Angela Locke writes


24 November 2017

Dear fellow writers

An amazing session today. Thank you all of you who braved the weather to be there, though we did have some diminution in numbers because of the weather forecast. We explored the nature of writing, and where Art ends and technique/skill begins. The powerful tool of stream of consciousness writing produced some fantastic work, really inspiring from everyone. This is the raw material from which you will extract your refined product! I was conscious of how much good writing there is in this group – real talent, and so wonderful to listen to and explore, all memorable.

Colin Dixon will kindly send you homework, and although this is my last session this year I will see you, of course, after your Read and Share session in 3 weeks time, for our Christmas lunch! I’m looking forward to it very much.

Warmest good wishes

Angela xx

The Haunted Garden

There is a garden behind a wall, where hollyhocks stand straight and tall
Lavender roams wild and free, ivy wraps round every tree
Maiden fern and meadow sweet weave a carpet at your feet
Flower heads embrace, entwine, Harlequin and Columbine
There is no bird song in the air, bees and butterflies take care
If you should ever stray near there, take the time to have a look
And see the babble in the brook
One thing you will never see, is my friend Mallory and me

Mary Younger



A mandarin moon moves maleficently across the sun creating an eerie orange glow throughout the valley.

The wind sails in on a sea of white horses. Heads rearing, manes tossing, wildness of a bush fire reflected in their bulging eyes.

Trembling trees grow arms to hug and hold each other tight until the tempest passes.

In its wake a Whirling Dervish picks up its skirts, dances a fantastic fandango to the beat of the retreating horses’ hooves. During the dying throes of the dance the Dervish dips its head into its heart, diminishing in the dust.

Mary Younger



The quietude of evening post rush hour throng
The lull before a storm, a hushed dirty sky
The silence in a church when the choir stops its song
The parched empty bed where the river has run dry
Some stillness salves the soul
Becalms a troubled mind
The singing of the bowl
Serenity and Sound combined

Mary Younger

Homework for 23rd November 2017


Write a completely unpunctuated piece (prose or poetry) and set yourself a strict 10 minute time limit to do this in. No capitals, full stops etc. It should be a stream of consciousness writing form relating to an event or moment in your day. Something that moved you during that day. Possibly seasonal.

Then write it again with full punctuation. Keep both versions.

Of Things Not Seen

photo at pixabay

Chris had been really pleased when Jane telephoned and asked if she could stay with him for a week of the Easter vacation. She was doing her post graduate teaching qualification in Newcastle and they’d met six months earlier when he’d been doing his. Now he was in his probationary teaching year at Penrith’s Ullswater Boys’ School.

The early Spring sunshine through thin curtains woke Chris and he’d spent a couple of hours cleaning and tidying his rented cottage at Kitchenhill just outside Penrith. Later he met Jane’s train at Penrith station and she said she would like to see a lake. They’d driven down Ullswater, chatting easily, and carried on to Ambleside.

There they’d gone into a chintz and china tearoom owned by a striking woman of about fifty in a long dark skirt, bright green blouse, beringed fingers and dangly gold earrings. Chris noticed the earrings were sigil-like stars and crescent moons as she took their order. They also learned that her name was Mary and she’d previously owned the infamous ‘Jungle’ transport cafe on the A6 near Shap. She’d sold it three years earlier, just before the M6 had opened in 1970.

Mary had asked what they did and Jane told her. “You won’t ever teach” said Mary quietly to Jane. Jane’s brown eyes widened “Why do you say that?”

“I see things.” said Mary with a slight moue and an apologetic lift of her shoulders as she turned back to the kitchen.

Colin Dixon

The Chain That Shackles Love

photo at gretna green hotels

Oh Gretna Green, exalted place, young love’s impetuous mistake,
Optimistic souls unite, above an anvil troth they plight,
Bagpipes loll with limbs outspread until their breath returns,
On motorway, the sun ascends, a far horizon burns,
The birds sing out, hope rises new, as glimmers of the day peep through,
Light crept above the concrete mall, wool shop, whisky shop and all.
Through golden sunrise jumped a ray,
That flash brought Jack to earth, on summer’s longest day.

