Friday, 6 November 2009

Breakfast at Tiffany's...

Well Rosie's actually, with James... Oh the anticipation of the gossip the laughs and the endless talk about writing and life...

Seeing at is it so close to my birthday, I could have said Breakfast with an old Banger... but that would be rude... and anyway my therapist tells me not to talk about myself like that.

From these images, you can see that we were enjoying a true British tradition, the classical concert in the Park with the BSO in SUMMERTIME... Yes Summertime. I could hardly press the 'take' button for the thickness of clothing surrounding my upper torso and forcing my arms outward like a character from Royston Vaysey. The photo's don't do James justice, for he is Peter Pan, and my only regret about this Saturday's breakfast is that Graham his other half, won't be able to be with us, because he will be far too busy with his own performance and version of 'On the Buses' and my daughter is playing in a hockey match... Maybe next time around.

Secretly of course, I shall be more than content not to have to share James on this occasion... Bring it on...

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The day finally dawns...

No images today, maybe later.

The moment of departure has arrived. My dear old car traded in for a much younger model. I feel like a disloyal friend who has found someone new to play with, but the truth is I need something more reliable; this means the old friend will have to retire in the playground where old motors go to pasture. It is my romanticised notion that the car will live out it days in a field somewhere, housing nesting birds, or homing forlorn foxes from wind and rain during a night of foraging for fancies. I cannot bear to think of the reality... stripped and dumped like a hooker outside a Loveless Motel...

10.30 and the deed will be done, adoption papers to the new owner, a fond farewell glance and a final outstretched finger to trace along her once sleek lines, like a mother relinquishing her treasured offspring... these are the emotions that will act as the catalyst for understanding, if not in a lesser way, the wrench a mother may have felt at having to give up her child, seduced by the promise of a better life. A writers' toolkit of emotion, stored in a brownie tin for resurrection another day, a faded memory, an act of final separation.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009


Two posts in one day...

After a visit to the doctors with the Duchess (my dear old Mum), I took her on a bit of a shopping spree to cheer her up. We sifted diligently through kitchenware, bedding, shoes, bags, foods and of course... books.

Lost in my own world I was browsing through the covers of 'Classic Cuisine' by Tamasin Day-Lewis (one of our course leaders on the Arvon Cookery Writing week in October last year - this very same week in fact), Xanthe Clay, Nigel Slater, James Martin and Willy the Chocolate man, when I came upon it. Two books in their seductive silver and chocolate coating, lurking on the shelves; Green and Black's 'Unwrapped'.

I was inwardly squealing with delight, for I was previously the runner up in the G & B's Country Living Competition, with my recipe for Swedish Chocolate and Coffee Lamb (page 86, 2nd edition) I cannot remember why I put the Swedish bit in the title... but here lies the complication.

Whilst at University, we had been advised to think long and hard about our writing names, persona and that all elusive 'voice'. I had thought I should want to specialise in writing for children, but after an Arvon course in Writing for Children, held in the darkest bowels of Invernesshire, I soon realised I neither possessed the talent or the drive to continue in this genre; 75k words later and with a full edit under my belt of my hormone induced characters, I was left in a quandary. Had I decided to write for children under my middle name, which I have used since pussy was a kitten, all would have been absolutely fine, but it wasn't deemed serious enough to carry the weight of a grown up Hollywood script; Yeah, I wish! So I decided to register with The Writers' Guild of GB, under the name of Rosie Jones. I had thought of changing my surname to one of our family names like Penaluna (which with hindsight might not have been such a bad move) or Watkins, Pratten, Jacobs or Glyndwr (pronounced Glendower) but the moment has long since gone and in a way I'm pleased I stuck to my guns and kept to good old Jones.

Now for some of you who know me as Rosie, this new revelation will probably leave you disinterested if not underwhelmed, but it is a fact and a long winded way of explaining why in the G & B book they make reference to Annette Jones; in the first edition it did say from Dorset but that has been omitted in the second edition. I originally entered the competition under my middle name of Annette, confident that the fame I would enjoy as a children's author, would link me to that Best Chocolate Book in the World, which won the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards... Hey ho!

I am of course still waiting for the fame, but my runner up prize of a years supply of G & B chocolate has long since applied itself with extreme affection and force to my hips... so I can officially say that my recipe (this will no doubt turn into the plural as I recount the claim to fame in the nursing home in a few years time), that I appear alongside Nigella and her Clementine Cake and Nigel Slater's White Cardamon chocolate mousse... I must retire to my bed, for it is awfully exhausting for a girl, all this fame in a lifetime and I haven't even turned a page of Walking on Alligators, remember she is the author of no less than two novels... (In joke for the Gathering Nuts in May tribe)...

Starvation and all things inbetween...

I have fallen foul of the first rule of the art of blogging... I am not worthy, since I notice my last post was indeed on 19th August and I am unable to provide you with a better photo than this rather dark and shady image!

Artist Rob Hughes and Model: Creatives from The Arts Poole:

Writing, networking, attending parties and meeting with friends has had to take a back seat as I have been busy seeing to domestic chores, like landscaping, decorating, pandering to my aching back and running my dear old Mum backwards and forwards to the doctors, as her serious ear infection took hold and refused to repair. However, today it was official, she is on the mend.

Finally, when I managed to sit down and focus on a script report that I needed to do from the excellent script reading course I took nearly three weeks ago lead by Lucy Vee, I also logged on to my email to catch up on non-essential messages that I had left for another day. One hundred and eight four messages later, I emerged for sustenance before tackling my SPAM mail. Trouble is, I cannot afford to just delete it, as occasionally I receive emails I really need or am waiting for... invariably they are cunningly wedged somewhere between my enlarged penis or Petrushka from the USSR and her request to show me a good time ;) With the additional numerous promises of Viagra as the cure all, and an offer to slice off my weight how did they know, I found an amusing caption asking me if I wanted an enlarged penis... to which I fondly responded, only if it is attached to a healthy and handsome thirty year old male! A girl can dream...

I have started returning to the local creative writing group again, as the lack of deadlines and the pressure to clean skirting boards, yet again, fights to distract my every spare waking minute. The scuffle for attention is scandalous and without shame as the easily distracted writer emerges from piles of faffing waiting to be either sorted, cleaned or moved 6 inches to another pile, in another attempt to wait for an opportunity of a good sort... if you get my drift.

The only upside is that although I say I haven't been networking, I did get along to the September meet of 'The Arts Poole', where we celebrated, if that is indeed the correct phrase, the life of Augustus John. It was a cracking night, meeting up with other creatives and friends, the music, live painting and conversation simply flowed effortlessly like honey.

