Fur, Feather & Fenland Poet Laureates

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Last month I attended the Fenland Poet Laureate Awards event. It was weird for me because I was there as an audience member, not an organiser. I founded the awards in 2011 (you can read how proud I am to have done so, here!) Elaine Ewart and Leanne Moden, both former Fenland Laureates, did a great job of organising and hosting the event, and the poets were all wonderful and enthralling.

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I was asked to give a speech, and after starting by telling the audience that I’d had to write some notes so that I didn’t accidentally lapse into something irrelevant, like animal impressions, I carried on to thank all the good people and talk a bit about the background of the awards.

Then, when I’d finished, I’m not sure how it happened, but I said, ‘And now  for an animal impression!’ and did my generic multi-animal impression (those who know me witness this regularly!) and finished with, ‘ItÂ’s a horse, a rabbit, and maybe even a rat!Â’

I’m slightly embarrassed, but I’m not sorry!

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Poppy Kleiser won the title of Fenland Poet Laureate 2014 with a most magical and beautiful poem. She was so, so pleased, and surprised. I thought she might die. I thought Elaine was going to pass out. It was all very dramatic!

You can read more about the winners on Elaine’s poetry blog here, Leanne’s poetry blog here, and check out this marvellous photograph of Elaine, Poppy and Leanne. I’m surprised Poppy is in focus, she was shaking so much!

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This is a cross section of a swans leg bone! Ta da! Fluffy and light, like an Aero.

On the same evening as the Fenland Poet Laureate Awards, Elaine launched her first book of poetry. Fur, Feather and Fen is a collection of works, mainly written whilst Elaine was in post as Fenland Poet Laureate in 2012. I photographed and designed the cover, and here it is! The book includes the poem that won Elaine the role of the first ever Fenland Poet Laureate. It’s a lovely collection, well worth a read and doesn’t it look pretty?! If you’d like to find out more, pop over to Elaine’s blog to find out more about stockists and other things.

elaine ewart fur feather and fen book cover

Goats & Trains

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Whilst rummaging through my vintage recipe magazine stash I came across this marvellous envelope. ‘Photos first, then pay!’ Absolutely.

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Look at the faces of those delighted customers. Is she licking that photo? I think it might be laced with acid.

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Last week I attempted to travel into London. I wasn’t successful. The train left Downham Market on time (08:44) and got as far as Hitchin, but there was a problem with overhead cables and an announcement was made,  ‘Those wishing to travel to Kings Cross, this train will not go to Kings Cross, so get off the train!’ That was the extent of the information supplied, seriously. There were confused people everywhere, there was even some crying going on (not me!) Eventually it was suggested we return to Cambridge where we could get on a different train, but when we arrived there were no trains going in to London, because of the overhead cables. Then it hailed. Then I gave up. I got the train back to Downham and arrived home at two-ish, five hours after I’d left, having achieved nothing apart from this photograph of a marvellous numberplate!

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I did contact First Capital Connect to let them know about the terrible wasted journey. They emailed me to tell me that there were state-of-the-art information signs that had kept me up-to-date, helpful staff, other trains and even coaches had been put on, and that they’d have to consider my application for a refund. I restrained from replying with,  ‘ha ha ha ha ha!’  

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Do your goats get bored with hay? I made a little collage to illustrate the consequences. It’s for an exhibition at the Arthub Gallery, London, to raise money for two excellent charities, The Deborah Ubee Trust and The Ahoy. I hope they like it.

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A couple of weeks ago I had a teeny small piece of poetry displayed as part of an unusual exhibition in Wimbledon, called Jawspring, which launched on World Poetry Day. My piece was entitled The Death of Friendship, it’s about a good friend who turned very bad.

She was consumed by her own selfish head,
and fell into her own hollow heart. 

I was given the honorary title of  ‘Sushi Laureate’ and my words were printed on Dymo tape and displayed on the side of a large papier mache sushi!

I know! How do I get involved in these things?

Will Travel for Eyebrows & Other Things

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I went to Nottingham to get new eyebrows with my friend Isi. She took me to an awesome Indian supermarket where I bought plenty of food stuffs that IÂ’ve never seen before.

We had a sandwich in a funny little vegetarian cafe called Tramwiches. Genius name. The man who ran the cafe was really thankful when I pointed out the little rose on the napkin. He told me that there are many things that he does, that no one else does, but it goes unnoticed and he was very grateful that I had commented. He shook my hand. I think he may have had a tear in his eye. Off we went!

