Category Archives: Uncategorized

Wales

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Gosh I am behind! I had a lovely week in Wales with a group of people who were on a landscape photography tour. We stayed in a wonderful converted chapel near Llanberis. It is in the Snowdonia National Park and is in slate country. I was the cook so it was my job to keep everyone well fed and to produce meals at the right time. As ever I enjoyed meeting new people and learned a little more about photography. My purpose in taking pictures is to us them as reference material for paintings. Having spent years using pastels I am trying out acrylics with varying success. I will post a painting when I have one I think is finished.

Today on the radio we talked though a Christmas list of beautiful books to give as gifts. It is difficult to choose as there are so many I could have filled a three hour slot by myself!

 

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Australia

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Those of you who follow this blog will realise that I have a son, daughter in law and two little grandchildren in Melbourne Australia. Those of you who listen to the Nick Coffer show will know I got back from a visit on October 25th. It was so lovely to spend time with the children and so hard to leave but strangely nice to get home. The flights are just interminable but a good time for getting stuck into a good book. Weather in Melbourne in Spring is much like here in spring but warmer. This little fellow was in the Wildlife Sanctuary in Healesville. We had a great day there.

Off to Wales tomorrow to cook for a landscape photography course for a week. Good fun  and in a lovely part of the UK.

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The Antipodes

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Just returned from a great trip half way around the world and back. We started in San Francisco where we attended my niece’s wedding in a lovely redwood forest.

Then we flew to Auckland where we spent a week walking on the Coromandel Peninsula with my brother. This was joyous on many counts: the scenery is just glorious – quite one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, the weather was perfect – warm and sunny but not too hot to walk, and we spent the time with my brother who lives in Turkey and who therefore we don’t see often.img_7598
From Auckland to Melbourne where we were met by No 1 son and our lovely 2 year old granddaughter. We then spent 3 weeks being hands on grandparents to her and her very newly hatched baby brother and we loved it! Grampy did lots of DIY and we both read lots of stories, even changing nappies was ok. Leaving them there and coming home to the dark foggy Uk was a great wrench.

We saw the World Dinghy championships in St Kilda and I saw penguins for the first time ever. That has been an ambition of mine for a long time. _mg_8213

 

Edna O’Brien

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Last night I went to the London Review Bookshop to see one of the literary greats. Edna O’Brien is surely one of the best writers around, certainly one of my favourites. Her new book, The Little Red Chairs, which those of you who follow these things will know I discussed with Nick Coffer on the last radio broadcast, is an amazing novel. Inspired by the moving pictures of the 11,541 (643 were child size) red chairs set out in the High Street of Sarajevo in 2012 to commemorate the deaths of the people in the siege of Sarajevo 20 years previously, the book tells the story of a war criminal who arrives in a small Irish coastal town. His effect on the people is both powerful and tragic. The book follows the fortunes of one of those villagers as she moves to London and also visits the War Crimes tribunal in the Hague.

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It is very typical of Edna O’Brien that the prose is economical, lean and exactly tells the story, without ambiguity or fuss.

Edna was interviewed by Andrew O’Hagan, himself a Booker shortlisted writer (for his novel Our Fathers), and he did a great job, asking just the questions I wanted to ask. I loved the novel and I feel very privileged to have been at the event.

Holidays

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I have recently returned from a most amazing trekking trip in Peru. It is a fascinating country with a very long history, friendly people and stunning scenery. We trekked is a gentle way in several different areas, particularly the Cordillera Negra and Cordillera Blanca. I was very anxious about altitude sickness before we left but we ascended slowly so all was well.

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Yumbilla waterfall, the fifth highest in the world at 895.5 metres on the left, a wonderful hike through virgin rainforest from the village of Cuispes. On the right, mountains in the Cordillera Blanca.