I’ve been in such inner turmoil during April because of a decision I’ve been forced to make which has left me feeling sad. I’m not ready to share the story on the blogosphere as yet, but I can tell you that I’ve been on such a long journey of faith this month that I need time and space to come to terms with my choice to walk a new path.

Hence, I missed my deadline for posting an April blog.

I hope the musings that follow serve as a sympathetic/empathetic ear to anyone who is experiencing any form of memory loss.

Saturday 30th April:

I relished an unexpected lie-in until 9.00 a.m. this morning and lounged about in my jim-jams for an hour until the doorbell rang, which reminded me that someone was calling to pick up the church keys from me. I was in the bathroom getting dressed and shouted for my husband to take the keys to the door. As I did so, a sudden thought flashed through my mind that I was supposed to be at someone’s memorial at 10.30 a.m. I’d made the association because both the particular event and the key-collector were connected to the same church. Fortunately, the service was just round the corner from where I live and, after a mad dash up the road, I was only 2 minutes late. When I arrived at the church, the doors were locked. I checked my phone calendar and it informed me the memorial was next Saturday.

Do you ever do that? Forget what day it is when you wake up in the morning or what you’re meant to be doing? If I’d looked in my diary, I’d have organised myself better but the lie-in had gone to my head a bit. 

My husband says it’s because I stuff my diary too full of things to do. I admit I do enjoy a social life of varied activities but I’m almost sure, in my case, it’s the new medication I’m on that’s causing the problem. Something strange has been happening to my memory since I started taking it a month ago.  I keep forgetting things and can’t recall information when I need it. It does say on the pack cognitive impairment may be affected.

Maybe I’m just making excuses.

I’ve been down this road before about blaming medication side-effects for various complaints I’ve suffered over the years, as you will see from this poem, which I wrote based on the enclosed leaflet that came with one tablet I was on at the time.


These pills should make you better,
though you may feel a bit unreal.
They will help with your condition,
but your skin may start to peel.
They could block your nasal passages, 
thus tend to make you snore.
If these pills don’t work for you, 
please try a different cure.
You’ll bump into things and start to bruise, 
if you cut yourself your blood will ooze.
You’ll have sleeplessness, forgetfulness, 
muscle cramp and pain.
Sometimes, you’ll feel indifferent;
and sometimes, quite insane.
There could be temporary blindness, 
deafness and a stutter,
fumbling, mumbling, tumbling 
and falling in the gutter.
You’ll note a change in personality, 
nausea and constipation.
There’ll be some ringing in your ears
and a very weird sensation.
Your heart will keep on beating
(though thumping like a drum).
We don’t think that you should take them 
if you complain of feeling numb.
On the pack it says:
try them out for seven days.
For mild reactions: persevere.
Moderate: you can call us here.
Severe: then just ring 999.
We’re sure you’ll soon be feeling fine.
On rare occasions: 
a relative has by-passed this advice 
and simply called for an undertaker.

NB: To those not on medication, please be aware: 
some of the chemicals in these drugs are also used in foodstuffs

Thinking about the forgetfulness thing, I recalled to mind an elderly lady I’d sat with in a café last week. There were no empty tables so I’d asked if I could join her as I noticed her cup was empty. She told me it was her birthday and she was waiting for her daughter as they always met in that café on her special day before going off for lunch together. We chatted the usual small talk about the weather, our ailments, the state of the world, etc and, after ten minutes or so, a young woman joined us with apologies for being late. I assumed it was the daughter she’d been waiting for.  It turned out she was a carer and the woman had early onset dementia. Apparently, her daughter had died 5 years ago. I left the café pondering the sad emptiness of wondering which statement I’d prefer to hear from a carer if it was me sitting there: being told my daughter was dead or that she’d probably forgotten my birthday.

This memory failure incident led me to recall a conversation I’d had with friends at a singing for well-being class I attended. I was telling them of an event I’ve been invited to as ‘a significant other’ in accompanying my husband to high tea and entertainment in a marquee at a castle. Could I remember the name of the castle? No. Could I remember the name of the Lord and Lady who’d invited us? No.

The tutor of the class, who is involved in singing for the brain studies in relation to dementia, told us about a project that we could get involved in, if we were interested, where we would be able to complete an initial dementia assessment before commencing on the project. I thought it would be useful for me because of my worry over recent memory problems. Of course, as soon as I got home, I’d forgotten the name of it. Anyway, I eventually took the test and, apparently, I’m normal (ish).

