Films, Gravesend, Community Pub and Snow!

So after the flu nonsense, things are slowly getting back to normal. Because of this, I thought I’d do a chatty blog post about my recent favourites.

  • Films

I went to see the Darkest Hour with my friend which, as I’m sure you know, is a British war film directed by Joe Wright, written by Anthony McCarten and stars Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. Yes, I liked it and found the drama, atmosphere and historical ambience, extremely authentic. Obviously, some of the plot is fictional but lets face it, we all got the drift! Excellent film and well worth seeing. Films/dramas are good for reminding people, particularly the very young, of what went on in the past.

The other film I saw was The Post, an American political thriller, directed by Steven Spielberg, written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer. This film stars Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. Both Streep and Hanks performed well and you couldn’t help thinking about the film’s allusions to Nixon and Trump. The plot relates to leaked papers about the Vietnam war, being surreptitiously leaked to The New York Times and after a court injunction ending up being published by The Washington Post during the early 70s. The Post is owned by heiress Katharine Graham, who is often overruled by overbearing male colleagues. That is until she decides to publish the papers and sticks to her brave decision despite frenetic opposition. This is another good film which, enamored from a feminist viewpoint and reminded me how times have changed in the workplace. Most bosses, in this film, were portrayed as male and well over 40. The youngsters were used as message carriers, etc. However, dare I say, I sat thinking older people have enormous value in the workplace because of wisdom, knowledge and experience. Not always sure if giving an inexperienced youngster a senior position (as nowadays) unless a brilliant incumbent, is a good idea. The film shows how feminism has changed times over the last 40 years, but I must confess, found the age issue as above, more prevalent and captivating.

  • Gravesend, Photography and a Community Owned Pub!

A few weeks ago, we decided to drive towards north Kent. Having suffered flu, I was desperate to go out for the day. We drove to Dartford, and found it a bit run down and uninteresting so drove to Gravesend which was quite curious, in a strange sort of way.

We wandered about the ancient town and found a vintage market and some independent shops. We stopped for a cup of tea in a vintage cafe and then strolled towards the Gravesend Town Pier. This is the world’s oldest surviving cast iron pier, built in 1834 and refurbished in 2004 as a restaurant.

The view, which included the Gravesend – Tilbury Ferry, was splendidly gritty with the grey, glowing sky and wind turbines. Out came the Nikon camera.

The views were dull and spectacular at the same time. Grey clouds, distant industry, moving turbines and a red vessel. Many minutes were spent fiddling with the white balance and appropriate camera settings to get the gritty photo. It was exciting because I knew I could capture something different from the usual landscape photography.

The LV21 lightship is moored here and a spectacular sight. It was built in 1963 and a unique 40m steel-hulled lightship which saw most service, off the Kent coast. She has now undergone a transformation into a floating cultural facility designed to host artists of various disciplines.

  • The Community Pub!

Eventually we left Gravesend and drove towards Stockbury to visit a community owned pub, the Harrow. During 2016, a public meeting attracted 150 folks to dig deep into their pockets and raise £300,000 to save the pub. Well, what an amazing place. A beautiful bar area, friendly staff serving a wonderful selection of ales, craft beer, gin, whisky and wine. Oh, and the food looked good as well. The landlady was trying to eat a roast dinner whilst serving the thirsty community. Up and down like a yo-yo, poor women. She kept smiling and seemed to enjoy her role. Wonderful place, just wish I had a jolly, well kept local like this one, near me.

  • We’ve finally had some snow!

A few days ago we had a couple of inches of snow so I grabbed my Nikon, and went off traipsing over fields to shoot the snow filled landscape, which is something I hadn’t done before because the UK snow doesn’t reach Kent very often. It was quite awkward trying to take photos and keep the camera dry. Somehow managed to take some shots whilst the snow was falling and even managed to crawl on the freezing grass for one photo. Great fun though, and I liked one or two of the results. It is true what the experts say, you have to take about 50 photos to find one you like.

  • Musings about Blogging

Recently, because of the time of year, found it tricky to find enough to write about, but as I’ve sat down this sunny, spring like afternoon, I’ve managed to find a few snippets to blog about. So the moral of the story is, if you’ve run out of content ideas, just sit down and write!

