Thursday, 22 November 2012

Youth Summary Launched

My brief foray back into editing has resulted in this fantastic Youth Summary of a recent UNESCO report:

http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002184/218409e.pdf

It's made up of real images and stories from young people all around the world, putting their own perspectives back into the subject of Youth, Skills and Work.

The process of getting this together was a lot of hard work in a very short time frame. I'm still recovering from that, and my mind is taken up with all of the editorial side of things. But I know that I'll be able to look back on this and see something I'm incredibly proud to have been part of.

What I'm reading, and nothing more

I just want to make a note about the book I'm reading at the moment:






I'm really loving Diana Athill. In a sort of selfish way, I think. It's the way that she makes me feel better about my faults. She opens the book discussing why it is that she can't do some things - she's not sure if it's that she can't or won't, but regardless, she's incapable of doing things she doesn't want to do. It's nice to not be alone in that...though obviously, she managed to get into publishing several decades before I did, when it was seemingly quite interesting and she was afforded the opportunity to be engaged by it. I had no such luck, and came in at the business end of the whole sorry enterprise, way after books became nothing more than another commodity. So, yes, still alone, but only by an accident of history that had me born a good 70 years too late.

It's too far in the evening and the big glass of alcohol for me to be even trying to make it any clearer than that. You should read the book really. Also, it is incredibly funny! Literally laught-out-loud-on-the-bus-even-though-strangers-stare funny.


My absolute favourite part is where she describes something foolish, and then leaves a line of empty space on either side of:

This space represents a tactful silence.

There is nothing not to love about that.

Friday, 19 October 2012

My Former Me

I got an urge to do something this evening. I started messing with my camera...then I kept going.

This is the result:

video

(music: First Aid Kit - Blue)

Monday, 15 October 2012

Photos, many, many photos

I've been really busy with the project I'm working on at the moment. I think I throw myself into things a little too completely sometimes, I can entirely lose any other aspects of myself. This weekend I've purposefully taken two whole days off - the first time I've done that since I started this thing I think. It's actually allowed me to regain a big chunk of myself - I read the paper, wrote a little, sorted my photos, played with my camera...all of those things I had completely failed to even think about for far too long.

I'll still be busy here for a little while. But these couple of days have reminded me that I have so much else I'm interested in, and I need to make time for all of that soon.

Here are a few photos from today's Great Camera Clean Up (the bulk of my entire last year's photos were on it - 2500+):


This is actually taken today. I've been playing with camera settings, and as always I love the light blur.


This is trees taken through the grass. I tried this a few times, it's a nice effect, but I want to see what else can be done with it.


Best pig ever.


I was trapped by these cows - the whole herd charged across the field to where I was walking, and the cows were fighting over the gigantic bull. I took lots of photos but discovered that cows are not very photogenic. They pulled a lot of faintly unhappy faces.


This was the blossom outside of the tree-house compost loo. How I miss that place!!

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Long time no see

I don't know why.....there aren't really enough good reasons, but anyway...I've been gone a long time, but now I'm back....at least for today.

I'm feeling really disconnected - or it's more that I'm incredibly up and down on that front. I can't get to a place where I feel great about what I'm doing.

It's not about the job specifically, the project I'm working on is great, and bureaucratic messing about aside, it's actually going remarkably well. I think that I'm more bogged down in a sense that I'm missing some things that I need. I don't really know what, but I'm feeling sort of empty at the moment. As though I'm going through the motions of having a life, but I'm not in a place where I can really build on anything.

And now here I am moaning about that, which is also unproductive. But that's just the way I feel...Things are just too heavy at the moment for me to do anything more than bear the load.

Maybe I'll try and post again when I'm in a better mood so I can share the good things that are going on.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Campfire and Art


We had a campfire at the farm this weekend. There was a really beautiful collection of sculptures that were errected around the fire - they were huge mirrored pieces. Some teapots and farm animals - they were beautiful.

I'm really in love with light at night at the moment - the trails and delays of it - the paths it creates.










