End of summer – Monet’s Haystacks

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Wheatstacks at the end of Summer (Claude Monet 1890/91)

In 1890/91 Claude Monet drew a series of 25 paintings of the same scene – haystacks in a field. Monet captured the same subject at different times of the year, and different times of the day. It enabled Monet to paint the ephemeral nature of the changing light. Continue Reading →

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Counting at the 24 hour race

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I have been counting at the Sri Chinmoy 24 hour race since 1999. Usually, I just come for the first 10 or 11 hours, then drive home and do a cycle race on Sunday. It’s a good shift, but I always feel a little bit like a part-timer compared to those who stay from start to finish.

This year, an injury meant I had no cycle race and was free to attend the whole 24 hours.

The first 11 hours went quite quickly and I enjoyed the experience. The main job of a counter is to concentrate on being ready to mark down the times of the runners – as they come around the 400m circuit, every 2-4 minutes.  It might sound easy, but as the hours go by, it becomes a challenge to keep focused and always on the look out for the next time the runner comes round the track. Continue Reading →

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Photos of Waterperry Garden

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Some photos from Waterperry Gardens, just outside Oxford, where I visited earlier this summer. It was a grey day, but the wonder of modern technology helped get some decent photos.

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The ‘Quiet’ Garden.

There was a sign asking people to be quiet in this garden, so I sat in a corner and meditated after a fashion. It was spitting with rain, and I didn’t get much beyond seeing the shrub in the corner and thinking how it could do with its top half trimming. Not the deepest meditation, but still nice idea to have a quiet garden.

The funny thing is that my five minutes of quiet was interrupted – by a family coming in and talking very loudly about how this was a quiet garden and you couldn’t use your mobile phone.

Continue Reading →

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Singing to yourself

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I cycle into town through this local Oxford park. It is far from the tourist trail, and is a nice place for locals – popular with dog walkers and people taking a short cut into town.

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I was full of the joys of a slightly dull, misty September morning and, as I was cycling slowly through the park, an old man with dog said out loud:

“Shut up”

At first, I thought he was talking to his dog, but then realised his dog wasn’t saying anything, he was talking to me.

I was singing to myself and obviously had strayed into being audible. I hadn’t realised it, which is just slightly disconcerting; I hope it’s not the first signs of madness. He must have very good hearing.

I am trying to learn a few songs of Sri Chinmoy at the moment, and they seem to pop into my head whilst cycling into town.

As irritating habits go, singing aloud is not the worst, but I did admit the old man had a point – I probably would have found it a bit annoying if he was singing to himself.

But, I couldn’t help observe that it’s not very British to actually articulate minor irritations like this. We usually put with worse than someone muttering a half-hearted bit of singing in a public park. Continue Reading →

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Parks and Recreation – best of American comedy

Generally, I’m not a fan of American comedy. But, I like Parks and Recreation a lot. It has very good characters and a good mix of gentle satire and sometimes is very funny.

As a vegetarian, yoga practising, socialist, my favourite character is Ron Swanson, the carnivorous, yoga hating, capitalist.

A close second is Andy Dwyer, I haven’t laughed out loud so much, since the first time I watched Fawlty Towers. It’s sometimes reminiscent of Monty Python in terms of being out there.


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Nature vs Nurture – Is a poet born or made?

For Sri Chinmoy Races.org, I have written an article on some personal experiences of self-transcendence. An article which bought back memories of winning Menston village fun run (under 7 category) and also coming last in a school cross country race (aged 15). In this article on sporting immortality, I failed to mention that I was also awarded “Menston Cricket Club under 13 fielder of the year”, but you don’t want to boast too much about these sporting achievements. (I think I was the only one to catch someone out in that particular season).

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Early efforts at self-transcendence hampered by feet not reaching the pedals.

When I was young, I didn’t feel I was a gifted athlete. In fact, as mentioned, I came last in a cross country running race. After coming last, I “retired” and decided my genetics for sporting events must be very poor.  To be fair, my parents were not exactly sub three hour marathon runners.

But, 20 years later, and after winning the National Hill Climb Championship, many might have assumed I had very lucky sporting genetics. But, I’m not sure, what to make of the role of genetics.

I do feel that meditation and a spirituality can have a positive impact on sporting performance. I cannot quantify the impact, but it does make some kind of difference. I certainly believe there is more to potential achievement than the pre-determination of genetic ability. Whether you meditate or not, even great personal faith and inner belief can have a positive impact. Continue Reading →

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Cyclamen flowers

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Cyclamen is a perennial flower, which is native to parts of Europe, such as Turkey. In September, the small flowers suddenly appear (before the leaves). It is a time of the year, when many other plants are finishing flowering, so their arrival at the beginning of autumn is very welcome. Continue Reading →

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Overcoming writer’s block

Since coming back from August Celebrations, I’ve struggled to get back into writing about economics. In New York I lost track of economics and politics, and became more focused on meditation. It was a good experience, and it is interesting to feel how your interests and motivations can change in a short space of time. It seems after a lot of meditation, interest rates and quantitative easing temporarily lose their lustre!

However, I have a book to write – so I need to get some of the old economics flow without losing the renewed inspiration for meditation.

bookshop  Continue Reading →

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