Officials who logged on first thing, learned of a legal glitch,
All weddings made in Gretna had one important hitch,
Each certificate of marriage, each wedding was destroyed,
Was cancelled out, abolished, repealed and null and void.
Cumbria News cries out all day, to those that Gretna wed,
‘Technically, legally, you are not now, have never been,’ they said.

Ask yourself what you would do if put in this dilemma,
Would you marry them again, keep the same old fella?
Would husbands start again, propose, and go through the whole thing?
Would they have to book a room, a meal and buy a ring?
Gretna Green was sanctified by antiquated rules,
But now the Gretna bureaucrats were made to look like fools.

Women thought, ‘I see that I’ve been single all my life,
A mother yes, a cook, a maid, but not it seems, a wife.’
Husbands scratched their heads, they paused and listened to the news,
Weren’t married now, had never been, felt anxious and confused.
The news rolled like a clap of thunder,
‘All set free in one big blunder.’

Jack’s sabotage was done, he watched the summer haze,
He had to hitch a sunbeam ride, to grasp the dying rays,
And wait in space for his next chance, next June the 21st,
Might make another joke go far too far, might do his worst.
A good day’s work for Jack the yearly, Jack the naughty, Jack the nearly.
Some were glad and some were sad, but Jack was quite elated,
He melted back into the sun, became a flame, and waited.

Lorraine Mackay

Non Magic

photo at pixabay

Non Magic

Magical realism is a contradiction
The real world is wonder enough,
So why follow a path of myths?
As the sun rises,
The miracle of human birth,
Allows the understanding
Of  this Earth.
Real challenges to be confronted and enjoyed.
So why hide behind mystical words?
Reach out to those
Mountains to climb
Seas to sail
Skies to fly in
Countries to roam
Peoples to meet
Celebrate our time here
Before the sun sets for the last time
Who needs fiction?

Michael Bohling

Magic and Magic Realism

photo at pixabay

Trevor Coleman writes

i Bedroom Three

It was only sunrise giving life to every corner of the small bedroom three that brought relief to brother Ron. The angry man who threatened to strangle him never came after day break.

After only a few nights sleeping in bedroom three, Brother Ron was allowed to sleep next door at Grandmother’s. Bedroom three remained ever vacant.

The previous tenants had been the Downes family. Mr Downes, suffering from an incurable disease, was forced to spend the last months of his life confined to Bedroom Three. His isolation caused terrible fits of jealousy, convinced his wife was having endless affairs, he tried many time to strangle her from his bed.

“That’s him – that’s him” – brother Ron cried during a chance meeting with Mrs Downes and her elder son Leslie. “That’s the man who wanted to strangle me”.

Leslie was indeed the spitting image of his dead father.

When we eventually moved house, we exchanged houses with a family of three daughters. The youngest was allocated bedroom three.

Shortly after they had moved in, Grandmother heard loud screams coming from bedroom three and reports of an attempted strangling were gossiped by neighbours.

ii Magic and Magic Realism

It was mid October; the tail end of Hurricane Ophelia was ravaging Cumbria.

A mother and her two infant children peered out from the safety of their bedroom, witnessing the frightening effects of natures force. Leaves, branches, twigs swirled helplessly and garden furniture cruelly dumped from terrace to lawn.

“Our tree house won’t be blown away will it mommy?” the little one said.

In the light of daybreak, after Ophelia had blasted goodbye, the young mother surveyed the scene, anxiously viewing the tree house. It was very much intact, but its door had been blown wide open.

The outline of a burly man, silhouetted against the rear window could be seen clearly, whoever could it be. The figure was still there by the time she had dressed, she just had to go and investigate.

She climbed up to the tree house, fearful and tense, nervously calling several times after noticing that the door was now firmly closed.

