Secret Messages

I’ve been reading ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s a book about living a creative life. Something that I have neglected over the past three years or so.

I could put it down to the pressure of a more senior role, additional responsibilities at home, low mood or just slowing down (I’m at a difficult age, but aren’t we all?). The truth is I haven’t recently enjoyed good creative pastimes. It’s been too long.

Gilbert writes about just doing what you can. And what you want to do. Right now I’m not sure, so I looked for the closest things to hand and found my tile set and colouring pencils.

For now I’m going to indulge myself with some low effort and basic art. I mean really basic. I was advised not to take art in my junior school and I can’t say that my drawing skills have improved since…

But what do I do with the finished article? Pin it on the wall? Give it to a friend or family member?

Remember, I’m doing what I want. I don’t feel the need to adorn my walls with my masterpieces. I don’t want to witness the disappointment on the face of a loved one at the thought of yet another hand-made card.

I want to pass this onto a stranger. They can keep it for fun for as long as they like. They can pass it on. They can throw it in the bin. But they will see it. However briefly.

With this in mind my first tile (and possibly many more) will be left within the pages of a book in a charity shop.

I had a song playing in head at the time.

And here it is. In all it’s childish glory:

“Ambition and love wearing boxing gloves and singing hearts and flowers” Somewhere In My Heart (Aztec Camera)

For now this will do. I can return to the dressmaking, silk painting, piano playing, song writing, etc soon enough.

I’ve added my wordpress page link since taking the photos. If you find it, please let me know.



Nice is a Four Letter Word

In an early English Language class we were told that marks would be deducted from our composition exercises if we used the word nice.

Nice wasn’t singled out for this dubious honour, other innocent assemblies of letters were also in the firing line. Lovely knew that its days were numbered.

It was made clear to us. Nice wasn’t nice. Nice was bad, and so was bad. Bad and nice should be put into a plastic bag and drowned. Happy should be pleased with that. Although I suspect that he, along with other the dwarf-adjectives could be next in line, except for Bashful and Doc, and possibly Sneezy.

I’m posting today because I haven’t had the words to complete posts relating to our recent holiday in the Lincolnshire Wolds. I became tired of describing the sky. It was getting ‘samey’  (not a friend of Snow White). I don’t like that word but it fits. I’m no great wordsmith. I have wit and I use puns well, but I shall not be appearing on ‘The Verb’ any time soon. I suppose that I am writing a journal which you are welcome to read and I appreciate your input, but it is, essentially it is for me.

I am reminded of a post from a blog that I follow where Quilt Musings searches for a wider vocabulary. Oh the dangers of reaching for the Thesaurus and stepping outside of your natural style.

Anyway, for the time being, I am lost for words for days six and seven.

More later

(I hope)



We’re sat in his ground floor flat, listening to Dark Side Of The Moon.

“Words or music. Which is the greater part of a song?” he asks.

“Music. Definitely.”

“Really? So the story of the song is not important to you?”

“If I didn’t like the delivery of the words, I wouldn’t like the song. Besides the song is much more than the dialogue. Not all songs are dialogue, some convey feelings or moods. It’s the melody, chords and instrumentation that will catch my attention.”

“It’s the words that draw me to a song. Take Marillion’s ‘Warm Wet Circles’, there are so many clever meanings, it evokes so many scenes from a young man’s life.”

He quotes:

‘Like a mothers kiss on your first broken heart, a warm wet circle
Like a bullet hole in Central Park, a warm wet circle’.

“I’ll agree that’s clever, but I just can’t take to Fish’s delivery on this song, and the guitar solo is predictable….”

“But can’t you see the images?”

“I don’t give myself time to, because I don’t like the arrangement”.

I take a sip of wine. ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’ starts. A particular favourite of ours.

“What about this track?” I ask.

Ref: Writing101, Day 7 Prompt : Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else.
Today’s twist: write your post in the form of a dialogue.


The Grass Is Definitely Greener…

Today’s Prompt: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

A few years ago I wrote a song called “Take Me Away”. The lyrics reflected my weariness at being in a city where I felt deprived of the space to breathe.

