Osprey Watch

Kielder Forest and Water. Partaking in training to become a volunteer who will Osprey watch over the summer this year. It is an interesting gig, learning about the birds as they come back to the forest after wintering in Senegal or The Gambia.

Kielder has become the home for 7 mating pairs of Ospreys for the abundance of space and fish to raise fledglings. Our job will be to set up the scopes for viewing the nesting pairs. To talk to visitors about their behaviours and raise the profile of our birds as they work together to build up their chicks for becoming independent birds over the summer months.

There are also Osprey watch cruises upon Kielder water to check out all the nests along the reservoir.

In the past, I’ve volunteered for certain things, indoor jobs, like manning phones for charities, running creative workshops, talking to kids about writing etc. I’ve never volunteered for anything out in nature as I never thought I would be of any use. Or there was the underlying feeling of not belonging there. Bit by bit this self-limiting attitude is changing.

I look forward to start and share my experiences.

Hazel Catkins

Walk down by the falls, in winter, catch the scent of wet clay upon the breeze of indifference. Dullness is broken by golden catkins, with a hint of blush. Light and soft prickles flutter, hanging long, delicate and strong. Underneath, collect the hazelnuts but pay a mind to the grey squirrel with a rosy back, who probably needs them more than you. Share and connect as we are all kin. We are one.

The Centre For Life

Yesterday we took a trip to the Centre for Life in Newcastle, a Life Science Centre which was showing a whole heal of exhibitions and films about space and time travel and the night skies. We rocked up there not knowing what to expect but we weren’t disappointed. I can see how the entry fee would put people off, as it’s kind of steep, but really if you’re being savvy which we weren’t really, you could stay in there all day, take a packed lunch and get your money’s worth. As it was we were in there for nearly 5 hours and we hardly covered the place.

It’s a place where your inner kid can roam. I suggest you take some kids along with you because then you have no choice but to get down to their level and look around the experiment stations, the brain exhibitions, the play stations and the displays with wonder and curiosity.

The best part for me was sitting in the Planetarium with my head right back so I could watch the night sky to its fullest on the dome screen. The presentation on the stars and constellations and our universe was so amazing. And I just found myself, like a kid again, exclaiming ‘wow’ at every new image and cool fact. This is the second time this year that I’ve had the opportunity to learn about the night skies and I’m sure it’s not going to be my last as these happenings are working to open up a door inside me which always said I was too stupid to know anything about our universe or life beyond us. But maybe it was a case of just not giving this field of knowledge and research enough attention. It’s science right? And black girls don’t do science! Wrong!

Well I’m learning now and I’m definitely not too stupid to take it all in and run with it.

Miss Ella touching a piece of the moon

Broken Wing

Walking back from the woods, I find you, a couple of spruce pine cones, squashed, into shapes that reminds me of a broken wing; feathers bent back at an awkward angle, tawny like an eagle or an owl.

My breath catches at the thought of death and destruction, of an imaginary bird, landlocked without the aid of one wing.

My heart somersaults at such a striking thought that’s followed quickly upon by feelings of blame lying at our feet.

Launch Event

I was invited to the launch event of an exhibition bring the book Lost Words by Jackie Morris and Robert MacFarlane to life at the Sill this week. I’d seen the book and have admired the images, but I hadn’t spent much time with the text.

The premise is that generations of children are growing up not knowing the names of things in nature, or being able to recognise them. That this knowledge has slipped out of existence and this book was created as a way of recapturing the magic, bringing these lost words back to life. Such words and natural living things as bramble, conker and fern.

I had the most enjoyable evening talking to fellow visitors as well as hearing some of the spells within the book being read aloud. It was inspiring so much so that I intended to link into the idea of lost words, and lost worlds as I return this weekend to the Sill to facilitate a storytelling session about the multicultural communities from ether past who lived and worked around Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland.

Fern

Fern’s first form is furled,
Each frond fast as a fiddle-head.
Reach, roll and unfold follows.
Fern flares.
Now fern is fully fanned.

Robert MacFarlane

The Weekend

It’s been a busy weekend. I’m not sure if it was planned that way or if it just creeped up on us. But it was definitely a family kind of time. And as I start getting ready for turning in with a good book ( more to say here as I share my reading for the month soon), I do so with a contented smile on my face.

For the last few months, the weekend has come and gone with nothing to show for it. Yes this is prime time to rest and recover from the week. But it is also important time to reconnect with those closest to me. My peeps. And this can be done inside or outside the house. The important thing is to make the time. And to be honest, we haven’t been making the time.

