I am very excited as I have just secured myself a ticket to see Jo Bell and Georgina Wilding, perform at the Poetry Café, Worksop Library in Nottinghamshire. This event that takes place on Wednesday, September 26th is going to be truly inspirational for me.
Jo Bell who features on the Nationwide TV adverts in the UK has captured my attention with her poem. The Currency of Kindness.
Born in Sheffield and growing up on the fringes of the Derbyshire Peak District means that Jo was raised not too far away from myself. Her witty, sexy and deft verse is refreshingly honest, succinct and contains social messages that draw attention to the plight of others.
Jo is a unique force in poetry and has won a number of awards. In 2015 she was awarded an honorary doctorate for services to poetry.
Georgina Wilding is a poet who I have been following since I read of her rise to fame as Nottingham city’s first Young Poet Laureate 2017/18. She has written and performed for both the radio and TV. There is an immediate presence within her performance as she uses her poetry to inspire young people with the powerful messages she promotes.
I am so looking forward to this event. There is even an opportunity for an open mic. Fingers crossed, wish me good luck as I would very much appreciate the opportunity to read one of my own poems from my soon to be available collection.
Chameleon Days published by The Globeflower Agency is my collection of poetry written over a span of twenty years.
A number of years ago I had the pleasure of visiting the Bronte Parsonage in Haworth, Yorkshire. As I walked through the rooms and allowed myself to be transported back in time, the sadness of the terrible tragedy’s that overwhelmed the family, almost became my own pain by default reinforced by my empathy for the Bronte family.
Prior to my visit I read Wuthering Heights and had watched both the film and the adapted TV drama. Both equally dramatic. I still find it incredible, that in a period of our history when it was not easy for a woman to have her work published, Emily Bronte and her sisters, all using pen names to hide their true identity managed just that.
As an author myself, I appreciate the struggles and the trials and tribulations that the Bronte Sisters endured to get their work to press.
Emily, born 200 years ago on July 30th 1918 wrote under the name of Ellis Bell.
It is just as well that her chosen pen name could be considered as a male, for in the early nineteenth century, such work, written by a female would have been considered vulgar. I find it fascinating, that she created such powerful characters within her novel Wuthering Heights.
In Heathcliff, she created an obscure role model, unlike any other romantic figure of the time. Even by today’s standards, he would be considered wild, almost feral. The intense relationship between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, the adopted orphan boy, her father bought to their home, was incredibly intense.
Just how Emily Bronte who by all accounts had led a sheltered life by today’s standards, managed to write such an intensely emotional piece of fiction, getting into the rawness of life, love and sexual tension, will forever remain a mystery.
Today I would like to join the literary world in the celebration of the life of our Yorkshire novelist and poet, Emily Bronte, who sadly died from tuberculosis at the age of thirty. A tragic loss to the literary world
I have recently enjoyed the privilege of reading The Silence Between Breaths written by Cath Staincliffe. I must confess that when I began to read this remarkable book, I had no background information about the author. Having read the book, I was not surprised to learn about her literary achievements. Such is the quality of her work.
See my Goodreads Review below.
This story is so bang up to date that I felt as though I was reading about a recent tragedy. It is so realistic, haunting and horrifying.
Cath Staincliffe introduces the reader to an ordinary group of passengers who board the 10.35 train from Manchester to Euston Station. As we read of the passenger’s lives, we get to know a little about each one of them. Just enough to feel protection towards them and a desire that the inevitable will not occur.
In the middle of the carriage sits Saheel, carrying a deadly rucksack. Although some of his characteristics are revealed, we never get to truly understand how he became radicalised. I appreciated the way that his family were incorporated into the story, giving a different perspective on the terrible fallout from the tragedy. His sister was placed in a difficult position for one so young. She was one of the heroes of the tragedy in my opinion and it was refreshing to see that she was eventually acknowledged as such.
This is a well written modern story. As in many stories, it is important to stick with the first few chapters in order to fully appreciate the explosive story that is about to unfold. This is one not to be missed.
Gail Honeyman so deserved the Costa Book Award for this amazing debut novel. I had read the reviews of course and was expecting a remarkable read, but this book exceeded my expectations. I enjoy trying to work out the underlying psychological issues that shape a character. Eleanor Oliphant was a fascinating character. Quirky, bold and to some extent brave.
In the beginning, I briefly thought that Eleanor might be on the Autistic spectrum, but as the story progressed I realised that she had suffered from a deep and disturbing childhood event. The character of Raymond was a brilliant foil for Eleanor and I enjoyed the way his gentle thoughtfulness and compassion was the catalyst in her changing perspectives. Throughout the story, the reader is given little nuggets of information, relating to Eleanor’s past. I didn’t know what to expect as the story came to a close and was genuinely surprised when I read the newspaper article.
