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Art, Music, Books & Theatre

Book review of “Cottage by the Sea” by Debbie Macomber

A review by Susan Baldani

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Based on a true story of a deadly mudslide in the state of Washington in the USA, “Cottage by the Sea” by Debbie Macomber is a book about the enduring human spirit and the ability to move on after great tragedy.

Annie Marlow receives a call on Thanksgiving morning that will change her entire life and reshape how she sees the world. Despite her mother’s pleas, fun loving Annie chooses to stay in California where she is working to have fun with her friends instead of going home for the holiday. Now, she has to live with the guilt that she wasn’t there when the mud destroyed her home with not only her parents inside, but her brother, sister-in-law and baby niece as well. In a matter of minutes, her entire family was swept away.

Unable to overcome her grief, she returns to the cottage in the sleepy little town of Oceanside where her family had spent many happy summers. There, she finds a new job, new friends, and someone special who has also known heartache. While finding her way back to a productive and happy life, she manages to changes others’ lives for the better as well.

Her recluse of a landlord, miserable and locked away in body and mind, a pregnant teenager who doesn’t know what to do with her future, and a man who grew up in a house full of hate – these are just some of the people whose lives are in chaos and whom Annie chooses to help. This outpouring of love is what ultimately brings her back to a life full of hope and joy.

“Cottage by the Sea,” released in 2018, is at times both heartbreaking and uplifting. It shows the courage of traumatized people who go on to help others while at the same time helping themselves. They realize that this is what makes them whole again and gives their lives meaning.

Debbie Macomber is a # 1 New York Times bestselling author with millions of novels in print, and according to her website, she “brings to life compelling relationships that embrace family and enduring friendships, uplifting her readers with stories of connection and hope.” When you finish this book, you’ll find this to be true. For more, visit her website at https://debbiemacomber.com/.

Susan Baldani lives in the U.S. and enjoys writing articles about a variety of subjects. She is also currently finishing up her second book.  You can contact her at suebaldani@yahoo.com, on Twitter @mywritingwall, or through her website at www.mywritingwall.com.

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Art, Music, Books & Theatre

142 Opens in June!

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Dear fellow artists and art enthusiasts,

We hope this message finds you well, that your family is safe, and that recent months have been kind to you. We are pleased to announce the gallery will be reopening in June, with social distancing measures in place.

The 142 Team recently had a meeting (at a distance, photographic evidence above!) to discuss future plans for the gallery and spoke of our personal experiences during lockdown. 

Lockdown has allowed us to reflect on our artistic endeavours, connect with nature, to embrace a slower pace, cycle, create music, bake, and binge on boxsets! But jokes aside, we are all very grateful to the hard work, dedication and support from the NHS and all the key workers. Without them, these last few months would have been a lot tougher for us all.

Thank you to everyone who has played their part in social distancing, staying at home, following the government’s advice and staying safe. Together, we can get through this.

Reopening 142

As you will be aware, from mid-June, some retail units are allowed to reopen, as long as appropriate social distancing measures are in place. With this new governmental guideline, we have decided to reopen the gallery from Thursday 18th June 2020.

Our first exhibition since lockdown will be Lisa Berry and Jim Nind. You may have seen them in the gallery before, but since their isolation and lack of interaction with fellow artists, it will be interesting to see what artworks the pair create during their residency at 142!

More details will be announced in due course, including a layout of how the gallery will operate from 18th June 2020.

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Art, Music, Books & Theatre

New Skills Learnt in Lockdown

A little thought from the lovely Penny Parker.

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Well lockdown has certainly given some of us time at home we hadn’t planned on and if you were like me you dived straight in with gardening, baking, cleaning everything etc. Now I guess it’s almost time to do all that again, except the baking as I’ve eaten way too much cake.

Many I’m sure had plans to learn or do something new, but did we actually do it.

I did dabble in baking cakes, scary thought for the neighbours and the fire brigade I know, as I do manage to burn most things. However they weren’t bad, looked and tasted ok ( except the garlic bread, let’s not mention that!). What wasn’t on my to do list was sewing… I hate sewing, I blame my teacher at high school who shouted at me rather a lot for my lack of skill. I usually leave sewing to my sister unless it can be glued then I’ll do it. But glueing face masks wasn’t an option.

I’d got material, odd I know for someone who doesn’t sew but it was Disney and who doesn’t like a bit of that!

I dredged up my ancient cast iron sewing machine, chuffed I hadn’t dumped it in the clear out. Swept out the cobwebs and spiders and plugged it in, well so good so far. Funny how using a sewing machine is like riding a bike, you never forget. I threaded her up, remembered my teachers screams about keeping your fingers away from the needle and off I went, slowly. It was rather like riding a steam train as it rattled about on the table making so much noise we had to turn the telly up. Never mind the ancient beast churned out almost 100 face masks for people. I lost count of the number of times the cotton snapped or the needle jammed but we made it.

Now she back in her case and back in retirement, not because I’ve stopped sewing but because I’m using a new machine!! It’s only borrowed from Recreate social enterprise who very kindly brought me some fabrics, thread and elastic from their shop but it’s helped me find a love for sewing. This machine is quiet and doesn’t shake the table, it even threads the needle, and the cotton hardly breaks. Masks are now being made so much faster and yes I’m loving it!

I’ve fallen in love with sewing… please end lockdown soon I can’t afford another hobby!!

Written by Penny Parker

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Art, Music, Books & Theatre

Just Jay Dance

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Introductions first…

I’ve never really been good at introductions, but thought it would be nice to share a little bit about “me” and what I do! 

My names Jay, originally from Leicester, I moved to Ipswich when I was 17 having left home to start my own business up as a professional singer and dancer. I’ve worked abroad, on ships, holiday parks, schools and worked with charities to celebrities. It’s taken years of grafting (in-between the bar work, shelf stacking and suffering) I finally am fully self employed in my 10th year living off “Just Jay Dance” doing what I love – entertaining. 

Don’t be fooled though – it’s hard work, painful at times! Disheartening. Lonely. Sometimes I wish I’d have been given a different set of skills! But I do what I can and especially in times like “now” I realise how important the entertainment industry is and wouldn’t choose anything else now.

Currently I’m sat dressed as the “Red Power Ranger” in my living room, having recorded 4 birthday messages for kids stuck in lockdown.

“I can’t imagine how hard it much be for some parents trying to make their kids birthday so special! Especially those too young to understand what’s going on!

So if me dressed as a character and wishing them a happy birthday or “to be good” then that’s my afternoon done. Tomorrow I’m reading “The ButterFly Lion” live on Facebook for children before they go to sleep while Monday morning recording 3 dance tutorials for teens to learn!

I had a choice when this “lockdown” happened – sit, moan and be absorbed by the never ending negative news OR try and use the tools I have to entertain my audience online for those needing a boost of happiness. I plan to share some of the things I’ve done for charity, friends and family as well as myself. If I can raise even one smile – my jobs been done. Tough crowd sometimes – but usually the most worth while and rewarding! 

Stay Safe,

Much Love

Jay x

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