Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Ellie returns to work after 47 years.

These days, as I have found out, it is quite difficult to find work once you reach a certain age.

But there is always someone who bucks the trend.

So let me introduce you to Ellie.

Ellie is about 55 years old.

When I was quite young Ellie was quite a big part of my life.

But, as often happens, things change, friends drift apart and lose contact.

Although I lost contact with Ellie, I never really forgot him. I occasionally thought about him, mostly around breakfast time.

Imagine my surprise when my sister Ann recently told me she thought she knew where Ellie was and asked if I would like to be reunited with him.

Last Thursday, thanks to Ann, Ellie turned up at my door, after a long journey.

I was delighted to see him, he hadn't changed at all and looked every bit as good as he did all those years ago.

You'd think something would change after 47 years, but not Ellie.

and here he is:

Still looking good (considering his age).

I was delighted to get Ellie back, and today I put him to the use he had been designed for:

The eggs tasted all the better because of Ellie. He has brought back some lovely childhood memories. Thanks Ellie.

And a big THANK YOU to Annie for reuniting us after all those years.

I think Ellie was a present from one of my Grand Parents. He originally came wrapped in cellophane, with a chocolate Easter Egg on his back. This time he came through the post protected by bubble wrap.

May Ellie have many more useful years ahead of him.

Friday, 28 October 2011

I love Truro

I love living in Truro, there always seems to be something of interest going on.

Yesterday it was raining so I didn't get into town.

Today the sun is out and it is a beautiful day.

So I went for a walk into town, it seems quite busy, I guess the sun has brought people out.

When I was walking back through the Piazza (Lemon Quay) there were these contrasting events going on:

There was a group of people meditating (I assume), others sitting watching (it was quite like watching paint dry). There were children enjoying themselves on the roundabout, and others wearing themselves out running around inside big coloured balls.

Chaos and stillness co-existing!

It was lovely, I took a few moments to roll a cigarette and smoke it while I was looking on. Fabulous!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

My New Desk

I don’t know if you have a desk, whether you sit at one at work, or if you have your computer on one at home. Or both. I don’t know if your desk is special to you. Some people get very attached to their desks. Because it is the place where they feel creative, or comfortable. I found this poem on the internet written by someone who feels the same about their desk as I do:

Ode to my Desk
Tatiana Vasileva
My old desk, at which I write
An old and faithful friend.
Just like a mule, that bears its load
And doesn't bow or bend.

Sometimes at night, when I can't sleep
And find I need express

The feelings in my heart, so deep,
It gives me happiness.

Just seeing my familiar things,
Pens, papers, books and such,
Creates ideas and I try
To say what means so much.

There is a feel of magic here
Beside this desk of wood.
What stories lie within its drawers?
To tell you if it could!

I used a desk for the last 30 years of my working life. I also used one at home when I got my first computer. I have sat at many different desks over the years. Some I have liked and some I could never get used to.

I have looked for the perfect desk, but never really found it. I had a near-perfect desk that was precious to me, it was given to me by a close friend, but I had to leave it behind.

Over the last few years, at home, I have had one of those metal computer tables, but was never happy with it.

When we moved to Cornwall we had the opportunity to try and find the perfect desk for iMac to sit on. We searched for weeks but could not find one that I was happy with. So, I gave up looking and settled for one from the Argos catalogue. It has been OK. It is sturdy, solid, and functional. It has done its job.

But, a few weeks ago, while visiting a friends house, I went into their back garden to have a cigarette, as usual. There, in the garden, I saw an old wooden table, on its side, with a bin sitting on its legs. It was wood wormed, and had some splits on the top. To me, though, it had potential.

I had seen this tallboy in a local shop (the decoration is called Decoupage) and thought maybe I could do the same with the old table:

I asked my friend what he was going to do with it, he told me he was going to break it up and take it to the dump. So I asked if I could have, he said he would be glad to get rid of it. So that was that. I collected the table and set about converting into me new desk.

So we looked up how to do Decoupage on the internet, bought some paint, varnish, glue, and decoupage paper, and the set about the transformation.

I forgot to take a picture of the table in its 'raw' state, but here are a couple of pictures of it when I first began to work on it. I had already sanded it down and repaired to top:

It took two coats of under coat/primer and three coats of black gloss.

