Chapter 10: The story of The Sound of You continues . . .

Afrikan Freedom Station - Estelle with Kwena, Herbie and Lebo
Hi everyone . . The story of The Sound of You continues  . . .

Estelle is still wowing audiences in South Africa with her fantastic shows. The reaction has been wonderful and Herbie Tsoaeli and Kevin Gibson have been backing her for most of the tour. 

She has also been doing solo voice and piano gigs and now a special one this week at the Orbit in Johannesburg.

Chico has been in the studio recording with his trio in Germany and sends a video postcard from there on YouTube.

Jan took her multimedia show to the National Portrait Gallery in London and continues preparing music and film for her next show at the weekend.

What busy springtime bees we are!

But of course our main thing is plotting and planning with PledgeMusic to get this songbook recorded!

And we shall … watch this space! Thanks for all your support - we couldn't do it without you!

back and forward to 'The Sound of You'



Jan writes . . .
and now back and forward to 'The Sound of You'
This is a songbook written with jazz great Chico Freeman and we are lucky enough to have Estelle Kokot singing and interperating the collection.
Estelle is currently touring South Africa with Herbie Tsoaeli and Kevin Gibson and we are hoping to join her soon to record the album
Being digital and musical pioneers we partnered with Pledge Music to crowd fund the album. It's been quite an adventure, one documented in the blog 'The Sound of You'
Hope you will follow and join us on our journey - Our first Blogbook was called 'The Gathering' and the 16 chapters tell the story of us meeting and getting the album ready. 
Book two, which is where we are now is 'The Alchemy' - turning our ideas into gold - The hardest part for any creative person . . The story continues

Chapter 10: The next Stage

Deadlines are good to get you to the next stage and The Sound of You has got there.

Our partnership with PledgeMusic has been going really well and we are extending the campaign to the end of May.

We are having a few, well deserved days off and will be back next week with more updates and news of the recording, gigs and pledgers' exclusive downloads etc.

As always thanks for your support - we couldn't have got this far without you - the best is yet to come!

The Sound of You











Chapter 9 The last full moon of summer and Pledge Music updates

Chico talks . . .
about the Sound of You and the Last Full MooN of Summer exclusively for Blog readers
A big thank you for your support - we couldn't do this without you!



The Sound of You

Jan writes ...
Being a pioneer is both exciting and nerve-wracking! 
Crowd funding is a new idea and we creators and artists have lately had to become marketeers too.
Seven weeks ago we partnered with PledgeMusic to raise the money to record the album 'The Sound of You'
Estelle went off to South Africa to tour and promote, Jan's life turned into even more of an online frenzy than before and Chico dived into a new world of social media and online interaction!


Here's the list of products we are selling on PledgeMusic to raise the money to record the songbook (all prices in USD)
Remember you don't have to buy at the time just pledge to buy when we reach our goal.

$10 gets you a digital download and is available for all pledgers!
CD - an old fashioned (and preferred way of listening to music)
Signed CD (one day could be a collector's item?)
Signed Lead Sheet (another collector's item?)
Demos from Estelle (Limited edition) (already a collector's item)
Card series - signed series of 6 from JaN PuLSFoRD
E-songbook (three options including name in liner notes)
Skype Prodshop - talk to Chico and Jan about music and production
Skype SongShop - a lesson from Estelle on singing
Skype Concert - a private concert from Estelle
Serenade - a private concert from Estelle with a signed CD, pack of cards and poster
Executive Producer - Your name on the album, a signed CD, photo, Cards plus a limited print edition of the Sound of You Songbook
Meeting with Estelle - a cup of coffee, slice of cake and a limited print edition of the Sound of You Songbook with signed CD and poster!
A song for you - Chico, Jan and Estelle will write and record a song especially for you!
An instrumental for you - Chico records a special trio version of a Sound of You track
Concerts (two options) including one with Chico Freeman and a host of goodies.
http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/thesoundofyou

We are posting a lot of updates on the pledge music site plus the blog and youtube channel. 
Special mp3s from Chico and Estelle plus Jan's new SHaPeSHiFTeR album available next weekend for all pledgers.

Phew! Looking forward to recording the music of the Sound of You very soon

Thanks everyone!
Estelle, Jan, Chico xxx

Ch:8 - Closer to the Pledge

The deadline of April 4th approaches. 
We are getting close . . . A big thank you to those who have followed us on this brave adventure  and believed in us by pledging to buy the album and songbook.


Crowdfunding is the new way of paying for the recording of music where the listener becomes part of the making of an album. It's not too late to jump aboard!

