Saturday, December 16

misty day in penketh

I met the oldest grandgirl for lunch at The Harefield cafe up the road.
The day was misty and mysterious.
We had a table by the window and watched the alpacas in the field....lovely time....good food.

Keep warm... 

Friday, December 15

gingerbread houses and neviepie

Every year for quite a few now my daughter makes gingerbread houses as part of her business.
Natasha Collins..Neviepiecakes...designer.
I can't bear to eat these amazing pieces of art and so they sit atop my glass cupboard for me to see and love.
Yes they are gingerbread...but the amount of work and art involved makes them so much more than something to eat.
You might be able to see this year's model in Fortnum and Mason in London.....if you are quick!

This Dutch inspired one is my favourite at the moment.

Monday, December 11

A Poem for Thursday...Driving to Donegal

Driving to Donegal

River Bann in flood  cattle on the bank
cloud and blue patches in an Ulster sky
red barn roofs curved and corrugated
Enniskillen          Omagh              Derry
on the green road sign.   Driving west.
Telegraph wires strung out on drumlins
measuring the miles and the messages
ancient gaelic town lands   anglish form
politics noted in the colour of a flag
politics  black    green     blue     red
and white  with a bloody hand
woven together like fine Sunday linen.
Fecundity found in every hedge and tree
mother Ireland at her most fertile her
green hills swelling as ample breasts
each rowan     ash     willow and oak
hazelnuts beechnuts and acorns with
meadowsweet  knapweed  fireweed and
net fences twined about with red rosebuds
over   under   around the edges of gardens.

Geraldine Snape

Tuesday, December 5

A Poem for Thursday...The Fall

The Fall

Watched rusty leaves turn brown
bend over in the autumn winds
hang on a little longer then fall
and lie in all their glorious
shades now safe from any
sudden squall that might
blow unexpectedly and hit
the birch trees. Old trees 
in the grove. Too tall for
this small garden.

Watched chestnut and oak trees
 against the end wall where 
conkers fall and squirrels
scurry to hide them all in
shallow holes for springtime feasts.
And acorns where striped wasps 
once flirted, laid eggs and changed
the cupped balls to magic creatures
we foolishly name galls. 

All this
from a saggy chair, through blue
painted doors, an autumn shawl flung
lightly round old shoulders. Recalling
the shout of children in the field
once young, now tall with lives
uninterrupted by the thwack of ball 
on bat or cry of yield.

Ahead of the's only Tuesday.

Sunday, December 3

Lost.....and found.

I have a green cardboard folder full of my writing from the Thursday morning group at The Gateway in Warrington.
Until Friday evening when I suddenly realised I had no idea where it was just my Thursday folder...albeit packed full of years of flash fiction, short stories and quick poetry.
Then yesterday it dawned on me that I must have left it on the bus I took to get home from town.
The potter's mobile wasn't picking up so no lift.......then get on a bus.
But my pensioner's card is out of date..I know I should get it renewed and I only had a £10 note...embarrassing.
I felt ashamed...but thought that the driver could probably see that I was no spring chicken...definitely over 60!
After Cafe at The Oaks Community today we went to the bus station fearing for the worst.....but lo and the angels said...there was the precious folder still in it's linen shopping bag.

I just hadn't realised how precious those written words were to me.

It was my prompt on Thursday and I took a handful of old snaps to inspire everyone to write a five minute "flash fiction" with each one.
Fun all the way.
Here is my very..Flash...fiction of a poem....

She loved them all
But which to choose?
They lingered near
She made no fuss.
He threw his arm 
around her shoulder
She liked him
As he was a wee bit older.
But Stan on the end

Had money and house
And Bert was strong
Tho' feart as a mouse.
She turned them down
And lived alone
With ten feral cats
And a dog with a bone.

The best I could do in five minutes.

Sunday, November 26

Ruskin's Library ... Brantwood..


This  for me is the most interesting room in Ruskin's home at Brantwood on the banks of the Coniston Water.
We were given the prompt by Geraldine Green to write about several of the curiousities in the cabinets.
I like a cabinet or shelf of curiousities...I have quite a few...the family would say.

