Welcome to my world!

The reflections and comments of a resident in Southsea, Portsmouth, England.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

The Making of a Royal Marines Commando

‘The Making of a Royal Marines Commando’ exhibition finds new home in Action Stations at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and is set to open this Saturday 12 August 2017.

You will find a permanent new gallery describing the training of Royal Marines Commandos has been relocated from the Royal Marines Museum in Eastney to Action Stations in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

‘The Making of a Royal Marines Commando’ takes visitors stage by stage through the 30 weeks of RM Commando training and gives them the opportunity to step into the boots of a RM Recruit.

Using a broad mix of interactive exhibits, from high tech ones like an SA80 rifle simulator, to finding out how to fold your shirt ‘Globe and Laurel’ style, the exhibition requires active participation from visitors!

The exhibition also includes a range of objects especially acquired for the exhibition, including equipment used by Mountain Leaders, Snipers and Aircrewmen.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the display is that most of the narrative for the exhibition is through the words of Royal Marines themselves.

Nine ‘raw’ Royal Marine recruits were recorded as they embarked upon one of the most demanding military training courses in the world at Lympstone’s Royal Marines Commando Training Centre. They tell their story – from their earliest thoughts on arrival at Lympstone, through to their reflections on earning the coveted Green Beret.

The recording is complimented by moving and still images, and sets which include part of an Inflatable Raiding Craft and an original kit locker from the Foundation Wing at Lympstone where recruits spend their first few weeks.

Head of Exhibition and Collections, Nick Hewitt says “This dynamic gallery combines interactive displays, physical activity and personal stories; it brings visitors close to the unique ethos of the Royal Marines – courage, determination, unselfishness and cheerfulness”.

Located in Action Stations, where you can also scale a climbing wall, experience the thrills of piloting a Merlin helicopter and test your skills on the on the Ninja Force assault course, the new exhibition is well integrated alongside high-octane and high-tech activities for all the family to enjoy.

Further information is available on www.nmrn.org.uk

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Yomper statue to stay on Eastney seafront

The board of The National Museum of the Royal Navy has agreed unanimously to keep the Yomper statue where it is on Eastney seafront.

The resounding “yes” followed a year-long public consultation which gathered over 3000 responses from across the country.

The Yomper, sculpted by Philip Jackson, has become a very popular feature of the Eastney seafront. It dominates the entrance to the Royal Marines Museum and was originally commissioned as a marker for the museum, the galleries of which are now closed to visitors. It was unveiled by Lady Margaret Thatcher on 8 July 1992 on the 10th anniversary of the Falklands conflict. 

Following the award of a £13.85 million grant in May 2016 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to create the country’s newest national collection at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, it was announced that a new Royal Marines Museum would open in the historic dockyard. It was feared this would prompt the removal of the statue from its current location to the new museum when it opens in 2020.

Professor Dominic Tweddle, Director General of The National Museum of the Royal Navy said: “The board was moved by the strength of public feeling about the Yomper and easily convinced of the proud place it occupies on the seafront. We have made the right decision.

“We are very pleased that we went out to public consultation and those against the move put together a great, persuasive campaign.

But we do need to reach a final agreement with the city council on ground maintenance and how we will care for the statue when there is no longer a team on site. Although rare, if there are any incidences of vandalism, we will have to reconsider. The statue remains as part of the museum’s collection and we have a duty to ensure it is well cared for.”

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Fried skate wings

A fried skate or ray wing (I don't know which) can be really delicious. It's also a fish dish that doesn't have any bones to deal with. Great for someone who hates dealing with the bones.

Pat dry the wings on kitchen paper. Then dust with plain flour mixed with Paprika powder, salt and pepper. Then shallow fry for 5 minutes on each side or until the edges are dry and crispy.

Serve with mash, jacket potatoes or simply with steamed vegetables for a very quick dinner.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Top 5 National Trust events this summer

My latest National Trust magazine has just arrived, full of information on the various properties and activities they are offering this summer.

