My new online shop

I now have a shop on my website, the first two works are books, the first one is my first book of poetry, featuring a range of works from the past 12 months, ranging from UK focused experiences to Beijing and lots in-between. Secondly is the Camino de Santiago illustrated story, this was inspired by my experiences walking the Camino in Spain in 2011, a 30 day pilgrimage on the “French Way“, I started in Pamploma and ended in Fistera, 700k across the North of Spain.

Thanks for reading and if you decide to read any of my two books and hopefully for supporting my efforts and contributing to my creative process, lots more coming this way. Sam

Some UK facts! (debatable)

On the workaway I’m doing this month, were asked to write 10 facts about our countries to share with those who come after us, to help our host and each other get a better understanding of each other.

So here are my facts, please commen if you would like t debate about them, or simply disagree.

1/ We the British are on the brink of leaving the European Union, personally I hope we don’t, mainly because I believe we are better at cooperating, with freedom of movement, the ability to travel, work and get to know as many people from different countries as we can is only a god thing, for progress and harmony, in our greater society and locally.

2/ There are 4 Nations in the UK, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, though this could soon become 3 as Scotland has a few years ago had its own referendum on leaving the UK, this was just before the UK had it’s Brexit referendum, and perhaps if we do leave the Euro, Scotland will choose to separate and remain in Europe. Wales has been domintated by England, due partly to its relatively small population, so I don’t see anything similar happens with the Welsh, I do have a strong affinity and identify myself as Welsh, though not born there and with English parents I guess I wouldn’t be considered native Welsh, tough this has never caused me any issues.

3/ London is an amazing city for museums, art, science, hisory, etc, they are donation based museums, (you can chose how much to give, or not) and there are normally also special visiting shows, which charge roughly 10 pounds per person. The quality is spectacular, works are mostly breathtaking.

If you are going outside of London, the smaller cities and towns also have their own museums and these are also generally also well worth visiting.

4/ Cardiff is the capitol of Wales, it is one of my favourite places to live, there is a castle, its close to the sea and mountains, not too big, you can get to somewhere green in less than half an hour, but mostly I love the people, I have many good friends, and I spent 8 years living there, it is my UK home, where I return to when I take trips back, and I’m sure where I’ll eventually return from my world explorations one day.

5/ The UK climate is mild, with four seasons, though generally not too hot or cold, there are brief spells of extreme conditions, I can remember my home town in the West of Wales experiencing flooding one year as a child, people were canoeing in the town centre and also a time when a hurricane blew down many trees, but these extreme conditions are rare, especially in comparison to tropical Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, where the rainy season would bring almost daily flooding and the extremes of Beijing, from stifling and dry heat of 35+ celcius, in the summer, to lows of -16, when lakes and rivers freeze solid, and you can see happy skaters enjoying their free ice rinks and I took many trips to the mountains for skiing, on fake snow.

6/ The World Wide Web was invented by a British scientist, named Tim Berners-Lee, we als invented TV, the telephone, trains, stereo, photography, jet engines, the electric motor, computers, radar, the light bulb, etc, quite a lot of stuff, there is some dispute over some of these things naturally, add your comments if you have any.

7/ The reality of Britain is that the population has faced many challenges throughout history, the population itself is a mixture, Romans, Celtic, Vikings, Roman Saxons, Normans, war, trade culture, religion, moving people, have all had a big influence on British history and innovation.

8/ Hedgehogs are cute and prickly, soft underside and sharp outside, I guess, as I have never touched one. They are a little bit like a rat but much rounder, shorter tail, lighter colour and don’t live in sewers, also they are not associated with the Black Death.

9/ Pembrokeshire is the most beautiful and diverse place I know, thanks in part to the nurturing of the environment by the British people, there are many spotless beaches, mountains, forrests, woods, rivers and lakes, islands and estuaries, there is so much to experience and enjoy, the area is protected as a National Park, which provides some protection from pollution and industry, which might otherwise destroy this amazing natural place. The nature of Pembrokeshire is really what inspired me to take up photography in my youth, I would ride around on my scooter with a camera in my space time, walking secluded paths deep into nature, it was very easy for me to become an explorer of that world.

10/ Fish and chips is one of our favourites, there is normally a chippy within walking distance of our homes, and will often be available in Chinese restaurants and pubs, it is a comfort food, and no doubt there is a certain nostalgia attached to this, so that even after tasting a vast array of dishes, from around the world, it still remains one of my favourites, beside pancakes, bananas, and my adopted favourites of Chinese dumplings and a range of Vietnamese dishes.

So that’s it for my 10 facts and thoughts about the UK, I hope you found them interesting, and please share your thoughts using the comments.

Thanks for reading, Sam.

Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 – Transparency International

Transparency International is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption.
— Read on www.transparency.org/cpi2018

This seems very biased and even corrupt itself, created for ‘developed’ Western countries to look better than less developed countries, but does not seem to include wars, weapon selling and the environmental havoc, caused by those from western countries, the index should be updated to be more truthful, i.e. each country should also be measured to include companies based on its shores and individuals from, who trade and use corruption in other countries to their benefit

Is it corrupt for companies to use images and words to sell products in a false way, to seem healthy, or necessary to life, or to be a successful member of society you need this brand or that, this is to me also a corruption, a dishonesty to exploit people, through physiological means, and people are not educated about these types of manipulation, it’s legal so therefor I guess not classes as corrupt, but no doubt has the same effects as what TA uses to measure their specific types of corruption, for some people to gain through the exploitation of others.

