26 May, 2013

"Gone Fising"

Well, we did not do any fishing as such but we have eaten enough of the stuff! And wonderful it was too.

Frances and I decided a few weeks ago that we needed to get away for a few days (three nights to be exact) and one particular hotel seemed to jump out of the internet, so we booked it. The moment we mentioned to friends that we were going to Hope Cove in South Devon, many said that they had been there as children or for some other reason knew it well, but it was completely unknown to us. Now, I have to say, it is simply top of our list.

We left home reasonably early and ate up the motorway as far as Exeter. Thereafter we turned left so we could dawdle past some of the well-known features of The English Riviera. We started off with Dawlish where we had a sandwich and I took a lot of photographs, including the one at the head of this post!

We really liked this place. It was delightfully old-fashioned but exciting - with big trains running right along the beach and disappearing into five tunnels blasted through bright rusty-purple cliffs by friends of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

We spent more time than we thought we should in that friendly place but it did not matter because one glance at Torquay and Paignton showed that we did not want to spend more time in either than was needed to find a way out.

That left Brixham. I have known about this place all my life but I don’t think I have actually been there before. My parents knew it well and a painting by Arthur Briscoe hung above the mantlepiece at home which I loved. It was of boats (of course, knowing my parents) and it was of Brixham Harbour but, as there was a thick fog (beautifully painted) I never gained any knowledge as to what the place looked like.

At first glance, Brixham seemed to have gone the way of everything else . . . with thousands of smart and expensive yachts in place of the few fog-bound old-timers of my youth. Then, in the distance, we suddenly saw a small brown mainsail at an angle and and a tiny foresail and slowly there came into sight exactly the sort of boat that I believe my parents owned when they were young. The boat’s name was Pobble and I have always had the romantic notion that I was conceived on board one day in late August 1936!

We eventually reached Hope Cove and our hotel and it immediately became clear that we had made a good decision! I will not give a blow by blow account of our stay, let alone of the wonderful food that we were given (too cruel!) but suffice it to say that everything went our way - especially the weather for we had loads of sun when most of the country had none. I will leave it to the inevitable photographs to tell the story or at least to give the atmosphere.

If you are the sort of person who likes holiday photographs to be straightforward shots of places and people you will, I fear, be frustrated by many of these but I have to say that I was rather pleased with a number of these, especially this one. It is amazing how many straight line and interesting containments of space are to be found at the seaside!


Finally, here is one of Frances, in Edith Sitwell mode. Any of our gentle readers who know what she had been putting up with during this last year, will be happy to know that she is in very good form and full of the joys of early summer.

19 May, 2013

More Water

I am certainly going to resist the temptation to post an image of every page of this book the moment it comes  off the press with the final printing in place but, with Ralph's simple but amazingly powerful image for the titlepage spread completed this morning, I simply couldn't resist!

In case anyone is perplexed about the title of this collection, I feel I should help by revealing a poem from later on in the book. It is by D.H. Lawrence and is not very long.

Water is H2O, hydrogen two parts, oxygen one,

but there is also a third thing, that makes it water

and nobody knows what that is.

While I was at school, I remember, I had to write a Prize Essay on the subject
"A scientist is a poet gone wrong". 
What a wonderful subject . . . I could not resist!

I made a lot out of a favourite poem by my great literary idol of the moment, Dylan Thomas (still very much alive in those distant days)  . . .

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age;
That blasts the roots of trees is my destroyer.

Had I known about the Lawrence poem, I could have made a lot of that too!

13 May, 2013

Hibernation is at an end! (I promise.)

 Variations of this somewhat unpreposessing sight have been in front of my eyes day after day in my printing office over a period of many months. They have all been blocks cut by Ralph Kiggell in Bangkok for his second book with The Old Stile Press entitled The Third Thing. I started off with ones that printed grey and then moved through green on to blue. The results were satisfying, up to a point, as I managed to get the register correct and the image I was printing placed itself perfectly on the page in relation to the earlier colour which I might have printed a week or a month ago . . . but it was not until this morning that I added a (final) black printing to a two-page spread and had the great satisfaction of seeing a finished work!

This wonderful image is typical of Ralph's vision and ability to mould perspective to his whim and, indeed, I already know that this will be a very special book. The theme this time is 'Water' and the selection of poems and prose extracts is wide-ranging. Some are well-known and some are not. This fine poem by Nancy and Anna will, as it happens, be receiving its first publication in this book.

Despite the excitement of today, I have a number of weeks left of adding black printings and then going back to other colours where they have to be printed on top of the black in order to bring about the effects required by the artist. 

I am kept hard at it partly to enjoy the satisfaction that a successful printing brings me and partly because, remembering the eagerness with which copies of Ralph's earlier book, Leading the Cranes Home, was snatched up by collectors, I  know that this book also will be a very popular one.

I need hardly point out that this blog has been silent for many moons. I apologise to those who have in the past done me the honour of looking at my stuff. As the silent time grew longer, I thought, gloomily, that all would have fled and, even if I started again, nobody would  know!

The fact is that Frances' brother Hugo, a black-belt computer whiz, came to stay and up-graded Frances' skills in the way of Facebook . . . and convinced us that she could use the wonders of that to tell the world of this blog's resurrection. So . . . 

The use of the word hibernation in this heading is not just affectation. I have been seriously uncomfortable during the endless ice age and, only now, am I truly living again. The Spring is rushing to catch up and I have never heard so many ecstatic birds. I have trained myself to be awake for the Dawn Chorus each morning and revel in the halleluias of the many and, particularly, the sublime coluratura of the blackbird just outside our bedroom window.

After photographing the woodblock on my press, I took a few more examples of the surge of Spring. Is it just a reaction from all that snow in the eyes or are the dandelions even more glorious than usual this time?

This lady's smock has been blown about a bit but . . .  what a delicate construction.

And, as for these, what species of dragon's teeth were planted here to give rise to such a terrifyingly beautiful army?