Am Writing/Am I Writing

This morning I managed to scramble out a swift 1450 words to add to the Memoirs piece I had started on Turkmenistan. So 1450 words is good right after a week with barely a jot in the Bullet Journal (yes that is still going)? To be fair it's now a 2300 piece and I'm not at all sure it will hold up that well as it's been written in two ad hoc moments from various smashed jar fragments.

I've printed it off now and will give it a proper read and see about editing it - so don't be surprised if you see another blog saying Turkmenistan memoir finished. It'll be deja vu all over again. Maybe get it down to 2000, then again if it deserves more then really it is more about structure and telling a story. Last week I finished reading a book about writing fast. The key take-home from that was planning the pieces you write. Er the exact opposite of what I've done with this one. Ho hum. You live, you learn, you forget (or ignore).

For the next bit of writing (fiction) I have started planning. We'll see how that goes shortly.

Have to decide too - once I'm happy with the Turkmen story - what Memoir piece to write next. I'm thinking maybe a Russian one given the World Cup coming up there next week.

Expect colourful (okay maybe black and white) views of Moscow, Perm, Vogograd and er... Yefremov.
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Zen & The Art Of Typewriter Maintenance

It's hard to believe for any youngsters (and not so youngsters) out there but back when I was at Uni we didn't have many of these computer things (or access to them) and I actually typed my dissertation out on an old typewriter with laborious two finger typing. Some students paid typists to type out their dissertation for them, but I wasn't flush. This means I've not got it to hand other than in hard copy including faded letters where not I've not pressed down hard enough or doubly dark from retyping (not to mention the white flakes of liquid paper/correction fluid). The dissertation even included hand drawn figures.

I'm a faster typer now and these days when I mistype there is not the issue of type-bars sticking and with the magic of computing the letters reorganise themselves into words instead of becoming botched smudges with dots of red from a sticky ribbon.

Typewriter

There was something quite enjoyable about typing on a typewriter though. Can't put my finger on it. Maybe you feel closer to it, having to be in the zone with the ribbon and the type bars, making sure that the type pressure was even and making sure each letter was right. The play of the keyboard and the noise and the return at the end of each line was all part of it. Perhaps typing on a typewriter as opposed to a computer is equivalent to the difference between driving and riding a motorbike. I should reread the first chapter or two of 'Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'. I reckon there must be an equivalent 'Zen & the Art of Typewriter Maintenance' out there.

Contemplating retyping the dissertation onto my computer. Perhaps I'll put it on my website (maybe under the Memoirs pages). Retyping it would make me revisit what I wrote back in the 1980s and discover the things I knew back then about the subject and have long forgotten. Haven't said what it was, have I? Well it was an unusual one and not a subject I've seen much about since (or indeed ever);

'The Origin of the Carbonatite Magma'

Now you know that, I bet you can't wait for it.

Ol Doinyo Lengai
Ol Doinyo Lengai

Carbonatite is a very rare igneous rock and the only currently active volcano with a carbonatite magma is Ol Doinyo Lengai in the African Rift Valley. But hey, if I get around to typing the dissertation up you'll soon know that.
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Turkmenistan Photos

Can't believe it is three weeks since I held an online Twitter vote on what Memoirs piece to write next; which is another way of saying er I haven't done it yet. Let's just say one thing and another has got in its way (and I also may have forgotten about it). Anyway the winner was 'Turkmenistan' and I have now started it. Hope to get it finished and up today. In the meantime here are a few shots I took in the country.

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A Government building and the Russian Market in Ashgabat and a bread seller near Guardak, north east Turkmenistan.

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A seed seller and me playing Russian billiards.
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One of the remains at Merv (Mary) on the Silk Road and me near the Afghan border.
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Salt at the Gulf of Karabogaz and a ubiquitous statue of 'Turkmenbashy'.
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An evening of vodka, beer and bbq in Krasnovodsk (Turkmenbashi) by the Caspian and a massive though apparently 'cursed' mosque in Ashgabat.

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Camels running near Merv and motorbikes with modified side-cars.
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The pontoon bridge over the Amu Darya (aka the Oxus), near Turkmenabat in north east Turkmenistan and a Government building in Ashgabat.

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The 'Arch of Neutrality' or Tower of Power in Ashgabat (complete with rotating gold statue of the first hero of the Turkmen state).




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Bario and the Kelabit Highlands

To go with the recently uploaded memoir piece on my trip to Bario in the Kelabit Highlands of Borneo (click here to read) are some photos taken there.

