Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Oooh! I do like a dash of mootard - outfit post

In fact. That tis a fib. I am not a fan  -  at ALL.

Not when it comes to food, anyway. 

Yep. It's the return of The Woolen.

Clothes on the other hand. Why yes!!! I cannot get enough of things that are mustard coloured. I have, at last count, 7 tops and 3 different kinds of accessories. If I see something containing this colour I am on it like a fly on the proverbial. With Autumn on the way -  or at least here to stay, considering it joined the UK in June - what better than a lovely dose of warming  yellowness such as this? I have even spied tights in this colour recently. 

Oh. I went giddy.

Tweet! Tweet!

And I am still finding any excuse I can to wear my lovely Acorn & Will brooches. This one shows the colour much clearer than my initial post.
In fact -  I am building outfits around them. Normally it is the shoes I want to wear, or how I can be bothered to fix my hair. And now? Now it is brooches.  

Well -  it saves me time staring, frowning and huffing at my wardrobe if I have one piece of the outfit puzzle solved, dunnit?   


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Movie Review: The Lands Girls

The Blurb:-
The story of three young women and the events that would change their lives... The friendships that would stay with them forever... and the loves that would change their hearts.


I originally saw this movie for the first time about 10 years ago. And I remember truly loving it. So I was thrilled to get this for my birthday last year. No mean feat, considering it was deleted and now goes for a pretty penny on various DVD selling websites.

And I have to say that, although a nice film, it did not cut it for me. That said, I feel that this is more me than the movie and you should not let that put you off. I am possibly a little bit more in love with the novel than I should be. 

The acting and the costume are spot on. I err on the side of liking the character plots that are added in to the flick, but I feel that there is ample material in the book. I also feel that you do not really get to bond with the characters in this film before the war is over and most of them are living happily ever after. But, perhaps that is my feelings on the book coming through again.

There are excellent performances to be had from Anna Friel and Rachel Weiz, but Catherine McCormack as Stella did not convince me. She was OK, but as the lead character in both the images and narration of the story, I feel she was miscast.

In my opinion this could have been a whole lot better. It could have popped a lot more and had a bit more... something.  In short, it is not the best it could have possibly been. I say this, because it is "based" on the novel and to me is not a true reflection of the book.

But, this movie is likeable. If you have not read the book then you are sure to love it, just as I did when I first saw it. If you can find a copy of the DVD at a charity shop or cheaply on line, then it will not be a waste of your eye time.

I am pleased that there is a movie about these remarkable women, albeit a tepid one.

A 6/10 from me 

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Blitz Ghosts - The Interview

Cast you memories back. Back... back.... baaaaaaaaaaaack to my post about Sergy Larenkov and his art work? 

Well. There is another like him. On home turf. Oh yes. And he is good. VERY good.

Nick Stone has bestowed upon me the delight of an interview. It is long, insightful and a real treat.  

So, grab yourself a cup of something warm, sit back and scroll down. Here it comes....

George Swain collection/NCC

1) What first made you interested in this subject?

Family experience really. My mum and dad were very old when they had me. 
My dad was in the RAF & experienced both "Operation Aerial", the forgotten evacuation after Dunkirk via Cherbourg and Brest for those stuck underneath the German thrust, and was based in India and what is now Pakistan until about 1946. My dad's family were bombed out of the East End and his dad was a fire watcher on the Docks. My mum was a midwife, and generally feisty old bird living in both London and Cambridge during the war with small kids. Her dad had died near Ypres during WW1, which generally made a great impression on me in between the Airfix models and Warlord comics of my childhood.

I've always loved photography and history, particularly social history and things related to my family. Coincidentally as a Designer, I'd worked on a couple of projects in the 1990s which covered the Norwich Blitz, art working a book, 'Norwich at War' by Joan Banger, which really fired up my interest in the effect it had had on the city and it's people.Then I just started to 'spot' the gaps or 'missing teeth' in the city and to catalogue them gradually. 

