Saturday, November 29, 2008

Yorkshiresoul - Author

Yes, I finished the book, my first complete novel, 50109 words of 'Launch'.

Sadly, or perhaps thankfully given the overall quality of this month's sci-fi stream of consciousness outpouring, my novel is not available on the internet for perusal.

I managed to finish the book this evening, only to find I was about a thousand words short, and had to insert a new opening sequence as I coulnd't find anywhere else in the book where two extra pages could be easily fitted.

I think I found it easier to write the book because I was on holiday for half of the month, it was much easier to find an hour or a couple of hours a day for writing when we were away than it would have been at work.

Thanks to Alex for getting me interested in the competition, and any other budding authors out there, see you at next year's NaNoWriMo.


I should have mentioned in the last post that the BBC found my photograph on Flickr....

Yorkshiresoul Flickr's
Yorkshiresoul - Professional Photographer

Fame at last, but no fortune alas. Auntie Beeb have been in touch with me to use one of my hiking photographs on BBC Bitesize which is a revision site for GCSE students.

This is the photograph, Watlowes dry valley above Malham Cove in North Yorkshire, I don't know what exactly the Beeb are using it for, but I'll post a link when thier web people tell me.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Only Weight Loss Is From My Wallet

I have not been to Cannons Gym in ages, so I decided to cancel my membership, I wrote a polite letter explaining this which the gym received on 7th Nov.

The gym replied and said that due to the terms and conditions of my membership they required a full calendar month's notice for cancellation and thus would be taking another fee on the 1st of December.

Greedy buggers.

I have sent the following reply.......

"Dear _______ ,

I wrote to you earlier this month to inform you that I wished to cancel my membership of Cannons. I have not used the gym for some time and do not wish to continue my membership.

I was very disappointed to receive your reply which refused to cut off my membership and in which you insist on claiming another month's fees.

I will be quite clear, I have not used the gym for months, I will not be using the facilities in December, I think that 3 weeks is quite enough notice to terminate my membership.

As I will not be using the facilities I will not be paying a fee for such and have cancelled my direct debit.

To be honest, charging for a service which will not be used, especially when I have given notice, smacks of greed. I am sorry that you have decided that this was an appropriate course of action as when I did use the gym I enjoyed my membership and thought all the staff to be helpful and considerate.

Yours _______ "

Why couldn't they have just cancelled my membership, there would have been a chance then that I might have gone back at some point in the future. Instead I now feel really annoyed at Cannons and there is virtually no chance that would get me back as a member.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

NaNoWriMoOnly 7,000 words to go, which sounds great, as long as I can get the characters into my planned ending in that time.

Excerpt...(with no spell checking or editing as per NaNoWriMo guidelines)

"The final descent into the centre of the dropship’s clearing was terrifying. The wood men had gone completely silent on the last part of the flight, trying to hold their aura’s in check, nevertheless the troops on the ground heard them and opened fire. As the leading group of gliders came over the last line of trees and saw the dropship and its encampment before them they flew into a hail of fire.

The wooden structures of the wings, combined with the low level life signs of the wood men, made it hard for the ground forces and multi guns to aim easily at the incoming gliders. What they did instead was unleash a horrifying aerial fire storm that the gliders had to cross. Lines of tracer soared up into the deep dusk sky and dozens of guns chattered into life below them.

The wing immediately to their left took a direct hit from a pulse gun, with a massive splintering of wood the wing folded in on itself, it stopped moving forwards at once and plummeted to the ground with any survivors pinned helpless in the wreckage.

One of the wood men strapped in two to Keely’s right started writhing and shouting, a large arrow had struck him in the groin and green fire played around his hips and upper legs. Keely found she was screaming herself, but it didn’t matter now, she screamed in terror as bullets sang around them, there was a patter of impacts to her left but she couldn’t tell if they had hit wing structure or wood man. The rest of Vicence’s wood men were screaming now, shouting their hatred of the enemy, raising a battle cry to strengthen their own hearts.