I have also managed to host my usual Saturday breakfast for the lovely James, Jackie and Antoinette and my only regret was that Graham was working. These five hour breakfasts are a joy every time and sitting in the sunshine in the dying rays of early autumn discussing writing and the latest projects and texts and films, was an added bonus. Great and overly generous friends in every sense of the word, wonderful conversation and laughter and a generous helping of talking about the art of writing.

Plus my good friend and web-host prepared for me a memorable Sunday breakfast before another lesson in website techniques, a marathon of stamina and patience on his part.

Another spooky thing happened, in that I encountered an old friend... I say old friend but actually he was my Saturday boy years ago when I was a manager in retail. He was my strongest weapon... full of charm, style and an innate instinct to hone in on customers with spending power; although I have to attest he treated every person who came through the door with the same grace and charm, regardless of their budget; he is old money, not new, no hype just fine breeding.

We spent two hours on the phone catching up on what has been nearly 18 years news, no awkwardness, it was as if we'd seen each other last week! He reminded me he came seeking a job, a law student home for the holidays and taking a gap year out, before taking his final articles then ultimately switching careers and moving into sales... why was I not surprised. Whilst I appreciate it is vulgar to talk money, which I'm not, he did happen to bank with the bank of royalty... which just goes to show how easily impressed I was... He told me his current age and for one nano second, my life flashed before me as my bones creaked, spine bent and flesh fell from muscle; I felt ancient but in a Mr. Miyagi kinda way. Now he has settled and made the move from London and after attending an Arvon course in Shropshire, he has decided to write, he too found the Arvon week wonderful, uplifting and felt the same sense of bereavement on parting. I have yet to find anyone who has not felt empowered after attending one of these courses. Currently, it sounds as though he is living the dream.

Our conversation inevitably lead to writing and I find with increasing regularity that writers are like tangled balls of knitting, a fragile tumble of self-doubt difficult sometimes to unravel, knotted in places, often easily distracted if not kept under check, but always driven and passionate about their writing projects.

As the years roll on, I find myself drawn more and more to writers' and creatives' and although I have great mates who live in the 'normal' world, whatever that is, it is only truly another writer or creative who understands the Muse, the process, the angst, the self-doubt, the search for the Holy grail... others' will listen and hear you out as you try to explain the inner core, but only another writer can truly understand the sea of turmoil that co-exists alongside the parallel universe which inhabits the writers' mind, as it mingles and swims through the currents, the life-blood of daily existence...
Thank you for reading my blog... hopefully, the girl is back...

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Autumn Calls

Seasons of mellow fruitfulness... A post of sentimental indulgence.

The time is almost upon us, where the nights start to draw in, the trees start to shed their leaves and the earth carries the fruity aroma of fungi forming below ground.

When I woke early this morning, the air carried the feel of a dull sun; the dying embers knocking on the door of a summer past its sell by date. Once firmly planted in our mind, the memories go slip-streaming through the chicanes, the carefree days touring through Europe, winding up zig-zag passes; dropping down through lakes; stopping at village shops selling peaches the size of footballs on the route southwards, to end up lolling on beaches with lazy holiday reads under beach umbrellas; watching golden crisp bodies amble along the water's edge; mummified skin hanging in the folds of aging couples, found walking hand in hand along beaches teaming with new life; passing men flexing muscles, who wink at girls in the hope of starting the life cycle all over again; and all this already melting into the story vaults, even though today's 30 degree weather prediction has been heralded as potentially the hottest day of the year.

It is already sunny, it will be hot, but in spite of this, the air has 'That' feel about it. 'That' feel reminded me of my teens, when the price for the long summer laziness had to be repaid by the sewing of labels on sports clothes, bedding, school uniform, blazers and hats; it seemed an endless pastime, that moved the remaining days of the summer holiday into an ethereal state of inevitability. It is 'That' feel, that now encroaches on the onset of Autumn and the hope that we will have those bright blue skies, crisp Autumn mornings, dank mists rising to refresh the balding flora and fauna, before they fade from glory.

So whilst I remain in nostalgic mood, a sentimental blast from the memories of my childhood.

The Brother and Sisterhood of Awen,
From Beyond Green Hills
by Rosie Jones

Passion lies just beneath a man's skin, more often than not fused to the soul through the umbilical.

Accused of fanaticism, clansman ship and an overbearing desire to convert all mankind to the love of all things Welsh. A nation divided by much more than channel or border.

The smell of dank rain on tarmac choking the back of your throat, artificial and false against the natural beauty, made good to form lush green pastures, raised from root by a regular cleansing.

Sheep roaming on undulating hills, grazing on the Almighty's grass, pure driven by the relentless beating of the wind.

Occasional lines of washing, whipping and flapping laundry, as white as angels wings; seasoned women in their pinnies, keeping a watchful eye for a turn in the weather; moisture only a kiss away from the mountain tops, as the base of flat bottomed clouds skim grass the colour of envy.

My grandmother used to black the grate like an act of devotion, kneeling on slate slabs hewn from ancient rock, sculpted to fit on earth floors and now worn smooth by the rubbing and pacing of life in front of the fire.

Lamb basting in the home range, fired to a heat that sears a welcome to all who enter the heart of the home. Proper lamb, where every mouthful contains the taste of Welsh dew, twisted with mint to freshen the breath.

Drop scones and Welsh cakes sizzling on the dying heat of the cast iron, the smell of earthy potatoes baking amongst the embers of the rapidly cooling furnace, not a drop of energy wasted.

There is a Celtic rhythm that beats on every street corner, that can be heard amongst the language of the gossiping women and their clacking tongues, or from the music in the babbling brook, or drunk from the heavenly backdrop of the choirs singing in the Baptist churches on the Sabbath.

In the valleys, the pits laid to rest in reverence to God to keep the Lords day pure. God fearing superstitious men, humbled by the ghostly whispers of their ancestors, that echo up the empty mine shafts singing like Sirens from an ancient shore, tempting the men back to work.

Daily, emerging like grey Gothic ghosts with underground eyes and gums the colour of beetle juice, but on the Sabbath, black haired, grey-faced men in miniature, hands in trouser pockets, hunched against the bracing wind. Scattered with occasional giants of men, Sunday sleeves at half-mast, caught short by Holy showers, their twisted Worsted shrunken and re-shaped into unfashionable style.

A land built from the colour of legends, dragons, damsels, kings and rebellion. Militant streaks of stubborn resistance fight against oppression and challenge the power of men, bellies fuelled with the fire of injustice, as the English invaded and stripped us of Our industrial wealth.

This is the Hwyl that cruises through the veins of Welsh men and women alike, a gift from the Goddess of Awen, from within, or beyond any of her Green Hills.

Today will bring with it yet more editing of my script Repentance, but on the balcony, mourning the end of summer, enjoying whatever last generous jewels she has to offer; and tomorrow, as they say, is another day...

Saturday, 1 August 2009


Am I still breathing or did my shadow just overtake me?

You are looking at some of the most expensive real-estate in the UK. Sandbanks in Dorset. Houses dripping in the water, perfectly visible harbour side, yet road side closed to prying eyes behind reinforced boundaries and gates of steel; buildings and owners left to bask in the retreating rays of a dying sun. This one includes a football manager's house that was recently covered on the Piers Morgan mini documentary of life on the 'Banks'

I went with a host of work colleagues on an evening jaunt around a tug in Poole Harbour. The smell of burgers singeing on the hot plate and hot dogs competing with onions sizzling in a tin tray wedged between a row of dead chicken meat, meant we were followed by an endless trail of hopeful gulls gliding in the slipstream, waiting to pounce at the first opportunity of any overboard offerings. It was to be the only calm in the last ten days of my life, as
'Sequel to Cannes' crept up on me with the speed of Warp factor 20. The weeks have bled all to easily into another; no punctuation, no end or start to a week, just one continuous rush of hours disappearing like the speed of sand passing through an egg timer.

Sequel to Cannes brought a host of wonderful people, wonderful stories and intrigues and insights by jobbing writers of what it is like to write for Eastenders, have your film commissioned or talks about how to get your work out there in front of the right people, or experiment with new ways of telling stories. As importantly, attendees were networking like crazy and offers of deals, support or funding was heavy in the air. Poole Arts Development had received three phone calls before noon on Friday and more in-depth meetings had been set for August. Good luck guys.

The feedback on the event has been tremendous, reassuring, they have filled me with a sense of a job well done and whilst I don't often indulge in self praise and there is still room for review and improvement, at the moment I need to indulge a little; to know that the time and the effort that took me away from my own writing was worthwhile to more than a handful of people. The successful case studies and endorsements will be loaded onto the website over the course of the next month and if the influx of positive messages are anything to go by, the event will be a definite on the 2010 film calendar of Dorset film events.

A well known producer reminded me he had yet to read my sit-com or costume drama I promised to send him for his Christmas read, I have been shamed; he has a two month time frame tying down finances before his latest international film project takes wings of flight in October. So no guesses what I will be doing for the next month at least, Oh well it hasn't been a very good summer anyway.

It is the giving birth that is the err, not born through the fear of rejection or adverse comment, I just want my script to be the best it can be or that I can get it to before submission, and I am unsure whether to release it for early ridicule, or fine tune it AGAIN for yet another edit. But I feel the time is almost right, I have to launch before he loses interest and walks away, so next week will see me furiously re-reading 'Repentance' for the Umpteenth time before I press 'SEND'. I'll leave it another two or three weeks before I send my Rom-Com. It requires a total re-write and I haven't had time to completely finish adapting my 'Sifting of Ashes' novella into script format, an Autumn joy I feel. Too many projects and just not enough time but I will at least see 'Repentance' birthed. Maybe I need to start being smarter, pitching more in the first instance and writing to demand or interest. Gosh, it's a big world out there and I know that sometimes you just have to spread your wings and fly and if you fall, walk around dazed for a while before risking being airborn again. Wish me well in my Quest... the next stage of my writing journey. A Teenager chancing her luck in the world of grown-ups.

Today I delivered my 'Radio Workout' to the Writers' Study in West Moors, seven hours of concentrated effort by all those who came and we finished the day with the basic characters, outline and heartbeat of their stories. They might have been amazed at what they achieved, yet I felt nothing but pride that they were able to walk away with all the main elements needed to build on the kernel of their ideas; armed with a clearer understanding of the form and what it takes to write good characters, effective dialogue and the importance of working to a story structure. Talented writers...

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Birthday Boy...

Tim Clague's Birthday bash...

Happy Birthday to a man who never gives up... BAFTA nominated Tim, is constantly finding new ways of spreading his writing and directing talent, making low cost films through his serial Mr. Vista, this amusing take on the life of a man on the edge is at worst worth dipping into, but at best worth following with regularity. 

Tim's latest project in the form of a feature called Circumference, by far his most ambitious project to date; if you have to label it, Tim calls it a love story.  He has nursed and nurtured this film since pussy was a kitten and finally everything is in place to heavily market the concept and try to bring the film into being.  With a production company attached (White Lantern Film) and a noteworthy casting director, they are on the case.  A press pack is available, so if anyone reading this would like to be involved in some way, shape or form, why not contact him and say Rosie says Hi!  

The Team are looking to raise a minimum of £110,000 seed money to give the film a chance of commercial success; this is reckoned to be the magic film formulae number for making indie movies see a return on the money, the successful 'London to Brighton' raised £80,000.  If you would like to see your Company's name appear on the film credits, or more simply if getting your name on a film credit is on your list of 99 things to do before you die, then don't hesitate to get in touch with him; Tim is a very straight 'what you see is what you get' kind of guy who holds a passion for new writing and new ways of seeing and doing.  I once described him to a potential funder as a man born with a 'can do' attitude.  In fact, following an interview with Tim three years ago for a feature article in an Arts Magazine, he proved to be instrumental in invoking the Muse in me, and Prequel to Cannes was born.

So I shall be joining in the lunchtime celebrations today with Tim and other filmies and luvvies... Love and peace... Rosie

Saturday, 18 July 2009


It works... finally, having been shown how to post a link by Kristen and several times by others, and failed to grasp or apply it, I have conquered it... now I can apply a link...  I shall be found linking away...;

Flat as a pancake...

As in the tyre on my car...

Some days just when you have the end of the road in sight, you need to turn another corner and the new road disappears into the distance. 

After spending a wonderful evening yesterday with James and Graham, consuming a concert picnic tea  that should have been laid out on the lawn at Upton Country Park with the sounds of the BSO concert in the background, instead it was spent in their homely dining room on account of God emptying his bathwater again.  Eventually this morning I awoke, or rather arose, somewhat sluggish in manner, I think it was the Gin, Lime and soda jelly what did for me, hence I took a while to get into my stride. I popped along to the farmer's market only to return and discover a flat tyre. Thankfully, it was early enough to catch Freeway Tyres, just a couple of miles away from the village.  

I stopped for petrol and was reliably informed by at least five people that my tyre was flat.  One very kind workman drove into the station to tell me as he had seen me traversing the roundabout, no doubt with sparks flying off the wheel.  Whilst it was extremely heartwarming, not one of them offered to change the tyre and furthermore for anyone who has ever driven a car with a flat tyre, the change in the drive is unmistakable; think army tank and you're somewhere near to understanding the lack of smoothness of the ride.  Some men must truly think all woman are blonde when it comes to cars!

