and birthday wishes with family, cards and gifts from friends – and mesages from you guys – what more could a boy need! Truly spoilt ;-) x
It was my third birthday – I had gone along to the local photography studio with my mum and I was wearing a cord dickie-bow that my neighbour had made for me especially ;-) …I still have it!
This photograph still makes me smile.
How young and carefree I was…what happened! ;-)
Thanks for the birthday wishes x
As I think I mentioned last time, I tend to try celebrate my birthday over a period slightly longer than the usual prescribed ‘day’. This is simply for the reason that I seem to spend a third of it sleeping and half of the remainder working – so I try and spread it out so that it’s much more fun and memorable. I tend to open a present and card a day too which also helps prolong the celebration.
This approach also helps when you have different friends of different ages from different crowds. Not everyone wants to go to a rowdy pub – and some of my friends would much prefer to go for a civilsed meal; so this is what has happened so far this week.
On Friday night I went to a local pub which has over 230 British and world bottled beers with other ales, ciders, lagers and bitters available on draught. It’s a place where you’ll find a real mixture of people and ages – and what’s also good about the place is that it plays no music whatsoever! It can get really busy, so you have to talk loudly to be heard – but at least you’re not competing with mega-volumes pumping from strategically placed imposing speakers! They also have lots of unique and contrasting art on the walls which I also like in a place. The art on these walls are not what I’d choose to have in my own apartment – but they are beautiful and complimentary to the people who frequent. I took a few cropped images of some of the more ‘revealing’ pictures by some local artists. Want to see?
I met a group of friends (some of whom are above) and we stayed there talking and drinking until we were nicely merry – nothing too heavy, but just perfect for a Friday night.
On Saturday afternoon I met an old friend for a walk around the second hand market (with some fab finds for another post) followed by a beautiful double-shot milky coffee and long catch-up.
Then, on Saturday evening, my beau and I met some other friends for some drinks in a local village bar before going on with them to a stunning tapas restaurant which I had never been to before. It served Mediterranean as well as Middle Eastern cuisine tapas dishes. The food was absolutely delicious, the place was buzzing with people all trying to get seated – and despite the larger-than-expected bill at the end of the night (which included drinks at £4.50 a pint!!) we had a fantabulous time! Depite taking my camera out, I just never got round to taking any photographs – so I have included a couple from their website instead – which really doesn’t do it justice at all! The best dish by far was the Moroccan chicken tapas cooked with dates and cous cous – it was simply delicious! I intend to have a go at making it myself sometime!
There’s a few more birthday things planned for this week and the weekend – including another friends’ evening soiree avec music – as well as a day trip out with my beau (although to where we’re not quite sure!) So, I’ll share more with you another time.
By the way…did I tell you I went for a music therapy job? Well, I got it! More on that to come too!
In and amongst trying to do eveything I’m supposed to be doing – I’m also craving a bit of creativity and have started designing a new range of greetings cards.
As a musician, my whole life is centered around music. I don’t watch TV and there is always music playing within the flat – either me on the piano or through the hi-fi system. My love for records started at 2 years old – carefully placing the stylus down on my sisters’ albums within our old portable record player. I adore vinyl – and even though I have replaced much of my huge collection on CD, I will never part with my single 45s or my albums.
I opened a pre-birthday present yesterday from my beau (it’s actually next week, but I have a birth-fortnight, none of this day rubbish! teehee) and it was a CD: Neil Sedaka Live at The Royal Festival Hall. Tears filled my eyes and I couldn’t stop myself from crying as the opening bars of ‘I’m a Song, Sing Me’ kicked in from the speakers.
It took me back to being a very young boy – as this was an album that my late sister had on vinyl. Her stable diet of Kate Bush, Genesis, Cat Stevens, Pink Floyd and other 70s greats was always slightly flavoured by other artists – and there were many similar surprises nestling within her record collection which helped broaden my own repertoire. This particular live album is stunning and I have many memories of it on the turntable at home. It reminds me of my sister – and not having heard it since she died, those opening bars took me back into the nostalgic warm comforted world of a boy and I couldn’t stop myself from responding emotionally! Such is the power of music – and one of the reasons why I have become a music therapist.
My partner and I started looking at some of our albums – and I will have to admit to you, that we had a short session of vinyl sniffing! This isn’t a new craze (or indeed kink) but something we both admitted to doing when we were young, weekly, with our treasured long players! Every Saturday, as boys, we both would buy either a single or album – and we have spoke about sitting on the bus on the way home…staring fascinatingly at the sleeve, the record label, the lyrics sheet (if lucky) and breathing in the smells of cardboard and vinyl with a seasoning of excitement! Doing this yesterday again took us back to these happy times – and I swear I could sense my sister around me along with fragrances of my childhood home.
I digress. Slightly.
My partner and I seem to spend our lives quoting music from our youth, lyrics emblazened on our memories and song titles that sum up a particular experience. We have a funny little conversation (dont ask me how it started!) that keeps recurring based on French song titles! OK so now you’re starting to get worried!? Honestly, it’s completely harmless and no French people were harmed in it’s devising! As a result, I’ve started giving titles to photographs that I’ve taken, which always seem to be based on a song! Old Victorian postacrds that I have also seem to be shouting lyrics at me too – and I have decided to try combining the two for some of my new cards!
Want to see what I’m on about?
This boy angel statue was a snapshot I took last year within a local mill selling cards and antiques. I have photoshopped it a little – but combined it with Bette Midler’s great line “You are the wind beneath my wings”. What do you think? It also has an opaque version of the image on the back combined with a Victorian postcard. I’ve also done a few others:
This was another image I took last year in a reclamation yard. This beautiful statue reminds me of the Virgin Mary and with a barbed-wire halo (formed by the wall’s security) it made me think of Gerry’s classic line, that even in the face of danger, hardships and bad times that “You’ll never walk alone”. I have other ideas too – but wondered what you think? Do you believe they would appeal and thus sell in my Houdini Cards shop?
If so, what other song titles* would you like to see on a greeting card? I want to create things that are perfect for every occasion – from a wedding to sympathy to birthday to graduation! Do you have any great ideas? Any suggestions would be considered and appreciated – I probably will have an image that will go with your thoughts. I will also give credit to you and your blog on the cards subsequent Etsy listing for any of your ideas used.
So what’s been happening this week? A real mixture of good and bad – and a big dollop of hard work!
I’ve still been fondly remembering my week at my parents – especially as I managed to catch up with my sister and three of my youngest nieces and nephews too. They’re aged 6, 4 & 2 and live down south – so coinciding at my parents is often limited – due to lack of space and commitments, but I was horrified to work out that it had been 13 months since we’d last seen each other! Far too long and I was so overjoyed to see them all and give them a big uncle hug whilst showering them with presents! Want to see a picture?
My nephew and Godson lost his first tooth whilst I was there which he was really pleased about. Not only did it mean that he was turning into a big boy – but also gave the chance for the tooth fairy to visit with some dosh! What’s the going rate for a milk tooth these days?
For my niece – an aspiring ballerina at the young age of 4 – I bought a lilac dress full of layers of netting which she preceeded to wear, refusing to take off for the rest of the evening. Her constant requests for some classical music resulted in some beautiful twirls, dancing and dramatic moves which I videoed for posterity. Well I need to be able to embarrass the poor lass on her 18th bitrthday! For my youngest nephew, he was more than happy looking tres cute throughout the whole visit for the camera!
My Dad’s been very poorly this week so that has been a constant worry too – fingers crossed that things sort themselves out soon as I’m very concerned about him! It’s so hard living 100 miles away!
I’ve also been very busy writing my first music therapy application form – and am pleased to announce that I have my first interview next week! I have a ton of work to do in preparation for that – something I won’t be able to start until this weekend due to other commitments! Work has been manic too – and coupled with a classroom observation by my line manager it’s meant that I’ve spent the last few days knee high in folders, lesson plans, schemes of work and other paperwork! I’ve had to prepare everything perfectly for all my days of teaching as I was exactly unsure when she was arriving. But, at 9am this morning she walked into my classroom – so I am glad that that’s all over for another year at least! I got excellent feedback this afternoon so I’m happy with that too and am now celebrating with a glass of cava in hand!
They always says it doesn’t rain but pours!
We’ve also been to see another house in and amongst all of this. A semi-detached property with a beautiful garden area complete with stone troughs and a water feature.
The pictures look beautiful but on inspection it actually is a lot smaller than it looks and is in good need of a lick of paint and a bit of a refurbishment. There were lots of nice features about it – including the small side conservatory – but we really couldn’t see ourselves living there…so we’re still looking! You just know don’t you…it really didn’t feel right! It was good to look anyhow.
I’ve also been listing a few new things in my Etsy shop as due to the M.A. (and the rest of life’s takeovers) they’ve had to suffer somewhat. So up for grabs are these beauties:
Click on this link to see more!