Hello, and thank you for visiting my site. I hope that you'll return often and always find something of interest about my world and what inspires me to pick up a pen. (This is a figure of speech, unfortunately. My handwriting is terrible!) Here's what I've been up to recently...

From Monsoon to Mambo!

Eden Camp brochure

What a weekend this has been! Despite the sunny start to the day, Ripon Writers’ Group’s afternoon outing to Eden Camp coincided with spectacular amounts of rain falling from the skies of North Yorkshire. It’s just as well that the museum is based in an old prisoner of war camp with most of the exhibits under cover. Opening and closing our umbrellas every few minutes or so, we splashed through the puddles as we dashed from hut to hut. Nevertheless, there was much to enjoy and I’d recommend a visit to anyone interested in modern history. Just check the weather forecast before you go!

 

Strictly Salsa 10th anniversary party Trish and Deej

Dancing has been a big part of my life for the last five years, ever since I discovered the excellent classes run by Trisha Lee and her partner Andrew di Giorgio (Deej) and I was very happy to attend their 10th anniversary party.

Strictly Salsa 10th anniversary party2

With their Wetherby venue packed with Strictly Salsa members old and new, the atmosphere closely resembled a sauna. However, no one was in the least bit put off by that. If you look beyond the girl with the shiny hair in the foreground, you can see me dancing for once with my better half – he in a checked shirt. With salsa being such a sociable activity, it’s the done thing to circulate and dance with as many partners as possible during the evening.

Strictly Salsa 10th anniversary party1

This being a party, though, there were also fun and games. I was happy to simper behind my fan during this one! 

StrictlySalsapartygames

A really good time was had by all and everyone escaped unscathed apart from the usual bruises from flying elbows and gouges from high heeled dance shoes. (Just kidding?Well, actually no, but it’s well worth it for all the pleasure we derive from our chosen contact sport!)

21 July, 2014 Make the first comment on this story

Easy Money For Writers & Wannabes now in print!

The title of this post says it all, really. Well, not quite all. Creating an e-book with illustrations is much easier than laying out a print version.  However, here it is and I hope that all the people who’ve requested a ‘real’ book to buy will be pleased with it. It’s been a labour of love on the part of my son Richard who, as ever, has  given me the benefit of his considerable technical expertise.

wan_print

Illustrations for a print copy should ideally be of  a higher resolution than for an e-book, which isn’t easy when photograph archives are being plundered. That’s why the cover for the paperback has had to be different from (although still in the same spirit as) the original.

Easy Money back cover

Bringing out the e-book first has given me the option of adding some reviews to the back cover. I hope that new readers will also submit their thoughts.

19 July, 2014 Make the first comment on this story

The Tour de France comes to Ripon!

TDFouvriers

What a weekend this has been! French workmen were out in force setting up the sponsors’ banners along the route before most of the locals had left their beds. Chosen to host Le Grand Départ, Yorkshire certainly pulled out all the stops and Ripon was determined not to be outdone. Our little city was awash with bunting and yellow bicycles.

TDFMaggieinpark

This wonderful bicycle can be seen outside the Sun Parlour café in the Spa Gardens.

TEFwhitehorsesign

Many local businesses were keen to offer their products à la française.  

tdfbarberswindow

Even the barber’s shop patronised by the Cobbett men wasn’t going to be left out.

tdfguard

People found all kinds of ways of marking their pitches for the race!

TDFcobbettsandrow

When the route through Yorkshire was published, I could hardly believe my eyes. Having watched the Tour de France year in and year out on television, I discovered that it was actually going to pass the top of our street! After a delicious barbecue with friends, we only had to carry our chairs a couple of hundred yards or so and take up our positions.

tdfbernardandbarbara

Blessed with good weather, we rather regretted not having dressed up for the occasion like some of our neighbours. Don’t they look splendid! It was a long wait in the strong sunshine and the sponsors’ caravane that preceded the arrival of the cyclists, colourful though it was, was rather a disappointment to the younger children, poised to collect the freebies they’d been told to expect. (The Fan Pack van had pulled up earlier on but found no parents willing to lash out £20 without even knowing what was inside the packs on offer.) Still, with many miles already behind them and through crowds of spectators that had topped the wildest estimates, we thought that maybe supplies were close to exhaustion by the time the caravane reached Ripon.

TDFanticipationbuildsin

Rumours flew around and anticipation mounted. The riders had reached Middleham, Masham, West Tanfield, North Stainley and…

TDFpelotonarrivesinpalaceroad

Suddenly  a loud cheer went up and here they were!

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With a flat surface that must have provided some relief for their tired legs, they passed by us in a flash on their way to the bypass and the final stretch of their journey to Harrogate.

