Creative Regeneration

First snow, Sierra de Madrid

After a period of creative stagnation, and with a big desire to get ourselves going again, my wife and I came up with a Creative Regeneration Plan, which looks like this:

1. Travel to new places – 10km away or 500 km away, there is nothing like exploring somewhere new.

2. Talk to nice people/More social life – Interesting conversations with other people breathe life into existence.

3. Read, watch and listen to great artist creations – All great creativity inspires great creativity.

4. Create!
– Drawing
– Writing
– Blogging
– Photography
– And so on! Just create and share some of it!

5. Sport and exercise – Creativity is attracted to movement!

6. Get out to the cafes, libraries, park, wherever to work – Working in the living room is OK for a bit, but seeing life beyond the four walls of the home is transformative!

7. Less family drama, and drama in general – Drama… “she said this, he did that, isn’t such and such a situation terrible, did you hear about…” how we love to jump around in that mud! But it’s mostly a big squiggly mess of useless energy-sapping nonsense and life is much clearer, neater, and more expansive without too much of it!

8. Get out and about!

That’s the plan. Items from this list need to be put into action every day!

Eddie and Stevie and Photography

I was saying to my wife, the other day, you know, Eddie Vedder, the guy who did the song we like, Society, from that great film we saw again recently, Into the Wild – he’s got this nice Ukelele songs album too, and it got me thinking, that Eddie Vedder makes songs, puts them out into the world, and it makes people happy. And I’m sure it makes him really happy to keep writing songs too.

We’d been having a Stevie Wonder moment – one of us had been in a bad mood that morning, had come across Stevie Wonder singing Dylan’s Blowing in the Wind with complete joy and abandon, and it had bought an instant smile to our faces.

We phoned my Stevie Wonder-loving sister and said, hey, we’re listening to SW and smiling, and remembering a great time we had in your flat in London once listening to him and dancing, can you recommend a Stevie album for us? Yes! She said, you have to listen to Songs in the Key of Life – and listen to ‘As’, it’s fantastic!

So we did (we were in the car) and we smiled more and got home in an incredibly good mood. And had that chat about Eddie V, and Stevie, and how that’s what they do – they make songs, put them out into the world. They are happy, the listeners are smiling – it’s all good!

I’ve been missing putting stuff out into the world. I’ve been missing blogging. I love blogging, love podcasting, I’m not Eddie or Stevie, but these things make me happy, and make other people happy sometimes too. So here’s a blog post! And some photos! Blogs are wonderful, still are despite all that ‘blogging is dead’ crap we went through years ago. (I’m waiting for social media is dead! – won’t be long! Oh wait, there are over 10 million results for “Social media is dead” on Google. Good – About time!)

I’ve been getting back into photography too. I started when I was about 8, with some kind of plastic film camera that make the most basic ‘click’ when you pressed the shutter and I absolutely loved. My dad taught me photography, and now my son is learning from me, and that’s wonderful. Now instead of my dad and I sitting in the bathroom-converted-into-darkroom swishing trays of developer, stop and fixer around, bathed in deep red light, my son and I wifi photos from the super-duper Lumix camera or the phone onto the iPad and edit them there. The photos in this post are from a recent photo walk in the Madrid Sierra, and the summer in the Pyrenees. All of these were in fact taken on Apple’s ‘cheap’ 2nd gen iPhone SE. It’s an incredible camera (and the very best camera in the world is the one that’s always with you – There’s all this debate about what camera Henri Cartier Bresson would use these days instead of his trusty Leica – I’m betting he’d use an iPhone).

So, there you go, a blog post. I got up this morning unable to do a thing for our wonderful Notes in Spanish (where we make people happy making ourselves happy making podcasts and making a living to boot). ‘Get out on your bike’, said my wife. Out on my bike I thought, ‘If I can’t do work work today, do an Eddie or a Stevie. Just go home and write anything on the Notes from Ben blog!’ And here it is.

P.S. A friend said to me recently, “[keep sharing nice stuff in the world and] you’ll have skipped midlife crisis without notice”. I said, I’ll take that! I’ve had a mid-20’s crisis, mid-30’s crisis, early-40’s crisis – I’m done with them!

Time to smile:

Notes from Ben Podcast – Land Art


Today’s podcast is all about Land art, and particularly two of its great artists, Richard Long and Andy Goldsworthy.

Mentioned and not mentioned in the podcast:

Richard Long meets Nitin Sawhney – a nice podcast encounter

Rivers and Tides – Andy Goldsworthy’s first documentary

Leaning into the Wind – More recent Andy Goldsworthy documentary


This video is a series of ink drawings done over the past two days, which turned unexpectedly into a series which nicely mirrors itself. The inspiration comes from drawings by Antony Gormley, whose work has been inspiring be enormously over the past few days, mostly via documentaries about his artistic life on YouTube.

The music, to my surprise, is a piano piece I recorded a few years ago after hearing the opening bars in a dream just as I was waking up one Saturday morning. I got up while everyone slept, and played what I’d heard on our electric piano while recording it onto the laptop. I can’t “play” the piano (just mess around with it sometimes) and don’t think I could play this again. Hence my surprise! Here’s the full piece: