Friday, December 4

Blogging, followers and friends!!


I've been posting blogs since March 2010...I can hardly believe that!
 But in all that time I've not personally met a single blogger friend. Well all that has changed! 
The timing was exact...the place was right ...the conversation started...and lo and behold...someone who actually had read my posts...finding them on the sidebar list of the wonderful Pen Wilcox. Stunned ..we both were.
I was standing by the Pithoi pots at The Beetham Garden Centre near Milnthorpe in Lancashire when as I was ringing the rims to make sure that the pot was whole..as.any little crack or flaw will not give a bell-like sound. (This I know from the potter himself!...he had rung one or two before going off to buy a pot for our Christmas present to one another.)


It's big!...some in the Tuesday evening ceramic group that he teaches wondered why he didn't make it himself...well...it's bigger than the kiln for a start! And pithoi from Crete are famous for their shapes and traditional decoration.
So now I'm a follower on "woolywanderer" on Instagram...I'm G Snape there.."Documenting the Mundane" by the way. And also a follower on multicolouredmadness.blogspot.com .

We hugged with laughter and tears and hugged again...two grown women who had never met but had so much in common! 
Well that's blogging for you. You wait five years and along comes a follower and then a friend. We shall plan to meet up again I'm sure of that as we both have homes around that glorious Bay I talk about so much.


Thankyou Blogspot...thankyou daughter amelieshouse.blogspot.co.uk for getting me started...thankyou senior grandgirl troase.blogspot.co.uk for encouraging and quietly showing me techie things!!

Monday, November 16

A Poem for Thursday..."Just Desserts"


The prompt on Thursday morning was...."Desserts"...but with out fail everyone of us thought of "Just desserts". So the stories were rich with comeuppances!!
I decided to go for lists. We had been encouraged at the last workshop at Aldeburgh to think along this line...so this is what arrived.



...it applies to whatever you do....

Tuesday, November 10






We made our now annual expedition to The Aldeburgh Poetry Festival this weekend just gone. It's held mainly in the village of Snape at The Snape Maltings...very apt for the potter and wife!
Our association with this part of Suffolk goes back to the years of the teenage children. But the festival..only the last three years. The potter has some ceramics in the Gallery there and also in The Buckenham Gallery in Southwold ...so there's a double reason to take the six hour trip from here in the north west to East Anglia. And a further reason as the oldest grandgirl is now at UEA  in her second year and getting more political by the moment!!
But the festival was just great this year. I love the different approaches. The "academic"...the "comedic"...the "ex-punk"...the "rock-star"...the "rap poet"....and the madness of the open-mike late night session!!
Each year I've made the effort to get to as many sessions as I have energy....and these poets are a sample of those I heard speak this time.
Attila The Stockbroker, Gerry Loose, Kei Miller, Helen Mort, Jeremy Reed, Valerie Rouzeau, Pedro Serrano, Susan Wicks, Jane Duran, Peter Sansom and Jeni Smith.
From the workshops to the Q&A sessions the talks and the readings, it's a feast of words and emotions.
  Now I will have to have a go at putting it all into practice....
I plucked up enough courage to have a go at the open mike session in The Plough and Sail at Snape on the Saturday evening.....this was my contribution!




...hands shaking by the time I had finished!!...

Sunday, September 27

Room 101

Thursday...and it's writer's workshop and the prompt is...
Room 101
We're to choose three things/ people/ situations we would like banned forever and thrown into that fearful room that Orwell wrote so graphically about!

Oh dear! What to put in? I'm thinking that there is so much to be dumped at the moment, that I'm not sure where to start.
Well let's see.I could start with the Syrian situation.That doesn't mean that I want to dump any people in that room.No no never. But the situation that has initiated the whole shebang. I read this week that the real reason has nothing whatsoever to do with bombs and fighting. No no. The real reason apparantly is ...the escalation of global warming. Yes.  Syria's fields have dried up. Parched. Dry. no rain falls.
We should have been thinking about that some decades ago. People need food. People need water.  Even the Pope himself got in on the act this week in Washington. I heard him say it this morning on the early news in his wonderful hesitant English. Too late though for the Syrians or others in that desperate situation as well.The only thing to do is put the war and all the trouble into room 101.

