Tag Archives: Daily Prompt

A Post A Day Photo Challenge

A Post a day photo challenge.  A 365 day challenge.

Boxing day dawn-2

From 01 January 2015 I am going to post one of my photographs each day.  I am keen to improve my photography so where possible I will look to explore things away from my usual subject – gig photography – so I will be looking for interesting subjects and hopefully interesting people.  It should be fun and I hope I will learn a lot along the way. 🙂

It would be great to take some photographers along for the journey.  It is a big task, a shot a day for a whole year, but think how much we could learn from each other.  We could exchange tips, talk about techniques and offer supportive critiques.  If you would like to join in then simply post your picture on your own blog from new years day and leave a pingback.  With a few participants it can be a lot of fun and a huge learning opportunity for those looking to improve their photography.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Getting Seasonal.”

At the risk of sounding like Mr E Scrooge I shall start by saying that I am not usually a big fan of Christmas.  I dislike being force fed a diet of how it is the most wonderful time of the year, how everything should be perfect and the struggle to try to find the perfect gifts for people in overcrowded shops.  The stress of trying to create the perfect meal on Christmas day and so on.  I also detest the fact that these days Christmas is more about how much shops and retailers can get you to spend than it is about a religious holiday.

This year however things are different.  Tomorrow my wife and I are off to a little one day festival.  Eight live bands over 12 hours in a heated marquee, a range of cask ales and over 30 ciders on offer 🙂 .

On Tuesday my wife leaves her job ready to have three weeks of before taking on a new challenge in the New Year.  On Christmas Day we are going to visit my sister so no cooking to do.  On New Years Eve we are going to my other sisters, again no stress or no cooking to do.  In short all the pressure is off us this year and that is why I am looking forward to christmas for the first time in years 🙂

Merry Christmas and a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year to all of you.

I love free write tasks.  I don’t know why but they always arrive just when I am in the mood for a streams of consciousness piece.  I had already been stimulated this morning, unsurprisingly by a piece of music I listened to when I was on my daily dog walk. I was at a gig on Tuesday evening and the support act was a young folk singer named Will Varley.  I got talking to Will after his set and he asked me to write a review on his latest album.  Regular readers will know that i do a lot of album reviews and was delighted to be asked to do this one.

As I was listening to the Album “As The Crow Flies” I got to a track called ‘When You’re Gone’ the song starts with two amazing lines;

“Well her eyes were as wild as a Cornish storm,

Her heart like the cliffs, all battered and worn”

What a stunning lyric!  It throws up images of a wild eyed free spirited stormy and angry woman.  I see bright blue eyes, touched with anger, perhaps in the midst of an argument.  Her anger perhaps a response to mistreatment or hurt over years.  Treatment that has worn her down and that has bruised and battered her heart, shaking her ability to trust and to love.  Perhaps she has had a succession of painful blows in her life, small painful things that over tie have eroded her self worth and confidence in the way that the seas gradually wear down those wild windswept cliffs.  Is she standing on the edge of a precipice, a personal conflict.  Is there a crisis that has her on the edge of a wild Cornish cliff as the storm batters the Coastline?  Is she standing there today as a wild atlantic storm approaches the UK, the effect of a so called ‘weather bomb’ that is due to arrive later today?

Isn’t it amazing what one or two well written song lines can through up.

This weeks writing Challenge; Digging for Roots

100 years ago J B Woodburn said of the ‘Ulsterman’:  “He is determined to the verge of stubbornness and will accept no compromise; stern, dogged, and strong of purpose; independent, self-contained, and self-reliant, able to stand up on his own feet, and intensely proud of the fact. He has the passion, alertness and quickness of the Celt in addition to the adventurous spirit of the Norseman. He is steadfast and industrious beyond most races. In his uncultivated state he is blunt of speech and intolerant of shams, and lacks the attractiveness of manner of the Southerner”.

I think that this describes the Ulsterman and indeed myself perfectly, I would add a few observations of my own.  The Ulsterman is sometimes scathing, dryly humorous and rarely suffers fools at all (never mind gladly).  Again I would include these traits in my own ‘pen picture’.  Sadly there are a couple of other common traits that I (thankfully) do not share.  The Ulsterman has a view of gender roles that borders on Misogamy and all too often carries an overt religious and racial prejudice that borders on sectarianism and frequently spills over into violence and murder.

Growing up in Northern Ireland in the 1960’s and 1970’s was challenging, sectarianism had spilt over into terrorism and the Army was on the street.  In some ways life continued as normal but security checkpoints, being body searched going into shops and seeing armed soldiers on the street was a part of daily life.  As terrorism took hold both sides of the community retreated deeper into their Loyalist or Republican enclaves and distrust grew creating a king of religious apartheid.  I come from a large family, my father was one of eleven, my mother one of six.  When we were all together the atmosphere was raucous and making fun of each other was the norm.  If you showed any weakness you would be pulled to pieces, it sounds brutal and it often was.  It was rarely malicious, it was meant in fun, but being the butt of other peoples ‘fun’ can still hurt and be damaging.  Over time you learn to hide your emotions, to build walls.  I believe that developing this trait is directly responsible for my being a depressive later in life.  I learned to bury my emotions, to keep them in until the dam burst at the expense of my mental health.