Here are my favourites for the ones near us

The Great British Dog Walk (really?) at New Forest Commons
Sunday 21 May, 11 am to 4.30 pm
Fun for the family promised with adult tickets costing £10, available from 01844 348101

Family trail at Hinton Ampner
Saturday 27 May - Sunday 4 June, 10 am to 5 pm
Explore the grounds during the half-term holiday
Suggested donation of £1

Rose season at Mottisfont
Throughout June
The roses will be in full bloom and there will be free talks with the gardeners at 2 pm daily

Feast Festival at Waddesdon Manor
17-18 June, 10 am to 5 pm
Experience music, dance and interactive theatrical performances while enjoying fabulous food and drink.
Entry £5 for adults and £2.50 for children

30-hour record Millathon at Winchester Mill
17-18 June, 10 am to 4 pm
Watch the millers attempt a new record of 30 hours non-stop milling. Cheer them on by moonlight or join in for coffee and biscuits 6-10am on Sunday.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Five things to do in Venice

I had the chance to travel to Venice recently and was totally in love with the city. It has been on my bucket list for a long time and I kept talking about it, so my husband said...how about it?

I'm a well-read traveller and like to check out what the place has to offer before I go. Our public library in Portsmouth is great at stocking up travel books. In fact, borrow one with a map and you don't need to buy any when you get to your destination.

It's good to check out places you may want to see, or any that you may skip. Travel books also have useful information on opening hours and advice about buying entry tickets to museums and attractions. However, information changes all the time and so do try to find the latest information online too.

Websites like Tripadvisor will have feedback from recent visitors and so more up-to-date. But don't be swayed too much by online reviews. People's tastes are different and what is bad for others, might be good for you.

1. We were advised to arrive by boat so as to experience the location and indeed it was a very good advice. It was very atmospheric even though our boat only had tiny windows. Arriving by boat allowed us also to adjust to the pace of life in the next few days.

2. Be prepared for the unexpected. After booking my ticket online and carefully noting the orange line water taxi, I found when we arrived we were ushered into the next boat which headed to Rialto Bridge. I had wanted to go on to San Marco, but apparently, on that day Rialto will be the last stop on the orange line contrary to what the website stated. Oh, well, just go along.

3. Enjoy the crowd. Landing at Rialto Bridge was really amazing, like being dropped in Trafalgar Square. People and gondolas everywhere and hundreds crowding the historic bridge taking selfies and group photos.

As we were visiting very early in April, we were expecting Venice to be quiet. Quieter, perhaps, for Venice never goes quiet it seems. When we were there the lanes were already thronging with people, mainly school children and having been stuck behind some of the school groups, I felt I understand the Venetian grudge against tourists.

4. Be prepared to get lost. Upon reaching our destination we promptly got lost. I soon learnt that when the map said 'calle' I was expecting a lane about the width of at least a car. It turned out some 'roads' in Venice were very narrow and this one was barely the width of a man.

My husband praised my knack of finding the best hotels as the one I picked turned out to be so central and accessible. Just minutes from the Rialto Bridge and the famous market, but on the quieter side.

We walked and walked on our first few hours and just marvelled at the place. It was fun to go up and down bridges and finding ourselves lost only to emerge next to a heaving bar.

5. Do try the local food and custom for 'ombre'. After orienting ourselves with the place, if that was indeed what we were doing, I found my first cichetti place and had a pile of freshly fried prawns and calamari in a paper cone. I was smitten!

We went back to the eatery that I had read about and we decided to stop by there for our first meal. It was a very good choice. In the Do Spade the service was friendly and the food amazing. We tried more fried seafood and the clam spaghetti.

Over the next few days we had an adventure of trying various cichetti places and it was so much fun!

Moeche is soft shell crab friend in batter and the local speciality.

At the Do Spade, all the cichetti come with some white polenta.

There are so many different variety of cichetti to choose from.

 I will tell you more about the sights in Venice another day!

A spring evening

Today turned out to be so hot, I was completely overdressed in my spring coat. The air was still and dry. It feels like it's finally time to dust off the barbeque.

I had left work early to go to Robert Dyas to buy some hanging baskets and was looking forward to spending the evening gardening.