The Dropship and the buildings around it were approaching at a sickening rate, Keely tried to brace herself against the impact but hung inside her leather bag there was little she could do. Amidst the tumult of voices and the thunder of guns they came in. At a shout from Vicence they all pulled hard on a thin rope at their sides, the stitching at the bottom of their flight bags ripped loose and Keely and the other kicked their legs clear of the material.

With the ground only feet below them, and still travelling at speed, Vicence pulled the guide ropes with all his strength, the nose of the wing pulled up sharply, there was a heavy impact and shattering sound to Keely’s right and with a lurch the wing bounced down and then rolled violently forwards. With the end of its right wing torn away by a pulse cannon blast the wing dropped on that side, and then the shattered wing strut caught in the soil and pitched over in an ungainly flip forwards and sideways. The remaining seven riders were thrown over the wing, some of them being hurled out of their flight bags as the wing rolled.

Keely was winded and had banged her head hard when the wing flipped, her rifles had been torn off in the crash but in a moment she had both pistols out and was crouched behind the wing and began firing at the gun emplacements on the perimeter. The defending troops had made a fundamental error when digging their emplacements, they had not expected any attack from the rear and were stood in shallow trenches behind solid barricades which now faced the wrong way."


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Views From The CN Tower At Night

We've just finished the last night of our holidays by having dinner in the 360 revolving restaurant up the CN Tower in Toronto, the views on a crisp, cold winter's night are really beautiful.
Leaves, Sunlight, Port Credit

Friday, November 21, 2008

What Is Going On In Your Head ?

Seriously, tell me what's going on in your head right now, or anytime that you're quiet, or alone, or distracted.

I'm quite aware that sometimes I'm a little bit distant, that on occasion I am not fully engaged in whatever conversation is going on around me, and especially when a person begins to talk to me I often have to ask them to repeat what they just said because I don't catch the first few words they said.

I think this is because inside my head, I live in my own little world. Actually, that isn't the half of it, inside my head I live in multitude of worlds, my mind constructs stories and visions all the time.

When we were out to dinner tonight, Meg and myself were talking about my inability to finish stories, in particular my novel 'Hoop' which constantly undergoes revisions and plot changes and character substitutions and wholesale chapter cuts.

I am doing NaNoWriMo at the moment (31,400 words towards my 50,000 total by the way), a project to force you to write a steady rate every day for a month to create a novella, don't mind the quality, feel the word count sort of thing.

Anyway, while we are talking about this I catch sight of the glass screen behind us which is engraved with a reed pattern, and then the lights on the ceiling which are black and held in groups on a rail, and look a bit like some futuristic mini submarine. Then I'm away, the mini subs are being dropped into the deepest trench in the ocean to investigate a kind of giant plant life which science as we understand it says should not exist.

Sorry, where was I ? When we were driving through Ontario this afternoon Meg saw a lot of trees, and snow, and some scattered farms. I saw a frightened man fleeing south during the zombie apocalypse, never knowing if the next homestead might hold vital food supplies, or ravenous shambling undead, or dangerous farmers willing to defend their land with dogs and guns.

There came a point in the evening's conversation when I asked 'Isn't everyone else's head like this ? It can't be just me ?'

And Meg said, 'I think you need professional help, you're a nutjob.'

Anything at all triggers my imagination, when I listen to music I'm creating videos in my head to match the lyrics, books to me are like films - I can see the characters, not words on a page, living, moving pictures and smells and sounds, films to me are often, well slightly disappointing to be honest, tv and film seem to provide some sort of sensory overload wherein my imagination is buried under the visual and aural images. This is why I prefer books to television, I know what an alien spacecraft looks like because Iain Banks wrote it down for me, and George Lucas' cast of thousands didn't improve on the vision.

So tell me what's happening in your head, see that tree over there, is it just a tree ? Because I'm sure I saw a wood nymph flitting through its branches, and you know she loves you but she'll make you love her and then give up everything you care about.

And those weavings in the carpet, they're just lines created by the carpet making machine right ? Of course they are, of course there is no such thing as whole civilisations of microscopic people that seem to live in endless narrow towns never knowing about the other linear tribes to either side of them until the terrible day when you catch a thread on the carpet and it pulls loose to create a gap and contact between two tribes.

