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Supported by NHS Tayside Community Innovation Fund
THAT's Remotely Interesting     No. 04
Welcome to fourth issue of THAT's Remotely Interesting, the Newsletter of Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust's 'Creative at a Distance' Programmes being run online during these unusual times.  Our featured programmes are; 'Shared Photographs' being led by David P Scott and 'Writing From Home' led by Zoe Venditozzi.

Each Newsletter features examples of the participant's responses to the different challenges the programme Leads are setting, along with some general feedback and guidance.   A larger collection of the work produced for each challenge will also be available to view on THAT's Facebook page.

David's fourth challenge was to photograph - 'Colours of the Rainbow'
Zoe's fourth challenge was to focus on - 'Surroundings'
Another week, another photography challenge, this time to find and
photograph colours of the rainbow.

We had a wonderful range of submissions with several photographers
creating still lives to explore their chosen colour.
This week’s writing challenge was all about descriptive writing. When we write, it’s essential that the reader can immerse themselves in the place where the story is set, so it’s great practise to work on describing our own surroundings. Aside from setting the scene, descriptive writing can also tell the reader a lot about the character.

The writing that came in this week was great, often combining descriptions with reflection on what life is like at the moment. 
View From My Window
The view from my second floor apartment window, is Sorbus Aucuparia, over 50ft tall, a member of the rowan family with white berries.

Two pigeons sleep in the tree from nightfall till dawn, their feathers puffed up to keep them steady in the wind. They seem placid and undisturbed. 
Stuck, quite high in the middle of the tree, is a coloured football. (That would be the end of that game!) 

One day a multi-coloured bubble appeared on the window ledge, hovered and shimmered for a moment, then “pop”, I can’t see the children but I hear them. 

Opposite my window, on the other side of the complex, is a four-storey block of flats -- an endless source of fascination and speculation. 

What is in the parcels being delivered daily? Men and women in high-vis jackets, red, yellow, orange? All clutching hand-held devices. (No customer signature necessary in the present situation.) Carry-out meals, a new bike, boxes and packages of all shapes and sizes.

The small dog pressed up against the window on the fourth floor flat, patiently waiting for someone coming home. There is the young man now with his back-pack 9.30 on the dot. He looks weary, tired. Where does he work? What does he do?  

After dark I see the North Star on a clear night, sometimes the moon.

Mary Simpson
This is a lovely affecting piece that sums up the view from a window. I love the details about the plants and birds and the descriptions of what other, unseen, people are doing. The last line is very poetic and poignant.
Others chose to use thier colour choices to focus intently on the people, objects and views around them.


In a small conservatory at the back of the house, facing onto the garden, is where I spend much of my time – whether it’s for work, writing, reading or just general pottering.

I have tried so many times to keep this room tidy, organized, neat – but to no avail. I just continue to happily add to the mélange, I mean what’s the point of worrying whether or not it’s neat and tidy? Cliched I know, but life really is too short, especially just now.

Central to the conservatory is my desk with two laptops, a large pile of notes and notebooks from previous creative writing courses and dabblings, a small wicker basket with postcards and notelets, an old table lamp, and a coaster for my frequent cups of tea and coffee – or even the occasional wine (but that’s more of a living room with a movie on type refreshment). Underneath the desk is a large supply of small logs, kindling and matches for the rarely used chiminea outside – but we live in hope, so it’s always kept handy. There’s also a trug with a variety of gardening tools for when the mood to potter in the garden grabs me, which is currently somewhat sporadic.

The bookcase is quite small, and it’s basically full of overspill from the three crowded bookcases in the living room, one of which has just had spillage from a leaky roof overnight (not concerned about the bookcase though, just the books – what damage to the ceiling?). I keep meaning to get some sort of semblance of order in the bookcases, but it never happens – perhaps one day.

The window ledge on two sides of the conservatory has a weird and wonderful collection of empty azure blue Harris gin bottles, an old dimpled wine bottle (no candles, that’s so 1970s), dictionaries (ran out of room on the old bookcases), an empty, slightly ornate champagne bottle tin, a string of brass looking elephant lights, old acorns that were randomly picked up last year, a small cream buddha, an old painted wooden box with miniature playing cards inside, a tiny brown satin trinket box, and a small mirror – although that’s actually behind a venetian blind – perhaps to make sure I don’t fully see the reflection of the clutter, just a distorted still life version – which strangely feels quite apt.

