What a lovely day it’s been thus weekend!

Glorious weather here and sun kissed seas – I was over at the Mary Rose exhibition in Portsmouth this week with my friend Clive and was simply mesmerised. Apart from the enormous amount of excavation, careful and endless cataloguing of items brought up from the mud; just to see the collection of longbows, tankards, flagons and footwear was incredible and that the museum houses the only 16th century crow’s nest in the world is truly magnificent. My imagination runs riot about the people at that time, their life stories and dreams. . . and the craftsmanship that went into building boats of that kind.

Earlier that week, I was in the company of old friends (one of whom bears the honour of having won the Sandown Pier Talent Competition in the mid 1970s!) and we went over to see the Needles. It was fairly deserted on that windswept half term day but still, we were given a fabulous talk and display of glass blowing there.

I have to say that anything to do with people and craftsmanship that depends on experience, intuition, trust and hands-on skills, really makes me swoon. Somehow, I find myself meeting more and more people whose skill doesn’t depend on a pc or a machine to do the majority of the work – it’s their attention to detail; an eye for precision and a commitment to beauty, form and function. It’s that ‘Crikey!’ moment when it all comes miraculously together and something incredibly special is made. That makes me so happy, whether it’s a piece of glass, a wooden boat on the water, a hand-made baroque bassoon, a coat, a painting, a play or a piece of music. . . .and I especially love talking to the creators and finding out why they do what they do and what keeps them doing it. Mostly, it’s because it fires their heart and rarely to do with becoming rich or famous. These days at least, we can find out who did what, whereas at the time of the Mary Rose, very few craftspeople were named unless they owned the company who provided the skills. That follows with composers of tunes / songs too – think of the thousands of songs and tunes collected all over the world and we’ve forgotten who they were by and so now are ‘traditional’. Quite a mind blowing idea really. . .

I mentioned the Bill Quay Fabric Workshop a few weeks ago and Clare Satow, the printmaker there, has designed a limited edition tea towel for my website which is now on sale(www.karentweed.com). Her designs are exquisite and I hope that she’ll continue to keep designing for me. It’s an edition of 30 and beautifully printed on linen as shown here:









. . . and comes with a gift card :










And while we’re on the subject of birds, I’ve been happily sharing photos of garden birds who are out and about just now and learned this (following viewing some photos taken in Ireland) from the lovely flute player / maker and composer in Durham, Norman Holmes :

‘I love the family of House Sparrows sat on the fence. The House Sparrows have a hierarchy. The one with the biggest and darkest bib is known as the colonel and he’s the boss.’

Ha ha. Thank you, Norman. Graeme Rigby, a writer in the North East was the first person to stop me whooshing about to look at garden birds on his table. He also ran the most fantastic project in Newcastle called ‘BigFest’ where I met, amongst others, Shanti Paul Jayasinha. . .another thing I’ll be eternally grateful to him for.

And lastly, a call from Parrabbola, the theatre company I was delighted to work with on their ‘Land of Liberty’ community play a few years back. They have a new play which I have heard at the reading stage and is superb. They are going for a ‘crowd funding’ approach – see the message below from the scriptwriter, Brian Abbott, whose recent observation became the title of this mailout. He’s a superb writer and this play is so worth funding. . .

He writes :

Hi friends, family and colleagues,

This is to introduce you to the idea of crowdfunding! If you haven’t come across it already.

Simply put, we are looking for pledges to raise a certain amount to help Parrabbola’s small-scale tour of “Half a Cod a Day” go forward on it’s first part. Later in the year we have been invited to the Edinburgh Fringe, but this is to get the Spring tour on the road. For those of you North of Watford Gap, and in the South West -Manchester, Exeter, Brixham, Hastings are also part of the tour (and therefore “ticket” rewards aren’t just for Brighton Festival).
Pledges begin at £1!  Only pledge what you won’t miss!
And these will only be taken up when the total is reached. For more information & video
Simply put the link below in your browser:


If you in your turn can spread the word to your friends, family and colleagues – then all the pledges will snowball!

For those of you who may be part of, or have contact with Companies or Corporate bodies that may like to make higher pledges- the “rewards” include logos and acknowledgements on all posters,brochures- plus all the other hospitality benefits (upto a dedicated full performance at the location of their choice, at the top end!).

“Half a Cod a Day” is an agit-prop Comedy with bite. The title is how the quota in 2012/13 worked out per boat for the Hastings Fishermen. It explores the endangered existence, not just financial, of small-scale fishermen. Even with the very limited EU quotas- I was speaking with Paul Joy of the Hastings Under 10 metre fleet last week. Because of the storms, and high winds from the wrong direction- he has only been able to put to sea 2 times since December- and one of those days he described as “pretty dangerous seas”.

However, the main purpose of the play is raise awareness of the need for sustainable fishing; not just as practised by the inshore fishermen of Great Britain and the EU- but globally. In the unpoliced oceans off Third World Countries. There the seas are being ransacked by Supertrawlers, each one of which can hoover up in 24 hours what would sustain the local fishermen for 50 years. Some of the “Pirate” Trawlers are manned by slave crews, local men and boys sold,indentured or trapped into life-time labour, who never leave the ships.
(see “From Our Own Correspondent” Radio 4(Palmstrom))  BBC iplayer,- also Google “The Ocean is broken” Newcastle Herald- article by  Greg Ray).

Warm regards and love to all-

P.S. One of my pre-Community Play period plays “No Fairy Tale” is going on at Questors Theatre, Ealing, London 6th-14th of June this year.
Lastly, I’m starting a little series at East Dene, Bonchurch, Isle of Wight called ‘Karen Tweed Talks’. . . what fun! This coming weekend it’s all about Accordions. . . whatever next?!!!

I hope you have a splendid week!