I Ask My Mother To Sing (Li-Young Lee)

She begins, and my grandmother joins her.
Mother and daughter sing like young girls.
If my father were alive, he would play
his accordion and sway like a boat.
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I’ve never been in Peking, or the Summer Palace,
nor stood on the great Stone Boat to watch
the rain begin on Kuen Ming Lake, the picnickers
running away in the grass.
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But I love to hear it sung;
how the waterlilies fill with rain until
they overturn, spilling water into water,
then rock back, and fill with more.
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Both women have begun to cry.
But neither stops her song.
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Li-Young Lee
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I’ve been reading the poetry of Li-Young Lee recently.  There is something truly beautiful about his writing.  Even though Li-Young Lee is a well known poet in America, I’ve not heard of his name or writing before.  While reading his poetry it spoke to me of an experienced poet, one who considers carefully about what he wants to convey in a deeply literary sense, but still manages to create poems anyone can relate to.  He writes a lot of his childhood and family which is a subject I’m often drawn to write about myself.
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After reading I Ask My Mother To Sing it reminded me of the water lily I captured in Plantation Garden, Norwich… I thought they would go well together.  I hope you enjoy the poem as much as I did.
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If you would like to read more of Li-Young Lee’s poetry you can find a selection at the Poetry Foundation.
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While looking up who this wonderful poet was I found an old video on You Tube where he reads some of his poems and talks a little about the background of his family and where he was born in Indonesia.

If you enjoyed this video you may also like this one too, where he reads another selection of his poetry at a public event at The University Of California.  If you’ve not heard of Li-Young Lee, the introductory is well worth a listen.

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A Return To Photography

Suzy Hazelwood (CC)

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Forty years have slipped by
and I never even noticed
once more… here my feet are

The eight year old
got lost along the way
maybe I’ll find her again… somewhere

But you stand strong
unmoved
unaged
not by a single day

I want to capture
all the magic
to be left
with a little piece of you

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This poem was inspired by the picture I captured of the carousel scene last summer.  It’s the very same carousel I took a few memorable rides on at The Pleasure Beach in my childhood years while visiting the seaside town of Great Yarmouth in Norfolk.  The photo was taken with my Samsung S4mini phone.  I was hoping to take a variety of pictures of the funfair, but arrived a little late in the season and found it was closed!  If it looks ghostly… it kind of was! 😖   I’m looking forward to visiting again this year to get some vibrant funfair pictures.

I used to do a lot of photography back in the late 80’s, it became my main hobby for several years.  I took all kinds of pictures, but I found after a while I was most interested in taking portraits.  It turned out to be what I was best at, and I got into those portraits in a big way.  I really loved making people look fabulous, it was great fun.  I wish I could show you the results, but those images are way too personal to post on my blog.  I’m sure my friends from back in the 80’s (most I’ve lost touch with now) wouldn’t be too happy with me posting their portraits online!  But I do have an album on Flickr with a small selection of some of the more general pictures I took in the 80’s and 90’s.

By the time I moved to my own home in my mid twenties, I found I never had much money left to spend on photography.   It was an expensive hobby back in those days.  I didn’t use my camera for several years, and when I finally got back to it, I discovered some deterioration.  My pictures were turning out blurred, but the thought of having to spend money I didn’t really have on a camera repair caused me to entirely lose interest.  That was the end of my photography for many years.  I have posted a few pictures previously on this blog I took with my brother’s old Cannon PowerShot A610, but now, with a new camera in my hands, I think I can finally say I’ve returned to photography, and it feels wonderful!

Although high quality cameras are still very expensive, at least the processing of images doesn’t have to be costly.  I get such a thrill out of how it costs me nothing at all to get my images looking exactly how I want them.  At the moment, I don’t use Photoshop, I use a free program called Photoscape.  Obviously the options it offers will never be as vast as Photoshop, but for fairly basic image editing, plus some creative options, it’s all I need at the moment.

This year I bought a Sony A6000.  I really liked a lot of images I’d seen online taken with Sony cameras, but never thought I could afford one, as a lot of Sony cameras are at least a £1000 or more.  I bought my Sony A6000 for less than £450.  Obviously, there were a few extras to buy, and I will probably purchase other additional lenses in the near future, but I feel I got a very good deal on that camera.  I’ve barely begun to use it… I absolutely love the results!

It’s also very compact in size and incredibly lightweight, which is very important to me, as I dislike heavy bulky cameras.  If you are looking for a small camera with professional results to take on your holidays, the Sony A6000 might be perfect for that.

I’ve posted below two galleries below.  The first group were taken with my Samsung S4mini phone.  Very pleased with the images that budget priced phone takes.  The second lot of images, I took this year with the Sony A6000.  It helps a lot to have a camera where you’re not forced to look through a view finder, it allows a lot freedom to move around at all angles.  So last week, I bought some flowers, parked them in front of my bedroom window, and got shooting.  Then moved on to my vintage books… and more flowers!  I found I’m not only improving on those little still things, I really enjoy seeing the end result.

