Saturday, November 18

Cabinetmaker's Tower Warrington

 This iconic tower in the skyline of Warrington town centre...cannot be saved...they say.

How could a town allow that to happen.

 This was once a Cabinet makers factory. 
As Ben our son studied as a cabinet has always been of interest to me.
 This building is part of the to be demolished..along with so much of the architectural history of ancient Warrington.
Those guardian angels on the golden gates in front of the Town Hall...must be weeping angels...just like the ones in Dr. Who. 

Tuesday, November 14


Donaghadee and the daisies that I picked as a child at Ballyferris to bring back to the caravan for mum.

You're still my favourite.

Monday, November 13

Snape Lane

 When I told my mother I was getting married to the man who is now my husband....she tutted and commented that it was a real shame to lose my surname for the name...Snape.

She said it had no poetic ring to it.

I kept my Ulster name for a while and double barrelled with Snape.
Geraldine McClelland- Snape
What a mouthful. 
I soon got rid of that.

Then I found out that a snape is an old english word having two meanings.


also sneap"to be hard upon, rebuke, revile, snub," early 14c., from OldNorse sneypa "to outrage, dishonor, disgrace," probably related to similar-sounding words meaning "cut" (cf. snip (v.)). Verbal meaning "bevel theend (of a timber) to fit an inclined surface" is of uncertain origin orconnection. Snaiping "rebuking, reproaching, reviling" is attested fromearly 14c.

Surname meaning for "Snape"

English and Scottish: habitational name from any of various places in England and southern Scotland, for example in North Yorkshire near Bedale, in the Lowlands near Biggar, and in Suffolk, so named with Old English snæp ‘area of boggy land’. In Sussex the dialect term snape is still used of boggy, uncultivable land.
More than that I started going to Suffolk and regularly visited the village of Snape and The Maltings...where Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears set up the Snape Maltings Music Festival.
Wow....that made Snape even more attractive.
It didn't end there... oh no.
Next thing I discovered was that the last queen of Henry VIII...Catherine Parr.. lived and married second time to John Neville 3rd baron Snape Castle in Yorkshire....well they say that's God's own county I hear.
I'm only an Irish woman so I'm believing what I'm told you understand.
Now...the potter and I have a little retreat up on the bay...that's Morecambe Bay...The Bay.
We started exploring the limestone bulge that surrounds so much of that lovely part of England.
And one day I shout at the potter.."Look...Snape Lane ...lets go up there."

I've started taking pics of this magic little secret lane regularly as the seasons change.
We went on Sunday and these are the up to date snaps of it.
No white lines here.
Very little traffic...and how I love the way the fields have been given appropriate titles. 

  ...that's me and my shadow...Gerry Snape

...we stop at the first bend in the road to see the view over the countryside...

...the hedges have been given their autumn coiffure...ancient hedges protecting even older stone walls...I think of Robert Frost's wonderful poem about dividing and protecting neighbours...


...this was our discovery on Sunday...the naming of dad often talked about the names of the fields at his home farm in meant so much to him and he would recite them to us in our city lives...

...this one is "The Pond Field"...where sheep graze on the gentle hill that dips down into it...
...and Snape Top the top...

..up into the top of the lane and the road is bounded by high stone walls covered in ancient roots of 
ivy....I go to see what they have twisted around this year and gather the dead branches from the fallen leaves underneath...

...looking west to the top of the hill under the yellowing canopy of late autumn trees....

...looking east back to where we have come...

...light and shade and a view through to old established trees...

...and sunlight filters through to light the ivy casting many blue shadows on the stones...

I can't write any poetry yet about this lane.
It's almost too much to think that way yet.
And I'm not giving you directions to get to's secret.
Maybe one day.

Friday, November 10

The Last of the Roses

It's cold today and the north wind is making it feel even colder.
The potter has lit the fire in the front room with the ash logs he bought from  our young neighbour.. They burn slowly and burn with a steady heat and there are no sparks flying from them.
I'm always glad of that.
I'm wrapped up in my Donegal mohair rug to write this at the P.C.
I find it very hard to steel myself each year as I help my sister (@rosiemcclellandart) with her Donegal workshop in the summer. That's because I would buy a handwoven rug every year if I could ...they are so delicious.  Can I really call a mohair rug ...delicious?...I just have.
This post is really about the cold wind today...I've been sidetracked...