Then Davina and I had to lay out the paper in the design we wanted:

Then we had to stick the paper on and give it five coats of polyurethane varnish:

 So then I bought a new knob for the drawer and fitted it, but when it was fitted I didn't like it:

 So today I bought a new knob, and here is the finished desk. In position and ready to go:

It's probably an acquired taste, but, I think it is beautiful and perfect for me and the iMac.

So a big thank you to my friends Mickey and Pat for giving me their old table. I hope we have created a thing of beauty that they would be pleased with.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Fatness to Fitness - Help Needed

Gentleman (62)
Not Working
Needs to get fit

Living in Truro

Competent in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel etc)
Sage 50 Level 1

Would like to work a few hours a week in return for a couple of weekly sessions in a gym with a personal trainer.

If you have any suggestions please email:


Sunday, 17 July 2011

Dhol Drums lift you out of the doldrums!

I met someone today (Johnny Kalsi) that I must have met about 15 years ago, although we did not remember each other; we know that we were probably in the same place, at the same time.

Around 15 years ago I used to help a friend run a boys club in Hounslow, and we would occasionally invite the Dhol Foundation to come and entertain the lads and their families.

Today I went to St Austell because I had heard the Dhol Foundation were running some drum workshops in the town, and were also taking part in a parade.

The foundation is run by Johnny Kalsi, who also plays in ‘The Imagined Village’, whom we saw at the St Ives Festival year:

I took the opportunity to join in a workshop and have a go at the drums. I was probably oldest person trying it out, most of the others appeared to be between 2 & 12years old, but I’ve got to the stage where I don’t mind making a bit of a fool of myself.
One member of the foundation gave me what he called a ‘Mum & Dad’ training session, but I was useless at it so I gave up after a couple of minutes.

 The lad who is 3rd from the right is the one who tried to teach me.

After that I watched them perform in the town square. Here is a very short video of the performance:

And here is a better video of them performing:

Then I took the opportunity to talk to Johnny, who told me about all the things he is currently involved in.
Johnny Kalsi

By now it was time for the parade. So I followed the group as they joined with the  NoFit State Circus, who along with the Dhol Foundation will be in residence at The Eden Project during August this year. Some local children with colourful umbrellas also took part in the parade.

Here are a few pictures of the parade:

 During the parade I was asked by one of the officials if I was a journalist, maybe because I was stalking them carrying my man bag and shiny camera. Unfortunately I had to tell her I was not a journalist, but I was pleased to be asked the question.

It was a fabulous afternoon, I really enjoyed it.

Hearing the Dhol drums never fails to cheer me up.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Is it Art?

We went to St Ives last Sunday:

It was a beautiful day, the weather was fantastic

We went specifically to visit Tate St Ives. We had never been to the gallery before. Some friends had visited there and were not impressed, because they did not think the exhibits were ‘Art’.

I have quite eclectic views, so I thought I would probably enjoy the visit. But, I thought the Tate would have a permanent exhibition (because I am used to Tate Britain, in London), but it doesn’t. At St Ives the exhibits change fairly often.

This is the outside of the Tate:

There were works on display by Margaret Mellis, Naum Gabo, and others (if you click on the artists name it will take you the their websites and you can see examples of their works). We enjoyed looking at their work, but the best bit was when became part of the art ourselves:

First we came across Half the Air in a Given Space an iconic work by Martin Creed, which sees the spectacular sea-facing galleries filled with hundreds of balloons:

The idea is that you can walk through the balloons, we did, and even I was buried. It is quite disconcerting and can be a bit claustrophobic, But, it was a very good experience.

We then came to a large room, which, back in May this year, had four plain white walls. The work is being created by visitors, as you enter the room you invited to choose a place on the wall where your height is recorded as well as your name and the date of you visit:

Can you find Me? Look for : -Peter, 3.7.11

Can you find Davina? Look for : -Davina, 3.7.11

So we are now immortalised in a work of art (although I am sure the walls will be scrubbed clean at the end of the exhibition).

Is it art, well Wikipedia defines art as:
Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items (often with symbolic significance) in a way that influences and affects one or more of the sensesemotions, andintellect. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression, including musicliteraturefilmphotographysculpture, and paintings. The meaning of art is explored in a branch of philosophy known as aesthetics, and even disciplines such as history and psychology analyze its relationship with humans and generations.

