Photo essay: Guedelon

Ah, Guedelon. What an extraordinary, visionary project. For more detailed info, you can visit the official website. Briefly, though, here’s an overview.

I first learned of Guedelon while watching research dvds. It’s the recreation of a medieval castle and village, built from scratch using only medieval tools and techniques. Most of the people involved are volunteers, and they come to work on the site from all around the world. Guedelon is located in the middle of nowhere, in beautiful French countryside roughly half way between Paris and Nevers. There’s no public transport, you must get there by car or with a coaching group. There were plenty of both when I visited. It started in the late ’90s, and the plan is to finish the entire project by 2023. I hope I can get back there to see it completed. I can only imagine it will be fantastic.

One thing that really amazed me was how fast the exterior of the building was weathering. It didn’t look brand new at all. Of course on the inside, protected from the elements and still under construction, the difference is quite marked.

Here is a selection of the photos I took …

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Old dogs, new tricks

I’ll try to keep these fitness posts to one a week or so, but something significant happened this morning.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m what you might call an all-or-nothing type. Feast or famine. Pedal-to-the-metal or sitting in the garage. In other words, the finding of moderation and balance continues to be an ongoing challenge.

But I think, at long last, I might be on the right track …

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Photo essay: Wood carving

So there’s me, wandering innocently through the Victoria and Albert, one of my favourite places in the world, when I round a corner and see … this. At which point I stopped and goggled, speechless, for some time. It’s a handcarved, three-dimensional depiction of the crucifixion updated to medieval times, sort of. You can spot other era stuff. For obvious reasons the piece is displayed inside a glass case (which explains the irritating bright spots) and stands about 4 foot high. The medium is pear wood. The result, for me, is utterly breathtaking. I took a whole bunch of photos, but here are a few. Plus one ring-in, with an explanation …

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Photo essay: Military matters

There wasn’t quite so much armour-gazing on this trip. Previously I’ve collected some great photos from the Tower of London, the Royal Armoury at Leeds and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, all of which house some wonderful armour and attendant equipment. But there were some amazing pieces in the Wallace Collection, in London, notably the horse armour, as well as the Yorkshire Museum. Here are some of the astonishing pieces I saw … some captioned, some not, but all telling a fabulous story!

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Slow but sure progress, sort of

And Monday dawns. Week 3 of my quest to shed the flab and regain the fit. I have dropped a few pounds, according to the scales, my tight jeans are a bit looser and I can see the shadowy hint of arm, thigh and shoulder muscles sliding beneath the blob. But it seems there can’t ever be a step forward without at least half a step back, so …

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Photo essay: Jewellery

It might seem funny, given that I’m not a particularly blingy person in daily life (not counting my growing collection of seriously cool ear-rings, which I added to with gusto while on the recent trip!) but when it comes to jewellery in museums I am hopelessly entranced.

I think perhaps it’s a romantic fascination: I am endlessly intrigued by the fact that throughout history, without exception, people have found ways to adorn themselves. As I look at the pieces in the museum, and the photos, I find myself dreaming and wondering about the artisans who made each piece, and the women – and men – who wore them. Who were they? What happened to them as they wore these pieces? What happened ot the amazing artisans who created them? And how can I give them a sinister, fantastical twist?

I acquired a fabulous book from the British Museum – ‘7,000 Years of Jewellery’ – which catalogues their collection. It’s magnificent. And so, I think, are the pieces featured in the photos below, from such diverse collections as the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert, the Museum of Decorative Arts and the Museum of the Middle Ages, both in Paris . Enjoy! Covet! And if you find yourself drooling a little … believe me, you aren’t alone!

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The amazing KJ Bishop

So while I was in Canberra, for the workshop at Conflux, I crossed paths with award-winning Australian fantasy author KJ Bishop. To my wonder, she was at the convention less as a writer and more as an artist – because  KJ, now resident in Thailand, has got involved in sculpture. And you know what? If she wasn’t such a lovely person I’d have to hate her because she is amazingly, stonkingly good. Indeed, she was selling her pieces at Worldcon in London but somehow I managed to miss her exhibit entirely. What’s more, she almost entirely sold out! However I made up for that oversight  in Canberra and snatched up one of the three fabulous brass birds she created in a Venetian Carnival Mask theme. See?

 

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Isn’t he just the most gorgeous creature? You can tell, even with my less than fabulous studio photograph! I tell you, I’d have bought all three birds if I’d had the money!

Anyhow, KJ has a website, which you’ll find here, and she’s building up her gallery and will soon be going on to Etsy to sell her stupendous work online. I think I’m going to become a regular customer …

 

Guest Post: Lara Morgan

Welcome to the Talkative Writer’s guest post with Australian speculative fiction writer Lara Morgan.

lara morgan 1Lara Morgan lives and writes in Geraldton, Western Australia. She writes fantasy for adults and YA. Her fantasy series The Twins of Saranthium is set in a world of deserts and jungle with twins Shaan and Tallis pitted against ancient resurrected gods and serpents in a struggle to save the people and lands of Saranthium from those who would enslave it.

Book two, Betrayal, is available now in ebook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and other ebook outlets. To learn more about her, visit her website.

Now here is Lara in her own words …

Betrayal is the second book in my epic fantasy trilogy, The Twins of Saranthium and it was also the second book I ever wrote. I was one of those lucky writers who had the first book I wrote (Awakening, book one in the series) published – but before you start turning green and looking with despair at your pile of rejected novels, there’s more to this story.

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The fitness thang

So, this is a bit different. Well – for me, it’s a bit different. Being an introverted writer and what you’d call pretty bloody private, talking about personal stuff is a Very Big Deal and for the most part I just don’t. But then I thought about some of the blogs I like to read, and how brave and sharing those bloggers are, so I thought … okay. I’ll give it a go.

But to spare those of you who aren’t interested in one writer’s journey back to physical fitness, I shall now go behind the cut!

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Favourite Fridge Magnet

So, I bought some fridge magnets while I was away. They’re a quick, smile worthy reminder of where I’ve been, the things I’ve seen and done on my travels. Some are directly writing-related, like the Tudor portraits or the Viking ship or the picture of Guedelon. Others are entirely frivolous — and of all the frivolous I’ve collected, this one is my current favourite.

If you have to ask why, then I’m afraid I can’t help you. *g*

 

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Off to Conflux, and a link

So I’m sorta kinda back on track after returning from the fabulous trip. Naturally my back fell apart the day after I got home, and naturally the jet lag kicked my arse black and blue, but now that I’m sleeping again and my stupid spine is being held together by awesome Rocktape I can take a deep breath and announce …. I’m baaaack! Just in time to head down to Canberra for a day to give a writing workshop at the annual Conflux convention. Very sorry I can’t stay longer but after such a chunk of time away so recently it’s just not doable. Maybe next year!

Yesterday I signed copies of The Falcon Throne at some of Sydney’s wonderful bookshops: The Constant Reader, Better Read Than Dead, Dymocks in George Street, Kinokuniya and Galaxy. So if you’d like a signed copy, please go visit one of these terrific stores. It was fabulous to see them all so busy — the age of real books is not yet over! May it never be over! My thanks to Andrew from the Sydney Hachette office, who squired me on the tour, and to the  lovely booksellers who are always so supportive.

Lastly, here’s a link to a new interview with the amazing Glenda Larke. She’s unique among fantasy authors. Go check it out!