Alas, when I put down my chopsticks at the end of the dinner, I noticed the pitter-patter of rain on the conservatory roof.

No gardening tonight.

Such is the unpredictability of spring weather!

Saturday, 29 April 2017

How to cook nasi goreng

I was in the Thai food shop on Albert Road one day when this lady asked the shopkeeper whether she has any packet spice for nasi goreng. The shopkeeper and her mother broke out into a conference in Thai, the upshot being that they had no idea what nasi goreng was.

Nasi goreng is not a Thai dish and that was partly why the shopkeeper had no idea. It is an Indonesian dish and it is so easy to make that I wanted to teach the lady there and then how to cook it.

A few weeks have passed by and I'm still thinking about this poor woman looking for the nasi goreng. Here's the recipe and if you heard of anyone mentioning this recipe, point her or him to this blog!

Nasi Goreng (Indonesian for fried rice)

A bowl of cooked rice
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
1 tablespoon soy sauce
a handful of peas, fresh, frozen or tinned
some diced carrots
some sliced shallots
1 clove of garlic, chopped
an egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

If you have a wok, it's great, if not a wide based frying pan is fine to do this.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil and fry the shallots and garlic, add the carrots and peas and stir fry until cooked (around 5-7 minutes). Then add the rice, soy sauce and tomato ketchup and mix well. Stir fry and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Remove the rice, and heat another tablespoon of oil and fry the egg. Add on top of the rice and serve.

You can also add prawns or chicken pieces to the dish.

If you have some prawn crackers, they are the perfect accompaniment to the fried rice. Make sure you also add a dollop of chilli sauce on the side for lip-smacking spiciness.

Silahkan makan!

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Perfect summer rolls

For years I have adored the Vietnamese rice paper rolls, but I thought I could only get them at Vietnamese restaurants. I first tasted this in America, where Vietnamese restaurants were the closest I could get to authentic Asian food.

Trying to find something that my gluten-intolerant friend could eat, I searched and found the recipe for the rolls, which many call 'summer rolls'. I was so amazed to find that they are very easy to make and so I thought I should share it with you because these are fun to eat as well with their dipping sauce and can be made ahead.

(Makes 8)
16 large raw, peeled prawns
1 block of rice vermicelli
4 sprigs of mint, leaves picked
4 sprigs of coriander
2 strands of chives, cut into 10cm lengths (optional)
1 carrot, peeled and grated
¼ cucumber, cut into thin matchsticks
1 soft lettuce, ½ shredded
4 tbsp salted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
8 rice paper wrappers

For the dipping sauce:
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 bird's eye chilli, finely sliced

Bring a pan of water to boil, add the prawns, turn down the heat and poach for two minutes until pink. Drain and cut in half.

Put the noodles in a large bowl and pour over boiling water. Add ½ tsp salt, leave for about four minutes until al dente, then rinse well in cold water and drain thoroughly.

Set out all the ingredients within easy reach of a clean, dry chopping board. Half fill a bowl big enough to fit the wrappers in with cold water, and then dunk one in and keep patting until it's pliable, but not completely soft. Lay flat on the chopping board.

Arrange two crossed chives, if using, horizontally towards the bottom edge of the wrapper. Top with four prawn halves in a horizontal line, and top these with a line of herb leaves. Add a pinch of carrot and a few cucumber sticks, some of the sliced pork, then a small clump of rice vermicelli. Finish with some shredded lettuce and a line of crushed peanuts.

Bring the bottom edge of the wrapper tightly up over the filling, and then fold the sides in over it. Continue to roll up tightly and place on a plate, join-side down. Cover rolls with lettuce leaves to keep them fresh.

Once all the rolls are made, make the sauce. Whisk the sugar into the lime juice to dissolve, then add the remaining ingredients. Adjust to taste if necessary.

