I find this bottle at the tide’s limit, half-buried, overlooked: its glass, the cold green of sea caves, intact, refracting the weak winter sun like hawked mucus. The ocean’s castoff, its landfall ignored by every empty cockleshell and cuttlebone, gestures recklessly seaward and winks, daring me.
Gulls hurtle overhead, flipped by the wind, indifferent to my find. The dunes’ skirts flap impassively, witnesses to yet another pointless ebb. I turn the bottle over in my hand, weighing its lethal potential, then peer inside. Idiot! What did you expect, written permission?
A voice from behind calls. Grip the neck.
The Blue Pool
I like spending time at Brad’s house, although I’d never tell him that. His family aren’t rich but they’re not poor either. Like ours, their house is large but badly looked after. You can tell nobody has given a thought to the décor in several decades. Brad’s mum sells her jewellery at boot sales and paints watercolours. Her drawings are brilliant and I’m always at her to give me lessons. “Come in, Amy,” she said. “I’m off to town; help yourself from the kitchen.”
I’ve known Brad since we were small. He’s the nearest thing I have to a best mate. I don’t fancy him like that, but I trust him.
Read more: The Blue Pool - a short story
The Bad Penny
The air felt cool in the narrow alleyway behind the pub. I stood my keyboard case against a drainpipe and turned up my coat collar. Down at the end, Christmas lights blinked in a high street window. Already, it was hat and scarf weather, and I had neither.
“Will you make a record?” A small figure squeezed out from between two wheelie bins. “If you do, I’ll definitely buy it. The King of Doom. You write most of the songs, don’t you?”
“All of them, actually.” There was just enough light to recognise her face. She had been inside earlier. The only one not dancing, instead standing motionless, her outdoor coat still buttoned, wearing a woolly hat that would not have looked out of place in the stand at Elland Road. Birdy was right after all – she had definitely been watching me. She looked young, sixteen maybe. Still a schoolgirl then, although I didn’t remember her from St Bede’s. Not surprising I suppose because she would have been three or four years below me.
Read more: The Bad Penny - a short story
Deep Dream Generator
You have to create an account first. You are given 15 credits at the beginning. These renew every day and top themselves up every hour. There
Read more: Pimp your photos with Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Click for larger imageThe sky is a free slideshow you can view from any bus stop and, thinking back, I guess I have been a cloud watcher my whole life.
Since the sky often displays a huge range of brightnesses, clouds can be difficult to photograph well but it's easy enough to learn how.
Click on the Read More for an image gallery.
Cumulus clouds are particularly challenging, and unless you take care your photographs will burn out the bright cloud tops.
My top tip here is to underexpose your shot by at least two stops. Then in the software you can readjust the overall brightness while still retaining detail in the shining tops.
Read more: In Praise of Clouds
Tom put down a green handbag full of radio valves and other electrical components he’d been carrying for Alan, and sat on it.
Alan noted his companion’s griminess and wondered vaguely if he looked as bad. Mind you, it had been a very productive morning. A grubby face felt like a small price to pay. “So, when?”
Tom sniffed and wiped his nose across his raincoat sleeve. “July, probably.”
“Mum says he’ll qualify for probation soon, as long as he keeps out of trouble. That’s half his six-year sentence knocked off.”
“That’ll be nice.”
“Mmm. I’m not so sure.” Tom hurled a lump of concrete at a row of wine bottles he’d set up on top of an old desk.
“Don’t get me wrong. I love my dad and all that, and I know he’s no saint, but he’s definitely not a blackmailer. He took some photos and then got caught with them, but that was all. Sure, he’s done things he shouldn’t have but he didn’t deserve to go inside, not this time. He got fitted up by the police, plain and simple. They said the town
Read more: The Best Things in Life are Friends Chapter 1
What can be said about a sunrise (or sunset) that hasn't already been said? I dunno.
Which is better, perhaps. Now there's a question. Are you a sunrise or a sunset person? And is it just a matter of personal preference or is there scope for a more objective evaluation? Perhaps each witnessing of sunrise/sunset should be assessed as a unique event that cannot be compared to any other occasion. I dunno.
Click the Read More for an image gallery.
What factors might make a difference? Better if alone or with company? Better if summer or winter? Better if sober or drunk? Better if stormy
Read more: Cleethorpes Sunrise, April 5th 2020
A blooming, buzzing confusion. Yep, I'm out in the garden. Well, actually I'm sitting in the conservatory, watching the trees (yes, trees in a garden that measures 6m by 4m) being whipped around in the rather stiff easterly breeze. But the sun is out and the sky is cloudless. What's not to like?
Click the Read More for a picture gallery.
It is a pity you can't give people some kind of injection to kick start an interest in nature, in growing things, in gardens and in being outdoors just for the sheer kerpow of feeling the air on your face. It would do wonders for the nation's mental health. Overnight, people would become gentler, slower, more thoughtful, more
Read more: My garden, a blooming, buzzing confusion
It was very, very wet, is all I remember.
But not particularly cold, with hardly a single frost. Hellishly windy though, at times, expecially through February and the early part of March. Playground duty meant numb fingers and wooly hats and scarves.
In fact, Daniel and Lucie's wedding in Norfolk at the end of September was one of the warmest days of the summer.
Christmas with the family in Derbyshire was memorable. Expensive, but memorable. Christmas Eve's weather was glorious and a great photo op.
Thereafter, it's just been a slow, cold slog to get to spring, which at last is showing signs of imminent arrival.
Read more: Autumn/Winter 2019-20 Photo Roundup
Click for a larger imageDidn't do much in August, apart from start writing a new book and enjoy the glorious weather.
Bought even more plants for our tiny but lovely garden. Watering everything takes about half an hour. I love it.
It was grandson Ted's first birthday so there was a family get-together at Belton House, a very popular National Trust property near Grantham. Must be our third or fourth visit.
Missed Daniel's stag because of a poorly car - probably just as well, judging from the photos. He and Lucie get married in September.
The photo shows my dear friend John and me at High Hay Bridge in around 1978. There was a gathering for his funeral,
Read more: August 2019 Photo Roundup