There’s a leather chair from a dining table set in the corner, currently with an old large Fortnum & Mason hamper on it, filling up with new bits and pieces from a shiny new hobby – sewing. Sewing machine recently purchased after watching the Great British Sewing Bee last week and thinking, “I could do that”. Oh, how I misjudged that! But hey, learning a new skill is good for you, so that’s my reasoning for spending money on such things. Scissors, glass headed pins and thread are en route as I type, and two friends have already social distancedly (is that a word?) dropped off small “loose end” scissors and patterns to be stored in the said Fortnum & Mason hamper. There are two smaller such hampers behind me, suspiciously empty – but not for long, obviously.

That’s pretty much it – small but workable, with a manageable amount of comfortable clutter, and the ever-changing view of the garden, in which right at this moment a stunning pink Camelia is holding my gaze.

Fran Benison

This description really sheds light on the writer and how they live their life. I love the details of their interests and how they’ve developed during lockdown and I think any writer would love the image of a place that’s dedicated to reading and writing and thinking.

Lastly, a few photographers decided to focus on rainbows themselves and rainbow colour effects, finding a great array of colour and pattern in their surroundings.

Again, thank you to all who took part, looking forward to Challenge 5!

I am sitting here on the balcony of my apartment in Belgium, ‘sentenced’ here as my husband was called back to work two weeks ago.  Thankfully this place is a safe haven, my home from home for the last year which I have enjoyed visiting back and forward for weekend breaks.  My lifesaver when I had my stroke just nine months ago and my comfort in my early stages of recovery.  To me, this is home, saviour and best friend all in one.

But as I am here due to another life-event, the haven is less inviting, as the routines and places which served me well just months before, are now painstakingly out of reach, waiting for me to explore some more; waiting to comfort me again.

It is not until now, the sun hidden behind its blanket of clouds, that I notice the neighbourhood void of colour; breeze-block buildings in a spectrum of white, grey and beige; the black roads empty of their usual myriad of coloured cars parked up allowing their owners time to peruse the shops, meet with friends or wander the beach.

Although the balcony is small - just big enough for my chair - it is my solace from being trapped inside.  The relief of the sea-breeze brushes my face and the smell of the salty water, wafts across my nose.  Where people once walked, I can’t help but notice the two feet have been replaced by birds, free to roam without being disturbed.  Bicycles once a vital transport now racked up and chained along the streets in their new metal prisons.  The silence is broken and reality kicks in, by the siren getting closer and hope fills me that this is not an ambulance taking away another victim.  As the siren emerges from the grey buildings, the reality is different.  Better but still grimacing.  The police car signals the warning of the stark reality, and the now familiar tannoy reminder to ‘stay at home’ – fast becoming my main Dutch vocabulary.

In the distance, I can hear a sound which has been missing for the last 2 weeks I have been here and a glimmer of hope emerges; the sound of horses-hooves clopping along the cobbles streets, taking tourists around to show them the town.  But alas, this hope is swapped with a mixture of sadness and surprise as the unfamiliar scene of police on horseback fills the frame.  Another reminder of this new reality.

As I look at this familiar place with fresh senses, an all-encompassing exploration, I can’t help but notice the similarities to my home, back in Dundee.  The water just a stone’s throw away, rippling quietly.  The golden sand fresh like a blanket, waiting on the time when toes will touch it again. A quiet neighbourhood with neighbours around you’ll never meet nor know their names.  The essential shops scattered around, windows inviting, yet forbidden to be explored.  The screech of the seagulls scrambling desperately pleading for the next source of food which just weeks ago, was abundant.  The once bustling restaurants now packed up, tables and chairs stacked, just groaning to be hosting friends and families again.  The once lively streets now desolate, bar the scuttering feet of a person desperately getting their exercise and fresh air.

I sit here relieved.  Relieved to be safe and well. Relieved to know that there will be a time when this will all be a memory and life will return.  Perhaps not as we know it but we will soldier on again and I can’t begin to wonder if it will be long before we once again crave the solace, quietness and tranquillity which we are coming to loathe?

Michelle Cassidy

What’s interesting about this piece is that being somewhere different allows the time to reflect on the recent past and how that has impacted the writer. I also really liked the way she could see the similarities between where she is and where she's from.

I look forward to reading everyone’s work this week. Take care!

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Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust · Ardler Clinic · Turnberry Avenue · Dundee, Dnd dd2 3tp · United Kingdom

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