The trouble with my handbag adventures

Connecting with the virtual world of WordPress, Twitter and Facebook has encouraged me to find a message in the ordinary world around us.  I am always looking for photograph opportunities to support a tweet, Facebook post or blog. My mind is constantly buzzing with ideas and it’s great. These adventures can result in some fulfilling interactions in the real world, but my photographing adventures can also get me in into trouble.

On the whole people are very accommodating and let me take photographs of their shops, museums, pubs, gardens, houses etc.  For instance, the porters on The Grand Hotel, in Brighton, were happy to let me capture the glamorous setting with my camera. I needed the photographs for Ally Bunbury’s book review and interview.  The helpful porters even cleared some luggage to enhance the shot.  Later that day, a kind gentleman pointed out various signs for me to capture in his grocer’s shop, but I did get a little suspicious when one of the signs read: ‘New husband for sale’.

During my adventures, I have learned to smile at the museum curators and carry on.  Unfortunately, I was chastised for photographing Churchill’s writing desk. Though, I was delighted to be informed that Churchills would ‘fight me on the beaches’ if I dared to take photos.  Another curator pretended not to see me taking a view of the garden from the window.  One antique shop owner looked at me suspiciously when I declared, ‘I need pictures of old spades etc to display as murder weapons.’  I intended to use these in a murder story lark developed, on Facebook, with Angela Petch and Patricia Stoner.  On this occasion, I didn’t use the photos but they will be useful at some stage.

Walking through the Beacons, I decided to write a blog about the inspiring environment.  I spied an opportunity to throw a stone in the water to represent a big splash.  The splash would represent a thought or an idea.  Unfortunately, I was chased away from the lake by the people who were fishing for trout.   I did ask if they would like me to ‘sling my hook’ but they weren’t amused.

Sue Moorcroft’s ‘Just for the Holidays’ got me into the most trouble.  I required some images of holiday items as mine weren’t glamorous enough for a friend of Leah.  While shopping in a supermarket, I saw lots of holiday goodies. Bingo! I set to work removing the various items, placing them in better light and clicking my camera phone.  The Canadian security guard was not impressed with me and said, ‘Ma’am, would you please follow me?’  I followed him.  Disappointingly, I was led to his security post and not his horse.  He was very polite and soon accepted my explanation.

The most frightening experience occurred when I was taking a photo of a street sign for Muddles Green.  That day, I was in a muddle with editing so the sign was perfect.  I stood in the middle of the quiet country lane to snap the image.  A motorbike almost ploughed into me as it raced around the corner. It was worth it when lots of authors connected with the message.

Not everyone can connect with my adventures.  I asked shop owner if I could place Jan Ellis’s The Bookshop Detective’ in his window display and then take a photograph.  Sadly, he wouldn’t allow it as he was concerned that there would be breakages.  How did he know that I am clumsy?  Maybe, he thought that I was the detective and wanted to get inside of the window display.

It is great fun to think about representing my adventures through social media. It is a bonus that my everyday experiences and thoughts mean something to like-minded people out there in the world.  My handbag adventures have enabled me to connect with a wealth of creative people who challenge and inspire me.  These connections wouldn’t have happened without social media, and now I am exploring how I can further develop some creative collaborations.  I am looking forward to working with Jenni Lopez from @TheJennieration.  

 

More of my adventures can be found at Handbag Adventures and see my blog at jessiecahalin.com 

Chase away writer’s block in the real world

During the last couple of months, I have been immersed in a virtual world of social media. Yesterday, my family insisted that I visited the real world of the Brecon Beacons.

Initially, I complained that it was another rainy day in Wales and it wasn’t worth braving a potential storm.  I was happy to admire the colours of the garden, from my writing room, but the writing wasn’t flowing.  Finally, I left my handbag at home, retrieved my walking gear and went to the Brecon Beacons.  The beep, beep, beep of my phone was left behind as we drove into the heart of the impressive mountain range.

