XmasPhotoHunt – Gallery

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There is not much analysis to do on our Xmas Photo Hunt, it was simply a bit a fun.  The kids picked 12 themes for 12 days of Christmas, each theme had a sort of link to Christmas but could be interpreted in any way you want.  Not surprisingly there were a lot of Christmas themed photos but also plenty of different approaches taken as well.  I wasn’t sure with it being a busy family time if people would play along but plenty of people kept me busy with a steady stream of photos coming in.

Initially I was going to try and keep track of how each person was doing in getting all 12 but I soon gave up on that idea and left it up to the sender to work out how they were doing.  A few people definitely got all 12 and it was clear there were a few ‘finishers’ out there but others put in anywhere between 1 and 11.  Either way it was fine with me as it added a bit of fun and social media togetherness across the holidays.

The 12 themes were: Pretty, Sign, Travel, Crack, Together, Enjoy, Relax, Story, Kind, Wrap, Escape, Peace.  Have a look at the gallery and see if you can work out the various interpretations.  I’ve set the gallery to random so each time you have a look the gallery will be a slightly different order enabling you to get a slightly different perspective each time.  As always huge thanks for getting involved and taking part.  I’m not sure when or if the next photo challenge will be – follow me on twitter @ianstreet67 to find out.  Hope everyone has a great 2016.

Year of the Snail 2015

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Solo, with strangers, with friends, on new trails and old routes, from the front door and abroad, to work and back again, on a road bike, mountain bike, Dutch bike, quick spins and epic rides, in sunshine, rain, hail, snow, ice and plenty of mud, these have been my rides this year, which is my third year of Project Snail – trying to have more fun on my bikes and in particular to increase my skill, confidence and fitness through mountain biking.

I’ve definitely ridden a lot this year, regularly commuting and then getting out most weeks on the mountain bike as well.  Our regular weekly evening rides have been a god send, demonstrating how you can fit riding into a busy work/ life balance arrangement and it has kept me riding with people who are much better than me.  Their encouragement has meant that I think I am slowly improving.  It’s really hard to tell as confidence and perceived lack of skill remain rather large issues for me, but judging by how I ride some of the sections locally I definitely think things are on the up.  I must remember that it apparently takes 10,000 hours before you become a master so I’ve got a bit of work to do yet.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed some of my trips to North Wales this year, #MTBMeetUP was a great weekend ,I’ve I returned to ride Llandegla a few times and we’ve had some great weekends crashing in bunkhouses and doing Penmachmo, Marin etc.  Getting round these as well as some of the more challenging local riding has definitely helped and I look forward to more in 2016.  One day I’ll find the flow.

As well as riding it’s been good to take in the Tour of Yorkshire and the Nationals in Lincoln and I launched the Leeds Bicycle Film Club showing monthly bike related films and documentaries that has been good fun and has sold out every event so it would appear that I’m not the only one who likes a beer and a bike related film.  I’ve got a good programme lined up for 2016 so grab yourself a ticket and come along.

For me more than anything though I love the social side of riding and I’ve ridden with some ace people this year, my heartfelt thanks goes out to all of you, look forward to more pedals out across the New Year.  Cheers.

The Sculptor by Scott McCloud

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I’ve been fortunate to read some really good books during 2015 and certainly it’s been a good year for the boysbookclub.  Whilst I always focus my reading on whatever the book club selection is that month I do try to squeeze in other books and forms as well.  Graphic novels provide a perfect way to do this as they don’t necessarily take a long time and it’s a format that I’m really growing to appreciate.  Jared and Oliver at OK Comics have been guiding me into a world that I know very little about recommending titles and opening my eyes to the creativity and intelligence of the graphic novel.

The latest book they suggested to me was The Sculptor by Scott McCloud, which is undoubtedly one of the best things I’ve read this year.  It’s a 500 page turner of a graphic novel with real depth and emotion throughout that lived long in my memory and raises many fundamental questions on my (our) approach to life, the lives we lead and what we leave behind.  These hugely powerful themes are intertwined around a powerful love story, a Faustian pact, a portrait of young urban life, an artistic journey, mortality, aspiration, the commercial art world and mental health.

The Sculptor is brilliantly enjoyable as you are reading it but like the very best novels it seeps into the consciousness after you have finished, leaving little hooks in your mind that you find yourself musing and thinking about in moments of quite reflection long after you have turned the final page.