©Nick Stone original photos ©Archant

2) How long have you been creating your “windows to the past”?

I started doing the Blitz Ghosts in February this year, a friend pointed out Sergy's work, which is pretty inspirational. I'd already got a catalogue of sites from my previous work, the technique just works perfectly achieving exactly what I'd wanted to do without having to display two "then and now" style pictures.

©Nick Stone original photos ©Archant

 3) What is your creation process? Is it started by an old photo that catches your imagination or a particular event, for example?

 It varies, sometimes I'll find a photo and just know exactly how it will work, so I'll go and shoot it and put it together quite quickly, at other times I'll have a specific set in mind, like the one in Rampant Horse Street of the Fireman and round the old Buntings store and Curls, which I think is probably still my favourite. I usually go out with photocopies and a bag of camera kit, and try and put myself as close to the original spot as I can. Some work, some don't.  Some require a lot of research and wandering around with old maps, some don't. I do like ones where there is a sense of interaction between the then and the now, where people are involved, or where the change is huge, but there's a large visual clue still there, it's all about re-discovery both for me and for the viewer.

©Nick Stone original photos ©Archant

4) What is a typical response to your art?

I'm not entirely sure if it's art, or even science. It strikes me as pretty weird thing, sort of a side affect of two interests. The response has been pretty amazing, incredible even, particularly after the EDP and Evening News covered it. The hit rate on my Flickr stream was unbelievable for a week or so.

The results have been interesting too. I've had quite a few stories of people who either do live or have lived in some of the buildings, and even one, "that's my grandad!" email. The best ones are where people have commented and actually given me some context. In particular a story relating to one in Waterloo Road in Norwich, which was actually, at the time it was bombed, being lived in by their grandmother, who had already written down the story. Just fabulous!

The other thing it has opened for me is access to some real social history stories. I should be interviewing two couples who lived through it soon. Also so many people just didn't realise the damage done, why the city looks how it does and what had actually happened. I've also had a lot of comments about how they now see Norwich with a new perspective and actually look at it rather than it just being there. If people have a better understanding of what happened as a result of this series, then it's worked for me.

©Nick Stone original photos ©Archant

5) What image that you have created has the most significance for you?

 Probably the ones in the places I know well, particularly Aylsham Road, which I walk past virtually every day. That and some of the city centre damage.

George Swain collection/NCC

 6) Have you ever publicly exhibited your work?

 It's all available online obviously and I've had a two small exhibitions of it. One at the YMCA in Norwich and one in support of some talks given at City Hall on the Baedeker Blitz. I'm working towards two more exhibitions, which if they work and I can secure funding, will be larger scale at two city centre venues. One will hopefully coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Baedeker Raids on Norwich in April 2012. I've also hopefully got some of the work going up as part of a fixed exhibition in the future, I should know more about that soon.

George Swain collection/NCC

7) Have you thought about doing more work, outside of Norfolk?

 Indeed I have! I have a slight but persistent case of 'Trench Fever', again due to family links although this time with Ypres in Flanders and Northern France. We've just been to The Salient where I completed a few test shots which have worked pretty well and are now up online. The plan is to try and go back and do a longer series of these, hopefully later this year -  funds and time permitting.

The research will be different though as the damage was so much more profound and the areas are much harder to identify as it's changed dramatically over the last 100 years. It would also be nice to bring in a local link, so I'd like to try and find some original shots of the Norfolk regiment in situ if possible, and maybe some of the 1st Battalion Royal Fusiliers, who my Grandfather served with.  Generally I think the Ypres Salient is an extremely fertile and worthy subject, I'm full of them already in my head having had a taster I can barely wait to do some more.

©Nick Stone original photos ©Archant

How fantabulous is that little lot then? I love things like this and if you want to see more -  please pop over to Blitz Ghost's FaceBook Page and have a butchers at his other work on Flickr.

His recent WW1 stuff took my breath away.