Anyhow, suffice it to say it threw the day completely off rota and in an attempt to revist the aura of calm which I woke with this morning, I decided I needed to blog... plus mid-way I've just had a call from the builder pricing the extension, that turns out to be double the original quote and he won't guarantee the figure!!! Calmmmmmm..... still, better now than at the finishing line!

My days and nights are currently consumed with thoughts of Sequel to Cannes and I am in need of finalising the script competition rules.  At least with the technical help of my great friend Paul, the website is now up and running on ~ Sequel to Cannes also shares the same site ~ it just seems daft to have two actual websites to update, even if I do have around ten domain names.  The website is a sharp learning curve and is a work in progress; I guess it will be around the end of August before I will have everything up-loaded and I will be content with the visual look of it.  I have been surprised how much I have enjoyed re-visiting or learning some of the technical aspects and am now seriously considering accepting the MA place I have been offered at Bournemouth University which incorporates screenwriting with learning in more detail the technical processes and tasks of shooting a movie, we only fringed upon this on the BA degree course.  If I do start it will be in September 2010, I just feel I have too much on the boil this year.

I am filled with the sense of a tide of change. I cannot explain from where or why this feeling has entered my life, but I do feel that life changing events are about to take place.  I sincerely hope this means some success with the writing, or maybe it is a result of the strange mood which has decended on my two day a week part-time work, but something is in the air, I feel it...

Enough now, I have websites to plan, screenwriting rules to write and a script to re-write.  The countdown to Sequel to Cannes has started... just ten days away... Yipes...

Sunday, 12 July 2009

From Chick Lit to Dixie Flicks

A Maelstrom of weather and emotions invoke and evoke the Muse...

This scene of casual creative chaos is a record of a wonderful literary day spent at Upton Country House, invoking the Muse. After a bit of a writing lull, well a drought actually, I decided earlier this year that I would treat myself to a few writing events if they came along.  It is really important to water oneself now and again, as well as watering others in the form of the creative workshops I deliver, the next one I shall be delivering, is 'writing for radio' in August.

On the day that God chose to empty his bathwater, I trundled along to this one, organised by the Poole Arts Development Unit, called 'Lit Up' and drew inspiration and support from published writers, as well as from the literary agent Carole Blake; a formidable woman, a well respected heavyweight from within the publishing world's circle of trust.   There is only one way to describe her and I hope she will take this as a business compliment, she comes across as a 'no shit' kind of person.  Someone who you would definitely want batting on your team rather than the oppositions.  She was obviously seizing the opportunity to re-promote her paperback book 'From Pitch to Publication' and at the discounted price of £12.50 she was happy to sign her name, sadly for those in attendance only between the book's pages and not on a contract.  It got me thinking just how little the publishing world can have changed, her book was published over ten years ago so the same principles, i.e. contracts, approaches to agents/publishers, format, manuscripts submissions et al, remains the same.  

Carole gave a very charismatic speech, endearing in places, I imagine not a description one would automatically associate with her or mix in the same sentence, to arrive at the same old chestnut, which is in spite of all the 'how to' tips, what actually grabs any agent or publisher is a gripping story, well told with an original, preferably unique, voice.  The main learning points I came away with`~? Perseverance, a strong belief in your own work, and the importance of sending it out to the correct publishing house or literary agent, these are the stuff that bringeth the writer in with a chance, basic ideologies we aspiring authors have had recounted to us endless times but for unpublished authors worthy of mentioning again.  

Then of course, there is the timing factor to consider.  As in Life, timing is everything. Carole recounted a manuscript which had 'done the circuit' and been rejected by every major publisher and almost sent to the abattoir, but a steadfast belief in the manuscript by both author and agent meant that after a decent period of mourning it was resubmitted to a publishing house with a new commissioning editor in place, hot to make a name for him/herself ~  identity was hidden to protect the guilty.  

Present it too soon and it is classed as 'Before its time' or 'doesn't fit into any genre or category, too late and it falls into the pile where 'manuscripts go to die', recycled paper waste or contenders for the Turner prize ~ award winning stuff like 'slush pile door stops' a mountain of manuscripts super glued to form the shape of a paper Christmas tree ranging from 4 foot to 100 feet, followed by an epic burning on Hampstead Heath, straight out of a scene from 'Wicker man'.  

Not a lot for Writers' to consider then when nurturing their babies before they send them off to potential slaughter or Resurrection.  Carole was last seen clicking her heels across a very damp walled garden, clutching her raincoat and cash box under her arm whilst dragging her unsold books behind her, leaving chunnels of furrowed earth in her wake. Food for thought... write about what you know?

The hottest author on the block at the moment, Lucy Clarke spoke about her foray into the publishing world with her book called 'Surf Wax and Vodka Jelly'.  Don't you just hate young, hip gorgeous looking women with surf shacks full personality?  I suspect her 27 years of experience living on this planet and the obvious talent she has for re-telling a story, played more than a helping hand contributing towards her success, but nonetheless an author with personality clearly helps when embarking on book signings.  A clear distinct voice, maximised to appeal to a specific type of audience (20 - 40 age group), never have I felt so old as to be not included in this hip age group. Lady in Lavender I am not!!!!!  I have ordered said book online in an act of aging purple rebellion.

I did receive some fabulous constructive feedback in a 1-2-1 discussion about my script and the first three chapters of my novel, so encouraged and renewed, I shall again take up the pen ... that is of course after I have resolved the issue of the Prequel to Cannes/Sequel to Cannes website which urgently demands my attention...

Top tip for unpublished authors, do your research and once you have found your voice, exploit it and shout it from the top of the highest slush pile; just remember to jump clutching the manuscript before flaming match meets tinder dry paper...
Rosie xx

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Spoiled Rotten...

Trick or Treats... 

It isn't every day that a girl of advancing years can knock on the door of a young talented writer and award winning playwright and be treated to a breakfast of smoked salmon, jams, breads and croissants, whilst his partner is hard at work.  "Come into my Bedouin tent" or similar, were the words that greeted me. At the bottom of the garden stood an octagonal tent fit for a sheik. Equipped with the 3 S's, self sufficiency and summer, every need, well almost, has been taken into account and catered for, including the lighting; I wouldn't expect anything less as Graham is a whiz with all matter of things electrical and what he cannot do with his conduit isn't worth bothering with.  The non-organic apple I brought for my god dog, was tossed in the air like a ball and it is fair to say that anything non-organic is of little interest... the result? a glossy coat that is silky and sleek - let this be a lesson to us all.