Most of the images uploaded to my Flickr page are set to Creative Commons (non commercial).  If anyone is interested in using any of them for a blog post, they are free to use… as long as I’m credited for the image back to Flickr.  I’ve had a small selection of images used since last summer, and most bloggers have been good enough to stick to the CC licence and credit me, which is really nice to see.

(Update June 2019)  I still have a Flickr page, but I no longer use it for my new creative commons images, please see my Pexels page, where you can view all my latest photos.  Every image posted on my Pexels page is free to use under a public domain licence. (But please don’t post to wallpaper sites, or create your own wallpaper website from the images, Pexels will come after if you do, they don’t want their website duplicated.  Enjoy browsing Pexels vast collection of photography, and be creative, use the images for your own blog, social media posts or printed publications).

I would like to say a big thank you to all my WordPress photographer friends for inspiring me over the years.  I’m sure your fantastic images have done a great deal in helping me to return to a forgotten hobby,  and have also taught me lot about how to see the world through a digital camera.  Thank you so much… keep taking your awesome pictures!! 😊

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The Blue Box (Amazon)

Tea Room Adventure

Biddy's Tea Room - Norwich - 3

 

My little adventure in tea and cakes-0002

Something different today – a sneaky peek of the city where I live.  In December I visited a vintage style tea room in Norwich (England).  I wish I could invite you all for afternoon tea, but hopefully this post will create the illusion you have done just that! 🙂

From the window display Biddy’s Tea Room looks more like a gift shop, and I’ve been walking past this gorgeous teashop for a long time not realizing it was somewhere to eat and just my kind of place.   That’s what happens when you live in a tourist city, you get used to the surroundings and you don’t see things in the same way as the visitors, you can end up missing out.  I shall pay more attention in the future.

Biddy’s Tea Room was created by Charlie Buchan in 2010.  She explains on her website I’ve always been interested in history and obsessed with antiques. I wanted Biddy’s to reflect the bits I loved in each era… the whimsicalness of the Victorians, the ingenuity of the Edwardians, the romance of the pre-Raphaelites and the work ethic of arts and crafts!  It’s a lot to ask-but I tried to cram as much of this into Biddy’s as I could – I always just hoped people ‘got it’?!

As you will probably see from my pictures, she really has created a wonderful glimpse into the history of afternoon tea and cake in beautiful English tea rooms.  It was like stepping back in time to a scene from an old movie.  I loved the genuine homely antique furniture and the variety of mismatched crockery.  It was just like my Grandmothers home – none of her plates, cups or saucers ever matched.

I kept saying to my brother, “I feel like we’re going meet some really interesting person from the past, perhaps Oscar Wilde sitting in an armchair writing some poetry!  It was a unique and delightfully surreal time travel experience!!

And of course, the tea and cake was delicious.  I’m looking forward to trying the restaurant upstairs to discover more of their main menu next time.  The staff were very friendly and relaxed too, and were happy for us to take some photos.  If you click on the gallery for these pictures they look so much better, there’s also an option under each picture to view them in full size.  The first two pictures and also the last one were taken by my brother, all the others are mine.

I didn’t use the flash on my camera because I wanted to capture the cosy feeling.  I was surprised I was able to get any good pictures without a lot of camera shake, I must have a more steady hand than I thought.  And if you’re wondering what that tall building with a string of Christmas lights around it is, it’s the city hall clock tower.

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I was amazed to find an excellent video on You Tube all about Biddy’s Tea Room (See further down post).  It shows all the bits I haven’t captured in the pictures, and also what it looks like in the summer season.

I’ve been living in this medieval city since 1990.  It was only meant to be temporary, I had some vague plan to live in London one day, but you couldn’t drag me away now, it is such a beautiful place to live.

Norwich has thirty-three medieval church buildings, two cathedrals, an art deco city hall and a striking Norman castle high on a hill looking down at the city centre.  Although the exterior of the castle was refaced in 1839 with Bath stone covering over the flint and Caen stone walling making the castle blend in with a lot of other new buildings of that era.  The original walls would have looked very different and can only be seen from the inside.  If you’re into historical buildings that’s a very good reason to pay it a visit and also take a look at it’s museum and scary dungeons – and believe me, they are very creepy!!

Also there are two large shopping malls, four cinemas, five theatres and a really vibrant outdoor market, trading virtually on the same spot for almost 900 years.  On Saturdays the city centre streets often come alive with buskers, and other street entertainers, we even have our own living statue of Charlie Chaplin Anthony Arnold not only performs in Norwich but has twirled that cane in Hollywood too on his many travels with his captivating performance of Charlie.