Thank you for reading my blog and don’t forget to follow.

Will this be the year of walking and photography?

Unfortunately, I’ve been poorly for much of January and only just getting back to normal. To be honest, it has made me feel low and lethargic. Hence, the lack of posts lately! However, one thing I have enjoyed is copious amounts of walking, as I’m recuperating.

This year seems to be the year for walking, as a form of exercise. The weather can be cold and grey, but it has also been sunny, cold with some beautiful sunsets. Walking is a great way to explore places and become fitter.

If you mix it up a bit, it becomes fun too. For example, you can go to local parks, countryside walks, town or city walks or go around a National Trust place.

Haysden Country Park, Tonbridge

 

London walks are enormous fun. You can discover squares, alleys, lanes, parks, heaths, gardens, palaces, rivers and so on. The variety of terrain is fantastic for the urban investigator and as well as historic areas you can view the visually spectacular as well. Certainly a different way of exercising and seeing the capital!

Another way of making walking even more interesting is to do them in conjunction with another hobby. I’ve recently participated in a photography course which although basic, provided a wonderful insight into the world of photography. So sometimes the camera 🎥 comes with me and I stop and take photos.

Yesterday, I went to Haysden Park and snapped away. The blue sky and sunshine was very uplifting and I was impressed with the improvements made to the paths and area. When we arrived, I was furious to see you had to pay to park which is ludicrous. Yes, I know it may go towards the upkeep, but can’t help feeling it’s a bit ‘brave new world’ when one day, we will only have a few green places left to go to, and will have to pay to enter and enjoy them. Sorry, 😐 got a little creative there, but paying to enter green spaces is the beginning of the end, isn’t it?

The park was busy, probably because of the glorious weather. The lake is beautiful and we loved seeing all the birds, particularly the graceful swans. Two swans had a noisy fight, literally a few feet away, which was captured with the Nikon (just).

The benefits of walking are tantamount to other exercise, especially if you do 10,000 steps per day. Rather a tall order to achieve daily, but a worthwhile challenge. If you are not used to exercise, it is the safest form of exercise, a way to lose weight and radically improve your health. 150 minutes per week of exercise, is the recommended amount we should all be doing and walking is something fairly easy to slot into life.

For me, I’ve been enjoying local parks, group countryside walks and solitary dog walks through local woodland and orchards. What I do fancy is some more city walks because it is great to explore new areas. Sometimes I just snap away on my phone rather than take a camera, but I’ve enjoyed wandering around the countryside and recommend to all. Take a good map so you don’t get lost and walk at a brisk pace. The speed you should be walking is 3 mph and be able to talk but not sing.

A great source of ideas is the internet because you can find some simple circular routes near where you live. To pass the time, I sometimes listen to a podcast or music, but this is rare, as I like to enjoy the surroundings in peace. All very tranquil and relaxing, particularly if you are having a stressful time.

My latest passion is putting a few of my photos on Instagram and a great way to learn from other professionals and decide what makes a good photo. Plus, it is somewhere to file your photos and receive opinions/comments from others.

 

Source: https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/getting-started-guides/Pages/getting-started-walking.aspx

Ramblings about Fitness and 2018

According to research, walking makes you happy, healthy and can save your life. Apparently, this is probably the answer to the inactivity which is common now and the associated problems such as obesity. Face it, walking is a simple, cheap occupation and not very time consuming. I still like to run and workout, but increasingly, venture outside and go for a brisk walk.

The inactive lifestyle that seems so popular now, is serious because four out of ten men and five out of ten women are not moving enough. 60% of adults, and 30% of children are overweight or obese and this is costing the UK, £10 billion per year.

My issue with this is that not enough is done to help prevent the various illnesses caused by inactivity and overeating. It is something I seriously struggle with. People tell me this is because doctors want to prescribe drugs for business reasons. This is probably a little unfair, but surely more can be done to promote a healthy life? The stuff on TV tends to promote diet, fitness, and is obviously promoting certain products, businesses and supermarkets. More could be about stuff like new activities, hobbies, books, etc. which feed the soul!

