More Tales in a Tearoom


at Allhallows Community Centre, Fletchertown, Mealsgate
(directions here)
Wednesday 29th March 2017 from 2-4pm
Guest Speaker David Tait
Resident Poet at the Wordsworth Trust
Weather and the Natural World
Wednesday 26th April 2017 from 6-8pm
Guest Speaker Ruth Charlton
Cumbrian Characters

Admission Free | Refreshments including Tea, Coffee or Fruit Juice
and home made Scones | Suggested Donation £3.50

100 words for homework


Our tutor at Mungrisdale Writers is convinced that everyone absolutely loves housework homework and so always very kindly sets us some. (Well, sometimes not so kindly – some of it is really hard).

The latest homework doesn’t seem too bad though – even for serial homework avoiders – because it has a strict limit of 100 words set on it.

Definitely not 101 words, but as a special concession to our having had a fantastic first session of the Spring Term, there’ll be no penalty if you can only pen 99.

Homework for presentation on the 9th March – a flash fiction story with a beginning, middle and an end. No more than 100 words. Ready, steady … just get down to it …

Happy writing!

A passionate man (!)

Image at Pixabay

A much loved Mungrisdale Writer sets forth his feelings

Confessions of a married man

I am a happily married man of many years and wish to confess an incestuous relationship with my new mistress. The affair has been rife for almost a year, my feelings are passionate, I write to her most days even if only in my thoughts.

My yearning for her disrupts my daily routine and affects the very rhythm of my life, but I am not a fool, I realise she cares little for me, she has many admirers both male and female, she is indifferent to whether I please her or not, she cares not for the agony I suffer searching for the perfect word, sentence or phrase just to please her.

We meet now every two weeks on a Thursday morning in a remote village, away from prying eyes other than those of other lovers using the same cover. I always do my best to impress her, but I always encounter others far more capable of holding her attention.

Whether she responds to my affection or spurns my future advances, my love is undying; her tentacles have a relentless grip.

My mistress is “Creative Writing” – our hideaway is Mungrisdale Village Hall.

Trevor Coleman

Homework reminder!


We’ve all been busy since we met for Christmas lunch way back in 2016 history. So here’s a quick reminder of the homework exercises to get stuck into before we meet on the 23rd February. (What do you mean, “I’ve already done mine” ? – you’ll be a prefect next!)

1 – Begin a short story in (close) third person 340 words (1 side of a page)

Paragraph 1 – start by setting the scene with description. It could be somewhere exotic, and the paragraph will include mood setting

Paragraph 2 – someone comes into the scene. Describe this in three or four lines

Paragraph 3 – that person speaks

Paragraph 4 – has the watching character who was waiting for the person to arrive – introduce them to us and have a line of dialogue at the end.

If all that makes you want to give up, the alternative is

2 – Find a list of collective nouns, and choose one that is fascinating to you and inspires you, or make up your own! A poem or a short piece of prose, no more than three hundred words.

See you on the 23rd. Meanwhile, happy February!

To a Coy Bridegroom

Image at Pixabay

To a Coy Bridegroom

Had we but world enough and time,
This quasi-courtship would be fine,
You’d break my heart with cruel words,
And hang around with other birds.
Nocturnal visits to my flat,
Your sudden loving, would be all that
I’d think about all day at work,
Then you’d turn round and be a berk.
I’d flatter you and praise your looks,
Then spurn you, like they do in books.
And none of this would really matter,
Just a game, the craik, the patter
We’d laugh, we’d cry, we’d fight, get better,
Then send each other “Dear John” letters.
Years would go by, and we’d mature
And trust, as soul mates, love so pure.
But dearest one, we have not time
To pussy foot, to think up rhyme,
The truth, the facts, the real brass tacks
Is that I cannot keep on waiting,
In this eternal grown up dating.
You really should have understood,
Your long foray in singlehood
Was over, finished long ago,
It’s only now I’ve let you know.
The marriage day is all arranged,
And you’ll find nothing’s really changed,
So while you’re tall and young and svelte,
Just do as you’re bloody well telt..

Lorraine Mackay

Templar Poetry Live

Screenshot 2017-01-15 14.08.15.png

Templar Poetry Live @ Keats House | 2017

Templar Poetry is delighted to present a new series of Poetry Live readings at Keats House in 2017. We begin on Tuesday 31st January with the launch of The Penguin Diaries, a unique collection of sonnets by Chris James.