I was dissatisfied with my job, tired of the bureaucracy of being a small cog in a very large corporate machine, and grimy from the constant dust thrown up by improvements to the centre of Liverpool, as it was prepared for being the City Of Culture in 2008. I was ready for a change.

One day I observed someone pushing their way past everyone so they could to get to the ticket barrier first. They were not alone, and one bad days, I joined that race. On this occasion, they almost knocked down the blind guy who I often saw on the way into Liverpool. Something in my mind said, “they show you no pity”, and soon after, the song was born.

Sad sad song coming up from the pavement,
every day just the same such frustration,
look of sheer desperation and dismay.
Sad sad face looking out from the window,
saying “where did my yesterdays go?” 
Hanging on for tomorrow, night and day.

So take me away from the sad lonely face of the city,
Take me away from the grey and the black and the blue.
I don’t want to stay in a place where they show you no pity.
So sorry babe, I got to say,
Take me away.

Lyrically, I was yearning for open countryside. Move forward two years and I made my escape. For the last few years I have been working in a rurally based company with an agricultural focus. Yes, there’s still bureaucracy – I suspect that I will always experience this in my line of work – but I am a larger cog in a smaller machine, and there is so much fresh air just outside the door.

Where I took my lunchtime walk on Wednesday

Where I took my lunchtime walk on Wednesday

Ironically, the thing I miss the most about not working in Liverpool is the train journey. Logistically I am forced to drive to and from work every day, which affords me the privacy that public transport cannot, but I am not able to read, or close my eyes and drift away, and write a song or two.


Writing 101: Mind Unlocked

“Today, take twenty minutes to free write. And don’t think about what you’ll write. Just write.”

Well, having read the instructions for the course, I’m not sure if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. I’ve taken that plunge into the deep waters, without considering the middle depths that splits this place from the comforting pull of the shallow end.

I’ll confess right now that I am editing a little as I go along. Twenty minutes of heading off into Lord knows where without looking back over your shoulder isn’t my style. I’m used to rules, order, cross checks and validation. I’m typing this into word to upload later, but to be honest, I’m happier building something in excel.

So why write?

Well, I feel limited by my profession. It’s not that it isn’t satisfying within its own bounds, but I am more than its bounds allow. So I set up a “me” space on wordpress and I wrote. A little. Mainly when on holiday. In between the time when I sit in my own space and “do my thing” and the day job, there are flashes on inspiration. Some even when I am constructing the formula in cell C1. But how to turn those flashes into something readable? Something worthy. Not worthy, I don’t really like the word. It conjures up images of long full skirts with high elasticated-waistbands. And sensible shoes. Although I am a fan of the latter. I hope to produce something that someone out there will enjoy, and maybe be inspired by.

It isn’t helped by the lack of “life experience”. I was lucky enough to have a happy up-bringing with loving parents, a good education and I made the most of that. I have a husband who loves me and we live a simple but comfortable existence.

So am I saying that art has to be created from adversity? My favourite pieces are in a minor key.

But as I sit here typing my thoughts as they appear, with a backdrop of Eno’s Ambient 1 (track 1 – a good timer), I fear that I will experience what Kazuo Ishiguro recently related in an interview publicising his latest book. In his youth he attended a writing course run by Malcolm Bradbury. The students had given up a year of their life to develop their literary muscles. Many had self-funded. They knew that they had not been able to fulfil their dream of professional writing because of constraints. Constraints placed upon them by work, or family, lack of space. How heart breaking for them to discover that, when presented with the blank canvas and the time to fill it, they had nothing to say.

What if that is me?
Eno track 1 has completed which means that I must stop in two minutes. I will re-read. I’m not so brave to publish blind, yet…


60k On The Clock

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Ephemeral.”


I make no apology for the quality of the image. This was taken when I was a passenger in my husband’s car, and the milometer had just done that magical thing and moved on from 59999 to 60000. Not everyone gets so excited about that moment but we did. We patted the dash and said something like “Good old Dave, 60k and still running well”. All our cars have had names. At least since I decided they should. Now that is a whole new thread….