So we need to do more and eat healthier in order to avoid cancer, heart disease and diabetes, etc. Apart from these reasons walking is a way of meeting others; it is cheap, usually safe from injuries and a good way to get to where you need to be both mentally and physically.

One reason I like to exercise is to…, wait for it, raise my mood. If I’m feeling lazy and eating too much wrong food or drink, the mood does become lower. Clearly, exercise combats this and if you run/walk outside it is a great antidote to the winter blues.

Research also shows an increase in creative flow. This doesn’t surprise me because often when out running or walking, I find myself forming ideas about this blog or a new project.

According to a 2014 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, Learning, Memory, and Cognition, going for a walk can spark creativity. “Researchers administered creative-thinking tests to subjects while seated and while walking and found that the walkers thought more creatively than the sitters,”

My plan is to attempt a healthy month in February. The reason I haven’t done the diet bit much in January is because I can’t cope with the Dry January thing (yes, a letter has been sent to the charity concerned) and everybody flocking to the gym. My aim is to lose some weight as I’ve put over a stone on since this time last year. I’ve started with the exercise and cut out some naughty foods, and a serious attempt is booked for February. Recently, I listened to a podcast and they suggested listing things you wanted to do this year. I’ve incorporated mine into The Plan. This way, I can look back and see what I’ve accomplished. The notes/ideas are in brackets and may be changed.

The Plan

Exercise (maybe do an organized 10k run, maybe? ;-))

Explore (local walking and this has already been started)

Read (books not internet and new focus on non-fiction)

Travel (particularly UK/Holland/Scandinavia??)

Healthier foods (new recipes, already made some veggie prawn patties)

Avoid drinking alcohol during the day (it wipes me out and makes me poorly)

Photography (maybe do another course?)

So I’ll continue to run/walk and hopefully some of the December weight will dissipate eventually. Oh, it is an ongoing battle, but someone’s got to do it.

 

Sources: https://www.walkingforhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/Walking%20works_summary_AW_Web.pdf

https://www.prevention.com/fitness/benefits-walking-every-day

Lumiere London – Review

Liberty’s

 

I was so pleased to see the City AM email about the Lumiere London Festival. Great excuse to go to London for a fun day out.

Carnaby Street

 

It was an absolutely fabulous adventure seeing this free light festival, which brings together the world’s most exciting artists. First, we sauntered down Carnaby Street and ended up at Liberty’s. My husband, who has not been to the famous store before, was eager to explore. What a fascinating place it is and such a beautiful old building too. We looked around the whole store including clothes, ornaments, objects d’art, furniture, and of course, what they are famous for, the fabrics department. Great fun and we did every floor!

Afterwards we frequented Carnaby Dishoom for a curry which was delicious 😋 and then ventured out towards Regent’s Street.

Here are the pics…

Origin of the World Bubble
Miguel Chevalier (France)
Oxford Circus

 

The ever changing ball was the best part of the show. Surreal and so effective. It’s about the movement and division of cells and ever changing universe. This installation is suspended above Oxford Circus and a wonderful feast for the eyes.

We walked along and saw the Umbrella Project, which entailed a choreographed performance piece using LED umbrellas. I found the performance quite bizarre and good fun.

We walked further and saw Frictions, Mader Wiermann (Germany) which shows a building appear to twist and buckle and return to the original shape. Then onwards to the Piccadilly area to see Voyage Camille Gross and Leslie Epsztein (France) which was again, a wonderful journey through time and space. It shows, by a moving format, the works of time and marks a changing world. Very clever and innovative.

Voyage
Camille Gross and Leslie Epsztein (France)

 

Then onwards to Spectral which is a colourful cord construction and illuminated with different colours and a striking and unusual spectacle.

Spectral
Katarzyna Malejka and Joachim Stugocki (Poland)

 

Another favourite was Love Motion by Rhys Coren (UK) in the Royal Academy of Arts courtyard. Wow! This was a remarkable animation of two people dancing and kissing. It was projected onto the facade of the RAA’s building and so effective and moving. You felt like you’d had a hug after watching this!

