Saturday, 19 March 2011

Graceful Birds, Brilliant Gig & Gaudi's Barcelona

Cormorants Nest on River Tyne

Walking on the pier between the North Shields Fish Quay and Tynemouth last weekend, we saw the most amazing sight: cormorants in their hundreds, nesting on shallow protruding rocks in the river.I've seen cormorants many, many times, but usually, I've spotted one, or maybe a pair.  But this was astounding.
The cormorant is often described as almost reptilian - some say spooky or foreboding describes them best.  They are often seen with wings spread, drying out after fishing expeditions.

"They must nest here in the spring-time," I said, "Must make it my business to come here every March."  And I shall.  Oh, I shall.
When we set off, it seemed like a drab, miserable day.  It hail-stoned on the way down to the quay. 

But the sky became a magic mix of colour,the river sparkled silver light (making many of the photographs look like black-and-whites), limpets clung onto rocks in the shallows for dear life.  It was like they believed a tsunami was due.  And the statue of Lord Collingwood looking out to sea appeared dark and devillish.
A graceful bird in a gorgeous setting, don't you think?

A Gripping Performance from the Gatecrashers

The Brandling Villa in Gosforth, Newcastle, buzzed with excitement.  The place was packed to the rafters with fans as well as musicians from other local bands - all here to spend an evening with the fabulous Gatecrashers.
It was the first time I'd seen them with their vibrant new lead vocalist.  And I was impressed - so very impressed.  Nick (Saints of Arcadia) Jennison (below, left) has more than enough charisma to set a stage alight - and then some.  And he can sing - oh, can he sing! 

Sharing lead guitar with the amazing Ant Wright (below, left) who also provides great backing vocals, they had a ball while entertaining their discerning Geordie audience.

Add to the flavoursome mix the brilliant bass guitarist, Dave Hildreth and talented drummer, Maurice Anderson (pictured together, above right) - and the Gatecrashers were a big green GO!
And the crowd roared. 
With pop numbers like 'Valerie' and 'Forget You', soul favourites like 'I Feel Good' and 'I Want You Back' and a dollop of rock an' roll in the guise of 'Sex on Fire' and 'She Was Just Seventeen' for good measure, you'd be pushing it to find a better cover band. 
 And the crowd roared.
A guest appearance from the singer of local rock band, Tommy and the Oddballs' added a certain Je Ne Sais Quoi to an already brilliant Gatecrashers performance. And the crowd roared.
On opposite sides of the stage, Tommy and Nick, up on chairs, bellowed and growled the lyrics to 'Dakota', while Ant took on superb lead guitar, jiggling his choir-boy golden curls, Dave (no curls, folks, but he does sport a mean curling lip) boomed the bassiest riffs ever - and Maurice sweated the drum-sticks and grinned over a beautiful Yamaha kit.  And the crowd roared.

It was a brilliant gig - brilliant!
View the Gatecrashers' rendition of 'Try a Little Tenderness' at:

How Gaudi Taught Me a Lesson

Writing an article for Literary Traveler about Gaudi's architecture in beautiful Barcelona, I was taken aback by how much research was needed to get it right.  Gaudi was a complicated fellow - and his work is equally as complicated.  With a mix of Gothic and Art Nouveau, he took his work from nature. He famously said,

"Nature is my teacher."

When I researched Gaudi's sparkling creations, I realised I didn't know the half of it. His wavy lines, intricately forged sculptures and colours all portray something from nature. The balconies of Casa Mila (right) portray coral and kelp; the wavy lines, sea cliffs and caves. What a great deal I learned.
I also learned that ANY and EVERY piece of creative writing should be researched, from the point of view of history, perhaps - or geography - or just plain creativity: RESEARCH is the buzz word.

Now isn't that a GREAT BIG writing tip?

...and finally, some BLOODY GOOD news for me!  My 'about writing' piece, 'Waltzing with the Word', is to be published on Thursday 24th March in


Monday, 14 March 2011

Red Letter Days

I haven't posted for a couple of weeks, but oh, those couple of weeks have been eventful.  I've had so many red letter days it's quite astonishing:


First, I had a trip to Sheffield to stay with friends and managed to get photographs and a video of a squirrel, out from his lair to eat the bird food my friend had set out on a tree stump.
I have to call it a red letter day because I adore squirrels.  There were robins out there in the woodland of Graves Park too - and a larger version of a tree-creeper I can't remember the name of.  And then there were my favourites - the geese - all bad-tempered and hissy-fitting because Spring is here!



The link, above, takes you to my comment about the fruit, Durian.  I tasted it on a trip to Kuala Lumpur.  It is famous, they say, for improving libido - increase your sex-drive!  I've entered this into my 'red letter day' posting, because it was the first time I had used the 'My Wanderlust' site on the Wanderlust website.  It costs nothing to join and it's amazing: a great place to post information, photos etc. about holidays and trips. 
There's also a members forum, which is where I posted my comment.  Have you ever tasted Durian?  It's an experience, I can tell you! Some people say it tastes like rancid cheese or putrid fish.  I rather liked it!


"Well, I never," I said, when I looked at the Writers' Weekly 24-hour Fall Contest winners page, "I got an honourable mention."  There was a first, second and third prize, followed by 20 honourable mentions - and I was one of them.  My 850-word story, 'Meet Me off the Train' had won me a year's subscription to 'The Write Market' magazine and an e-book of my choice. 
Any writer out there interested in entering the Spring 24-hour contest, here's the website link: 
Now that was a red letter day indeed!


La Greze, Castelnau de Montmiral, is the location of the wonderful gite where we stayed with our friends in 2009 as part of a tour of Annecy, Provence and the Midi-Pyrenees in France.
The owners, John and Judi have invited me to pen an article about our stay at La Greze, including the romantic hilltop villages amongst the vineyards, the meadowland and forest areas surrounding it.
I'll be writing about their beautiful gites, swimming pool and gardens - and their wonderful hospitality.  I'll be publishing text and photographs of the villages around and about.  I'll give the reader tips and hints on the best places to visit for day-trips away. To view 'La Greze', go to:

Barbeque at La Greze (the Grange) '09


Below, there are links to my attempts at poetry.  I've written about HAIKU, SONNETS, the SENYRU and the SESTINA.  If you like poetry (or even if you don't and you just want to try it out for the heck of it!) 
Go to the links below for my published poetry pieces to date, with the publishers, Authspot and Bookstove - and the writing community, Fan Story.

Of course, Shakespeare really knew what he meant when he said to me, 
'Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day'!

(Ah! Did I hear g-r-o-a-n-s?)


Monday, 7 March 2011

The Bottom Line | Authspot


...for a fun piece of writing about the life of my rear-end, bum, bottom - whatever you want to call it!
If you have any comments at all - for example, if you want to tell me about your backside! - then you can comment here, on this blog, or go to the link above and comment there. 

Hope to hear from you soon, CONSTANT READER!