Not according to plan…

The “plan” was to be here in America, to be with family, to help out, as needed, and to write every day!

The reality is I have been over a month, and apart from an occasional social post, I have been very silent. Silent, but busy. Busy being a grandmother, mother and tourist. Busy enjoying the beautiful weather, the seasons and celebration’s and American life. Busy reading, thinking and processing my ideas. Busy being creative but most of all busy waiting.

I have been writing, not always daily, by at least trying to record events for each day. I have written short practice texts, based on my reading and observations. Now, as I have created this space, worked out more of a routine and re-evaluated what I want to achieve, posts will flow and events will be recorded and “letters from America” will become available.

” Fall in Connecticut is colour as warmth, smells and nostalgia. Not far from the house is a farm that bursts, triumphant in this season. A year of work, dedication, planting, nurturing and faith ripens into fullness in the shape of pumpkins – golden yellow, or modest white. Gourds of eerie, knobbled shapes and sizes and rich coloured flowers add to a tapestry of hues and texture. A field becomes streamlined into a pumpkin maze for younger visitors, whilst the braver face the complexities of a corn maze. A cart is a riot of colour, mismatched gourds mumbling together, murmuring, vie for attention from eager hands eager to find the perfect, not so perfect creature to take home, to become part of a porch, doorstep or garden display.

Meanwhile, the store lures us to partake of fresh apple cider and delicious cider donuts. Jars of jams, pickles, fruits and butters are proudly presented.

The choice, that day was a jug of cider, something I miss when living in England. It lived up to expectation when shared with the family for after school snack.

Brown’s Harvest

This is me signing out for now. Thank you for reading. Comments are always welcome.




Game completed

In August I posted a challenge I had made to myself; to buy an item at auction and sell on for a profit.

Lot 436.. a set of mixed oils and watercolours, a nice little lot here, can we start at £20, (silence)… £10 then?, still nothing….£5 queries the auctioneer a little desperately, I hesitated, and some one started the bidding at £2, here we go, I bid $4 a counter bid, £6, I nodded, £8 a counter bid £10, I hesitated slightly, before bidding £12, but that was it… they refused, to the lady in the room at £12, looking for £14 is there anymore.. hammer held in the air, the auctioneer peers round the room, once more I’m looking for £14…. make no mistake I’m selling at £12…. the hammer falls, the price is set. I grin and show my number…. I am the proud owner of 4 pieces of art!

https://connects.live/2019/08/07/lets-play-a-game/

It has taken longer than intended – holidays in France, busy life and working on new material and new website (coming soon!) but I can now give you the result.

Water colour painting

local artist Eleanor Cowles (193 – 2006) of Isaac Lords, Ipswich.

Research informed me that the former Isaac Lords building was rescued by a local entrepreneur and turned into a bar, restaurant and events venue as part of the rejuvenation of the waterfront. Perfect. I think they should own this piece of their history.

One of a set of prints by John Ireland, commissioned to illustrate a calendar for Guiness advertising. 1981

Again research assured me that I would be able to sell this to a local pub.

Today, I can reveal the result. On a beautiful, sunny afternoon, a successful visit to Isaac Lords resulted in the sale of both paintings for profit. I was pleased with the result, and even more pleased that at least one of the paintings has found its way home and can be enjoyed by Ipswich locals in an Ipswich locale.

The oil paintings of camels I decided were not in good enough condition for me to sell. I took them to the St Elizabeth’s recycling shop in Ipswich where they were happy to take them, put a little work into them and hopefully sell them giving them much needed financial reward.

A fitting end to the challenge. It was not, however, an end game. To be continued….

Here’s Sue signing out for now. Thank you for reading and following. Comments and criticism are always welcome so that this can become higher, better, stronger.




A spiritual journey

I’ve finally got round to editing all the photographs and writing a post for the stride-and-ride last Saturday. What an amazing day. I’m going to let the photographs tell the story with just a few comments.

Backpack at the ready, it’s off we go!

I started the day with the familiar walk to my place of worship. St John’s, Brightwell. This is my usual peaceful approach to the church walking from Martlesham Heath.