The word hypochondriac springs to mind but maybe it’s just that I’m grieving the loss of my church and not thinking straight. Or it could be that I’m simply not that good at having a lie-in.

With love for the journey,


A word for today:

2 Kings 20:5: “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you.”


I was thinking about the way stress seems to overtake me quite easily these days. Obviously, the way I handle it now is a throw-back from my psychotic breakdown in 2020, but I wonder if it’s also connected to my being resuscitated following a heart attack in 2008; as a consequence of blood flow starvation to the brain during my unconscious state.

I remember being extremely confused for weeks after the episode and being unable to recall the names of simple things like, the fridge, for instance. This memory recall mirrors my state of initial recovery from the breakdown.

My brain seemed (and still does intermittently seem) confused and I can only describe it as a whirling dervish of chaotic thought swimming around in my head then fusing together into an overwhelming state of disorientation. I’m paralyzed by it for a few minutes until it sort of resets itself and remembers to stop and be still to allow the jumble to unentangle itself so I can be free to be me again.


Spinning is a term the cardiac rehab program (and stress management systems) use to describe breaking point and their advice is to not spin so many plates at once by giving yourself too much to do because you’re no longer focussed on what you really want. In other words, don’t give each plate a life or death meaning of importance to your life and you’ll realize that it’s ok to let some of those plates drop and smash to the floor. Relax, take a breath, give yourself a break. Don’t be a people-pleaser or a high achiever simply to justify your existence. Be yourself and, most of all, be kind to yourself.  

My creative process has always lent itself to being penned as streams of consciousness, which helps me to find my way into the core of what I’m trying to say by releasing pent up emotions and angst. I find more and more that I am able to rattle things off without a real starting point, go all around the houses and back again, to an end that is never completely final; allowing me to expel outside influence and noise from inside my own head. I know that this creative chaos somewhat mirrors my chaotic brain activity when in a psychotic state but I don’t concern myself with that. Rather, I welcome it as being part of my creative self.

Every now and then though, the writing seems to grow a mind of its own and I am spinning so fast that I can’t stop. I get carried away with my thoughts, invoke too many ideas, lose my sense of time, and forget to break from writing until I reach the point where I know if I don’t force myself to STOP and STAND STILL and let one or two plates fall, the creative flow will cease and become a state of anxiety that is out of my control. 

It is so easy to slip back into old ways once you have experienced breakdown and allow negative thoughts too much space and, like a mantra every day and to stop those plates starting to spin, I must remember that ‘a thought is just a thought and not a fact’ so as not to ruminate on it and stop any negativity before it starts. This was reiterated by Lawrence Butterfield in his article on ‘Key Steps to Maintaining a Positive Outlook’ (Scarborough News, 19 February) when talking about that aspect of mental health where we can entertain a thought that becomes a worm in your head that keeps turning around and around.

I am grateful for the chance to have been able to exorcise some of my worms recently by utilising the resources provided by ARCADE’S workshops for the Scarborough Stories Project. It has been so good for my mind, body and soul to express myself in an honest and open way through creativity. 

In my last post, I promised to update on my progression of my textile piece from Jayne Shipley’s Poetry and Textiles Workshop. It’s about being lost and found which I suppose is what occurs in my spinning episodes.

One question that was asked of us in the workshop ‘what are you wearing in your story of Scarborough?’ related to personal ID and led to an explanation and discussion around a GANSEY. In brief, a gansey is a hand-knitted jersey made in a dark navy wool worn by fishermen, with a tight snug fit to keep the wearer extra warm, worn on top of under clothes and a shirt with a smock and oils over the top. Each port has its own pattern and folklore says that this is because if a fisherman’s body was ever washed up it would be taken to the port for identification. 

Whilst I do not have a true gansey to display, nor am I a fisherman’s wife, I used the information and inspiration from shared poetry during the morning to create my own form of ID from scraps of fabric, embroidering silks and woollen threads so that, should you find me (or my gansey) adrift in Scarborough, you will know who I am and can guide me back to where I belong.   

My Gansey ID

My gansey is currently attached to a large sail, alongside pieces by other participants in the workshops, for the purpose of ARCADE’s Scarborough Stories Project, which will culminate in a community performance of storytelling around the town in July.

I created a poem to complement the textile though have chosen not to inflict its morose tone on you here. So, in keeping with the theme of identity, I hope you accept this offering in its place. 

The Journey Home poem was inspired by this old map of Manchester No.109, Circa ’74 (apologies for the quality of the photo)

The Journey Home

Forty years on from Circa ’74,
I visit the city I lived in long ago
as I drag my finger along the map’s red line
and follow the old route of bus fifty-nine
to the place where I was born.

