the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other Dorset writers

Anticipating Bidibidi and Yumbe

I arrived in Uganda on 7 December and in all the time since I’ve been anticipating what it will be like on placement with VSO at the Bidibidi refugee settlement near Yumbe. Whenever, I told anyone I was heading to Yumbe the response was invariably the same. A little sigh and a rubbing of my shoulder followed. One can interpret this in many ways. What I already knew about the area is that it’s been under-resourced for decades and that it’s fairly remote from any large centre. The people I spoke with also offered two other pieces of information about Yumbe:

  • it’s very hot
  • the road is very bad

Although I’ve undertaken further research about the area and the settlement, it’s difficult to imagine what it will actually be like to live and volunteer there. So, I’d like to share with you my first impressions of Yumbe and will fill you in with details about Bidibidi as I get to know the place. However, this won’t be for another couple of days. My scheduled departure for placement was postponed yesterday. I arrived at the office ready to load the vehicle with furnishings for my rented house and pile in my suitcases. Only the car wasn’t in the office compound. It was at the garage and hadn’t yet been fixed. It’s likely that I’ll now leave on Wednesday instead. So now I’m back at Sjarlot’s house and waiting … anticipating Bidibidi and Yumbe.

In the meantime, I have writing to complete. I’m working on a new comedy sketch show as part of 3-She. We’re hoping to get this staged in Dorset sometime in the autumn. WhatsApp video calling allows me to collaborate with my fellow writers Maria Pruden and Sarah Scally. During a recent video call the dogs in the compound were barking so much that the sound carried and unsettled Maria’s cat. Amazing that dogs in Uganda can make a Dorset cat arch its back!

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Good news: it’s all happening at the minute

Firstly, my interview ‘a conversation…’ is on the Greenacre Writers’ site now. Why not pop over and have a read?

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Secondly, I have a poem in the fabulous print publication Words for the Wild. You can read more about the project here.

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And lastly, I’m off to the Thomas Hardy Society‘s fiftieth conference this evening to hear Paul Henry read from his acclaimed poetry collections The Brittle Sea and Boy Running. It will be good to touch base with Paul again (we were both lecturers at the University in South Wales in 2015).

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Fashion as an inspiration for writing

The Wimborne Writing Group went on a summer outing this week to the Blandford Fashion Museum. Tucked away behind the market square in a delightful Georgian house, the fashion collection of the founder, Mrs Betty Penny, forms the basis of the displays. I loved looking at garments from the 1960s and 1970s and remembered owning dresses with Laura Ashley flower prints. My favourite exhibit was a mini dress and hot pants set made from lime green cotton with white trim. It was sleeveless with off centre decorative lacing on the skirt in matching white cotton.

Sarah Barr  who leads the  Wimborne Writing Group, provided some prompts for writing as we browsed the displays. She suggested we find an outfit we liked and to imagine:

  • who the owner would have been
  • what they were like
  • their name, age and occupation

Why don’t you have a go at writing a short piece of prose by using Sarah’s prompts and applying them to this lovely exhibit?

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1960s Mini Dress and Hot Pants Set

Get in touch if you’re willing to share your story.

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The calm after the storm

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Having seen the waves crashing over Porthleven on the television, we decided to make a visit to the fishing port near Helston during our weekend in Cornwall. The sun shone and everything was very calm when we arrived. Porthleven’s most recognisible building the Bickford-Smith Institute with its 70 foot tower had sustained only a few broken windows that were boarded.

Here’s another photo showing a very calm sea.

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Now, at the end of the half term break and the weather is looking up again.

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Update: Bookshops in Dorset

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Following my tour of independent bookshops a few years ago, I thought it was time for an update.  I’ve honoured each bookshop with a ‘best of’ category, hoping this might tempt you to visit.

Best of bookshops for atmosphere: Serendip, Lyme Regis

Situated in the seaside town, this bookshop is a must for all visitors.  Once inside, the atmosphere tempts you to linger, with great lighting and eclectic background music.  Step further into the shop and you’ll find seating for comfortable book-browsing.

Best of bookshops for location: The Book Shop, Bridport

 

 

Directly opposite Buckey Doo Square, where the weekly market sprawls across the pavement, you’ll find Book Shop. Right at the heart of the town, Book Shop does what it says on the sign, sells books to customers in a knowledgable, straightforward and efficient manner.

Best of bookshops with a bonus: Winstone’s, Sherborne

This is one of the largest bookshops I’ve come across, double fronted with a generous children’s section. The shop is easy to navigate and has staff on hand to answer queries. As a bonus, Winstone’s also sells  delicious coffee.

Best of bookshops with friendly staff: Gullivers, Wimborne Minster

Close to the Minster, Gullivers is a family run business, committed to community involvement. The staff are enthusiastic about their role in promoting reading with families and children and organise book-related events such as the Wimborne Literary Festival.

Best of bookshops for quirky stock: Black Pug Books, Wimborne Minster

This bookshop sells ‘loved and used books’ and is well worth a visit.  Occupying the front room of Victoria Sturgess’s house, you’ll soon feel at home there, poring over the shelves.

Best of Bookshop I’m planning to visit: Westbourne Book Shop, Bournemouth

Owned by the Angel family who also run Gullivers in Wimborne, this shop provides a good excuse to visit Bournemouth (as if you need one). There’s also the Westbourne Book Binge to look forward to in 2018.

Best of Dorchester: Waterstones

Staff at Waterstones in Dorchester are amazingly helpful and the manager, Jan Jaggard, is generous in supporting workshops delivered by the Dorset Writers’ Network.  There will be a flash fiction workshop hosted at Waterstones on 13 May 2018. Click here for more details.

With all these shops selling a range of high quality literature, it’s no wonder the county is full of people interested in books, reading and writing.

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