Love Motion
Rhys Coren (UK)

 

By now, we had walked miles and was ready for a pint. We made our way to Leicester Square Gardens to observe the amazing Nightlife by Lantern Company with Jo Pocock (UK). This is an illuminated nocturnal wonderland, bringing together the garden and animals and the relationship between them. Wild spaces and urban life reflecting a celebration of the natural world. Brilliant and a masterpiece.

Nightlife
Lantern Company with Jo Pocock (UK)

 

Finally, just before grabbing a quick pint we viewed the installation called Child Hood which consisted of luminous spheres flashing on and off whilst moving in the wind. Quite mesmerising.

Collectif Coin (France)

 

We also saw some small installations but I’ve concentrated on the magnificent ones, here. So glad we went on this adventure as we had no idea what to expect. My idea of bliss is finding an excuse to walk around London. A lot of the major roads were shut so it was a truly, surreal and magnificent occasion. Next year, we may try to see more during several evenings.

For more photography, film, comments and stories visit the Mishmash Media Blog Instagram. Thank you.

Andy 🙂

More photos…

Leicester Square – Nightlife

Off Carnaby Street

Harmonic Portal
Chris Plant (UK)

 

Beating the January Blues – 8 Tips…

The January blues appear to be even more prevalent this year. I’ve read several articles and heard many people complain about feeling ill and or despondent this year. Does this resonate with you?

Psychological research helps discover the reasons for this annual lack of vitality and is intensified by a perception of how someone wants things to be and how they actually are. The disparity between the two are highlighted during January after the excitement of December. This is not helped by the cultural activities which include spending so much condensed time with friends and family and in my opinion, now it is splashed across the internet, is exacerbated even more. Apparently, it is a time when people think about what they have achieved and this can lower their mood. The research at the University of Exeter explores what the mechanisms underpinning depression are and find the underlying factors which cause depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders. The research concentrates on three main areas which include underlying psychological mechanisms, psychological treatments plus trials and third, increase the accessibility of evidence-based treatments for as many people as possible.

The research determines how you can attempt to improve your mood and unsurprisingly include physical and mental exercise with an emphasis on socialising, hobbies but there is an interesting thought process that also helps according to Professor Ed Watkins, Director of the University of Exeter’s Mood Disorders Centre (MDC), :

“There is good evidence that being more active – physically and mentally – connecting with other people, getting absorbed in interesting activities, becoming more concrete and specific in your thinking (eg, by asking how?) rather than thinking about meanings and implications (eg, asking why?) all help people to feel better.”

(Source: https://www.exeter.ac.uk/research/feature/janblues/)

Ask yourself how rather than just why? This is making the thinking process more discernible, helpful and can change our perceptions.

The unit is working with Dutch colleagues processing controlled trials by providing internet treatment. Preliminary data shows this treatment reduces the risk of depression by a third. The unit is working with the charity Help for Heroes to support the mental health of veterans and their families. Also, a trial will be implemented by NHS Cornwall with a 1000 patients. Interesting times.

One thing we do know, is feeling low in January is common and so at least if you are feeling fed up, you know you are not alone.  Studies have shown that you can boost your mood by having Vitamin D. During the darker months we are not getting enough Vitamin D due to the lack of sunshine. This is another reason to go out for a walk!

Many foods help with this too and include:

Fortified breakfast cereals and dairy, eggs and fish such as sardines, herrings and salmon are all good sources. Plus, along with improving your mood, topping up on vitamin D can help strengthen the immune system and keep bones and teeth healthy.

(Souce: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/keep-momentum-how-beat-january-blues-0)

Another tip is to lay on the floor with your legs raised which helps boost energy and makes you feel calm. This is from the Chinese principle of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and relaxes the back and opens the stomach energy channel. Health expert Fiona Slatter suggests you do it when you wake up when your body needs the energy.

To sum up, there are many things you can do to help with the January blues but obviously if you feel really ill you should visit the good old GP. Personally, my favourite exercise at present is a countryside walk. I’ve done quite a bit of walking lately, some in a solitary way and some with others. Going with a local group is good because you hear some of the local news and about how others are coping with their lives. Exploring the local area by yourself is a fruitful way of doing something for your soul and is invigorating.

Something like checking out your outside space could be prudent. Wash your car, sweep the drive or tidy the garden. You may start chatting to the neighbours! Also, book a day trip, holiday or some sort of adventure. If you haven’t much dosh (it is January after all) go on an exploration adventure and take a picnic!