Our Saturday breakfasts are treasured, when Graham can join us he does and it is a delight, but relaxing in the company of a writing soul mate is a luxury of indulgent proportions. Friendships are, or should be, about equality, trust and honesty and whilst we could occasionally be accused of a love-in, it is usually short lived as we both understand the need to be critical about behaviours in life as well as about our writing, so truthful feedback wins every time, born out of respect for each other as a wordsmith and friend. Talking through ideas for stories, novels or plays are like a mental workout, the energy James generates is infectious and whenever I reflect on what he has done or is about to do, I feel ashamed that I have more freelance time yet generate considerably less, both in quality and volume.

Invariably, we exchange real life episodes of a day in the life of the last month, a tribute to that wonderful film 'Crush' and the gag sad F**k of the week.  When forced to, I recall or retell some incident from my autobiography 'Rosie moments', yet to be written of course, but will include such events as 'Robins Breast Drip Trays', 'Frequent Lactose Intolerance', 'My daughter's schools orchestral weekend and I got to have the drug addict to stay, yes, the very weekend the school guinea pig chose to commit Harri Kari whilst in our care', 'The scenic journey through Dorset with an unfolding commentary on the history of Rook Pie, ably given by our chauffeur which made us late for a function' ... and the like... 

I left with dates in my diary:  an invite to watch 'The Young Victoria' in the Bedoin tent, The BSO proms in the park our annual ritual together with champagne and canapes lording it up, and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.  Good friends, lots of laughs, these will be the memories I shall keep long into the future when I am rocking in my chair in the nursing home... God and a lot of luck willing...
Go hug a friend...

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Another day of self harming...

Self sufficiency...
I know it is not very PC these days to make a mockery of a particular disadvantaged group, so I will apologise now as no malice is intended, but you'll get the picture by the end of the blog post I promise... and before I am targeted by the Blogspot police, otherwise known as the marketing guys, with spam mail about self harm support groups wedged somewhere between my perfect matchmaker or are you happy with the size of your Todger, I may well have to change the title of this blog post.

This blog post I guess, is about several things, having a go, hunting and gathering, aspiration on a budget, yes that is aspiration not inspiration, although sometimes the inspiration is Bon Marche too..  Now before you think I am going to have a moan about the credit crunch, or complain I can't afford my Jimmy Choo's in these hard times, I think you ought to understand I have inherited many of my father's traits, one of which is, if you can build it yourself why pay to have someone build it for you.  The trouble is both of us were and are somewhat limited in the self build department, which of course can leave you open to merciless bouts of ridicule and considerable expense putting everything right you did wrong in the first place, if that makes sense.

It is not that either of us was (my dear old Dad finally got to do his last bit of DIY pre 1990 when the only way he could get out of it was to die - bit extreme I know and I miss him every day that goes by and I know it is a bit of black humour, but he would have absolutely approved at this take on it all), and to get back to my original point, neither of us could ever be accused of being mean.  But it is clearly the hunter gatherer that emerges from our Celtic roots and takes over at the mere mention of DIY and power tools, but as I say, a little knowledge and a total lack of talent in the construction department is a dangerous thing.  Neither of us were daft enough to knock walls down, unless of course it wasn't attached to anything, after all we knew/know our limits on account of not being THAT stupid, but  the lure of being able to say 'I did that' and the desire to watch everyone gasp in amazement, has always proved too strong.

Let me paint the picture and enlighten you on one such escapade embarked upon by my dear old Dad...  Back in the 50's when my father had arrived at middle management, my mother decided that to go with our newly acquired family status and to match our semi detached double plot in (here it goes downhill) Essex - commuter belt of Leigh-on-Sea and handy for London, she would like a garden seat.  'No problem' says my Dad who hadn't done woodwork since school; I cannot call it carpentry, I'll leave that association to Jesus.  During one weekend, he set about turning our three folding wooden chairs, you know the type you shut your fingers in every time you use them, constructed with wooden planks that mark your BTM if you sit on them long enough, yep, those will be the ones.. out came hammer, hand drill and nails - yes nails, and a monkey wrench, why we'll never know, furthermore when he finally died he took the secret with him, so like the Holy Grail it will forever remain an unsolved mystery. My mother had spent the entire weekend hovering nervously and covering my ears every time his hammer found flesh.  She had every right to feel nervous, as the last time he had been left in charge of a hammer, she had to call a plumber.

I ought to explain that actually my mother was and still is the construction worker and builder in the family, yet just now and again the need to try and steal the title from her draws us like a moth to a flame.  She has ripped out fireplaces, knocked down walls, which continued to remain attached to something, built a double garage, put in RSJ's mixed cement, decorated, scrubbed up to princess standards in floaty frocks, permed hair and lipstick, and still got a casserole in the oven before dusk.  Lilian always said it kept her off the drink and off the streets on the long lonely nights when my father was busy building his career, so they both built stuff, just different types of stuff.  But not wanting to totally emasculate him, she left him the small tasks around the house which wouldn't result in death or electrocution or both. 

Eventually he presented the bench to us and apart from the fact that you couldn't sit on it for fear of crucifixion, impalement or body piercing in the most unlikeliest of places, it did what it said on the can.  The only other drawback was that you couldn't take a magnet within 100 yards without fear of finding a bench attached to it.  So... working around to my original thread of MY DIY, you can see which school of 'Method' building I went to.  Avante Garde and a bit kitch not to mention Heath Robinson.

When my daughter was around 7/8 years old after a miserable period in our lives, I weakened in a moment of marshmallow and allowed her to buy a rabbit.  A tiny Watership Down kind of bunny rabbit with a toffee patch on the back of his neck.  He was cute and cuddly and absolutely divine and we took him away from the safety and security of a well equipped garden, clearly set up for breeding, to... nothing.  No straw, no food, no hay and more importantly no hutch.  I could hear my father's words ringing in my ears... 'No problem', so I set about reclaiming copious amounts of scattered rotting wood, chopping up and sawing an old red display unit from Laura Ashley's window, a whole bag of 6 inch nails and a hammer.  So whilst Jo nursed the traumatised rabbit who can surely have only just been weaned, I set about building Colditz to withstand attack by foxes, keep out the elements, and allow the rabbit to have a room with a view through the tiny chicken wire window.  No drawings, no plans, lots of imagination and a gung ho attitude meant I ended up with... my father's bench!  Well not literally, but if I had put the poor little mite in it, he could easily have been converted into a bunny kebab.  It is so humiliating when one's child is rolling around the garden trying to conceal laughter whilst Mummy is trying to demonstrate the ten easy steps in DIY self sufficiency.  Clearly B & Q will not be a new career choice in my New Age of Silver Years (I cannot bring myself to say New Era)!