Britannica Online defines art as "the use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others." By this definition of the word, artistic works have existed for almost as long as humankind: from early pre-historic art to contemporary art; however, some theories restrict the concept to modern Western societies.[8] The first and broadest sense of art is the one that has remained closest to the older Latin meaning, which roughly translates to "skill" or "craft." A few examples where this meaning proves very broad include artifact, artificial, artifice, medical arts, and military arts. However, there are many other colloquial uses of the word, all with some relation to its etymology

So, is it Art? Of course it is.

Monday, 4 July 2011

The Drummer

Last weekend Davina and I went to the unveiling of the sculpture by Tim Shaw entitled The Drummer. It stands in Lemon Quay - Truro:

The statue was unveiled by Roger Taylor (Queen), who lived in Truro when he was younger.

Here is a video of the unveiling (if you look very carefully you can find Davina, but I have not found myself in the video yet. Let me know if you spot me.):

There appears to be some controversy about the statue, some to do with the cost of such an artwork in the difficult times. Also, there seems to some concern about its nakedness and the size of  a certain appendage. Apparently, some women who want to get pregnant are clambering up the statue to touch the aforementioned appendage, in the hope that it will help them in their quest.

Spot the appendage!

The statue is meant to represent that Cornwall Dances to the beat of a different drum. Here is what the Sculptor himself says about it:

A Symbolic Work that Celebrates the Spirit of a Land and its People.
The beat has been in existence from the beginning of time. It is life itself, present within us all. Perhaps the Universe has its own eternal pulse. That most primitive of instruments, the drum, is used to summon and communicate, it entertains and evokes feeling. My own relationship with the drum began during my early childhood in Belfast. On every twelfth of July, and throughout the marching season of the preceding months, the ground and air would thunder and pound with the 
collective beat of drums as Orangemen paraded in mass through streets across the province.
It was no surprise that when I first set foot in Cornwall, twenty five years ago, I described it as a place whose drum beats differently to anywhere else, referring to the primordial, magical and timeless aspect that the land possesses. This came to mind, when in 2007, I was invited for the second time to submit a proposal for a sculpture for Truro’s Lemon Quay. I viewed the opportunity as a chance to celebrate something that would reflect an aspect of Cornwall and its people, and not just the city.
What does it mean when we refer to Cornwall as timeless or magical and what makes this County different from any other? The search for answers led to walks across moor, coast, and underground into the tin mines, to conversations with different people, from all walks of life. “You could feel the black,” an ex-miner described the thick, stifling, dimly lit atmosphere of his subterranean working environment. It’s a description that had profound resonance.
After some thought, I concluded that Cornwall in modern times is better known as a tourist destination and a place where many people have chosen to settle. There is, however, something more fundamental that defines the peninsula. Many miles from the country’s administrative centre, poised on the edge, jutting out into the great Atlantic Ocean; Cornwall is geographically and to some extent, economically remote. The shared sense of magic and timelessness that one feels not only comes from the barren landscape and rugged coastline and from the quality of light the peninsula possesses, but also from the dereliction and desolation left over from a by-gone industrial age. Living in a remote place often brings some kind of hardship. Perhaps it is this that has instilled within the nature of its people, a quiet and proud sense of independence paralleled with an instinct to survive whatever the prevailing circumstances may be.
In the archives of Truro Museum there is an extensive collection of photographs of tin miners working underground around the turn of the 1900s, taken by the photographer J.C. Burrows. One photograph in particular, portrays seven men standing in front of a mineshaft. The image is both haunting and austere; the subjects look sternly into the camera lens, they are united by life’s hardships, which are etched into the faces of each and every man, a look that is more difficult to find in Cornwall today.
It is perhaps then, the men and boys that mined tin for generations in the heat and darkness below ground level, and the fishermen that battle against the sea that best describe the spirit of ‘steely resilience.’ It is exactly this that The Drummer celebrates as it forces a mighty blow upon the drum.
The ball on which the figure balances relates to the sea, earth and the bright moon that shines across expansive night skies. The composition originates from an installation entitled La Corrida ~ Dreams in Red. The decision to use the ball was inspired by the quay’s circular paving design, which refers to the tidal water beneath it. The ball suggests both a sea buoy and the globe across which a great many Cornish people migrated to find work.
The Drummer sculpture is cast in bronze, an alloy composed of copper and tin. The cast contains both an ingot of Cornish tin and Cornish copper which has been symbolically thrown into the crucible during the smelting process. The emblem of the lamb and flag embossed upon the drum represents purity and refers to Truro’s past as a stannary town where tin was weighed, stamped and sold. Situated midway between Land’s End and Saltash, Truro has traditionally served its rural community as a commercial centre. In turn, the Drummer brings to the heart of it a sense of the rural community through which it celebrates the rhythm and beat that drives many festivities throughout the county: the Helston Floral, Penzance’s Mazey day, St Just’s Lafrowda and that most primal and magical of rites, The Padstow Obby Oss and more recently, Truro’s winter city lights.
Twenty-five years on from my first arrival in Cornwall, it is an honour to have been commissioned to create this work. It is uncanny, yet fitting, that the sculpture, which endeavours to define something about Cornwall and its people, should have been created in a disused quarry building in a remote location that was once the centre of the granite industry where rock was blasted and shaped by masons. It is that same rock which paves the many streets of our capital, three hundred miles away.
Tim Shaw. 2011