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We visited a bazillion shops. I tried to spend money, but it just wouldn’t happen. I reckon I spent a total of at least four hours in various dressing rooms. Hours passed and we barely managed to by anything. Eventually we got hungry, and somehow ended up in an old mans pub. The woman on the table next to us was talking loudly about the ghosts that shook her bed, ‘I saw a woman with a dead chicken!’ she exclaimed. I was so hungry and tired I got the barman to choose my dinner for me. Meatballs. Thank you.

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Before we left for home, Isi wanted to drop a plant off at her friend HayleyÂ’s house. When we got there HayleyÂ’s husband opened the door slowly and quietly, and let us in. Hayley heard IsiÂ’s voice and came through to the hall. ‘Are you alright then?Â’ asked Isi. ‘IÂ’ve just had a baby!Â’ said Hayley. Just a bit surreal. So, there I was, in a strangers house, where just a few hours previously sheÂ’d given birth to a little girl, who was there, being tiny and asleep – the newest small person I have ever met.

We had a pretty awesome, pretty varied, day!

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Today I met my dear and lovely friend David at Peterborough Museum. We had a look at the Treasure from Trash exhibition and wished it was a shop so we could take the things home. I do need that little metal bird, and this chicken.

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In the City Gallery there was a very interesting exhibition of work by  Michael Takeo Magruder, called Living Data. There were a series of digital pieces, using live data and programmed algorithms to create repeating images. Although the images appeared to be the same format, each time they emerged they were rendered differently due to the date used. For example, there was one piece using live information from the stock exchange which was them ‘processed’ by  digital code and transferred into an image of a skyline. It is interesting, and it is a very clever concept, but I think the terminology used in the descriptions makes it seem more clever than it really is. (But I couldn’t do it!)

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It’s Grimsby up North, and Hull, and Scunthorpe

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Before checking out of the Hilton we popped over the road to TKMaxx and marvelled at this jumper. We left Nottingham (and our jackets in the hotel wardrobe) and headed up to Hull to visit Adam’s cousin Sandie and her husband James.

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We went to The Larkin for burger times, and then to The English Muse for good hot drinks. I had the nicest Chai Latte. It goes to the top of my Chai Latte list. When we were walking down Newland Avenue I saw a small girl wearing bright (bright!) red lipstick eating a crab stick. Hull.

Apparently when the road was built there was a 100 year covenant regarding the sale of alcohol, but now that time has passed there are lots of bars and eateries popping up all over the place, helping add to the bustling business of the street.

It was fun to spend time with Sandie and James, it’s nice when you want to be friends with family, and they have a beautiful cat called Sage who actually let me touch him this timeÂ… he is SO soft!

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We scuttled off to Scunthorpe to meet up with some of the people we will be doing the Czecheap Challenge with later this year. I couldn’t wait to see Rob and Si, who I have claimed as family, and meet their lovely ‘other-halves’ Sarah and Angie. I liked them very much, so I am keeping them too!

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It was dark when we arrived in Scunthorpe, passed the massive steel works and the Coronation Club, to the Wortley House Hotel. The randomly placed TV stand and undersized artwork gave the room a bit of a bed-sit feel, but it was a very spacious room (with high ceilings) and a big comfortable bed. The bedding was soft, white and clean. The bathroom was also rather large, and tiled floor to ceiling in a proper full-on weird red colour – which I loved! AND there were biscuits and hot chocolate for us. Biscuits are always a winner with me!

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The hotel had a function room with a stage, and some local bands were playing covers whilst the audience were seated beyond the dance floor at long tables. It was all a bit bizarre for me. I thought I might have accidentally walked on to the set of Phoenix Nights!

Adam got talking to one of the bands and asked them if they did any of their own materials. The singer said, ‘No, there’s too many bands round here doing that!’ Ah, alright then.

We had a far more peaceful and comfortable nights sleep than the night before. We paid a special rate of just £50, including breakfast. I’m not sure if I will ever have the need to stay in Scunthorpe again, but if I do I will head straight back to the friendly and welcoming staff at the Wortley House Hotel.

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On our way back home we stopped off at The Mill House Tea Rooms in Heckington. I stuffed a toasted cheese and chutney sandwich and glugged a cup of steamed milk with cinnamon. The waiter was excited that I was the first person in six months to ask for steamed milk. There were other customers there, and I only felt slightly as if I was in an Alfred Hitchcock film.

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Apparently Heckington Mill is the only eight-sailed mill in Western Europe. We thought it looked a bit funny.

Next door in the old sack store is a small brewery, run by an ex-teacher. They have a shop full of local beers and ciders, so we filled the car and drove home.

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