the chronicles of riley and the fox

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What started out as a short story for my niece has spiralled, with quite some speed, into me writing a full book. I have never written anything like this before but I don’t think I have ever written anything like this fast, or freely before either and it is exhilarating. I don’t know what is going to come from this, or what I hope to do with it along the way, all I know is I’m really happy with this preface-kind-of-thing and I wanted to share it. So here is the first glimpse into the world of Riley and the Fox.

The Woods

The woods, in any part of the world, all sizes and densities, are the most magical places you could ever hope to get lost in. This is for one simple reason, the woods is where, if you are careful and know what you’re looking for, you can find the true essence of life itself. From the tiny ants making their nests to the trees making oxygen and all the magic in-between, there is nothing on this earth quite like the woods. They have been here long before any of us and, if we are kind to them, they’ll be here long after us too.

For the sake of this story however, the woods in question is a small outcropping in the centre of a village in the South of England. With just two gates, one at each side, a small river and one lonely commemorative plaque, from an outsiders perspective these woods may seem rather unassuming. But what do outsiders really know about anything on the inside anyway?

If you were to ask any local human, or dog, about these woods you will see their faces light up in an instant. If you don’t, this means you have been unfortunate enough to ask a poor soul whom has just recently moved to the area and have therefore, sadly, not yet discovered it themselves.

Every local resident has their favourite story about these woods.

Mrs Baker will take any opportunity you give her to tell you all about the time Mr Baker proposed to her: they took a summer evening stroll to The Old Wise Tree where, in their younger years, they had spent many an afternoon reading together under it’s canopy. Mr Baker got down on one knee, forgetting about the freak rain storm the night before, slipped and found himself covered in mud, holding the ring box up in the air from the flat of his back. Before he passed away Mr Baker had a different angle on the story, protesting that he had not slipped at all but rather the ground beneath him moved. He soon gave up trying to correct his beloved wife however, seeing how happy she was telling it her way.

Spike, the O’Malley’s dog, still brags about the time she found a stick the size of a young tree, even if her pals don’t believe her; spike’s humans made her leave it in the woods and it’s something she has never quite forgiven them for. Her grudge is so strong that she now refuses to play fetch with sticks, though she has yet to properly explain exactly why this is to her humans.

My favourite story about these woods however, cannot be contained between just one “once upon a time” and one “the end” for my favourite story is the lifetime of adventures that were shared in the woods between one little human called Riley and one little fox called Fox.

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break ups zine

ZINE HEADER DETAIL

Starting this year by coming out of hibernation after working retail at Christmas and finally releasing my zine of break up stories. I’ve been working on this for a lot longer than it took me to write the stories in the first place. So, after several set backs and having to start all over again, now is the time. There will be more details to follow but assuming everything goes well with printing etc these should be available mid January. Let me know if you want one. Those of you still reading these, thanks for sticking with me. I have a lot of new things to share soon.

 

november photo dump

November has been a crazy productive month for me photo wise and I’m hoping to keep it going because I really like the way my photography is looking these days. The highlight has to be getting a photo pass for one of my favourite bands, Wolf Alice, playing in my hometown and getting what may be the best photo I have ever taken.

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Outside that I took my camera with me everywhere, met up with pals and family and pushed myself to experiment a bit more with what I take photos of. So heres a few of my favourites from the month.

365 days to push myself

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I am an almost constant burden on my future self. I want to do everything, all at once. The inevitable outcome of this is that I take on a lot of projects, I mean a lot. If I’m not doing about five different things in the back of my mind I feel like I’m not doing anything. One downside of this is that it takes me longer to complete these projects. As an example, I have been writing a short story collection that has been finished, restarted, rewritten, finished and then restarted again for the last seven years. It’s done, I need to leave it alone but I can’t.

So, in an attempt to remedy this ailment I have embarked on yet another project. This photo project is a year long but only requires a few moments a day to complete which I feel like I can achieve. I can already hear my future self cursing me for starting this but whatever. I’m a week in, shooting exclusively on my phone and posting to twitter (@nucosi) and I’m really happy with how it is going. Completing a small, definite task each day that will eventually compose something substantial is exciting.

Within this post are my photos from the first week. Follow me on twitter if you like them and want to see more.

a life though various lenses pt.1

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Against my father’s advice I took art at GCSE. He had tried to encourage me into more academic subjects, to think about my future etc, failing to grasp the fact that I was not very academic. I wasn’t particularly artistic either to be honest. Neither of these facts however stopped us having the exact same conversation two years later after I barely scraped a C in art and had my heart set on doing it again at A level. On open day, he subtlety and almost desperately tried to guide me towards the science lab while I was solely focused on the photography suite.

Now I know he meant well, he wanted me to be successful in life to ‘live up to my potential’ or whatever, and I get that, but it was also kind of his fault I was so set on continuing in art.

I was not doing well in my art GCSE, mostly because I never practiced drawing, I spent hours making mood boards and generally wasn’t a fan of the conventional art it seemed necessary to replicate in order to succeed. One day my teacher gave me a camera to take pictures of things around me and then use as reference photos to practice drawing with. That was one of the best things that ever happened to my creativity, not however my drawing skills.

I fell in love with photography.

 

I spent a week walking around taking photos of my friends, of odd textures, places and combed through them on my family computer in all their glorious pre megapixel quality. When I had to return the camera to school I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself. I couldn’t afford a digital camera and the one my parents had was too fancy for me to use, a whopping 1.2 megapixels.

This is where my dad comes back into the story. One day shortly after he came down from the loft with a chunky black case and said,

“I used this camera when I was a kid, it uses film if you want it.”

Now, I love my dad to pieces but at this point we did not get on a lot of the time and here he was giving me something not only that used to be his but that was supportive of my new found passion. Looking back I probably should have been more vocal with him about how much this hunk of metal and glass meant to me. He showed me how it worked, we went to Boots to buy some film and the whole thing felt like a kind of approval ceremony.

The process of loading the camera, taking the shots, getting them developed and then flicking through the prints felt like magic, a kind of magic that was old to most people but brand new to me. I walked around with the camera, feeling its weight in my hands and imagined all the things my dad might have taken pictures of with it when he was my age. I felt closer to him just by holding it.

This was the beginning of my love of film photography and old cameras in general.

A few years ago the shutter curtains broke. I took it to a camera shop and the technician told me it was a write off, not worth saving as it was such an old camera. “It will be better to buy a second hand body and just keep the lens,” he said.

I was heartbroken.

I tried to explain my reasons for that not being an option but he didn’t get it. If I replaced any part of it, it just wouldn’t be my dad’s camera anymore, it wouldn’t have the same meaning. I have taken this camera with me everywhere, I have taken pictures of friends I never see anymore, places I moved out of years ago and I even took it to Russia, where it came from, as if on some kind of pilgrimage to it’s birthplace. It was a part of my history, tethered also to that of my dad.

One time I came home for Christmas and took a shot of my youngest brother with it. Having grown up in a world where everyone had smartphones he asked to see the picture, I had to explain to him that he could see it in a few weeks when I finished the roll and had it developed and he almost immediately lost interest. I laughed as he walked off and then my dad and I talked about how I still used it, about everything I had used it for and again, for a few minutes, I felt even more connected to him.

Luckily a family friend who seemingly knew more about this particular camera than the paid technician fixed the shutter curtains within a matter of minutes and I am still using it to this day.

Over the years I have taken up and more or less immediately dropped a number of hobbies and interests, something my parents would often comment on when I was younger, but photography has stuck and I don’t think it is hyperbolic of me to say that it is all thanks to the chunk of metal my dad brought down from the loft one day and handed to me.

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