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The novel essentially centres on the life of David Smith, a young sculptor who found fame and patronage early in life but is now down on his luck, working in a fast food restaurant, creatively unproductive, frustrated that his life and art appears to be going nowhere.  Whilst drinking in a bar death (in the shape of his deceased uncle) sits with him and offers him a Faustian pact.  He will give David the ability to create and sculpt anything that he can imagine out of his bare hands but if he accepts the deal he will only have 200 days before death will take him.  Death also shows David an image of his life should he not choose to accept it, what he shows is a good life, working in a community college, teaching art, a wife and family, the type of life that most of us either want or settle for.

Here lies one of the first of the underlying themes of the book, almost all of us have dreams and aspirations, to create something, to leave our mark, to be remembered.  For most of us this does not happen and for David he is faced with a choice of essentially a good life or a short life that realises his creative ambitions.  David accepts the deal with Death but it still leaves him struggling with how to unleash his creativity and sculpt something that will realise his ambitions and leave a permanent legacy after he has gone.

What David has not considered is the strange twists that life can deliver and like all of us David never knows when love might strike.  A surreal chance encounter sees David falling madly in love with Meg, a jobbing actor and performance artist.  David is forbidden by death to tell anyone including Meg of the deal that he has made so he divides his time spending as much time as he can with Meg and then during the night working on his art trying harness his power to create his legacy.

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Meg and David’s fast developing relationship is beautifully captured and I really felt for the characters and had a powerful pang in my chest knowing what was going to happen to David.  Meg has a spontaneity to her which is instantly likeable compared to David’s intense over-worthiness but each character realises that together they are better people than they are apart.

The days pass and the David’s destiny is approaching, his art is still not the hit he wants and in his interaction with agents, galleries and patrons the book shines a light on the contemporary art world and makes you question who decides what is good art.  In the end David physically sculpts the world around him, eschewing the art world and leaving his work to be discovered in the mornings after night time creative sessions.  In doing so he brings the attention of the law enforcement agencies down on him as they try to uncover who is doing this.  Echoes here of graffiti artists and the question of whether it’s vandalism or art.

As I was reading the book I really wanted to know what was going to happen and was genuinely gripped.  Would David create his legacy, was Death going to insist on the pact, what was going to happen to David and Meg’s relationship, would David tell Meg about the pact.  I’m not going to reveal here what happens but the story is brought to it’s conclusion with a really powerful emotional twist.

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As I don’t really know much about the graphic medium I’m not familiar with the names of authors so Scott McCloud doesn’t mean anything to me but apparently he’s a bit of a big deal in the comic world, regarded as one of the smartest minds operating in the field and renowned as a theorist on all things comic.  Perhaps though as McCloud himself hits middle age he has been musing on his own legacy and in doing so it has driven him to create this masterpiece.  Does the protagonist of the novel reflect McCloud’s own artist journey in completing his first large fictional narrative ?

The Sculptor was five years in the making and it’s painstaking thoughtful creation left a profound mark on me.  It is often said that the best art is a mirror to your own life and experience and this brilliant page turner left me lingering on my own life, mortality and life’s purpose.  Powerful stuff, and I’d urge you to read it.

 

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XmasPhotoHunt

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We have been doing our Photofun ideas for a few years now and the idea is simple – my kids set a theme, I publicise through twitter and people tweet their interpretations which I then put together into a blog gallery.  This started during the summer holidays but we have tended to do it whenever their is a holiday period and also across the odd weekend.  It’s proved a really fun thing to do and to have people all over the place, young and old take part.

We’ve not done anything since the summer and a few people have been asking if we are going to do anything for the Christmas holidays.  We’ve had a little chat and come up with something a little different – the 12 days of Christmas photo hunt.

Many people break up for the holidays this weekend so we thought that we’d do a slightly different photo challenge.  This time we are setting you a 12 days of Christmas hunt and you have till 31 December to get all the photos.  You need to find an interpretation for each of the 12 days across the holiday period but you can send them in one at a time or together.  I’ll then piece them all together hopefully.

As always it would be great if you join in, spread the word and get family members and friends young and old to get hunting and snapping.  Send the pics to me on twitter @ianstreet67 and hashtag them #xmasphotohunt

The kids have agreed the following 12 themes:

  • Pretty
  • Sign
  • Travel
  • Crack
  • Together
  • Enjoy
  • Relax
  • Story
  • Kind
  • Wrap
  • Escape
  • Peace

Feel free to interpret any way you want, be creative and have fun. We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

 

 

 

 

 

#boysbookclub book of the year 2015

 

5. Falling out of time

So the crew met on Friday night to sup on some fine wine and food while arguing over our best book for this year and indeed whether or not it’s been a good, vintage or poor year for the books that we have read.  As always we had different opinions on this but for me it’s been a cracking year, there were a couple of books that I genuinely didn’t like but these were balanced by two or three that were simply astonishing and there was also Against Nature which although none of us really liked will live long in the memory.

