The writer is a lonely hunter

gailaldwin

Flaming June

June was a turbulent month primarily due to the referendum. When the results came out I was in Spain and was woken by a text from Ryanair suggesting I celebrate remaining in the EU by reserving a £9.99 flight. All was well, I thought, and I tuned into BBC radio coverage to discover that things were far from expected. It was strange receiving this news in the place where I first began to think of myself as a European. In 1986, I lived in Santiago de Compostela, shared a tiny flat in Plaza San Agustin where  I was woken each morning by stall holders preparing for the daily market. I have to thank Brian Henry who encouraged me to study while living there and this set me on a route to gaining a university degree. I made friends, explored the cities and the countryside in my Mini Traveller and built a strong and enduring love of the place. I’m truly devastated that the referendum has robbed me of my European identity and feel that so many opportunities may be lost. It was certainly a flaming June, but not due to the weather.

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Gail and Cathie, Malpica, Galicia

For the last three weeks I’ve been travelling  with Cathie on one of her biannual trips from Australia. (We met in 1981 on a double-decker bus headed for Kathmandu). She has found my obsession with tapping into Brexit news on my iphone and seeking support from FB friends to be curious. She is of the opinion I should accept the majority decision and if this had been an election, I absolutely could. But, the referendum result has such huge implications and challenges what I know to be true: collaboration is of benefit to everyone. It pains me to think about a disconnect from Europe where I’ve found friendship, enjoyed learning and developed intercultural projects.

Thanks to the internet, I’ve signed petitions and emailed my MP. I joined a rally in London and have fallen out with my husband. (He voted leaIMG_0864ve but we don’t talk about it any more.) On the upside, I’ve seen several shows in London and spent a day at Wimbledon. After queuing from 6am, Cathie and I got tickets on court 2. It was the second day of the tournament and we watched Australians Kyrgios and Tomic win their matches. (The Fanatics were entertaining, too, with their timely chants.)

I guess it’s time to enjoy the summer and wait to see what autumn will bring.

 

 

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Travel (and writing)

I’ve had a recent success with travel writing – my submission about a journey to Enga Province in Papua New Guinea was highly commended in the Mairi Hedderwick Travel Writing Award. (Have a look on the link, where I have a short bio and a photo!) As a prize I’ve been given a £200 grant towards a course at Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s Creative Writing Centre. I’m looking forward to heading north later this year.

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Here’s a photo from Enga.

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Sandsfoot Castle

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I ate this for breakfast at 10am following a forty minute walk from the centre of Weymouth. (I must say a cream tea is remarkably enhanced by some fresh strawberries in addition to the clotted cream and jam.) In the background is Sandsfoot Castle, the ruins of a Henrician blockhouse, built to defend the south coast of England following Henry VIII’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon and his break with the Roman Catholic Church. Over time, the cliff on which it is built became eroded by the sea and most of the gun floor of the castle fell into the sea. What remains is a ruin that’s fun to explore and gives an idea about the construction of a Tudor castle.

Back in Weymouth, there was plenty more activity with a folk festival in full swing and dancers everywhere including these lovely ladies.

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Now at home, there’s sunshine on the deck, and I think it’s time for my first Pimms of the summer.

Cheers!

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Story Slam, North Dorst

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Scripted Reading

Scripted readingThere is going to be a scripted reading of screenplays written as part of a Bridport Arts Centre course which was delivered by Hester Schofield. My screenplay titled Love Hearts is included in the programme alongside Bertha’s Legacy by Elizabeth Friend, Bloodlines by Maya Pieris, Second Fiddle by Maria Pruden-Medus and Christmas Haunting by Sarah Scally. Each reading lasts approximately 10 minutes and lines will be delivered by actors from Bridport Arts Centre. As my screenplay is about improving the life chances of an illiterate young homeless man, members of the youth theatre BACStage have been approached to take the parts of the two teenage leads.

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Sicily

I’ve wanted to visit Sicily ever since I saw The Godfather. The film was released in 1972, so I must have watched it a bit later on the television. While chatting with other tourists, several mentioned that scenes from the film In Postino prompted their visit. I can’t remember seeing that film but like us, they were rather off-piste as Il Postino was filmed in Messina and the location for The Godfather was in towns outside Taormina. However, when we reached Ragusa, we learnt that this was the location for the Inspector Montalbano TV series, so we did finally make it a film location.

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Beaumont Park Poetry Trail

Beaumont Park is a fabulous 20 acre site on the outskirts of Huddersfield. Constructed in 1880s it was accessed by a tramway from the town and boasted a castle, pavilion and bandstand. According to Henry F Beaumont, the landowner who provided fields for the conversion, ‘Parks are necessary for large and populous towns to increase the happiness and promote good health and elevate the minds of people.’

The Friends of Beaumont Park work with Kirklees Council to restore the park and I’m proud to be part of a project which aims to bring art and nature together. My poem, Walk was selected from entries to the poetry trail competition and is now on permanent display.

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My poem is one of 25 included in the poetry trail. The acrylic plaques work well displaying every  12 line poem to great effect. It’s wonderful to wander around the gardens and read poetry written by the very young and the more mature. Indeed, I was so impressed with the whole idea of bringing poetry into a public space, I talked with one of the organisers of the poetry trail to find out whether is possible replicate the project elsewhere. Read the rest of this entry »

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Serious walk

Being such a lovely morning, there was no excuse. I’ve managed to put off doing a decent walk every weekend this year. Usually I claim there isn’t enough time and we settle from a stomp along the sea front from Preston to Weymouth. Today, the glaze of blue sky and warm sun had me dig out my walking boots and we headed off.

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Notice the eucalyptus tree!

I chose a walk from cuttings David had saved from a magazine. I ruled out the strenuous ones, and we settled on a circular walk around Corscombe. However, when we’d gone about a quarter of the way (and David was struggling with the instructions) he realised page two of the route was from a totally different walk. Not being ones to retrace our steps, we followed our noses and found a path.

Sheep followed us at one point. thumb_IMG_0603_1024

IMG_0604And the clumps of snow drops were compensation for trailing through mud.

We’ll be better planned, next time.

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The Beacon, Issue 1

s245645246236175034_p1_i1_w320 This time last year I was regularly travelling to Bournemouth to attend CPD training in workshop facilitation offered by Lit Up! Writing. (You can find a post about the programme here.) The latest Lit Up! initiative sees the publication of poetry and prose by  writers living in Dorset and beyond. The Beacon, Issue 1 is an ingenious anthology compiled to reflect the theme of performance. Act 1 includes work by fellow Wimborne Writing Group members Mary Bevan and Richard Green. My flash fiction ‘Graft’ appears at the end of Act 2, while Kim West (who also attended the Lit Up CPD training) has a poem in Act 3. Biographies for the writers appear under ‘curtain call’. It’s a pleasure to have my work included in such an innovative anthology. Well done to Ben Johnson for putting it together. Copies of the anthology can be purchased here.

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Teaching in Wales

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This is the view from the third floor office where I work at the University of South Wales, Treforest Campus. It’s been impossible to take a photograph until today, when it’s finally stopped raining. I’m enjoying my time on the campus. It’s great working with enthusiastic students and I’m finally able to make use of the library for my PhD research after relying on remote access as a distance learning student.

Most weeks I leave home for work at 6am, arriving around 3 hours later and begin teaching at 11am on Monday. I stay in Pontypridd most weeks from Monday until Thursday, when I deliver a session with third year students. This talented group are working towards a major project for submission later in the year. I’ve also been busy marking assignments which critically compare examples of historical and contemporary children’s literature.

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