Each year in July we have a Lord Mayors Celebration, which is basically a huge carnival, including a beer and music festival, a selection of outdoor theatre productions, and a huge firework display launched from the roof of the castle as the grand finale of the evening celebrations.  Rockabilly band Derrière (from Brighton) performed at the festival just around the corner from Biddy’s Tea Room in 2012, and somehow, I managed to miss that show 😦 – they sound so good!  If you like the sound of their music you might like Battle Plan, one of their official videos.   Time to dance now!!

If anyone living in Norwich says they’re bored, it can only be a state of mind, there are so many things to do and places to visit in the surrounding area, you can never get bored living in this city.

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The Secret

Lowestoft-007-09.

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.It was strange
sitting on that bench
looking at sandcastles
that were not ours
kites stretched to the sky
with no need of our hands

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It was strange seeing children
in whirls of excitement
for beach holidays
wild fairground rides
waiting
to induce the scream
it was all so familiar

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It was strange
all of that
was no longer
you or I

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We sat quiet
serene smiles on faces
looking out to sea
as if we’d arrived to watch a show
wondering
where all the years had vanished
and how did we become
the still people
the ones slumped in deck chairs
eating sandwiches
sipping lemonade
newspapers draped on heads
shading their pink English skin
from the unexpected midday heat
eyes watching us
amused
at what our little hands could do
with a bucket
a spade
and a heap of soggy sand

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We have discovered
no matter how hard we try
to keep all we have known alive
change is always certain
time ticks
and our ways
of who we’ve become
will surprise us
again and again

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We may be
confused children
absent of Mum and Dad
empty of buckets and spades
with no desire
for castles made of sand
to cut the wind with a kite
get chills from awesome rides
or get high on game scores
at the pier arcade

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But at least
we are still
a brother
a sister
who laugh a lot
share a precious moment
and remind ourselves
appearances lie
we are the same people
we always were

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It’s all on the inside
not the outside
only we know the secret
of how to find
the real boy
the real girl

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You might be wondering if I have been to the beach recently?  I certainly have!!  Four weeks ago I finally got myself out of the city and into the fresh ocean air!   My brother said some time ago, when I had asked him what he’d like for his birthday “A trip to the beach would be good!”  We seem to running out of ideas for birthday presents these days, or perhaps we are becoming less materialistic, and ‘things’ are not so important as ‘memories’ of good days and the simple joys of life.

All the pictures in this post are mine today – a rare event on this blog!  Apart from the photo of us on the beach, which was taken either by Mum or Dad, but it’s so long ago I can’t honestly remember.  I was 3 and my brother was 9, we’re wearing jumpers because it was about this time of year, it may look sunny, but it was actually beginning to turn very cool, as it is right now.  I can feel the summer coming to a close, the air feels more crisp and the desire to wear warm things is creeping on me every day.  It feels like summer has only just arrived, and it’s over already! 😦

The beach we chose to visit was Lowestoft, in Suffolk about 22 miles from where I live.  Like a lot of seaside resorts in Britain, it doesn’t have a stunning beach, it’s rare for our beaches to be beautiful – more likely to be quirky and quaint, or in some cases downright trashy!  But we’re used to it, and it’s all we’ve got, so we enjoy them in our typically cheap and cheerful British way!

There was a specific reason for going to Lowestoft that both of us were looking forward to, I’ve explained about that near the end of this post, and it has nothing at all to do with the seaside, it might surprise you.

Lowestoft01-01This was the bench I mentioned in the poem.  Mm – a little scruffy isn’t it?  A piece missing, and it looks like it needs a good bit of restoration on the woodwork.  We bought some fish and chips for lunch and thought we’d eat them sitting in the sun looking out to sea, but everyone else had the same idea and this was the only seat on the seafront available – we could see why! gfxlovers.com/smilies  So now you know what I mean by trashy, but this is mildly trashy by some seaside standards!
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Lowestoft06-06And this was one of those kites flying high on the wind!  I was amazed I managed to get any pictures of it as the sun was so bright I could barely see the image on the camera screen and even looking through the view finder wasn’t much better.  And if it wasn’t the brightness of the sun hindering the taking of photos, it was the wind lifting my hair and waving bits of it in front of the lens just as I was about to capture a picture – a hazard of long hair!  I forgot just how wild the wind can get at the beach, and really should have tied it in a knot, stuck a hat on my head, anything but leave it loose.  I was surprised I came home with any decent pictures at all!
I can’t help thinking the smiley face on that kite looks like a relative of this little minion!! 😀
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Lowestoft08-09The beach!  This bit looks very heavy with stones, but further down the beach it’s a lot less stony and more soft sand.  I wasn’t overly happy with how this picture turned out, but I like the way the sea sparkled in the sun!
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Triton Lowestoft 03A statue of Triton commissioned in 1850 by Samuel Morton Peto, to celebrate the completion of the first phase of his development of Lowestoft sea front.  He looks a little weather-worn these days, not much of a god after all! 😉
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Flying Fifteens Scones Lowestoft 04And this would you believe it, is why our beach day had to be at Lowestoft – a strawberry cream scone!  Well, not just for the scones, but the experience of eating at the seafront restaurant called The Flying Fifteens.  It’s a wonderful little place that does really authentic traditional British food, the kind of place you might expect to meet Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple taking afternoon tea!  No fish and chips served there, or pizza, spicy curries or fajitas, but lots of sandwiches, huge selection of cakes, soups, omelets and salads, plus a long list of quality teas and coffee, so much choice that they have a separate menu for all the drinks.  Everything – and I really mean EVERYTHING served at this sea view restaurant is out of this world perfection, and such good quality food, like your mother used to make, but with a little extra deliciousness – some kind of secret they have, obviously! 😉

