September Miscellany 2017

I got a message early this morning from a friend in China saying, “please update your blog about your trip on the Isle of Skye – a loyal reader”. It made me laugh. I mentioned our trip to Skye in last month’s Miscellany post and still haven’t posted anything yet. It just made me feel very happy and encouraged that someone is actually looking forward to seeing my posts. Thank you!


IMG_1921You probably can tell that this was the month that the magazine is at its last stage of production – I did not post even one blog in September! It’s not so much that I have absolutely no time to write, but more that everything good, helpful and useful is extracted from my brain for the making of the magazine and I just have nothing left to give here.

Talking about JOURNEY magazine, I’m very proud to say that it’s one year old this month! JOURNEY #04 comes out on 1 October for the annual International Student Welcome Service. Please watch out for a post soon with new subscription details available!


A friend came back to Newcastle this month from Taiwan. We hopped on a train one Saturday afternoon and spent a few hours in Corbridge to look around and to have a photo shoot. Before this photo shoot, I always thought movement would always give the model a more natural look, and therefore, a better result. But I learnt from this experience that this might be true but it does not work on every model. When you get a model who walks and moves like Winnie the Pooh (in the cutest way), sometimes having movement is not the best method! See more photos in this post.

The second photo shoot was in Jesmond Dene, an inner city park which looks like proper countryside with woods, a river and ruins. I did a photo shoot with the exact same model in the same location and I was really unhappy with the result a few years ago – partly because it rained but I know that was not the main reason – I was a really bad photographer! I was really glad when the model agreed to come out again this time and didn’t give up on me because of the previous experience. And I think I have improved :)

The third photo shoot was a bit different. It’s not a personal portrait project but a food photography session! A couple who run a food stall on Quayside Market and many other markets up and down the country selling dumplings are redesigning their menu and publicity. In the end, I couldn’t help but take a few portraits for the husband and wife team as well – just in case they need one for their website in the future!

My Instagram has been private since the beginning and I never confirmed any “follower requests” if I don’t know them. But I’m going to gradually change it to a public account and showcase my photos there. I started taking photos of my colleagues on my iPhone and putting them on my Instagram (find me @nicolerongfu). It’s a good way to experiment and practise – I’m enjoying it! What I enjoy most I guess is people’s immediate reaction when I show them the photo straight after the shoot, almost universally they said, “not bad!” That says a lot – not so much of my skill, but how infrequently they got a decent photo even though everybody has a camera on them nowadays.


I finished another two novels by Morimi Tomihiko. I’m really impressed with Morimi Tomihiko. His novels are very consistent in quality. The first one is called The Techniques of Writing Love Letters (my translation). One of the imaginative and clever things is that the main character writes letters to the author himself. I also love the way the author uses language. This is how he describes himself through the mouth of the main character: ‘Why are you so popular now? I don’t understand. When you were in Uni, you were as ordinary and ignored as the bikes which lie around the campus in a mess’… The second one is called Yoiyama Kaleidoscope (my translation). It’s equally good. Just like the title of the book, it’s a kaleidoscopic scene of one of the summer carnivals in Kyoto.

The bedtime reading this month was The Old Ways I got from Forum bookshop in Corbridge. I rediscovered this independent bookshop at the beginning of September. It was a small room full of carefully selected books and a cheerful staff at the till. I’m sure it cost a little more to buy The Old Ways in Forum than on the internet. But I loved the fragrance of the place, the relaxed atmosphere and the friendly chat with the staff. They are moving into a new and bigger venue soon with more events planned. Please make Corbridge the Hay on Wye of the North!

Mis of Mis

I needed to go in town on the morning of the Great North Run, the extremely popular annual half-marathon event in Newcastle. I got off the metro at Haymarket. I was pretty sure this was the first time in nine years that I saw armed police in Newcastle.

I had a secret meeting with my fabric supplier. I happened to witness an impressive avalanche of satin and velvet in her store. What a wonderful place! Also, new dresses are on the way!

I had some random new understanding on the topic of “talent”, “gift” and “genius” recently. I have been doing some small studies on writing and photography. There are techniques for writing engaging fiction and techniques for taking good photos. “Genius” are those who do not need to learn all these techniques to achieve excellent results, be it a novel or a photo because they have the “talent” to achieve the result naturally. A very simple example, a person can take a pleasing landscape photo using the rule of thirds without knowing this actual technique because, in his eye, that just looks good. But others have to apply this rule deliberately. It’s probably an obvious thing to say, but I only realised it recently how geniuses are different from ordinary people. I then remembered Ken Robinson’s words, ‘it’s like complimenting a dolphin for being able to swim.’

I just started a charity fundraising effort by offering my photography service to friends in Newcastle. Not sure if anyone will be interested. I’ll let you know by the end of October!





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