Saturday, 30 January 2016

Portaferry, troubled

To Portaferry, in the finger-numbing mist of last Saturday. The boats were as worn and beautiful as ever. The houses my grandfather and his father lived in still make me happy. I found nice new architectural details, and a lovely lustre-ware jug in a charity shop.

But I worry for this town that's so close to my heart.

The hotel has closed. This seems like an insurmountable loss. Everything seems to have faded and failed.

You can see that people are trying hard, pulling together, setting up community initiatives, attempting to keep everything from falling apart too much.

Maybe it's a phase, a winter hibernation before the town wakes up refreshed for the summer. I hope so. It's painful to see this beloved elderly relative suffer.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Letter from Kilcloud

Over the past few weeks I've been putting together some of the photographs from my Kilcloud project with music I composed to go with them. It's not completely finished at this point, but here's a little preview: click on the title below to view it on Youtube...

Letter from Kilcloud

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Skating through life

I found these roller skates hidden in the corner of my favourite antique shop and loved them immediately. They give off the happy vibes of something that has been used and treasured. There's beauty in their wear and tear.

And the wheels are marked "Tenacity". I never had enough of that to learn to skate properly, either on wheels or on ice. The few times I had a go, I always fell over in the first two minutes and then just tried to hide at the side of the rink or the park or wherever we were instead, attempting, almost certainly in vain, to look cool.

"Those who don't try never look foolish", as Fiyero truthfully/foolishly/wisely says in Stephen Schwartz's Wicked.

In fact, I should have tried a lot harder. Once you get past a certain age (30?), you see that having a go is actually a lot cooler than not trying in case you fail. Skating through life might have been nice.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Wicken Fen

Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire:  understatedly beautiful. A lovely midwinter walk.

And Mum and Dad came along too. Well, actually, they drove me there, as I sat like a teenager in the back of the Astra, playing on my phone.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Dead roses for new year

A new year. A small part of me thrills to the thought of new beginnings, clearing out clutter, striving towards goals. I have read Marie Kondo's (I see her name comes second only to Marie Curie's on Google) book about tidying, disposing of everything except the few things which bring you joy. And I sort of wish I had completed this task and was now relaxing in a living room which thrilled me in every spare and elegant detail.

But the sorry truth is that I am quite lazy, very sentimental about old stuff sitting round my house, and a serious procrastinator. It's just as well that in my day job, a bell rings every 35 minutes and a group of teenage girls enters my room, ready to misbehave if I don't have some manner of productive activity prepared for them. If I had a freelance schedule I'd never achieve anything. And outside my day job, the chances of decluttering my house are very slim. Most things would bring me a little bit of joy if I looked at them for long enough.

But the large part of me that will not be decluttering is also a bit sceptical about new year's changes. I am not a big fan of constantly working on myself, to become a better person. Really, I would be better working to help other people and not spending too much time scrutinising myself. There's plenty that could be improved. My relatives would be happy to provide a list. But I'm reasonably fond of myself, despite the dodgy bits, and I'd prefer to press on as I am, just trying to be kind, be creative and have integrity. And realising that those are long-term values, which can't be measured as targets for the year.

And in that spirit, when I should be photographing spring bulbs, perhaps little snowdrops, promising a bright new year of possibilities and improvements, I've been shooting dead roses. They've been cluttering up my kitchen for a month, but I thought they were still beautiful, and this afternoon the light was clear enough to see that.