Ruskin's Library

The moths are dead and lie under a protective glass dome
no danger to the carpets now         a wasps nest is empty
and the buzzing occupants have fled       to a foreign field
though the hover fly hovers no more              in my mind
I still hear his song of summer       by the specimen chest
it's closed drawers                         and locked cupboards
invite  illicit exploration                or maybe the bookcase
dusted and locked securely                  against the moths
will  reveal the truth              truth about the Turner copy
did the grand man know the artist            was he thrilled
to be chosen to reside in Ruskin's library               where
the Madonna still comforts her holy crying child
now fixed in stone         colour glazed       Liverpool style
over the fireplace            at a window seat there is space
enough     to hide       behind a long green velvet curtain
instructions tell me                I must not touch or horror
of horrors play                with the Armillary sphere     or
woe betide me     if            I  use the ornate writing tray
with its inks to pen my  inktober poems           better far
to find my own curled leaf   out      in the gardens where
freedom  reigns                        and rain brings freedom.

A Shelf of Curiousities with the potter's ceramic clown at the front.

A Box of Vanitas....Broken Bird's Eggs found in the field

Venus of the Bay...vanitas

Have fun this week everyone. x

Wednesday, November 22

Muckross On The Edge


A very special place for my sister..the artist Rosie McClelland and therefore for me.
This is my attempt to put those emotions into poetry.

Travelling tracks
on the high edge of Europe
to Kilcar and  Muckross
uber ancient rocks
jutting hard on navy waves
endless ocean.

The edge where
swooping  valleys leave
masculine sliabhs to
drop away to Amerikay
green rock pools
burnt orange lichen.

wind blown clumps of sea thyme
in stoney crevices

Broad limestone pavements
worn flat by tide and time
to white-flecked endless forces
by long-winged gulls.

hanging rocks
face ocean
have stories to tell
futures  to sell
to the mountain people.
Hard lives
on elemental edges
sedges and turf
not enough to keep them
by Port or Tellin.

There strangers in long boats came
stealing wives and children
took their lives
took them for service.

Of many kinds.

[@rosiemcclellandart ....sliabh pronounced...slieve]

Sunday, November 19

November Bonfire

Nothing makes the potter happier 
than a quiet Sunday afternoon 
sitting watching the old branches and the autumn leaves burn 
as the smoke flies up wards in the still air.

Saturday, November 18

Cabinetmaker's Tower Warrington

 This iconic tower in the skyline of Warrington town centre...cannot be saved...they say.

How could a town allow that to happen.

 This was once a Cabinet makers factory. 
As Ben our son studied as a cabinet has always been of interest to me.
 This building is part of the to be demolished..along with so much of the architectural history of ancient Warrington.
Those guardian angels on the golden gates in front of the Town Hall...must be weeping angels...just like the ones in Dr. Who. 

Tuesday, November 14


Donaghadee and the daisies that I picked as a child at Ballyferris to bring back to the caravan for mum.

You're still my favourite.

Monday, November 13

Snape Lane

 When I told my mother I was getting married to the man who is now my husband....she tutted and commented that it was a real shame to lose my surname for the name...Snape.

She said it had no poetic ring to it.

I kept my Ulster name for a while and double barrelled with Snape.
Geraldine McClelland- Snape
What a mouthful. 
I soon got rid of that.

Then I found out that a snape is an old english word having two meanings.


also sneap"to be hard upon, rebuke, revile, snub," early 14c., from OldNorse sneypa "to outrage, dishonor, disgrace," probably related to similar-sounding words meaning "cut" (cf. snip (v.)). Verbal meaning "bevel theend (of a timber) to fit an inclined surface" is of uncertain origin orconnection. Snaiping "rebuking, reproaching, reviling" is attested fromearly 14c.

Surname meaning for "Snape"

English and Scottish: habitational name from any of various places in England and southern Scotland, for example in North Yorkshire near Bedale, in the Lowlands near Biggar, and in Suffolk, so named with Old English snæp ‘area of boggy land’. In Sussex the dialect term snape is still used of boggy, uncultivable land.
More than that I started going to Suffolk and regularly visited the village of Snape and The Maltings...where Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears set up the Snape Maltings Music Festival.
Wow....that made Snape even more attractive.
It didn't end there... oh no.
Next thing I discovered was that the last queen of Henry VIII...Catherine Parr.. lived and married second time to John Neville 3rd baron Snape Castle in Yorkshire....well they say that's God's own county I hear.
I'm only an Irish woman so I'm believing what I'm told you understand.
Now...the potter and I have a little retreat up on the bay...that's Morecambe Bay...The Bay.
We started exploring the limestone bulge that surrounds so much of that lovely part of England.
And one day I shout at the potter.."Look...Snape Lane ...lets go up there."