Along with a digital download you could become an executive producer, have your name on the album, have a song written for you, host a concert in your house or venue, dinner date with Estelle! Just about anything your heart desires - from $10 (USD) to $15k

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Estelle is in South Africa touring 'The Sound of You' with Kevin Gibson and Herbie Tsoaeli
Jan is busy posting videos, blogs, updates etc. and preparing for the last two weeks of the pledge music campaign
Chico is strategising and preparing for the recording which, thanks to your support, will be happening in the studio 14th April


We have special downloads available for those who pledge
Chico is offering some mp3s of his recordings
JaN is offering a complete aMBieNT MuSiC WoRLD album download at the end of the pledge campaign!
Estelle is sending exclusive rehearsal iPhone recordings, pictures and messages from South Africa

The Sound of You
Read the story here
Listen and see
then Pledge

Thanks for your support
Estelle, Jan and Chico

Ch:7 - Three weeks left on the PledgeMusic Campaign - we are 23% of the way there!

Jan writes …
Can hardly believe we only have another three weeks left on the PledgeMusic Campaign and we are 23% of the way there!

A BIG thank you to our friends who have supported us so far. We can't do this recording without you!

Estelle starts her 'The Sound of You' performances this evening in Capetown with Herbie Tsoaeli and Kevin Gibson.

Next Tuesday JaN and Chico will be talking about the project live on the Sound of You - You Tube Channel so do join them at 8PM UK timehttps://www.youtube.com/user/thesoundofyou3 and on http://radiojana.com

Also have a look at some of the videos from our journey on the NEW YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/user/thesoundofyou3
We'll FB and tweet as others get archived.

This week on PledgeMusic we have a special offer from Chico - if you pledge you get one of his recordings - 'Ballad for Hakima' is a beautiful lyrical piece from his album 'Tangents' and is the basis for the song "Times in my life" as performed by Estelle Kokot on the Sound of You album which, with your help. we will be recording next month.

A digital download of The Sound of You, ordered in advance costs $10 - so not a bad deal! Of course if you want more it's there on our PledgeMusic page - the more you pledge the more we can record! From $10 - $15K - songbooks, greeting cards, private concerts, Skype chats, executive producer, and even a song written and recorded especially for you or a loved one . . . Check it out ...

The next three weeks will be full on as we work to make our target so watch this space!

Thanks again

Estelle, Jan and Chico.


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Chapter 6 - Close to the Pledge

One Month into our campaign to get the Sound of You recorded! Thanks to all our friends/patrons of the arts who have promised to buy songbooks, cards, demos, signed lead sheets and CDs. 
Everyone who pledges gets a digital download of the Sound of You album too !!

Jan is also offering . . .  A set of exclusive greeting cards and a songbook including the music with her pictures and lyrics . . .
PLUS everyone who pledges gets a copy of her latest aMBieNT MuSIC WoRLD album on March 15th!  More details soon of that and the on line fundraiser on http://radiojana.com
. . . She also needs to get somewhere warm

Estelle is touring South Africa . . .
and as part of the PledgeMusic rewards has also offered an album of never heard before demos, a Vocal Workshop, a chance to meet, plus a variety of intimate house concerts! What an opportunity!




Chico Freeman wants to play . . .an exclusive concert for pledgers and also the chance to chat to him and Jan via Skype about their musical lives and experiences. He is also giving his fans the opportunity to have a song written for them along with the chance to become an executive producer of the project! 




From $10 to $15k . . . There is something for everyone!
Come on don't be shy - just pledging the price of a couple of coffees will help but of course the more you pledge the more we can afford to record and finish the project!

Any questions don't hesitate to ask . . .

Thanks everyone for being part of The Sound of You


Chapter 5: Towards The Sound of You ...

Estelle is in South Africa singing to the sea …

 Chico reaches out to jazz fans telling the story of the Sound of You . . .

Best known for his groundbreaking jazz, multi reedman Chico Freeman has travelled a lifetime of musical adventures. The son of legendary Chicago tenor sax player Von Freeman, Chico's journey has taken him around the world alongside such musical giants as Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Charles Mingus, Jack DeJohnette, Art Blakey and Wynton Marsalis.

What a lot of people don't know is that behind the scenes for the last 13 years Chico has been writing a new songbook for the 21st Century, a lyrical melodic collection of Timeless Classic Songs, written with lyricist, vintage composer/songwriter/multi-media artist Jan Pulsford. Jan's long musical career encompasses electronica to pop, classical to folk, dance to rock. Cyndi Lauper, Darlene Love, Steps, Anthony Head and Ani di Franco have recorded Jan’s songs along with music consistently used by media producers all over the world.