And talking about global warming and how to counteract the consequences, I heard the head of Greenpeace say...also on the early news..he's all for technologies.Well good. We need all the help we can get. Need to go forward with up-to-date technology. So..that means solar energy. They say that the north African deserts alone, fitted up with solar energy farms could produce enough energy to light up the whole world.
But wind farms? Oh dear I feel I could get into trouble here. I would put most of them into that scary room.We were travelling last week through the hills and valleys of our lovely northern countryside, when... bang... wallop.. on the top of a magnificent mountain...a row of white giants! And do you know I've heard that if the wind is too strong or if the wind is non existant...well they don't even work!

Think I'd better move swiftly on!...as I know this is a very emotive subject...not that it could be any more emotive than a drought in Syria and the people in power deciding who gets the water and who doesn't.
Anyway I'm think now about the third lot to go in the room. I'm sure that we all want litter louts and those owners who leave their doggy parcels halfway across the pavement, put into the room...
But I want to put in all of those drivers who think that their cars will be safer if they park them up on the pavement. Especially in narrow suburban streets. No room left for babes in prams. So on to the busy road they must be pushed. Must take a chance and dice with death as the drivers whizz past them, inches away from the pram wheels. Not that my grand daughter does that. No no!. She doesn't go out on to the road in her motorised wheelchair. Her policy is if there's not enough room between the wall or hedge and the passenger door of the parked car......just to plough on...!! Oh I hear you say, what if she scrapes the side of the car? Well the answer to that is...it gets scraped! The family worked that policy out over 19 years of frustration.

I think we could say...so did the Syrian people. Frustration boils over in drastic situations and the consequences are not always pretty. We've seen that on our screens recently. It takes years to end up in certain scenarios and years more to come to terms with new situations...if ever.

Monday, September 21

Thursday morning prompt...."Sink or Swim"

Thursday morning is writing workshop morning. Twelve chairs in a ring around the room and each week a prompt given to write something in the two hours available.
It can be prose, poetry, fact , fiction, play or any other style preferred. But the writing is serious. Not a time for levity! Twenty minutes before the end it's pens down...finished or not...and then a reading from each one there.
This prompt came the week of the awful Chinese plane crash...when already news of the trouble in Ukraine had preempted the war in Syria. Already this week news has taken another turn with the pictures of the many fleeing from Syria....but on this week....the media was more interested in the plane disaster....how we forget...

Sink or Swim

Terry Wogan used to say, "Gone and never called me mother".
I was thinking about that yesterday when the news broke about the plane disaster.
We Irish like to take the dark, and lighten it with tongue in cheek
Black humour we call that!
It's like adding butter and cream to spuds and scallions
Helps the disasters of life to be more acceptable.
Not that the Chinese feel that way at this moment
Not much swimming to the far shore there
A bit too far I'd say, a lot of crying and tearing of hair
And the media having a  heyday and taking our minds off other politics.
We Irish do most of our crying in private and
We're more likely to pop down to the pub sometime
Around ten o'clock in the evening, just in time
For the diddly da music to get going. Sink a few
And set the world to rights, we'll probably agreeThat it's going to hell in a bucket.
I've been doing a wee bit of thinking about Ukraine
As well. That situation has been pushed out
Of the limelight somewhat.
We once had a couple of children stay with us
For a fortnight, to build up their vitamins
After the Chernobyl affair.
They tried to eat bananas with the skin on.
But after all that they had been through
What did they want? Most of all...American bubble gum.
We picked the dried up lumps off the bottom
Of the chairs for months after that, yes, American bubble gum.
That certainly sums up the realities of life
Some may say the sins of the fathers and all that....
And here we are back to square one, stuck
With the Orwellian thought that once again the world
Is turning cold .
The media circus has seemed to sink Syria in the mire.
Of the political moment I see, plus ca change.


Friday, June 5

Writer's Workshop and A Poem for Thursday..."I can't write like Stephen Berg".

 ...Thursday writer's workshop is always a joy...not because of what I write ...but to hear the amazing stories and poems that emerge from each of the writers' pens over less than two hours work....
The prompt this week was the word.."Red"...ohhh...red mist...red carpet...red flowers...red blood!!!