Hope you find some of the research and tips useful because it does seem to be a widely discussed issue. Think we all need some motivation to spark some life back into ourselves. As usual, I need to follow this advice too. Sometimes, you do have to just embrace the winter months and at least we can try to convince ourselves that spring is around the corner!

Top Tips…

Physical and mental exercise

Socialising

Hobbies

Becoming more concrete and specific in your thinking (eg, by asking how?) rather than thinking about meanings and implications (eg, asking why?)

Vitamin D

Diet (foods above)

Exploring new areas

Use your outside space

Book a holiday/adventure/day out

It’s all about the insta! https://www.instagram.com/mishmashmediablog/?hl=en 

Sources:

https://www.exeter.ac.uk/research/feature/janblues/

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/keep-momentum-how-beat-january-blues-0

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-154138/How-beat-January-blues.html

http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/the-january-blues-what-is-it-and-how-can-you-beat-it

Photos – Andy’s

Musings about December…

After my rant about the festivities, I had a wonderful holiday and feel quite refreshed. However, now realise some motivation is required to move forward any projects, etc., planned for this year. Funny how you tell yourself ‘after December, I’ll do this, that and the other’ and now it’s here, finally, one needs to make some decisions about life! Trying not to panic haha.

After the family gathering on the 25th Dec, which was a hoot, we went to Sheffield Park Gardens on Boxing Day and had a saunter around the lakes, decorated Christmas gardens and woodland. We took a picnic lunch, because, and I must plan this better, we had so much food left over. Next year, I must remember to prepare less food. I really didn’t need to bake those lemon cakes, and quite so many mince pies. Do you do this?

When in the car for a coffee break, the heavens opened and it poured with rain, so as it was 1 o’clock, we had our lunch. It was delicious and I’ve decided to start taking picnics more often because it’s so much less hassle than queuing up with the crowds and over paying for something quite ordinary.

We ventured back around the gardens and I concentrated on taking some photos with my new camera, the Nikon D3300 which was great fun. The place is beautiful even in the winter. The trees expose their structural form and reflect over the lakes. Having recently done a photography course, I was rather chuffed with the results and hopefully will improve during 2018.

We explored the 250 acres of parkland which dates back to the 18th century and you find yourself pausing and admiring the view of copses of trees around the hills. It is a wonderful place to explore, reflect and admire the parkland, streams, meadows and woodland. If you haven’t been, I can highly recommend a visit. A relaxing and serene environment where you feel you can get away from it all.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/

The next day, I took the borrowed dog, Oscar, for a long walk. It was quite windy and the sky was incredible with an amazing sunset. Really enjoy our walks and I’ve got to know many woodland and field walks in the area.

On Thursday, 28 December, we visited family and enjoyed a trip  to the pub for a couple of beers. I drank a very hoppy Dark Star, Hop Head. The Land of Liberty in Hertfordshire, is a CAMRA pub and always has an exceedingly splendid selection of beers.

On Friday, 29 December we went with my son and girlfriend to see the latest Star Wars film, The Last Jedi. I cooked a beef casserole which was delicious and made a change from turkey. The film was brilliant and wonderfully produced. To be honest, I found it a little long, but I did enjoy it.

“The greatest teacher, failure is.” – Yoda

Mistakes are inevitable. They hurt. They’re hard. But we learn from them. Lift someone up after a misstep with this quote from Yoda.

On Saturday, we met my husband’s brothers for a few beers and a meal in London, Bakers Street. We met up in The Volunteer a pub near Regent’s Park. It seemed funny, because I used to drink there when I worked in the area many years ago. Someone then told me that people don’t drink during the lunchtime anymore. This I find hard to believe. Although, judging by the amount of suits in the pubs during the evening, I assume evening drinking is the new trend? Anyway, the food was good and I tried to have something healthy so opted for a Verdure and then Seabass for my main course. Very pleasant.