So how did this unlikely partnership come about? 
Jan's appreciation of jazz lyrics and melodies comes from a childhood listening to Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Ella Fitzgerald and Nelson Riddle. After touring with the Thompson Twins she worked closely with Keki Mingus, daughter of the great Charles Mingus, on the "Let my Children hear Music' project. Producing tracks for the album she mixed trip hop and hip-hop with jazz, rap and vocals to create a unique sound.

Meeting Chico Freeman through the Rocket Network opened up a new way of writing. Apple asked them to become beta testers for a new platform for creative collaboration online. Through this groundbreaking new medium they started creating - meeting in person only occasionally. Chico and Jan have recorded music for the Audrey Tautou film “Happy End" plus music and songs for several other independent films and albums.

Always looking for a singer to record their ever expanding songbook they eventually found Estelle Kokot, a London based jazz stylist and singer songwriter in her own right. Out of a catalogue of close to 60 songs they whittled it down to 16 to record and Estelle has spent the last year making them her own.

The Freeman/Pulsford musical partnership has spawned some of their most inspired songs, lyrics and music. Jan has written words to some of Chico's previously recorded compositions like Mystery, Ballad for Hakima and Evolution. They also continue to collaborate musically and lyrically on new songs. 

The album, entitled "The Sound of You' is now ready to record and, ever the online pioneers, Chico and Jan are crowdsourcing the making of the album on Pledge Music.


You can hear Estelle Kokot talk in the video about singing and interpreting the song book, along with how you can get involved with this new way of funding the recording of music.

Read the blog here every Wednesday - documenting the story and journey of the Sound of You songbook - a lyrical album rooted in jazz with a sound stretching from Chicago to Johannesburg, New York to London.



Jan is pleased to see ...
the Sound of You made the  London Jazz news!


Thanks everyone for your continued support - we are on the way - only another 30 days left to reach our target!

Jan, Chico and Estelle xx

Ch:4 - Today the South African leg of the journey of The Sound of You starts!

Today the South African leg of the journey of The Sound of You starts!
Estelle Kokot leaves for South Africa to start touring and preparing for the Sound of You Recording.
This is a complete vow of faith as we are still getting people to pre-order the album on Pledge Music along with ordering more goodies like Songbooks and Skype lessons, Private Concerts and Greeting Cards, Exclusive Recordings and Signed CDs.
What an adventure! Come and join us ...

Bon voyage Estelle! We will be there soon and will be eagerly following your African music adventures

Jan +  Chico xx

"Within a few notes you know you’ve hit a jackpot with Estelle Kokot...an indefinably mature combination of meticulously well-chosen notes and a voice to strip you down bare and trembling. With enviable grace and confidence she balances her voice and her piano work and displays her musical wares with such panache you could hear a crotchet fall". Gisele Turner - JazzEye.

Ch:3 - PledgeMusic Campaign launched after Estelle's sold out Vortex Jazz Club Gigs

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Jan writes . . .

So here we are a week into the pledge music campaign to get the Sound of You recorded. Estelle leaves for South Africa in a weeks time to tour and prepare for the recording scheduled for April.

Meanwhile the pledges keep coming in to turn this dream into a reality!
Thanks so much for being part of the journey and  lending your support to this brave new adventure.
We really do appreciate it - more than you can imagine!

"Within a few notes you know you’ve hit a jackpot with Estelle Kokot...an indefinably mat
ure combination of meticulously well-chosen notes and a voice to strip you down bare and trembling. With enviable grace and confidence she balances her voice and her piano work and displays her musical wares with such panache you could hear a crotchet fall". Gisele Turner - JazzEye.



Ch:2 - ESTELLE KOKOT RETURNS TO THE VORTEX SUNDAY 9th FEB FOR ONE MORE SHOW!