At the party last week, I did make a bit of a gaff.  I had been self harming on and off for much of the week, taking down pelmets, pulling out staples and nails, so the back of my hands were full of evidential traits of my activities.  I noticed one of the doctors staring intently at them I assumed he wasn't looking for a wedding ring, so in an attempt to break the ice, I said 'I self harm...' he looked aghast, I had his attention, so I hit him with the punch line 'Well B & Q call it DIY' at which point the bat flew in, the lights were cut and when they came up again he had moved away!  

And the moral of this story?  Always work to a plan... and drawings, however rough.  Whether you are building a rabbit hutch, a bench or laying down the foundations for your story... always work to a plan... it saves a lot of unnecessary time and expense later...
Love and Peace... xxx R

Monday, 15 June 2009

It would be easy to run out of steam...

Hold the faith...

Why is it that I seem to be permanently chasing deadlines?  I am trying to manage several important projects in the one remaining week before a final, final cut off date; and anyway whatever happened to that floaty notion that I would sit in my summerhouse or in a villa in the south of France or a beachside shack on some remote Caribbean Island and do nothing but write THE novel or screenplay that would define my generation?  Tch..  Fat chance, currently I am not even sure if I have any talent for writing, but I guess I will die trying to discover if I do.

Saturday night found me at a friend's 40th birthday party, having a bit of a boogie, in my killer heels and, by way of a change, a skirt; before you ask... yes I was wearing a top.  Every inch of space was filled with learned people, mainly from the medical profession, skilled in wielding the knife; and is it just me or are consultants getting younger?  I engaged in a truly interesting conversation about the removal of limbs and all the decisions that surround it; thankfully not something I think about every day, but nonetheless very thought provoking.  Simply put, the conversation went something along the lines of  'if it is a limb or life, life wins every time'... put like this it sounds straightforward.  The surgeon in question cut his teeth, or rather his scalpel, on five years in the army some of it in field surgery.

I watched several of them slicing their meat; it soon became easy to spot the surgeons from the GP's; 
Surgeons: precision cuts, fat trimmed to within a whisper of flesh... GP's: rough cuts with a bit of everything else on the fork; note to self for use at a later date - believable visual characterisation...  

However, the entertainment of the evening (well for us anyway not for the poor creature concerned) was in the form of a bat who flew in through some opening somewhere, who flapped and swooped around the massive open plan kitchen looking for a way out.  The shrieks were deafening and I prayed to god that bats are deaf, if terror did not sear through it at its initial plight, then the throwing of coats, shawls and flailing limbs would surely have been enough to permanently traumatise it.  Eventually it was caught by a GP armed with a fishing net, upon which it instantly surrendered and played dead.  Roars of hero worship erupted to which he responded 'It is all in the wrist action'.   Lesson in life?  Not sure...

The Stackmeister, like many before him, has observed that the harder you work at something the luckier you become.  Yet at the moment I have to overcome my feeling of guilt at a series of half completed interior DIY projects that I don't seem to have time to shake a paintbrush at.  I say that, but yesterday afternoon did find me chilling out on a layout bed in the garden for three hours with a glassful or two of bubbles.  Does this mean I am not serious about what I need to achieve, or was I just yeilding to the lure of the great outdoors and a bottle?  If I am a true, serious writer would I have used the time to better effect; to cram more words on paper? So many questions, so much angst...

Holding the faith I guess, means just never giving up and whilst I feel as though I am currently gnawing my way through an elephant with someone Else's teeth, my only saving grace is I hold the knowledge that by the end of the week, all being well, I will have achieved all I set out to do. The dining room will be painted throughout, the china will be finally loaded into units instead of littering the hall in boxes,  the guest bedroom will have the pelmet sewn and hung and the radiator covers will be finally placed to conceal the ugliness of their metal casings AND all the marketing material for Sequel to Cannes 2009 the Independent Film Industry Networking Party, will be done and dusted as the tickets finally go on sale.  It has been easier this year as I have recruited help on several fronts; in the composition of the marketing material and the Press releases, my trusty volunteers are in place for the night of the event and I am confident the venue will prove to be a fresh and perfect marine setting to generate plenty of effective networking; all the agencies advertised have now confirmed their attendance.  I am still hoping to persuade the BBC Writers' Room, The Directors' Guild, Skillset and Sunseekers to come along, but for now at least I know I have some excellent support in place.  

But boy will I be delighted when I finish eating the elephant and life can return to a proper writing routine... 

Be good to each other and carry on gnawing away at the elephants... 
love and hugs
Rosie xxxxx

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Life in the fast lane...

And another day dawns...
Just a quick update this morning.  Firstly, I had a delightful dream which involved Adam - non-sexual damn it and probably too much information for my readers, but for a lady in Lavender you can imagine it will lighten my step as I set forth into the onslaught of what the day brings.  

A dreamy, dream is a bit like a good breakfast, it sets you up for the day ahead.

I have to go to the accountants to sign my accounts and try and understand them, poor man attempting to make it all clear for me.  I know I complain when I write out his cheque, it is because you cannot see anything for the money you spend; it is not tangible, I can't wear it or sell it on if I no longer use it... It's .... fluff... but essential.  So between him and the tax man at least it keeps me legal!

Then on to more pleasurable things. A late lunch or early afternoon tea with Monique from 1stwrites, my new PR person for all the Sequel to Cannes press releases, my third eye for editing and re-writing and all time good friend.  Monique and her partner Nick have been supporters of my film networking event since day one and I could not do without either of them, like Paul Lott and Ted Elms they have stuck with me all the way through this mad journey.  Last year Ellie Douglas also joined in the support, so the band of brothers and sisters continues to grow annually; it means I am able to rely more and more on capable, committed individuals who know how to make the event run smoothly, who can trouble shoot and take some of the weight from my shoulders.

Then both Monique and I will be at the premier screening of a community film project by Level Films from the Fourish, Beachcoming project.  There is something about seeing a piece of work from recruitment through to finished product; I was the supporting consultant for the Arts Development Unit on the process of recruitment to find the right type of production company to head this project - they are a funky young team who make damn good film.  Check out Level Film in Somerset.

There will be another evening of looking at flyers and promo material as the tickets for Sequel to Cannes go on sale next Wednesday, hopefully... and the VIP invites need to go out next week at the latest.

The Script judging panel so far is... this year's patron Jeremy Paul, Producer Paul Sarony Of Mrs. Brown fame (plus of course many, many others), Writer Danny Stack, Director and Producer James Dean and I have yet to ask two others, so I won't disclose who they are yet.

Better dash the shower calls, although why I am bothering I don't know as the sky tells me I'm in for a drenching anyway...
Love and hugs
Rosie xx

Sunday, 7 June 2009

The Big Smoke...

I am back from a fabulous two days in London, made so by two of the Gathering Nuts in May; firstly Kristen and her truly exceptional family who tended to my every need and embraced me as one of their own - a privilege indeed and secondly by Caro with her vast knowledge of London culture and shops.  

