Flutter Bugs & Shutter Hub

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We popped over to Welney WWT for the Pimms and Poetry event that Elaine has organised three years in a row now. It was a lovely super summery evening. The poets were absolutely wonderful, as were the moths. I love moths!

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I hung out with a beautiful Elephant Hawk moth for
quite some time and  had a brief encounter with a Poplar Hawk moth.

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We also, very excitingly, opened the inaugural Shutter Hub OPEN. It’s an exhibition of photography from across the globe, and we are really pleased to be supporting the photographers involved. It’s pretty cool to be able to bring work from Malaysia, Dubai, Germany, South Africa, Israel and the UK, all together in my favourite museum.

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One of the fun things about this exhibition is that there is a ‘Best in Show’ prize, where visitors to the exhibition can vote for their favourite piece. The exhibition runs until 12th July, but if you can’t make it over to the Wisbech & Fenland Museum you can still see all of the work online and vote for your favourite too. Have a look, there’s some great photography to be inspired by.

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We’ve got a few great exhibiting opportunities coming up for photographers, so if you are keen to find out more, pop over to Shutter Hub and get involved!

 

Old Friends, New Friends, Good Times!

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Do you remember the mural I was working on with the young people in Parson Drove? The idea of the mural was conceived by Sophie, one of the youth club members. She wanted to create something for the village hall where they met. We needed to keep it open and friendly, for it to belong to the young people, but also to be about sharing and being part of a community.

We talked about the things the young people did at youth club, and how we could symbolise these, but more importantly we talked about how they felt about youth club, and the feelings evoked by being part of this group.

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‘A symbol is something that represents something other than itself.’

Colours were selected to symbolise certain things, and combined with shapes to create another level of symbolism. ItÂ’s like a code really. Everything is there to be a visual treat, to create different responses from different people, but also to be a hidden language shared between friends – a common understanding.

Tyler started a list of things to do with youth club, it read – Old friends, new friends, good times. It stuck.

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One of my favourite shapes is the rock. Not to be mistaken for a mouldy potato, of course. It was a symbol chosen by one of the lads who told me that youth club made him feel brave.

Brave?  He carried on to say that he could speak to people, relax and be confident there. It wasn’t like anywhere else.

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Brave. I love his choice of word, I think itÂ’s a quite beautiful sentiment. It’s these little things that make me feel proud and pleased to have been a part of this creative investigation with them all.

Lotus Cup UK Speed Championship – Abingdon (Round 5)

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I am a child inside. I dream I will wake up one day and suddenly be an awesome racing driver. Today was not the day!

After an average nights sleep at The Upper Reaches, where I dreamt of bad breakfast buffets and Tunnocks caramel wafers, we ate our acceptable breakfast and headed off to the Abingdon CARnival.

The CARnival is an annual charity Motorsport event, which amongst other things, includes a sprint. Abingdon was different to other events I’ve done, because there were two tracks to be driven in the day, and the best times from each were aggregated to produce our overall competing time. There were hundreds of cars there, from Jedi’s, Sylvas and Westfields, to TVR’s, Porsches and Alfas. There was also a Vauxhall Nova.

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We started off on the Bentley course, and within moments the rain had started to fall. My first practice run wasn’t so bad, it kind of put me in the middle of the pack, but that was the highlight of my day really! I queued up for my second practice, but was told I was too early, so I had to re-queue. When I next got to the front of the queue the rain was coming down so hard that they decided to suspend the event. We took shelter in Duncan’s trailer. There was a nice lady in there reading a book. I ate a flapjack and watched the river of rain wash by.

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Eventually, and amazingly, the sun came out and the water started to disperse. Part of the course had to be changed due to a large puddle, so we were allowed another practice run to see these changes. I had hoped I might get another run, because other drivers had been able to get out three times, and although I’d queued up four times, I’d only been out twice! The rain had held us up too much, and the next run was the first timed run. I was 0.5 seconds behind the next car, but still last. Then the gap widdened as I made a mistake with the brakes on run two, putting myself almost 1.5 seconds behind the next driver, and still last!

