heading off to margate for the weekend for a family gathering to celebrate youngest son turning 30!!!! how did that happen? aside from the joy of hanging out with the baker clan we will also be visiting recreate. harry and joel (our two lads) have collaborated together to put on an exhibition. private view tonight but open every day from today until tues 12 april at piefactory. it's words meets maths meets code meets play or something. harry actually gave joel a week in an exhibtion space for his 30th birthday which is a mad kind of present. due to coronavirus it has only just been able to land. no doubt photos will follow at some stage. the blurb says
“Maths is fun”
No, seriously. It is a given that playing is an essential part of the creative process. Recreation uses maths as a base to play with words, images and form. Poet meets graphic designer, rhyme meets code in this interactive exhibition debuting in Margate.
just back from a lovely two weeks holiday - a week in suffolk and a week in norfolk. i had been to suffolk before but not so much norfolk. this is holkham beach which is a terrific 5 mile or so stretch of sand in north norfolk. it was great to get a break, switch off email and notifications and chill out. for anyone interested there is an album of photos on flickr here (of course)! right now to catch up on email and all that...
welcome to the world olivia wren baker b. june 2 2021. there were some very excited big sisters. it was a joy to be called in the middle of the night to look after flo and thea while olivia was born. she is granddaughter no 3. joy! there are a few photos here
flo, one of my granddaughters loves taking my camera and taking photos. the camera is huge and very heavy so it's quite impressive to be able to use it even. she is 5. last week we met up outside at prospect wood and she took a lot of photos which i have put into an album - flo's debut. i love the way you get a child's eye view of things - looking up. it reminded me of alec soth's exhibition at brighton biennial a few years back where he was not granted a work visa so his daughter (i think) took the photos he exhibited.
yes literally! the first day of the year was spent at the wood and the latest addition to go with the pirate ship is a swing for the grandkids (though as you can see it is adult friendly too!). it seems to have worked quite well - i decided to use hammock straps to suspend it. so far so good...
our friends have got an owl nesting box so we hope that owls like ot and come to nest there this year which would be exciting.
and latest wooodland toy is a char cloth tin which was fun to try out - it makes char cloth from cotton to use as firestarters in case you wondered.
perfect way to start the year - just hoping that we can share it with more people later this year...
happy 18th to my nephew zac looking v cool here surfing. loved visiting the wave in bristol which is an artificial surfing pool/lake. i took photos rather than surf - there's an album here of the day and various family members surfing - most managed to stand but zac totally smashed it on the expert level of waves.
holiday this year was a bit of a challenge to work out what to do safely but also in a way that meant we could have a break other than sitting at home. so we opted to wild camp in the wood week one and then found a tucked out of the way place near hay on wye week two. it worked out really well and was all pretty socially distanced walking, wild swimming, canoeing and so on. i have added some photos here to an album wye and wood though they are not that much of a holiday set given half of them are me messing around with abstracts or reflections! i loved this reflection - it looks almost other wordly. i think a challenge for me would be to see if i could actually take what might be considered a holiday snap.
harry sent me a poem for father's day which is sourdough inspired and themed. to give a bit of context i have recently helped him get started making sourdough with a few tips and i have to say he is smashing it!
A Father’s Day Poem
To start you fed me every day,
checked in to see how I was growing. When done right you’re set for life
- you just need help to get things going. You taught me patience and precision, when it comes to hate and greed:
As with your 3-day recipe,
you showed there simply is no knead.
When things got sticky, you’d make sure I’d take it with a pinch of salt
That I would stretch myself,
before you’d always bring me to the fold. You’ve got me covered
on the days it takes to get into the groove, Just like that dough, you let me know when I’ve got nothing left to prove.
Your love is gluten -
in that I still cannot quite describe what it is, But I’m grateful you brought me up
to be tolerant of things.
Because potential is like yeast,
it’s been in the air this whole time - Sometimes it just needs activation
before we can see it rise.
So thanks for keeping me alive,
for building me to so much more.
You showed me kindness is fresh bread, and it is best
when it’s served warm.
i am currently on a couple of months extended leave from work which is a wonderful thing to be able to do. it's fairly common in other colleges teaching theology that people get time to research and write from time to time and i am glad to say cms have recently agreed that for people like me who are involved in teaching you can apply to do so every four years. i jumped at the chance as this year i think i can fit that in my life! apart from instagram where i post photos i decided to keep a fairly low profile on social media as that can be such a distraction and take what could be headspace for reflecting on other things. but given the weird circumstances we are now in i thought i would post an update and indeed i feel like i have a number of blog posts i want to write so may start to post a bit more anyway.
the exciting news is that i have finished writing a book i have been working on with cathy ross. it's called imagining mission with john v taylor and will be out in the summer in time for greenbelt (hoping that goes ahead?!). i am excited about it and thankful to cathy for inviting me to work on it with her. we had done loads of work on it already before my leave so no i haven't written a book in a few weeks, but i have had the time to add some sections especially focussing on creativity and how you can nurture imaginative approaches to things. john taylor was a cms leader back in the 60s and 70s and the book riffs off of his bold and inspiring work to hopefully speak in a creative and contemporary voice about mission today. anyway more about that nearer the time i guess.
then the second thing i wanted to do was to take the opportunity to get inspired by visiting other contexts especially to think about pioneering. so the first stop has been new zealand where i am now (and part of that has been welcome rest). i was also due to visit three places in asia to learn more about cms and mission there but unsurprisingly i have had to cancel those. i certainly picked a weird time to travel! i have been to christchurch airport twice so far and returned having had to cancel flights for different reasons. but i am due to fly back later today and get into london thursday. i have boarding pass and seat numbers so am hoping it will all be fine as no doubt the uk will shut its borders like other european countries before long. the photo above seemed apt - and i hope it's not too optimistic. i hope it doesn't prove to be poignant because my host roger gets another phone call from me at the airport saying i am still here and can he come back and pick me up again...
i have loved new zealand - what a beautiful country! this is my first visit. i have not seen much of it really having spent all but one day in the south island but what i have i have loved. and it has been so interesting in relation to cms whose missionaries are so tied up with new zealand's history. one of the ideas around creativity that we explore in the book is that you often come up with ideas when you get knocked off your usual routine as it provokes you in a different way. the most common kind of provocation is something that happens to you that you simply learn to receive. so getting stuck in new zealand has been that kind of a provocation and the gift that has been in it is that in the extended time i have had here i have had more conversations and time to reflect on mission in new zealand and its history. one of the people i met, paul has been amazing in that regard and i have so far read huia come home, bible and treaty and our story: aotearoa – the story of mission in new zealand through the lens of the new zealand church missionary society whilst in coffee shops or park benches round christchurch. i won't say more about that now but i will no doubt blog some thoughts from a naive outsider's perspective at some point.
i have taken a ton of photos - i'll add some here as part of reflections but i have added a selection to two flickr albums if you are interested -
last week i was up in cumbria with work catching up on plans for the northern centre for pioneering mission that we are developing in partnership with the diocese of carlisle. i stayed on for the weekend and jen came up and joined me to explore a bit round ullswater. we have never stayed in the lake district on holiday - not sure why! it was end of january so we expected the weather not to be brilliant. but we managed three walks...
the first was fri afternoon and a walk up aira force which was ideal when you haven't got much time.
day two and we started with a parkrun in penrith. by the time we got out and about after that, the rain did not want to stop so we donned waterproofs and went for an envigorating walk from glenridding up the valley. another time i'd love to go back and walk up to helvellyn but this was not the day for that. the day was capped with an amazing gig at kendal brewery arts to see fatoumata diawara.
day three we walked up to arthur's pike (ht derek!) which was stunning with views over ullswater. we donned waterproofs again but got lucky with the weather as whilst it threatened rain it stayed dry and we even had a glimpse or two of blue sky. day 1 and 2 photos ended up in black and white to capture the mood. but day 3 made it into colour. i have added an album ullswater here.
having plugged harry baker's tour in my last blog post, i am now plugging esther baker's play (my sister). she is the director. turns out the family are on a roll!