Reading the title of the photo challenge, my mind was initially pulled towards clouds, sunsets, magical views glimpsed by chance. I then started to consider the definition:

 Lasting for a very short time

And I thought about our place on earth. We each last a very short time, relatively speaking. As I trawled through old photos, looking for a moody graveyard shot, I came across this, and I thought “Ahh, yes.”

It’s a pretty poor example of digital photography (I think that I used my then phone, the trusty HTC Radar), but it captured that moment. Actually, it didn’t. A single shot couldn’t capture the exact moment that 60k showed up. You would need two shots, before and after. Better still, a short video clip.

But why did I bother? Why were we so hung up on capturing that moment? It was meaningless. Just a number. Made less significant by the fact that we didn’t buy the car from new. So this didn’t mark 60,000 miles together. We were on our way back from a short holiday. It seemed appropriate at the time that our automotive buddy had hit the Big Six-O on a journey home. Why? I honestly have no idea.

On a related note, the break had been postponed because we had been caring for our sick cat when first planned. He wasn’t well enough to stay in a cattery, so the holiday company let us reschedule. Said cat died the following new year.  After a good innings, but relatively ephemeral existence. We are accustomed to marking significant anniversaries. Birthdays, weddings, important events in history. I understand that.

What I don’t understand is my need to sigh wistfully at about ten past six on a Sunday evening, and think about that cat.

I might raise a glass, or mug of tea, sometimes, “To our dear lost friend. Never forgotten”. The time varies, I can’t even get that right because at on the original Sunday evening, I was more consumed by the sadness of the situation to take note of the exact time of departure. Why the ritual?

I can only assume that I, like many others, do this to not forget. It’s a practice that was instilled in many of us at a young age. Remembrance Day, St George’s Day, Christmas. Each on their own set day of the year. Why should we be forced to feel grateful, patriotic or celebratory at these times? I can be paralysed with grief over the loss of the cat at the unlikeliest of moments. I can also be minded of his traits and I will smile. I won’t forget. The Sunday ritual only serves to keep the wound fresh and do I really need that?

As I write this post, it is the first Sunday of British Summer Time (yes it’s all ours folks!) The clocks have been moved forward.

What could more ephemeral than an hour taken before it has started.

I wonder at what time I should raise the glass?


Tuppence For My Thoughts : 1998

Found in the box of coins.

Found in the box of coins.

This is a slightly late response to the Daily Post entitled Buffalo Nickel:

“Dig through your couch cushions, your purse, or the floor of your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you find. What were you doing that year?”

I made an eyes-closed dip into the box of coins which I keep in the den and drew the coin you see pictured above. The coin is a 1998 two pence piece, known as a “tuppence” in ye olde Englishe, is made of copper-plated steel, but is often just referred to as a copper coin.

I was slightly surprised to find something over 10 years old, but old coppers are hardy little chaps.

Anyway, back to 1998. This post has not only made me think about what we were doing, but what weren’t yet.

Home Sweet Home

We were both still in our thirties. This was the first full year that my much beloved and myself spent in the first (and only) property that we bought together. It was home and still is. We were having all the window frames replaced, although we had the original 1930s leaded lights re-fitted, and were facing up to the responsibility of a slightly larger than average sized garden. It was the garden that help sell the house.  We’re lucky to have good sized gardens to front and rear, giving privacy and space. I vividly remember us standing at the bottom of the garden looking back at the house in the previous summer. Despite a few issues with the house, we just knew it was right. Nearly 18 years on, we are still here. I think that we made the right choice.

In 1998, we hadn’t yet had the pleasure of tasty home grown produce. We’re still beginners on this front, but I’m always willing to learn.


On The Road

Automotively speaking, my pride and joy back then was an old Rover Mini Mayfair called Henry. Si  gave him the name when I had test driven Henry and another mini, a Mini Sprite. The Sprite was a more basic model and when we walked past the smart little Mayfair, Si said “He’s so posh. We would have to call him Henry”. Well, a car named is a car sold, so I extended my budget and the deal was done. Henry had a walnut dashboard. I bought him alloy wheels and a gear knob to match the dash. I sill have that knob somewhere.