With the Manchester rain soaking my skin,
I seek out old haunts from that time.
The house is gone but the ghosts linger;
they stir when church bells start to chime

and a clock ticks; a cuckoo calls;
green finches sing from a tree;
the bell rings on a bicycle;
a young child shouts wait for me;

tyres crunch over a cinder track
riding fast under cornflower blue;
stones pebble-dash a trickling stream
where I once lost a brand-new shoe.

I pass through the village in Lancashire
where I was crowned as Rose Queen of May
and danced round a pole in the middle of a green
 with mother watching (in her quiet proud way).

I sneak onto a steam train that’s puffing and pulling
 towards fairground lights that are blinding, thrilling...
where I play on the slots with a shiny new shilling
then return back home for the inevitable drilling.

I spin in roller skates on a smooth road of tar,
hang round with friends who live near – and far;
tap-dance for granddad in black patent shoes
as he listens to the radio’s heart-breaking news.

The ghosts hide in corners of a trembling house
where dark shadows cover the walls
as the soot-black miners march all day
 and the women bake bread in the halls.

It’s the day before my father died;
the change in him makes me sad.
  I see his fixed face of pain all over again
that I wish he’d never had.

I write in my journal as I sit in my den
in the shabby old potting shed
until mother screeches at half past ten
 'young lady it’s time for your bed!'

I come from a place of knowing
 that the place I come from is gone
 though the journey’s different now
I want to carry on…
through the days of my youth
where the people I’ve loved
  are memories in my heart
 ’cos those days of my life,
 ’til my journeying’s done,
will always play a part
in bringing me home
to the place I was born

when I travel through time
along route 59
dragging my finger
through the map’s red line
as ghosts linger like snapshots
in the silent street
  and the Manchester rain
quickens my feet.

With love for the journey



There will always be a time for mourning and a time for dancing.


It’s difficult to put out a new blog post without thinking how trivial the content may be when weighed against the effects of what’s happening to the Ukrainian people; the horror of it being felt by all who are witnessing it through the eyes of the media. I’m not in a position to do anything much, other than continue to pray incessantly for their welfare (and for the Russians too), for offers of help to keep coming, for an end to this suffering… for this madman’s heart to be softened and his crime against peace that is rocking the world to cease.

Therefore, it’s with trepidation that I journey on in search of my inner sanctuary in penning this post for February, albeit a day late because the month simply ran out too quickly.

I do count myself fortunate that, since learning of ARCADE’s creative workshops, which encourage personal story-telling about our lives in Scarborough, I’ve been enabled to speak more openly about my secret self through my writing. The workshops allow space to explore our stories through interactive creative exercises and in the sharing of our memories about events and places where we have felt strong emotions and connections, thus enabling us to express our story in a raw yet creative way.

I have several pieces of work in progress to offer to the #scarboroughstories project site and feel compelled to be open and honest about my emotions, especially regarding aspects of my recovery from a breakdown in 2020, which so much of my writing has led me back to. February’s blog, therefore, feels a little self-indulgent in that respect.

I do think that because mental health issues in general are more prominent as a result of the pandemic pandemonium, the need to talk openly about our experiences is fundamental to our recovery.  I’ve always found creativity to be a life-saver when it comes to my own mental health issues, more so since discovering how fragile my mind really is, and it’s only now, 18 months on, that I am able to give voice to some of the scarier moments.


A poem I drafted many years ago that I’ve never shared before came to mind as I was considering the theme of the blog. It tells of my bi-polar tendencies which I think adds another perspective to the title of this post.

Mood Swinging through the Day

(C) Image
I’m a pale-grey ghost, empty of feelings, 
drifting through dreams with no meaning. 
I blend into the background of life
Where nobody sees, hears or speaks to me.
I’m swallowed up in this dull day 
going through the motions in drizzle and fog.
Like the damp sodden linen rotting on the line,
forgotten and lonely, my life is undone.

I’m a vibrant soul, oozing red energy, 
majestic in stature and stance,
strutting proudly to the forefront of life
where everyone sees, hears and speaks to me.
I’m showered with blessings this day
saturated in rainbows and sunshine.
Like the sparkling white linen dancing in the sun,
reinvented, my life has begun.


Onward now to the first creative writing workshop run by ARCADE and led by Shan Barker and Allie Watt of Beach Hut Theatre Company on 5th February, where the leaders ‘saw participants explore their own personal stories through various exercises such as using a memory; focusing on an object or responding to a sense of place regarding Scarborough itself’ (Arcade).

On the Cinder Track (from Station Lane Gate, Burniston towards Cober Hill, Cloughton)

Writing from a memory of my first walk on this part of the Cinder Track (2021) during my recovery from that dark period where I had considered (and planned) suicide (2020).  I realised I had let go of God during that time and this particular walk was the place where I acknowledged that and wholly appreciated that He had not let go of me.

I am alive!

Daffodils are dancing along the verge, spring lambs leaping in the field and the distant sea is resting in stillness.  

I’m in a biblical place of green pastures and still waters, walking with Jesus.

My breathless joy forces me to stop, stretch out my arms to the blue silent sky and sing, sing, sing out my soul in a song of praise.

I am alive!
photo (c) Samuel Bowell
The Lord is my Shepherd

One thing I learned from the experience of breaking down is that I can now recognise my triggers early and take positive steps to steer myself away from the dark places. It’s tough but it’s working… so far.


The second workshop I attended, on 25th February, was Poetry and Textiles, this time led by Jayne Shipley with Allie Watt supporting. The idea behind this workshop was to tell your story (stories) through ‘collecting words and phrases from poems, stories and texts about our seaside town to create a new poem or tale then explore textile and embroidery techniques, adding our words to pieces of fabric (tell-tales) and working with others to create a huge fabric sail’.

While waiting for the workshop to commence I browsed the resources laid out on the table and came across a linen shift dress with the words of a poem sewn into it (Jayne’s own creation). I was inspired by her poetry and wrote the following piece about my mother-in-law, who had passed away peacefully the previous day. The detail is not exact. These words simply came from my heart to the page.

Breathing in Waves

It’s a loss we’d expected for so long whilst watching you waste away, little by little, until your shrinking memories of happier days vanished in your fading light. Yet, yesterday, when the end came, we were not prepared for it. Not really. Though we’d sat at your bedside for many days as you slumbered deep inside your dreams of childhood (easier to recall than present days passing’s we’d said). Then, in one sudden moment, your shuddering breath stopped and the life left in you slipped away. We stared in disbelief then fell on our knees to weep at your feet. 
Marian Fairweather 2015

This sad start to my writing was surely an emotion I needed to expel before embarking on what was a lively, enlightening morning spent sharing words and personal stories in a warm and friendly environment of like-minded creatives. I stole the title for the prosaic piece from my, as yet unfinished, textile creation, though that tells of a different, more uplifting, Scarborough tale to potentially share on my next blog post.  


I wonder if you can guess the location in Scarborough for the next musing, inspired by one of the morning’s exercises.


I’m halfway down from the hill-top, on a bench overlooking the sea. All is tranquil and I am alone, soaking up the silence, watching the gentle waves lapping towards the shore. 

A noiseless plane, high in the sky, paints a feather trail of white across the turquoise sky and I take a deep breath in… 
and a slow breath out again. 
A single squawking seagull breaks into the silence, heads for the beach to nose-dive the fishermen’s morning catch; 

A dog-walker sets his pooch free to yap, yap, yap its shrill tone at the seagulls flocking in to share in the haul.

I toss the remains of my coffee, twist the cup back onto my flask, pick up my belongings and go searching for another paradise... 
under a different piece of sky. 

Paradise Lost or Paradise Found?


As already said, I’ll display and talk about my textile story ‘breathing in waves’ next time as the creation is still in progress. I’m rather slow at sewing – not my favourite thing but, to my surprise, I was completely absorbed in the process of it. I hope you will be too.

With love for the journey


Sharing a little joy:

I’ve had some feedback from my short stories collection, A Smattering of Alice, which has been encouraging, simply because I compiled and completed this collection during my recovery in 2021 and found it difficult to write from my own emotional truths within these fictional stories. One comment in particular gave me such a buzz that I thought I’d share it with you: The reader said: ‘It is an extraordinary work.  In many ways quite challenging/disturbing/thought-provoking but writing of the highest calibre – it is beautifully and cleverly crafted and an extraordinary work.’ (Lel Meleyal)

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of the illustrated paperback for £6 (plus £1.50 towards p&p in the UK), please contact me via the welcome page for more info on how to order. Thank you.


Once again…

There will always be a time for mourning and a time for dancing.

God Help Us All, Every One.


We’re coming to the end of January and what a month it’s been for me on my personal journey. So much has happened (is still happening) this month in response to my vision board for 2022 (with compilation still in progress) that it’s hard to choose a starting point to write from.

Therefore, I’ll start with a photo of my vision board so far. It may not look like much yet but it’s packed with potential for a rewarding year.



My board’s title was born of a longing to experience writing a happy ending to at least one of my stories this year. Is it really a coincidence then, or a God-incidence, that my brother responded positively to my New Year’s olive branch letter in relation to our 18-year estrangement?  I am in awe of how God has honoured my years of prayer for a reconnection that may lead to future reconciliation. This is not fiction. It’s real life. You can read a little about it on The Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer project. 

Look for the heading above on the site to find me. I’m answered prayer #16412

Another strand of my vision is to change the premise of my creative memoir with a restructure and, so far, I’ve taken part in a memoir structure mini course which I found informative and useful. I have another to look at in February which gives me time to think more about my change of premise as I sift through my existing chapters. There’s a lot to think about and decide on before I can throw myself back into it but as Alison Wearing said in her pep-talk email following a memoir masterclass I attended: 

‘Main thing is, you do not need to write a book right now. On the contrary, trying to write a book may be the very thing that prevents you from doing it.

For now, all you need is a sentence. And a breath.

And then another one after that.’

Great advice!

I’ve booked on several community-based creative events for February that I’ve missed so much during the ongoing pandemic’s restrictions. Everything seems to be re-awakening and it’s like going back in time becoming involved with like-minded creatives again. Alas, without my dear friend Shirley as in the old days, though I know she is with me in spirit. Friends we don’t forget are always with us.

I came across a poem entitled ‘Making New Friends’ by Patience Strong in her book ‘Thoughts for Every Day’ which was gifted to me many years ago by my husband. It gives permission to celebrate friends – old and new. Her writing may be a little old-fashioned for some but there’s no denying that it offers heart-warming and uplifting comfort.

Text (C) Patience Strong

I was feeling a little jaded yesterday following the highs and lows of January and quite overwhelmed by the speed at which things are happening in my life (with regards to what I’ve written about in this blog and several health concerns regarding friends and family becoming prominent) that I turned to another poetry book by Adrienne Silcock, local poet, entitled ‘Of Garden and Witches’ hoping for a little soul food (for thought).

What a magical delight!

I experienced a joyful yet calm healing through the magic of the herb infusion I received from reading these powerful prosaic poems. They are layered with meaning and tell their stories in hypnotic voice that draws you into the heart of the herb. I bought the book as a gift to myself and in the pleasure of reading it has proven to me, once again, that serendipity is ever-present on our life journeys.

‘Of Gardens and Witches’ is an unexpected treasure to keep and dip in and out of as its voice calls you back time and again.

I am looking forward to February’s exciting promise of creativity with my place booked on several local events for poetry, story-writing, plays and dance. With that in mind, I’m off now to continue chilling out as I go walking in the wild wind and sunshine.

With love for the journey



I’ve said it every year for the past 10 years (if not more) and every year, as New Year’s Eve approaches, I’m back in the cycle of clearing my clutter. I do take drastic action on it but always end up in the same place by the end of the following year. This year I made an early start and empty boxes made it into my office space in readiness for a book clearance… if only I hadn’t started reading them when I picked them up to decide which box each one should go into.

Box choices: (1) for charity shops, (2) for selling to ‘We Buy Books’ or such like, and (3) for keeping at least another year.

If and when my charity box of books is complete, I’ll pop a list up on here for give-aways.

In addition to the books I’m attempting to clear, I self-published a short stories collection for adults on 10th December and the remainder of my stock is waiting in anticipation to be sold for the bargain price of £7.50 (includes 2nd class post/packing within the UK).  I hate to advertise that fact but, quite frankly, I don’t want them to be sitting here next New Year’s Eve waiting to go into one of the inevitable three boxes!  Therefore, if you are interested in adding ‘A Smattering of Alice’ to your book collection please email me at for further details.

I always find this time of year difficult because of estrangement within my family circle and usually sit brooding that another year has passed by without those broken relationships healing. This New Year’s Eve I’m trying not to dwell on it and I’ve decided to invest in some ‘me-time’ by busying myself in the creation of a vision board. This is in readiness to clear clutter from my mind and activate the law of attraction. I intend to include those broken relationships within this to bring about some changes. My vision board should enable me to get on with the things that really matter to me in the coming year.

I’m using Jack Canfield’s Article on how to create an empowering vision board as a guide so I can utilise it to its full potential in working wonders to realize my dream/goal. There are several free downloads included that are useful too and more info on the law of attraction. I do encourage you to take a look at the article if, for 2022, your desire is to ‘clarify your vision for the life you truly want to live – and keep it top of mind so you can make persistent progress toward it no matter what is happening in the world around you.’