We have two standard rose bushes in the small front gardens. One either side of the door.
They've been there for thirty years or more and always surprise me with the abundance of pretty little pink roses.
I suppose I bought them in memory of my dad. I loved his garden and especially loved the roses he planted there.
But today the wind threatens to finish them off by blowing the last few petals from the trees.
So a little pic to remember... when the dark days really arrive this winter.
For one thing is certain.
Winter is coming.

Thursday, November 9

a Poem for Thursday

The prompt today was from the delectable you remember when she didn't turn up at the Writers Thursday Morning and so we wrote as the prompt...
"Eileen is missing".
She was there this morning...and gave us a very apt one for the time of year.
"Things that go bump in the night".
Some scary ghoulish stories emerged.....some great poetry..and another chapter in the latest detective story by Liz Hedgecock.
Just back from the academic and intellectual air of the Poetry Festival Aldeburgh....
What did I write...I wrote a bit of doggerel.....

Thing that go Bump in the Night
Shut the door turn out the light
Snuggle down   say night night
Head on the pillow eyes shut tight
End of another day.

Sleep doesn't come      brain's in gear
Too many thoughts in your head I fear
Mindlessness needed    a glass of beer?
Legs numb where you lie.

Lie on your left   lie on your right
Lie on your back     see if it might
Help you to drift off into the night
Dream a bit on the way.

Kick off the bedclothes  far too warm
Stretch your neck   stretch your arm
Count to eight       could eat a barm!
Maybe you ought to pray

Him beside you roars like a bull
Give him a shove     merciful lull
Silence again      brain again full
Feel like you're going to cry.

All of a sudden        a noise on the stairs
Wide awake now        wonder who dares
Challenge the noise maker both of you glare
Hoping it just goes away.

Tiptoeing over     turning the knob
Opening the door   viewing the job
Sigh with relief     it's only the dog
with his new slimey toy on the stair.

Back into bed                shivery cold
Cuddle the pillow       hottie now cold
Sheets in a tangle  blankets now cold
May as well brew up some Char.

Wednesday, November 8

Inspiration...Time and Tide.

There's so much "stuff" out there...apart from in here 
...that's at The Potters House....I mean.
Then every now and again you see something and some art touches a very deep spot in your soul.
That's how we felt seeing the work of Roger Hardy in The East Coast Cafe in Aldeburgh.
An Exhibition called ...Time and Tide


From the reedy banks of the Alde river he collects driftwood and over time turns it into stunning assemblages.
I have always been an edge walker...that's the edge of the tide.
Whether Ballyferris in Northern Ireland...our favourite beach in Spain or nowadays Morecambe Bay.
And if you are such a walker you can't help but love how the sea takes what it can..changes it and throws it back up on the banks and beaches when it 's finished with it.

This is worth a look online for any assemblage lover of art and walker on the edge.

Monday, November 6

November 6th Snape Maltings on the river Alde.

It's no wonder that Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten choose Snape to set up their music festival in the old malting buildings.
It's a magic place and I love that we have to go regularly to take the potter's ceramics to the gallery. 
I've taken pics every year for...oh it seems for ever.
and these are a combination of several years of photography. I've picked out my favourite ones.
The ones that take me back there when I look through the photo files.

Sunday, November 5

The Lookout Aldeburgh

It's always a highlight seeing the art and installation at The Lookout on the beach in Aldeburgh.
 You can see the spiral stairs leading up to the tower room at the top on the post 2nd November... where each year Caroline Wiseman puts on another work combining artist and poet.
This year the art is by Issam Kourbaj. The poetry by Ruth Padel.
The combined work is called ...
Dark Water, Burning World, 80 Moons and Counting.
To mark the sixth anniversary of the uprising in Syria, poet, classicist and Hellenophile Ruth Padel, joins artist Issam Kourbaj, to present an intervention that explores the millennia-long relations between the Near East and ancient Greece. At this event, Kourbaj will launch Dark Water, Burning World - a new artwork inspired by 5th century BC Syrian vessels on display in Gallery 21; and Padel will read a new poem Lesbos 2015 - influenced by her meetings on the island of Lesbos, both with the inhabitants and with some of the thousands of Syrians who have fled there.
So you reach the top and look in and are confronted by the boats full of burnt out matches and the clear Irish voice of Ruth Padel reading her poems influenced by her visits to Lesbos and the influx of so many broken lives.

