Category Archives: Nature

The Boating Party with Outside Authority


Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881. By Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

The Boating Party is a series of Q&As with writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, sculptors, illustrators, designers and the like.

In times of economic hardship, the Arts are usually the first things to be axed. But, in my view, the Arts are one of the most important aspects of our civilisation.

Without the arts, we wouldn’t have language or the written word. Without the arts, we have no culture. Without culture, we have no society. Without society, we have no civilisation. And without civilisation, we have anarchy.

Which, in itself, is paradoxical, because so many artists view themselves as rebels to society. To me, artists aren’t rebels, they are pioneers.

Perhaps, most importantly; without the Arts, where is the creativity that will solve the world’s problems going to come from? Including economic and scientific ones?

In this Q&A, I am delighted to welcome artist Outside Authority.

What can I tell you about OA? Not a lot really. She’s very secretive. She does a blog I follow. She posts images of drawings and paintings she’s done. Apart from that, I’m as much in the dark as you are. This Q&A will help us all get to know her a little better. She likes to keep pretty anonymous. Which is rare in today’s reality TV world we live in.

I like her work. A lot. (Here come the adjectives.) It feels spontaneous and fresh. Full of energy and vitality. It’s reminiscent of David Hockney and Joan Eardley. Anyway, you can decide for yourself after the Q&A.

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What’s your greatest personal achievement?

Opening bat and best bowling figures of the season.

What inspires you?

People who have a go.

What was the last thing that inspired you?

A Joan Eardley exhibition.

What makes you unhappy?

Smug people.

What makes you happy?

The seaside.

What are you reading?

The Double – Jose Saramago.

What are you listening to?

Let’s Wrestle.

What’s your favourite film?

Once Upon a Time in the West.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

About 20 years before I was born to meet the relatives who died before I was born or I can’t remember.

What frightens you?

There’s this man busking on the embankment that is dressed like a dog in a basket. It’s an abomination, he was licking his paw!!

What do you do to relax?

Read.

What do you do when you are angry?

Rant and hector.

What can’t you live without?

Marmite, sleep.

What’s your motto?

“It’s either too bloody hot or too bloody cold.”

Where is your utopia?

It’s a field or meadow far away with either a donkey or a pig in it.

If you only had one year to live, what would you do?

Email my resignation and hot foot it to Norfolk and Scotland.

Up who’s arse would you like to stick a rocket and why?

God, how do you choose? Jamie Oliver, apolitical my arse.

Who would you like to be stuck in an elevator with?

Alex Hales.

What are you working on at the moment?

Colour.

What is your ambition?

Retire asap.

If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?

At present, make my combination boiler stop faulting and make hot water. Make that all combination boilers, I am altruistic.

Which 6 people would you invite to your boating party?

John Steed, Bodie, George from Seinfeld, my sister, my daughter, Joan Eardley.

What would be on the menu?

Beetroot and some other things.

What question do you wish I’d asked?

Who’s your favourite darts player?

I love nearly all of them, but will have to go with Steve ‘the Adonis’ Beaton.

Thank you Outside Authority.

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Biography:

3 things you already know about me:
I have a blog.
I draw and paint.
I am Outside Authority.

Born in the sticks, OA was always going to go to Art school right up to the time she didn’t. With the odd life class inbetween, the creative urge fought its way back through a boring job and a new loft. She likes painting, drawing, printing, stitching people, animals and things and doesn’t see any reason why she should stop soon.

https://outsideauthority.wordpress.com/

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Filed under Architecture, Art, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Ideas, Illustration, Inspiration, Nature, Uncategorized

A Sneaky Peek…


Here’s a sneaky peek at some of my photographs being prepared to be exhibited at the Oasis Cafe at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport.

Money raised from the sale of my work goes to the Mental Health Unit at Stepping Hill, a little bit goes to Arc, (the charity who I volunteer for, and who organised this), and some to me! Yay!

Ultimately, the real objective is to make people happy. Make people feel positive and inspired. And to raise awareness of Arc’s many wonderful programmes and services for mental wellbeing.

Anyhoo, they range between £45 – £50 for a framed print if you fancy one. They come with a window mount, glass frame, printed on a fine glossy stock. (Postage would be on top.)

I’m going to pop in to Arc tomorrow, so I can get dimensions for you then. But, they’re roughly A3 in size. Two are larger and in a square format.

Send me a message in the box below, or email me at: thereisnocavalry@icloud.com if you’re interested.

Thank you.

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Arc Studio

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Goyt Valley, Peak District.

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Ribblehead Viaduct, North Yorkshire.

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White Scar, near Hawes, North Yorkshire.

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Dry-stone wall, Grassington, North Yorkshire.

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“Wuthering Heights”, Haworth Moor, West Yorkshire.

 

White Scar, Hawes, North Yorkshire. 32.5 cm x 42.5 cm £45

Goyt Valley, Peak District. 35.5 cm x 35.5 cm £45

Drystone wall, Grassington, North Yorkshire. 32.5 cm x 42.5cm £45

Wuthering Heights, Haworth Moor, West Yorkshire. 32.5 cm x 42.5 cm £45

Ribblehead Viaduct, North Yorkshire. 52.5 cm x 52.5 cm £50

 

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Filed under Art, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Digital, Ideas, Inspiration, Literature, mental health, Nature, Photography, Uncategorized

Mark Coffey – Fine Art Photographer


I first met fine art photographer Mark Coffey at Arc, where we both volunteer.

If you don’t know already, Arc is an amazing place. It’s a gallery and centre for creativity, learning, fun and wellbeing. You should pop along if you’re in the Stockport area. (They do a fabulous job for the community and a mean cafetiere of fresh coffee.)

He teaches photography, photoshop and design. Whilst I just potter about making a nuisance of myself.

Anyways, he’s been helping me with a little exhibition I’m putting together at the Oasis cafe at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport. We were chatting away, as you do, when he mentioned his website, so I went over and took a look. There’s some great work on it, so I thought I’d share it with the class.

Some shots are fun and frivolous, whilst others are mean and moody. And some, don’t involve alliteration at all. (But, are striking images, nonetheless.)

Depending on which images you’re looking at, they are reminiscent of Saul Leiter, Martin Parr and Fan ho.

Have a mosey on over to Mark’s website for a more detailed look at his work.
After, you can nip down to Arc for a nice cup of tea and a Tunnock’s teacake.

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Ewa Konior, Polish, artist, Arc gallery, Stockport

Hey! How did that get on here? To be fair, Mark did take it. (When I wasn’t looking!)

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Filed under Architecture, Art, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Design, Education, Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, mental health, Nature, Photography, Uncategorized

Painting instead of writing


Earlier this year I began work on my third novel. I was making good progress until it all ground to a halt as Spring gave way to Summer. I think the expression is “writer’s block”. You may have heard of it.

Anyhow, I wasn’t too worried as the school holidays were looming and I would be spending much of it trying to keep my two daughters entertained. So the chances of getting much work done were slim to zero.

Now that they’ve gone back to school, the “block” is still here. And it’s very frustrating. I get quite depressed if I am not creating something. I worked in advertising for 30 years and every day I’d go into work and have to create something.

So, instead of wallowing in self-pity, I turned my hand to something else – painting. Mainly watercolours, but acrylics too.

Here are a few examples I thought I’d share with you. I know I won’t be getting an exhibition at the National Gallery anytime soon, but I quite like the colours and freshness of some of them.

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Self portrait in acrylic.

 

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Filed under Advertising, Art, Children, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Illustration, Inspiration, Nature

Stellar new haiku


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I can see the stars

Rotating in unison.

No, wait, it’s the clouds.

 

 

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Filed under Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Haiku, Ideas, Inspiration, Nature, Poetry, Writing

The Battle of Tatton Field


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I took my girls to the Medieval Fayre at Tatton Park near Knutsford in Cheshire on Saturday.

It was packed with stalls and tents, traders and artisans, selling replica medieval goods and artefacts, all the while dressed in traditional garb. (Though, I’m not sure my kids were convinced by my argument that they didn’t take Visa back in medieval times.)

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As well as all the trading, you could try your hand at falconry. Or, more precisely, your wrist.

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If you were feeling a tad more Agincourt, you could flex those shoulder muscles and give archery a twang.

Then, to cap it all off, there was a mock battle between two Plantagenet forces.

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I do love history, but I’ve never been to a battle re-enactment before. I’ve always thought of them as being a bit nerdy. But it was absolutely brilliant. My girls loved it too.

The boom from the canons made the ground shake and went right through me. I had to have at least three de-fibs.

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Anyhow, you’ve missed it now. It was only on for Saturday and Sunday. But I’d thoroughly recommend it if you see one coming to a battlefield near you.

