Thursday, 17 January 2019

60 is the new 18 ..

The New Year's rushing on - as it always does - and I was quite happy with that until a thought occurred to me yesterday. As it's now 2019 I can safely say "I'll be 60 next year!" Eeek! I'm not old enough to be 60!..

The flip side to that, of course, is that I'm very lucky to have reached this stage of my life. There was a sign above the bar in the pub I used to drink with my Dad that read 'Old age is a privilege denied to many' and, as I get older, I realise more and more just how true that is. A lot of you won't know Diane Oxberry, but she was the weather-girl on the BBC's North-West news programme for over 25 years. A real chirpy, happy fixture. She died last week at 51. Suddenly and shockingly and I didn't want to let something that awful pass without mentioning it. Poor old Diane. Except, she wasn't old, and she'll never get to be old. Even as old as 60 ..

Ps: That's me circa 1963. I thought we'd end the blog with a smile .. !

Monday, 14 January 2019

Over the moon, Brian ..

Oooh, that looks good in the window!..

We had a lovely surprise in Saturday's post. A big blue envelope containing a certificate and this window sticker announcing the fact that our gîte, La Galerie, has been rated 9.8 out of 10 by the website. Talk about elated! We're over the moon! And did I mention that we've become "Superhosts" on Air B'nB? Not bad for our first year as gîte owners, eh? ..


Thursday, 10 January 2019

Count your blessings ..

I don't know the point of today's blog, other than to say how lucky I feel that my life is going so well. I'm fit, I'm in a great place and I have no problems. I'm not saying this as a boast - I just want to point out how grateful I am that this is my situation at the moment. For sure, I've had my ups and downs like everybody else - redundancy, divorce, meningitis, an accident where I almost drowned, the death of my Dad and a stint on the dole when I felt like crap - but, at the moment, life is good. You see, already this year I've been told that my nephew's job will come to an end thanks to the closure of HMV's record shops; have seen the effects of cancer on two friends I've made here in France and have listened to a friend tell me how his idyllic life here could be about to be turned upside down because of marital problems. It's just brought it all to a point where I felt the need to stop and count my blessings. You just don't know what's out there, do you?..

I chose my shot of these kids in Kathmandu as a good way to bring that into focus. Sleeping on the streets in a sack. Hungry, futureless, unwanted. They should be in their early thirties now. I hope they made it ..  

Friday, 4 January 2019

Barking mad ..

I decided I'd dismantle my studio for the winter. It can get cold in that barn and I wanted to protect all my gear. Big mistake. I've now taken my third booking since I 'shut up shop' and shot the second of them this morning. It prompted me to show you these prints of Lesley's dogs, which I photographed and have just presented to her as a Christmas present. Give me a shout if you'd like your pets photographing this coming year. I promise my studio's all back in place! ..

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Made it. Now let's do it again ..

We've come through to 'the other side'! Congratulations everyone, and a Happy New Year to you all. I offer you this shot from my archive as a toast to 2019. You will always find me in the kitchen at parties ..

So where to now? What plans are in the offing? I can't help but think back to my early freelance days, when the arrival of January meant a nose-dive in the old income. The newspapers were smaller, with less advertising after Christmas, and 'photographable' events disappeared from the diary as people hunkered down for the winter. Pretty grim, but creatively interesting times as one sought to produce useable work for the press ..

No such problems now, of course, as I mellow down into my blissful semi-retirement and, ironically, at - literally - 1.20 am during our New Year's party, I was asked if I would photograph a Wedding this coming year. How's that for a cracking start to the year?..

My most recent project has been the new children's adventure story wot I wrote. (Copyright Eddie Braben circa 1974 and if you don't like Morecambe and Wise this joke will go right over your head!) I finished the story several months ago, but knew that - as a children's book - it needed to be illustrated. To cut a long story short I ended up doing it myself and have just finished adding 73 illustrations to the book. Just got to get it published now. In my last blog I said my closing word would be 'Optimism'. So let's hope ..

Happy New Year everybody ..

Monday, 31 December 2018

Optimism ..

I hate all this 'end of old year/start of new year' stuff, which is why I always use an academic diary. These begin and end in the summer which is why, for me, December 31st is only five months into 'my' year. So, today, there'll be no depressing closure, no thought of what the 'new year' will bring, no resolutions - just a pleasant continuation of 2018/19 ..

Having said that, it's nice to look back as today does mark the end of our first 'full' year of being in France - From January 1st to December 31st - and, without banging on about it, I have to say it has been a fantastic year for Lesley and I. Lovely to see all four seasons run by us, and it's delightful to see next Spring already making itself felt in our garden. With all the shit going on in the world right now I think this will be my closing word as 2019 approaches. Optimism ...

Monday, 24 December 2018

Christmas 2018 ..

Christmas Eve .. already! Time to hope for world peace, a sensible resolution to Brexit, a reverse of global warming and unspeakable things to happen to the fluff-headed Yankee one whose name means 'fart' in English ..

Of course, being realistic, I'll just have to settle for a day of rosy glow and the glow of rosé but I guess that's the 'magic of Christmas', isn't it? The vague, miniscule hope that things just might come good and we end up in a better world. I give you my shot of the joy, excitement and innocence of Christmas as a nod in that direction ..

I've already had my present, as Lesley returned home safely last night from a week in the UK and now we'll get to spend our second Christmas together in France ..

So, to you and yours .. thank you so much for reading my blog and may your Christmas take you back to the magic of your childhood. It was good back then, wasn't it? ..