The boats cover the floor of the upper room and fill the old wooden window frames. 

While we were there we noticed a family on the beach playing as families do...with dogs and children running and laughing...
...and in the icy cold waters of the North Sea a lone swimmer can just be made out fighting the waves.
Two worlds.

The Work can be viewed at The Fitzwilliam Gallery and The V and A as well.

Friday, November 3

Poetry workshop...Peter Pears Gallery

I was lucky enough to have the chance to join a poetry workshop today.
Polly Binns an artist and Pamela Johnson a poet who have been collaborating in a exhibition at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival.
We worked in twos and went out on the shingle beach to be inspired in word and image.
I was blessed to work with Judith Cair...a very sensitive poet.
I was the artist ...and as it's quite a while since I made marks...nervous.
So the result was more than I could have hoped.

Thursday, November 2

The Victoria

We make an early start from The Potters House Penketh when we go off to Suffolk.
We make the trip twice a year....taking ceramics to some galleries.
Why early? make sure we get to The Victoria Free House in Earl  Soham.
Just one of those things to do each time.
Unchanged inside at least ever since we have been there for our lunch.
Then on the Aldeburgh.
This is the potter relaxing by The Lookout on the beach.

Wednesday, November 1


How did we get here so quickly this year?
All saints' day already.
Trickers and treaters came and went.
I had a bowl of sweets ready at the would have been sad if no children had come.
The gorgeous second grandgirl came in all her wonderful makeup...I can always depend on her for a treat not trick.

Then two little neighbours arrived and more treats distributed.
It helps that I put a pumpkin outside the door...and a candle burning in the window   to light us through the "thin time".

It's a time to remember relatives.
This beautiful embroidery design was drawn by Aunt Jeanie Williamson.
I had been sorting out "stuff" after the potter had finished decorating the bedroom.

I'm a collector.
There I've said it and it's in print.
but collectors are needed to keep a hold of history.
This is family history.
I never knew her. She died before I was born. She died of pleurisy at a time when it was a killer . No antibiotics
She was attending Belfast College of Art in the late 20s. At a time when women's art was very concerned with decor...the Bloomsberrys,...Sonia Delauney etc.

I'm in two minds as to whether or not I join the NaNoBloMo this year.
I've come back recently to blogger as I get a bit tired of the banality of FB and even Twitter. 
Still using Instagram as I find it a good way to put up some pics and poems for a quick look.
We are off to Suffolk for a few days. It's the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and the potter has ceramics to take.
I'll see if I can find a moment for a little 

Saturday, July 29

"Austerity"...Sunday's Short Story.

I read today that the ruling party is abandoning the thought of austerity. Hmm. Not their style I'm thinking. But I'm sure many will take a deep breath and sigh...Thanks!
Margaret H. gave us the prompt a few weeks ago. This could be read with a Belfast accent...