esther is directing the special relationship for a month at soho theatre. this is pretty huge! i am not expecting you to come and hang out with me necessarily but jen and i are going on feb 27. the play explores issues of immigration, detention and deportation. i have seen loads of plays over the years directed by esther and they are always exploring contemporary challenges in the system for those at the edges. ths has been written out of conversations with ex prisoners and those involved in immigration - should be good and no doubt hard hitting.
harry baker has a solo poetry tour i am 10000 from feb to may. it may well be coming to a town near you. the rumour on twitter is that london has virtually sold out so not sure if another date will get added but i think other venues are fine. you can see here a list of dates. this is his show from edinburgh festival in the summer which was fab. i can't go to the london gig so am thinking i will make the oxford one if anyone else fancies joining me at that? i really enjoy harry and chris but if you've not seen the solo poetry it is really good too and quite different. go support your poets (and my family!).
jenny and i visited edinburgh festival for four days last weekend. it's such an incredible festival with so much going on. i genuinely don't know how they pack all the events into the city let alone where all the people find places to stay. it brims over with life, joy, poignancy, artfulness celebrating life.
we first visited i think in 2009 when harry took part in an open mic at a free fringe event. he was subsequently invited to a poetry event in london and that was the beginning of an adventure which included exploring poetry for a gap year and went ever upwards from there. so it was incredible to be back at the festival again and see harry with a solo show in underbelly and a harry and chris show in underbelly both selling out when we attended. it's harry's seventh festival i think with three solo shows and three harry and chris before now. i of course have a totally unbiased view but they were fantastic. it's not just me as you'll see from these 5 star reviews. i have added some photos to an album here.
we packed in about four shows a day of comedy, circus, theatre and also visited some of the art festival. it's hard to pick highlights but we loved in no particular order occam's razor, john robbins, jessica fostekew, matt winning, milton jones, bryony kimmings, tom crosby, lazerkiwis, nathan coley, alfredo jaar. it's surprising how much you can pack in to a few days (and how much you can spend!).
tomorrow night i am going to see harry's new poetry show i am 10000 (which he will be performing at edinburgh along with harry and chris new show). come along if you are in london and you get to see chris' solo show as well - weird i know. harry and chris but not harry n chris or something...
super proud of harry - just saw today that he has 2 million hits on his exteter tedX talk - wow. i am generally delirious if i get over 50 likes on an instagram photo! i need to up my game clearly though inspired by harry i worked out i will be 20000 days this year on the same day as joel's birthday.
i should also add that the rejected eurovision song contest entry of harry and chris - sorry! - is out today...
congratulations to jenny, grace and daisy on the launch of out of the box cards today - the web site is now live and you can go order cards. i love the strapline creating intelligent and playful cards that expand horizons. the cards look great (and are currently filling our lounge!). the official launch is tonight. i have chipped in photography - the photo above for example - and will no doubt be taking some photos at the launch party.
people often associate me with the word pioneer for obvious reasons seeing as i have written and teach in that area. but in an interview the other day jenny was described as a pioneer and she really is - she makes things happen! i always love it when ideas that have been brought to our make good week and developed as ideas come to birth often a few years later. this is the latest!
i love this photo of kat and flo which i took over christmas where we were hosted in margate by harry and grace which was a treat. kat is an incredible mum - i have loved seeing her and joel being parents to flo and thea with so much tenderness, patience and love. it's not easy raising kids! it's hard to say what makes a good photo and i can't remember if flo is strangling kat or it is actually a tender moment but let's go with the latter :)
out of the box is kickstarting today. go visit to read about it and watch a video which explains all. in a nutshell it's a new company designing greeting cards you would be proud to give your daughter, niece, friend's daughter with playful and positive messages rather than the clichés and stereotypes that seem to dominate. i am quadrupley excited because
congratulations grace and harry on getting married! yesterday was a wonderful wonderful day - it couldn't have been better. we are so delighted to welcome grace into the family. in the wedding service they both entered in from different sides and met and then walked down the aisle together to blinded by your grace (pt 1). i have had the tune in my head since and am feeling so overwhelmingly thankful and grateful - it seems to sum it all up perfectly.
i didn't take a photo all day wanting to focus on being present - but it will be a while before getting the photos from the photographer so it's great to see some on facebook and instagram - thanks to my sister esther for this one.