Hello, and thank you for visiting my site. I hope that you'll return often and always find something of interest about my world and what inspires me to pick up a pen. (This is a figure of speech, unfortunately. My handwriting is terrible!) Here's what I've been up to recently...

The joys of social distancing

Well, who’d have thought it a few weeks ago? Everything in the diary cancelled. The world brought to its knees by something so small that it can only be seen through a microscope, panic buying of food and toilet rolls (!) and new laws that would give George Orwell plenty to write about. Big Brother is back with a vengeance with police drones flying over the Peak District to film people walking their dogs and responsible citizens encouraged to report groups out socialising. Taking the daily permitted exercise or going shopping involve leaving a six foot/two metre gap between individuals, rather as though someone is using the wrong (or no) soap. This may be true, at the moment, because soap also fell victim to the initial panic buying, as did paracetomol. Headaches predicted all round, I suppose.

On the bright side, the availability of phone calls, emails and texts would make us the envy of former generations. Disappointed not to be able to see my first born in the flesh on Mother’s Day, I FaceTimed him instead. The rest of us are all at home together for the duration and have fallen into some kind of routine. Too much television, of course – those old films are very tempting – and spinning out our food stocks in order to minimise shopping trips. A brisk walk each afternoon is also part of the programme.

Writing has taken a back seat, although I shall get back to it. That’s a must, because both Ripon Writers’ Group and York Writers are striving to keep things going on line. My greatest accomplishment to date has been the hand sewing of a new zip into one of my summer skirts. No big deal for many, of course, but I’ve never been a keen or accomplished needlewoman and would normally either have given up on the skirt altogether or got someone else to do it for me. Housework has notched up a gear with all this extra time on my hands. Sorting out kitchen cupboards can be quite satisfying, although some of the items lurking at the back wouldn’t bear close examination. 

I can’t finish this post without paying tribute to all those who are doing far more than I can to keep the country going during this difficult time. The NHS is top of the list, of course, now aided by an army of volunteers, but so many more people are ‘doing their bit’, to use a wartime expression. Well, it does feel like a war and there’s no telling how many casualties will have mounted up by the time it’s over. 

 

 

1 April, 2020 Make the first comment on this story

News flash – 900 meetings and counting!

Very happy to celebrate the 900th meeting of Ripon Writers’ Group with some of my fellow members. For more on this, please follow the link to our website.

11 March, 2020 Make the first comment on this story

A very welcome newcomer to the newsagents’ shelves

With so many publications jettisoning fiction in favour of celebrity claptrap – well, that’s my opinion, anyway – this new title is like a breath of fresh air. As well as offering a new market for short stories, it’s open to all, unlike some magazines that won’t consider submissions from new writers.

So, I’m very pleased to have a story in the very first issue. Categorised by the editor as ‘spooky’, its illustration is very appropriate.

 

20 February, 2020 Make the first comment on this story

A little January cheer

After Christmas and New Year festivities, January can seem rather flat, which is why Ripon Writers’ Group decided to have a convivial lunch at the Royal Oak on Kirkgate. No speeches, but good food, efficient service and lively conversation were enjoyed by all the members and guests who attended.  

On a personal note, I’m very grateful to the young member of staff who deftly switched my camera to panoramic mode and managed to get us all into one photo. (I’d been contemplating separate shots for each of the two tables and then somehow managing to merge them.)

28 January, 2020 Make the first comment on this story

Christmas Jingles in Northallerton

PYA (Promoting Yorkshire Authors) put on a show to thank the library staff for their support during the year. In a tea shop setting, with copious free refreshments for all, craft and games activities for children, a raffle, book sale and Santa’s sack, we read out poetry, prose and even burst into song occasionally.

Seen from left to right are Bryan Pentelow, Helen Johnson, John Jackson and Kate Swann. Bryan and Kate read some of their poems, Helen gave an illustrated talk on Yorkshire customs at Christmas and John, who really looked the part, read extracts from A Christmas Carol.