I've also made a video for the farm. I'm supposed to be doing one a month, but there's been a bit of a delay in getting started. Here's the first one:



Wednesday, 16 May 2012

199 posts, that's a good number

199 feels better than 200, I'm glad I've got this far, it's much further than I've ever gone with any paper diary.

I'm in London today, ostensibly here to go to a talk on European Lit at the British Library, but the trip has expanded to be a great day of culture which will hopefully make up for what I miss by living in the countryside. I wouldn't want to undo my rural experience at all, it's inspired so many interesting thoughts and ideas (which I will hopefully expand upon here at some point), but it does cut me off from lots of things that I really love.

Today will be art, great bookshops, inspiring talks and lovely cakes. I will post all about it later I presume, or not - consistency on this stuff is not my strong point.

At the moment, I am reading A Supposedly Good Thing I'll Never Do Again, which I thought I would save as a treat for myself, given that I only just finished Consider the Lobster, but it was calling to me:


(Sadly, I don't have this edition. I wish I did)

It's really good, there's nothing more I really need to say. You'd be a fool not to read it, but it's not for me to prevent you being foolish.

Here is a secret that only one real-life person knows (it is only a secret because I don't want people asking me about it): I am writing a novel. It's just a writing exercise - sort of to see if this is something that it's possible for me to do. I think that once I've got over the question of whether this lies within my grasp, then I will be able to focus on making something that is the novel I want to write.This one is just composed of what comes into my head at the rate of 300 words a day. It is surprising how it's taking a direction I never would have predicted, each day brings something unexpected, often completely at odds with what I had previously planned. I'm really enjoying it.

I think that's all for today. There are three 50-something men in suits at the table next to me having really boring conversations that make me so glad I don't have a real grown-up job where people have all-day meetings about sales-forecasts and delivery-projections. I want to leave to get away from them.


Saturday, 14 April 2012

Too Tired Really

Too tired by half, but I'm here in the room with the internet for once, so I thought I owed it to the blog to stop by. I have a LoveFilm trial and got unlimited streaming for a couple of months, hence the internet connection (and the new-found love of Cougar Town).

I don't have any new photos to share, partly because I've not downloaded from my camera in a while and partly (mostly) because I haven't taken many recently. Not really sure what I've been doing for the past couple of weeks - not really got into a book properly (just dipping in and out of a few), not taken photos....I have completed a cross-stitch flower from a kit a friend brought me, but that's probably the only constructive thing. Think I may make this one next (from Subversive Stitch):




By utter coincidence, I came across this quote just as I finished writing that bit about procrastinating and writing:

"One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment." Hart Crane


I should be doing more. Today at lunch I considered writing something (fiction I mean), but leapt away from the idea as soon as I realised I urgently needed to write a letter (since when has a letter been urgent? Certainly not at all since the invention of the internet, or even the phone really, but this one seemed necessary).

I have a secret - I should be writing non-fiction. I know it, and I have been told it in the past, but it isn't enough for me. In fact I actively avoid it, even though I would be good at it. Even though the news of a friends PhD place makes me yearn for detailed research and complex arguments. I am avoiding it. I am avoiding all things that might seem sensible but don't feel right. I think that's OK, I think that it will turn out alright for me...well, in some way, in some sense of alright that may only make sense with a very long-lens sort of hindsight.

This week I saw a duckling and a gosling hatch, so I'm pretty certain everything is fine.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Reading non-fiction

(Let's skip the usual 'oh no, I haven't been here in so long, I'm a terrible person' shall we, and get right down to business.)

I have never been much of a non-fiction reader, perhaps because I've not found it sufficiently absorbing, and also due to the fact that I have such a terrible memory that I forget all the interesting stuff I feel I ought to be learning from it. However, I have recently started reading it more than anything else for some reason, and I'm finding quite a lot to engage with. OK, I'm kindof cheating, in that much of what I'm reading is quite strongly related to fiction, but I'm still making a gesture towards non-fiction, which is worth something.