I've started taking pics of this magic little secret lane regularly as the seasons change.
We went on Sunday and these are the up to date snaps of it.
No white lines here.
Very little traffic...and how I love the way the fields have been given appropriate titles. 

  ...that's me and my shadow...Gerry Snape

...we stop at the first bend in the road to see the view over the countryside...

...the hedges have been given their autumn coiffure...ancient hedges protecting even older stone walls...I think of Robert Frost's wonderful poem about dividing and protecting neighbours...


...this was our discovery on Sunday...the naming of dad often talked about the names of the fields at his home farm in meant so much to him and he would recite them to us in our city lives...

...this one is "The Pond Field"...where sheep graze on the gentle hill that dips down into it...
...and Snape Top the top...

..up into the top of the lane and the road is bounded by high stone walls covered in ancient roots of 
ivy....I go to see what they have twisted around this year and gather the dead branches from the fallen leaves underneath...

...looking west to the top of the hill under the yellowing canopy of late autumn trees....

...looking east back to where we have come...

...light and shade and a view through to old established trees...

...and sunlight filters through to light the ivy casting many blue shadows on the stones...

I can't write any poetry yet about this lane.
It's almost too much to think that way yet.
And I'm not giving you directions to get to's secret.
Maybe one day.

Friday, November 10

The Last of the Roses

It's cold today and the north wind is making it feel even colder.
The potter has lit the fire in the front room with the ash logs he bought from  our young neighbour.. They burn slowly and burn with a steady heat and there are no sparks flying from them.
I'm always glad of that.
I'm wrapped up in my Donegal mohair rug to write this at the P.C.
I find it very hard to steel myself each year as I help my sister (@rosiemcclellandart) with her Donegal workshop in the summer. That's because I would buy a handwoven rug every year if I could ...they are so delicious.  Can I really call a mohair rug ...delicious?...I just have.
This post is really about the cold wind today...I've been sidetracked...

We have two standard rose bushes in the small front gardens. One either side of the door.
They've been there for thirty years or more and always surprise me with the abundance of pretty little pink roses.
I suppose I bought them in memory of my dad. I loved his garden and especially loved the roses he planted there.
But today the wind threatens to finish them off by blowing the last few petals from the trees.
So a little pic to remember... when the dark days really arrive this winter.
For one thing is certain.
Winter is coming.

Thursday, November 9

a Poem for Thursday

The prompt today was from the delectable you remember when she didn't turn up at the Writers Thursday Morning and so we wrote as the prompt...
"Eileen is missing".
She was there this morning...and gave us a very apt one for the time of year.
"Things that go bump in the night".
Some scary ghoulish stories emerged.....some great poetry..and another chapter in the latest detective story by Liz Hedgecock.
Just back from the academic and intellectual air of the Poetry Festival Aldeburgh....
What did I write...I wrote a bit of doggerel.....

Thing that go Bump in the Night
Shut the door turn out the light
Snuggle down   say night night
Head on the pillow eyes shut tight
End of another day.

Sleep doesn't come      brain's in gear
Too many thoughts in your head I fear
Mindlessness needed    a glass of beer?
Legs numb where you lie.

Lie on your left   lie on your right
Lie on your back     see if it might
Help you to drift off into the night
Dream a bit on the way.

Kick off the bedclothes  far too warm
Stretch your neck   stretch your arm
Count to eight       could eat a barm!
Maybe you ought to pray

Him beside you roars like a bull
Give him a shove     merciful lull
Silence again      brain again full
Feel like you're going to cry.

All of a sudden        a noise on the stairs
Wide awake now        wonder who dares
Challenge the noise maker both of you glare
Hoping it just goes away.

Tiptoeing over     turning the knob
Opening the door   viewing the job
Sigh with relief     it's only the dog
with his new slimey toy on the stair.

Back into bed                shivery cold
Cuddle the pillow       hottie now cold
Sheets in a tangle  blankets now cold
May as well brew up some Char.

Wednesday, November 8

Inspiration...Time and Tide.

There's so much "stuff" out there...apart from in here 
...that's at The Potters House....I mean.
Then every now and again you see something and some art touches a very deep spot in your soul.
That's how we felt seeing the work of Roger Hardy in The East Coast Cafe in Aldeburgh.
An Exhibition called ...Time and Tide


From the reedy banks of the Alde river he collects driftwood and over time turns it into stunning assemblages.
I have always been an edge walker...that's the edge of the tide.
Whether Ballyferris in Northern Ireland...our favourite beach in Spain or nowadays Morecambe Bay.
And if you are such a walker you can't help but love how the sea takes what it can..changes it and throws it back up on the banks and beaches when it 's finished with it.