Second Leg

I’d not previously walked the suggested pathways so followed the given guide. It was lovely to meet and greet fellow walkers which confirmed I was on the right path.

Newbourne: A restored window

After signing in, I was treated to a guided tour of the church, and given the story behind the East window. The original was shattered during a storm in 1987. After the storm, as the rubble was cleared, the glazier found an undamaged part of the original stained glass, depicting Christ. As it was such an amazing find it seemed appropriate to use it in the restored window.

Third Leg

Along the way…

Waldringfield

Red brick church showing tower with decoration.
Waldringfield

For me, much of this walk is about meeting people and sharing stories. Waldringfield fulfilled this and more. Greeted and signed in by two wonderful people, I was treated to discussion of the importance of records and sharing the stories of not only our churches but the villages and people. Waldringfield has it’s own history group, as do many of these suffolk villages. Follow the link to delve into the past.

After a refreshing drink it was onwards to

Fourth leg Waldringfield to Hemley
Fourth Leg: Taking in some stunning views along the way.

Hemley

Hemley

Just a brief stop here. An invite to their tea held in the church hall at 15:00 was tempting but unfortunately I would be on to Felixstowe by then. So, a brief rest in the porch whilst signing in, then on to

Fifth Leg

Usually my timings were just about in keeping with those in the guide books. However this leg took longer due to getting a bit lost. However this was worth it.

Kirton

After signing in, the peaceful churchyard, bathed in early afternoon sunshine beckoned. A bench and church cat insisted I stay and have my lunch so I obliged. There was also the promise of a cup of tea and use of washroom facilities.

The big cup of tea was very welcome after my lunch and with a change of socks it was on my way again.

Sixth Leg: Straight route via the road

Falkenham

Of all the churches I visited this one was my favourite. I have no specific reason other than it just had a peaceful quietness. A sense of worship passed down through the ages. Even now, as I look back and reflect, it is calling again, stirring some deep emotion. For a place that I hadn’t even heard of until then, I feel I must return again.

Now it was the longest haul

Seventh Leg

Although it was the longest stretch of the walk, it was perhaps one of the nicest in terms of easiest to follow, a long stretch of gravelled pathway with occasional glimpses of the river. However, as I was to discover later, this was not so nice on the feet. I was relieved to finally get to the riverwall, and the comfort of softer turf pathways, and of course the river flowing with boats, yachts and other craft and the view of Felixstowe within sight.

I had wildly predicted it would take me less than the suggested 70 minutes. Whether it was the type of terrain, the end of the road or just the occasional stop to breathe in the fresh air and views I arrived at Felixstowe church at 16:05, making it somewhere around 75 minutes.

Felixstowe Ferry

Image of St Nicholas church in  Felixstowe Ferry
Lovely little church but closed so couldn’t go in or get signed in.

Final leg: Ferry across to Bawdey.

Image of the Felixstowe Ferry boat docking in Bawdsey
Felixstowe to Bawdsey Ferry service

This was another new experience which I enjoyed even with blistered feet!

I was happy to get to my destination where I was to meet my daughter for a lift home. Time for a rewarding cup of tea and a little something at the famous Boathouse Cafe

Tea and toast at Boathouse Cafe

The afternoon was still warm with autumnal sunshine so I chose to eat outside on the balcony; enjoying the tremendous view over the estuary.

Enjoying the view from the cafe balcony

Feeling physically nourished, it was time to reflect on the day as I limped along the beach to where I had arranged to meet my daughter.

A blistered heel was relieved by the removal of my shoes and the feel of the soft, cool sand after the walk along some unforgiving territory. I was reminded of the passage in Exodus: God attracts Moses’ attention by the burning bush and then suggests that he should take off his shoes for he was standing on holy ground. This day, for me, had been a pilgrimage of adventure, new experiences with an immersion into the past as recorded in the churches I had visited. As I walked I enjoyed the physical act of walking and breathing in space and openness. Yet, more, the emotional, spiritual act of pausing to wonder at creation, time to ponder deeper things and share knowledge and wisdom in communion with people was the greater. Places I had visited might be called holy ground and is it not up to us to continue that holiness by our beliefs? Beliefs which must be supported by our actions and attitudes. Perhaps we could all do well by a moments reflection and taking off our mental shoes from time to time.