Always one to admire the cloudless blue sky, I was surprised by depth of the grey sky.   I had been adamant that I needed the blue sky for some ‘blue sky thinking’, but I was wrong. I needed the reality of a dramatic landscape to chase away the writer’s block.

We stood in the landscape as the colours were dissolved by silver, grey and bronze tones.  We discussed how the scene was changing before us, and how the moving clouds were like the curtains opening and closing on the stage.  This very real experience made me aware that the weather re-writes the landscape in the same way that a writer changes the shades of meaning in a story.

Rather than staring at the computer screen for inspiration, or peering into the same garden – why not immerse yourself in the real world?  It is good to hear the real tweets of the birds rather than the computer-generated tweets.

 

Please see my blog at jessiecahalin.com

Book dust and the curious world of ‘Book-ish’

It was like opening a book jacket into a giant book, when I opened the door into ‘Book-ish’, located in Crickhowell.  I looked up at the words ‘Book Dust’ above the shop door and let it settle on me.

I was Alice in Wonderland, as I explored the various rooms; and it became ‘curiouser and curiouser’.  Besides the books, treasures greeted me in every nook and cranny.  There were: cards, bags, soft toys, baubles, ornaments, but no sign of Captain Hook.

Passing through magical corridor from the main bookshop, I heard a little boy saying, “Wow!” to his mother, as they followed a staircase down into the children’s section.

And I hope that the little boy managed to find Harry Potter under the stairs, or perhaps he found some ‘read me labels’. Beyond the magical corridor, I was greeted with the aroma of coffee, alas there were no seats.

A gentleman, wearing a white shirt and waistcoat, looked up from his book. “Oh dear!” he declared. “I think there’s more seating upstairs.” he muttered, into his book.

Upstairs, there was a beautiful loft with a picture window framing a view of the Brecon Beacons, and plenty of seating.  A selection of wine was on display behind the bar that was decorated with lots of books. Various word and book games were scattered around for the customers to enjoy.  Clearly, this bookshop has been set up by a true book lover who values time to read, chat and eat. The ‘Book-ish’ cake menu has been designed to tempt the reader to stay. I chose The Queen of Hearts’ Bakewell Tarts. ‘Book-ish’ is a haven from the chaotic pace of modern life and a bibliophile’s dream.

I was writing for some time and taking pictures of the treasures, but no one asked questions.  I had entered a world of like-minded bookworms.  It felt as if I had travelled into cyberspace to meet my virtual friends.  Indeed, I was delighted that Sara Gethin’s book, ‘Not Thomas’ was there to keep me company.  The bookshop also hosts events in the loft space, and I couldn’t help wondering if Heidi also lives up there too.  I did find out that ‘The Snowman’ will be brought to life in the bookshop by Looby Lou.  I stayed in the shop for some time and imagined hosting a Books in Handbag meeting. I visualised bags and bags of books like a stairway to Heidi’s star filled sky.

I purchased a book entitled ‘Kindness: the little thing that matters the most’, by Jaimie Thurston. Indeed, the bookshop owner is spreading kindness to her customers by providing a reading space and not limiting time in the shop.  My Twitter and Facebook friends will understand my delight when I was handed my treasure in a brown bag that read, ‘BOOKS ARE MY BAG.’ I also discovered that the bookshop opened in the same month I launched my Books in my Handbag Blog.

Closing the door on the Bookish Narnia, I felt happy that I would return before the ‘Book Dust’ settles.  In the meantime, I must spread the word amongst my bookish community. Please don’t be late for this ‘very important date’ at ‘Book-ish’: a feast for the bookworm’s senses!

‘Sharing good news spreads positivity, changes attitudes and ultimately leads to more people feeling happy and encouraged.’

Kindness: the little thing that matters the most’, by Jaimie Thurston

 

Please see all my adventures at Handbag Adventures and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.