One of the best books I've read in ages is Burn This Book, a PEN book edited by Toni Morrison, in which several authors write on the subject of literary censorship and oppression. It's very interesting, in that so many different approaches were taken, when I might have worried that they'd be a repeat of the same argument over and over. I'd really recommend it.



I've also recently read How to Be Alone by Jonathan Franzen, and I'm currently on Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace. I guess what's interesting about these two is that the essays within them are on topics of almost unbelievably irrelevant detail (50 pages on the demise of the Chicago post system from JF, another 50 on the porn world's version of the Oscars from DFW). I think that it's probably this detail that I love, in the same way that I love entering a completely foreign situation in a novel. It's like peeking behind some heavy curtain that you were never even meant to notice was there.

My real non-fiction love, however, is always going to be the Paris Review Interview books. I'm pretty sure I've written about them here before:



I love them so much, and they meant such a great deal to me at a particular time in my life (a time that I now feel strongly reconnected with), that I've got the quotation marks tattooed on my ankle. I wanted quotes for a while, and it made them feel more significant to get these particular ones, as they were so personal to me:



I really love the tattoo. It's a strange one though because I've thought about it for so long that it already feels as though I've always had it.

I went to my favourite local place today, Quiller Books in Buntingford, and picked up some more lovely non-fiction (including a lovely edition of Walden, complete with beautiful monochrome woodcut illustrations), so I'm off to get back to some reading!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Cold, so very cold

Apparently it's going to get down to -9 degrees here this week. It's been snowing a bit today, but not enough to make it worth getting down to that temperature. The only real upside of it being cold here is that it's beautiful. Sure, I have to sleep with 3 blankets, 2 quilts and 2 hot water bottles and I'm still cold. But in the mornings, the whole landscape is transformed.

Here's some photos from the last time it was frozen here, if I survive the weather this week, I'll get some more on here:













Tuesday, 24 January 2012

I don't know...

...what this space is for at the moment.

It's quite an unusual thing for me to bring my laptop up to the room with internet connection. It's a little way from my caravan, and not really on the way to anywhere else, so it's too easy for me to just not come up here. Plus, I enjoy reading in my caravan too much to leave it often for the internet.

I started my Morning Pages again today because I had started to get bogged down in insignificant annoyances. I think this post by another caravanlander gives a good idea of what it's like here, and like her I've adored it for the most part. This past week though, I've felt a little of the ways of my old life (gossiping and petty irritations) creep in and take over my thoughts to an extent that I don't like. Suddenly, while churning over some small thing in my bed last night, I realised that getting back into Morning Pages might be just the thing to get myself away from all of that.

Which is my long-winded way of saying that when I needed an outlet, I sought something other than this blog. I don't think that's a bad thing - different writing spaces will suit different parts of my life, and it may be that for now there's not a need for this blog as much as there once was. But I think that I will come back to a place where I'm on here regularly. For now though, it will perhaps be a site for my quiet reflections, and for good photographs of the place I love.

If you want to keep up with the farm, the other Caravanlander's blog is probably better, as she's working hard to keep it well.

Here are those promised photos:


Some pigs! We have 400 here, some pink, some black (British Lops and Berkshires for anyone interested). They're all pretty cute.


This is the litter that I trained to bottlefeed. They're not doing it here, but they were pretty darn good at it.


This is Wilbur, the best/worst pig in the world. He's not very good at being a pig, but he's got a lot of personality.


This is a flower that I saw when it was still light enough to take walks before breakfast.


For some (unknown but surely wonderful) reason, there's a sewing machine mounted on the front fence of caravanland. It looks pretty in the dew.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Back at the Farm

I'm back at the farm now, and I've brought my laptop with me so I can get back to blogging properly! I've also got my camera here, so for my first post here, I'm just going to put up lots of lovely photos of the place I live:


This is the path down to Caravanland, where I live.


This was my beautiful white trash Christmas tree. It was a plastic promo thing that I painted green and I put the lovely fairy lights on it that my dad brought me when he came.


This was a picture I took of the sunrise not long after I got here.


This is my lovely caravan! It's before I made some renovations to my porch, but it still looks beautiful.