640x360 estelleA

After her recent sold out performance at the Vortex Jazz Club, Estelle Kokot returns for one last exclusive show before heading to South Africa for the "Sound of You" tour and recording. Join her for a Pledge Music launch party mixed with an intimate evening of old and new songs.
                       VORTEX JAZZ CLUB SUNDAY 9th FEBRUARY 2014
8:15pm (doors 7:30pm)
ENDS 10:15pm

11 Gillett Square
London
N16 8AZ
Tickets: £10.00
CLICK HERE FOR £8.00 EARLY BIRD OPTION

020 7254 4097
www.vortexjazz.co.uk
ESTELLE KOKOT - Mimi Picture
Estelle Kokot has been called, "an original story-teller" by the Sunday Times in South Africa. An extraordinary South African singer, songwriter, arranger and pianist, she has played the jazz clubs and concert halls of South Africa, as well as the jazz circuit in London and European festivals like the Düsseldorfer Jazz Rally and Rother BlueStage. One of the first women to sing at seminal South African Jazz venue, KIPPIES in the 1980s, Estelle debuted with South African Jazz super group Phambili. She went on to guest regularly with South African World Music stars Bayete at clubs in and around Johannesburg and Soweto, before joining jazz fusion band, Rush Hour in 1988. Their album, "The Perfect Way", flew up the charts and kept music lovers of all genres mesmerised. Chico Freeman says… "Finding the singer to sing the story that captures the spirit and the heart of the song is the objective and the desire. This is Estelle."
ESTELLE KOKOT - EK by Jan black and white copy

ESTELLE KOKOT - Black and White at the piano
“An excellent arranger of her own and other people’s material. If you want to hear a genuine innovator with a creative twist on Jazz vocals, include Estelle Kokot.” – The Guardian

Ch:1 - Estelle Kokot Previews The Sound Of You On Monday 30th December 2013!

Photo by Richard Kaby

The year is almost on it's back but there's time to do one more gig! Hope you've all had a wonderful festive season and that you're now in the mood to shake off some Xmas tinsel!

Join me on Monday the 30th of December at The Vortex Jazz Club where I will be previewing songs from the ICOJA Songbook.

Included in tonight's performance will be a selection of my own originals and arrangements of my favourite standards, as well as all the wonderful songs I have been learning, written by Chico Freeman and Jan Pulsford.

To book for the show go here http://www.wegottickets.com


An excellent arranger of her own and other peoples’ material. If you want to hear a genuine innovator with a creative twist on Jazz vocals include Estelle Kokot
The Guardian

Find out where she’s performing next and catch a plane
Jazzeye, South Africa

Her rendition of Monk’s classic 'Round Midnight' was something else to hear, an incredible and masterful improvisation of the piece like I’ve never heard before. I was completely blown away
All Jazz Radio, South Africa

Regulars at the Vortex will no doubt be familiar with the compellingly dramatic live work of Estelle Kokot
Chris Parker, UK

With considerable wit and intelligence, Kokot ousts the singer and colonises the songs
Business Day, South Africa


Kokot is an original storyteller Don Albert, South Africa

The Sound of You … Interlude



Jan looks back and forth ...
16 chapters later - Book 1 finished! Time to consolidate the blog posts into a readable on line format whilst we prepare Book 2 and launch the Pledge Music Campaign.
Thanks for coming on this journey with us.
We look forward to sharing the next step of the adventure in a few weeks with Book 2 - The Alchemy.
See you then!


Chapter 16: Plenty left to do - taciturn (part 3)



Jan considers what lied behind the veil and what lies ahead ... 

Talking about budgets, percentages, royalties, session fees, contracts - the business of music -  is like going behind the veil and giving away the secrets of a magician.
We really don't want to know - we prefer the illusion of reality.

I used to run an indie label funded by dreams. When the internet became available in 1993 I could see the potential for musicians using the world wide web. These were exciting heady days. It was like being part of a pioneering club of explorers. Hard to believe twenty years later, isn't it?

My label was called 'Collecting Dust'. Back then the only way to get your music  "out there' was on a CD or cassette via a record label and distributor, promoted via radio, TV and live gigs. There was no Bandcamp, CD baby or Soundcloud, in fact the mp3 format was still in its infancy. If you didn't get a company to place your album in the 'bricks and mortar' stores it was relegated to sitting on a shelf somewhere 'collecting dust'.

In my circle of music making outsiders, the major labels/publishers were seen as 'bad' and independent was 'good'. It was very much an 'us and them' situation. Today being a lot older and a little wiser, you will often hear me say "If you want the corporate money be prepared to play by the corporate rules". Based on years of observation I would say most financially successful artists are shrewd business people too. There is little room for altruism in the corporate or indie world unless you're prepared to go broke.

With my usual unbridled enthusiasm mixed with large dose of naivety, I threw myself headlong into the on line music business abyss.

Dreamers provide the thoughts, strategists and business minds turn them into reality.
Music was my religion and the congregation was loud and enthusiastic whilst I watched the collection plate became increasingly empty.
Looking back I realise I didn't have much of a clue!

I continued living in my utopian music bubble at English Valley Tennessee, recording and distributing artists I really believed in until the bubble finally burst. The reality is dreams don't sell albums.
Dreams make music.  Money records music. Promotion sells music.

The business model Collecting Dust embraced, where the artist is part of the whole package, was not fully understood by many artists back then. Today it's a much more transparent world and people starting off in music don't have the baggage of the old way of doing things to contend with. No one makes you a star - you're either one or you're not. There isn't much of a smokescreen anymore. You Tube, iTunes, Spotify, Facebook, Twitter et al are the norm. Us old timers have had to become as creative about making a living as we are about creating our music. It's a different playing field than 20 years ago!

Looking forward I can see the success of Collecting Dust as being that, out of all the albums released, one made some declarable money and the trickle of sales from the downloads of Delcimore is still paying off the unrecouped recording budget. (Ironically the other thousands of CDs sat collecting dust for years in a storage room until they got hauled off to the dump.)

And why do I consider that a success? Because here I am still embracing the new, still believing in good music and still finding new ways of releasing it to the world.

The past is a well trodden path to the future . . .

And next week another adventure begins as we explore releasing music via 'Crowd Sourcing' - Estelle, Chico and I become alchemists as we take "The Sound of You" to Pledge Music and turn our music into gold . . .

I hope you will join me on yet another adventure . . . there's plenty left to do!


Chico

Something Jan wrote caught my eye "Dreams make music, money records music and promotion sells music - profound!!! The quandary of the ages exists in this statement. Art vs business vs art vs business; will it ever resolve itself? Music is so subjective, it's meaning to each of us is so unique, its' presence is so ubiquitous, its' effect is so penetratingly profound that to categorize or in essence entrap its' spirit is akin to imprisonment of ones deepest self and expression. 

When I awake each day I am thankful for the opportunity to continue my search for the truth of my self-expression and to make an offering to the world of my findings. Each day I realize that in the humility of knowing how much one doesn't know is a gift that keeps giving. To keep learning, trying, succeeding and never giving up, that failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Abraham Lincoln said, "It's not the years in your life that counts, but the life of your years". 

Jan Pulsford said, "The past is a well trodden path to the future…" How true this is and one can truly be sure that as long as we are here there will always be "Plenty left to do"; let's do this part of it together.


Estelle ponders plenty and exhales...

Early morning light North London
It's been a productive few days, immersed in the music where I love to be most. You can't force it. Well...I can't force it and there's always something going on to distract and disturb. If it isn't the road being dug up in the street outside, it's the traffic on that same street or the news you don't want to hear. The hours in one day, they wait for no-one.

I love space and there is one day in my week when I experience the space of sky, high up in North London, while walking to my destination. It doesn't matter if it's raining or clear, I inhale that space and exhale my noise.


Just like this project, there are times when space is required so not only we three can exhale, but the music can breathe too.

The year is almost on it's back and I still feel like I am shifting gears. It takes a good long browse through the calendar to realise exactly how much has been achieved, but there's lots more to do and November is always my preamble to 'taking stock of it all'. I keep having to remind myself that anything that's going to be worthwhile and has a lasting impact is going to take time to get right.

You can't rush it and it's taken me some time to learn these songs. There have been plenty of interruptions  and breaks, like 'daily life' for one. Then there's the three months in South Africa reconnecting intensely with my musical roots. There's the keeping of the wolves from moving in too close and more, much more.

The other things that happen in life serve a vital purpose in the making of the music. It could be something someone says or something heard or seen that inspires and contributes to the learning process. All these things are there to draw upon when needed.

The songs are slowly becoming a part of my daily existence and absorbing the essence doesn't happen overnight. Growing into each one takes time and they are now a bit like rowdy teenagers exploring new territory and pushing the boundaries.
Swirling


It's that mix of sort of knowing who you are but not being quite sure what direction needs to be taken because the possibilities are endless. They need to explore all the avenues, including a few detours and crossroads while they're at it. Heads will be bumped and a dead end will mean turning back and choosing another option. I don't want the possibilities to become saturated though, as there always needs to be scope for spontaneity and the unexpected.

This creative process of discovery is the adventure I live for and once the songs have become part of every muscle and fibre, they will be all grown up and brave enough to let go of preconceived notions and go that extra mile. 


They are beginning to discover me, these songs. It could be one note played or not. It could be where I take a breath or where I don't, that unlocks the door to my story.