The Penguin Diaries is a 65-poem sonnet sequence about the British Antarctic Expedition (1910-1913), better known as the Terra Nova Expedition. There is a sonnet for each member of the party, from Captain Robert Falcon Scott and ‘Titus’ Oates, to figures, such as Francis Drake, the secretary and Dennis Lillie, one of the biologists.

The poems serve as elegies, telling the human story of a journey which continues to hold the public imagination, against the haunting backdrop of Antarctica itself.

Tuesday 31st January | ADMISSION FREE | from 7pm

Further info’ on The Penguin Diaries, here

Stone and water

Photo at Pixabay

As light can overcome darkness,
As water can wear away stone,
So love can overcome all things,
Such things have always been known.

God’s love is everlasting,
His patience it seems is extreme,
His Son he sent among us;
Greater love we cannot yet dream.

As days that follow the night,
As weeks turn into years,
So God’s love lasts forever,
Driving away all fears.

As stone is brought low by water,
Its power can generate light,
God’s love can generate power,
His help, his love, his might.

So hope springs eternal,
For faith we always must pray,
For love that lasts forever,
As darkness is followed by day.

When day lasts forever
By that river of life we are told,
Life trees will grow by that water,
Our faith should therefore be bold.

For light will overcome darkness,
As water will wear away stone,
His love will overcome all things,
For us it will always be shown.


© David Edge Marshall

Mellow memories and tradition


Photo at Pixabay

A very special memory this year was the carol service in the ancient church of St Kentigern in Mungrisdale. I don’t go to church very often, but I have always thought this was a very special place, in this very special village, and sometimes I slip into the tiny church to sit quietly for a while, looking out through the end window at the fells. I will miss it so much when, regretfully, we leave the village in the New Year.

This year, some of the villagers got a choir together and instituted a Carol Service for the first time. I was honoured to be asked to read a poem: Christmas by John Betjeman. I’m not particularly a fan of Betjeman, but this is an evocative poem of a particular time in the twentieth century, which I can almost, though not quite, remember – trams and oil lamps, and girls in slacks like my mother wore at weekends as a kind of rebellion (trousers were forbidden for teachers during the week). I have read poetry in performance, mostly my own, at fairly large gatherings, even on BBC2 in the Review Show. But I was really nervous this time to be reading in front of my neighbours.

Oddly, I felt I was representing Mungrisdale Writers, for all the wonderful writers who have been part of the group for the last eighteen years. Dorothy Chalk, for example, who was such an important part of the community for so many years, who now lives in Caldbeck and can rarely get to classes, the late Jill, Lady Jackson, a dear friend, who with Dorothy helped me start to the group and inspired me as our first chairman (she hated the word chairwoman). Way back then, we discussed how we were going to begin with a journal about writing to be called ‘The Fell and the Star.’ I still like that name. When I think of the hundreds of fantastic poems, prose, and stories that have poured out of the amazing group and given such pleasure and laughter and moved us so much, I felt I was reading the poem for everyone.


I practised it loads over the pre-Christmas period while preventing a very small black Labrador puppy from destroying the house, trying to remember who I had sent Christmas cards to, and generally organising Christmas in my normal chaotic way. There were a few lines in the poem which could be difficult, and I know that those little hiccups in scansion and meaning could be minefields when faced with an audience, liable to trap one into a stumble. Then I had a dream which threw me into a mild panic, that I had forgotten to take the script with me, and had gone to the wrong church. Marooned in the snow, with no transport, it was impossible to get back to the right church on time. Mindful of the portent of dreams, I took one copy in my pocket and one in my handbag, just in case …

We struggled into the church out of a wild storm. What seemed like hundreds of candles flooded the little building with light, right up to the ancient beamed ceiling. The village had really gone to town. Carols in their own way are their own ritual. When we return to ritual, of whatever kind, we are stretching back through Time, on our personal journey … For me, the connections include our youngest daughter Harriet singing the solo in ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, a single voice in the enormity of St Andrews Church in Penrith. I didn’t have a ‘religious’ childhood, and we never went to church as a family, but somehow carols transcended all that, and are part of the rich fabric of our heritage.