Usually my visits to London are more than rushed and turned around in a day, due to other responsibilities and deadlines that require my attention in Dorset.  However, I gave myself another two days off, something I seem to be doing more of lately, and indulged myself with a reward of two days of friendship and culture due to a kind invitation to stay the night with Kristen.  Not forgetting the real purpose of the visit, which was to pick up my UnLtd Award for 'Sequel to Cannes', the summer film networking party for film industry professionals.

The Award ceremony and workshops took place over in EC4 and again a star must be beaming down on me, as I met some fabulous colourful individuals who are totally driven and passionate about their excellent projects.  The range was endless and worthy, from digital photography workshops taken into primary schools, to a gay online helpline for support groups in Brighton, to crazy dance classes for the 50 - 75 age group by a dancer who had a personality larger than life itself; I would sign up for them if I qualified for that category - but of course I do not...   ;)

After a quick fix in Harrods on my way to Kristen's, I travelled on a bus with Miss Marple, Geraldine M, who held as much intrigue and presence as the character she has played.  Elegant poise and precise simplicity.  From Hammersmith bus station I didn't trust myself to find their home, so I flagged down a taxi and within no time at all arrived at their door.  A ring on the bell and they all sprang forward to welcome me with open arms and huge smiles; how could I not feel at home.  Excited chatter, talks of meals, drinks and awards were interspersed between a tour of their lovely home, which is exactly how I imagined it to be, impeccable taste.  A marriage of new with traditional, as well as a cook's kitchen to die for in the hub of the home.  Beyond, a wall of glass looked out onto the delightful garden with its exotic plants.  I was fed the most delicious red pepper soup with creamy herb drizzle, followed by strips of the finest cuts of sirloin and duck, lovingly hand trimmed by Kristen, that I gently turned on the hot stone under the perfect tuition of John and Avery.  At some point we were entertained by a flurry of cats with views of their 'persona' made possible through an overhead sheet of glass; an angle of feline derriere that I have never before witnessed... which reminds me, I must sharpen my pencil... The Frederickson's (or the other name which I dare not reveal) are fabulous natural hosts...  I slept in a magic bed that swiftly brought sleep and ensured I didn't wake until morning.

Then on to spend a whole afternoon with Caro, whose knowledge of London along with every culinary emporium and exceptional tucked away restaurant, in every nook and cranny, is faultless.  I wish I had sufficient money to just sit in the Wolseley every day and write... the characters, the gorgeous Russian waiters who were busy eyeing up Caro through their smouldering looks... and the food wasn't bad either... but the conversation was excellent.  On to the Royal Academy and a glass of Pimms.  Viewings on buyers day... I fell in love with a masterpiece on linen, and sadly having spent £8K on lunch meant I could not stretch to the £8K price tag from the piece - I think it was called 'Quiet Reflection', although I was too mesmerised to absorb the title as well -  one day that painting will be mine... trust me I am determined, it was haunting...  Then Caro accompanied me back to Victoria and frogmarched me to the Coach station just in time to be one of the last on the coach, not a moment of friendship time wasted.  All too brief and definitely a promise of either another visit soon to town, or a visit to Dorset from Caro, where she can stay awhile.  She is an exceptional character, full of knowledge on EVERYTHING, a razor sharp mind and wit, with a gentle kindness of spirit.  My mission is to locate a man worthy of her talents; I shall work on it.

Returning to Dorset and leaving London, I felt the dream floating away, yet once we hit the New Forest it was like a love affair rekindled.  For as much as I find London as exciting and as raw as I did when I first went to work in Harrods at the age of 18 in the 1960's, I fear a week would potentially wear me out these days.  Dorset is calm, serene, reflective, spiritual and soothing, it is where I am in my life now, where I need to be and I am reminded about the conversation I had with Kristen where she said that she couldn't imagine herself living anywhere else outside of New York except in London, it suits her/them, they are cosmopolitan, trendy and totally at one with the city and whilst I envy her the advantage of being able to shop in some of the loveliest food markets and shops in the UK and mingle with colourful characters, I know I would soon yearn for the sea and the freedom, as well as the natural beauty that surrounds the area I live in... I would miss watching the sun set over a vast expanse of water, or the squally grey skies as a storm is about to break at sea, or the blinding summer glare as it bounces off the vast plateau of water as clear and smooth as glass... 
It is official I am a water sign through and through... but taking in the Big smoke has jiggled the imagination, shaken up the grey cells, reminded me there is another dimension to life.
R xx

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

A Little bit of what you fancy does you good

WOW... that came around quickly... 

I'm in London for the rest of the week picking up my UnLtd award and visiting new friends. Kristen and family, bless their hearts, have kindly invited me to stay for one night so I can't wait to meet the most important people in her life and spend time talking about food and life.  

Then on Thursday I will be meeting Caro for a good gawp at the Royal Academy's artworks sale and Pimms in the courtyard  (weather permitting of course).

For anyone who doesn't know about the funding for social entrepreneurs, check out the UnLtd website and read their terms and conditions and see if you could benefit from strong support as well as some much needed cash to kick start your project.  So far, UnLtd are proving to be easy to work with and I assume as the project deadline draws nearer, they will have a stronger presence.

Sequel to Cannes is starting to take over my life and I am thankful that this year I have the lovely Monique to help me with all the Press releases, tag lines, case studies and written text, which I hope to get into several national/regional publications.  Interest in the event has started already and the printing design is nearly ready to rock and roll.  Tickets will go on sale at Lighthouse from mid June and all the film support agencies are stepping up with their presence.  This Film networking party promises to be entertaining, fun and informative and if we are blessed with good weather on the night, everyone will be able to spill out onto the private terrace for drinks and lengthy conversations about the industry and their own projects. The short script competition and the £500 1st prize, sponsored by Creative Dorset, will also mean that the winner will buy themselves some extra freelance time to write.  Full details of the Script Prize will be launched on the night, but for anyone who writes for the screen, or in fact anyone who wants to have a crack at writing a short film, this is a perfect incentive to kick start the enthusiasm.  Location Poole, will be giving a live demonstration of their new website which helps to promote local independent film professionals as well as the wonderful locations we have scattered around the area.  Poole and the surrounding area is a rich, thick soup of spectacular landmarks and scenery and the maritime link just increases the appeal.

For anyone who would like further information about the event, they can call Lighthouse, Poole after the 17th June on 08700 668 701, for further details about the networking party. South West Screen, Location Poole, Creative Dorset, UK Trade and Investment along with Wessex Media Group and Poole Arts Development Unit, and not forgetting a representative from UnLtd, who helped make this event possible, will be there to offer their assistance and listen to individual project ideas.  Every agency is keen to see how they can help by lending their support to independent film artists, film crew and production companies as well as the screenwriters, who play such a vital part in the storytelling process.  All these agencies want to see filmmakers projects come to fruition and blossom.  