“What have you done with my pills?  I need them. I know you’ve moved them mother. You’re a blooming nuisance with your tidying up all the blessed time. Let the dust lie, it’ll be like that when you’re dead and gone. And I’ll be dead and gone if I can’t find my pills. I can feel myself coming over all faint already. I’m gonna sit down a wee while and collect my thoughts, pull myself together.
And what the hec  has happened to that cushion? You know I have to have thon there cushion at my back otherwise, I will end up crippled with pain. I’ll be laid up in bed for a while and then you’ll know all about it. You’ll be traipsin’ up and down yon stairs. I can’t be sitting in that chair with that cushion there, even if it does match the chair better than mine. I know how your mind works. I really do.
Has the paper arrived? I haven’t seen it anywhere. Don’t tell me that paper boy has given up again. Waste of space. I can’t stand lazy people like him, no get up and go, no loyalty to his customers. Well mum you’ll just have to pop across to the newsagent and get it. And while you’re at it, tear a strip of of that woman over there for not making sure her best  customer gets his daily on time. What’s the point of getting the paper at ten in the morning? Sure it’s old news by then. I’d go myself but I’m feeling a bit woosey, I need to get those wee red pills. What have you done with them you old fool?
While you’re over at the shop, get me some ciggies. I’d give you the money but sure me wallet’s up the stairs in the other jacket pocket and I couldn’t make it up there at the moment.  Sure I’ll pay you later when I get over this wee bout of dizziness. Oh and a cuppa tea would see me through ‘til you’re back. Oh and make sure you put three sugars in the way I like. Last time I’ll swear there was none. The tea was flipping bitter. I’ll just have a bit of shut eye then ‘til you’re back.
Have you gone yet mother? Mother do you hear me? You’re deaf you auld biddy. Deaf as a doorpost. I could be dying here and you’d not give two hoots. Do you hear me? I’m not going to shout, sure I don’t have the energy. I would have the energy if I could get hold of those bloody pills. Are they down the side of the couch where you sit? Why would you move them, I said why would you move them? I may as well talk to the wall for all you care. Is that cup of tea coming? Three sugars mind. And the paper would be grand before lunch for crying out loud. If that’s you by the front door, I’ll do without the tea if you’re on your way across. Ciggies, remember ciggies! Mind like a sieve mother , mind like a sieve. God I feel lousy, where the hec are those wee red devils? If I were a fit man I’d be up looking for them. I would. I know I would. That’s the kind of man I am. Aye, That’s the kind of fellow…fellow…fell…
[Slams door and gets into a taxi with suitcase]

Monday, July 24

Eileen is Missing....Sunday's Short Stories

I love the Bold Street Writers group that I go to here in Warrington. We are a mixed lot of women writing out of life experiences, writing out of imagination….just writing because we have to!
Eileen is one of the oldest who write each week. But never let it be said that she writes anything boring…ah no. Her wonderful stories could have your toes curling one moment and your sides splitting with laughter another!
So when it was Eileen’s prompt on Thursday and she wasn’t there…we worried.
 So we took as our new prompt…”Eileen is missing”!

Eileen is missing. People are worried. Eileen is always there prompt at ten, ordering her coffee, chatting about her week,
No, Eileen is always here.
As sure as eggs are eggs we could set our watches on her appearance. Always know if we had the right day, the right place, prepared the right prompt. For if Eileen said she would be there, she was…and Eileen is missing.
Every week we look forward to hearing some gritty news that no one else has heard, because Eileen doesn’t waste a minute of her life moping around. No, she is out and about with a cheery hello to her neighbours. Out and about at her coffee and tea gatherings with old friends from her professional life. Meeting up at bus stations and train stations and catching transport to theatres and concert halls and taking in the history of some local grand house. And then passing on her nuggets of golden information to us all. And making us think that we needed to be there, go there, hear that, see that. Instead of moping around and moaning about. Well you know how it is!!!
So that’s how it is now. Eileen is missing and unless I’m very much mistaken or missing the point…someone is keeping something back from us all. And I at least intend to find out what, winkle the information from them, ply them with flattery and even seccumb to a bribe or a spot of alcohol as it’s so important to find out why Eileen is missing.
There’s a space in this that only Eileen can fill. That’s not to say she’s a big woman, no, not big in size.  But yes big.  Big in heart, big in enthusiasm, big in ideas. Yes now I come to think of it, Eileen is a big woman. Someone like Eileen can fill a room, let alone a chair. So when Eileen is missing the empty space is vast. The room may be full yet it seems strangely empty.
My, my!… I’m getting rather metaphysical here!
 But no, it’s a fact and anyone who knows her knows it’s a fact. No getting away from it. I’m putting it down here on the page and it gets plainer with every mark.
 Eileen is missing and so we are missing out.
But hang on, wait a minute, there must be someone who knows why Eileen is missing. Someone always knows. In my experience of life, though I acknowledge that’s not vast, not international, not particularly academic, yes in my experience there is always someone who knows. And very often the knowing person and their knowingness is right under your nose. Not like a bad smell under your nose. No ? I wouldn’t say that. More like a feather tickling or a bit of fluff that won’t go away until you sneeze and your eyes water and you reach for a tissue.
But I digress.
 Yes someone always knows something. Well just think of all the media stories appearing at the moment.  Someone knew.  Knew about the pay packets of those nice men on the radio, on the TV news, on the BBC. And what about those coloured roads that are due to appear locally, all over the banks of the Mersey…someone knew. Yes but did someone else have to winkle out the information and post it up for us to see….even if it was all a bit too late for us to do anything?
As for Eileen, she is still missing. Though I’ve heard that the electrician knows where she is….