Still calling, she slowly opened the door to what she thought was a rustling sound. The Tree House was empty, but for a large pile of leaves slumped on the very spot where the intruder had stood. The leaf man was obviously not for human eyes.

iii Cigam

Searching for magic and its realism, I found myself in the tiny village of Cigam, a small backward village in the heart of Cumbria, distinctive for its small buildings with pointy roofs.

Entering a building sign posted ‘Info Centre’, I was directed by arrows to a lift marked ‘Magic Beware’, which opened itself and beckoned me in. The lift walls were adorned with pictures of Broomsticks, Wands and Witches Hats, it had a distinct smell of Cordite and cat pee.

The lift floor collapsed into a chute the moment I stepped inside. Down and down I went, landing eventually on a large soft cushion emblazoned with the words “Bum Saver.”

Only one door had the sign “MAGIC” and it was through this door I heard music and dancing to a song most familiar to me, a song passed down through generations of my family.

As I slowly opened the door, the song started once again from the beginning.

My mother bought some cheese, it made my father sneeze
The cat had a fit in the kitchen; the dog had the same disease
The chairs began to dance, the table did the same
And the beautiful picture of grandma fell out of its golden frame.

And – would you believe it? – both chairs and table danced frantically before me, only stopping at the sound of a thud when a picture fell from the wall.




Loch Etive

Connell Bridge | Photo at Pixabay

We pass the Buchaille Etive Mor, that classic mountain pyramid, as we drive deep into Glen Etive to the head of the Loch. We take down the canoes and pack them with a two man tent, sleeping bags and enough food for three days. After paddling a few miles down the loch we spend the first night camped far from any roads on the loch shore. On the second day we pass under the Connell Bridge as the tide is in and paddle on to the sea. The tide is starting to turn so we quickly paddle back into the loch before the rapids under the bridge can form as they do at low water.

After camping on the loch side for a second night I awake to a glimmer of light through the tent fabric and unzip the tent door and flysheet. Still lying in my warm sleeping bag I enjoy the strengthening light. The Americans call this half hour before and after sunrise ‘the sweet light’ when luminance grows and the world forms anew.  Through a light mist a little further down the shore I become aware of large forms moving quietly. In the night a dozen red deer have come down to the loch to graze. Our different worlds, for a few minutes, are shared.

Colin Dixon


With Sunset
The cooling air is clear and still
The path now knows my feet
Leading, winding
To the beach.
Calm waters reflect my lamp
Encroaching dusk protects the boat
Departing the horizon.
Delivery complete;
The black air is clear and still.
With Sunrise
Another morning.
Track and beach
Protect their secrets
Free to enjoy the on-coming day.
The warming air is clear and still.

Michael Bohling

Comfort as I wait

comfort as I wait | photo at mackinlaykidd

I screeched as loud as my lungs have capacity for air! With deep joy I can smell the ocean, I know it is just beyond this brae. The pain of my harrowed feet lifts and I start to run towards the edge of my world. I lift my arms above me, fingers open, air travelling briskly between them. My shawl falls from my shoulders – I can not care! Surely I taste the salty air around my lips. Battering me with its beauty, there it is – mighty watery landscape, half light upon it. On a distant rock a lighthouse calls me forth. Rolling meadow grass left behind, I’m met with a terrain of boulders, strewn across where land meets sea. Aware of this thin boney body, that has now become mine and the burning of my mule feet. I tumble, clatter and falter, relieved when I reach the sand. I fall at the small waves and with haste and with delicacy, I remove what’s left of my shoes. Shocked by the sight, I move forward to let the water splash over my feet, cleansing them with sharp relief. My body drops into exhaustion, ready to allow stillness to come over me. With low mist snaking in and purple skies darkening, the light offered to keep sea travellers safe is my comfort as I wait.

Catriona Messenger


Out of sight

out of sight | photo at pexels

She was out of sight, but he could feel her, as if she were there with him. Countless times they’d watched sunsets together over the years. But now she was gone, too soon, too young.