Henry the Mini Mayfair

Henry the Mini Mayfair

Me and Henry visited local craft fairs, where I sold my hand-crafted jewellery and beads. It was no mean feat fitting two folding display boards, signs and stock into that little motor, but I did it and Henry and myself had a fun time on the road. I was sorry to sell the little chap, but he was getting a bit long in the tooth and felt rather small and slightly vulnerable on busy roads. In an old mini your body is the crumple zone. But he was great fun to drive, especially around roundabouts. Sometimes I would deliberately miss a junction just to go around one more time.

Much beloved drove  a blue BMW 328 with more grunt, but a lot less personality.


New Best Friend

1998 saw our first cat share our home. He was called Hughes and had a very calm personality. Hughes knew things, which he kept to himself.

The Very Thoughtful Hughes


We took Hughes in when a friend’s mother died and he needed a home. He was initially quite concerned about his change in abode and kept hiding, which is common for a cat facing upheaval.

On his second day with us, I had been left in charge, and settled down to watch television coverage of the Italian national football team in the World Cup in the room where Hughes  was currently hiding. Unfortunately for Hughes, just as he had mustered up enough courage to venture out from cover, the Azzuri scored. I expressed my pleasure at this by shouting “Yes!”, and Hughes scampered back into hiding, which sadly was the moment when I noticed him. Oops. Treats and soft words won his confidence and things improved between us after that!


Technologically Speaking

I should point out at this stage that we still have the same TV (bought in the mid to late 80s). Yes, our big fat Cathode Ray goggle box at the time of writing was displaying the Manchester City vs Barcelona game, which I was not watching, so our current cat slept undisturbed.

Talking of technology, which I wasn’t, things were quite different.Our PC  in 1998 ran Windows 95. Minesweeper was my preferred game and my mobile phone (Panasonic) was, like the TV, fat and clunky. Unlike the TV, I no longer have the phone! Our connection to the internet was on a 56k modem which made emitted a screaming binary chant (some of which I can still ‘sing’) as it formed a communication link to the outside world. There was no broadband.

In case you have never heard the sound of the modem dial up, or for those who would like a little trip down memory lane, click here.


That’s Entertainment

There was also no Geocaching, but the first recognised cache was only two years away. It took us another 12 years to join in…We hadn’t discovered the local network of footpaths.
Musically, amongst many others, we were listening to post-Marillion Fish and post-Fish Marillion. Much beloved prefers Fish-led Marillion but I prefer them separate. This Strange Engine was probably being played a lot, including the beautiful but haunting Estonia .


Physically we were both a little slimmer with less grey hair. Himself was still clean shaven and had shorter hair than me – that’s changed.  But we are still the same crazy, sarcastic, loved-up couple that we were then. Long may it last.



Endless Impossibilities…

The most recent post from the blogging101 course has probably been the most inspirational one for me. I have enjoyed the various exercises, but I felt that my blog was lacking direction. I knew that I had things to say but I wasn’t sure exactly what and why. What would I write? And why would people continue to follow and read?

The idea of building in a regular feature, filled me with dread. How could I keep that up? What common theme? But the suggestion of looking at what had brought the most positive responses gave me a “eureka” moment.


I was so excited in the car hat I started talking to myself, and selling myself the idea.


This might only be based upon limited feedback (I don’t have many followers), but it created that spark which had eluded me for the past week or so. The inspiration came from an earlier post : Dear Sweet Impossible You.

My theme is “Impossible Conversations” (this is a working title and may change). The basis is a series of conversations that have not taken place and, for various reasons, just cannot. They might be:

  • A discussion with a person who I only met briefly, but who I found inspiring and/or interesting in some manner;
  • A conversation with an inanimate object;
  • A tribute and response to and from someone who has touched my life without our paths ever crossing;
  • How I imagine a chat with an animal would be if we could have such an exchange;
  • What I might learn from a tree or building who had seen their surroundings change.
  • A meeting with someone special who has left my life.