Now you are ready to enjoy the summer rolls.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Trio Apaches in Portsmouth Guildhall

Trio Apaches
Matthew Trusler violin, Thomas Carroll cello, Ashley Wass piano


BEETHOVEN Piano Trio in D, Op. 70 No. 1 The Ghost
MENDELSSOHN Piano Trio No. 2 in C minor, Op. 66  
RAVEL Piano Trio in A minor

Trio Apaches is built on the great friendship between three of the UK’s most respected soloists and colleagues: Matthew Trusler, Thomas Carroll and Ashley Wass. They collaborate under a name first used in the early 1900s by a group of ‘artistic outcasts’ including Ravel and Stravinsky.

Trio Apaches have quickly been embraced on the international concert scene and are unanimously praised for the infectious joy and virtuosity of their performances and the innovative nature of their programmes. They share a desire to focus on innovative projects and challenging cross-genre collaborations, as well as to present masterworks of the trio repertoire in unfamiliar contexts.

Date: Monday 24th April, 2017
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: Portsmouth Guildhall
Tickets: £17, concession £15, available from the Portsmouth Guildhall: 0844 453 9028

For further information, please contact music@port.ac.uk or 023 9284 3023

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Is that Chris Ramsey?

Chris Ramsey has just embarked on his biggest tour to date, Is That Chris Ramsey?, culminating in a massive homecoming gig at Newcastle’s Metro Arena. The Geordie star of Comedy Central’s The Chris Ramsey Show tells Mark Wareham about life on the road and how adjusting to first-time fatherhood hasn’t stopped him from being arrested in his underpants…

Hi, is that Chris Ramsey?
I see what you did there.

How’s the tour going?
Amazing. I’ve got a big set that I love and it’s my first time with a headset mic. It’s so free. It’s the best show I’ve done yet.

And it’s your biggest tour to date?
Yeah. The scary thing about touring is that the venues are booked before I’ve written the show, so I’ve got the title, I’ve got the poster…

You’re a bit last minute then?
It’s the only way I can do it man. I was the kid at school where if you got your homework on a Thursday, I would do it on the Sunday night. I’d have it hanging over us all weekend. It’s just who I am.

But you must have had a rough idea of the show mapped out in your head?
I’ve ended up having a theme again. There’s a bit of a crisis of confidence theme in my everyday life, on becoming a dad. So I start off talking about the most confident person I’ve ever met, about my wife, my son, my fears, and then at the end I talk about a situation where I wish I’d been a lot more confident when I was apprehended by the police last year in a hotel in me underpants. I’d like to have handled that better.

What do you think’s brought on this crisis of confidence then?
It’s just cos offstage you’re a proper dulled-down version of who you are on stage. And it’s just that sometimes you wish you could be just a bit more like the person you are on stage. And it all comes to a head at the end when the police are handcuffing me in a hotel. You see it in films and think you know how you’d handle it, but when it happens to you, you find out who you really are. And that’s why I call the show Is That Chris Ramsey? Cos I found out who I really was that night
That’s very interesting, wishing you were more like someone that you actually are anyway!
With comedy, you’re not allowed to be the person you are on stage. Cos people would be like, ‘Woah, dickhead, tone it down!’ Very very rarely do you get a comic who’s exactly the same offstage as they are onstage.

It’s a bit like having a split personality isn’t it, in a way.
Not to the level of Johnny Vegas, but nearly. Obviously his real name’s Michael Pennington, but the way he talks about Johnny, it’s like a twin or a part of his personality. His book’s incredible.

Are there any places you particularly enjoy playing on tour?
I’ve got a full-on bias towards the North-East. But there’s no real rule to what makes a great gig. We did Dartford for the first time the other day. One of those outskirts of London towns and they’re normally all right, sometimes they can be a bit hard work. But it was phenomenal. The audience were so up for it. If I’ve got a gig in Newcastle and a gig in Dartford, I’d put my life savings on the gig in Newcastle being better. But that gig in Dartford I’d wager against any of the others.

And you’re finishing the tour in Newcastle at the arena. That’s a big gig.
That’ll be my biggest one ever. The idea of that many people coming to see you is spectacular. It’s crazy. Ten thousand people! The biggest venue I’ve played so far is the Albert Hall. Five thousand people at the Royal Variety Performance. Though it felt like 2,000, cos hardly any of them were laughing. It was quite a hard gig. 