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After lunch we moved over onto the Abingdon course. This was by far my favourite of the two, which surprised me, as looking at the maps before I left I really thought I’d like the Bentley more. I enjoyed it, but I was slow! I ended up 3.5 seconds behind the next driver.

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After the times were aggregated I ended up with 117.91, just over 5 seconds behind the next driver, and positioned 11 out of 11 in my class.

On a plus side though, I wasn’t the slowest driver out there on the day – overall I placed 106 out of 130 cars that completed both courses (some retired, so they don’t get counted) and I really enjoyed myself.

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I have to keep reminding myself that I have never seen or driven these tracks before, and I am competing against drivers who have already ‘been there’ and ‘done that’. A lot of people attend track days between events so that they can get practice in, and I guess that makes a lot of difference too. I’m always too busy cuddling cats and chasing chickens!

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On Sunday I got a message from Lynne (wife of another driver, and motivator of me too!) to say that the Motors TV programme with us all in, was now on YouTube and to have a look! We were away in Prague when it was on tele, and I really wanted to see it, so I was very excited, and ta da! Here it is! Go on, have a look! The Speed Championships part starts at 43.45 – that’s me waving my map around, and my car is number 11 – you’ll spot it, it’s the one that’s going the wrong way!

A Night at The Upper Reaches, Abingdon

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It was a super hot day, the hottest of the year so far and I was stuck in traffic in my little hot-box of a car. Then I got double road raged by a weirdo little trucker who was obviously very angry – I think he needed a poo!

I got to the hotel before Adam. There were biscuits, so I ate them.

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The Upper Reaches is an attractive old building with a 1960’s annex. I liked the annex, I thought it should be on a lake, with a speed boat and tall trees.

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The room was pleasant, the carpet was lumpy. I expect lumpy in old buildings. There are some things you have to make allowances for when you are staying in a building that is apparently ancient.

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 I liked the Oak leaf motif on the bathroom tiles, very Laura Ashley circa 1980. That’s not sarcasm. The bedroom was tidy, but everything seemed a bit tired, modern, but faded and worn around the edges. The armchair, or the corner where the armchair was, smelt of fly spray, and the guest comment card had dust on it! On closer inspection there was a lot of dust.

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It seems they do offer a good funeral reception though (dead people don’t mind dust).

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 The location was great: a lovely building, quiet and pretty with an ancient stream running under the restaurant, the river Thames on the other side of the building, and the mill pond with swans and fluffy grey cygnets that would have made nice slippers.

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Oh, and the pigeons, the magnificent pigeons! There is a lady who lives next door to the hotel and she likes pigeons too, she feeds them a lot and they love it.

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We were both tired but had a lot to catch up on, Adam had been away all week in Stuttgart and Brussels and I needed to hear about airports and hotels. We wandered around the pretty little town centre and ended up in Pizza Express. The waitresses were definitely in competition with each other (at one point I saw one push another one out of the way!) and they seemed more keen on serving the sweary old geezers sat behind me than taking our order. Perhaps if I’d tried the line, ‘You’re a good girl aren’t you?’ with a wink and a wheeze, they might have been fighting to serve us too!

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Back at the hotel we went to sleep early. It was so quiet, hot, very hot, very quiet though. The only things I heard all night were two razzing cars with dump valves and some early morning bird song.

The reception staff were wonderful. You could not fault the service. I mentioned we were going to Abingdon CARnival and within seconds I was being handed a freshly printed map.  On Saturdays they don’t start breakfast until 8am, but they were ready and willing at 6.45am to bring us tea, toast, cereal, fruit and yoghurt – with a smile.

I’d like to go back to The Upper Reaches, I’d like them to deal with the dust first, but then I’d like to go back. I’d sit outside and watch the birds, make friends with the pigeon lady, and have dinner in the restaurant whilst watching the old mill wheel sloshing slowly round.

The room rate at The Upper Reaches was £70, including breakfast for two. Considering the great service and fantastic location, (locally pretty but also close to Oxford) I think that’s really good value.