This is worth a look online for any assemblage lover of art and walker on the edge.

Monday, November 6

November 6th Snape Maltings on the river Alde.

It's no wonder that Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten choose Snape to set up their music festival in the old malting buildings.
It's a magic place and I love that we have to go regularly to take the potter's ceramics to the gallery. 
I've taken pics every year for...oh it seems for ever.
and these are a combination of several years of photography. I've picked out my favourite ones.
The ones that take me back there when I look through the photo files.

Sunday, November 5

The Lookout Aldeburgh

It's always a highlight seeing the art and installation at The Lookout on the beach in Aldeburgh.
 You can see the spiral stairs leading up to the tower room at the top on the post 2nd November... where each year Caroline Wiseman puts on another work combining artist and poet.
This year the art is by Issam Kourbaj. The poetry by Ruth Padel.
The combined work is called ...
Dark Water, Burning World, 80 Moons and Counting.
To mark the sixth anniversary of the uprising in Syria, poet, classicist and Hellenophile Ruth Padel, joins artist Issam Kourbaj, to present an intervention that explores the millennia-long relations between the Near East and ancient Greece. At this event, Kourbaj will launch Dark Water, Burning World - a new artwork inspired by 5th century BC Syrian vessels on display in Gallery 21; and Padel will read a new poem Lesbos 2015 - influenced by her meetings on the island of Lesbos, both with the inhabitants and with some of the thousands of Syrians who have fled there.
So you reach the top and look in and are confronted by the boats full of burnt out matches and the clear Irish voice of Ruth Padel reading her poems influenced by her visits to Lesbos and the influx of so many broken lives.

The boats cover the floor of the upper room and fill the old wooden window frames. 

While we were there we noticed a family on the beach playing as families do...with dogs and children running and laughing...
...and in the icy cold waters of the North Sea a lone swimmer can just be made out fighting the waves.
Two worlds.

The Work can be viewed at The Fitzwilliam Gallery and The V and A as well.

Friday, November 3

Poetry workshop...Peter Pears Gallery

I was lucky enough to have the chance to join a poetry workshop today.
Polly Binns an artist and Pamela Johnson a poet who have been collaborating in a exhibition at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival.
We worked in twos and went out on the shingle beach to be inspired in word and image.
I was blessed to work with Judith Cair...a very sensitive poet.
I was the artist ...and as it's quite a while since I made marks...nervous.
So the result was more than I could have hoped.

Thursday, November 2

The Victoria

We make an early start from The Potters House Penketh when we go off to Suffolk.
We make the trip twice a year....taking ceramics to some galleries.
Why early? make sure we get to The Victoria Free House in Earl  Soham.
Just one of those things to do each time.
Unchanged inside at least ever since we have been there for our lunch.
Then on the Aldeburgh.
This is the potter relaxing by The Lookout on the beach.

Wednesday, November 1


How did we get here so quickly this year?
All saints' day already.
Trickers and treaters came and went.
I had a bowl of sweets ready at the would have been sad if no children had come.
The gorgeous second grandgirl came in all her wonderful makeup...I can always depend on her for a treat not trick.

Then two little neighbours arrived and more treats distributed.
It helps that I put a pumpkin outside the door...and a candle burning in the window   to light us through the "thin time".

It's a time to remember relatives.
This beautiful embroidery design was drawn by Aunt Jeanie Williamson.
I had been sorting out "stuff" after the potter had finished decorating the bedroom.

I'm a collector.
There I've said it and it's in print.
but collectors are needed to keep a hold of history.
This is family history.
I never knew her. She died before I was born. She died of pleurisy at a time when it was a killer . No antibiotics
She was attending Belfast College of Art in the late 20s. At a time when women's art was very concerned with decor...the Bloomsberrys,...Sonia Delauney etc.

I'm in two minds as to whether or not I join the NaNoBloMo this year.
I've come back recently to blogger as I get a bit tired of the banality of FB and even Twitter. 
Still using Instagram as I find it a good way to put up some pics and poems for a quick look.
We are off to Suffolk for a few days. It's the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and the potter has ceramics to take.
I'll see if I can find a moment for a little