Mine was blood and DNA....
"A Phone Call"
The phone rang and I answered it. Just a phone call, like any other phone call. A call from the sister. I say THE sister as I only had one sister. She was the little pet of the family. Seven years between us meant that I was the big sister. I was the "can you look after your sister love?" person designated to take her to whatever I was going to myself. Friend's house...shopping in town...rugby match at the sports ground down the Ravenhill....Can you imagine a seven year old standing in the crowd when it swayed left and right as the ball alternated up and down the pitch? Mum had no idea what a rugby crowd was like. So I'm yelling part time for the school team and the rest of the time for the sister to "watch out!"..."stop standing on my toes!"..."leave go of my legs!"
Anyway, back to the phone call. Well we're great friends now. Although we've gone in very different directions, we're closer than ever. And it's a bad week if we don't chat and catch up on family news, and find something to have a belly laugh about. All the years of memories good and bad, happy and sad with the three major adults in the family gone now. So we cling to our relationship and recognize the stabilizing effect it has on our everyday existance.
Everyone has things that happen to "upset the apple cart". The unexpected, round the corner things. You know..illness, separation, divorce, finance, redundancy....need I go on! So it's always good to have absolutes to keep your feet firmly on the ground of life. We find normalising situations as quickly as possible a good premise to go on. After all everything is normal when you add up your experiences and divide by the number you first thought of!
And phone calls are such a great normaliser in our modern world. Especially now that we all have our mobiles....mobile phones that is...not mobile homes! Too normal I think when I see the young gazing into screens or business people in cafes or on trains instructing and pontificating in loud important voices...bah!
The sun was shining in through the french windows as the phone rang. I pulled the curtain across to stop me squinting in the bright sunlight. Apart from that I often pulled it across just to see the cicadas in the pattern of the cloth. I bought it at a flea market in Provence many years ago. I find it good to have happy memories around..oh and also good if the phone call should get a bit boring or one-sided. 
But that's not normally the way with the sister can I say...too much to gossip about. Family goings-on to relate. We trip over ourselves wordily getting so much into the call.Outdoing each other in funny anecdotes and dissing those others whose antics make us shake our heads. It's the same in every family. There are those you are glad are members and then there are others who although not on your wavelength actually make for an interesting conversation..you know what I mean...sometimes we call it a rant...it eases the tensions of life!
"Hi!" I said. "How's things?". There was silence. "Are you still there?". "Yes". The sister sighed. "Something up?"...I anticipated a bit of a rant. Nothing. "Speak to me...."
 She spoke."It's true....we have another sister!". 

Then this afternoon I read Antony Wilson's wonderful poetry blog..."Lifesaving Poems"..blogs like this...so full of information and poets that I've yet to explore, have been a veritable godsend in the blogger world...and so I said...I can't write like Stephen Berg...and then promptly wrote ...like Geraldine Snape!!!


I can't write like Stephen Berg
But Margaret says,"I like your asides."
Those are the funny bits I put in the writing
At the Thursday workshop.
I think women are good at asides
It takes the sting out of the parts of life
We want to normalise.
Normalise...what's that all about?
I learnt that from Doreen years ago
She needed it.
And the"professionals" said
"That how you'll cope with everything."
They were dead right there.
We took it on as a mantra.
You know those words the Buddists talk about?
But we didn't think George Harrison's
Hari, Hari, suited our situation.
So we took on,"normalise",
That's all we needed to say to one another.
George put the shelves up in the off license
When he was just seventeen we heard.
That's an aside, things were getting too serious,
So I put that in.
But I like the story anyway.
The potter took them down as soon as we bought the shop.

Tuesday, June 2

The opening of the poppies...

I wait each year for the oriental poppies to appear....
and then for the blooms to unfurl...like a flamenco dancer swirling her silk skirt.

 June 2013 ....

June 2014...

 
 June 2015...

Thursday, May 28

A Poem for Thursday..."A Time in Times"



 
 
There are times in all of our lives when we have to stop on the road we are travelling...look around at the circumstances...and review the situation.
 
It can be a change of direction is needed...and a change of priorities
 
This was our experience...it made us the people we are today.
 
A Time in Times.

We disappeared into a nether world.
Became invisible and without form.
People who had known us passed by unblinking
Those who sensed our presence were few and far between.
All that we had been had disappeared with the mists of time.
Persona non gratis is what we became.
Even Harry Potter could not have gone as completely as we did.
So new rules had to be formed.
New priorities and timings worked out.
This nether world was to us an enigma.
And so we set to learn the laws in our new country.

