the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other authors

The joy of an itinerant life

I’m back in Dorchester after five and a half months away. Although the weather is autumnal, I’m still feeling the buzz of summer. We had a splendid time in London, renting a room from friends and travelling into town for visits to theatres and other venues. I enjoyed Witness for the Prosecution based on an Agatha Christie short story and staged in County Hall. My grandpa worked for the London County Council until retirement and it was great to be in a grand committee room and imagine he was once there.

The one musical I saw was Dear Evan Hansen about a young man who sells his soul to Facebook. I enjoyed the show where meaningful songs and ideas around redemption provide counterbalance to tragedy. Twice we went to Holland Park Opera where free shows were offered on the steps outside the building. Here’s a photo of two performers from the opera Little Women.

Our niece sang and played during Piano Friday nights at the Tabard Inn in Chiswick.

We also did a lot of walking in preparation for our trip from Porto to Santiago de Compostela at the beginning of September. It wasn’t a proper camino as we didn’t have enough time to cover the distance but with friends we walked 15 miles each day for one week (and took three train journeys). Here are some highlights.

It’s great coming home after an extended period away to see Dorset in a new light. I’m looking forward to what the autumn has to offer.

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Busy bees

June has been packed with activities! As we only have a fortnight left until we leave for London, we’re trying to make the most of our remaining time in Edinburgh. My son visited last week and we went on a couple of outings which involved obligatory photos:

A view of Arthur’s Seat from Blackford Hill
Jonny and David in Circus Lane, Stockbridge
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Almost a year in pictures

It’s time to thank you for following my blog during 2021 and to wish you all the very best for the coming year. As a way to wind up events, please find some photos of our travels since release from lockdown.

Lambs in Dorchester.
A long weekend in Tenby.
View from a writing retreat at Cape Cornwall.

Our itinerant life continues in 2022 and I look forward to sharing more of our experiences with you. In the meantime, here’s wishing you and yours all the best for 2022.

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Moving on

We are packing up our house, getting it ready to let it over the spring and summer. This will leave us free to wander about the UK and we’re aiming to spend time in Edinburgh and Cambridge. Meanwhile, we’re making the most of the things Dorset has to offer. At the weekend, we went on a 17km walk through the fields and here are some of the things we saw.

Dorset is a beautiful county. Did you spot the first bluebells? In the next couple of weeks there will be carpets of blue in the woodlands. It almost seems a pity to be leaving…

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Lots to get excited about

With the opportunity to meet up to six other people outside from 29 March (when some of the lockdown restrictions are lifted in England) I find my diary filling up. My mum is visiting from 1 April (she’s in our bubble) and my daughter returns to Dorchester until her new-build house is ready. I haven’t seen either since December when we had a pre-Christmas celebration so I’m really looking forward to catching up. Mum and my son share the same birthday in April so there will be more celebrations before she goes home.

In other news, David and I achieved a long held ambition yesterday. The windows of our house look over water meadows to a ridge with a clump of trees. Setting off at ten o’clock, we stomped beside hedgerows and through fields to reach the trees ninety minutes later. They were not as we expected, with the evergreens hiding two huge water tanks but the deciduous tree with its many trunks and extensive roots was fascinating.

We covered 15km in total and saw other interesting things along the way.

Our plans to visit Scotland depend on further lockdown restrictions being lifted but we will definitely be heading off in the coming months. Arrangements are confirmed that will enable us to spend time in Cambridge over the summer. And now the clocks have changed to British Summer Time, things are definitely looking up.

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Cool new photography feature

I’ve just worked out how to use a slider to compare photos. Thrilled by this discovery, I wanted to share it with you immediately. The photo on the left is the view from my writing room yesterday and the right shows this morning.

View from my window on consecutive days.

It’s so much duller today but but I’m excited by the possibilities of this new feature. Watch this space as I try to improve my photography, and explore the benefits of WordPress further.

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Lockdown walks

Although currently in lockdown, we are allowed to take daily exercise. David and I are in the habit of running one day and walking the next. We don’t run together as he’s much faster than me. On walking days, we cover a 10km loop that takes us along Poundbury hill fort to the village of Bradford Peverell and then through Charminster on the outskirts of Dorchester to home.