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View from the Jungle Blue Dreams

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The 'road' to the Salt Spring

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A dragonfly (or somesuch)

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Rice drying by the Longhouse

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Thanks to the JBD

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The Longhouse

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A Pitcher Plant near the road to the salt spring

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Low hills around the town

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Water Buffalo taking an interest
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Bishop's Castle Real Ale Trail

Yeah! Off to Bishop's Castle in a couple of hours for their annual real ale festival. I'm not sure how many times I've been now, but guess this will be my eighth or ninth time. It's my fourth time camping there too so I get to enjoy a relaxed Friday as well as the Saturday. Always enjoy a cool pint in the Three Tuns before the most of the evening in the Vaults for their music (and last year... mucho Jaipur!)

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It's usually sunny or at least dry and it's lovely that all (or nearly all) the pubs in the village get involved. Live music, great food options, interesting people, pretty village and lots and lots of real ale choices. What's not to like?

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Some good stories from previous trips, usually painless. The most eventful year involved the hottest day for years several years ago and walking back to our campsite through a
midnight car rally stage - scary! Perhaps that story will make it into one of my Memoirs pieces... I'm over due a new one.

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Even managed to get some writing in first with a quick Microcosms this morning... now where's my tent?


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Hot Stuff at El Chichon

Following my first memoir piece last weekend I've gone by to my photos. Unfortunately they were print in an album. Damn that lack of digital copies. Still a quick photo of the photo and they give a flavour to go with the story. God I looked young and hot (in a temperature kind of way).


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Walking up one of the ash gullies.


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Looking back down the early slopes of El Chichon and all the gullies.

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Climbing into our gully. Gotta go down to go up.

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Our minor Guide as a scale to the volcanic deposits.

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Looking hot and awkward at the top of El Chichon.

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Our sweet Guides and me at the top.

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The acid lake in the crater.

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At the crater lake of El Chichon.

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Cooling down in the red stream at the base of El Chichon.

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Back at the Dodge. Gatorade and water. Water!!!!!!

The story of the epic trip up, down in and out of
El Chichon is here.


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A Globe Trip

London: The Globe Trip

Only had one night there but had a cracking quick trip to London. Had the £10 Virgin tickets to London. The hotel up near Arsenal wasn't up to much but everything else went swimmingly!

The trip started well. A full English in the Shiraz in Liverpool then off to Platform 8 for the Virgin train to London. Ended up sat next to a woman on her way to Zambia for a trip with students from the University of Central Lancashire. Had a nice chin wag about traveling and reading. She was reading Lord of the Rings in paperback.

A guy who got on at Stafford overheard us talking and joined the conversation. Turned out he had some books with him. That he'd written. Cool! And who was he? Leaf Fielding. Okay, I hadn't heard of him either. But that's what Google is for. Flip! Think I'll have to buy that first book now.

I'd booked my ticket for Nell Gwynn at the Globe the previous night and went for the standing option. Glad I did. Standing was fine (no different to going to a gig (including have the issue of tall people in front of you). The play was brilliant laugh out loud fun. It was designed for the Globe originally and it worked fantastically. Didn't know the lead, but she was excellent. A few of the actors I recognised from the telly.

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Talking of which I sat next to Mark Rylance in the Swan Bar before the show (yep, Wolf Hall and all). Rubbing shoulders!

On Tuesday it was a quick walk around the Emirates stadium, home of Arsenal. A bit antiseptic as a new build stadium, but worth seeing as it was round the corner from the hotel. Then on for an hour walk around the never to be missed British Museum, before heading to a few pubs... including the oldest surviving pub in London the George Inn (near the Globe actually) and then up to Pimilico for Cask, and to Euston for the Bree Louise and the Euston Tap.

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A great trip.

Uploaded some pics onto
Flickr. First time I've Flickred for ages.


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Memoirs

Projects 1 and 2 have currently stalled but I think 2 will be starting up properly shortly - watch this space. In the meantime I've decided what Project 4 is (as you can tell the numbering is purely for recording purposes and nothing at all to do with the order the works are to be started or completed).

Those of you in observant mode may have spotted another area of the site for
The Memoirs Pages. Yep, Project 4 is to be memoirs. I've not tried it before. The closest being some travel blogs I have done whilst in country. Writing stories from memory will be a different kettle of wossisname though.

Looking forward to giving it a go. You'll have to tell me what you think. Well, clearly you don't have to. That would be bizarre.
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