Tuesday, May 26

...queen anne...her lace and other wild flowers...



The last week in May and the roadsides and lanes are white with the delicate florets of the wild flower called queen anne's lace.....Anthriscus sylvestris...to the afficionados of "Spring Watch"...
..or wild carrot...



Queen Anne was tatting white lace. (Tatting is the all-but-lost art of making lace by hand.) The beautiful white lace she was tatting became the white lacy flowers of the wild carrot plant. She pricked her finger and one drop of blood oozed out. This became the central dark red or purple sterile floret that is present on some, but not all, Queen Anne's Lace flowers.
Legends disagree as to which Queen Anne was tatting such lovely lace. Some say it was Anne (1574 - 1619), the first Stuart Queen Anne, who was brought over from Denmark at fourteen years of age to be a Queen to King James of Scotland. Others argue it was Anne (1665 - 1714), the daughter of William and Mary, and the last monarch in the Stuart line. Both Annes died in their forties!

...Cant help but stop every few yards and take another pic..."wait potter..I'll be with you in a minute!"....patient man!!!






































...and all on the magic lane that leads to "Jack Scout" and "Jenny Brown's Point ".










Friday, May 22

Discovering John Blakemore...photographer.



I've discovered the work of the photographer...John Blakemore...yes I know ...rather late in his life...but sooner late than never.

So I'm inspired by his work to try to push my own photography on a bit.

His work on tulips started me off as a pot in the living room was almost dead and yet still reaching out for the light....I did what "they" recommend...took loads and loads of the same thing but each one slightly different and that assessed them before editing.



 ...at the same time I had an article about Steichen and his iconic photo of Gloria Swanson around ...reading it from time to time in between other things...and so I tried the black net over the lens to capture a distance in the pics....
...fun and maybe a bit of success and a moving on in what I am trying to achieve.

A Poem for Thursday...."The Aunt"







AUNT HELEN
I once heard them call her the weak one,
The youngest, the runt of the pack.
Without grace they said, weak-boned
Hen-chested,  round backed.
Taken away from her mother perhaps
Taken away too soon?
Taken away from family
And the comforts of her home.
I loved her, I love her still,
It was never a slight for me
To get the sharpness of her tongue
Or the sting of her repartee.
Dympsy pink, eau de nil!
Mauve and duck egg blue.
Cherry trees in the late spring
From the veranda viewed.
Garlic flowers in the woods behind
And the heady perfume of bells.
I gathered up armfuls in April days
Of the blueing crooks in the dell.
Now all I have is the ground I stand on,
That and nothing more.
And fast fading memories of our walks
On the  lough's grey stoney shore.
And the smell of tweed skirt from Donegal,
 Damp in the moist-laden air.
With a whiff of the essence of violets
That told you the aunt had been there.

Saturday, May 16

straw...berries...


Always an exciting time waiting for the first plump ruby red strawberry of the new season...


Tuesday, April 28

The Greening of Penketh.

The local council has set up a programme of tree planting here in Penketh...hooray!!...

We have been doing our own greening over the 34 years since we took over the land which belonged to Greenalls the brewers.

Then it was used as an unofficial tip...dumping ground for old bikes, prams, wooden windows and shattered glass....awful.

Below is the birch stand we started to plant as each member of our family was born.

Now there are eleven...and probably no more until the grandgirls...all five...add to the numbers...one day!!!

Each April I watch the greening of the birch grove and marvel at the soft green leaves as they develop.

Tuesday, April 14

Piel Island...A Poem for Thursday



 

 I'd been wanting to go to this island for a few years. The last time we made the trip the weather was windy and the Ferryman refused to take us across...who can blame him..the currents alone are treacherous between the mainland...Barrow-in-Furness and the island. This is no ordinary place..it has it's own King and Throne and also  Piel Castle. The Abbott of Furness Abbey owned the rights to all the takings from the sea going craft coming from both Ireland and The Isle-of-Man. It's not touristy and apart from some terraced houses the pub is the only occupied building.
We spent a day just wandering the edge and listening to the skylarks which are everywhere on this little piece of land.



 















Piel Island
 
The skylarks are rising
Drawing me far away
From the nest low in the
Tufts of maran grass that
Grow out of the mussel beach.
I stop to watch their ascent
And listen as the lark
Song joins the soft keening
Of an April wind 'til
Wind takes over and
The bird is lost to my eyes.