Of course, as a Christian, I believe New Year hasn’t really started until I’ve celebrated Epiphany on 6th January by reading about the Magi visiting the Messiah. I’m hoping that by following Matthew’s advice to travel home by a different route, alongside using my vision board, I will discover my own epiphany for moving forward in 2022.

Another great read for Epiphany that encourages me on my journey of faith is T.S. Eliot’s, Journey of the Magi. This epic poem tells of Eliot’s own conversion to Christianity. It’s a wonderful experience just reading about this.

So, here’s wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year full of God’s blessings and love for the journey – whatever your plans are.



I received a magical gift from a friend recently: A butterfly crystal that now hangs in my window cascading a rainbow of light around the room when the sunlight catches on it. It lifts my mood and instils a hopeful joy within me that all will be well.

A poetic phrase written on the box it arrived in justifies this feeling of hopeful joy:

‘Happiness is a butterfly which, when pursued, is just beyond our grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.’ (Nathaniel Hawthorne)

The crystal butterfly may be artificial but the effects of its reflective colours swirling the room are similar to a fluttering of butterflies all around you.

We know that in its metamorphosis from the common, colourless caterpillar to the exquisite winged creature of delicate beauty, the butterfly has become a metaphor for transformation and hope.

It’s impossible, in my opinion, not to feel blessed when we are in the presence of a butterfly for these reasons and so many more, not least that there is a spiritual significance attached to its symbolism in regard to the afterlife.

Indeed, one of my stories, Butterfly Kiss, in my latest collection ‘A Smattering of Alice’ touches on this idea. The accompanying stories also include a nod to a butterfly in one way or another as a small comfort for the reader as the characters deal with their personal traumas.

The stories are tenuously linked to Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’, mainly through the use of character names and/or illustrations, in this adult-themed collection. Its intention is to draw readers into the worlds created to challenge their perception of how behaviour can manifest as a mental health problem – even in fictitious, sometimes disturbing, realities.

If you are interested in purchasing this small collection of illustrated stories, scheduled to be in my possession by 10th December, please contact me at for further details.

You can read about the collection’s evolution in my blog post entitled: Blue Butterflies.

With love for the journey,



I was watching an old episode of Poirot recently and marvelling at the conviction of David Suchet’s portrayal of a character he has made his own. I’ve often wondered if David is a Christian because of some of the things he utters as Poirot. I haven’t read the books by Dame Agatha Christie but I believe David’s portrayal is genuinely from his heart; thus, the character of Poirot is someone I (and many others) love dearly.

I’ve chosen to write about this because, nearing the episode’s finale, Poirot said the most moving words to someone who had undergone a massive trauma as a result of the crimes committed against her. My heart went out to not only the characters (the lady and Poirot) but also to the man that is David Suchet.

He said:

There is nothing so damaged that it can’t be healed by the hand of God. Without this certainty we would all be mad.

Raised without religion, in 1986 Suchet underwent a religious conversion after reading Romans 8 in his hotel room; soon afterwards, he was baptised into the Church of England. Suchet stated in an interview with Strand Magazine, “I’m a Christian by faith. I like to think it sees me through a great deal of my life.” (Extracted from an interesting article in Wikepdia.)

Sir David Suchet CBE. photo: Phil Chambers

I do encourage you to read Romans 8 for yourself and see where it leads you. It speaks with great conviction about the love God has for us all.

I know from my own experience, especially in these days of the pandemic, that a word spoken in season can and does heal. It’s happened with me on many occasions. I don’t call these episodes co-incidences. I call them God-incidences. When someone happens to come alongside me at exactly the time I’m in need, it feels as though God himself has sent someone to recognize my need through their own spiritual awareness. Whether they are believers themselves or not, these people are out there in the world, unaware of how much their loving kindness gave me the comfort and hope I needed to carry on. I pass on this loving kindness to others where there is a need and, in so doing, the cycle continues as people everywhere begin to realize that we do, in fact, belong to one another.   

There is nothing so damaged that it can’t be healed by the hand of God. Without this certainty we would all be mad.

I accepted a request to write a series of Advent 2021 prayers to use in the North Yorkshire Coast Circuit of Methodist Churches. I prepared these as we approached All Hallow’s Eve, with my thoughts firmly fixed on the light of Christ and, as it is All Saint’s Day tomorrow (1st November), I’d like to share a slightly paraphrased version of the final prayer from that series with you.