Your last show, All Growed Up, dealt with becoming an adult. But now you’re 30, with a kid, so presumably you’ve not got much choice?
Yes but with the new show I didn’t want to make it a dad show. I had a load of stories about my son, but I binned most of them cos they felt like stories that anyone could do about being a dad.

You’ve got a young following, haven’t you?
Not as young as you’d think. I’ve got a lovely mix. Last night there was an entire family. I once did a gig where there were grandparents as well. Three generations turned up. It’s always really nice to see an older face.

As you’re such a natural storyteller, do you appreciate a bit of audience banter or does it put you off your stride?
I love it. When I come out, I start chatting to the audience immediately. It’s never a problem, unless they’re shouting abuse.

Your material’s very personal. Do you deal with Trump and Brexit like so many other comics, or just ignore it?
Well Trump does all his own jokes anyway. Anything you could possibly do, he’s already done. So it’s impossible to satirise him.

Since your last tour, you’ve got your own show on Comedy Central. It’s a lot of fun isn’t it, like an extension of your personality.
That’s what I wanted. There’s so much grim stuff going on and I was never going to do a John Oliver type satire show. That’s not my style. I wanted a show that was fun and entertaining and high-energy. All of the guests came away saying, ‘That was so much fun to be on.’ It was so nice to hear colleagues you admire like Jimmy Carr saying that.

Who do you admire most in comedy?
Billy Connolly. I remember watching him with my dad when I was a kid and I couldn’t believe this bloke would stand up there telling these amazing stories to the room and a theatre of people were just hanging on his every word. The first one I saw with him was An Audience With, with Robbie Coltrane, Bob Geldof and Michael Parkinson, and my dad explained that he was a comedian. I never even realised it was a proper job. I used to watch Lee Evans as well.

What are you like when you’re on the road?
Well I’m currently sitting in a Mercedes Benz Sprinter van. The tour manager’s driving and I’m sitting on a leather recliner with a table, my support act Carl Hutchinson is sitting on my left listening to music on his laptop, and I’ve got in front of us a PlayStation 4 with a 32-inch telly up on the wall and I’ve currently got Resident Evil Origins on pause so I can have this interview.

So what do you and Carl do after a show? Do you tear the place up or go back and chill?
Honestly, you can’t man. It seems like we’re just sitting around doing nothing and it’s just a couple of hours each night, but it’s actually infuriating how much it takes out of you doing a two-hour show. I got angry when I got ill. Why? It’s not like I’m down the mine. I’m just on stage talking. Just sitting in the van can exhaust you. My idea of a good tear-up is going back to the hotel, having a couple of beers out of the minibar and ordering a pizza. We’re pathetic. Absolutely pathetic. But after Newcastle Arena, there’ll be hell on!

Chris Ramsey performs at Portsmouth Guildhall on 13th April. For tickets call 0844 8472362

Saturday, 25 March 2017

A local hero

In 1966, Southampton-born PC Anthony Gledhill of the Metropolitan police received the highest award for a civilian – the George Cross. Tony Gledhill will give a talk at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre on Thursday 13 April at 7.45pm, in which he will explain how that award for bravery came about.
Born in 1938 in Doncaster, Tony Gledhill became a police constable with the ‘Met’. On 25 August 1966 he was out on patrol in Deptford with fellow officer PC Terence McFall, when they received instructions to check a suspicious car. The vehicle was indeed stolen, and contained five men preparing for to carry out an armed robbery.
The police gave chase, with PC Gledhill driving, as the car sped recklessly through the streets of South London on the wrong side of the road in a one-way system. The pursuit continued for five miles, with the offenders firing repeatedly at the police vehicle. When the escaping car crashed into a lorry, the occupants leapt out and attempted to seize the police car at gunpoint.
Both constables demonstrated amazing bravery in their determination not to allow the villains to get away. Both received injuries requiring hospital treatment. The George Cross was awarded to Tony Gledhill in recognition of his courage and tenacity, and he later rose through the ranks to become a Detective Sergeant.
The talk will take place in the Langstone Room at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre on Thursday 13 April 2107 at 7.45pm, and tickets cost £6. You can book in person at The Box Office, call 023 9247 2700, or visit our website at www.thespring.co.uk

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Royal Marines Association Concert Band

Here's a lovely guest blog by Sally Callow

It’s our 10th anniversary year and yet many readers of this blog will probably have never heard of us! The Royal Marines Association Concert Band (RMACB) is based in Portsmouth and rehearses weekly at the Royal Marines Museum.