Please comment if you have ideas, and especially a positive angle on this.

Thanks for reading, Sam.

First day in Taipei

I’m in Taipei until Wednesday, and on a mission to make some stories.

I arrived at around 11.30 today, from Beijing, met my friend Phu and family from Vietnam, for a coffee and lovely catch up. Now I’m sitting in my hostel after I spent a few hours walking around the local area.

I grabbed some dinner, see below

I’m aiming for a diet mainly comprising of vegetables, so this afternoon I went for the rice and cabbage with artichoke, I thought I would try a few sauces, wasabi, some chili with tomato mixture and not sure about the other, overall basic but tasty. I’ve been eating this kind of thing for a while, so I’m quite used to it now, it is nice when I find an opportunity to be healthy and eat basic when on the road, takes an effort but well worth it.

Shortly after lunch I headed into “Peace Park”, a place that seems to be teeming with wildlife, mammal (human mainly), reptile, feathered and gilled. I looked around for something particularly interesting to photograph and write about.

I saw a lady with a large tortoise surrounded by people, I decided to approach, to ask a few questions, in English, she spoke some, and told me her lady tortoise was 20 years old, she has had it all that time, I suggested that it must be like a family member, her English didn’t extend that far, some confusion ensued, finally she agreed it was like a girlfriend, not quite what I was getting at, but I think we were roughly on the same wavelength, and good on her for chatting in English. I attempted to take a few photos, she refused to appear next to her shelled girlfriend, but the tortoise (it had a name something like Moustong, I should take notes for names) seemed to stop and pose, or maybe it was just moving slowly.

I had no idea what this bird was until now, it’s a Black Crowned Night Heron, interesting to see such exotic looking birds here, just wondering about, something to be said for a culture that treats wildlife so well. There were also squirrels, lots of tortoises, fish and smaller birds such as tree sparrows, personally these are my favourite, they seem to be abundant and add a lovely and lively chirping to the mornings and evenings, whilst I was in Beijing and again now I’m in Taiwan.

I’m intrigued by travel journalism at the moment, so exploring the world has an added purpose, my writing and photographing agenda is to make interesting stories, I will endeavor to use my own perceptions to enhance the intrigue of what I experience, let’s see, all I can do is continue doing, learning and fill my head with the right stuff, and wrong if it helps.

I often look up, there are some interesting effects created by leaves with their vibrant colours, glowing with light coming through, in high contrast to the sky above. With a 400mm zoom lens and narrow depth of field, I can blur out the back leaves nicely. A wiley cat, if there was ever one, this one was on a leash, I can only imagine what would happen with all those fishes and birds around, if this little tiger was loose, what a beautiful and warm looking orange coat, wild big eyes (maybe that was because he’s a cat and on a leash), the nice lady allowed me to take a few shots, though I wish I’d endevoured a bit longer and got a better shot with his big eyes.

Ok and finally humans, we do often enjoy nature, I think even when people say they don’t, they are in some kind of denial, if you consider that in reality everything is nature, in my opinion anyway, if nature was not there neither would we be, food, water, air, when we spend time in it, I believe we connect to the simple reality of things, in an uncomplicated way, and that connects us with ourselves also in a direct and simple way, like a mirror, some things seem very clear, and it has taken a lot of effort trying to convince us otherwise.

I’m looking forward to spending more time in nature, Wednesday I’ll be heading out of the city, so I’m looking forward to sharing those experiences very soon, and also making art inspired by nature.

Thanks for reading, Sam.

UK and Euro Poetry Slam Champ – Beijing

Welcome to Beijing Sare Hirsch! I really enjoyed her poetry and talk, very informative and inspiring, and I was lucky to have a brief chat afterwards, thanks for the advice, to just keep writing and reading, I kind came to that conclusion already, but was great to have it confirmed by a successful poet, its always nice to be agreed with anyway.

Certainly I have found that by just reading a lot of poetry (I think I said this in another post, so excuse the repetition) it results the flowing out of words, more easily, this combined with not comparing myself with others, also allows me to share it more freely and learn from that, to do it, rather than just thinking about doing it.

It is an educational experience as someone trying to make a living through creativity and not quite being there yet and meeting with other creatives who are making their living mostly through their craft.

There is often that conflict between free creative expression and paid for creative expression, the line between the two seem to be more like a wall, for me at this stage in my career anyway, I have committed myself, for the next few months at least to collaborating and helping other creatives do and achieve what they want, getting paid where it seems appropriate, and trying to understand and define that line between creating for profit and creating for love, maybe they can be the same, I’m not sure but it is interesting to see where this exploration will take me, maybe it is just a matter of just keeping on making and sharing, until what we love to do become something that other people love to experience.

Thanks for reading, Sam.