Also from left to right, I read a story about a family’s first Christmas in Australia from my Had We But World Enough Collection, the indefatigable Neelie Wicks – who set up the whole thing and provided just about everything that was required – took charge of Christmas hat and card making with the children, Paul Smith narrated the tea shop scenario and Vasiliki Scurfield read a very moving tale about a young girl’s compassion for a German prisoner of war at Christmas.

NB I may have made a new fan during the morning, because the book I read from had disappeared by the time we bade the audience farewell. Happy reading, whoever you are!

22 December, 2019 Make the first comment on this story

A sad farewell to RAP

The Ripon Activity Project (RAP), for which I’ve volunteered for over 20 years, held its final meeting this month. Set up as a social group for adults with learning and/or physical disabilities in the days when little else was available for them, its membership has dwindled over the last couple of years and that – combined with the difficulty of finding new volunteers to run the activities – has sealed its fate.

However, RAP’s remaining assets will be distributed amongst several other local organisations with similar aims, so it isn’t all doom and gloom. Ripon is a small city and we shall certainly all keep in touch.

22 December, 2019 Make the first comment on this story

A festive meal for York Writers

 

The venue chosen was Del Rio’s, right next door to Micklegate Bar, which seemed to suit everyone. I particularly enjoyed its extensive range of vegetarian dishes. (Pubs are all very well, but I sometimes find myself faced with Hobson’s choice for a starter or a main course. Give me an Italian, Chinese, Indian, Thai… any time!)

If you look hard, you can just about make me out at the far end of the table on the left, behind John, Louise, Pam G, Candy and Jane. On the other side of the table, from front to back, are Mark, Glyn, Dorothy, Ann, Pam H and Clive.

Members unable to join us missed a good evening. Better luck next time!

5 December, 2019 Make the first comment on this story

Back to Bedale!

We spent a couple of happy years in Bedale after our move to North Yorkshire and next week I’ll be back. It will be interesting to see if there are any familiar faces in the audience and, less likely, perhaps, if they remember me from our boys’ playgroup and nursery school days.

 

 

 

The event takes place in the splendid surroundings of Bedale Hall, part of which functions as a community run library. 

22 November, 2019 Make the first comment on this story

Poster Girl at Harrogate Library!

       

Glad to say that my presentation went very well and the audience had lots of questions.

Easy Money For Writers & Wannabes is still my best seller and for a very good reason. Readers have already earned substantial amounts by following my advice!

14 November, 2019 Make the first comment on this story

Following in the footsteps of Gentleman Jack!

Sally Wainwright’s television series about Anne Lister, ‘the first modern lesbian’, and her partner Ann Walker captivated me to such an extent that I decided to have a day out in Halifax.

The first port of call was Bankfield Museum, interesting enough in its own right but particularly so at the moment because of its exhibition of costumes from the show.

Enormous attention to detail had resulted in a stunning collection of early to mid 19th century outfits. The masculine garb worn by Suranne Jones as Anne Lister could scarcely be more strikingly different from that of the other ladies.

From there, it was a very short drive to Shibden Hall. The image above is copied from my entrance ticket, valid for a year.

It was a steep walk down from the upper car park.

The queues that had built up over the summer had subsided and only a few other visitors were wandering around. This may have had something to do with the rain, but it didn’t stop me getting a real feel for the place.

Every aspect of the old building where Anne wrote many of the millions of words preserved in her diary, painstakingly transcribed and translated over decades by Helena Whitbread, spoke of her devotion to Shibden and determination to transform it into the stately home of her dreams. She poured a fortune (much of it Ann Walker’s) into the hall and grounds. One can only speculate about what else would have been done if Anne’s life had not been cut short by illness whilst the two women were on their travels.

According to the TV series, her sister Marian, like the rest of the family, was completely baffled by Anne.

Her aunt, also called Anne and seen here in the portrait on the right, must certainly have wondered about her.

Not the actual bed shared by Anne and her female lovers but very like it, I should think.

The theme song written and recorded by Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow has infected me like an ‘ear worm’. If you aren’t familiar with it yet, I strongly suggest looking it up! This is just one of many links…

4 October, 2019 Make the first comment on this story

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