A young couple walked hand in hand on the dunes, but he had to close his eyes tight shut, and turn his head away … it was too agonising to watch couples so obviously in love. He felt so alone, so painfully alone.

Warm lights emanating from that house … “those folk are so lucky, enjoying their happy evening in” he imagined, whilst he stood there, alone.

“Why did you go?!” His voice bellowed angrily and uncontrollably through gritted teeth, whilst hot tears erupted from his screwed up eyes, tumbled down unshaven cheeks, and soaked his ear lobes with their scalding salinity. A helpless, guttural moan rang out from the depths of his being … And then he just stood silently.

It was then that he felt it, the gentle touch of her finger lightly stroking his hair. It was her, he knew it, he could feel it, and she was signalling she was here, right here, with him.

And something deep inside told him that the sun would set, then rise again … and all would be well.

Kevin Turpin



There is a path

there is a path | photo at pixabay

There is a path: it can be found
A full moon or rising sun will point the way
It is a bridge that stretches across the fishy water
Spanning the distance between earth and sky
Once – love blind – I set my foot upon the way
Trusting another with my heart until
One day from careless hands it slipped
Into the sobbing sea
With each betrayal of naive trust
My heart a little wilder grew
All loving overtures I saw
Were siren voices nothing more
I scoured the deep for shells to hide
and there a mermaid self became
In feral dreams I spent my days
Safe from the lure of love’s bright flame
But time will ebb and time will flow
And something stirs within my soul
I stand again upon the shore
The grey light pearly on the sea
And all is still save the waves that hiss
And wet my feet with a judas kiss
Believe – they whisper
There’s still a chance
That love is more than fine romance
Remember Peter on the water’s face
Running to find love’s sweet embrace
I know not if such things are true
Just this; just this:
There is a path – a hard and rocky road
A full moon or rising sun
will light the way

Kath Sunderland

Heartbreak … and the Purple Fop

purple | photo at pixabay

Why did I have to bl**dy well go and leave the earth.

OK – I got scared, scared of how desperate, broken I felt.

Last thing I remember thinking about myself was: ‘Oh for gods sake ‘Grow Up.”

Some eejit was being way out of order, throwing punches at me, and I got in a rage – I mean the eejit was doing my head in. So, I wasn’t being grown up! Don’t believe I’ve ever grown up.

And now I don’t know where I am, which is ironic, all my life I’ve never known where I am, so what’s my problem here!

Am I dead? Is this hell? This is one weird world.

Wading through stuff – not water – too sticky. It’s purple. Everything is bl**dy purple.

Not that I’ve got anything against purple.

Each to his own!

But hey, I’m a 21st Century 30 year old bloke. Wouldn’t wear it. Wouldn’t do the hair in it! Wouldn’t paint my bench in it.

I’m stuck, up to my armpits in this stinky, purply stuff, and now – the equally stinky purple stones are talking. To ME!

One of these talking stone nut jobs has transmogrified, morphed into a camp, fop type being. It’s covered, head to toe, reptile like, in shiny gaudy scales. Got a kind of human misshapen body, a human-ish head and something resembling a faceted face. Long fingers, fascinatingly like claws, long nails adorned with popinjay colours and bejewelled rings on each finger!

It makes a foppish sweeping movement with its hands and arms and bows to me – I think: eff off you tart.

It’s clicking its gaudy claw fingers, croaking in a wide spread slimy voice: “Good day, dearie, come to find yourself have you!”

Sally Stubbs



Loutro, Crete, Easter 2016

Loutro | photo at wikimedia

Leaving the early morning village up the steep mule track past the ruined castle, the bee-loud carob trees are soon behind us. The limestone is softened with bright asphodels, thyme, and, occasionally, rank dragon arums. Livaniana lies high above and we ascend steadily through this herb-rich, myth-laden landscape.