On Sunday, we were rather relieved to have ‘a day off’ which is a little ironic as it was New Year’s Eve. We stayed in and enjoyed some beer and watched the BBC drama ‘The Miniaturist’. It is about a new, young wife who is given a doll’s house for a wedding present. The exquisitely made contents, which she mysteriously receives, appear to reflect the Brandt family’s hidden secrets. The drama is majestic and creepy, but quite enticing. The photography of the Amsterdam canal house is extraordinarily clever. In fact, you feel like you are watching a Dutch masterpiece.

We were so pleased not to have to go out, we couldn’t even be bothered to go to our local. Rock and Roll. Strange how we go out all year round, but stay in the one night most people go out!

After all that, although I am against dry January, because it does harm to the pub industry, I do feel I need a break from alcohol and rich food so will focus on feeling better with some exercise and fresh air, etc. More on that in the next blog posts!

So another year over and onwards and upwards. Happy New Year everyone!

Andy xxx

 

Rochester Dickensian Festival, celebrations, musings and updates…

Remembering what Christmas is about…

Christmas, which annoyingly starts earlier and earlier in the UK, is not always about being happy, joyful and full of glitz for many people. It can be a time of childhood memories, sadness and grief. Everyone, has someone they have lost and miss and unfortunately, for me, it seems a time when I remember missing family. Probably, most people feel like this, don’t they? If someone is not embracing Christmas the reasons could be some of the above and not because they are horrible. Unfortunately, the irritating commercialism, which starts after summer, doesn’t help. It is a reflective time and I think we must all remember this and be aware that not everyone is happy and joyful at Christmas all of the time. Personally, I enjoy it when it finally arrives but hate all the stuff before December. Does any of the above resonate with you?

Dickensian Christmas Festival…

Once I spotted the ad for the ‘Dickensian Christmas Festival’ it went in the diary. I’ve been feeling fed up and eager to have a day out. It is a wonderful occasion when folks dress up as Dickensian characters and partake in various activities which starts off with the morning parade.

After the parade the characters wander about amongst the crowds and mingle. Some perform mini plays, magic, readings, dances, singing and photo opportunities. Also, there are various activities aimed at children, such a Punch and Judy. It is a wonderful and great way to immerse oneself in all of these English traditions.

The parade was an exciting affair, led by the Mayor of Medway  and starting in the High Street onwards into the Esplanade and continuing up Castle Hill before finishing on the Boley Hill Stage. A fantastic site which is a brilliant festive occasion for everyone from the surrounding communities.

We enjoyed some delicious mulled wine and a mince pie, then later on, for lunch, we succumbed to a juicy burger. It was great fun to spot all the Dickensian characters and the day flew by.

CAMRA Christmas Meal…

Last Sunday, we had our CAMRA Christmas meal which was a great success. This was partly because the wives turned up and I was able to have a good natter. My only complaint, was that I didn’t like any of the beers because they were all dark, so I had wine. The establishment didn’t have any craft beers either and this surprised me, because even my local has and I think they are missing a trick. Anyway, the food was excellent and delicious and this was followed by a jolly singsong of Christmas carols and a visit by Father Christmas. The Father Christmas was very authentic I must say! After this excitement, the village tree was lit with much fanfare. Another excellent day!

Updates

The presents have now been wrapped, cards delivered so now it is time to concentrate on food. I shall try and locate the Christmas pud which is in a cupboard somewhere and at least two years old! This is the last one of the batch of puddings, so I will have to do some more next year. For the actual day, I will make some mince pies, a chocolate squidgy roll and a cake or two. Busy times!

Yes, you’ve probably guessed it, the fitness thing is not going to plan at the moment. Having said that, it could be worse. I’ve stopped eating rubbish and not drinking too much. Also, I’ve really enjoyed some invigorating walks around the surrounding countryside with the borrowed dog, Oscar.

The gym has been used four or five times a week so I don’t feel too fat but can see the weight is not dropping off either. From January the 2nd it will be all systems go though. I promise.

Promoting the blog – Instagram

My latest social media effort has been with Instagram which is fun particularly as I’m interested in photography. Photos are being posted most days and I am beginning to receive some interest now. It seems better than Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest but I will keep you informed. So do follow me if you are on Instagram.

Enjoy the festivities everyone and thank you for reading my blog, liking and commenting which is much appreciated.

Andyxxx