RMACB was formed in June 2006 by Chairman, Major (retd) Paddy Dunn RM and Director of Music, Captain (retd) Ted Whealing RM. The band started with 35 musicians - most being former members of the Royal Marines Band Service; a diverse mix of highly talented men and women of all ages.

The band grew quickly and soon had a membership that exceeded 50 players. RMACB musicians all have a deep passion for music and that enthusiasm comes across in fantastic performances.

The band performs locally at the Portsmouth Guildhall, around the south of England and London. We play around 15 concerts a year to raise funds for Royal Marines Charities. As our name suggests, we are associated with the Royal Marines Association which supports both former and serving Royal Marines and their families.

We have gone from strength to strength in our first decade, our fan base has been growing and the support has been fantastic. We enjoy an excellent reputation for producing and performing top class music.

A new CD is ready to be released in the coming months to celebrate the milestone. This will look back on the excellent music created since 2006; 6 CDs of popular, military and classical music. The RMACB audience’s favourites range from medleys of ABBA, Beatles and Bond music to grand, lively pieces of music such as Resplendent Glory by Galante. Of course, a spot of flag-waving goes down a treat and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ is always a crowd-pleaser!

We play the same music as you would expect from the Royal Marines Band. We are just slightly more experienced! Our musicians have a combined musical performance age of 1800 years!

We have undertaken a couple of overseas trips and have ventured to Malta and Spain. In Malta, we were welcomed with open arms by the Maltese people and their President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca.

Adventures in Spain will always be remembered as the only time the RMACB have marched! This shocked our older members as it was completely unexpected!

As the RMACB moves forward, into the next decade of playing wonderful music and working with the RMA, we hope to continue delivering spectacular performances both around the UK and overseas. If you would like to know more about the RMACB please look at our website – rmacb.org.uk.

Monday, 6 March 2017

I am the very model of a modern Major General!

I still remember the first time I watched the Pirates of Penzance and I think it was on the stage of the New Theatre Royal in the year 2001. It was the very first production under the music direction of Colin Jagger.

Larry Cunningham played the part of the Major General so memorably that I still call him Major General whenever I see him. Hopefully we will see him in the audience this week for the University of Portsmouth Dramatic and Musical Society is performing Pirates of Penzance at the New Theatre Royal from 9th to 11th March.

The story goes like this...Frederic reaches his 21st birthday and tries to release himself from the life of piracy to which he was mistakenly apprenticed as a boy. Having met the girl of his dreams however, a terrible revelation is made which throws his life into confusion.

Chaos ensues in the following battle between the pirates and the police in one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most popular comedies.

This production by the University of Portsmouth Dramatic & Musical Society is supported by the University Orchestra which plays from parts specially prepared by Colin from Sullivan’s autograph manuscript.

Thu 9th March 2017 - 19:30
Fri 10th March 2017 - 19:30
Sat 11th March 2017 - 14:30 / 19:30
Family Ticket for FOUR people (max two adults)£40
Family Ticket for FIVE people (max two adults)£50

Ticket prices shown are inclusive of Restoration Levy and Booking Fee.

Box office 023 9264 9000

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Recreating the 1812 'Pompey' Messiah: Exploring the Spirit of Performance

Come along to this free public lecture by Dr George Burrows, Principal Lecturer for Performing Arts, University of Portsmouth, exploring a fascinating history of Portsmouth.