We’ve covered different genres, countries, styles of writing and ages this year although we have only read one female author so we’ll need to redress that balance a bit perhaps in 2016.

Andrew our resident statto did some number crunching and we had five books that had an average combined score over over 7 out of 10 which is pretty high marks for us.  Our top three books when we went back over them were :

  1. Falling Out of Time by David Grossman
  2. A Dry White Season by Andre Brink
  3. Kafka on the Shore by Murakami

Falling Out Of Time was the overwhelming winner and it was one of the most incredible books I’ve read, part fable, part poem and a taut, heart rending piece of writing on grief from the Middle East reflecting on the regions families who have suffered too much for too long.  I’d urge you to read it if you have not come across it.

Although it didn’t make the top three I personally also loved Gould’s Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan, a beguiling swirling masterpiece and an honourable mention also for The Humans by Matt Haigh a far subtler book that it’s simplicity suggests and a thoroughly enjoyable read.

We are kicking off 2016 by doing something new for us reading two books in one, both of the Harper Lee books in a bit of a compare and contrast exercise.  I’d love to know what you think of our list this year, together with what your favourite books were and what would you recommend for us to read in 2016.

 

Summer Photo Fun 2015 – Week 7 – Odd

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We finished this year’s summer photo fun with the kids choosing odd as the theme.  This summed up the summer quite nicely for me as for reasons that I’ve never quite got my head round Leeds decided to opt for a 7 week summer holiday this year for schools instead of the normal 6.  Apparently next year it will be 5, no idea why, as I say odd.

When people tweet me their photo interpretations they often put a little explanation in with the tweet, I never use this on the blog posts as I like the photos to tell their own story and when they are all placed together in a gallery you get a better overall effect I think than single photos with an explanation.  Also I like people to look at the photos and either figure out what the taker was thinking or perhaps to see their own interpretation within the image.  This week though with odd I did think about putting up the explanations as there is indeed some odd photos and interpretations, but then I thought naaaaargh just go with it.  So here it is an odd gallery indeed.

Also an apology from me, I struggled a bit to get the blogs up on time this summer, primarily just because I’ve been busy, you know life getting in the way, and this post is a typical example as it’s two and half weeks after the end of the holidays.  Tardy indeed.  It’s also been an interesting summer photo fun as I look back over it with some weeks really capturing the imagination and lots of people taking part while other weeks barely seemed to get off the ground.  I’ve no idea why this was, maybe people are bored with it after a few years of doing it?  I suspect there’s no real rhyme or reason to it which is always part of the fun, you put the idea out there and see what happens.

I’d really like to thank everyone who has joined our good ship photo fun, it was my eldest who came up with the idea a few years ago and while I pull it all together they still come up with all the themes.  I love every photo that comes in as each simple photo and tweet is a connection made across time and space and there is something beautiful about that as far as I’m concerned.  Cheers from me and the kids.

Summer Photo Fun 2015 – Week 6 – Culture

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I’m strangely fascinated by the word culture – what is it, what does it mean, what connotations are there when it’s used so it was a great theme that the kids picked for the penultimate theme of this years summer photo fun.  As always the photos that you contributed to the week I think showed many sides to that word culture which I think goes to show what a confusing word it is.

the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.

the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.

maintain (tissue cells, bacteria, etc.) in conditions suitable for growth.

A long time ago I went to university, all I actually learnt was one key thing – definitions are vitally important, if you don’t define what you mean by a certain word then confusion, misunderstanding and misinterpretation is the guaranteed result.  Culture is a great example of this covering as it does some stuff floating about in a petri dish or opera (some might argue they are the same thing of course).

So while the gallery does not bring us any examples of the third definition I think we’ve got the first two covered.  I particularly liked ‘Pub Culture’ at the top of the post a photo that is full of possibilities and questions and the more I look at it the more I see and question.  Take a moment and have a good look and think.

As always thanks so much to everyone who contributed, this week made me think a lot.  Do let me know what you thought and also I’d be interested to know what culture means to you.

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