I need to stop now, because I'm staring into my wine glass, into the inky purple depths, and I can't begin to tell you what's looking back at me.........

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More Snow Scenes From Collingwood

You see a lot of these when there is any hint of more snowfall, the Canadians are super organised when it comes to clearing the roads. I think at home if we faced this amount of snow fall in a day the country would grind to a halt for a week.

In the woods near Bill & Tatiana's in Collingwood.

Pretty snow covered fields.
The Beach, Collingwood

This photo is just for my dippy little friend Megan, who, when I told her we were going to Canada for our holidays, said "Will there be some nice beaches."

Well yes there are, but I'm not going sunbathing.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

You Wanted Proof ?

There's a Yorkshire saying that goes...'Where there's no sense, there's no feeling.'
The 104th Toronto Santa Claus Parade

The parade lasts for over two hours and features dozens of marching bands and floats and hundreds of clowns throwing sweets to the children lining the route.
Two Feet Of Serious Winter

When we headed north out of Toronto yesterday morning it was cold and bright, and although we had the faintest dusting of snow in the city the night before nothing had stuck to the ground. (Many thanks to Phil & Charlotte for the excellent dinner, and I hope you're both feeling ok after the evil whisky drinking Yorkshireman persuaded you into single malts later on!).

As we drove on towards Collingwood there was gradually more and more snow on the ground, Canadians obviously see a lot of snow, to us it was very beautiful and quite exciting, thus I was taking snow pictures from the car window as we drove.

The closer we got towards Collingwood, the deeper the snow became.

And then the blizzard started. We had though that the Canadians with their vast experience of deep winter and serious snow would take this all in their stride, but no, many of them seem to drive just like the Brits do in snow and we saw a few cars in ditches at the roadside, and one snowplough that had run off the road and got itself stuck.

Bill, Meg and Tatiana out for a winter's walk.

Blizzard, Hot Tub, Snow Chilled White Wine

Yes folks, when the first heavy snows of the Canadian winter start to cover the ground, the good people of Canada head for their hot tubs. YS, Bill and Meg enjoying the hot water / freezing air experience. I was persuaded by Tatiana that real way to enjoy this sort of thing is to climb out of the hot water and roll around in the snow then get back back in.

Does that sound stupid ? Do you think I'd do that ? What sort of madman do you think I am ?

Oh, yes ok then, I did it. There are thankfully no photos available of a portly, bearded, tattoed Yorkshire bloke in swimming trunks making a snow angel, but they say the screaming could be heard in Quebec.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Where Do You Keep The Cigars ?

Seen in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, and yes, we did laugh.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

We All Have The Right To Choose

So, the situation is this, I am walking along the street, it could probably be any major shopping street in any major city in the world. I'm quite well off, I have a good job, my own car, a mortgage that I'm ahead on, I have just been out for a lunch and I'm full up with nice food and goodwill to my fellow man.

Ahead of me on the street is a homeless man, he is poor, filthy, unshaven, all the things that I sometimes take for granted, he has none of them. Safety, security, loving family, a roof, shelter, the guarantee of food, nothing.

He is holding out a battered paper cup and he has a cardboard sign with the words 'homeless - please help' written on it, I'll help, I drop a couple of quid into his cup, enough for a burger perhaps, or a downpayment on a rip off chain shop coffee.

When I do this a bloke behind me says 'You shouldn't do that, he'll only spend it on drink or drugs'.

Hang on you tosser, what the hell do you mean by that ? I have been known to spend quite large sums of money on alcohol and food, I own a pair of New Rock boots that cost well over a hundred quid, I spent a similar amount on some hiking boots, I have frittered money away over the years on rock bands and fine wines and watching cricket and flying to other countries and then staying in nice hotels. Is this man with the Blackberry and nice shoes and tie telling me that only the well off should be allowed to decide how to spend their money ?

