Monday, 12 August 2019

Who needs to escape and relax?

Kentwell Hall, Long Melford

Last week The Man and I spent a few relaxing days on holiday.  We visited Suffolk, an East Anglian county in England, which is well worth the trip especially if there is a need to escape ‘far from the madding crowd’.  The air is cleaner, the pace is slower and generally a good tonic at this time of year, in my humble opinion.  We stayed at two beautiful locations, each providing good insights to Suffolk as a county.

Had the opportunity to visit Kentwell Hall,Long Melford, a beautiful red brick Tudor mansion surrounded by a moat and set in tranquil parklands. Lots of history attached to this magnificent building. Fascinating to learn that the mansion and grounds is currently owned and managed privately by Judith and Patrick Philips, who purchased the place in 1970 as a restoration project! It is evident that there have been hours of work spent on the building and grounds, reviving and restoring much of the grandeur of the place.  Certainly not a project for the faint hearted and I am full of admiration and in awe of the work carried out.  It is certainly a labour of love and one conducted with patience and care.  Each room has its own story to tell and is beautifully written about and shared with visitors. The ambience of the place captures the history of a bygone age very well.  Kentwell Hall organise special historic events too.  Historical Re-Creation days from medieval times to WWII are popular and the Hall is available for current day events like weddings and scary Halloween events! Rumour has it that there is a haunted room in the Hall too! But we didn’t stay late enough in the day to find out… although there was a room where I didn’t feel like staying too long … 

What I particularly enjoyed about Kentwell, there was so much to discover … the Hall, the restored rooms, the outbuildings, artwork and beautiful gardens.  We spent ages wandering and meandering which generated an appetite for lunch. The Man discovered some beautiful old Rolls Royce cars in a shed near the tearooms, which really excited him. Strangely, these 'works of arts' seemed to renew his interest in bygone days more so than wallhangings and house decor. Strange that.     

Friday, 2 August 2019

How do you resolve a birthday dilemma?


 ... a birthday surprise!


Last week I received an unexpected surprise from a good friend of mine.

‘This is for you,’ she said and presented a beautifully wrapped gift.

‘Thank you, what a lovely surprise.’

‘Happy birthday,’ she continued. 

‘Oh thank you’, I replied,  ‘but it’s not my birthday until the end of next month.  You’re so organised’.

‘Oh no! I thought it was the end of this month’, she declared.

There had been a trauma with a phone and lost contacts, which resulted in the mix up of birthday dates.  It happens, I know, we’ve all been there … yours truly included!  I’ve sent a friend birthday wishes twice this year on different months for the same birthday! Life can get busy at times but the good news is that no friendships were lost in the process.

You’ll be pleased to know that I graciously accepted my friend’s gift although now I had a dilemma. To open or not open the gift before my official birthday date?  Unlike the queen who has two birthdays – official and unofficial – I’ve only one birthday … and that’s official. I’m wondering if the queen has a birthday gift dilemma on her birthdays? Are there official and unofficial birthday gifts? Just wondering, you understand.

Well, I waited a whole day, almost another day more but ‘suspense’ couldn’t wait and … yes, I opened the early birthday gift.  I was delighted with my friend’s choice of gift.  She knows me so well.  A wonderful gift and one I’m very happy to receive.  I’m grateful and thankful for a gift that will come in very useful over the coming weeks … and before my official birthday too. Dilemma resolved!

Friday, 26 July 2019

Who encouraged and supported William Shakespeare?

a little silver horse called encouragement 

‘A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse,’ cried Richard III as he lost his horse in battle. The devoted Shakespeare fans among you will nod knowingly.  The line may trigger happy school days in English classes learning and memorising Shakespearean stanzas.  Although sometimes it was a challenge staying engaged with passionate English teachers, old fashioned English and a man called William Shakespeare. My respect for the bard, his plays and writing is greater now, as I’ve grown older and wiser! And what’s this little silver horse got to do with Shakespeare, I hear you ask? 

Well, it’s fair to say that I like horses.  In my opinion they are beautiful creatures.  I don’t own one but several months ago I was gifted some horse riding lessons. It was a fun experience.  At the horse riding stables I got to know several temperamental animals and they got to know me.  Like humans, each one had its own personality.  Some were quite happy about the early morning rides along the common.  Others played deaf when I tried to wake them up and gee them along.  Several were open to bribes of sugar cubes and carrots.  I wonder if Shakespeare liked horses.