Over and Out!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Book Review - A Woman in Berlin - Anonymous

The Blurb:-

Between April 20th and June 22nd of 1945 the anonymous author of A Woman in Berlin wrote about life within the falling city as it was sacked by the Russian Army. Fending off the boredom and deprivation of hiding, the author records her experiences, observations and meditations in this stark and vivid diary. Accounts of the bombing, the rapes, the rationing of food and the overwhelming terror of death are rendered in the dispassionate, though determinedly optimistic prose of a woman fighting for survival amidst the horror and inhumanity of war. This diary was first published in America in 1954 in an English translation and in Britain in 1955. A German language edition was published five years later in Geneva and was met with tremendous controversy. In 2003, over forty years later, it was republished in Germany to critical acclaim - and more controversy. This diary has been unavailable since the 1960s and is now newly translated into English. A Woman in Berlin is an astonishing and deeply affecting account.


Where to begin with this novel. Is it, in fact a novel? This is something that I questioned from the first entry. Which hooked me. Line and sinker. It is a testament, a legacy to one woman's experiences of Berlin's final months of the World War II. An experience endured by so many in the same circumstance. And it is gritty. 

I went in with an open mind, and came out feeling oddly empowered. That may seem odd, or in fact wrong, when you consider the content. But I identified with the author. Part of this came from my own diary keeping. I understood where she was coming from in her writing, the purge that sometimes accompanies an entry. Not that I have ever had to write about anything like this. But I still felt an instant connection to her. She seems balanced and optimistic. A result of her diary keeping, I would wager.

I found it enlightening to read of what I consider to be one of the most important days in WW2 -  VE Day -  May 8th 1945. Whilst I read her entry of that day -  which consisted of hardship and toil -  I thought of the celebrations that were being had in the UK. The street parties and the joy that it was all over. This was not the case for Berliners. They were scratching out a living amongst the victorious Red Army, with little knowledge of what tomorrow would bring, or if it would, in fact, arrive at all. A stark contrast to those in London.

The book is not graphic, which surprised me. I was expecting to be harrowed by every page, but there is something in the style and the thought sketched into every sentence that left me wanting more. How could that be right, I questioned? This book is about rape, starvation and death. As events unfolded, and she chose her path, I felt that, in the same situation I may have done the same. Survive.

It may not be verbatim, as the author herself copied out of her original note books after the war, but it is no less a powerful book. Her story, the taboo that still surrounds her experience,  recording of it and it's later publication are the reasons you should read this.

There is also a film based on the book -  if reading is not your thing.

A 9/10 from me.   

Thursday, 11 August 2011

New Spec-taculars!

After a long and hard fought deliberation, not to mention search on eBay, Etsy and the web in general, I finally have a pair of new vintage goggles that I am happy with!   

Followers on twitter and facebook may have already seen these -  coming to you live from The Beards smart phone-fandangle -  as our home comp is still up a certain creek with no hope of a paddle until after payday. And I could not help but play around with the effects on said phone-fandangle.

Now -  I know that they are 1950's glasses, which is a deviation from my usual 40's inspired look -  but I am OK with blurred lines. Plus, the regular, round rimmed specs of the era do not suit my face at all. Apparently, my face shape should be able to suit any glasses. This is a lie. So I avoid them.

I nabbed these beauties from Collectable Spectacle on Etsy after a fairly long and weary stroll through the plethora of vintage eye wear on there. I only realised you could search under "Cat's Eye" too late. Do not make my mistake. You will go cross eyed looking through as many pages as I did (over 100).

I took them to SpecSavers and had a quick chat about them. I already had my recent prescription with them and they had the lenses on stock, so we were good to go. I went for the cheap option of £39 for re glazing with no anti glare. I am an idiot and shall be returning to pay the extra for this.

They have taken a bit of getting used to as they are heavier, a little tighter and further away from my eyes than my regular ones -  so I am going to wear them on and off to get used to them.

But boy, oh BOY are they purty!!! Me loves 'em!


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