Frustration!

Ah, the Internet. Computers. Connectivity and rapid fire updates. All great…all not available in my little universe recently. Yahoo, WTF is up with your connectivity? My mail service is shocking – to the point where I am abandoning ship and embracing Gmail. Then there are the dear folks at Apple….lets not get into that, suffice it to say that my MacBook (considered obsolete by the brains that be) is chugging along apace again, which makes me happy.

Nemi aptly demonstrating my wrath at technology!

Nemi aptly demonstrating my wrath at technology!

So! Call this a general purpose post, it certainly will meander. It’s been a busy couple of weeks, mostly rather enjoyable. I’ve reinstated my writing fingers, albeit with pen and ink – keyboards are so passe! Seriously, I’ve been museum mooching, workshop attending, tea slurping, corner skulking, Great War imagining (Zeppelins, oh my!), story success celebrating…and so forth. My Aunty gave me this picture of my Great Grandma, Jane Anne (and my namesake), working as a munitionette during the first world war.

My Great Grandmother, Jane Anne

My Great Grandmother, Jane Anne (bottom, middle)

There’s been some good flash fiction come from these various sessions that have now all been written up and cast into the ethernet (from my new email address!), from which they may become part of a short fiction booklet for my local museum network. I spent time at Segedunum Roman Fort (get the bloody heating on!), Newcastle Discovery Museum (where I randomly met a lovely nun from Whitby), and my favourite, Newcastle University’s Hatton Gallery for the Screaming Steel exhibition. There I had a religious moment in front of Wilfred Owen’s handwritten draft of Anthem for Doomed Youth, with annotations by Siegfried Sassoon. I am not ashamed to say this exhibition – focusing on shell shock and the horrors of war for both sides of the conflict – made me very emotional, and I had to take a seat by the window to just reflect on exactly what it was I was observing.

Owen's Anthem for Doomed Youth in draft, annotations by Sassoon

Owen’s Anthem for Doomed Youth in draft, annotations by Sassoon

This was one of the most memorable war poems we were taught at school, and has stayed with me over the years. ‘What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?’ still haunts me. I’m back to visit it again next month on another writing session, using the material at the exhibition as prompts. I may need cake afterwards!

Finally, the wonderful memorial Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London came to an end recently, and I am please to know that my memorial poppy is being packed and despatched as I type. For me, it’s a memorial to the great uncle lost aged 17 in the war. My short story Private 48169 has been shortlisted for a prize in Story Tyne next week, and was written in memory of Private Michael Maughan Renwick who was lost on the 11th April 1918. I feel blessed to be able to remember his name, and tell his story.

A happier post next time, I promise. There’s been a great big outpouring of nostalgia amongst me and mine of Facebook and some of the photos of our youth are frankly quite staggering, so prepare for the nostalgia blast!

Whitby Goth Weekend Halloween 2014

So, Whitby has been and gone. Hmmm. It was an odd one. We travelled down the Wednesday prior to the main weekend events, car packed to infinity and beyond – and I admit I had a few too many pairs of boots! Moved into our flat (gorgeous harbour views), then started the obligatory dog settlement programme. Which failed. The old bird was having none of it, even though she’s been coming with us to Whitby for years. Thanks to the delightful folks setting off bangers on the beach throughout the next 5 nights right in front of our flat she spent the week in a state of absolute panic, which led to a very explosive stomach situation and chronic separation anxiety. At the grand old age of 13 she’s becoming quite fragile, and as she is the delight of our twilight years her needs had to come first. So of the 9 bands playing over the weekend, we saw 2. Every time we got ready to go out on a night time the fireworks started. I can honestly say I would like to stuff a crate of bangers up the behind of anyone who thinks it’s funny to start at 6pm and then fart on until 3am. We watched a lot of weekend reality shows…

Grrrrr! Argggggh!

Grrrrr! Argggggh!

The ‘dog situation’ was compounded by the fact that Whitby was unbelievably busy. This was out tenth year at the festival, and easily the most crowded we’ve experienced. Our partially sighted grumpy old dog hates crowds, and she effectively became housebound for 4 days. She hated it. We felt crappy leaving her indoors. We hated not being able to get anywhere in less than half an hour (when it should have taken 10 minutes), and all the delays led to more time that she was left and that we worried. This isn’t my photo, but this shows the log jam on the bridge that connects the two sides of the town, and which we had to cross to get to official events:

Whitby bridge crowd Autumn 2014

Whitby bridge crowd Autumn 2014

We will never put the dog through this again. Hell, we’ll never put ourselves through it again. Next year is probably off the agenda anyway as we are completely poor.Effectively we ended up with a ‘pocket’ festival – 2 hours out here, 2 hours out there – all very disjointed.

However, there were some great moments in the holiday; it wasn’t all gloom. It was lovely to spend 2 straight weeks with Him Underfoot actually underfoot! ¬†We celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary on Halloween in the lovely Moon & Sixpence on the harbour, with food so gorgeous we had to return (with the dog!) the following Tuesday. We met old friends, and made new. Bad Pollyanna were utterly awesome (though we missed Voltaire, who didn’t come on stage until 1am apparently).

Him Underfoot bought me gorgeous green amber earrings from W. Hamond, my favourite jewellery shop who had excelled themselves in decorating their exterior:

W. Hamond Whitby - Bats & Spiders everywhere oh my!

W. Hamond Whitby – Bats & Spiders everywhere oh my!

We also indulged in the most amazing fudge in Justin’s Chocolates – I so wish we’d taken a better picture of their chocolate halloween window display complete with coffins – unfortunately the only one we have is this cheesy pic of me getting overexcited! (Oh, and I had majorly sore feet so had to retreat to my oh-so-comfy converse…).

Let me in....let me in....!

Let me in….let me in….!

Monday & Tuesday my mum & step dad joined us for fish & chips in the harbour, and then we took Sally to the pub (free gravy bones in the Little Angel keeping her sweet). ¬†Tuesday was Sally’s Grand Day Out – the crowds had gone, it was a beautiful if very chilly day, so we took her for lunch and wine in the harbour, followed by another trip to the pub. That was the one night the little blighter slept right through…. Some other random pictures…:

Miss Angsty Pants

Miss Angsty Pants

The 2 Sweeps & Wolfie getting acquainted

The 2 Sweeps & Wolfie getting acquainted

View from Moon & Sixpence on Sally's Grand Day Out (wine glasses not in view!)

View from Moon & Sixpence on Sally’s Grand Day Out (wine glasses not in view!)

About to hit the shops, oh my!

About to hit the shops, oh my!

So, a different week to what we expected – still lovely as I was with the people (and mutt) I love most in the place I love best – but not sure if we’ll be repeating the experience next year.