Livaniana’s age and dilapidation lends some romance, in the soft morning light, to its buildings whose function easily trumps form. The Aradena Gorge zig zags down to Marmara from the snowy Lefka Ori high above. Overnight the summit snows are tinged brown from wind blown Saharan sand but here the air is soft with hints of real warmth to come. The olive trees are thinly scattered and we know on reaching the tiny isolated church that the solitary wild pear tree lies next to the path we need to descend.

Back near Marmara a distant figure leading a sheep and a goat, silhouetted by the sea, comes into view. It’s Theo who owns the Lykkos taverna and the two animals will be for tomorrow’s feast. After a swim into the marble sea caves we head to Lykkos for a breakfast of Theo’s yoghurt and thick Cretan honey.

Colin Dixon

Autumn Term and AGM 2017

photo at pixabay

We’re looking forward to Autumn Term beginning for Mungrisdale Writers on Thursday 28th September 2017 from 10.30am-1.30pm. Bridge building works may occupy some of the VH Car Park so please arrive early enough to park a little further away than usual.

On 12th October 2017 we will be holding a short AGM at 10.30, followed immediately by our normal session with Angela. The Agenda, Minutes of the AGM 2016 and notice of various proposed small changes to our Constitution may be linked to hereunder (and have been sent by email to all members). We hope you can attend.

The Annual General Meeting of Mungrisdale Writers 2017

AGM 2016 Mungrisdale

Revised Constitution of Mungrisdale Writers October 2017


The Nursery

photo at pixabay
Last night in dreams I went again to my old house in Castle Lane
I climbed the stairs up to the top, by the nursery door I came to a stop
I turned the knob and the door opened wide, I looked all around then stepped inside
By the flickering firelight shadows danced upon the walls. They leapt and pranced
Tiny footprints led from the door to the tattered rug that lay on the floor
On the window ledge sat Barnabus Bear sadly looking the worse for wear
He’d been to the opera and I think had just had a little too much to drink
His speech was slurred, his breath was beery and he couldn’t see quite clearly
But he got to his feet and with a gesture grand, bowed and politely shook my hand
A pale moon shone on the window seat where Amelia Jane all prim and neat
Reposed sedately in her outdoor clothes, coat, hat, fur-muff and stocking hose
She smiled and beckoned and I sat down, she said she was going up to town
She’d like to offer me some tea but the car was coming at a quarter to three
She tidied her hair with a tortoiseshell comb and told me to make myself at home
A light shone under the cupboard door, then a rumbling noise made me stir
The door flew open, I fell on my back as the Flying Scotsman flew onto the track
With whistle screaming and puffing steam the headlights casting a ghostly beam
Twice round the track he hurtled full pelt then back through the door, but I still knelt
As memories stirred by the pungent smell of the old transformer I remembered well
A race between trains for a tuppence bet and the Flying Scotsman is racing yet
In yonder corner something moves. I hear the thunder of horses’ hooves
With a flick of his tail and a toss of his mane old Beaucephalis rides again
I jumped on his back and took up the reins, we galloped up mountains and down leafy lanes
With the wind in my hair and my hand on the crop we rode round the world till we rocked to a stop
Just then the tramp of marching feet made my poor heart miss a beat. I turned.
It was just as I thought, a hundred lead soldiers advanced from their fort
The armies lined up, English and French, I watched them do battle and choked on the stench of gun powder, smoke, the wounded and dying, I stood there transfixed and silently crying
The room grows silent. I feast my eyes for one last time ere the fire dies
The memory has faded, the dream it has fled. I wake in the chill morn alone in my bed

Mary Younger


Mother Wolf

mother wolf | catriona messenger | photo at pixabay

With pounding heart I speed,
And with heaving chest, I gasp.
The air wrenched in,
I must endure,
Or my pups, they will not last.
The calf from the herd, we have coerced,
For his mother, his voice is shrill!
A shriek of fear, he bolts chaotic,
We shall break his will.
We move on him, it is not long,
Defeated his courage gives in.
No mother came to rescue him,
He is forsaken, it is our win.
As we bring him down I hear his pain,
His fear consumes my heart.
My pack tear at his flesh and bones,
Broken from his soul, I played my part.
I stand still heaving, for want of air,
And behold this calf’s demise.
The cry’s now silent,
The air is still,
Grey cloud of death across his eyes.
I have to choose my pups or theirs,
My chest aggrieved for his mother’s loss.
I will protect my pups, their life is mine,
I resolve to feed them – at any cost!