This is a very refreshing and original story that combines both sadness and humour.
Many congratulations to Gail Honeyman.
I have very recently read this delightful book and given it a very well deserved five-star review.
The Little Breton Bistro written by Nina George is an absolute delight to read. This is another five-star story, hot on the heels of ‘The Little Paris Bookshop.’ Once again Nina George introduced us to the delights of France. This time Brittany. However, the story begins in Paris, when Marianne Messmann, the wife of a German Officer, tries to escape from her controlling husband and from a marriage that she believes is loveless.
Her attempted suicide in the River Seine is unsuccessful when she is rescued by a passerby. And so begins a new chapter in her life. The prompt to her choice of destination is a painting of a beautiful port town on a tile, which she coverts and believes is some kind of subliminal message, calling her to her destiny. Marianne arrives at Kerdruc with nothing but her handbag and the clothes she wore.however, she very quickly befriends a host of interesting people who gather in a seaside bistro called ‘Ar Mor’.
The characters who Nina George has created are very well developed, allowing the story to come alive. Marianne begins to blossom around these people. Her true personality and talents begin to emerge. She becomes as though she is a woman unleashed, something that she struggles to accept. She is passionate, carefree and believed to be powerful by the superstitious local people.
Her husband reported her missing and when an image of Marianne appears on the French news channel, her world begins to tumble around her like a pack of cards.
This is a wonderful read and I have no hesitation in recommending this delightful book.
This thought had never occurred to me until the day I visited Blickling Estate, a National Trust property in Aylsham, Norfolk.
Along with my husband in June this year, we visited this breath-taking Jacobean mansion that this year is all about my favourite subject. BOOKS.
The library on the estate contains over 12,000 volumes, it is the most prestigious book collection held by the National Trust. As part of the trusts New Art programme, this significant collection of books is being brought into the spotlight as a means of highlighting the threats posed to books and the written word in 2018.
I must confess that as I walked around the estate and viewed the seven installations, each with their own story linked to the theme of books under threat; I was saddened. The installations created by Theatre Company Les Enfants Terribles as a piece of contemporary art are so powerful in the message they send, that I was blown away.
Allow me to give you an example.
In the installation named, THE WORD SUPERSEDED, there is a huge cabinet which is hanging open with swathes of charts and maps spilling out onto the floor. This highlights the transition from paper maps and charts to online and satellite GPS-based services that can be updated remotely.
Below is an image of the installation in the Long Gallery Library. This represents books defiant in the face of threat.
( Please note, all the books you see were rescued from being recycled.)
The installation that affected me the most, was not related to the loss of manuscripts but the redaction of words. THE WORD REDACTED is a simple yet powerful installation about the way that the U.S Department of Defence bought and destroyed the entire print run of 9,500 copies of the book ‘Operation Dark Heart’. The memoirs of U.S Army Lt Colonel Anthony Shaffer during his five-month tour in Afghanistan. Eventually, the Pentagon agreed to a second print run subject to 433 redactions. How about that for distorting the truth?
Are we moving to an age where books will be replaced by the digital version? I understand the need for progress, I have my own Kindle that I find invaluable at times. However, imagine a world without books, a world without music and art. Imagine a world without our magnificent Libraries? The London Library founded in the year 1941 is the UK’s leading literary institution and long may it last.
Does anyone else feel the need to check out the local library when visiting a new location or is that just me? I can’t help but feel curious about libraries. Big and small, they all hold my interest. I love to see parents with their small children in the children’s section and often have an overwhelming desire to shake their hand and say ‘I’m proud of you’. The library is an institution in its own right, bringing together people of all ages and from all walks of life. I would hate to see this fine institution become obsolete as we move forward into the digital age.
The Family Divided (The Guernsey Novels, #4) by Anne Allen
This is the fourth novel in the series I have read so far and once again Anne Allen brings to life the beautiful Island of Guernsey. The story is linked back to previous characters; it is almost like meeting an old friend again.
The protagonist, Charlotte appeared in the third book ‘Guernsey Retreat’ this time returning back to ‘La Folie’ a health retreat for a spot of pampering and a chance to look forwards in her life after the breakdown of her marriage. She is financially wealthy but emotionally starved of her mothers love, something she finds difficult to understand.
Although not looking for a new relationship, she meets divorcee, Andy who is troubled by his family history and is desperate to understand the truth. Here the story links back to the time of the German Occupation, when his grandfather, Edmund was branded a traitor and informer. Andy is determined to discover the truth about Edmund. Charlotte who is a publisher with desires to write her own novel assists Andy with research into his grandfathers past. In doing so, not only does she discover the truth, but also falls in love with Andy.
There is a lot of eating and drinking in this novel, with mention of a number of restaurants and very descriptive locations.