Tuesday, March 17

A Poem for Thursday...prompted by #DeVerse today.


When I was just five years of age my mother walked with me to the bus stop and we boarded the bus down the Ormeau Road.
We got off the bus halfway down the road and walked  to a little terrace house in a street just off the main thoroughfare.
She knocked on the door which opened straight on to the pavement...and we were ushered in to a little room with other children in it and a man...I was to call .."Mr. Graeme Roberts"..Why the prefix was always there I'm not sure ...but it seemed appropriate!
So I was introduced to R.L.Stevenson...A.A. Milne ...Rose Fyleman and many, many others.
This poem is of my memories and the lifelong love that he instilled in me for the rhythm and the rhyme of life.


Monday, March 16

A Poem for Thursday...in time for St. Patrick's Day

We attended The Aldeburgh Poetry Festival again last November. I went to one of the workshops at The Red House...where Benjamin Brittan had lived.
Do you ever feel out of your depth in these situations?
We were given a sheaf of poetry chosen from other languages.
I chose one in gaelic by Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill..."Ceist na Teangan"
Now I hadn't ever learnt Irish...went to the wrong school!! but dad was an Armagh man and over my life I realised that some of those "odd" words that he and Aunt Cis used were most probably Gaelic.
Whether Irish or Scottish I cannot say....but definitely not Anglo Saxon English.
So when asked by the leader of the day to write a poem based on the sound of the words and the rhythm of the lines...I thought of dad and all the story-telling that he had done when he was alive.
...and I wrote this piece, making up a story of chieftains and betrayal in Ireland...
of which I now know from reading Irish history...there was a lot between clans!! 

I looked up the translation of the original poem and there was the story of Moses in the basket being found and reared by the Pharoah's daughter....
Maybe it was the rhythm...or maybe something much deeper made me think of this story of betrayal.

Tuesday, March 10

The Girl's Grammer School....Palmyra Square..Cultural Quarters...Warrington



Something about a door draws us ...it draws us in , it draws us through and then leads us out...
...this door is one of many stunning examples of the interior architecture of #TheGirlsGrammerSchool #Warrington ...now @theInstitute in Palmyra Square.
I was lucky enough to be able to take pics in the building before it was knocked around a bit for the recent renovations ...


































I love the featured stairwell also...the faded pink of the flooring and the iron work of the railings.....still there...thankfully.


so much history in this old town still to discover!

Wednesday, February 18

A Poem for Thursday....Beyond Silence (with many thanks to S. Heaney)

Is it the rhythm of the wheels on the motorway surface or the rapidly changing landscape that stimulates my mind so much when we take long road trips. The radio is on...sharply relaxed in the seat by the potter...watching out for fools on the road. They love roads do fools...learnt that by my father's side as he taught me to drive in my teenage years.

Beyond Silence
Something beautiful happened
On our way down the M6
England's main blood line.
A great flock of starlings
and a murmuration! While
Snow spat down on us and 
The wind struck hard as iron.
Leaving us with only
A holy heavy silence.

Friday, February 13

Do you do what I do every year...buy bulbs and then forget to plant them...or even buy the bulbs in flower in the early spring to pop in the ground and never get round to it?
Pat at The Weaver of Grass and Karen at Moonlight and Hares have the bestest pics of their snowdrops.....
My snowdrops have all but disappeared ..I go out looking for them in late winter...but only the early leaves of the bluebells appear. So I buy again...and once again don't get round to putting them in the soil.
Thankyou Pat and Karen for the pics...I must survive on these...and maybe manage this year to plant the pots!

I may get round to the tulips...I really love red tulips..here's hoping!

Friday, January 30

A Poem for Thursday..... cinquains...or not!



 Tony Maude is heading up Meeting The Bar...The Cinquain ...explained for DeVerse today.
Thankyou Tony...I'm fairly well rubbish at these ...and I know the second verse isn't quite right...but here goes!!


Travelling Home

A chevron
 of geese flies 
over the roadway
As we drive close
 by Cambridge.


The moon 
rises…blue
edged on the right side
…Large-eyed and nodding to the left.
The  Brothers still moan their eternal prayer…
”Let it be me”…


So I suppose there is an extra line in there!! Look forward to reading the poems today.