Three photos from my camera roll

Now that I’m not going anywhere of any distance from where I live, I’m sometimes revisiting places in my head while I’m scrolling through the camera roll on my phone.  I thought I’d share three photos with you here and tell you something about them.

dog on train from Ledbury, summer 2018

This photo of a glum-looking dog was taken on the train coming home from Ledbury Poetry Festival in the summer of 2018.  It was a scorching day, in the middle of a long heatwave.  The day before, I’d travelled to the festival on the train from Trowbridge to give my first poetry reading from my book, What Are You After?, after its publication by Nine Arches Press.  I was grimy from the train and heat, and intensely nervous.  I picked up a pass from the festival office and milled around a bit, spotting some famous names and staring at them from afar.

I don’t remember all of the readings I dropped in on but I remember listening to a talk by Sinéad Morrissey – a kind of poet-in-conversation event – and feeling disappointed that there was too much chat and not enough poems.  I met up with Peter Raynard and Raymond Antrobus, the two poets I was going to read with that night, and we worked out a reading order.  It was the first time I’d met Ray, although we’d been in conversation via email and social media for a few years.  It was lovely to meet him, he was warm and friendly but I was too wound up with worrying about my reading to properly enjoy his company, or anyone’s company.

At some point, Peter and I walked in a nearby park but I can’t remember exactly when or what we talked about, I felt almost sick with nerves.  I hadn’t slept much the night before and didn’t feel prepared or ready to read.  I just wanted to get it over with. So I read first, and can remember glancing through the audience and seeing a few famous names listening, or half-listening, or not listening.  It didn’t help much and I was relieved to sit down again.  Ray and Peter read brilliantly of course, especially Ray.  He is an amazing performer and writer as anyone who’s seen and heard him read will know.

I don’t remember much else about the event, going out to eat afterwards and then back to a house where the festival put me up for the night.  A very welcoming couple who drove me to the train station the next morning to catch my train.

I glanced over at this dog and felt he/she was something of a soul mate, given how flat I felt about my first experience of reading at a big festival.  I also had a little laugh about glumness and despair.  The picture sums up how I’m feeling now, to be honest!

The next photo is of Stonehenge, also taken in the hot summer of 2018.  We live in West Wiltshire but often travel past Stonehenge, in the north of the country,  on the A303 – which is where I took this photo from the passenger seat of our car, on our way to visit family in London.

Stonehenge viewed by car, summer 2018

There is, of course, something magical and special about this ancient site, and it always strikes me as extraordinary, however many times I’ve seen it,  that it suddenly appears by the side of the road, without fanfare.  I remember a time when the whole site was open to the public to visit, no barriers, no financial charge.  I don’t visit it these days (even before lockdown) as I hate queues and crowds of people so I don’t like visiting tourist sites in general.  My son has been to the summer solstice at Stonehenge several times and says it’s wonderful.

I like the sense of travel in this photo, a sense of escape.  I’m looking forward to being able to go places again, on a whim, without planning, just taking off somewhere.  What must those stones make of what’s happening to the world at the moment? Have they seen it all before?

The final of my photos is from last year, taken at The Sculpture Trail in the Forest of Dean, about an hour’s drive from where we live.  This is a photo of the sculpture called ‘Cathedral’, a 15′ stained glass window suspended from a tree canopy so you can walk under and around the artwork.

‘Cathedral’ by Kevin Atherton in The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail, 2019

Although we’ve lived here in Wiltshire for over 15 years, it was only last year that we visited the Forest of Dean.  Spending time walking through and being with trees deep within a forest really is as uplifting and restorative as mindfulness experts say it is.  We’ve visited several times and the Forest of Dean will be high on my list of places I want to see again, when the lockdown ends.

So no very faraway places on my camera roll wish list.  I probably have an image of the sea somewhere in there, that’s somewhere else I want to go when all this is over.  Will it ever be over? (Don’t answer that).  If you feel like writing your own post and sharing three photos from your camera roll, do please drop me a link.