It is fair to say I am excited about this years programme of events planned, especially the live demonstration of the Sea Survival Tank, along with the special sound and lighting effects, that can be hired out to production companies.

Meanwhile, I shall soak up the friendship and enjoy the mini break from fretting about completing the painting the dining room and kitchen and making the pelmets for two upstairs bedrooms, before the next onslaught of DIY and Interior design commences again.

I'm off to pack my Mary Poppins bag and just hope that I can pack as much into it as she did.
xxx R

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

What fun...


This fabulous backdrop for our Susan's photo, was taken at Ringstead Bay, not far from Weymouth situated between Poxwell and Osmington; you cannot help but feel on top of the world when you look down at the sea below.  The sun bouncing light off the water was almost blinding and, it was pretty blustery but none the less spiritual. At the end of a day exploring the Arts in Bridport, fighting against the sun and the wind, full of the obligatory bag of chips from the harbour side waiting to be stolen by gulls the size of an albatross, and after an educational crash course for Susan in the art of Pikeyness, we sauntered back towards home, taking every opportunity to have our fill of Creations beauteous landscapes.  Homeward for another meal, another good nights sleep and the dream of a Saturday morning catch up with Sam.

Sam sent me a text from Bath on Saturday morning, to say he was on his way to join us for breakfast at the beach hut.  He arrived in an illegal amount of time as he left home at 7.15 am and arrived on our door by 8.30 ish.  Hmmm... Arriving at the chine, we became like excited school children which only added to the sense of expedition, but the enthusiasm was quenched somewhat as the lock on the beach hut door had seized fast.  Two armed men later, one weilding a crow bar and the other flashing a can of WD40, the lock opened with a little coaxing from a hunky young lifeguard, whilst the man with the crowbar was sent swiftly packing.  I had to physically restrain Susan from following the man with the can and ensconced her safely in the comfy chair, during which time I continued to unpack my Mary Poppins bag of tricks and treats.

The temperature was just about right to sit out and enjoy the sudden burst of summer heat; so it seemed fitting that we made and acknowledged an early summer tribute in the shape of a foodie celebration, by cooking a Risotto layered with chestnut mushrooms and parmesan, accompanied by a mixed green salad doused in Rosie's dressing.  This dish is simplicity itself, especially as all the cooking has to evolve from no more than a single gas ring and a single pot.

We talked about the loves and life of a she devil and received two sets of curious visitors keen to establish if other members of Gathering nuts in May have two heads or two bellies, but the sea air ensured by the time we arrived home we were all ready to eat again.  The starter I prepared was cured serrano ham, asparagus and quails eggs, although wasn't a patch on the freshly picked stems we had devoured during our stay at Little Cowarne and which was crying out for Kristen's lemony sauce to be drizzled over the legumes.  For the main course I made individual Red onion and goats cheese tarts in a filo case, set with mascapone, double cream, eggs and tarragon (actually in my opinion, the dish at better cold).

Scandal of scandal, Sam slept in my bed... however, I wish to put the record straight I was not in it! After coffee and toast he went on his merry way back to Bath and an evening of entertaining his friends.  

It had been an unplanned extra to Susan's visit and I was delighted he wanted to be with us.  He has already made a provisional booking to return during his summer break from teaching and reclaim the guest room.

On Sunday, Susan and I spent a lazy day at Kingston Lacy House and grounds.  I dozed on the lawns soaking up the rays, as Susan explored the house and marvelled at the drapes and lifestyle that the Bankes family must have enjoyed.  She also found the nursery to be enchanting and captivating and utter bliss, although I suspect the reality of living under the scrutiny and discipline of a governess was in fact far from cosy or sentimental.

Finally, Monday was upon us along with an indifferent start to the day in the form of a downpour, but it did not dampen our spirits as we set off for Swanage, stopping off at Corfe Castle with its winding, wonky streets and tightly packed houses with doors designed to accommodate easy entry for a haffle of hobbits.

A wedding party had congregated outside the church and we hovered hoping to catch a glimpse of the blushing bride as we stood melting under the noon day sun, but we grew impatient and meandered over to the 1950's steam railway stuffed to the gills with 50's and 60's memorabilia from this charming bygone era.

The sound, smell and look of the carriages reminded me of the journeys with my Aunt, from Leigh on Sea in Essex to Taffs Well station in Wales.  They had been exciting times, thick with anticipation and the holiday promise of walks in Coch Castle woods to tales of witches, dragons and trolls, or jaunts along the railway line with my uncle who worked for the rail network and took pride in showing me off to his colleagues - of course this wouldn't be allowed to happen now but back then these occurances frequently happened within this small knit community.

Finally, tearing ourselves away from Corfe, Susan and I headed to the other seaside resort of Swanage.  If it were possible to step back in time I believe Swanage could become the portal for re-entering the 50's or early 60's.  It has a quirky, pikey, reassuring charm about it, on this occasion the smell of salt and rotting seaweed perfumed the air.  The oyster bar finds itself fitting into the school of rustic charm and if you can find your way clear to walk through the sea of kiss me Kwik hats and racks of rude postcards, then a visit to the Quarr gallery or Earthlights should be high on your list.

There was a wonderful photographic exhibition and sale of iconic images taken in the 60's of The Stones, Paul McCartney, Marianne Faithful and other names synonomous with that era, but with a price tag of £2800 for a limited edition photograph, sadly it found me floating home empty handed without even the empty frame.  

From the Scott Arms in Kingston, the vista is breathtaking... far reaching views skim over the top of Corfe Castle and down towards Sandbanks.  They made the film the Mayor of Casterbridge from this pub in the 1960's or 1970's, clearly easy to see why it was chosen as a location.

Finally, all this had to end as Tuesday morning arrived along with Susan's departure back up to Durham.  Again the weather had been kind and promised to provide a fair travelling companion on her six hour journey homeward.

I was left with an urgent need to complete the half started decorating, in time for this morning's furniture delivery.  The usual sense of guilt had escaped me totally for the whole duration of Susan's and even Sam's visit.  The break had proved to be a tonic and even if internally I was obsessing and sweating the small stuff, I hope that my weekend charges had enjoyed their time in Dorset.

More images to follow... 

Friends, fun and faffing about

The lovely Susan and Sam...

Thursday arrived and following a delightful lunch at the Print Room with the writer John Foster, I picked Susan up from Bournemouth station with the sun beating down to welcome her.  Of course we went topless as we took the scenic coastal route back home.

More to follow....