Catriona Messenger

The Dog

photo at pixabay

Yawn, stretch, a voice calls, ‘fetch.’ No not yet, I tell my pet
I’m warm and cosy in my bed, don’t want to raise my sleepy head
Sniff! Sniff! Something smells good; I’ll get up now it’s time for food
Pitter patter cross the floor, hurry up pet, open the back door
Ah that’s better; give myself a shake, now I’m feeling wide awake
Today is Sunday if I’m not mistaken, that tempting smell is frying bacon
Chairs push back – breakfast’s over, pet’s scraping plates, ‘come on Rover’
What’s this in my spotty dish? Last night’s cold, leftover fish

Mary Younger




Can a snail think? –
asked Joaquin of Janine.

Sagacious the Snail
slithered and smiled
his ponderous route
down the turret face
of the Baptistery of
La Sagrada Familía

They’re obsessed with
themselves – his feelers
reminded him

Humankind thinks
itself the centre
of the universe
and doesn’t allow
time for contemplative
snail sliding, or the
forest from which a
Christmas tree was
plucked or the
apple that will
surrender its life
and history to the
grace of a sparkling

Nor do they wonder
how far down below
them this hardest of
all rocks began to form
millennia ago before
being raised and washed and
dressed and hammered and
shaped into sky-searching
spires in a Temple of Light
that gives part-lie to the
weakness of my snail-like

For here in and
on this basilica in
Catalan sunlight one
contemplative member of a
sometimes brash
homo sapiens has
afforded space and
glory and its own unique
history of species to an
oddly permanent Christmas
tree, fruits in painted
stone and giant snails
among other creatures on
an unimaginably spiritual

Anton Gaudi really gets snails
and apples and rocks and trees

And illumination

Simon Marsh

Homework for the 13th July

photo at pixabay

Another happy and well-attended gathering on the 8th June welcomed a new member who already proved herself an inspired writer. We were glad to hear from some who were unable to be with us but sent greetings – from as far afield as sunny Spain. And it was great to have Angela safely home from la belle France, and to share in some really quite splendid writing. Nature and animal life loomed large in our session and some moving writing was shared and celebrated. Homework for the next meeting, on Thursday 13 July at 10.30-1.30, arises out of that experience:

Either, develop the piece worked on today, or choose a new bird, animal or fish. Write in first person inhabiting its world and speaking with its voice. Research your choice. Why are you drawn to it. What is your North American totem animal? Research some good nature writing and maybe be willing to share your findings when we meet.
Happy writing!



Poetry and theatre writing workshop
Senhouse Roman Museum, Maryport, CA15 6JD
Wednesday 24 May, 1 – 3pm

Simon Quinn of Fired Up Theatre Company will lead the workshop, which is part of a project called COASTOPIA, exploring the experience of living in coastal towns. The workshop will be supported by Dave Cryer, Learning & Participation Manager from Theatre by the Lake and will involve writing poetry and taking it towards performance. The project will include a publication of poems created by the participating groups.

The workshop is free but places are limited and must be prebooked – 01900 816168

Many happy returns

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Our beloved and inspirational tutor Angela Locke is celebrating a special birthday this month. A choir of 18 Mungrisdale Writers were delighted to sing “Happy Birthday to you” at our meeting on the 11th May (very tunefully, we thought!), and to present Angela with a special birthday cake and a volume of the Collected Poems of May Sarton.


Come out of the dark earth
Here where the minerals
Glow in their stone cells
Deeper than seed or birth.

Come under the strong wave
Here where the tug goes
As the tide turns and flow
Below that architrave.