The discovery of a programme to a performance of Handel's Messiah held in Portsmouth in 1812 opens up some important questions about recreating performances of the past. 
This lecture presents that discovery and the context for a forthcoming practice-as-research concert. It frames how recreating the 1812 'Pompey' Messiah represents an opportunity to explore a vital tension between being true to the letter and to the spirit of the 1812 performance. 
It also tells the story of our expanding city, a diva disguised as a nun and the evolution of a national culture of massed participation in music that continues to this day.

Wednesday 1 March, 2017
Eldon Building, Room W1.11
Admission is free but booking from Eventbrite is recommended.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Polly, Metamorphosis and the BookFest

It was a hectic day and quite rightly so. Author Polly Morland was in town for BookFest.

Speaking at the University of Portsmouth in the afternoon, Polly addressed a room full of students, academics, aspiring authors and book fans.

Polly animatedly discussed her fascination with changes and what she discovered in her writing journey with her latest book, Metamorphosis.

Between reading and elaborating on some of the chapters in the book, Polly was philosophical about how people are affected by changes in their lives. Big or small she was advocating for us to embrace change.

We as humans are always changing, like the cells in our body. Change is built into our lives.

Change can happen at any time and the interplay between internal and external agency might create the stimulus for change.

This brought to mind the writing exercises I did with the Southsea Writing Group I joined last month. I wasn't expecting anything other than I thought it would be fun to meet new people and I'm usually quite free on Sundays.

Little did I know that the group created the stimulus I needed to start writing my cookbook and the memoir I have always wanted to write. Perhaps it was my mother's death last year that made it the more urgent, but whatever it is I'm so into my writing at the moment and enjoying every minute of it.

Polly was right when she said this afternoon

"The option to make a change on your life 
is the very essence of freedom"

So wherever you are in your life or in your writing journey, take a look at the rest of the BookFest programme and, who knows, perhaps freedom is in the written words for you too.

To find out more about BookFest go to www.portsmouthbookfest.co.uk

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

So much to look forward to this year!

As appeared in Portsmouth View, 13 January 2017 
According to Google, Carmentalia was the two feast days of the Roman goddess Carmenta celebrated on 11th and 15th January. She was celebrated for her power of looking back into the past and forward into the future.

Looking back there are many events in 2016 that people would rather forget. However, there is a lot of hope pinned to a better year ahead.

Let us start with a little bit of Stargazing Live and celebrate Stephen Hawking’s 75th birthday. The man is responsible for the public fascination with the universe.

A team of scientists from the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation at the University of Portsmouth are going to show the public their research into the universe at the event to be held in the Historic Dockyard on 31st January.

Cosmologist Professor Claudia Maraston will be leading the Café Scientifique session on Tuesday 24th January at Le Café Parisien.

The free event starts at 7.30pm and the topic of discussion will be the formation and evolution of galaxies.

Another cosmologist Professor Kazuya Koyama will be giving his inaugural public lecture on Wednesday 25th January at the University. He will discuss his work on gravity and Einstein’s theory.

Also at the University, on 17th January, James Thomas will be speaking on Hampshire Shipping 1790-1914 in the Newcomen Society series. More information on the Newcomen Society can be found on their website www.newcomen.com

Head along to the Innlodge Executive Suite for a night of professional jazz in an intimate setting on Monday 16th January provided by flautist extraordinaire, Gareth Lochrane, and his quartet.

On 18th January the Lord Mayor, David Fuller, and Lady Mayoress, Leza Tremorin, will host their monthly coffee morning in the Banqueting Hall of Portsmouth Guildhall, raising money for charities.

The Australian Ballet will bring David McAllister’s The Sleeping Beauty to the King’s Theatre on 19th January.

Singer songwriter Dennis Ellsworth will be performing in my favourite café, The Teatray, on 20th January and tickets are selling fast.

Fan of the fast footwork of Irish dancing would love the Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games to be performed at Portsmouth Guildhall from 20th-22nd January.

On 30th January we welcome back Ensemble 360 to the Guildhall for two performances. In the afternoon they will face hundreds of school children for a special concert, followed by an evening performance of music by Brahms.

So much to look forward to this year!