Ilkley Literature Festival 2013


Each October the pretty Yorkshire town of Ilkley is host to the Ilkley Literature Festival, the largest in the North of England. Since 1973 celebrities launching autobiographies and also people who write real books have been regularly spotted in the town.

This year I booked onto a short story workshop given by Char March, who writes successful fiction, poetry and plays. She is funny, lively and a tiny bit scary.

She first announced to us all that she was “ a raving lesbian” and then turned to one of the only two men in the room and said “but you look very nice.”

Having got our attention she set us a series of challenges and told us no-one was allowed to apologise for their efforts. This was a good move as apologising is a default setting with the English and while it is perhaps laudably modest, it wastes a lot of time.

Char got stories out of everyone and encouraged us all. Her approach was straight forward and challenging but it got results.

“Write a story about a chase, you’ve got 10mins”

After the first 5 mins when every corny chase plot that I have ever seen downloaded from my brain and I couldn’t do anything with any of it, there was a very tense pause in cerebral activity and then thankfully I did have an idea I could work with. Leaving just a few minutes to write three sentences: a beginning, a middle and an end and the time was up.

Then it was  “write about this picture”, “ write the ending” “now write the beginning” and two hours later we emerged dazed but inspired. So thank you, Char March for pushing us past the fear of writing. You are in the right job.


Pianos in public places – St. Pancras station

DSCN3149There are two street pianos at St. Pancras International Station– one is located near the Eurostar arrivals gate and the other in the main shopping arcade. They may be part of UK artist Luke Jerram’s “Play Me, I’m Yours” ongoing artwork which has installed more than 700 pianos in public places in cities worldwide, but I don’t think they are because Jerram’s projects are temporary and these pianos are being regularly repaired and retuned courtesy of the station management. They are played by members of the public for a minute or an hour by day and in the evening. It’s lovely, even the occasional bum note!

On our way back home from the R.A. Australia exhibition and with 20 mins to spare before our train I managed to persuade my friend to play something on the blue piano in the main shopping arcade. She chose the  “alternative” Australian national anthem.“The Song of Australia” written by English born poet Caroline Carleton in 1859 with music composed by the German born Carl Linger.

Some people looked and smiled, some were too shy to look but were still listening. See the blue piano and listen to more playing in the station by clicking on the link below.

Novice blogger- Six months review

I learned the hard way about copyrighting images when I found my post about architectural model making had been reblogged. No message, just a link. I found it on a tacky estate agent’s blog in Jogjakarta. They obviously wanted the images of the cute model houses but had got the whole post. All the text was in Malay except for me rambling on about living in Kent. It could not have meant anything to them. Hilarious, but also very annoying. And I kid you not, there were some dreadful looking properties on that site, they needed to trick the buyers somehow! But not at my expense. Thank goodness for the WordPress Trash button:)


Apart from that it’s been all good. I am delighted to be able to showcase the lives of other Nomad Sproggs in the monthly interview, not only are they interesting in their own right and very popular with viewers but they offer many insights into my life and the lives of family members.

Thanks very, very much to those of you who are following or liking my blog. I really appreciate your support and treasure every like or comment you have taken the time to write.

It’s been great to read and talk to other bloggers. Thanks very much to Tania, Ashlee Cowles, Tish Farrell, Greg Fallis and particularly Frizztext who advised me and others on how to create an archive and makes such concise and supportive comments, all in a second language. Full marks FT!

And not forgetting a big thank you and love to my photographer son Joe who inspired me and supported me in setting up the blog in the first place and my IT savvy daughters and husband for their input. I only occasionally get likes or comment from them on posts but I understand that’s the norm for bloggers, which saves me getting upset about it. 🙂

I’ve learned a lot, much of the language was new to me as well as the technology, but WordPress is helpful and intuitive so even a novice can pick things up as they go along. And I finally get hyperlinks. Yay!

So, steady and satisfying are the words I would choose to describe my progress as a blogger in the last six months. I have 29 very much appreciated followers and I’ve been viewed 850 times by people in 22 countries. I love being a blogger!