If ever there was a city that knew how to make the most of its space, I would say it was London. I was there just over a week ago for a committee meeting and, afterwards, visited the Sky Gardens, which are the highest roof gardens in the capital.
Looking Down, Up and Across
It was fascinating looking across and down at the city and spotting the famous landmarks. I cannot recall ever looking down on the Tower of London and thinking it looked like someone had made it out of Lego and plonked it there! Height does indeed give a very different perspective on things (which is something I can’t usually say given I’m under 5’ tall!). As for the London buses, they really did look like the model ones from that height.
I visited the Monument last year and there were splendid views from that but the Sky Gardens easily dwarfed this. Having said that, when you consider when the Monument was built to commemorate the Great Fire of London, that in itself is still a splendid achievement. (It also makes for a very good workout given the huge number of steps to climb up and down. With the Sky Gardens, you go up in a lift!).
Generally, I prefer landscapes to cityscapes, though the latter can have a distinctive beauty of their own. One thing I’ve enjoyed spotting when in London has been the increase of the number of rooftop gardens. (There has also been an increase in helipads and I’m sure not all of them have been down to the Air Ambulance Services!).
Making space is important for all of us. We need to find time, somehow, for what is most important to us. Making space to relax, to be creative (in whatever form), to just “be” is vital to our own well being (and those around us will generally prove to be happier too. Moods can be catching!).
Roundabouts and Other Ways of Making Space for Nature
I’m not a fan of the “sponsored” roundabout (I don’t need to know about X and X Solicitors as I navigate my way around the things!), but I do love the way so many roundabouts now have flower displays on them. Springwatch did have a phrase years ago about making space for nature. Well, this is one way of doing it and it does brighten the roundabouts up.
All credit also to those who water the hanging baskets in Valley Park. I love the way those baskets brighten up the lamp-posts there.
It has been good to see the wild flower meadow back in Hiltingbury Recreation Ground this year, though to me there seemed to be an abundance of white flowers this time. Any thoughts as to why, anyone? I very much hope the wild flower meadow continues though I’d like to see more variety in colour next year.
Making Space for Packing!
I’ll be off to the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School again the day after this post goes out and one thing I have issues with is making enough space for my packing. The Kindle is a blessing here!
Yes, yes, before you ask, I do leave the kitchen sink out, honestly. My favourite quote related to packing and going away comes from Terry Pratchett from The Fifth Elephant. This comes from Sam Vimes as he is waiting for his wife, Lady Sybil, to accompany him and one of the Patrician’s people on a long trip to Uberwald.
I’ll just take you into the Mildly Yellow drawing room where you can wait,” he said, walking him towards the door and patting him on the arm in a friendly way. “The coaches are loaded up. Sybil is re-grouting the bathroom, learning Ancient Klatchian and doing all those other little last-minute things women always do. You’re with us in the big coach.”
Decluttering – and Books
Whoever said you should only keep fewer than 5 books is not going to like me. I couldn’t tell you how many I have (and the same goes for on the Kindle too). Why have so many?
Well, firstly many of them are old favourites which I do re-read. Secondly, some are those I inherited from my mother. (I have read some of these but have lots to get through including a wonderful Daphne du Maurier collection). Thirdly, I am very pleased to say I have a number of books now which are written by friends and, of course, my flash fiction book and the anthologies I have work in add to my book collection.
I love the Kindle but I also adore the paperback. So many of the books I have give me great pleasure just in looking at them, yet alone reading them, because of the positive associations they give me. So I would argue it is important to make space for the books that matter to you, whether they are few in number or loads!
I am also suspicious of rules that say you can only have so much of this or that to be happy. Hmm… who says? There are always exceptions to rules. And books are special. They are not like any other object. They can entertain you, inform you, and good books stand up to repeated re-reading. Neither do they run out of batteries!
Also getting rid of things which give you positive associations seems to me to be a strange thing to do. In all of the Discworld novels I have picked up on gags and one-liners that I missed on the first read on repeat readings.
As for decluttering in general… hmm not my strong point. I’ll leave that to Janet, I think. I do have periodic clear outs (but generally not of books!) and that’s as good as I get. (To be honest, I think it as good as most of us get!).
Creative Types and Space
Beethoven famously loved walks in the country and his Pastoral Symphony is a direct result of that love. It is encouraging to know the great artists need to make space for themselves which then inspired further compositions. There is a lesson for us all there I think.
Edward Elgar loved the Malvern Hills and was often seen on his bike in the area. I should have thought this would be a great way to get away from it all for a while and it makes for a far cry from his Pomp and Circumstance Marches! On the one hand, peace and quiet – on the other wonderful but loud music!
You need to be able to recharge your batteries to be able to continue to create anything. If it was good enough for the greats, it is definitely good enough for us but we need to make the space to do it.
Why White Space Matters
This has become more relevant for me since writing for CFT. I plan out, not just the post, but how it is going to look on the screen. This means putting in gaps, breaking up the text with images, suitable Youtube clips etc.
White space amongst the text makes it far easier to read on screen. I have come across, when researching, the odd website which is full of crammed text and no images (occasionally line drawings).
No matter how fascinating the subject, all of that text seems to hit you in the eyes and it is hard to take it in. Instant turn-off! Simple presentation techinques, including making space for white space, make all the difference!
Next week, I’ll be looking at how and why I make space to write and share a few tips. I will always treasure the memory of the late Barbara Large when she thanked me for making space for writers via the CFT website (and I’ll take the opportunity to pass on my thanks to Janet). Barbara, I think, was the definition of someone making plenty of space for writing and writers.
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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