We step into this day with faith in the light of Christ, remembering that in the beginning, the light of the world was with God; and by the tender mercy and grace of God, the light was sent into the world in the human form of God’s only son, Jesus Christ, our Saviour, so that those who are in darkness may seek the light and be led, by faith, to walk the way of the cross towards hope, love, joy and peace.

We celebrate the kingdom of God coming amongst us as the light looked down and believed that hope, offered through unconditional and eternal love, would spread joy into a world hungering far and wide, for peace.  

Come Lord Jesus, come. Fill our hearts with hope, love, joy and peace.  

There is nothing so damaged that it can’t be healed by the hand of God. Without this certainty we would all be mad.

With love for the journey,



I’m amazed at how quickly I’ve become busy again after coming to a complete stop during the pandemonium of our enforced lockdowns with its fluctuating restrictions. I rather enjoyed the peace and solitude of isolation at first and find within the current process of ongoing recovery, I’ve gradually returned to doing the things I enjoy as activities trickle back into the public domain.  

Alas, alongside these, I have picked up additional tasks I don’t particularly want, such as taking on administrative tasks that no-one else is able, or wants, to do. I can do without these stressful distractions that take up my precious time and steal me away from my passion of writing. I seem to have put the relaxation and time-out techniques I learned in my period of incapacity to the bottom of my list of things to do to keep myself sane. In other words, I’m putting everyone else’s needs above my own and neglecting my health. I’ve become so busy that I hadn’t even noticed it happening. It kind of crept up on me and took me by surprise.

What a welcome relief then when I finally found my way back to practising regular meditation at the beginning of this month when I received September’s new format for Monday Meditations from ‘For the Writer’s Soul’.

‘The new format focuses on a monthly theme and is supplemented by “words to carry with you” and a task to practise the theme throughout the week. This helps to strengthen and discover the wisdom you hold within and more deeply support yourself on your writing journey.’ (Melanie at For the Writer’s Soul)

The theme for September was ‘A Change of Pace’. A timely reminder for my increasing busyness. As always, the meditation took me on a journey of imagination as the soothing voice led me into the unknown. I felt relaxed afterwards and immediately prompted to write something.

I started with the words to carry with me through the week as directed:

‘Life is filled with opportunities to slow down.’

I wrote the sentence slowly, deliberately using my best handwriting. I vowed to keep that careful pace to capture my inspiration instead of hurtling myself into a tirade of illegible scribble to type up neatly afterwards and create a piece of writing from it. It felt good to go slow. I was taken back to my schooldays when we practised our writing in exercise books with double-spaced lines so we could loop our letters up to the line above and down to the line below.

I love that my name begins with a ‘J’ because I can double-loop it.  It has such a smooth rhythm to it that it seems natural to join the remaining letters with ease and a looped ‘l’ in the middle for added style. It’s almost a shame to take my pen off the page to dot the ‘i’. My surname started with an ‘S’ then which is another great letter to initialise with its curly swirls – though I’m not sure I was meant to loop as fancy as I do now with my married ‘F’ surname. I sometimes hear the voice of my old school teacher, Miss Proctor, who was such a sweet old lady, telling me to slow down so I would remember not to loop the ‘hard’ letters, like ‘t’ and ‘d’.

I did find it difficult when we moved on to writing in ink (yes, the old inkwell and nibbed pen thing back in the day) as I am left-handed and my hand would smudge the letters as I wrote from left to right. To this day, I still slant my page so I can see what I’m writing as I go along it. Though I tend to stick to ball-points these days, I sometimes like a pencil to write my thoughts down quickly. I tend to write neater with pencil than anything else.

Now that I’ve written all this down, I am rushing through my mind, searching for the message I was hoping to convey by doing so. To remind myself, I write the words again in slow, deliberately looped strokes:

‘Life is filled with opportunities to slow down.’

Immediately, my mind it still again so I guess the message is in the magic of the activity and simply stopping to write those affirming words to allow the mind, body and soul to become calm. This confirms a belief I have always held that writing heals through the connection of the mind (imagination) to the pen (physical) to the words on the page (actual). Initially, it doesn’t matter what words we write as the healing is in the release of our stream of subconscious thoughts (soul) that can be read through at a later stage and edited into something beautiful.

I feel what I have shared here is unfinished somehow. Maybe the experience of slowing down and writing in looped letters has instilled a need in me to write something profound that hasn’t yet materialised. By way of apology, I would like to offer a poem by one of my favourite poets, Mary Oliver, from her collection Evidence published in 2009, that does just that.