Thank-you for all that supported me during the day, either financially or in other ways, thank you for spiritual and physical nutrition, thank you for emotional and physical lifts, thank you for safety along the way and the kind remarks in passing.

I cannot promise I will do it again next year but this I know I will walk somewhere and often as for me it is a holy exercise.

Click on the links for more information about the churches I visited.

Thanks for reading and following.




Today, I wrote….

Today I wrote “the fear within, muted by strong belief, drives me onward to succeed”

I wrote it even though I am far from that. *

I wrote it as motivation. What are my fears? The usual, exposure, failure, truth, comparison, weakness.. the list goes on. Can a belief in myself, my past, my experiences, my support, my faith quell, mute, subdue the fears?

I wrote it to face the fear. The first step is always acknowledgement. Yes, I am afraid. I am afraid I might not be read. I am afraid to be read but not appreciated. I am afraid to be read, appreciated, but of then letting the readers down. However, I am afraid that is not my fear, problem, responsibility.

I will write anyway.

I wrote it as practice. The more I write the better I will become. It might be weak; it has mistakes. It is nonsense, but at least it is honest. Honesty is a rare beauty: let’s do it.

I wrote it to be bold. This is me. This is who I am. This is what I do: a scared writer stepping out boldly so that a truth maybe revealed to someone, somewhere.

I wrote it to make a statement. A prediction of the future. A known beginning towards an ending unknown. That is a treasure to slowly be revealed.

Today, I wrote. Tomorrow I will write some more. Slowly my heart and soul will be revealed.

Join me, if you dare!

immediately after writing it, I added #’s. #useit #playthesystem #belief #drivenlife #toolsforsurvival.

image shows a journal notebook and a pen.
Today I wrote….




Profile of a content writer

I wrote this piece as a timed exercise, modelled on Natalie Goldbergs: “Thunder and Lightning”

I am feeling brave enough to “cut the umbilical cord” to let it fly out here and allow you this little insight into me.

tea, books and kindle to hand

Seated on my couch, in my apartment, with laptop on my lap, mug of tea to hand (teapot within reach) my books close by, my phone clicking beside me, my kindle awaiting my touch and Alexa listening to my every command I feel prepared.

The world is quiet around me. I focus on the clock ticking. It ticks but it is not a functional clock, it is a decorators piece. Time is not important.

I hear the cooing of pigeons, the tug of wind, teenagers gathering, perhaps a car idling by. It is Sunday afternoon, business is for tomorrow.

Taking my eyes off the screen, I notice the sunlight dancing on the ceiling, the shadows cast on the floor. The sunlight highlights the wood of my table, my daughters library chair and adds interest to the ‘rent-neutral’ tone of the painted walls. It also makes patterns of the thin layer of dust settling on the dresser. The ‘cleaner’ will work when she is ready.

Gradually, as I settle into my role, my brain stores the important sensations, records the feelings and recalls memories. Like a huge library of books, chapters and verses it references all for future use….

This is my profile

I am a content writer

I am content.

It took me about 20 minutes to write the original and then a further 15 to re-read edit and make changes. I think it was a good exercise for me. What exercises, writing strategies, lessons do you recommend, follow and use?

*

*”cut the umbilical cord”

Natalie Goldberg Thunder and Lightning pg 186





Let’s play a game….

After a gentle drive along the A12, enjoying the beautiful Suffolk countryside take the B1078 signed to Campsea Ashe. Turn right following the B1078 towards Campsea Ashe, past the village shop turn left into the car park for Clarke and Simpson Auction

But wait, haven’t we been here before? Yes, of course, home of my local auction site; a cornucopia of antiques, collectables, curiosities and one-man’s-junk to my treasure trove.

After taking care of the business end, I enter saleroom 4 and take in the sights, sounds, aroma of history. Today, unusually, I’m on a mission. I am secretly taking part in my own, “Make me a Dealer” (BBC One) challenge.

Working with a small budget of £20 I aim to buy at least one lot that I can make a profit on. Armed with my camera, catalogue and buyer number I tour the room.