TDF spare bikes

Every team had plenty of back up, including spare bikes, and they needed them. A couple of riders came to grief just after they passed us and had to negotiate a sharp bend onto the main road out of Ripon.

Was it all worth it? Definitely. I’ve never seen such enthusiasm in Ripon before for any event. I think most of the population turned out to watch the race and there were shenanigans in and around the Market Place all weekend, including a huge screen, stalls, games for the children and live music. Vive le Tour! Vive le Yorkshire!

 

 

7 July, 2014 There are 4 comments on this story

News Flash!

 

Delighted to be among the top 25 walk ons supplied by fbi, the casting agency I work for! If anyone would like to join us, our agent’s books are currently open.

http://www.fbi-agency.co.uk/photos.html

18 June, 2014 Make the first comment on this story

Back On The Street!

Emmerdale breakfast

For those of us with a 7.30 call time, every morning out at the Emmerdale village set begins with a hearty breakfast – vegetarian in my case – from Griselda and her team in the catering van. With that barely digested, we’re then whisked off to the Costume department for choices to be made from the clothes that we ‘extras’ have brought along with us. (Only people about to play uniformed parts are issued with outfits.) We were due to film scenes for more than episode today, so quick change routines were going to come into play.

Emmerdale Dale View

When not required on set, we generally spend most of our day ‘relaxing’ in Dale View, the cottage currently rented by Andy Sugden aka Kelvin Fletcher. Today, fortunately, the action was all taking place outside, so we didn’t have to move out.

I can’t, of course, divulge what the cast members were up to today or even who was there, but my day was a fairly standard one; walking up and down Main Street, sitting outside The Woolpack and then in the sunshine outside the café. Tough job, but someone has to do it! Towards the end of the afternoon, the sun kept appearing and disappearing, which caused problems for continuity and therefore delays with the filming. I got back to the studios in Leeds about 12 hours after I’d left them this morning, so it was quite a long working day. Fun, though, as always!

16 June, 2014 Make the first comment on this story

An unexpected competition success!

Attendance at the Writers’ Summer School in Swanwick is always a highlight of my year and I’m very proud to be among this year’s prize winners. You can see the full list by following my link to the Swanwick website.

The theme for 2014 was ‘Unsung Hero’, very apt for the year in which we commemorate both the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1 and the 70th anniversary of D-Day. I’ve no idea how many entrants used these events or military themes in general for their poems, but my Noblesse Oblige was inspired by the many stained glass windows commissioned by grieving families for churches and cathedrals nationwide. Grief cannot be measured by wealth or social class, but the ability to record it is quite another matter.

Given that most poetry prizes nowadays seem to be awarded for blank or free verse, I wasn’t optimistic that my entry would appeal to the judges. (I struck lucky in 2006 when I won the Swanwick poetry prize for To My Writing Partner only, I believe, because the brief was to write a sonnet and the strict parameters imposed by that form appealed to me.) No matter how hard I try to resist, every poem I write – and there aren’t many of them – ends up with a regular rhyming scheme and metre.

Whether you see what follows as a parody, cautionary tale or an attempt to make a political statement, I’d appreciate your comments.

Noblesse Oblige

Commemorated in stained glass,

Claude Eustace Ralph de Quincey Brown,

Shining example of his class,

Will be remembered by the town.

 

Yet what of Joe, the orphan boy,

Sent off by Lord and Lady Brown

As batman to their pride and joy

When their whole world turned upside down?

 

They knew their own beloved Claude,

Would much prefer to sketch and write.

Young Joe could shoulder every load

And workhouse boys knew how to fight.

 

No warrior he, their gentle son,

Yet fear of shame kept him at war

Until his trench was overrun

And he lay dying on the floor.

 

Joe, wounded too, still tended him.

‘Rely on me, Sir, you’ll be fine.’

He waited till the stars grew dim

And shouldered Claude back to the line.

 

Though in great pain and losing blood,

Joe focussed on his one intent;

To save his master from the mud

Before all energy was spent.

 

The surgeons did the best they could,

But soon faint hope turned to despair.

Not every hurt could be withstood

And so it was with the young heir.

 

Without a word he passed away,

His loyal batman by his side.

Joe had no further part to play

And, duty done, collapsed and died.

 

Prostrate with grief, the Browns had Claude

Borne home by private ambulance;

Remains to be revered, adored.

Brave Joe they left unmourned in France.

 

Commemorated in stained glass

Claude Eustace Ralph de Quincey Brown,

Shining example of his class,

Will be remembered by the town.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11 June, 2014 There are 3 comments on this story

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