Beauty in every step

25 10 2012

Have you ever taken a drive or walked a path and observed something that just made you feel alive ?

I often feel as I walk/drive/amble around these various parts of this watery rock we call Earth that beauty is all around us. It’s there, in every step, in every particle of light, in every step we take…there is a reason that makes you glad to be alive.

My case in point is this, a few days ago whilst walking into a Thai restaurant in Palm Bay, Florida my colleague walked across a patch of grass. As his foot lifted from the grass I saw the individual blades of grass lifting from the compression. I saw the differing shades of green from his impression. It screamed green at me whilst singing a symphony of colour to my eyes. It was profound and I likened it to what a drug induced experience would be like.

Let’s take an example – dirt. Dirt AKA soil, is a bad thing. If we or something is/are dirty it’s bad. Yet what does dirt give us; it gives us life, it gives us food, it’s products give us oxygen to breath. Therefore out of dirt (ugliness) we get life (beauty). Are the concepts of beauty and ugliness too abstract for us to cope with ?

Another example, have you ever looked at the clouds ? Looked at them and thought ‘That is amazing’. Looking at the stars, looking at the Autumn/Fall colours of leaves…the list is endless. Bringing a more human aspect into the equation, a kiss on the lips, a delicate hint of perfume, a guttural uncontrollable laugh from a child, a sparkle in the eyes of your lover. You get the picture.

Beauty is indeed an abstract term. A termed coined by advertisers and used to their own financial end. The fruitless search of the imperfection of perfection. Or is it a real term, that invades our lives every single day ? Beauty lurks in the most unlikely of places, it can be found everywhere.

I swear, what I saw outside that Thai restaurant was beauty. It was beauty whopping me upside the head, screaming at me like a full moon crazy. It’s all around us, we just have to open our eyes and look for it.

Dear Reader, promise me one thing ? Try to observe a solitary thing each day that makes your jaw drop. Something that makes your heart skip a beat.

Something that makes tears fill your eyes, simply because you are alive and have experienced it’s beauty.



noun, plural beau·ties.

1.the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).
2.a beautiful  person, especially a woman.
3.a beautiful  thing, as a work of art or a building.
4.Often, beauties. something that is beautiful  in nature or in some natural or artificial environment.
5. an individually pleasing or beautiful  quality; grace; charm: a vivid blue area that is the one real beauty of the painting.



adjective, ug·li·er, ug·li·est.

1.very unattractive or unpleasant to look at; offensive to the sense of beauty; displeasing in appearance.
2.disagreeable; unpleasant; objectionable: ugly tricks; ugly discords.
3.morally revolting: ugly crime.
4.threatening trouble or danger: ugly symptoms.
5.mean; hostile; quarrelsome: an ugly mood; an ugly frame of mind.

Message in a bottle

14 08 2012

We live in an increasingly complex world. Technology invades virtually every aspect of our lives. Gone are the days when you can “switch off”, disconnecting yourself from the hubbub and the chaos. If I choose not to answer an email, text message, or a phone call it’s like the world is ending! Now in a wonderfully ironic twist of fate, I am very “techy”. I enjoy my tech, I enjoy hacking, I enjoy playing on my PS3. Technology really does bring a new dimension into my life. Incidentally I refuse to even acknowledge the term “Geeky” as it seems to have been adopted by the media, and is used ad nauseum to describe anyone wearing glasses who likes computers !

Despite being a self confessed technophile, I enjoy the disconnection. There is a wholesome feeling in doing a manual task, building something, repairing something or even creating something. During my last visit to Florida I was discussing (for some unknown reason) casting notes into the sea with a dear friend. This seemed like such a cool thing to do…and I vowed to do it with my daughter upon my return.

So upon the aforementioned return, under the glare of a rare Summer sight (the British sun) the little one and I began to furiously scribble our notes to a stranger. My daughter is 6, and was super-excited at the prospect of a stranger and their little girl opening the bottle and finding her note. I explained carefully how it could be years before someone finds it and replies to the email address. Yes Tech even invaded this escapade ! She was unperturbed by this and wanted to do it regardless.

We wrote our notes on the rear of photocopied recipes. I figured that someone could read the notes, be inspired, then make a nice cheesecake ! Notes written, rolled and gently placed inside our wine bottles I screwed the cap on as tight as possible. We made our way towards the River Mersey in Liverpool (Albert Dock). The sun was beating down, it was glorious. People were relaxing in the sun, watching the world drift on by. Soon they would be watching our bottles drift along on the outgoing tide.