Well, this week I was presented with this little silver horse … no not for horse riding!  The riding lessons never progressed to gymkhana standard.  My Writers Group awarded this little horse to me.  It’s the ‘Progress Award’ for newcomers.  I must confess it was a wonderful and unexpected surprise.  I love it!  I’m pleased and honoured that my writing is progressing and being acknowledged too.  I can’t help wondering if William Shakespeare was encouraged and supported by fellow writers as he penned sonnets and plays?

‘A horse, a horse …  a little silver horse for an aspiring writer,’ is a very encouraging gesture indeed.    

Friday, 19 July 2019

What annoys your Procrastinator monster?

... write like there's nobody watching

Sometimes the hardest thing about writing is  ... making a start!  Have you ever noticed how the Procrastinator monster weaves his way into your thinking brain in a deliberate effort to sabotage the creative flow?  He's very good at planting seeds of distraction just as I settle at my desk.

'Maybe a cup of tea before you start?'

'Did you remember to ..?'

'What about ..?'

'Have you organised something for dinner?'

And if truth were told, I can be easily distracted.

'Focus!... focus!' screams Writing Muse.

She's been so keen since our recent trip to Ireland and our participation at the Ireland Writing Retreat. She uses all opportunities to guide, direct and cajole me into spending more time writing.  She's insisting on a 'short write' every day. And for that I'm thankful and happy to engage.

'Just write', she'll say.

The 'short writes' don't always makes sense.  I mean my paragraphs and prose are not quite Man Booker prize material  ... and that's okay for now.  Such diligence really winds up the Procrastinator. Oh yes, groans and grumbles can often be heard in the background.  He's used to getting his own way and loves to win at all costs.

The Writing Muse and I have been carefully balancing creative writing with work and play this week. There's been more work than play but a girl needs to earn a living too!

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Anyone for a creative break by the sea?

a quiet spot to write dream ...

The Writing Muse and I were in serious need of a break … a holiday … an opportunity to re-connect creatively, so we took ourselves off to a writing retreat.  I mean, what harm could it do?  Recently, there had been so many non-productive spells of writing. It seemed to both of us that we really needed to escape from the rat race and go somewhere peaceful and quiet.  
There had been endless conversations between us.

‘Where should we go?’
‘What about Ireland?’
‘What about the Ireland Writing Retreat?
‘How do you know about that?’
‘Serendipity … he’s a good friend of mine.’
‘Emm? Where in Ireland?
‘Donegal.  Know it?
‘Know it, I love that place.  Donegal is my heart space!’
‘So we’re going?’
‘Too right we’re going! 

We booked ourselves in for a whole week with the Ireland Writing Retreat in west Donegal.  Teac Jack, Gweedore was the destination, a place off the beaten track towards The Wild Atlantic Way.  We were not disappointed.  Our hosts, Sean and Columbia had woven together a workshop of colourful and creative strands - writing exercises, author visits, storytelling, songwriting and several excursions too. The céili dancing provided great energy bursts for the restless soul and ensured both mind and body were well maintained during the week.  

The Writing Muse and I had great fun and made lots of new writing friends.  We shared stories and writing in class, which often continued over a glass of wine in Jack’s bar later. At times, it was difficult to know if it was the telling of tales or the draining of wine glasses that enhanced the storytelling as the night wore on … whichever, it resulted in some fine stories and writing by the end of the week.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Are you awaiting Creativity?


Photo by MF

When Creativity comes
Will I be ready with poised pen?
Will I have the words and letters
To enrich the flow of the phrase,
And enhance the scroll of the sentence?
Will I invite the reader to follow words
Through poetry and prose?
I wonder.

When Creativity comes
Will I risk writing words and phrases
Some devoid of emotion and
Some laden with meaning,
Of sense and sensibility?
Will I trust the ebb and flow of my pen
Like a wave trying (with all its might)
To land upon the drifting sand?

Will it matter?
Who cares?
Do I?

When Creativity comes
I’ll allow the ink to flow at its will
And move to the place where it wishes to be
For now …