But he’s not telling.

Thursday, July 20

Sunday Stories..."Eight"

I call these "Sunday Stories"...but those who read them will know that they are prompted on Thursdays and often written whenever I can squeeze them into the day!

This one is from one of my prompts.
The Number Eight.

I googled this and was amazed at just how much information there was about "eight"...worldwide...I knew about the Chinese importance...but not any of the others. The stories the others wrote were just amazing...I love this group!!

So here goes.....


    Flossie was in her usual seat next to Millie on the tables in the back row of the old cinema, now used for the town's bingo sessions.
    Her legs were hurting again. They had been getting steadily worse all that summer and now they were so swollen she could hardly wiggle her feet. Puddings she thought and sighed, sponge puddings, and she carefully pulled her tights over them.
    That morning her normal bus had been jammed as it sailed past her, and the driver deliberately not looking her way as she tried to flag him down. There was nothing for it but for her to take to the road into town, and walk the mile and a half as quickly as possible.
    She was thinking, "If I had a bit more money, I'd take a taxi", but her pension just about stretched the week as it was. A taxi might mean that she would have to draw some out of the Post Office Account and doing that was enough to make her very fearful. A lifetime of staying out of debt was like an iron rod firmly holding her backbone in place.
     Millie, her bingo companion, was an old school friend. They knew one another's ways and habits and fitted together like a hand in a glove. But Millie had something that Flossie had never had... luck in bucketfuls! Whether at school, in work, in marriage...yes even at the bingo...Millie's luck regularly turned up trumps. Flossie mulled this thought over as she made her way into town hoping against hope that the dark clouds she noticed gathering in the west, didn't drop their load of rain on her before she reached the cinema.
    Have you  noticed how one thought can lead to another? Like a butterfly flitting from flower to flower looking for the one with the most sweetness? It may lead to a positive thought or could take you down some dark path of sadness and despair. Though never one to dwell on the past, yet that day she found herself remembering the loss of a baby, the shortage of money and Fred dying so young leaving her  alone with no family and a life of scrimping. But she was nearly there at the bingo hall and the rain had held to be happy!
    There in the front of the queue, yohoing her over, was Millie. "I've kept your place.What happened? What a nuisance!...Just ignore the looks of  those women." said good friend Millie.
    Today was to be the big win. Once a month a special was held with a thousand pound win and today was that day. However the most that Flossie had ever won was a fiver and maybe once ten quid. Millie's luck on the other hand was a different kettle of fish. She often walked out with a couple of hundred. Not that she was, on those occasions she treated them both to a slap up lunch somewhere in the town for as she said she probably wouldn't have started going to the bingo if Flossie hadn't invited her along. That had been after Fred's death, when she had  tried every day to be away from the memories of their life together and find something to fill the hurt and emptiness inside.
    Eight games played . Those were the rules on a Tuesday morning at  the bingo hall. Four games, a break for tea, coffee and a biscuit and finish up with another four. Then "See you next week," and everyone made their way out and home.
    Kevin, the master of the balls, shouted for quiet. A roomful of women and men chattering and gossiping meant that he had to call more than once. But once the numbers were rolling out, the proverbial pin sounded like a gong.!! All ears alert, all eyes down and a shout of victory somewhere in the room. The games progressed, and one by one the shouts went up. Millie won fifty quid with her final seven on a card and smiled, "That's lunch for you and me today chuck",
    Tea and coffee over, crumbs swept on to the floor, the caller began again. Silent players praying for success. Bills to pay, holidays to plan, family to help. Who knows what hopes and dreams were depending on success that morning in the old cinema. Game seven came and went and still Flossie sat, dobber in hand unsuccessful again. How many tenners had she paid out over the years? "I'm giving it up, not coming again, the whole thing is a waste of money and I'm stupid!"
    Game eight and the people in their seats were restless. This was the big one. She looked at her card. Her eyes blurred from unfallen tears. Concentrate you fool she said to herself. Dob, dob, dob. She had one square left. Then someone shouted , "Full House!".....Flossie sighed and was about to tear up the card when the person realised they had made a mistake.
    Then Kevin called out, " Lucky Chinese...number eight."    In a dream she shouted, "I've got it!" And turning to Millie said...."The lunch is on me I think", as tears rolled down her face.