Come into the pure air
Above all heaviness
Of storm and cloud to this
Light-possessed atmosphere.

Come into, out of, under
The earth, the wave, the air.
Love, touch us everywhere
With primeval candor.

May Sarton
Collected Poems: 1930-1993, page 364

Many happy returns, Angela! x

Homework for 8th June

Photo at Pixabay

Imagine writing a novel

1 – Think of a title

2 – Write a synopsis in 100 words

(Do a bit of research into what publishers are looking for in a ‘synopsis’)

3 – Write the first 100 words of the novel

(If you were present on 11th May, and received a ‘blessing word’
from the bowl, you may like to incorporate that word in your piece)

On the same day

Photo at Pixabay

Blur of blue, green and – mainly – orange. Familiar whistling, unfamiliar ratchet being tugged, clanking, several times, followed by coughing sounds, more whistling, humming and whirring, coming and going. All topped by a clean fresh scent on the air that I’ve loved ever since.

Pale blue, white, and grey. Solid. Heavy. Handsome. Noble addition – even if the large hook was disconcerting and responsible for small-boy nightmares about a certain infamous pirate. More whirring and clanking. Like a wooden mallet inviting a bell.

On the same day: Dad’s first petrol-driven Flymo. And Mum drove a brand new Kenwood Chef.

Simon Marsh

A memory palace of sorts

Reference&Circ area 1970's.jpg
Photo at Evergreen

Thoughts become words and words become sentences. Sentences become books and books become a library.

In our town it lay quietly behind the post office and slowly became my second home.

Familiarity with its shelves became a Dewey decimalised memory palace of sorts. Later libraries fuelled flames of rich possibility.

Insidiously, perniciously, they are being inexorably, uncaringly closed. The shallow suburban avarice and deadening, uncalloused hands of our politicians knowingly engineer these crimes.

Our men and women of Westminster, epitomising Eliot’s ‘Hollow Men‘, steadily unpick the delicate fragments shored against our culture’s ruin in the name of their bleak austerity.

Colin Dixon

We weren’t invited

Photo at Ship Spotting

A gold rimmed invitation asked Mr and Mrs Johnson to visit the Queen on Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia. Replies to Kuala Lumpur please. It was quite clear my brother and I were not invited.

Mother wore a long dress and white gloves. Father bought a suit and tie.

They left us standing on Kuching’s waterfront, waving our homemade Union Jacks amid a sea of blue uniformed schoolgirls.

But we went for lemonade and ice cream afterwards, with other undesirable missionary children, and agreed, on balance, that we had had the better time of it.

Cathy Johnson 

The Onion Shed


Don’t get me wrong – dry days were fun. We went beach-combing for jerry-cans, glass buoys and cowrie shells. We slashed paths through the woods with scythes.

But wet days were glorious. We holed up in Granny’s onion shed, oblivious to the rain teeming down outside, playing shove-ha’penny with green-stained tuppence bits. We painstakingly decorated empty wooden boxes, her monthly order of Turkish cigarettes from Fortnum and Masons. Tiny brass hinges yawned open and inside the crumpled tissue paper breathed camels and spices, deserts, weathered dark faces and hot dusty leather, and stole you away to another world.

Kit Hollings


The wealth of nations is such a resonant phrase yet so difficult to define. There is the material wealth which can be defined as assets, incomings and outgoings. More interesting to me is the spiritual and cultural assets of a nation. Some years ago I spent twelve days at Tashi Lhunpo monastery in the Indian state of Karnataka. The Indian Government had given an area of land on which were five Tibetan monasteries and a Tibetan village, all of them refugees from Tibet seeking to preserve their culture. The Tibetan, Ladhaki and Nepalese men and boys in Tashi Lhunpo monastery were the sanest, happiest and most generous community I have ever encountered. Yet materially their wealth was utterly meagre.

Colin Dixon

Timeless Island

Screenshot 2017-04-06 17.11.38

Do you remember an island?
White sand extending into infinity
Warm and sensual underfoot
Born in time long since lost
A playground for those
Who choose to cross.

