Book Clubbing together…

I finally got around to joining a book group. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. I miss reading. I’ve always been a bookworm, I love to read, I love stories, I love to learn. As a child I devoured books and would always be found in the library on a Saturday afternoon maxing out my 6 books a week limit. I was voracious I would read anything and being a little precocious I soon exhausted the shelves of the ‘children’s section’. All through my life I have loved books and began collecting books (by dint of the fact that I could never part with them once I had them in my possession) at an early age.

After reading fiction, non-fiction and instructional tomes of all kinds I eventually found myself at university studying for my teaching degree and later teaching. These two life milestones had a serious and unexpected effect on my reading habits. I HAD to read, reading became WORK. I suddenly found myself with no time to read for pleasure and even if I found a little time I actually didn’t want to read.


Just some of my work books

Until now it seemed almost like joining a secret society, people I knew were in groups but they were always clear they had enough members. It felt like you had to wait for someone to die in order to get a place in a group. I tried Meetup, the local library and general Google searches but larger ‘formal’ groups always had a hella long waiting list. Finally someone on my local community Facebook group suggested starting a book group. I took the plunge and joined.  Reacquainting myself with reading and getting a bit of a cultural reboot were drivers behind wanting to join a book group. Meeting new people and finding someone to converse with was another goal. Sharing your thoughts and sharing books is a good way to connect. Even though the idea of the book exchange was a difficult one for me; I always keep my books, my house is bursting with them and it seemed odd to give them away especially to strangers, in addition to this due to my frequent travelling most of my recent books have been e-books on my phone or tablet so this is not a practical for sharing. I also realised that your personal library is very much a portrait of you as a person and so I think I was a little shy of disclosing what I read. I think that was one reason why I was glad t
o read the proposed books and not so keen to suggest  one myself.


I missed the first meeting of  Books and Booze as we were away but got myself read
y for the next one then finally a date came through that I could attend. The book  that had been set seemed intriguing. It was The Way to Paradise  by Mari0 Vargas Llosa. I had fancied trying this writer’s work due to my long love affair with spain and my desire to learn Spanish. Although he is in fact Peruvian, not Spanish, he is one of the most praised writers in the Spanish language. Therefore it intrigued me to start with this.

Setting off into the reading I kept following the FB page to see updates on the group. I began the book but it wasn’t the pleasant experience I had imagined. I’m not sure if the book was too challenging or that I am just out of practice at reading but it was hard work. I had expected to slip easily into the act of reading, drinking up words and translating them to images in my head but it just didn’t come easily. I managed chapter sized chunks, but by the day of the meeting I had ony managed three. I was relieved to find that most of the other attendees had had similar trouble getting on with this book.

However the meeting itself was very enjoyable with people similar and different to myself, we discussed the Vargas and we discussed other books and authors we liked, I had a long conversation on economics which then morphed into Sci-fi and that was very good too.  We got to know a little about each other and after exchanging books we parted agreeing to ‘see you next time.’ I actually won’t be able to make next time as I will be traveling but I am looking forward to my next time at the book group by which time I am determined to have finished the Vargas, i’ll tell you about it when I’m done.

Have you joined a book group lately? How did it go? What are you reading  and what do you think is the best format for a group like this?






It’s better together…


I spent Saturday wandering around Bexhill and making some new photo buddies from the Brighton Photography Events group led by Shane Wells. A small group of four, we met at the station and then made our way by train (and then replacement bus) to Bexhill. I had spent my time at the station gazing around aimlessly looking for people I didn’t know – while the sensible people had met, done introductions and sourced provisions in the M&S at the station. So there was breakfast/brunch on the train (thanks for sharing, Shane) and then after a coffee break we ventured out into the bleak mid-winter that was Bexhill in late February. We started with a brief walk along the front and onto the beach. While it wasn’t actually raining it was a cold, dark, wet day and I assume the remnants of Storm Doris were still lingering. However this meant that moody skies and rough sea may offer some interesting scenes.


Working our way along the beach we took a few shots and along the front were amused by a quirkily decorated cottage. There was the usual flotsam and jetsam on the beach and I attempted a few bird in flight shots with the crows and gulls that skulked on the stones. In the distance, a man tended his boat and I tried to take a few shots of him but nothing interesting emerged.

Having wandered onto the beach and playing with my zoom lens for a while I realised I had lost sight of everyone else in the group and so wandered up Sea Road for a nosy. I have to say there wasn’t much that caught my eye and so I headed towards the Pavilion which had been our main goal of the day.


De La Warr Pavilion

De La Warr Pavilion. Bexhill-on-Sea 

At the De La Warr Pavilion, a 1935 modernist masterpiece on the seafront, we enjoyed the linear exterior, the reflections and the vast white-and-chromeness of it before entering the building. The plan was to visit the exhibition there curated by Elizabeth Price “In a dream, you saw a way to survive and you were full of joy”. It was a variety of pieces of artwork, photographs and film collected to depict various life themes: Sleeping, Working, Mourning and Dancing. Not being totally au fait with installations (is it an installation?) there were bits I got and some I didn’t. The photography was interesting, there was some luscious vintage hand coloured film and other multimedia pieces.

After that, we ventured onto the other floors which held an exhibition of final year architecture students on the top floor and (my favourite) The New Line: Works from the Jobbing Print Collection. I really enjoyed this display of 1930s poster work and artefacts from their production like copy books and pages from the practice books for lettering. It reminded me of work we had seen in Vienna last autumn.

Then I wandered around taking far too many pictures of the magnificent spiral staircase, which while fabulous was IMHO the only really good subject inside the pavilion. The interior apart from the staircase seemed a bit spare for me and I know its modernist and therefore minimalist but I wondered whether there were other features that no longer existed.


The Gorgeous spiral staircase at De La Warr Pavilion


We enjoyed a really delicious lunch before venturing back out into the elements for another look at the sea before we headed home.

The bandstand


When doing a recce for the trip I had seen a haberdashery store advertised near the pavilion and we happened upon this on the way back to the station. I persuaded the others to let me inside for a few minutes and had a little rummage (not nearly enough time really) bought some bits and headed for the station. At the station one of our number spotted a fabulously colourful couple and we decided we had to take photos.

Sadly this led to us missing our bus when an impatient driver stopped us getting on board. Hence we had an additional quarter of an hour at Bexhill Station waiting for the next bus. All’s well that ends well however, and I reached home tired, happy and looking forward to the joys of post processing.

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