I feel the difference, now at Sunday night, of enjoying a weekend where we have made time for each other. We’ve been to a basketball match as a family. Met up with friends for rollerblading. Went on an evening excursion to look at the dark skies. It was cloudy though but still a learning experience. And then today, having granddad round for dinner, was the best way to round it all off.

We’re not made of money and probably couldn’t do all these activities every weekend. But it wasn’t so much about what we did or where we went. It was all about spending time with each other.

I’m grateful for what we did this weekend as well as how we were. Doing and being together has set me up for the week ahead with a smile in my heart.

Do you wanna know a secret?

Do you wanna know a secret?

Yes I thought that might get your attention. I’m willing to share my dirty little secret if you’re willing to listen?

Okay. Here goes.

I love Nordic Noir. There. It’s out now and I feel a whole heap better.

When I want to chill and relax and switch off, I switch on a Scandinavian crime drama or pick up a novel in the same genre.

There’s something about the landscapes that act as a backdrop for the crime, usually a grizzly murder, that holds my attention and enchants me. I know. Sick right! All these people getting bumped off and there’s blood and guts everywhere and I’m mesmerised by the ice and snow and the mountains that set the scene.

This genre is quality storytelling as well and solid characterisation and suspense and tension too.

I can binge watch a whole series or read a whole book in a evening ( and into early morning) when I get into a certain groove and I’m not ashamed to tell you. At the moment I’ve been making my way through Walter Presents series on All 4. Last night was Rebecka Martinsson: Arctic Murders. A Stockholm lawyer who returns to her hometown after a childhood friend’s death. And isn’t her home town remote, icy and full is lakes and mountains? Beautiful.

I know it’s pure escapism but from time to time it’s good for me, or anyone really, to suspend reality and slip into another, usually distant from the norm, world. I do believe it supports me in my day to day living and striving and thriving. A little sanctuary of make believe. I highly recommend it, I do.

The Healing Properties of the Sea

My task today is to write a love letter to the body of water that has sustained me, healed me, and nurtured me.

This has to be the North Sea as it has been on my doorstep for decades, even if, I’ve just come to appreciate it more in last 10 years.

A couple of years ago, I came up with the title, ‘The Healing Properties of the Seas‘ for a project involving water. It was basically 10 second videos of bodies of water. On a website for everyone to enjoy. Accompanying this would be a symposium, interviews with me talking to other people about their connection to water etc. There would be an open submission for people around the world to share their 10 second clips of bodies of water.

I have hundreds of 10 second clicks of the North Sea and other waters and I feel I don’t appreciate water enough. The planet’s water enough. I’m fixing to change this and hopefully get, ‘The Healing Properties of Seas‘, off the ground. Are you with me?

Longsands, Tynemouth, UK

The Goddess Series is going on show!

I recently got this photograph from the #100daysofthegoddessandlove series enlarged and printed onto photo board.

I sat for a few days with her in my living room exhibited on a black metal easel. I would sit and just look at her. I would say to anyone passing, I made that. I was blown away by how beautiful my work looked. And it didn’t bother me if no one else loved it/ her it was enough that I did. I’m proud of my creation. I look at her and smile. I feel a deep swell of love for her. But really it’s for myself and my achievements. I don’t need anyone else to tell me I’m ‘doing good’. External validation is not sort or needed.

I didn’t make this physical piece of art to sit in my sitting room though. I’m preparing for an exhibition of prints; prints of the Goddess.

I’ve been invited to exhibit this series at a special fund raising event for a charity which is close to my heart, with which I’ve been developing a relationship with over the last couple of years.

The Angelou Centre, Newcastle, is a unique Black-led space dedicated to supporting and uplifting Black, Asian and ethnic minority women across the North East region of England. This centre offers a holistic approach to improving the lives of these women, some who are very vulnerable and are suffering. At a national level, the Angelou Centre strives to make sure these women’s voices are represented and heard, especially in relation to the issues that they face every day.

The Angelou Centre is celebrating 25 years this year and are organising an inspiring fund raising event to mark the occasion. It seems fitting that the Goddess should make an appearance at this special event because she is so very good at teaching myself and others what it really means to love and care for ourselves. There will be music and dancing, food and spoken word. I will be performing my poetry and reciting ‘Still I Rise’ by Maya Angelou. Such an honour.

I’m looking forward to the event but also nervous as I will be exposed in more ways than one on the evening. But I know in my gut that I’m so ready for this.

Friday 25 October, at the Grand Hotel, Gosforth Park. More details can be found here. See if you can come along. It’s for a great cause.