In my mind, I always saw them as red and gold, the pages inscribed with ancient writing, like illuminated manuscripts, although one of the most famous, my favourite, ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’, was written by the poet Christina Rossetti in the nineteenth century. Learning to play ‘Away in a Manger’ on the piano in my first year of lessons was a fantastic thrill, although no one ever asked me to accompany them! I remember my first teaching job as I dressed the shepherds in tea towels, and draped tinsel round the angels’ heads, and then my first year Infant class singing ‘Away in a Manger’ in that special way only Infants do i.e. mostly forgetting the words.

I have just seen a film of my youngest granddaughter Freya, age 5, at their school carol service this year, holding the Baby Jesus as though her life depended on it, looking terrified. Her new baby brother had been born the week before, and I imagine she related to it deeply and felt her great sense of responsibility. (She actually burst into tears at the end and had to be led off the stage, and I hoped that wouldn’t happen to me!)

With this tiny church lit by candlelight, and crowded with villagers, I was quite nervous. I would have to sit at the end of the pew and wait for my prompt, which was the Second Lesson. Then, glasses on my head, I strode forward and hopefully performed a good rendition of Betjeman’s poem. At the end, dizzy with relief, I turned into the wrong pew, much to the surprise of the man sitting there. Several people came up to me at the end during the sherry and mince pies, to point out that the fan heater was so loud they couldn’t hear what I was saying. I believe the Greeks have a word for it – hubris!

I certainly felt I was representing you all, and your fortnightly journey to this tiny, powerful village of Mungrisdale – a place where, nearby, George Fox preached in the early years of Quakerism, a place which was probably special long before Christianity. I often have the strong feeling that we are only continuing a line of inspiration and creativity which goes back a very long way, protected and encircled by the mountains in this fertile place of flowers and trees and stories …

That is beyond any specific religion, for me. But I was glad to be in that place of candlelight with its own ancient story and traditions. I was glad to be asked.

Angela Locke

Spread the word

Image at Pixabay

Angela Locke writes

A big group of our Mungrisdale Writers had a great Christmas lunch at the Mill Inn at the end of term after a hilarious, if hard-working writing session, which I greatly enjoyed facilitating.

Entitled in part: An Eloquence of Lawyers, A Superfluity of Nuns and The Unkindness of Ravens, although there was only one lawyer present, no nuns or ravens, but a couple of clerics and a few doctors to minister to the flock. The most worrying offering was an Expense of Harlots, though not one present!

So wonderful to see so many of you there, and to remind myself what a very special, empathetic, talented and generous group of people you are! Definitely a Worship of Writers (see collective nouns). I feel so very lucky to be your tutor.

Special thanks must go to Lorraine for organising the lunch, and to Cathy, Simon, Mary, Tanya and Charles for all their support and for being such a wonderful committee.

Happy Christmas to all of you, and Happy Writing in the New Year. Just a reminder that we don’t reconvene until the 23rd February, but feel free to keep in touch. Many thanks for that must go to Simon and the brilliant new website.

Keep the home fires burning, and let everyone know about what we are doing by pointing them to We need to spread the word!

Love and Light


Christmas & New Year Homework

Photo at Pixabay

Among the many joys of being a Mungrisdale Writer, homework ranks high! There’s comfort and satisfaction to be found in curling up in a cosy armchair near the fireside, hot drink to hand, together with inviting notebook and pencil, and dream of the dawning day when we’ll have opportunity to read our works in class. (Well. You get the idea!)

So, here are a couple of exercises to get stuck into before we meet on the 23rd February.

1 – Begin a short story in (close) third person 340 words (1 side of a page)

Paragraph 1 – start by setting the scene with description. It could be somewhere exotic, and the paragraph will include mood setting

Paragraph 2 – someone comes into the scene. Describe this in three or four lines

Paragraph 3 – that person speaks

Paragraph 4 – has the watching character who was waiting for the person to arrive – introduce them to us and have a line of dialogue at the end.

If all that makes you want to give up, the alternative is

2 – Find a list of collective nouns, and choose one that is fascinating to you and inspires you, or make up your own! A poem or a short piece of prose, no more than three hundred words.

Happy writing!

Happy Christmas

Nativity | Kit Hollings


I can hear your short, sharp intake of breath.
You wince, step gingerly onto the moss, dark
December green, peeled with care from the graveyard wall.
It must feel cold on your sandaled feet,
wet too, after all the rain these past few months.