Lot 1: A collection of Del Padro figures in the form of Medieval Knights on horseback Estimate £30 – £50

I think that might be what is known as a “come and buy me” estimate. I would love them, but they are going to be too strong for me. My estimate £80-£100. This estimate was later to be proven correct, they sold to an online bidder for £95

This is a possibility. With a personal connection, as it is the year I was born, I would like it. Would it make a profit? Not unless I find the right buyer. Also it is one of several other plates and sundry items. Estimate £10-£20. A possible, but only at £15. Don’t forget the 18% buyers premium.

Lot 294: An oriental camphor wood blanket box – with key. Again above my budget, estimate £50-£80. But can I pause for a while and admire it’s beauty. Exquisite carving, the quality and detail of the lock, the deco style shaping of the rounded corners just the feel of the wood. Open the lid, and the camphor aroma plunges you into the orient, transporting you to far away places with stories of mystery, intrigue, romance and exotic nights. Dream but close the lid now, time to move on.

But the mood to travel afar lingers as I fall in love with these books. A beautiful set, with the original dust covers, and all in good condition. Inside, the text was illustrated with beautiful designs, calligraphy and pencil drawings of the places visited. I think I can honestly say, never was I so taken with the beauty, style and simple pleasure of holding a book and being privileged to enter into it’s story. I wanted them.

Lot 264: Ten volumes of The Silent Traveller by Chiang Yee. Estimate £150-£200

I hope the online buyer likes them. I wish them safe journeys.

Was I ever going to find something? Today, everything was too expensive, too big, or in job lots where I wanted maybe one or two items out of the box or boxes full.

Just recently my interests have been towards various art forms. Auctions can be good places to find that one piece of art you have been looking for to add interest to a blank wall, add a touch of culture to a clinical waiting room, or add colour, history or a story to your office. As usual for this auction there was a good selection. Some job lots of mixed styles, condition and interest. Some single pieces that required some knowledge of the artist before acquiring. But then, there it was:

Lot 436: Eleanor Cowles watercolour study depicting Isaac Lords near Ipswich Docks; together with a coloured print entitled “The Gentle Art of Making Guinness”. and a pair of oil studies depicting desert scenes and camels. Estimate £10 – £20

A small lot, within budget, hopefully, and with local interest making it easy to research and sell on. I set my price to within £10 – £12 pound, rewarded myself to a cup of tea, found a good seat in front of the rostrum and settled in for the sale. The clock ticked round to 11:00, auctioneer in place, the room is hushed with the rap of the hammer and we’re off…

Lot 1……

Auctions are unpredictable. Items of history, age and beauty may be sold for little money, or sometimes not sold at all if a reserve price is not met. Other items, which are damaged, mismatched or apparently of very little value, are sold above estimate. The lots I had circled as ‘interested’ went for more than I wanted to spend. Some started at above my price, others I had chance to bid on, but someone in the room or on-line wanted it more than I. Gradually, lot by lot, my chances of buying were dwindling until we reached that set of art work. My last chance.

Lot 436.. a set of mixed oils and watercolours, a nice little lot here, can we start at £20, (silence)… £10 then?, still nothing….£5 queries the auctioneer a little desperately, I hesitated, and some one started the bidding at £2, here we go, I bid $4 a counter bid, £6, I nodded, £8 a counter bid £10, I hesitated slightly, before bidding £12, but that was it… they refused, to the lady in the room at £12, looking for £14 is there anymore.. hammer held in the air, the auctioneer peers round the room, once more I’m looking for £14…. make no mistake I’m selling at £12…. the hammer falls, the price is set. I grin and show my number…. I am the proud owner of 4 pieces of art!

Game on……………………….home to research and sell them on for a profit.




Flower power

Poster advertising church flower festival

One of the projects that kept me busy soon after arriving back in England was the church Flower festival. As part of the Parish council I was involved in the planning, organising and preparing for the festival.

Although not an expert by any means, I am always an enthusiastic flower arranger, so was happy to take my share. This year I was given the three wall arrangements. A challenge I was nervously excited to take on.

This year I was also put in charge of the refreshment tent, serving tea, coffee and cake throughout the day, and lunches over the lunch period. This role I took on happily, although nervous about how little time I had to prepare, but our saying was, “It will be all right on the day!”