This post is in response to the daily Discover Prompt from WordPress (the prompt for this one was ‘Three’) but I’m falling behind with the prompts.

9 thoughts on “Three photos from my camera roll”

  1. Josephine, thank you for sharing these photos. I remember how hot it was in that Ledbury hall in 2018! It’s many years since I visited the Forest of Dean. I’m so pleased to hear that the sculpture trail still exists. I’ve a set of postcards somewhere…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. O Josephine, it’s really nice to revisit that hot summer of Ledbury when I was at that launch and at that dinner afterwards with you too though I didn’t know you felt quite so flat and sorry you did. You read so nicely but Ray is a professional performer, he’s in a different league to everybody, I hope you didn’t compare yourself as I got so much from your poems and delivery.

    Nor did I know I’d drop Ishy a month later. I’ve just clocked off after a day with Ishy – doing pretty much 7 days a week which is what I signed up for but it’s hard in this little flat, it’s hard wherever you are I think. Am just enjoying a glass of white wine while Alex takes over but my poetry has pretty much had to stop during the lockdown. I’ve lost my first big reading at a festival this May – was going to be Newcastle and I was both terrified and excited but now just sad that my pamphlet has died a death like the dodo did :-(. MISERY!!

    Thanks v much for these blogs – will read the rest of it, just had to write in response to Ledbury.



    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Anita, you are so kind to write this. Thank you! It was my first reading so I was all over the place, and not feeling confident about the work, to be honest. I’m having doubts about being a poet at all. I think I am more of a prose writer. I’m too shy to be a good performer, it’s not in my skill set. Having said that, the Voice Coaching course I did at Ledbury last year with Francoise Walot was wonderful and has helped me a lot. Ray is a fantastic performer, I’m not comparing myself with him at all. It wouldn’t have mattered who I’d read with that day, I was a bag of doubt and worry! I am so sorry about your reading in Newcastle. I’ve never been but the festival every year looks like one of the best. It’s one I’d like to go to. Your pamphlet was shortlisted for something, wasn’t it? The Michael Marks Prize? That is hardly dying a death! Come on! It must be hard being in a flat with a little one at this time. I hope you are able to get out and about sometimes. Thinking of you!! A little wine is a good idea. This too will end. Stay safe and well and thank you again for being kind. J x


  3. Dear Josephine, thank you for your wonderful post. Your Ledbury section really resonated with me on a lot of levels. It has made me think about the readings where I was myself and the ones where I wasn’t and whether anyone would really know the difference. I think I have said this somewhere on my oblong but I am increasingly coming round to the the idea of doing most of a reading sitting in silence. No Q and A, no introductions to the poems, just the poems and the odd cough, like a Quaker meeting or something.. . But spaced out with minutes and minutes of silence………………………………………… I don’t know why my PC has just added all those full stops, but I like it. Anyway, this really got me in the guts and I thank you for it as it poses so many important questions about who is allowed onto the platform (in every sense). With best wishes as ever, Anthony

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much Josephine. I dare not share this story, partly because I don’t want to sound spoiled and namedroppy… but I remember the exact same feeling you describe when I read at Aldeburgh in 2002. I had no idea how to behave. I literally walked around the place for the first 24 hours thinking ‘Where is everybody?’, certain that there was a party going on somewhere without me. I bumped into Matt Harvey in the fish and chip shop and he looked like he was thinking exactly the same thing. Even though I have had this feeling my whole life, it was especially true that weekend. I had no idea how to talk to people, how to approach them, poets I admired or just wanted to get to know better without looking and sounding creepy. Even getting someone to sign my book. The agonies. Somewhere towards the end of the weekend I plucked up the courage to speak to Liz Lochhead and she touched my arm and drew me in like she had known me her whole life. I’ve never forgotten her generosity and kindness. With very best to you as ever, and thank you again, Anthony

        Liked by 1 person

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