Wednesday, December 31, 2008

christmas music, books+films

My collection of books, DVDs and CDs has been greatly enhanced by an influx of some excellent new stuff over the Christmas period. I’ve watched “Persepolis” and “This is England” over the past couple of days – both excellent. Music has included contributions from Ray LaMontagne, Miles Davis, Tom Waits, Emiliana Torrini and Cara Dillon (as soon as the CD is released at the end of January - I know Matt Rees speaks very highly of her!). I’ve also been reading Peter Barton’s brilliant book: “The Somme” which contains vivid photographs underlining the utter devastation that took place there, together with harrowing personal accounts from diaries and notebooks. For example: “Dear Mother: I am writing these few lines severely wounded. We have done well. Our Battalion advanced about three-quarters of a mile. I am laid in a shell hole with two wounds in my hip and through my back. I cannot move or crawl. I have been here for 24 hours and never seen a living soul. I hope you will receive these few lines as I don’t expect anyone will come to take me away…”.
These poignant final words perhaps work well alongside my favourite song from my new music – Emiliana Torrini’s wonderful “Bleeder” – which she apparently wrote for a friend who had just lost someone very close to them. She said she wrote the song because she didn’t know what to do or what to say to her friend (“I wrote it to give them a hug”).

Saturday, December 27, 2008

christmas at the buckleys

Moira+I have just returned home after spending a really lovely few days with Alice+Dave in Leyland. They were brilliant hosts and seemed to take dealing with Mikey+Dan/Christmas/a houseful of guests completely in their stride. Alice also cooked an amazing Christmas dinner for ten (not counting Mikey+Dan!) as if it was something she did most weeks! As a bonus, we had a wonderful walk along Southport pier on Boxing Day in beautiful sunshine+blue skies. Also great to spend time playing+giggling with Mikey+Dan (I could tell that Dan was really impressed by my athletic reactions each time he threw the ball in my general direction – although I now have a very nasty bruised thigh after diving full length across the floor and landing on the keys that were in my trouser pocket…. but a brilliant catch nevertheless!).
Photo: break to watch Wallace+Grommit on TV.
Alice+Moira+Sheila (Moira’s sister) plus Dave’s family comprising Helen (in the background), Harold+Jean+Jenn+Dave (poor Kat had to stay at home ill).
PS: you can see more “Christmas family photos” by clicking on this link (optional!).

Thursday, December 18, 2008

staying away from school

I had a great day “at school” today. Pete, the Head of the Geography Faculty, had asked me if I’d be prepared to accompany him and a group Year 13s on a tour of Bristol. They were looking at the city from the perspective of challenges and issues affecting the decline and development of cities - with me offering my architectural/urban design experience. It proved to be a fascinating and enjoyable day. Hopefully, I was able to offer an insight into the changing face of the city – particularly in the redevelopment of the harbourside area. Pete - who is just an amazing teacher with a wonderful rapport with his students - amused me by insisting that we started off by walking into Southville (where we live) as an example of “gentrification”! Thanks to Pete, I learnt a lot new things about “my” city – including what a CBD is (Central Business District!) - and thoroughly enjoyed my day.
PS: an added bonus for me was that Pete thought it would be “silly” for me to drive into school first – so we met up in the SS Great Britain car park instead (I tried to persuade him otherwise, but….).

Friday, December 12, 2008

dino wine

Had our lovely Ithaca friends (Merry-Carol, Gareth, Gerry+Alan) round for food and the odd glass last night. Ended up eating in the basement because our dining room was still full of clutter following the exhibition. Moira happened to notice one of the (empty!) wine bottles on the worktop next to Felix’s brilliant coloured dinosaurs.
It just seemed rather appropriate!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

number40 christmas exhibition (again)

Lovely sunny weekend for our exhibition in the basement (with work from Hannah, Felix, Ruth, Stuart, Becky, Moira and me). Brilliant that lots of friends came round on Friday night - which effectively turned into a bit of a party. Much laughter combined with the odd glass of wine (or was it the other way round?). After a pretty quiet Saturday, today was really enjoyable – a constant stream of lovely friends, regular number40 exhibition-goers and one or two newcomers.
Next exhibition is the SouthBank Arts Trail in May!
Photo: various images from the show.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

forest of dean

Got back from three days in the Forest of Dean yesterday (just before the start of our number40 exhibition in the basement!) with a group of Year 8s from school. Really excellent time and the pupils were great. We stayed at the Dean Field Study Centre as usual (the school has undertaken this trip with all year 8 pupils every November/December for the past 29 years!). Always a relief to get back with no accidents or complications (or losing anyone on the two night exercises through the forest!). I even managed to climb the vertical face of the climbing tower (perhaps 15m high?) – which, with my huge fear of heights, felt like quite an achievement. However, I didn’t attempt the “leap of faith” (I think that’s what it was called)! This involved climbing a telegraph pole, struggling on to an incredibly small platform, standing upright and then launching oneself into mid-air aiming to catch a trapeze bar some 5-6 feet in front of you!! Just fantastic to see pupils go from “there’s no way I can do that and I’m not even going to try” to “that was the most brilliant thing I’ve ever done in my life”!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

parking in southville

I’ve been moaning (who me?) lately about the appalling car parking in our neighbourhood. In our area of narrow streets of terraced houses, one regular frustration is the business of cars parked nose-to-tail at street corners – making it impossible for pedestrians with pushchairs to negotiate and also causing a visibility problem for pedestrians and car drivers alike as they try to ease themselves out at junctions.
Well, I’m not alone! Moira pointed out (via our freebie “The South Bristol Pigeon”) a blog for those “tired of negotiating themselves around the un-enforced parking free-for-all that Southville has become”. Check it out – you might find a photograph of your car featured (eg. “it is written in law that you must not park within 10 metres of a junction…”)!
I have to admit that there are times that I do resort to parking our own car partly on the pavement (ie. on Fairfield Place) – when I do, this is usually on a small section of pavement that it virtually unused by pedestrians…. but I promise to be more aware in future!

Monday, December 01, 2008

quick questions?

As you’ll already know if you read my last blog, we’ve got another exhibition in the number40 basement this weekend. For the first time (I think), we haven’t asked the featured artists to answer a questionnaire of slightly strange questions to go along with their words of wisdom describing what they’re currently doing and/or the work featured in the exhibition. We ran out of time and ended up not bothering.
Actually, the real reason was that it takes time to think up the questions in the first place!
So, dear reader, in order to avoid the same thing happening for our next exhibition in May, we’d be REALLY grateful to receive your suggestions – they could ultra-serious or just rather silly (or both).
Very much look forward to hearing from you (note: our questionnaires normally run to say 10 questions – but even one good new question would be helpful!).
PS: I’ll be out of commission for the next few days – I’m off to the Forest of Dean with a large group of Year 8 pupils!