Saturday, 5 May 2018

restoring my sanity with some free writing and a bit of window cleaning

dusk, camber sands © Caroline Fraser

This week I signed up to a writing workshop in the hope to restore my ability to put pen to paper ( or fingers to keyboard).

Writing a blog has been difficult; chiefly because I am struggling with who I am meant to be right now.

As a doctor I find myself disatisfied with the pace of work; unable to do my best for people who deserve more than 10 minutes of my time. I would rather not do a job if I can't do it properly, so am doing less and less work.

And then feeling guilty.

For if I have skills as a doctor then surely I should use them. There is such a shortage at present.

In my recent spell in New Zealand as a locum the pressure of time as a GP less, and I felt able to practice in the way that I used to; time to sort problems properly and go home at night knowing that I had done my best.

Now I am disillusioned and feeling uncertain what to do.

Should I be a doctor or an artist? Can one exist without the other?

I don't earn any money as an artist. But the need to create is very strong.

Being an artist can be a purely selfish occupation.

I couldn't resolve these issues in my mind. I felt tense.

So frustrated that I had resorted to window cleaning as a means to expend some energy. I have a new gadget for cleaning windows.

Here is the water from the washing of my indoor panes.

As you can see; the windows really needed cleaning.

But I didn't really feel much better after that.

I tried zumba and pilates; still my head was pounding.

I hacked bushes in the garden. Still no improvement.

So for reasons of sanity preservation I signed up to a creative writing workshop with Hilary Wilce at Smallhythe studio.

I hoped it might free me up a bit.

I was feeling irritable for reasons that were difficult to understand.

Eight of us sat around a table on a cold and wet, early May day.

Pens poised. Notebooks at the ready. A clean, fresh page.

I felt tense. Angry, amongst other things about all the litter I see on the beach and in the streets.

beach litter

What was the subject we were presented with?

We were asked to do some free writing about SPRING. Nothing could have been further from my ideal subject matter given my mood.

We were given a few words and then asked to write whatever came into our heads without stopping for several minutes.

The rant began...... I put pen to notebook. No bluebells and green buds from me....

I wrote;

'I didn't want to write some happy little ditty about lambs frolicking in the fields

The sheep are wet and muddy. 

Wool matted and grey.

One dead. Stiff legs outstretched in the turnip field. ......"

As I wrote I started exploring my thoughts about work, vocation and the fear of being perceived as selfish for giving up on a job that I have loved for so many years.

I began to understand where all my anger was coming from.

We did some more exercises about clearing out the rubbish in our lives and planning a to-do list.

Top of my list was to do some free writing once a week.

I talked, we shared our thoughts and feelings and wrote a poem together.

I felt calmer.

I drove home. The rain stopped.

And the sun came out.

At dusk I took my phone to the beach and captured the last light of the day.

dusk, camber sands

dusk in the other direction, camber sands

I am working through my to-do list;

 And for now I am undecided about what next, but I now realise that the problem is probably one that everyone nearing retirement from a profession probably feels.

And that it is normal not to be certain about my future.

And rather than feeling angry, I took a dustbin bag with me for my next walk on the beach, and picked up all the plastic that I could find.

litter, camber sands


Thursday, 19 April 2018

here I am again..... back in blighty......lost for words but feeling lucky

wild bluebell and anemone

Spring has sprung.

I am back in the UK, and I have nothing to say.

I am trying to settle back into noisy, litter strewn suburbia. And I don't find it easy.

I do like my own bed though.

And being reunited with my friends.

And weeding the garden.

wild garlic

 As for a blog though, I am stuck.

So I thought I would try tying the numbers 123 as a search into my vast collection of photos on my hard drive as a way to find images randomly. Images containing these numbers consecutively pop into view.

And what you see here today, are the results of this random search.

I find spring flowers.

And some water.

A Finnish tit.

bird on a boot

A Scottish mountain.

Ben Eighe

An Applecross blackbird in a tree

who can resist the song of the blackbird?

A Norwegian camp fire

fire was here

Some Camber cones.

the cones of Camber

Some South island sand

sand patterns

A highland grit pile with a cannister on top

grit installation

A French fountain in Trelex

fountain, Trelex

Some random beach matter from New Zealand

random beach material

A hiking sign from Geneva

this way please

Some New Zealand coffee

refresfments, Kiwi style

A Yorkshire snail with cone

refreshments, Yorkshire style

A dry stone wall

dry stone wall

What do these say about me?

I like trees, water, cones, stones, birds, mountains, beaches, hiking and travel.

That just about sums me up.

I certainly should have smiling eyes today.

I have travelled the world and lived to tell some tales.

I have been lucky.

And you get to see some of the very strange images lurking on my hard drive.

You may feel that I am luckier than you.

Japanese t-shirt

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

I'm not on the train......... I'm in the bush ....... at Orokonui ecosanctuary

A weekend away.

Not far. Two hours from oamaru is Dunedin ; a large university town with a railway, cruise liners and for the likes of me, a beautiful peninsula of hills and beaches.

I headed to Portobello, beside the sea.

It was very cold the first day. So cold that I had to put on my favourite socks,

But it didn't last. It turned out very nice.

And while the sun shone I explored.

Saturday was the pyramids and the beach.

the small pyramid at Victory beach

I duly climbed the pyramid and got a wonderful view. I had it all to myself.

looking south from the pyramid

marshland below the small pyramid

grassy paths below the small pyramid

Soon after my descent a large party arrived to climb the hill. I was safely on my way to the beach before all 30 of them crowded at the top.

The other pyramid is easily seen from the top .

larger pyramid at Victory beach

The beach was beautiful.

White sand and sparkling waves.

Victory beach

obligatory selfie

Victory beach

I relaxed in the sunshine, and then spent the rest of the day exploring the peninsula, meeting dogs and sheep along the way.

The dog was a lot better company than the sheep.




Beach side huts are common on the coast.

Interpret this one as you will.

So that was Saturday.

On Sunday I was to ride the Taieri Gorge railway.

I got up very early for the occasion. Seven o'clock on a Sunday morning.

I drove to the railway station.

I was early so I took a few photos.

I looked at my ticket.

It said I was due to travel on Saturday. I was a day late.

I talked to the good folk in the ticket office.

They kindly upgraded me to the longer journey to Middlemarch. A six hour return trip.

Time was passing. I was not sure about six hours on a train on such a beautiful day.

A very expensive piece of paper......

I chickened out at the last minute.

Turned back to the car and escaped.

I couldn't face a few hours of sitting cooped with a number of strangers who looked more keen to be there than I.

I headed off up the road to Oronokui Ecosanctuary.

The best decision that I have made this month.

It was heavenly.

I spent hours there.

Orokonui ecosanctuary cafe

Orokonui ecosanctuary

my bird photography leaves a lot to be desired.... this is a Kaka

The bird song was vibrant and loud.

I made lots of recordings, for these are the sounds that I associate with South Island.

Easter orchid


young lancewood trees

If you have a few spare minutes and are really bored, or just looking to relax,  here are some photos, a video and lots of noisy bird sounds in a video compilation from the sanctuary.