And you know, it was.

Some photographs to prove it. Slight apologies for the quality of the photographs, I didn’t have a lot of time, just slipped in to the church during quiet times at the refreshment tent.

Everyone did such a great job, and unfortunately, I did not manage to get photographs of all the displays. The Church was filled with wonderful arrangements, displaying God’s bounty in many ways, and such a beautiful aroma from the lillies and stocks. The wall displays that I did, needed to have height, but also I wanted them to appear to tumble down the wall. My vision was, to represent the prayers of the people ascending in gratitude to the gifts God showers upon us. I loved the gladioli’s, iris and sunflowers that added strength and structure. To give display an individuality, yet similar in theme I added different small flowers. In the centre I used more patriotic colours, to represent the memory of those giving service in war, by inserting red roses, and a touch of blue. On the right I used beautiful creamy lilies for peace and on the left more delicate, softer pinks and mauves. I was able to pull some lovely strands of ivy from the church yew trees, which gave me the downward sweep I wanted it. Fun to do even though I probably broke all health and safety rules, having to balance on the pews and the organ stool between the pews to reach up to the stands.

During the afternoon I managed to snap this shot of our wonderful Rev. spending quality time with his children using the lawn games which were a huge hit with the visiting families.

Visitors enjoying the wonderful refreshments

The best part of the two days has to be enjoying the company of friends and family, sitting in the beautiful setting of the church with tea, coffee, homemade cakes or lunch of rolls and side salad, or a ploughman’s lunch. We were blessed by the weather as the rain held off for most of the week-end and the slight breeze was refreshingly cool for most people.

As Sunday drew to a peaceful close, our Evensong service was replaced by a traditional songs of praise which is the only way to close a week-end of celebration and gratitude to God for his wonderful blessings.

I don’t have a recording of our singing, but here is a beautiful performance of one of the hymns chosen by the congregation, “The Day though Gavest”

Yes, it was all right on the day, in fact both days, and with thanks to generous visitors we raised money, but much more was the wonder of fellowship, the joy of creation and the love of service. Now we look forward to next year…..




Goodreads make better writing

After my return from Canada and a busy June, getting back into routine, and starting on some new adventures, I made the conscious decision to take some time out from wordpress to do more reading, process my ideas, and put more time into other projects.

So today, August 1st, I had planned to write. However I spent most of the afternoon trying, unsuccessfully to sort out e-mail issues with yahoo.

This will now be a short news update. My wordpress subscription runs out in October, and as I don’t want to renew it, I have between now and then to plan, design and create my own website. Which will mean serious research and work in making that a reality. Advice, recommendations and offers of help all accepted!

If I thought July raced by, August will fly, as I am away on travels to Paris later on in the month. Look for interesting travel posts. Maybe I will be braver and use more French than I did in Montreal? Probably not, but I will at least have family to help me.

During my time in July, I have been reading. They include

Writing as a Sacred Path By Jill Jepson

Thunder and Lightning and Writing down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

And one out of my comfort zone, to expand my reading horizon, and which pleasantly surprised me and I quite enjoyed it. Amber Wake Gabriel Falling,

I chose to feature these as they had most impact and challenged me as a writer. Follow me on Goodreads

Now, dear readers, you are all up to date. August will be busy and exciting and I look forward to sharing it with you.

A little night music to end this discourse

A reflective prayer

To all a good night




Suffolk Day 2019

Itinerary for the day to celebrate Suffolk and discover Suffolk Secrets.

  1. Meet-the-makers event in Southwold to celebrate local crafts
  2. Explore Southwold
  3. Discover a Suffolk secret
  4. Destination: Lowestoft for the #firstlightlowestoft event
  5. Enjoy the Summer equinox

It was a beautiful, bright morning as set I off on this Summer adventure ride. B.J. – my car, was on top form as we navigated the A12, music on, window down, fresh air and sunshine.

Musical interlude

Arriving in Southwold I parked in the large car park at the pier, payed the reasonable fee, and enjoyed a cup of tea from my picnic resources – car door open, fresh breeze and the shushing sound of the waves, that is the British sea side.