You emerged from the cardboard box, shook off
dry, flaky creases of torn tissue, grey
and yellowing now, like ancient skin.
You’ve been hibernating here almost a year,
since I wrapped you up on Twelfth Night.

‘Why must we always stand on this?’ you ask.
‘It’s too green, too soft, too moist.
Where we come from the earth is hard, Hebrew, brown.’
My children agree with you. ‘Mum’, they joke,
‘I think you’ll find there is no moss in the Holy Land.’

I can’t help it. My mother did it like this,
hers too. And you, travelling time,
a century steeped in Celtic climes,
handled by dozens of cold little hands,
you should be used to our northern ways by now.

I make you comfy; fresh straw from a neighbours’ farm,
robust bark walls. Even a fire, tiny twigs and logs,
‘real’ smoke, from the teased, stretched wool of a sheep,
to warm your hands, talk in old familiar
Aramaic tongues, when we are all asleep.

The children spray-painted a willow star gold
to match your caskets and turbans and robes.
And the dear old camels, their necks taped up
in three places, must surely prefer
moss to rock, on chipped, arthritic knees.

You should recognise the water colour
on the wall behind; hung specially for you;
the Via Dolorosa, in the Old Quarter of Jerusalem,
painted by my great grandfather
as his wife haggled for you.

Don’t get too misty-eyed.
I just wanted the honey-coloured stone
and the hot blue sky
to warm you.
To make you feel at home

Kirsty Hollings

Merry Christmas and all good wishes for 2017

To everyone at Mungrisdale Writers, may you all have a wonderful time over the festivities. I’m looking forward very much to catching up with you again come February.

Happy writing till then! Much love, Kit xxx

Facebook Fake


What is a ‘like’ really?
Behind the lies, the ‘oh so nearly’,
Why does she always lie?
Being herself no one sees eye to eye,
Why does she make the bad seem good?
For ‘likes’ of course, I knew she would.
Why so many ‘likes’ on her pic?
Boobs and bum out, makes me sick!

What is the perfect picture profile?
A selfie taken, pout, don’t smile!
Don’t show my stomach or my thighs
I need them to believe my lies,
Is perfect being attractive to men?
Full make-up and ‘Photoshop’ it then,
Why confidence in this fantasy living?
Be careful or you’ll end up believing.

Jessie B Benjamin

for The Great British Write Off – The Power of the Pen

Christmas Yve

Photo Nicki Stokes – click to enlarge

Many thanks to Yve, David and their fabulous team for friendly hospitality and a fantastic Christmas Lunch at the Mill Inn, Mungrisdale today. Glowing house, warm hosts, great cuisine, and a worship of writers – collective noun 🙂 – make the recipe for afternoon-nap inducing satisfaction of the best kind. Huge thanks also to Lorraine – our lunch-organising angel x

Homework for 8th December


Homework: Find a couple of lines from a poem or story and continue with it yourself from the 3rd person point of view – but close third person so that you are right in the mind of the characters. This can be poetry or prose – although prose might be easier, more natural, for 3rd person.

This meeting (and Christmas Lunch) on the 8th December will be our last session until the Spring Term begins on Thursday 23rd February 2017.

LM Sec

Tales in a Tea Room

Screenshot from Allhallows Community Centre

Wednesday 30th November 2016, 6-8pm

Sorry for very short notice but tonight there is a Read and Share Poetry event at Allhallows Community Centre, Fletchertown from 6-8pm

All welcome to a joint do with the Wordsworth Trust and Solway Arts. The organiser is Caroline Mckenzie, 016973 71103

Fletchertown, a former small mining settlement, full of social Cumberland history, is right by Mealsgate just off the A595.

Thanks to Caroline and a local team it has become a hub of community art, history and creative arts activity.

Brian Campbell, Melvyn Bragg’s favourite Wigton artist and a noted Solway poet, will be there and signing copies of his new poetry book Back o’ Skiddaw.