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All photographs © David Milligan-Croft

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Filed under Children, community, Education, History, Inspiration, Nature

Kanye in Botswana – New Flash Fiction


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KANYE IN BOTSWANA

By David Milligan Croft

 

The anger and frustration were risible behind Jeb’s gritted teeth. He wanted to lash out at the person standing in front of him with the smug grin on his face. But he knew that that would cost him his job. In this “P.C.” age he lived in it was deemed unacceptable to beat one’s co-worker to a pulp. If not him, anyone or anything in general would suffice, such as: his pet Syrian hamster in its cage at home. He could pluck it up and wring its scrawny little neck or snap its spine in half and crush its squidgy innards. Not that the hamster had done anything in particular to warrant Jeb’s wrath – apart from leaving droppings and straw all over the house – which was actually reason enough. No, it would preferably be a human.

The problem was, Jeb wasn’t blessed with fighting prowess, either physically or technically. He was average height and had a scraggy physique and concave chest. He had gaunt cheeks with bulbous eyes and a hooked nose. His heart was palpitating and his palms sweated as the man from accounts poked fun at him.

Apart from his physical shortcomings he wasn’t bestowed with a quick wit or more than average intelligence either. All of which made him a fairly unremarkable specimen of Homo sapiens and quite an easy target for jocularity. It was this latter fact that was the nub of Jeb’s dissatisfaction with life’s lot. He wanted to be somebody. To do something. But the fact was, he lacked either the imagination or the skill sets to achieve… whatever it was he wanted to achieve.

Instead, he just stood there by the coffee machine in the makeshift kitchen area, hands trembling, face flushed bright red, surrounded by his colleagues who were all laughing at him for having thought Kanye West was a holiday destination in the Florida Keys. To be fair to Jeb, this was only on account of the aforementioned accounts man, Brendan Tucker, telling Jeb that Kanye West was the ‘in-place’ to holiday that summer and was he thinking of taking his vacation there? When Jeb responded in the affirmative and that, in fact, he had already booked his flight, was when his teammates all fell about guffawing at his expense.

On one occasion, at an office Christmas party, a couple of years previously, Jeb had attempted to boost his image by hiring the services of a young, glamorous escort whom he attempted to pass off as his girlfriend. When ‘Crystal’ arrived at his home, she was neither young, nor glamorous. Nor was she particularly attractive. She had corkscrew peroxide blonde hair, pockmarked skin and a bright red skirt that could easily have passed for a cummerbund.

On arriving at the office party which, incidentally, was on the theme of Saints and Sinners, making Crystal instantly feel at home, she promptly disappeared to the loos leaving Jeb alone at the accounts table sipping a dry sherry.

Lamentably, Brendan had seen through Jeb’s ruse and had offered Crystal fifty quid to give him a blowjob in the gents’ toilets. The act of which, Jeb stumbled upon whilst visiting the little boys’ room. All in all, with Brendan’s bonus on top of the £250 she’d earned from Jeb, Crystal had made an extremely tidy sum for her evening’s work. Jeb went home alone and Brendan’s newly acquired humiliating anecdote was a bargain at only £50.

A few days after the ‘coffee pot’ incident, Jeb arrived at work in the open plan office wearing a very loud, short-sleeved floral shirt and proclaimed that he was going on holiday to Kanye in the south east of Botswana the very next day. Moreover, he was specifically going to the western part of the town. (He emphasised the ‘western’ part.)

He regaled all who would listen, (which was Mary from admin and John from maintenance), that Kanye was founded by European settlers in 1853 and that it was his love of both Africa, and history, that had prompted his choice of holiday. And, when Brendan had first mentioned going on holiday to Kanye, Jeb said he had misheard the part about ‘Florida’. Sadly, Brendan wasn’t there to hear the news firsthand, but Jeb was certain that the office grapevine would successfully deliver his news and put Brendan Tucker firmly in his place once and for all.

Unfortunately, that’s about as far as Jeb’s one-upmanship got him. Whilst on safari in the southern region of Kanye, he was dragged out of his tent one night by a boisterous cackle of hyenas. And, as they tore and gorged at his pasty white flesh, the hysterical yips of the hyenas couldn’t help but remind him of Brendan Tucker and his colleagues back at the office.

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Filed under Animals, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Ideas, Inspiration, Literature, Nature, Short stories, Writing