I like to think of it as an open road. One long straight stretch of tarmac and a solid convertible that isn't going to have to overtake any trucks or spend too much time making pit stops! When I reach my destination, I might need to take a long hot bath to get rid of the dust and the grime that's gathered and settled, but this is when I will be ready to share my journey with you.

Shadow and Sand by Richard Oakland
You're like the girl who left her shadow in the drawer, but when she went to get it, it wasn't there... Wayne Shorter.



Chapter 15: Nowhere to go but up - taciturn (part 2)




Chico is remembering…

"I've been looking forward to this post. "Nowhere To Go But Up"! As the saying goes, "when you've hit rock bottom, there's nowhere to go but up". My father used to say: "in every life a little rain must fall". As we all know this is life and problems abound, they come and they go, they come in bunches, they come intermittently, they come after long and short hiatuses, but they always come. This is about never giving up, when you fall you get back on the horse. All of these cliche's are apropos and life telling. 

I always like to think that we should always see it as nowhere to go but up, even when it's clear that the direction to the bottom is still a choice, and that is the key, it's still a choice. Which choice do you choose to make?







Jan goes Close to the Pledge

The three of us met last year in London.
It was the first time we had been together in one place.
The picture of the Shard was taken from the train on the way from Gatwick airport to meet Estelle.
Chico and I looked up and knew this was another new beginning. From New York to London, Nashville to Greece, we were on our way with 'Nowhere to go but up … '

A year later we've planned an album, written the charts, finished and tweaked the songs, met many times to hash out arrangements, logistics of lineup, studio, promotion, budgets, etc. Estelle has learned the album - an enormous task to make 16 songs feel and sound as if they were her own - and now we are ready to take the collection of songs into the studio and record.

It is a recipe for success like chilli and cream (with beans of course) - the ying and yang of a musical mix where discordancy pushes and pulls to make the most beautiful harmony. The raised 7th longingly stretches up to reach the tonic - it is that perfect cadence with an occasional interruption to lead us off into related minor places where we see and hear things from another point of view.

Nowhere to go but up …

The three of us are friends and musical lovers.

My life is full of jugglers, conjurers, magicians and sky scraping climbers.


 Estelle is warming up...

Photo by Richard Kaby
What does it mean to win and how do we define a new beginning? Endings are beginnings too.

The so called 'Big Ones' can be dramatic, making you feel ecstatic or leaving you traumatized, forcing massive change and a major shift in your perception.

Birth and death, divorce and marriage, leaving an old job, starting a new career, moving or buying a home or going to live in another country... maybe a different continent or an island while you're at it.

I've experienced all of the above except for the one I've been told about and the one I've dreamt of. There's that final bow too. We'll all have to take it, whether we want to or not. 

There's war and peace and the so called 'Act of God'. The news is full of it every day and if you want to know every detail, sign a petition or empathise with the global collective, that's your choice.

Don't cover up your wounds with bandages, they need air to breathe and heal properly! Wear those scars with pride! If you hold back on the plasters and the placebos you're winning!

Autumn leaves October 2013
It's autumn and the nights are growing longer. I can feel the chill starting to seep through the windowpanes and I know that it won't be long before I give in and turn on the heating...but even with the prospect of sub zero looming, springtime daffodils and tulips are already greeting me with green tips emerging from the soil.

One thing that doesn't always feel like it's a gift at the end of October is the clock giving you some bonus snooze time. Despite the irresistible urge to pull the duvet over your head, cuddle up and snuggle down, an extra hour being added
to the dream-clock is just plain tampering with time! It takes me a good week at least to adjust to my new regime. The lack of evening light, feeling hungrier an hour earlier and weary for no reason before bedtime all come with a clock change.

I love the Northern hemisphere fall but... there is something about an English winter that never fails to wallop my sunny South African spirit sideways!

Lauren Carter's Halloween Town. Photo by Lyn Champion
It's not all doom and gloom though!

The end of October spells a hollowed out pumpkin and a bonfire. Friends who are my family in London gather round for a hot meal and a good heart to heart. This is when the simple things in life bring the most pleasure.

That first cup of good coffee in the garden on a clear and bright winter's morning. I count the drops of frost falling from a blade of grass as I take another sip.
Lampshade turned Candlehouse

Watching the breeze lifting the fallen leaves under an oak tree and lighting candles, quietly contemplating. Rituals without the dogma is what I enjoy.

Just like one season melting into another, how and when these new beginnings start and where they end is not always clear. It's the doing and who you're doing it with that counts and being a part of this creative collective means there's nowhere to go but up!