Here are some of the photos I’ve taken on recent walks. From flooded fields, to early buds, lambs in the fields and cottage homes, an azure sky to rain afoot. I hope you enjoy these images of Dorset.

How are you coping during the pandemic?

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Art under the lockdown lens

In a determined effort to make the most of our freedom before lockdown, David and I visited the Russell-Cotes Gallery in Bournemouth on Saturday. Formerly the home of Merton and Annie Russell-Cotes, the building was completed in 1901 and is stuffed with paintings, sculptures and mementos from overseas travels enjoyed by the couple.

Photo: Ethan Doyle White

Unlike the photo above, it was pouring with rain when we visited, as evidenced by this photo of the leaking conservatory.

Fortunately, the rest of the house is dry! Until 18 April 2021, there is a special exhibition titled Hidden Highlights Life in Lockdown which comprises eighty of the galleries ‘lesser works’ taken out of storage to replace planned exhibitions which had to be rescheduled due to Coronavirus. The gallery invites visitors to reinterpreted the paintings on display through a lockdown lens. Some of the works include hilarious captions which had me laughing out loud. What do you think of these examples?

Shall we drive to Corfe Castle to test our eyesight?

The hand washing and hand sanitising inspection was very thorough
Socially-distanced dating Georgian style

The exhibition has inspired me to run a social media campaign to promote Pandemonium along the same lines. Here’s the first example:

Ghost Buster! Corona Buster!

Stay safe and well.

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Celebrating Libraries Week

Libraries Week is an annual event which takes place during the second week of October. This year it runs from 5–10 October 2020 and aims to celebrate all that UK libraries have to offer. And it’s not just public libraries that participate but school libraries, workplace libraries and university libraries.

Titles available for loan through Dorset Libraries

In Dorset, our libraries have become community hubs where so much more is on offer than the loan of books, audiobooks and DVDs. Babies and young children enjoy songs and rhymes, school children join fun learning activities, residents can find out more about managing health and there’s access to wifi and games. Help is available at the library to find out about employment opportunities, and support to start a new hobby or set up a business. With so much going on, libraries are well worth celebrating.

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Good company at Victorina Press

Established in 2017, Victorina Press believes in bibliodiversity. This is where small independent presses create a healthy publishing eco system by ensuring new and undiscovered authors reach an audience. I feel lucky to be published with Victorina Press alongside Rhiannon Lewis author of My Beautiful Imperial a Water Scott recommended historical novel, Chris Fielden author of Alternative Afterlives, fellow Dorset writer Vicki Goldie author of the cosy crime Charters Mysteries series and more recently Amanda Huggins, with her coming-of-age novella All Our Squandered Beauty.

I first met Amanda at a Christmas party celebrating our first flash fiction collections published in 2018 by Chapeltown Books. You can read more about Amanda’s Brightly Coloured Horses here. Amanda went on to have two further collections published by Retreat West Books and a poetry pamphlet which won a Saboteur Awards prize in 2020.

Now Amanda is an author with Victorina Press, I had the pleasure to receive an early copy of her novella for review:

All Our Squandered Beauty is a coming-of-age novella set in the 1970s where the protagonist, Kara, a fisherman’s daughter struggles to come to terms with the loss of her father. She rejects the prospect of early marriage that her best friend settles for and focuses instead on future studies in London. During the summer, she spends time on a Greek island where she learns more about herself and her relationships with others. Kara can’t see that she’s emotionally fragile but gradually she learns some mistakes can be rectified while others she has to live with. The sea provides a backdrop to the narrative, sometimes powerful ‘to see the water change from grey to ink and the sky deepen to fire’ and at other times benign, ‘millpond calm, a deep deep blue.’ This is a wonderful read filled with tenderness, charm and hope.

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You can purchase All Our Squandered Beauty now from the Victorina Press shop and it will be available from early 2021 through Waterstones, Foyles and Amazon.

 

 

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