You can sit inside or stay out in the garden.  And it always amazes me at what a lovely atmosphere the place has, how cheerful their staff are, no grumpy waitresses in this place!  And if you’re a dog owner, all dogs are welcome in the garden, and they even provide drinking bowls with water for them – how customer friendly is that!!?  And if all that wasn’t impressive enough, they’ve won The Tea Guilds Award Of Excellence from 2006 – 20013, and they really deserve it.  It is without doubt my most favourite place to eat, they really should open one near to where I live, because I’ve totally fallen in love with it, and I want one on my doorstep! 😀
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The Flying FifteensFor those who might have stumbled across this post somewhere on the internet, if you live near by and you are wondering exactly where The Flying Fifteens is in Lowestoft, here’s how to find it.
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Flying Fifteens Lowestoft 05So an hour before we left for home, this was what we enjoyed, a late afternoon cream tea.  Words can’t really describe how good that scone tasted – it was AMAZING!  And was as filling as a small meal with thin slices of real fresh strawberries!  I didn’t have a tape measure with me on the day, but taking a guess I would say these scones including the yummy filling were about 4inches/10cms in height, impossible to bite into, we just had to carefully dismantle them in bite size pieces! 😀

If you’re wondering why a corner of this picture appears to be missing – it had me fooled for a minute too, it’s actually the colour of the table, it was white, and it’s blended with the white page here – how silly is that! 😐

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I discovered this video a few weeks ago, I thought it was so well filmed and the music goes so beautifully with it too, it makes Lowestoft almost look glamorous!  Unfortunately we never saw any surfers on our visit, but I did see some surf boards on the beach, obviously there was some hope for an opportunity to surf that day, but the sea was very calm, not good surfing conditions.  And just when I thought Suffolk didn’t have high enough waves for real surfing, I found this video.  Another surfing experience in Lowestoft, but from the 1970’s, all original cine film, a little faded with time, but so retro! 😀   I probably could have watched this as a child – if only I’d been in the right place at the right time!  Surfing In East Anglia 1970’s.

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A Rose

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There were no more words you said
none worth saying loud
only thoughts swimming wildly
running in never ending circles
wishing days could turn back

Forgiveness lingered
not daring to be
playful it danced
turning us to fools

A man
a woman
believing wounds of yesterdays war
may not be healed

Pain raged
complicated
silent
in a garden
deep among the roses
they grew with simple desire
to live – to be

The scent of rose
memories of better days
still I could not touch you
could not look to your eyes
and you… had all speech

Anger sparked
you snapped a rose from life
let it hang from your fingers
death – the end – it’s over
screamed back

You offered a sacrifice
heavy scent washed over
I saw a rose you first gave
days when we were bashful
in love and admiration

Words came sudden
death made you speak

I found your eyes
beautiful
shining with apology
mine apologised in return

Our wounds of war closed
we survived another day

But
how long can frail love
defeat monsters?

How many days
can a rose last?

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Picture: Suzy Hazelwood

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A Timeless Writers Heart

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The cover of a book
can display more fiction
than the words on the actual page
And beginnings
and endings
can beg the reader to buy
But the books
I never fall out of love with
their covers often bland
are to be
acquired
or found
by chance of being there
just a lucky day

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My mind quivers
eager with anticipation
at what my eyes will see
between the musty ancient pages
as my fingers stroke the aged and tatty skin
of a book from long ago

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Authors I’ve not heard of
but were men of great fame
in their literary day
Publications
declared to be written ‘By A Lady’
a nameless novelist
a woman
quietly competing
in a man’s world of books
All their words folded into paper
a hundred years or more
the print
waiting
to be read
or spoken
just one more time

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And now I
this woman of ebook future
and computer literate age
will absorb
the declaration
the knowledge
and the beauty
of a timeless writers heart

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Picture: Suzy Hazelwood (Pexels)

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