Rocks uplifted by the earth
Scattered across the beaches
Stained with veins of pink and white
Statuesque as each one reaches
To stand atop the highest point.

Anemones, basnade, fish and crab
Twice daily tides abandon
Treasures to nature but
Life giving source to to others
Secrets to find and cherish.

Seaweed tendrils carelessly curl
On the incoming tide.
In sheltered nooks and crannies
Thrifts pink flowers shyly
Nod and stir.

Safe within Iona’s embrace
This timeless scene endures with grace.

Ros White

Wave your hanky

Photo at Pixabay

Most infants owned a Pea Shooter. I remember calling at the small general store opposite our infant school to purchase a halfpenny worth of grey peas, ammunition required urgently for the first playtime break.

With no paper bags until a later delivery, I was happy to improvise and had the peas wrapped carefully into my clean handkerchief.

Our teacher, having noticed most boys using their coat sleeves on which to wipe their noses, had urged us to always carry a clean hanky and it was on this fateful day he requested we prove we had taken his advice.

In my exuberation, I snatched out my lovely clean hanky, without a thought for my recent purchase, to see dozens of my much needed “grey farters” explore the whole of the classroom floor.

Trevor Coleman

Status: Food

RedSquirrel - 1 (1).jpg

Congratulations to JBB upon publication of her new poem

Status: Food

Food all ordered, we’re at the table,
Chance to talk, now that we’re able,
Phone in her hand, ‘What are you doing?’
‘Connecting Mum!’ – An argument’s brewing!
I’ll join her then, where’s my phone?
Chatting with Mum, she’s clearly outgrown!
Now I’m on Facebook – what status to post?
A picture of ‘good food’, not coffee and toast.
Food arrives and it looks so pleasing,
Photo opportunity I’m certainly seizing!
Wait! The angle, the colour, effects or not?
Drinks in the picture? The cocktails we got?
Picture taken, I’ll post it now,
If I can just remember how.
Caption? – I need words too?
This is too stressful a thing to do!
What’s the time? Do I call it lunch?
Or is it too early, is it more ‘brunch’?
She’s finished her meal, I feel old!
Status is posted – but my food’s gone cold!

Jessie B Benjamin

Poetry Rivals 2016 – The Finalists

Kendal Poetry Festival

Screenshot 2017-05-08 22.13.37

Kim Moore writes

Dear Poets

I’m writing to you to let you know about Kendal Poetry Festival, which I’m the co-director of, along with Pauline Yarwood.

The festival will be taking place from the 16th-18th June 2017 at Abbot Hall Art Gallery and other venues in the market town of Kendal.

Last year was our first year of running the festival, and it was a complete sell-out, so we’re hoping to replicate this again this year.

We have a really exciting programme of events and poets coming from far and wide.  Our Festival Poets this year are Hannah Lowe and William Letford, Inua Ellams and Chrissy Williams, Katrina Naomi and Malika Booker, Kathryn Maris and Tim Liardet and Ian Duhig and Linda Gregerson.  We’ve got a series of workshops, discussions and open mics as well as readings and the full programme is now up on the website.

It would be lovely to see you in Kendal this year at the festival – there is some great bed and breakfast accommodation available in Kendal that is fairly cheap.  The nearest train station is Oxenholme Lake District which is on the mainline and just a five minute taxi ride from the venue.

We believe our festival is unique in the UK in its programming of young poets alongside our invited guest poets.  Last year people remarked on our friendly and welcoming atmosphere as well as the quality of the programming – please have a look at our programme, and if you’ve got any questions, you can email me here or at

If you’d like to be added to the Kendal Poetry Festival email list, just let me know and I can put you on there.

Finally, any help you can give with spreading the word about the festival would be much appreciated.  We don’t have a budget for marketing or even a marketing expert, so we rely on word of mouth to let people know about the festival.

Best wishes

Kim Moore and Pauline Yarwood

Festival Directors
Kendal Poetry Festival