There are endless possibilities, and I find the idea of blending a real encounter or experience with fiction to create an impossible exchange that could have been.

I’ve started work on that first conversation…


More later,


Pleased to meet you neighbour, part 2

Musings on a Comment

Sorry neighbour, but this one is about me, me, me.

In the final assignment from last week’s blogging101 course, we have been encouraged to blog further on a particular comment left as part of a previous exercise. In that exercise, we chose four+ blogs which we had not previously visited and left a comment.

One of my comments was at Words Like Honey  on a post Sweaters in Waiting

Such evocative photos of yarn. I have never mastered any form of knitting, but your call to action has me reaching for the sewing box….

And that summed me up. Or at least where I am at the moment, recently.

I hear a call to action…

and I reach…

I might even grasp…

And start to…

… but rarely complete.

When it happens, I might beat myself up (not literally) about yet another unfinished project – sometimes not even started.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

And then I mulled over whether this is a recent trait or something more ingrained in my character. And why might this be. The above proverb has been interpreted in a number of ways, but I think that you can see how I’m reading it.

This blog might seem a little self centred when it started with a reference to another blogger, but this is where my train of thought took me, and given that I at least want to complete this post, I’m sticking with it.

So, back to non-completion. Why? It could be any one of the following:

  • Lack of real intention
  • Procrastination
  • Too many commitments
  • Lack of skills or resources to complete the task
  • Laziness
  • Fear

I don’t think that I suffer from a lack of real intention. Previously I was  occasionally be guilty of the false acceptance of an invitation that I didn’t really want. I’ve just about given this up and learnt to say “No”.

Procrastination. I hope you don’t mind if we come back to that later. No really.

I do sometimes lack the skills or resources to progress sometimes. And I’m too bloody independent for my own good. I just do not like asking for help. That’s a whole topic in itself. But this blogging101 project has made me have to ask questions. Small steps, small steps.

Very few people would call me lazy, but I do feel that I don’t quite reach my full potential. Is that a form of laziness? Perhaps.

Which brings me round to…

Ah yes, fear, my old friend.  Fear has “guided” me on many occasions. The reunion invite I accepted, but I was too scared to attend because I worried that I wouldn’t live up to the achievements of others. The geocaching social gatherings that I am too scared to attend alone. The walk up the hill that I didn’t undertake in case it started raining. The unanswered question in the staff briefing because I thought everyone else would know and I would look like an idiot, or worse still an idiot who had not paid attention earlier.

And yet, I’ve stood up, played and sung my own words in front of that most critical audience, my peers. I’ve asked the question that everyone else wanted to hear the answer to, but were too afraid to ask themselves. I do talk to strangers, actually that’s a cheat because quite often you won’t see them again so you won’t have to know what they think of you. And at the last reunion invitation which I accepted, people found me and my life interesting (I was quite surprised!).

And yet, I’m always scared to be judged. Even if it means approval.

And of course, fear drives procrastination, if procrastination can be driven!

So what now? Is it all about fear? Fear of being judged? Fear of failure? Fear of what others will think?

A fellow blogger has written a post,  “four kinds of people on earth” , where he suggests that the most common type of person is the coward. Well at least I’m not alone!

Yours, going back behind the sofa for a while,


Un-Themely Behaviour

Ok, so I’m a little late posting about Friday’s assignment (“Love Your Theme”), but this smug student tried out several themes last Sunday.

I had reduced a long list of eleven down to two, and opted for the Hemingway Rewritten theme. Clean, tidy and with my preferred size of font (although I know that there ways of changing this).

I didn’t want to get over concerned about colours. A suggested palette which can take minor tweaks will do. The exception being my  “About Me” page, which I have opted to change colours of key words. I found the following link useful for coding colours:

I so very nearly moved to Twenty Eleven this morning. Purely because I could move the side bar to the left, Crikey! I could lose days of my life playing here, so enough. Hemingway Rewritten it is.

More later