Ra Ra Rasputin

Sorry about the title but at least it fits the location! Just back from a long day at the Hermitage. One can certainly understand why there was a revolution in 1917 the opulence of the Russian Royal Family is truly staggering. Interesting how Soviet period has virtually disappeared from sight here in St Petersburg. It is a beautiful city and masses to look at.

Enjoyed looking at the art a great collection of French Impressionists. My visit to the Winter Palace will enhance future tellings of a comic Russian Folk Tale (a favourite at Wick Court). Also brought a fantastic Russian Folk Tale book to develop my repertoire. Will blog properly when back home.

A Whiter Shade of Pale

I have just been to the Tip getting rid of a collection of old paint tins so that gave me today’s title. I had also just watched Procol Harum on T.V. singing the above song;so it all comes together! A great song and one of the evocative sounds  of my formative years.

For once a fortnight ahead with no Story Telling so it means the voice gets a rest! We are off to St Petersburg later this week instead! Really looking forward to this my first visit to Russia. So if you are trying to get hold of me for a booking I may not be able to get back to you for a few days.

I am revisiting one of my stories I wrote about ten years ago. It was originally written for a school project based on Degas “Beach Scene” painting that is currently in the National Gallery. I am hoping that although written for school I can redo it for an adult audience. I have a Gig for adults next month so hopefully I can add it to the stories I hope to tell.

Had a great ride yesterday with one of my pals Peter. It is a tradition that we have coffee and cake. Well the cup of coffee I had you could have drowned in it was such a large cup! The cake was gigantic and you needed full climbing equipment to tackle it.

What a fantastic Test Match in Bangladesh. Talk about ebb and flow. You don’t get that in one day games. I actually felt sorry for Bangladesh not be able to win. Ben Stokes is a colossus of cricketer!

Finally good to see Autumn Watch is coming from one of our favourite places the Arne Reserve in Dorset. We usually visit once a year.

The Year of the Cat

Chose today’s song title after Wick Court’s adopted cat “Compost” has caught both a rabbit and a shrew in front of me and the children at Wick Court. You might know the Al Stewart song. She is an almost feral cat who catches much of her food.

One piece of good news is the Little Owl is being seen again at the farm although the children didn’t see it this time. I went birding today doing the monthly survey by the River. Watched a pair of Stonechats for a while, lovely charismatic birds!

Turn, Turn, Turn

The old song (today’s title) probably sums up how I feel after last week’s busy spell. It is quieter this week on the Story Telling front. This afternoon I am telling Mollie the Sheep to two schools at a special afternoon at Wick Court. (I will be telling stories there again on Thursday). At least this week I don’t have to worry about travelling!

I have a couple of meetings (one tonight for the Children’s Centre) coming up. I hope to get down to a decent spell of writing this week-hopefully sorting out the Wick Court ghost story for publishing.

All Along the Watchtower

Well it had to be Bob song for the title this week didn’t it after the Nobel Prize for Literature! I was actually playing Blood on the Tracks a few days ago for the first time in a while.

I’m now back home after an exhausting three days of Story Telling in three different parts of the country. It has been fun and what I have been asked to do has been varied and challenging. On Wednesday I was in Beckenham delivering stories on an environmental theme following the Laudato si (the Pope’s environmental message from last year). I had the challenge of learning three new stories; one was a pretty lengthy one. There were a couple of lovely moments to treasure I just finished a story for the Infants about the Cracked Pot when a child asked a wonderful left field question that virtually undid the point of the story-that young man will go a long way! Another moment was me doing the Rabbits and the Elephants story and I had the whole group pretending to be elephants and they were all making “Trump, Trump sounds-so I said it sounded like a Republican Rally!

Thursday was back for my residency at Wick Court telling stories to a group of children from Peckham. I did a couple of old favourites and also went back to the Shadow Cage which I will continue to develop for Telling.

Today I was doing a combination of performing some stories and then I ran a four -hour workshop with the children getting them to be Story Tellers.

I’ll Climb Every Mountain……………

Today’s title was inspired by going to a talk by Doug Scott last night talking about the 1975 Everest Expedition (Doing it the Hard Way). I remember going to two talks by different climbers in the aftermath of the expedition. He has changed physically from that Hippy style climber from back then. He had a an enthusiastic and dry humour style.

Today we went to the Cheltenham Literature Festival and listened to Edna O’Brien. She was excellent and her honesty shone through. She has tackled many difficult issues in her books that are always thought – provoking. Her warmth for her fellow human beings was evident throughout particularly when talking about the refugee crisis.

I did work on learning my stories on the bike last week. I always speak them out loud as I pedal which can cause some embarrassment on occasions. The moment of truth will be in the Gigs this week.

Girl from the North Country

The song title for today has no link to the blog today but I’ve just been listening to it! I have at least 4 versions of it in my collection and I love it as a song.

I am furiously learning new stories for Gigs next week with mixed success. I usually find I need to try them out loud on a ride, the best way I find of embedding a story in my consciousness. I had better get out on the bike!

It is a busy week ahead with quite a bit of travelling, sadly because of the distances involved  it won’t be on the bike!  Sadly I have had to turn down a couple of Gigs because of clashes, if you need me for a Gig it is always a good idea to suggest a couple of dates.

Finally had a lovely bird watch last week (on my own!) I saw a Hen Harrier  a rarity for England because they are so persecuted by game keepers it is sad to see the way vested interests are taking on the RSPB over their outspokenness on this. I also saw a pair of busy Stonechats that always make me smile as they flutter upwards in a brisk wind.

Forest, Vale and High Blue Hill………….

What a beautiful Autumn day. The old chaps went off on their traditional first Sunday of the month cycle ride this morning. A wonderful ride through our beautiful county, climbing Stouts Hill and gradually working our way across to the Severn Vale. Our target was the delicious cakes provided for cyclists by the talented ladies of Hill. When you look at tables festooned with colourful cakes of all sizes groaning under the weight you think you are in heaven! It acts like a magnet for cyclists who converge on Hill, particularly groups from Bristol. We didn’t need to worry about the calorie intake because we did do over 40 miles altogether.

Yesterday I chose to go by train to Cheltenham to watch my football team. Of course the train was rammed full of rugby supporters going to Gloucester. The football wasn’t great especially from my team who settled for an under par point but we did enjoy an idiosyncratic pub where we met up with many old friends.