Does he think that poverty means you should have no choice ? If I was faced with night after night of rough sleeping or trying to get a hostel place I should I would quite like to scrape enough money together to get smashed off my face, to make the world into a nicer alcoholic blur for a few hours. After all, if the well off kids of Ilkley can get hammered every weekend night, surely this man whose life has taken a different turn should be allowed to choose where to spend his meagre income.

If suit man had said to me 'I would rather that you didn't give money to the homeless guy because I'm too fucking cheap to give anything, and your actions make me feel faintly guilty even though I step over these people every bloody day and totally ignore them' then he would still be a tosser, but at least he'd be a more honest tosser.
Bottled Nectar

We drove up to pretty olde worlde (read - highly expensive tourist trap) Niagara On The Lake yesterday, had a look around the town and then went to visit the Inniskillin Vineyard creators of some of the finest icewine in the world.

The grapes here are the Vidal variety, when winter hits this area hard and the grapes freeze on the vine they will be ready for picking. Picking is done by hand, in the cold small hours of the morning, the natural freezing process removes much of the water from the grapes and leaves behind a naturally sweet residue which is made into icewine.

Mostly, ice wines do not have have Bortrytis, or noble rot, the benign fungal infection used to create sweet wines in Europe, the weather here gets too cold too rapidly for the fungus to take hold.

Ice wine as awesome stuff, we did a tasting flight of four icewines, Riesling, Vidal, Oak Aged Vidal and a sparkling Vidal. The Riesling was quite stunning with sweetness and balanced acidity, I loved the sparkling ice wine but Meg didn't think the sweet flavour went well with the soft sparkle. Wonderful stuff, if you ever get chance to sample some make sure you don't miss out.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Niagara Horseshoe Falls

Although this is probably one of the most photographed places in the world, and despite the fact that you could spend some dollars and buy some truly awesome pictures of this natural spectacle taken by talented professionals, the urge for us amateurs to shoot pic after pic after pic is just overwhelming.

On holiday, you're not trying to prove that you're better than the pro's, but your own pictures serve as a powerful and personally pleasing aide de memoire later on. I love looking back through my photo albums from holidays and hikes and thinking, that was me, I was there, at that very spot, that was us, there we were, it it the memories you take photographs for. If they turn out to be good shots, so much the better, if not, then it's still the thing I saw as I stood there, that I want to be reminded of in the years to come.

This was us look, at that very spot over looking the American falls. As there are only the two of us we often end up with holiday photographs featuring either one or the other us, but not often us as a couple, so thanks to the gentleman who offered to take this for us.

Meg getting wet on the 'Cave Of The Winds' tour, which didn't feature a cave, or much wind, but did have an awful lot of spray from the falls.
Niagara Horseshoe Falls

The sun is out this afternoon so I got a much better picture than yesterday's effort in the gloom.
Buddhist Temple Carvings

At the Buddhist Temple in Niagara.
Buddhist Temple, Niagara

Walking is better then driving because in the car you tend to say 'Wow, that's nice, I wonder what it was?', whereas on foot you can wander in and around and have a good look.

This beautiful Buddhist temple is located about a mile from Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls

Yesterday we walked up to see the Horseshoe Falls, even with the day being rather overcast and damp it's still an awesome sight. The sound of the falling water generates a constant roar that is in a way quite soothing and enthralling.
First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out -
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the communists
and I did not speak out -
because I was not a communist.

Then they came for the trade
unionists and I did not speak out -
because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me -
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemoller

I'm sat in the hotel lobby, drinking starfucks coffee and reading Hunter S Thompson, God bless the free thinkers.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Niagara At Night

When I'm stuck in the middle of a seemingly endless series of 14 hour shifts in the middle of summer, it's so I can go and see things like this in the winter.

The weather is quite cold tonight, near freezing, and perfectly still and clear, just ideal for taking photos in the dark. This is the viewing area on the Canadian side.

Fountain of light in the park behind the viewing platform.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Niagara Falls

Yes, it really is every superlative you can throw at it. This is the American side of the falls looking towards the Canadian Horseshoe Falls.

Looking the other way across the American falls to the observation platform.

Right at the edge.

I took this two minutes ago from the hotel window, we're on the Canadian side now and both sets of falls are illuminated, it's magical.