Monday, 25 June 2018

Just Me, Nobody Special - AnneMarie Groves

Sitting round my pool today is a lady that not only makes me smile, but writes thought proving amusing Blog posts.  Her Blog is titled, Just Me, Nobody Special. This could not be further from reality, so please grab yourself a glass of chilled bubbly, take a lounger next to my pool and settle down to welcome my lovely guest, AnneMarie Groves.

Whilst I know you suffer from a muscle wasting condition, Muscular Dystrophy, which confines you to your home these days you have lived a very interesting life. Sailing and working on Tall ships, when not sailing through the seven seas, you’ve been gallivanting around the globe to rock concerts, in particular following and promoting, Stephen Gibb.

Please tell us about your time on the Tall ships and what made you work on these rolling beauties?

Actually they're holidays, Lord Nelson and Tenacious are designed and built to take able and disabled people. You sign on to the "Ship's Articles" as crew, but you've paid to go. You are a member of one of the four watches that 'crew' the ship. That might be setting sails, bracing yards, on watch, at helm or cleaning, taking down the shipping forecast or meterological observations, light maintenance, instructional talks, preparing the crew food etc. I was only going to do this once, so signed on to a biggee Southampton to Gran Canaria 4-weeks.  It was the most terrifying, exhilarating, baffling, encompassing, exhausting yet enlivening experience ever. So I did it another three times, lol. The second voyage, Southampton to Kings Lynn got a little hairy when I nearly went overboard strapped into an adapted dentist chair in the English Channel. My final voyage from Bermuda via Grand Bahama to Miami Florida put us firmly in the Bermuda Triangle, but other than reminding the US Navy in the wee hours that power gives way to sail, it was an uneventful trip.

I've been thrown together with strangers from all over the globe into this unique world, a mixed range of conditions, ages, backgrounds and abilities. We've exchanged life anecdotes and shared much laughter. There are no differences, no one is left out, it is the purest form of all inclusive team work. I kept very detailed diaries of my voyages as a special person once told me, make a note of good memories because you'll be a long time revisiting them.

What is special about Stephen Gibb that you have become quite involved in
promoting him?

It began with a bit of a jest. A friend outside his Dad's studio asked how much to get his (Stephen's) autograph and he replied "A fiver", so my closest friend and I (already fans of his music) sent a five pound note with a photo and he sent back the signed photos and the five pound note. I should explain that Stephen's Dad is Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees. This was in the early 00's and the Bee Gee fans were all squeaky gushy about 'little Stevie', which makes me cringe. Here was this almost twenty year old beefy, tattooed, charismatic heavy metal guitarist with skills and reputation of his own being referred to like some cutesy toddler. We set up a home page and began to properly research the music he had worked on and it was substantial.  That quickly grew into the dedicated site there is today, and it still (I hope) accurately records his work and recordings. He's had the opportunity to be with some amazing people, not because he is a son of, but because he is a very talented, focused, intelligent gentleman.

In 2003 I met him at the studio just a few weeks after his Uncle Maurice had died. Shortly after that he joined a band called Crowbar and they gigged in Berlin, so my BFF and I hopped a flight and surprised him. He took us back stage and told everyone we ran this website about him and joked we were his cyber stalkers. We've kept in touch.  In 2016 I took my Sister to be in the audience of The One Show to see him support his Dad on the promo tour of the album they had written together "In The Now", we had a fantastic chat after while his Dad met the other select audience members.

You once worked for a Baron, what was this about?

My parents owned a business at the edge of the Baronial estate, so the family and estate workers were customers. I went to primary school with two of his daughters. Our paths frequently crossed at various village events, piano recitals, parties, etc. Part of the estate was a tourist attraction, a country park with golf, boating, fishing, heavy horses, falconry, open grounds, gardens and woodland, as well as holiday cottages and event theme days. I was employed as the managers secretary, which really was a very loose title, over the years I did all the admin and accounts, as well as wrangled ducklings out the shop, babysit a poorly hedgehog, dress as a belly dancer for camel racing day, answer endless questions on a whole gamut of subjects. Also report to Lord Somerleyton (the third Baron) and deal with his queries, during this time he was also Master Of The Horse to Her Majesty The Queen, as well as an equerry, so was often away. Working in a family business is very different, and my family and I were so well known by the family they'd often bypass the manager to speak to me. I have many happy memories of days there, as well as conversations with His Lordship that ended 'but you don't need to know that'.  It is not straightforward care taking an historic place, it's supposed to be self sustaining, yet modernising in a fashion that keeps it as it's always been, it's presumed there is cash to spare but repairing Victorian chimneys or rehogging a three mile track are not things B&Q can do.  There is an obligation to keep everything, from Georgian wall hangings to Victorian furniture, you don't have the freedoms to throw away. It has an aura of a privileged life but it is far more regimented with added expectation than you'd imagine, constantly being scrutinised and remarked upon, plus watched by the press.

You live in a rural part of the UK, tell us a little about the area and what makes it special?

Rural is the word. Our family business was on a t-junction, each direction was 7+ miles to the nearest town, no regular bus service, it was a little bit frozen in time. I was the only child, I think the next youngster was at least 8 years older than me, there were a couple in the next village my age but that was a mile away.  It was isolating in a sense that school friends were miles away, there was no hanging out in town, no cinema trips or bowling, no eating out or sleepovers. It was a simplistic, innocent environment, I played outdoors in woodland, or read books, did my piano practice (reluctantly) for the exams, I was in the church choir, we rehearsed at my house because I had a piano and the choir mistress was my piano teacher. Everyone knew everyone, so within the villages it could be suffocating. One time one of the new managers at the country park stormed into the office remarking "Can't I go anywhere in this village without someone knowing you!", lol, nope, that's villages for you.  The village is on the river, and has an ancient priory, I remember going there to see the sows and piglets and scratching their backs, it's a prestigious restaurant venue now.  There is a sense of space and calm there, it's not bustling and noisy like urban areas, where I live now.

You have also created some beautiful and eye catching cross stitch pictures, was this your way of relaxing?

When I was out of work and trying to find a job if you have a disability it is draining, annoying, sometimes humiliating, it takes a long time.  Being home for endless hours I needed something to do. I adore tigers, I came across a cheap kit and on the spur of the moment bought it and did it, then one Christmas my Mum bought me a couple more. I'd sit at home and stitch for hours, sometimes 5/6/7 hours a day slowly revealing these intricate characterful images. Relaxing, maybe, but it appealed to my mathematical puzzling, how to do a few stitches here and a few there using the least thread but not jumping vast areas.  My BFF loves the "All Our Yesterdays" collection and she would buy one, maybe start and I'd finish it. I did an elephant for my Sister, I'm proud of that. The trickiest a four foot bell rope on Irish linen, using single thread embroidery silk, that nearly sent me boss eyed. I haven't the dexterity to do it now, sadly, I've moved to crochet but have to limit myself to an hour or two otherwise my hands and arms cramp up.

These days you keep your Blog up to date with your wonderfully witty and engaging posts, how do you come up with ideas to write about?

Just Me, Nobody Special

The mental meandering that cross my keyboard

I've always got ideas, usually themes, sometimes I wish I could just download my thoughts, be a lot easier, lol.  It all depends on whether I can come up with more than two sentences in my head, often it pops in at stupid o' clock as I'm trying to get to sleep.  If my mind keeps wandering back to it, then I tend to draft a blog post, think of a catchy title and find a picture.  I so do not want it to become a whinging moan fest, which it could with my present mindset. 

Social media is a mine field! It can quickly become negative, angry, attacking and intimidating.  I've had such interactions with music fans especially with my work for Stephen, I've been called all sorts, been threatened with all sorts, had people try and befriend me for ulterior purposes and I've met some genuinely respectful, intelligent people (I even got on a flight to Houston to meet a lovely lady). So I try and make my posts non-personal, avoiding controversial issues, keeping to the subject.  Sometimes blogging feels rather like that tree in the woods, if there's no one to hear it falling does it make a sound, if there's no one to read it does it make any impact. My blog is more like a fly poster, maybe some day some one might notice it, so I'll stick it up here.

I'd like to think my few, so few, readers go "Ohh yeah, never thought that" or just have a chuckle or a smile at a turn of phrase.  Something that counterbalances the stress and pressure of modern technological fast paced lives.  Mind you, I am a stubborn Aeries, so with the blog, like the website, I'm too invested in it to be able to walk away.

Thank you AnneMarie for coming on down, lolling on my loungers and drinking me out of bubbly whilst talking about yourself, I admit to having loved every minute and I am still laughing… honestly!  Though I still argue, you’ve got the title wrong on your Blog!