At around the age of 9 my family moved from Belfast to a small seaside village some 20 miles away. it was a pretty idillic environment, beautiful beaches, open countryside and the freedom to roam.  We  were often outdoors from early morning to late evening and we spent our time outdoors, swimming, climbing trees, building dens and hanging out with our friends.  I have no doubt that this environment led directly to my love of nature and the outdoors, I am never so happy as when I am out walking and enjoying the countryside.

At 16 I left home and travelled to the South of England to join the Navy.  It separated me from my family and friends, and in the days before air travel, mobile phones and e-mail it was very difficult  to maintain contact with those back home.  Joining the services exposed me to a whole new way of life and to people from different backgrounds.  It was immediately apparent to me that I did not care what religion or social background people came from, if they were open and friendly that was good enough for me.  These changes undoubtably led to my abhorrence of prejudice, discrimination and inequality in all its forms.

Growing up I detested school, I had always been a bright kid but looking back in hindsight I can now see how bad the teaching was at my school.  In the late 1980’s I decided that I wanted to improve my education and took a degree course with the Open University.  I was hooked. I immediately developed a love of independent learning, I developed a more questioning mind and learned never to take things at face value.  I learned a lot more about politics and economics and how the less well off in society are often demonised by the law, the media and the ruling classes.  This, without doubt, deepened my understanding of social issues and my belief that it must be possible to improve social mobility through education and welfare support.   It strengthened my beliefs that a fairer and more equal society is not just desirable, it is imperative.

Obviously as I matured, married, had children and faced all of the challenges that life sends our way, I have had many more experiences that have changed my life, my thinking and my health, but I think those are stories for another day.

Photography 101 – Edge

Todays Photography 101 assignment is to display a photograph emphasising an edge.  Happily for me I went out on an all day Photoshoot on Saturday and a number of the shots I took were taken specifically to emphasise edges and lines.  I hope you like them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Edges

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Grateful and Guilty.”

Anyone who has ever read my blog will know that music is a huge part of my life, it cheers me, moves me, touches me and lifts me up.  Put simply music is a huge part of my life.  After my family, my friends and my dogs it is probably the most important part of my life.

I don’t feel guilty about it, I celebrate it.  When the music I love isn’t popular I don’t see that as a guilty pleasure, I see it as a reason for celebration especially if I can share my love of that piece of music with others.

I love all sorts of music, Rock, Punk, Folk, Singer Songwriter, Reggae, Ska, blues, Jazz even classical.  I am not a big fan of what young people call R n B or most rap music, I am not keen on mainstream pop music either but I am proud to stand up and shout from the rooftops “Music I Love You!”

Daily prompt – Good Tidings

For todays Daily prompt I get to go back in time to meet myself for a coffee (or a beer) to discuss the most rewarding, the most challenging things I have to look forward to.

Ten years ago I was recovering from my first major bout of depression.  I had fought my way back to work and really didn’t know where my career was heading.  I would want to give myself one piece of advice because that piece of advice has a major bearing on all three of the things listed above.  The advice is very simple and something I would ask everyone to keep to the forefront of their minds as the travel through life.

Trust your instincts!

Sounds easy doesn’t it?  Let me tell you a little of my tale.  As I was returning to work after a bout of depression I was asked to take on a project introducing a competency framework into my workplace.  This was an attempt to reduce every role in the organisation to a set of core competencies that people would be assessed against.  Now to be fair it sounded pretty dull and I suspected I would meet a lot of resistance, especially at senior levels in the organisation.  However my gut said this would be a good opportunity.  I went for it.  It was fairly dull, but it wasn’t overly challenging as I was already a qualified assessor for National Vocational Qualifications and this was essentially the same thing.  The good thing was that I was largely left alone to get on with it, no deadlines, very little pressure.

After a year or so of fairly dull endeavour I was asked to take on a much larger but related project.  I knew this was going to be more pressured and that I would now be supervising a project team.  I knew it would be a challenge but it felt right so again I accepted.  It meant 18 months of frantic hard work, but it was the most rewarding period of my whole career.  I was able to surround myself with keen, eager, ‘can do’ people.  I frequently had to work very long hours and I guess my health suffered a little but I enjoyed every single day.  Over 18 months my team and I scoped, designed and brought into existence a training programme that would be undergone by every member of the organisation.  The programme was nationally accredited by the UK government and the team won numerous national and local awards.  I was then asked to manage the programme, again it felt right.  I recruited and trained a new team to deliver the programme, again I was surrounded by keen, positive and willing staff.  Every single day was a joy.

I was then asked to take on a new job, a promotion, more money, more responsibility and very exciting.  The problem was I didn’t want to leave what I had built.  The teams I was now being asked to lead ad a reputation for being negative and difficult.  It felt wrong but I decided to go for it anyway.  To be honest I put the money ahead of job satisfaction and I paid for it.

I was now surrounded by nasty, negative, underhand people and every day was a misery.  I trusted people even when it felt wrong.  I put my credibility on the line to protect people I knew deep down were not deserving of my support.  In the end it broke me, ruined my health and took me into the darkest times of my life and eventually lead to early retirement through ill health.  I am still recovering.

Those instincts also told me that music was my salvation and that it would lead to some of the happiest times of my life.  My attendance at music festivals over the years has lead to my making a whole new circle of friends.  Friends who caring, giving, generous and fun.  People who expect nothing from you but your friendship, people that you instinctively know you can trust, who share your values and just want to have a good time.  That piece of advice may be simple but it is rarely wrong.  Trust your instincts, they rarely let you down.