I Want to Write Something so Simply

I want to write something so simply about love or about pain that even as you are reading you feel it and as you read you keep feeling it and though it be my story it will be common, though it be singular it will be known to you so that by the end you will think- no, you will realize- that it was all the while yourself arranging the words, that it was all the time words that you yourself, out of your own heart had been saying.

© Mary Oliver

All in all, September’s travelling has been a time of renewal for me through the deliberate act of slowing down within the crazy busyness, which has offered me the space to embrace many unexpected moments of poetic insight.

With love for the journey


September’s personal highlight: winning the first Shirley Waite Poetry Award Cup
at the Scarborough Writers’ Circle on 14th September in celebration of National
Poetry Day, judged and awarded by Felix Hodcroft,

(I was disappointed at being unable to use the original font I chose for the looped letter examples but it’s not supported by my site plan at the moment.)


On the brink of receiving my small collection of short stories proof copy for ‘A Smattering of Alice’, I muse over a couple of incidents that led to its completion and became the glue that held me together during its journey.

My love of blue butterflies is a common denominator in the relationship I have with two friends who have shared in the book’s journey: Shirley and Nola.

Although Shirley passed away in November 2018, I do sometimes speak to her as if she’s at my side. It was on such a day in the early summer of 2020, when I had completed my lockdown permitted hour’s exercise by walking along the cinder track, that I encountered my first blue butterfly of the season.

I was resting after my walk, sitting on my favourite bench at Pricky Beck, Burniston and began to read Shirley’s novel, War at Kiddlesea Bay, published post-humorously. I laughed out loud at its intro sentence:

‘Adolf Hitler ruined Ellen’s birthday.’

It was so typically Shirley that I could hear her voice loud and clear. I was overjoyed when a blue butterfly began to circle round me and continued to do so for five minutes before settling on the open page of the book, where it stayed for a long time.

I thought it may be a visitation from my friend bringing me comfort and joy as I read her words.

The bench at Pricky Beck, Burniston Photo taken April 2020

I lost count of the blue butterflies I encountered whilst resting and reading the book’s chapters there that summer. It was lovely to have her company again (even though it was all in my head). I thought I would never have another friend with whom I could form a creative working partnership as I had with Shirley.

Then along came Nola.

She had joined the Scarborough Writers’ Circle (where I am a member) prior to the pandemic. We hadn’t spoken much at meetings and it wasn’t until she began sending comical poem sketches, via email, to circle members during the first lockdown period (to keep us motivated), that our ‘conversations’ began.

Several weeks and many poem sketches later, I mentioned to her it would be a good idea to collate these into a book as a historical record. This led us into a natural working partnership where Nola produced the material and I collated it into book format. On completion of her first book ‘Counting the Days’ (she is on Number 3 as I write!), my passion to work on my own collection of short stories was rekindled – with Nola volunteering to illustrate the stories as a thank you.

In-between lockdowns, we formed a bubble and went out walking, sometimes going to her place for lunch. My first time there I noticed a blue butterfly on a guitar hanging on the wall. She told me it had belonged to her friend and creative working partner, Riss Chantell, who had died five years previously.

Our shared grief at losing our close friends is, partly, what motivates us to continue working together.

It has been a long, arduous journey for both of us with life throwing all sorts of personal obstacles in our path to prevent us bringing our work to fruition, not least my breakdown last July with its ongoing repercussions, and Nola’s sad news of a death in her close family circle taking its toll on her emotions and her time. But we have done it! Together. And become firm friends in the process.

The penultimate story in my collection is titled ‘Blue Butterfly’. It was inspired by the bench incident at Pricky Beck and also a shared interest of Nola and I in the characters created by Lewis Carroll in the Alice books, which is what the collection’s stories are tenuously linked to, though it is definitely an adult-themed collection. Its intention is to draw readers into the worlds created to challenge their perception of how behaviour can manifest as a mental health problem – even in fictitious, sometimes disturbing, realities.

I wait patiently for the proof copy. If you know me well, you will know that I am not good at waiting patiently so I am constantly drumming my fingers on every surface awaiting its arrival.

Will keep you posted.

With love for the journey,


ADDENDUM: I wish I could say it was worth the wait but the proof copy has now arrived and my hard work in presenting it to the publisher in book format is ruined. In its transfer to the company’s super-duper program it has metamorphosed into a complete mishmash.

Nothing else to do but press CTR – ALT – DELETE, turn off and re-boot myself to acquire more glue to hold me together for when I can re-surface and magically make it beautiful again.

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