I must have looked like a really irresponsible parent, wandering along…6 year old in tow…carrying a plastic bag containing two empty wine bottles ! What tickled me the most was my daughter’s complete apprehension regarding our exploits. She was really concerned about littering and getting into trouble. I had quite the cavalier attitude and simply said “Nawww, just hoike it in hun” ! I accosted someone who looked in danger of relaxing too much to take a picture of us both.

The moment had come. Like I was hurling a Molotov cocktail into a bunch of marauding zombies, I hefted my bottle into the sky. My daughter followed suit, with a suitably satisfying grunt as she threw it. Both landed on the water with a very apologetic and quiet English “SPLAT”.

Our destiny was cast into the water. We watched our bottles slowly make their way towards the river mouth. Out into the Irish Sea, perhaps further afield than the Atlantic Ocean. Who knows where the bottles will end up ? Will they stay together, will they drift apart ? Will they be smashed against the rocks of some far off shore ? Will a child find it in 10 years time and be inspired to write about, as I was…who knows ?

Strikes me as ironic how a simple act of putting a note in a bottle, and throwing it into water can be compared to path that we weave through life.

Who knows…

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Incidentally for obvious reasons names and faces of the innocent have been removed !

Night Mail

14 07 2012

My latest journey took me from Amsterdam to deepest darkest Antwerp. My destination was a 90,000 tonne vessel discharging coal, which I surmised was for the power station over yonder. I have visited Antwerp a couple of times before, but never really explored the city. Despite dusk swiftly approaching and a light rain, we began to walk around.

It has to be said, Antwerp old city is beautiful. Bohemian bars and cafes surround the streets leading from the amazing Antwerpen Centraal train station. Subtle lighting and discrete neon painting the darkening sodden pavements. An occasional flash as someone rides past on a pedal cycle, silently moving save for a ‘ting ting’ on the bell. It was a living collage, made more vivid by strong Belgian beers ! By the way, look closely at the STOP sign.

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Once the dirty job was finished on board, and coal dust had rained upon me from above…we needed to get back to Amsterdam Schiphol. Driven by the worlds most miserable taxi driver, who uttered virtually nothing for the 30 minute journey except to sometimes growl at another driver. We arrived back into the splendor of Antwerpen Centraal Station, it was truly breath taking.

The obvious choice for the journey was the Thalys high speed service. For the rather expensive sum of EU70, I got to cover the 115KM distance between Antwerp and Schiphol Airport in just under an hour. The speed of the train was deceptive, as it was traveling without rocking or shaking. It was only when we overtook cars on the high speed roads that I grew curious as to our speed. Checking on the GPS Status app, it displayed our speed as 295KPH (185MPH) !!

As mentioned on my previous post, this thought began it’s usual tsunami of notions. It rested upon an old poem written by WH Auden called ‘Night Mail‘. It tells the story of the night mail train, winding it’s steam driven path through the Scottish hills. The poem indicates the importance that the Mail Train played in society, delivering all manner of communication. It talks of how the environment either interacts or observes the train during it’s journey.

It was narrated by John Grierson, and dubbed over the mail train film. Released in 1936, it was one of the first documentaries to grace the junior screens. Even now, in this digital modern age, the melodic rhythmic opening verses are haunting. Blended with the stark grey images of a steam train, it’s breathtaking.

Firstly read the poem itself –Night Mail

Watch it yourself and feel the flow of the versus – Night Mail

I wonder how Auden would have written about train travel in this era ?

“Consistenty Inconsistent”

11 07 2012

During a conversation that I had with someone yesterday, I described myself as “Consistently Inconsistent”. Ever since that conversation the description has been preying on me. Isn’t it amusing how a phrase or word/s become lodged in your synapse ? Repeating inside your head, blowing around like a crisp packet in the wind. For me such phrases or words become a catalyst unlocking other randomized fragments of language. Ironically it’s not always English that they unlock. Wow my head is a quagmire of junk !

I didn’t sleep well last night thanks to being consistently inconsistent, but it allowed me to form a very personal poem.

I am Me

Consistently inconsistent

Simplistically complicated

Concise yet unclear

Unromantically romantic

Fashionably unfashionable

Comes with instructions, unreadable by all

A enigmatic mystery, wrapped in clear film

Garnished repleat with a tarnished ribbon

I am Me, and all that’s I am


On another poetry related note, I spent some time reading children’s poems with my little one yesterday. It was heartwarming to hear her understand the flow and rhythm of the poems, delivering emphasis where it’s needed. I think that will become a regular feature of our precious time together.

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