Charles Woodhouse



Eleanor | photo at Pinterest


Entombed in my bridal chamber,
Now my son’s ambition has vaulted
To sting my husband’s pride.
These castle walls are my prison,
And I can only recollect the times,
I gazed over the fields of Aquitaine.
Green upon green meeting the horizon,
Fish-full, viridian rivers, and verdant
Forests, alive with boar and venison.
With all the wealth and power it brings,
I still needed a husband to protect me.
I bore eight children, and your philandering.
But, my fortress is within. Built of sinew
And nerve to develop trade agreements,
With Constantinople and the holy lands.
Potent courage rode with me to the Crusades.
Quick wit and intellect suffuse my bones,
And my daily prayers and readings nourish
My mind and marrow, and save me for tomorrow,
For the days, when I shall reign again. Eleanor,
By the Grace of God, Queen of England.
I need neither man nor glass to witness the noble
Countenance, the admired golden curls and almond eyes.
I know it is the lionheart that beats beneath,
The soul that dances strong and free
That makes me more than beautiful.

Tanya Laing

Meeting 24/Nov

Soliloquy 2016-11-16 at 20.00.15-min.png

Next meeting on Thursday 24th November, 10.30am.

Homework: a 1st person speech (soliloquy using “I”) by someone who isn’t you but you have to research a bit (eg – a countryman or woman, a streetwalker etc). The piece can be either prose or poetry in 150 words or fewer. You might look to Hamlet’s ‘To be or not to be’ or to TS Eliot’s ‘Murder in the Cathedral’ for a bit of inspiration.

Report of last meeting and Homework details / video here

– M&P

Raindrops, remembering and more

A dozen writers met in Mungrisdale today for what turned out to be an inspirational morning, buzzing with light and ideas. Our tutor Angela Locke’s ability to listen to a piece of work with loving acuity enables her to offer precise and pertinent advice, together with encouragement, in every case. This gives us a marvellous sense of making progress!

Once again there was great writing from all participants and some of this will be posted here over the next week or so. The pieces posted today are Sue’s We will remember them and Tanya’s Moments.

Angela’s proposal for homework to be heard at our next meeting on the 24th November invites

a 1st person speech (soliloquy using “I”) by someone who isn’t you but you have to research a bit (eg – a countryman or woman, a streetwalker etc). The piece can be either prose or poetry in 150 words or fewer. You might look to Hamlet’s ‘To be or not to be’ or to TS Eliot’s ‘Murder in the Cathedral’ for a bit of inspiration.

– M&P

We will remember them


I cut my finger this morning
watched the drops red, red drip
I imagined the small scarlet mounds
of parachutes reddening on Flanders Fields

on many shirt fronts and coat lapels
these poppies bloom today
the crowds gawp at the screaming sky
as fireworks follow the sun going down

slowly the hordes full of candy floss
patiently surge across the acrid ground
as many, so many we have never met
nor will we remember them

morning sees the park strewn
with mangled detritus, flattened chips
time still ticks on as we grow old
we forget or never knew the brave

Sue Banister

Meeting 10/Nov

Mungrisdale Writers will be meeting on Thursday 10th November 2016 from 10.30am-1.30pm. Our tutor Angela Locke proposes

Homework is to look at Carol Ann Duffy’s poem ‘Prayer’  and try to create a piece of prose or poetry inspired by it, preferably in the 1st person!

Closing my eyes now, I can hear the shipping forecast …

Incidentally, YouTube is a fabulous resource for writers – where any number of prose authors and poets can be heard discussing / reciting their work.

Hope to see you there.

– M&P

Imagery insertion

Photo at Pixabay

It was a wonderful session today, deeply inspiring. Everyone was at the top of their game, and there was such good writing from all the participants.

We looked at Carol Ann Duffy’s poem ‘Prayer‘ (see YouTube) – one of her most moving – to show the way that imagery can be inserted into a poem with surgical precision and be so effective.

Homework is to look at the poem again, and try to create a piece of prose or poetry inspired by it, preferably in the 1st person!


Meeting 27/Oct

Photo at Pixabay

Mungrisdale Writers will be meeting on Thursday 27th October 2016 from 10.30am-1.30pm. Our tutor Angela Locke suggests

‘If you feel like doing any homework – no pressure! – a piece of prose or a poem in the present tense and the 1st person, that is, I and me, which is about or includes a sense – taste, touch, smell, sight, sound, or even a 6th sense?’

Autumn colours are providing us with some wonderful inspiration. Hope to see you there.

– M&P