Haha, no it's not. I'm just me, getting by, almost managing. Thank you for letting me ramble on and slurp these delicious bubbles. Now where is the cabana boy, I think I'll take a cooling dip, if I may?

You can visit AnneMaire’s wonderful Blog by clicking Here.
(P.S. You don't have to register to read or comment *hint-hint* nor do you get bombarded with emails, ta muchly AM).

A HUGE thank you for stopping by and please come back again very soon to see what is happening here next!

Have a fabulous day and I hope the sun is shining on your face and in your heart.



Saturday, 16 June 2018

Another New Poster!

My Photoshop continues to pull me and whilst I should be doing many other things, I fiddle with Photoshop instead!
Here is the latest poster I have designed for Storm Clouds Gathering.

You can find out about this emotional read, set in 1965 in a mill town in Yorkshire, by clicking here

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Bronze for 500 Miles!

Yah! I've got my bronze!

I've added 500 miles since 21st April to Making Every Step Count 

Monday, 11 June 2018

Catch Up - June

This month I thought I would try something new and do a monthly Catch Up Newsletter. The idea is to share some of the things that have happened in the last couple of months and to give a sneak preview on what will happen next month.

During the last two months I ran a special West Yorkshire feature. I decided on this as Storm Clouds Gathering is set in a Yorkshire Mill town in 1965 and I wanted to highlight other stories and authors who live in this beautiful part of the world.  It was a great success with a number of wonderful authors taking time out to talk about their passion for Yorkshire and its surrounding areas.  Hebden Bridge, Miss Moonshine’s Emporium, Suzi Stembridge, Andrew Barrett, Liz Mistry, Chris Turnbull and Phill Featherstone    
You can read each of these post by clicking on each author’s name.  

For the next month or two, I am planning to do another special feature, this time the subject is, Addiction!

The Cold Light of Day Can you imagine losing control, sitting on the brink of disaster with everything you believe is yours, including the woman you love, and watching it all crumble and fall apart? Wondering if you have the strength and means to stop the fall out turning your world up side down and into a nightmare, because in the cold light of day you will need every ounce of resilience you posses and more to stop it?  

If you have published a book about addiction and would like to be a guest on my Blog in this special feature, please let me know. Let's get our visitors addicted too!

VLOG! Yes, I said VLOG! A couple of months ago I introduced a new feature, Video Blog. They have been great fun to make even if they have my nerves jangling! You can see the latest VLOG with Canadian Author, Eileen Schuh by clicking HERE. If you would like to do a VLOG with me, please let me know and let’s see what we can do together.

Many of you know one of my other loves is Chill with a Book Awards. This Award Programme as exploded in the last few months with incredible interest from Independent Authors, from all over the world, wanting to submit their books.

If you, your family and your friends love reading, please come and join our reading team. No reviews are required and you read on your Kindle for free. There are books for every reader to enjoy. More information HERE.

OK, let's step on it for the last section of this Catch Up! Back at the end of April I started a new fun challenge, Making Every Step Count! As if I haven’t enough going on… *laugh* However, the idea is to encourage as many peeps to share every step they take to help achieve a 30,000 mile target in as quick as time as possible. OK, it’s round the planet and some, but we can do it.... can't we? So far FIFTEEN peeps have signed up to share every step they take each day. It is a mix team of super peeps from all age groups and achievements. The oldest team member is 85, go you Les! Another member has completed two Ironman challenges and two London Marathons. *Phew*  I'm exhausted thinking about it!  Seriously, it is not about running marathons and more, it is about getting out there and sharing every step you take. What is important is being part of this fun challenge and seeing just how soon we can reach 30,000 miles together. If you would like join in on this fun, fab challenge or want to learn more click HERE.

Yes, I am afraid, we have come to the end of this, my first, Catch Up, and before I go I want to share this picture I took of a tree planter irrigation system that sprung a leak!

A HUGE thank you for stopping by and please come back again very soon to see what is happening.

Have a fabulous day and I hope the sun is shining on your face and in your heart.



Friday, 1 June 2018

We've Decided to do it Again!

I am talking about VLOGs!
 Author, Eileen Schuh has returned to talk about, Fatal Error, book two in the BackTracker series, in another video chat.

A huge thank you Eileen for joining in with this, nerve wracking, nail biting moments, yet fun, VLOG

I hope you enjoyed watching our VLOG as much as you did the last one, and don’t forget if you would like to join in, let me know.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope the sun is shining on your face and in your heart.