This statement and more about the statue can be found at this website: http://www.millenniumgallery.co.uk/catalogues.htm

Here is a picture of Tim trying to explain the above to an interested local resident:

Personally, as a resident of Truro who pays council tax, I think this statue is a good addition to the town. I think the council has been brave to spend money on it, and applaud them for it.

If we do not provide art of interest in public spaces the world would be a very boring place.

Here is my favourite picture from the event showing all the dignitaries who took part:

albeit from the back!!!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Our Garden

Today I took the opportunity, whilst the car was parked down the road, to take a few pictures of our garden.

It may not be the prettiest garden in the world, but we are very pleased with it. We don't have much space, and as we don't own our home, we cannot make too many changes.

Having said that, we have made quite a few changes in the eleven months that we have been here. We have painted the garden walls white (they were blue before), and I have created a piece of artwork which now covers some storage space. We have planted up the two corner raised beds, and we brought some potted plants from our previous home.

This the view from our kitchen window (I think it is quite nice):

These are the view from where the care is usually parked:

Mr Pusskins made sure he got in the picture!

The artwork under the kitchen window is my nod at the Cornwall Respect Festival which will happen in Truro later this year. It shows the St Piran's Flag representing Cornwall and the coloured stripes represent the diversity of people living in Cornwall.

I didn't take any pictures of the garden when we first arrived, but this one was taken when the fence got broken (see previous post).

Monday, 16 May 2011

Books & Reading

Before we moved to Cornwall, or at least before I stopped working last April, I was reading, approximately, one book a week. That was because I had quite a long journey to work, and could read whilst I was sitting on the bus and train.

But, since we moved to Cornwall, I have been finding it very difficult to read. Even though I have all the time in the world to spend reading.

That has now begun to change, for two reasons:

The first reason is that a friend gave me a manuscript that they had written and I promised to read it. Although it took me a long time to get started I finally made myself sit down and read, because I felt guilty about holding on to it so long. When I got into it I really enjoyed it, both the process of reading and the story itself.

The second reason is that I have joined a book club. Having read and enjoyed the manuscript, I decided that if I found a local book club then that would encourage me to read more. So the local library pointed me towards Waterstone’s  (a bookshop), which has a reading group that meets once a month. I went to our local Waterstone’s (about eight minutes walk from home) and enquired. They gave me the date and time of meetings so in early April I went along for the first time.  There were thirty people attending (28 women and 2 men including me). I was made very welcome and given a glass of white wine on my arrival.

We then did some introductions and had a discussion about:

A book, which I already had, because a friend recommended it, but which I had only read part of. Anyway it was lovely evening with lots of good discussion and varying views.

The chosen book for the May meeting was:

I managed to read it on time for the meeting. I had never read a Graham Greene book before. I enjoyed it. His characters were very well developed, and I felt it was a story line that could be applied today, even though it was written in 1938.

The book for next month’s meeting is:

Which I managed to read in a week (quite an achievement for me). It’s very good. It is the story of a family in modern day Bombay and explores relationships and personal dilemmas.  

I am now reading:

Which was recommended by The English Writer.

It is a fantastic book, I can’t wait to get it finished.

July’s book club selection is:

The point of all this is to say that I am getting back into regular reading and am enjoying it very much.

There is a lot to be said for turning the telly off and opening a book. Try it!