Fifty

originally posted 15th December 2011

Well I am back, I haven’t blogged since I fell off a mountain but better late than never, or some such thing! I decided it was about time to get back into this, after all when you have far too much to do why not add another procrastination option to your repertoire!

Anyway… I have been considering hats recently. I wear them because I like them but there are a great many people who don’t seem to understand this take on things. The pice I have chosen to represent this is a (rare) picture of me…in a hat of course.

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t has been said that hats give you confidence, it has also been said the you have to be confident to war a hat…which is it? what do you think? I think there is an element of truth in both! You do need confidence to wear a hat, but wearing the hat gives you enough confidence to carry it off. is that a paradox…possibly but it works for me. I will leave you to make up your own minds about it!

There is another school of thought that says…sometimes, it is all just because I like the hat…

Just in case you were still wondering…I am wearing only one watch right now…but this may change any minute.

Forty Nine

Originally posted 4th August 2011

Last Sunday I fell off a mountain. Ok I suppose that will need a little explanation; we were scrambling up a Ghyll on the side of Helvellyn, having forgone the wet route due to excessive slipperiness, I was on my way up a near vertical section of rock when something gave way. I have no idea whether it was my hand hold, my footing or the rock its self and at this point it is immaterial, whatever happened I ended up dropping / sliding / rolling and bouncing down the vertical bit and down a rock slope into the bed of the Ghyll (for the uninitiated a Ghyll is a narrow stream or rivulet). This explanation benefits from a visual aid, and to this end I have chosen today’s picture. Which pretty accurately shows the height from which I fell and the rocky ground.

It is amazing how many coherent thoughts you can have while falling down some rocks, including “oh my god I am falling off rocks” and “is this really real?” and “I hope I don’t break my ankle but I think I might have done” that coupled with the slightly less than coherent thought of why is the pond weed red”.

As well as the obvious lucky to be alive thoughts etc, what has really made me think, is a comment my dad made afterwards. He said “it is better to have had an interesting life” and I think he is right. Despite the fact that I am sitting here with a broken ankle, I am pleased that I went scrambling. I was having a good day, I had a good holiday and believe it or not I am looking forward to going again as soon as opportunity presents its self (and he state of my bones allows).

This all made me think about the trade-off of safety against an interesting life. Is it better to be safe than sorry? You could go through life avoiding risk and therefore mitigating any likelihood of damage but how exciting would that be? Conversely, there is the other route, risking all at every opportunity in the endless pursuit of an exciting life. Is either extreme better or is there a fine balance to be found?

As the owner of a brand new broken ankle and a set of falling off a mountain memories I still find I agree with my dad. I would rather have an interesting life than a 100% safe one. Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating unnecessary crazyness…but I  am going to leave the definition of “unnecessary”  up to you…

In keeping with tradition, the watch report of today is that I am not wearing any watches at all…

Forty Eight

Originally posted 8th May 2011

Have you ever noticed how uncomfortable people get if you ask them to do something in a way that is unfamiliar to them? In some cases this discomfort edges over the line into anger and causes them to lash out at the people who are challenging them. My question to you is what is wrong with stepping out of your comfort zone for a while? Today’s photo is one taken when I was out of my comfort zone…

As you must be aware by now (if you have read more than one of these) my main photography obsessions encompass things like repeating patterns, abstract images and derelict buildings (or combinations thereof). As you can see this picture is none of those, and photographing people, let alone directing them on set is a long way out of my comfort zone, in addition to this Bryony had not modeled before and had not met me, however I think the results from the exploration into stepping out of the aforementioned comfort zone is not too bad.

So When asked to do something in a different way, embrace it as a challenge and you never know you may just come out of it a more balanced and interesting person. Take all the energy you would normally expend resisting change and ranting about how hard it all is and focus that on what you can learn and how you can benefit. You might even enjoy it if you just let yourself!

 

Forty Seven

Originally posted 7th May 2011

It has been a while since I was last on here…there are a few reasons for that, firstly the general busyness of life what with work and OU and a desire to spend at least a small amount of my life away from the computer screen, the second reason (although I suspect that if you want to get technical the first reason was three reasons so the second reason is actually the fourth, but ignore that for now!) is motivation or lack of access to it. Despite my cries of there being no excuse for lack of inspiration (something I generally still believe) I am without the motivation to act on the inspiration that I have; I know they are both there somewhere, I can see them hiding at the back of my brain when I look around but they never show themselves at the same time! Either that or I am thwarted by technology as last week I had both Inspiration and Motivation and a holiday to provide me with time, I did not however have computer internet access. So I am goint to tell you about the things that inspired me last week and hope that I can, in the process convince my motivation to show its self!

The thing that inspired my creativity and interest last week was Abbeys. Mainly Cistercian Abbeys sitting within the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors. Here is a picture of one of the most famous, Fountains Abbey, look at that then I will explain myself.

Never fear I have not had a sudden attack of religion… I remain resolutely non religious but I am inspired by their buildings. These Abbeys sit in spectacular Yorkshire countryside and, although ruined (or possibly because ruined) enhance the surrounding with interestingly sculpted spaces. Spaces which were designed initially with simplicity in mind, then as time progressed they became more elaborate and were altered according to need and (for want of a better word) fashion. These alterations provide, not only an interesting photographic challenge but an interesting puzzle to work out which was built first, and how it was altered. Consider that with the challenge of imagining them as whole buildings without grass on the floor and the impressive feats of engineering involved and the whole thing can become an obsession.