Walking along the beach road towards town centre I reminisced the last time I was at Southwold, with family from Canada and we rented a beach hut for the day at the boating lake…

I found what I thought to be the crafter’s market; first impressions were that it was smaller than I imagined, with just six or seven stalls, all with lovely items.

I chatted with one vendor, who specialises in needlework, making cushions, blankets and accessories for the home. I spotted a basket containing glasses cases, and noticed the size and shape for my Huawei P20.

Looking good in the new cover!

Going further on into town I found another venue, about the same size with the addition of a snack bar and facilities.

Here there were more crafts, more unique and to my taste. I chatted to the crafter who made planters from a special concrete mix, bringing a modern twist to the glass handkerchief mold.

They look pretty don’t they? The concrete used is porous which makes it suitable for these.

I couldn’t buy one of the planters, not having any garden, however I did buy a small tub of medlar butter, perfect for my picnic hot cross buns.

Another stall carried, beautiful hand and machine stitched cards. They are exquisite, with the added touch, that she has placed the stitched fabric square into the card so that it can be reframed into a more permanent wooden frame, so that the card becomes a gift! My kind of card; I have often thought that I would rather buy another small gift, than buy a card to be thrown away, once it has been received.

Within sight of this venue was an antique shop: Cornucopia!

I didn’t buy anything, honest! I had a lovely chat with the owner,( sitting knitting, with a cup of tea, listening to Radio 4 on a vintage portable radio!) I shared my “bargain hunt” game with her, and together we chose a pair of Moroccan stain glass lamps for the big spend, a Black forest carved bear holding a cotton reel – ” thread bear” for the profit item, and another bear, who tore at the heart strings, needing a loving home!

I also loved the garden aspect of the shop….

A happy memory from my childhood, is touring the countryside during our annual summer holidays. Always wanting to be off the beaten track, away from most of the usual tourist places, we began a tradition of not calling it a holiday trip unless we drove down a road that had grass growing down the middle of it…..

Suffolk delighted!

Suffolk’s country roads

On my route along the A12 from Southwold to Lowestoft, there was a sign for an antique and craft market. Too good to pass by on a day with little agenda. It was here that I negotiated this ‘holiday’ road bringing back memories of summers long ago. Just a short drive and I arrived at Henstead Country Crafts.

A very pleasant hour spent browsing and chatting, especially to artist Mike Collis who deserves a special shout out for putting up with my questions and natter as he was trying to work. Check out the gallery here.

After this invigorating hour, it was time to head up to Lowestoft to find my airbnb accommodation for the night. Advertised as a quirky bungalow, it certainly lived up to it’s name. Richie was a perfect host, very welcoming and helpful. I enjoyed staying there and relaxed easily into the atmosphere of his lovely home.

A perfect way to end a perfect Suffolk saunter!

Next blog, here all about the Lowestoft First light festival




Time and tide…

Here I find myself, it is Wednesday evening, and nothing written yet, this week. However, to qualify, there has been writing, but other projects have taken up my time.

Today, I enjoyed being a senior, taking advantage of free bus travel, and special senior viewings at the Empire Theatre in Ipswich. On the menu today was “Fisherman’s Friend” directed by Chris Foggin

The movie is based on a true story of a group of Cornish Fishermen who found comradeship, healing and enjoyment from singing together on the boats as well as building up the community and raising money for local charities.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fishermens_friends.JPG

The film adds a love interest, rivalry and small town humour to this feel good factor real life story, making it a delightful film which will set your toes tapping, your heart breaking and your spirit strengthened. For this audience, it might have made them feel just a tiny bit proud of a British success story.

The down side might be you become nostalgic for former primary school singing lessons churning out sea shanties and other folk songs. One might even be caught singing them as you leave…. Blow the man down whey hey blow the man down

The real group have suffered some tragedy since making the film, but are still performing and continuing to raise money for a variety of charities including Fishermen’s Mission, McMillan Cancer and local schools and causes.

Keep hauling, buoys!

For today, that’s all folks. Thank you for reading, singing, dancing and sharing my epistles.

Drop me a comment if only to let me know you are alive and kicking and dancing your way through life.

Sue