Tuesday, July 11

Sunday's Short Story...Dan's Breakfast

Out he marched.
Out of the stuffy house and
Away out into his garden.
Off he went with his belly full.
Off with a lightness of step.
It was a good feeling to take into the new day.
Now Dan was no spring chicken.
Well to tell the truth, he was closer to ninety than eighty.
But a wee bit of a creak in the joints would surely only be improved with a jaunt out into the fresh air. 
Out into his beloved veggie patch.
And there he would stand, arms crossed over his chest and lovingly survey his domain 
with the pride of a king,
 an emperor, 
a ruler of nations.
O.k....that might be a bit over the top that last thought.
But nevertheless his pride in his garden abounded.

Mags, in the home, was a great cook.
There were no two ways about it.
She could take a few wee ingredients, throw them in a pot, add a spot of water and a smidgen of a stock cube and produce a soup to knock your socks off!
And when it came to breakfasts, well there was noone, not man nor beast could beat her breakfasts.
So on this morning she had truly excelled herself.... and Dan's expectations... and had presented him with the breakfast to beat all breakfasts.
Here's a taste of what lay glistening on his plate.
Two slices of best back bacon, crisped on the edges where a spot of fat lingered smelling of heaven.
Two fried eggs winking at him from eggy paradise with whites firm and yolks soft and runny enough to dip a toasty soldier in and bring it up to his mouth with the delicious chance that a golden drop might roll gently down his chin be savoured at a later time.
A plump red tomato, halved and left sizzling in the pan 'til the edges browned with the crustiness left in the bottom of the frying pan from the cooked bacon.
And succulent sliced mushrooms sauted in butter and placed gleaming on the side of the plate.
But....creme de la creme, there on his plate a fat slice of his favourite black pudding, peppery and salted.
That was surely to replace the iron in his system.....just call me "Ironman", he thought.
So with a belly content with a full Irish breakfast and a pot of strong tea heavily laced with a spoonful...make that two or three spoonfuls...of sugar....

Out he marched.
Out into the sharpness of the January air.
Frost had left the grass with a grey green hue.
It reminded him of the colour of the classroom walls in the old school where he had been caretaker for fifty years.
It made him stop and consider how lucky he had been in life.
Well ...except for the times the school toilets had blocked, or that time the lab had been set on fire by the mad scientist of a teacher or....
Ah, that's what he would do this fine morning.
He would take all the dead wood and the autumn gatherings of dried bean stalks, dead asparagus grass and the sweetcorn stooks and have a fire.
A really big, glorious, joyous bonfire.
He would take two of the old wooden garden chairs and set them together upwind away from the smoke.
He would pop back down to the kitchen and bring Mags up and together they would sit and watch the sparks make their way up into the grey January sky.
He gathered the thinnings of autumn.. 
Stuffed paper into the empty spaces, laid the wood in a pattern as he had learnt as a boy from his dad, and who had in turn learnt from his dad.
So history progresses.
So skills are passed on.
So he took his lighter, the redundant lighter since he had given up smoking, and lit the paper.
Watched with anticipation as the dried vegetation caught fire and listened as it talked to him of times gone by, as it crackled and popped .

Mags looked out of
the kitchen window and sighed.
Another bloody bonfire!
So no washing hanging on the line again today!

Monday, March 20

a Poem for Thursday....Preston Patrick in March

Preston Patrick in March

Preston Patrick in March.

 If you don’t hurt crows
They won’t hurt you
My father said

And I believed him.

Chorus :-
While water drips
In a blue plastic drum
Water runs from
A pipe in the yard
Water brown bubbling
And smelling strong.

In the ring of trees
Black branched
Against a pearly sky
Crows weave nests.


Ghost trees hover high
On early green hills
And mist and low cloud
Merge in distant perspectives.


There sits a flatbed trailer
Unmoved by their caws
And rusty supports form
As iron oxidises.


The inspiration for the first stanza came out of a poem by Vicki Feaver in her  book,
 “The Handless Maiden”…Cape Poetry

“If you don’t hurt wasps
They won’t hurt you
My father told me.

But I didn’t believe him,”