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


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