The history of these places is also fascinating, the Monastic lifestyle does not sound very appealing but compared to what else was on offer a life of hard work and prayer in clean surroundings with a guaranteed bed and meals albeit with no meat…well it still does not sound appealing but I can see why it may have done then! I am not going to furnish you here with a full history of Cistercian Monks, but suffice to say they became a victim of their own success in many cases and in all cases a victim of Henry VIII.

There is something about these ruined, but still spectacular places that is quiet and calm (even with the Bank Holiday tourists and egg rolling) and worth a visit to try and figure out the puzzle of the past and to appreciate the blend of natural and manmade which is made even more appealing by their ruinous nature.

 

In other news, I am currently wearing only one watch as if done too much the quirky can be as mundane as the ordinary. Also I forgot to put both back on after my holiday.

Forty Six

Originally posted 11th April 2011

I think I have spoken before about assumptions, especially as they relate to stereotyping and social conditioning but it is something I have been thinking about again so I thought it warranted another go. This thought process has been backed up by the OU study I am doing on systems thinking which has introduced me to the idea of thinking traps. Firstly I want to introduce today’s picture, it is an image that show that some assumptions are fundamentally flawed…

Namely the assumptions that sheep can read maps! Incidentally Mike was actually showing the sheep the route we were taking…

Anyway I was thinking about the assumptions we make every day without thinking about them, we assume that it is safe to pull onto a roundabout in front of a learner driver because they are probably hesitant, we assume that a group of teenage boys outside a shop are going to be trouble, we assume that gravity is going to keep on working and that the sun will come up in the morning. My question to you is: is it possible to live our lives without making assumptions? It would be nice to think that we could as our assumptions are often based not on experience but on social constructs that are ingrained in our being.

One of the thinking traps that has been mentioned on the course I am studying is “group-think” the tendency of people to seek out opinions that back up their own ideas, and generally to go along with the majority. It is this majority view that often informs our subconscious assumptions.

It possibly inevitable that we will make assumptions throughout our day but I think we should take care to remember that these assumptions, especially if they are about people, will more often than not be wrong. Clinging stubbornly to flawed assumptions is more dangerous than making them in the first place. Try not to make them but accept that you probably will. Don’t be afraid of changing your mind!

Incidentally: the assumption that I would give up wearing two watches was flawed…I still am. Also my assumption that no one would notice was also flawed!

Forty Five

Originally posted 6th April 2011

Words, everyone uses them all the time. They are our primary means of communication and, despite this (or maybe because of it) they are one of the major causes of misunderstanding. Thrown about day after day words are our tools and our toys, they are what we choose to represent us in the world and tell more about us than the obvious. Despite all of this how many of us spend any time thinking about them, how many of us really care about using exactly the right word in the right place? They do say a picture tells a 1000 words…today’s pictures however only tell one (each).

These are not long or complicated words, they are, however, powerful words! After all how often has the word love changed your world in an instant? There are words around that have meaning far beyond the obvious and saying them can be as powerful as a punch in the face and yet they are waved around and thrown about like they are confetti.

The right word in the right place can be an incredibly powerful thing so why wouldn’t you make it a good one. It has been said, in the past, that I use words that others have not even heard of. It has also been insinuated that this is a fault of mine! It is an interesting world where words are thrown away and thrown about and yet the person with more of them is penalised for using them. The are one of the ony things that you can give away and share with people without losing anything yourself! A wide vocabulary is a wonderful thing, it is also a thing that anyone can have! There are books and books out there filled with words ready for the taking and the best thing is that they are reuseable again and again.

Choose your words carefully today, use the right one to convey your meaning and use it with care. The wrong words can also cut like a knife, or in some cases bludgeon like a blunt instrument! Learn some new ones and use them, verbal communication is used so much, we may as well make it interesting!

Forty Four

Originally posted 2nd April 2011

It is springtime people! There is new life bursting out all over the place, I know there is I have seen it. Out side recently I have seen small, young looking sheep bounding about, leaping and gamboling much like baby stereotypes; I have seen new buds on bushes, little burst of greenery breaking out of the brown trees, and I have seen flowers, in fact a proliferation of yellow flowers. I have noticed that the overriding colour of current springtime is yellow! by way of proof, here is a sample of the archetypal springtime flower…

Of course I was talking about the daffodil, you cannot turn around without meeting a daffodil at the moment. There are far more types than you might think too, a little bit taken for granted, daffodils but if you really look at them there is more variety within this species than you might think! However, it is not just daffodils, I have seen Cowslips and buttercups and daisies (not all yellow but it is there). There is white too in the hawthorn and black thorn flowers but the overriding colour of spring is yellow.

And how appropriate, a cheerful and vibrant reminder that buried under all the bleak and cold winter frosts and rains there is life in the ground waiting to burst forth! It is reassuring that it happens, every year the wheel turns and the world is renewed! The interesting thing about it is that it makes a real different to how you feel. Even in the modern world where we are insulated from nature by layers of brick and concrete, and separated from the natural world by the barriers introduced by technology and trappings of frenetic modern life, we still look out of the window and are cheered up by the yellowness of spring.

Think about it, step outside into the fresh, warmer air and look around, let the spare life force in the world give you a boost. Get out of the office or the house, step into the world and herald this time as a time of renewed energy and new beginnings. Use it as an oppertunity to let go of the winter blues and face the spring with a new sense of optimism and positivity. After all, who knows what the future could hold, it is yours for the taking and is as good as you make it!