I found the story of Edmund and his brother Harold interesting which highlighted sibling rivalry and how it can get out of hand. The character of Harold was well developed, I hated him from the moment he was introduce.
I was a little confused about the relationship between Louisa and Paul and would have liked more depth into their situation. Louisa’s father Malcolm and his new lady friend were a breath of fresh air. I like the way that these stories stand alone, yet are a series.
I very much enjoyed reading this well written descriptive novel and I have rated The Family Divided Five Stars.
Win a two-night break courtesy of The Guernsey Novels by Anne Allen
Would you like to visit gorgeous Guernsey? Well, here is your chance to win a two-night trip to this beautiful island, courtesy of Anne Allen, author of the riveting book series, The Guernsey Novels.
The Guernsey Novels
Anne Allen’s fascinating book series, The Guernsey Novels, comprises six standalone novels. All the stories in her novel series, take place predominantly on the island of Guernsey and are linked by characters popping up from one book to another.
They provide an ongoing story of a ‘village’ spread, so far, over 6 years. Each book is standalone with fresh new lead characters with their own links to the German Occupation during World War 2, having an impact on the present.
The Guernsey Novels are a mix of mystery, family drama, and love story and influenced by the author’s love of the island where she spent many happy years. Guernsey itself is always a main character in the books, offering a gorgeous backdrop to all the sorrows, joys and tragedies she describes.
The Guernsey Novels are available from all leading bookstores:
Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby. She was born in Rugby, to an English mother and Welsh father. As a result she spent many summers with her Welsh grandparents in Anglesey and learnt to love the sea.
Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.
By profession Anne was a psychotherapist but has long had creative ‘itches’, learning to mosaic, paint furniture, interior design and sculpt. At the back of her mind the itch to write was always present but seemed too time-consuming for a single mum with a need to earn a living. Now retired from the ‘day job’, there’s more time to write and Anne has now published six books in The Guernsey Novels series. She will be publishing her seventh novel later in the year.
For those of you who have read my previous blogs and interviews, you will no doubt be aware, that I have been singing the praises of our NHS for a very long time.
Of course, I am a little biased in my praises as I was employed by this amazing institution for forty-six years. Having worked in a variety of roles from being front-line in the accident and emergency department, operating theatre and Intensive care to my later years in primary care.
May I take this opportunity to say a huge, heartfelt thank you to Mr Aneurin Bevan, who established our Welfare state seventy years ago on July 5th.
It is a privilege to live in our country, where we have twenty-four-hour access; day in, day out free healthcare from cradle to grave. Regardless of our status this amazing institution lovingly cares for our health and wellbeing.
Up and down our country, we are celebrating this birthday in a number of different ways. For my part, I would like to share with you, a little of my own experience.
I began my nursing career in 1972, by which time the NHS had been an established and a well-loved institution for twenty-four years. As I approached my eighteenth birthday, my excitement at finally becoming of age to apply for a training position was mounting by the day. When I eventually put on my nurse uniform and cap, I could not have been more proud. Those were the days of frilly caps and cuffs for the qualified staff. However, learning to make up my stiff, plain fabric hat, secured with a white double button and gripped in place with white hair grips, was akin to learning origami.
Here I am with a fellow student nurse outside of Ward Three Female Medical, Kilton Hill Hospital Worksop. Circa 1972.
As a writer, I have many of my memories and special times that I encountered in my long career, written down succinctly in my journal. One day, in the not too distant future, I plan to write a book about these experiences. Watch this space for the emergence of a Nurse with a very amusing name.
Organised by the Mental Health Foundation, this year the main subject of the day is Stress.
In everyday life, this word is used loosely and often incorrectly to describe an emotion that may or may not be linked to a physiological change in the body.
An Acute stress reaction can occur in individuals without any other apparent psychiatric disorder, in response to exceptional physical and/or psychological stress. The symptoms can show considerable variation.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Arises as a delayed and/or protracted response to a stressful event or situation of an exceptionally threatening nature.
There are a number definitions related to stress, but the bottom line is that the autonomic nervous system and the hypothalamic and pituitary-adrenal axis respond to the trigger. The well-known reaction referred to as the fight or flight response is activated through a number of different pathways, with the overwhelming cascade of symptoms.
Is stress a mental health problem?
Research has shown that there is a strong correlation between true stress and the onset of mental health issues. Although stress isn’t a psychiatric diagnosis, it is closely linked to mental health in two important ways.
An example of this is, if you struggle under pressure to the point of becoming overwhelmed by stress, then these feelings could lead to anxiety or depression.
Raising awareness of stress being a key factor in some mental health conditions, it follows that stress management is key to successful treatment.
There are many avenues of help available. It is important to talk to loved ones and friends. Visit your GP or Practice nurse who can signpost you to the appropriate professional who is specifically trained to deal with stress and mental health conditions. In addition, there are a number of extremely useful websites: