Thursday, 31 December 2009

Christmas Day in the Morning

I saw three ships.
I opened the curtains and there they were -- on Christmas Day in the Morning at Druidstone. This pic might need a magnifier to see them, but they're there.

A perfect morning, a million miles from anywhere, with nothing more to do but contemplate the lunch menu and a stroll along the cliff top - or see if the tide was out far enough for a walk along the Newgale sands and watch the surfers - that is if there were any waves of the right height and strength coming in. At this time in the morning though, all looked calm and bright.

Last night the dining room had been packed. Not just with guests, but all the locals - people from Haverfordwest and many of the small villages around had gathered for the annual Carols-mince pies-and mulled-wine event. We sang our way through 27 traditional carols with ALL THE VERSES. I found the simultaneous swallowing and singing more difficult than normal, possibly because the lumps in my throat were not only caused by pastry crumbs, but arose from an unexpected sense of awe and magic.

In all the years I have taken part in this kind of
seasonal tradition, I don't think I have ever been so moved. The man on my left, a real Welsh baritone, brought the memories flooding back form childhood. Crammed into our small parlour, standing round the piano, we'd sing out hearts out in the very same manner. My father's voice, a baritone himself, gave a deep, melodious vibrato backing to hold us all together.

When I'd sung in those days, a school girl at my father's elbow and then a student at the piano, I'd contributed a treble descant. Now, decades later, with a Welsh baritone this time by my side I was surprised at how my voice had descended into the lower register parts which my father had once sung. I was also hearing the words as if for the first time; appreciating as never before the language with its descriptions of sparkling silences, of awesome starlight and the crystalline calm of a winter's night. Well known carols now coming alive, spinning their stories, depicting a past when Christmas was indeed a magical and spirit-filled occasion of bitter cold and loud lament. 'Sire,' pleads the page, 'the night grows darker now and the wind blows stronger. Fails my heart I know not how, I can go no-longer.' Then Wenseslas' voice comes in, 'Mark my footsteps good my page, tread thou in them boldly, thou wilt find the winter's rage, freeze thy blood less coldly.' And then the miracle, springing green from the place where his feet have trod, proclaims the act of loving kindness the two have wrought in the teeth of all that the rude winds could throw at them blesses both giver and he who receives equally.

And so to the feasting.

The most fantastic Christmas meal ever. Plate after plate, course after course, each as wonderfully conceived and presented as the one before. Staff from the kitchen and table servers joining us at intervals throughout the meal so we could exchange recipes and swap tit-bits of personal stories.

Here, on right, Jane presiding over the turkey carving.

Boxing Day morning, view from the window, the sea showing signs of the gale which was making its way across the Atlantic, and which hit us with some force during the night. Brrrr... Our bedroom overlooking the ocean felt like being on board some rather antique sailing ship. Rugs lifting off floor and curtails blowing to and fro all to an accompaniment of lightning flashings and a great deal of rude lamenting.

Morning after the storm the day broke cold and
crisp with blue skies again. Come nightime, the
temperatures dropped rapidly and we set up Ellis' our middle granddaughter's new, state of the art, telescope on the grass on top of the cliff. Mark computerised it to point right at the moon. A completely astonishing sight! Brilliant sliver-white light with mountains and craters clear and crisp and very mysterious. a bit of refocusing and there was the 'near by' Jupiter and her moons. This time the brilliant silver-white was shimmering with moving bands of jewel colours. It was perishing cold standing there, glittering frost forming under foot, it was hard to keep my balance on the sloping ground and some of the shimmering must have been due to me shivering. So, a quick dash for the cottage in the hotel grounds where Mark, Sandhya and the girls were staying. Finally several instalments of the U.S comedy 'Curb Your Enthusiasm', accompanied by glasses of a classy wine plus occasional dips into the Xmas choX boX before we grandparents retired to the big house for the rest of the night.

Sunday, 20 December 2009


Waking up and seeing the garden transformed by snow sends me looking back - it always snowed at Christmas in days of yore when I was a teenager - Honest, it did! Midnight on Christmas Eve meant hot mince pies and warm fruity non-alcho drinks after an hour or two's walking the sparkling pavements, stopping off at the doorsteps of our Methodist aunts, uncles and cousins who lived around this Shiregreen district of Sheffield. At each house we'd give a hearty rendition of Once in David's, Silent Night, or Come All Ye to the accompaniment of well shaken collecting tins. The heartiness and the vigourousness of the shaking all helped to keep us warm, and besides the hint worked most times, and thus encouraged we'd proceed to the next port of call, before finally ending up at Ted Wragg's the choirmaster's house for well-earned refreshments. Then back home with our chillblanes to H W Bs and hang up stockings in icy bedrooms.

And of course there were Yorkshire carols too.

On the run-up to Christmas the custom for many was to gather in local pubs and inns within the City for a good old sing song. But even better was to journey further out. With my father and a few friends we'd set off in the car, on snow chains, making sure the shovels and sacks in the boot were at the ready to dig us out of drifts and provide a good grip on icy patches. We'd zigg-zagg our way cautiously up to Bolsterstone, a village high in the Pennines just outside Sheffield. The pub lights would be blazing, but before entering into the warm beery atmosphere we would stop to inspect the village stocks, a remnant of an even more distant past. The brass band would be tuning up and orders taken. None of your swanky church hymns here, the mood was merry and ready for a full-on vocal 'let's wake up the village' Hail Smiling Morn, Smiling Morn, Smiling Morn followed by While Shepherds Watched bellowed out to the much older folk tune of Ilkley Moor. Sad to say I've forgotten many of the other old Yorkshire carols now, some of them only known in and around these outer villages, but heartened to hear on the radio only this week that they are being rediscovered and broadcast. Anyone remember, There's A Song for a Time when the Sweet Bells Chime for the Rich and the Poor to pray. Oh that Joyful morn when Christ was born. Oh that Joyful Christmas Day?

Carols belonged to the people. They came from a very ancient tradition, possibly pre-Christian. Round dances (Carole) along with hearty celebratory singing, performed in the winter season and maybe around crackling out-door fires where roastings and feastings were carried on, then later gradually incorporating Christmas themes.

Possibly though, the most memorable ritual of the Season was the annual trip to Bellvue Zoo Manchester. But not like you imagine. First we'd congregate outside the Sheffield City Hall, piling the whole of the Philharmonic Choir plus instruments and assorted members of the fan club, (wives, children, parents,) into a fleet of coaches. Then away we'd go across the Pennines to Manchester. Meanwhile a similar convoy would be crossing over from Huddersfield, the two fleets converging on Bellvue. Finally, all assembled, we'd be met by Sir John Barberolli and his Halle orchestra and choir to give the performance of the year, Handel's Messiah, in the great concert hall to the delight of the giraffes and baboons, and an audience of musically discerning humans. Performance over, the best was yet to be; The Bean Feast. Long tables draped in crisp white cloth and decorated with silver bells and holly displayed the Christmas Tea.

I seem to remember it all getting a bit out of hand towards the end after everyone, big-name soloists, Isabelle Bailey, Cathline Ferrier, and simple citizen alike, had toasted and teased and congratulated each other a few times. Barberolli climbed onto the table and strode down the middle waving his baton, glass in other hand, while his feet squashed and squished the left-over mince pies and jellies. I think the chimps had already been fed by that time and put themselves to bed.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009


Buckets, bowls, towels and plastic sheets bedeck the house. How much more of this to come? At least we're not meters deep in it like those poor souls in Cumberland. But after all that rain this summer how much more can the saturated ground, not to mention gutters and downpipes, take?

Apart from that moan, what's new? Sometimes when Life seems to
go on as usual, not presenting anything at all excitingly out of the
old routine, it's easy to think nothing new is happening. But perhaps the everyday on-the-surface view isn't all there is. 'Things' may be on the move elsewhere.
Writing about Jacob Epstein these last few weeks has taken me on a journey into new levels of myself. And a conversation with Crysse last evening round the kitchen table has helped to stir things up - sort of bring them to the surface, clarify, allow in more light -all that sort of thing. With the subject of Synchronicity under discussion it was interesting, and actually quite delightful to find that, just as I had been focusing on one piece of Epstein's sculpture in particular, Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, I saw Crysse smile. Intrigued, I asked why. Turns out she has just written a poem on the same subject, affirming both out feelings about how synchronicity works its mysterious way.

Monday, 2 November 2009


I mentioned briefly that I'd begun a new book of short stories, dreams, synchronicities and correspondences. I am aiming at about 70 pages and have reached 50. Time to ask for a fresh pair of eyes to take a look, I thought. Crysse Morrison, who'd reviewed and edited my last book agreed to do the honours again - Crysse, as well as having a substantial collection of stories and novels to her credit, also writes and performs poetry at a variety of venues, the strangest of which was her recent appearance atop one of those Plinth thingies in Trafalgar Square this summer. In addition she is soon to appear on stage at the Merlin Theatre in Frome, a new venture. She also leads writer's workshops in different locations around the globe, and combines all this with a spot of novel mentoring. A woman of many talents you'd agree.

We met last night at Kevan Manwaring's most enjoyable Garden of Awen, Samhian/Halloween event at Chapel Arts in Bath, where in the near pitch dark - very atmospheric, very Arcadian with bird songs, intermittent moonbeams and bonfire smoke - I handed over the first 50 pages of my m/s. We sipped a delicate glass of bubbly and toasted Nikki Bennett who was celebrating the launch of her own book of poems, Love Shines Beyond Grief, from which she read a selection during the evening.

In keeping with the Synchronicity aspect of my title, I had just written a few paragraphs on Jacob Epstein, the sculptor. He was a figure very much in the public eye during the time I knew him - controversial, and for decades vilified and attacked for certain of his figures which outraged the public at the time because of the raw power and explicitly primitive aspects of humanity which they portrayed. Like several other artists at the turn of the last century he had a need to break through the barriers of over-civilised society to reveal underlying and universal truths and strengths beneath the surface. I was sad to think that this genius and giant of those times was now virtually forgotten. I was sad also to think that another formidable yet forgotten figure, Carl Jung the psychotherapist, who I'd also written about in the same little book, had also dropped from the scene. How wrong I was! My pen was hardly dry when I heard that Jacob Epstein was having a major exhibition at the Royal Academy, (along with his contemporaries, Eric Gill and H. Gaudiier Brezeska,) and C.G. Jung is in the top 3 best sellers at Amazon right now with his book Modern Man in Search of a Soul.

Saturday, 24 October 2009


Yes, they did in fact post up that review after all!

After I'd written it all out again and re-submitted, I got a pop-up saying 'Ooops! you can't have two reviews for the same book.' So I don't know where they'd hidden the one I sent on the 3rd - because that didn't appear, but the second attempt with an extra para came up within the 48 hours they said to expect. Maybe I shall try my hand at reviewing again now. Anyone interested!? For a small fee I could dash you off a rave.

Sunday, 18 October 2009


Now I got that Obama business out of the way ... A new thing for me to explode like that! on line - that is. However, a lot's been happening during this summer break during my self-imposed rule of silence. Where shall I start...

I've begun a new book; DREAMING WORLDS AWAKE, Stories, dreams, synchronicities and correspondences, (with a scatter of short poems).

I've also been reading quite a bit too. Amazon, for some reason invited me to write a review of the recent book's I'd bought, and overcoming the old reticences and habits, I thought I'd have a go. The two most recent were, When Skateboards Will be Free: my reluctant political childhood, by Said Sayrafiezadeh, and Sarah Dunant's Sacred Hearts. I don't think I'm very good at reviews, don't seem to have the kind of mind it takes, but I did one and sent it up, only to have it rejected. Actually, I thought, in the end, it wasn't all that bad. So I do wonder why they didn't see fit. Reading other examples, yes, there are several, almost, I'd say, professional write-ups - and looking at the profiles of the contributors, they seem to have been doing this sort of thing for many years. But on the other hand there are a few rather ordinary or even poor ones. The one I gave 5 stars to, Sacred Hearts, one reviewer found nothing to say, but 'Boring, boring, boring and predictable. I could see the ending coming right at the beginning.' Pity she didn't get the bits in between, is all I can say. But then, she was from Texas!

Here is what I wrote on Sarah Dunant's Sacred Hearts; I'll leave you to judge.

This is wonderful! We have so much quality writing about these days that I always feel the book I'm reading at the time is the best yet, but Sarah Dunant's latest novel transported me so convincingly into the heart of this Sixteenth Century convent life, that I was living it alongside her. Hers is a gift which only a writer with the power to inhabit its every aspect can call up.

One facet brought home to me was how, in spite of its religious practices, some of which, in their extremes of self-induced suffering appear bizarre to us in this secular age, convent life offered women of that time the opportunity to develop innate talents; artistic, musical, horticultural and medical, with a degree of respect and authority impossible outside its walls. Above all, what impresses is the sheer beauty of its language invoking with fiery passion the love story at its heart - and perhaps inviting questions on the nature of Love itself.

The developing relationship between the two central characters, the novice Serefina and Suora Zuana, is warmly and subtly drawn. Zuana is basically a healer; knowledgeable in a wide range of medicinal plants, the remedial properties and modes of application which she has learned at her physician/apothecary father's knee. She has inherited his books - at least the ones which remained after his students and other visitors, in the wake of his sudden death, had smuggled out - as well as inheriting his intuitive and scientific mind. As a healer she cares, is compassionate, (as far as the onerous and rigid rules of the convent allow,) and the Madonna Chiara, head of the order, is canny enough to place Serafina into her care. And what a task that is! Torn from her relationship with her young and musically talented lover by a father whose interest is in making the best possible alliance with another prominent family, Serafina is uncontrollably distraught. He has sold this daughter, in effect, to the convent. A sentence no better that life imprisonment.

Madonna Chiara herself is fascinating: Zuora says of her, that, not only does she display great political skill in running a prestigious order of nuns during a time when the forces of the counter-reformation were playing out a struggle for the power to direct men's souls, but she could run a empire equally well!

As a writer myself, albeit one who came to the craft rather late in life, I bow to a Master. My own books address questions concerning life in the body and life of the spirit, but from a different perspective, not of unsustainable old beliefs, but one which takes Today out into the Future.

Maybe it was this last para they didn't like! OK. point taken!

Sunday, 11 October 2009


All summer I've been quiet, so gloomed and enshaded by cloud and the rain, rain, rain of it that I didn't have the heart in me to give voice. However, events in the world are coming to the boil inside me, and I'm re-energised by fury. Obama has been given the Peace Prize -- and I'm furious! Furious at all the mean-spirited fuss and the missing-the-point stupidity of all those commentators who cry out that he hasn't ACHIEVED ANYTHING YET when the fact is he's already achieved more in the few months of his presidency than many other Nobel Prize recipients managed in their lifetime. I will name no names, but ....

What the hell did they all expect? What is it about humanity that they want a Messiah, a Saviour or God himself to wave a wand and bestow Peace upon us. Down the ages we cry,' Why doesn't God .... Why did He allow...? Why does no-one 'up there' save us from ourselves?' Has no-one heard about free will? God's gift to mankind has always been choice, and if Arafat, Hamas and Fatah, Netanyahu, Al Qaida, Mugabe or whoever, whatever choose not to hear they cannot be forced. And force is what they choose to wield. They are the force; they have the force, and by God they're going to hold on to it. And may I remind you that Bush believed in it too -- and Obama is not George Doubleyoo.

In this secular age we congratulate ourselves on no-longer believing fairytales about this thing we've called God - or for that matter Allah. Yet we seem to have inbuilt a childish longing to have Someone Up There fix it for us. With God dead, we fixate on having a World Leader to do the impossible for us, and we thought we'd found him in Obama. We sensed his visionary intelligence - felt him to be someone special - a breath of fresh air - someone New who could Be The Change we'd hoped to see. Well, maybe he is! but what he brings is the message that We too must be the Change, learning step by step as we go forward together, that we can no longer be bystanders at the game. We are the people and we're All in it together.

Peace is not a thing; it's a process. A long, patient arduous process of negotiation and often of compromise. It requires strength of purpose, hanging on, going on when all seems against you and you seem to be standing still - or worse - going backwards, but carrying your light, holding it high, maintaining your vision. Let's give him and ourselves a cheer. Full support - we're with you!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009


Oh, that damn blackbird! It been singing for me all day. I sometimes join in - I can whistle a bit - lick my lips, roll my tongue in what I hope is the optimum shape for sound quality and aim a few musical phrases at it to which it replies right back by copying my crude notes, and adding extra cadences of its own. Then I whistle back and it answers again, but so beautifully, professional and perfect with its tones, undertones, countertones, overtones, chucklings and chortlings, burbling and bell-tinkling, and that curious golden liquid escaping from a crushed and rusted tin sound.

But it doesn't mind me at all: it seems to enjoy the game of back and forth even tho my efforts are pretty pathetic. Yet I'm enjoying it too, and not caring that I'm a poor partner. I wonder if it sees me as a monster-sized chick? As the night comes on it's still perched on the top bare, branch patiently coaching me in the arts of song?

Thursday, 25 June 2009


1/ The reason we have time is - so that everything doesn't happen at once.
Attrib. Alb Einstein.

2/ If at first you don't succeed... then sky-diving's not for you.
Attrib. Arfa Smiff

3/ Clarity is more powerful than any medicine.
Kuthumi (Lal Singh) "Wonderful ... that was one of my better moments. Glad you liked that, Esme."

4/ Simplicity is clarity's best friend.

Friday, 12 June 2009


I recently did an interview with Marisa Calvi who lives in Australia. We met in Cyberspace: it makes world wide travelling so easy! We both have more than a passing interest 'New Energy'. What's that? I'll make some attempt to communicate that in my own way - but you could say it IS communication - being 'in touch' in a very immediate and you might say intimate sense, of touching - depth of feeling - touching into other realities - expanded realities. Expanded consciousness. To take a quote from Tobias, (who's Tobias?) ... we long ago placed these New Energy tools in place for us to use at exactly the time we find ourselves in right Now... "But we had the wisdom to place these tools without even knowing what they were; without knowing exactly what had to be done but knowing that it could be done; without having to manipulate or manufacture a certain tool or a certain system or structure, but to know that at this time when we came to this place on the path that those tools would appear and they would be appropriate and they would be of the New Energy not of the Old."

"...would appear, and would be appropriate .." so I think that's at the heart of it. It's about meeting the challenge, whatever the nature of the thing may be, writing a poem, speaking in front of a live audience, meeting sudden illness or bereavement, financial crisis, but meeting it in the moment, directly from 'the source', which is linking to ones own direct pipeline to interdimentional wisdom - an inner knowing which comes from a place beyond 3 D, dualistic thinking.

I met Marisa on the Shaumbra Creations section of the Crimson Circle Newsletter for February 2009 which was hosting a review/presentation of my 'This Strange and Precious Thing.' She had also recently written a book - a very interesting book - a channelled book. (She tells the story much better than I can, so you can follow her link and click on her June 2009 Newsletter which will take you to my interview, and thence to the rest of her website for more about her book.) It is the story of an Egyptian Pharaoh as told by himself - a personal and sensitive account which, unusually for anything told in a first person voice from those distant times, takes us empathetically and respectfully into the world of the feminine experience.

Thursday, 4 June 2009


No, I haven't flown right back, it's just that more images are coming in. And not just images in the form of photos, but mind images - remembrances, vivid pictures in my mind, colours streaming in, sunbursts, scents, echoes of conversations had turning into new discussions I might have in the future, or food for thought about things I might write about later.

There's a story I could write around the conversation I had with Rosa and our host Abdel concerning characters in a book and a very strange piece of synchronicity about a strangely gifted tortoise called Cassiopeia.... but that's for another time. But for now, this, taken by Mark, is Sandhya and me just before boarding the plane home.

And this (right) is us tripping out amid the fluorescent bougainvillea again.

Now, this. This image below, when I first saw it at a smaller scale with the figure on the left seeming to merge into the background, I took it at first for some local Moroccan lady and wondered when I was shot. Obviously not when I was present. When I enlarged it I realised with some surprise that the lady in question was myself at the carpet emporium!

It was, of course, from the guided tour we all three of us took that day we went round the Medina.

Another image, (below right) taken by Mark when I was back at Alkantara luxuriating in the shade by the pool no doubt, is quite astonishing, I think. I'm not sure where it was. It may have been at the Riad itself, or somewhere they visited on their own, but it reminds me of the pose of certain goddesses carved on the outside of ancient Indian temples. Yet it has that beauty, delicacy and magical quality which comes with the play of light and shade of Islamic art.


Oh to be in England!
After all that exotic Moroccan colour, and after the shock of that wet, cold grey/green return from Fez in early May, Spring has sprung at last - not only sprung, but leapt into full summer heat. Wonderful! The birds sang their hearts out for a while, but now they're becoming drowsily quiet - except for the cawling and cackling of the corvus family. No, not the noisy neighbours, but crows and jackdaws and such. But if you listen hard you can still catch the sweet twitterings of green and goldfinches and a few swifts on the wing.
Our colours might be more subdued, (and these photos don't do them justice, but try just clicking onto one,) but there's nothing like the sounds and scents of an English garden.

Saturday, 9 May 2009


I've put this up purely for the astonishing colours of the bougainvillea behind yours truly, and for the fact (which I've just discovered) that, if you enter my Blog from the link on my website, (and apparently not otherwise,) you can, with one click enlarge the photo to way beyond screen size. Well, my screen size anyway. So, ignoring the central figure (please) a burst of quite the most improbable colours will explode in front of your eyes. This is an invitation, not a must-do directive. But if, like me, you get that grey/green English chill, and 'where is the summer gone, the blue, blue skies, and whence that golden, skin-basking, sunbathed warmth?' feeling creeping over you, a moment or two spent stepping into the picture and breathing it in, might just bring you a quick, free flight from present reality. (Works for me, anyway.)
One click on the extreme left arrow on the top bar will exit the enlargement.
If you don't have it, my Web-address is:

Thursday, 7 May 2009


SUNDAY, and we decided that if I was going to see what the Medina had to offer, we should ask Alkantara to contact their guide and the man with the wheelchair, a rare piece of equipment in this part of the world, and, as we were about to discover, struggling to make our rickety,wobbly passage through the thousands of men, women, children and donkeys crammed into the narrowest of alleys, an object of wonderment to the populous, if all the curious, but not unfriendly stares were an indication.

Sandhya wanted to visit the shop where argan oil is made. Another rarity - bouncing with vitamins of all sorts. I'd read about it too. Make sure you're not palmed off with the inferior stuff diluted with olive oil, we were warned. Our guide knew his stuff however; this was the real MaCoy, and the white salwah chemised and businesslike young woman who claimed her establishment to be a woman's co-operative, soon launched into her sales routine. Orange flower, lavender, rose, chamomile and eucalyptus skin creams and hair oils. Oils for cooking and salads and, mixed with honey and pounded almonds, as a delicious dip for bread - tastes slightly of burnt chocolate. Four women squatting on the floor were hard at work peeling the tough outer skins of what looked like a knobbly nutmeg. Separated flat seeds were then either roasted for the culinary oils, or ground between flat, hand-turned grindstones and thence into a bowl. The amount of oil produced was minuscule, and it was easy to see why a small bottle cost so much. What wasn't so clear was why we were asked to give the women dirhams before leaving the shop. My idea of a co-op is that everyone is payed an equal share of the profit, and not a small pittance dropped into a basket.

Next stop, an instrument maker. Musical instruments of every kind. We were shown and had explained to us any number of strange stringed or woodwind examples. The one which intrigued me above all was described as the most ancient type of string fiddle in the world. I asked the elderly owner, a great and revered craftsman musician, if I could handle it carefully. There were just two strings, and to my ear, they gave the same sound. But in his hands a tune of strange sorts was coaxed out of it. He seemed delighted to have his picture taken.

Our guide standing behind him.
On to the great mosque Kairaouine, 'the oldest university in the world' according to our guide, and founded in the 9th Century by Fatima, one of two sisters who each endowed Fez with thoelogical establishements. The massive doors were being closed for noon-day prayers as we arrived, and we were told to take our photos quickly. I aimed my camera and shot, hoping I'd managed to snap the breathtaking splendour of the outer courtyard, which moments before had been crowded with tourists, but its light must have been too brilliant because I only captured the family who were emerging as the
doors closed.
A last look at the streets. Outside the ancient Caravanseri which a thousand years ago stabled camels, horse, mules and the merchants and drivers from every part of the Oriental world, and from the wild Northern lands too, no doubt. Gold, jewels, spices and slaves were weighed and exchanged inside. Now it is The Museum of Wood. Trunks mainly of Cedar, several different species, diagonally sliced and highly polished stand in the lower floor. The higher floors are where rich merchants slept and feasted.

The Tannery: showing in the distance the dwellings of the thousand year old city, housing the hundred thousands of Fessi citizens. Leather goods of all kinds, slippers, purses, are sold in the cramped streets.

Sandhya wondering how to exit the carpet warehouse after having been seduced by rounds of mint tea and a sales speel so polished, erudite and long winded that we almose went home with this wondrous Berber hand-woven kilim.

A last look at the Alkantara garden. And the street close to the Bab, the Medina Gate where we were to meet the taxi for the airport. The street where we did buy (Mark, white tee shirt right) bags of black and pale green olives, dried apricots, gigantic delicious dates, bags of perfect almonds and dried muscats on the vine.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009


Mine, all mine.

Yes, this is my room.
At this scale you can't see the intricate detail of the carving around and above the doorway to my bedroom, or the wrought ironwork of the windows, all of which open out into this quiet courtyard/ sitting room. Mark and Sandhya's room is opposite on the other side of the courtyard. To the left is the library, a red velvet upholstered reading room and music room, complete with inlaid chess table and pieces ready for a game. If, suddenly, you couldn't resist the urge to find an aficionado partner to give you a game before retiring for the night, presumably.

On the wall to the right (but picture left) is a wonderfully carved arched decoration with minute forms echoing the arches in the pillars outside on the terrace.
Almost without exception, everything here is perfectly symmetrical, but these tiny forms slightly disobey the rule, giving the impression of ripples, like a waterfall in white stone.

Inside the room. By the time we were shown to our rooms on the first night - and of course, the taxi driver had still been waiting for us at Fez airport. As so too the men; the guide and the wheelchair man, both standing patiently in the dark cold square - it was around 2.30 a.m. After examining the room and the turquoise tiled sunken bath and shower, I turned the key in the door and flung myself on the silky Egyptian cotton bed sheets and closed my eyes. Fearing that I'd be asleep before managing to undress if I wasn't careful, I opened them again. I don't think I'd noticed it was a four-poster bed until I peered up through it to the ceiling high above. Gasp! A fantastic, intricately carved and painted cedar wood ceiling.

Corner of room. Stained glass window looking onto courtyard and door to bathroom, view also from flat on back, looking up through bed-post.

Night, night. I'm going to give that pool a go in the morning.


First, a 3 1/2 hour stop-over at Casablanca. The plan, for Mark and Sandhya, was to take a taxi and sample the nightlife. The airport was modern and sterile with its marble floors and aluminium seating - few people at that time of night. Leafing thro' the guide book the discovery was: Casablanca, a huge city, is noted for its extreme poverty, prostitution, violence and crime. H. Bogart's 'Here's looking at you, kid,' along with the brimming eyes of Ingrid Bergman, was filmed, on set, in Hollywood. Suddenly the taxi drive lost its appeal. From 10.30 onwards crowds of people, men with women, the regulation 12 steps behind, all dressed in white from head to foot, men's heads covered in crocheted white caps, began streaming in. Some had brilliant gold flasks around their necks: we guessed they were pilgrims.

Our plane was late. Growing concern. Would the guide still be there the other end? It was way past midnight, and unusually cold. And the guy with the wheelchair? Without these there'd be no way we'd find out way through the Medina to the Riad, and no way I'd be able to walk it even if we could.

1/Sandhya on terrace, 2/ me ditto,

Fez breakfast; big jug of Arabic coffee, orangejuice in blue hand-painted pitcher, little hot round breads and pancakes, 7 kinds of confitures, cream cheeses and olives taken on the Bougainvillea Terrace overlooking pool, next morning, Friday, 1st May. Dazzling; stunning; I decide to spend the day here, maybe test the water in the pool, even swim, have a salad fron lunch in the waterside gazebo while the other two go off exploring. It's obligatory to have a guide; without one you'd never find your way out of the Medina - maybe not get out alive. I'll leave all that till tomorrow.

View of terrace from across the pool.

Monday, 27 April 2009


I'm off on the road to Morocco ....... It feels surreal - an unlikely dream I haven't yet begun to believe in, and by the time I get back with, what I hope will be evidence that I wuz there, maybe it will begun to sink in. It will be a very short trip, but I'm hoping to bring a few pics to prove it to myself, and I'm powering up my new(ish) camera's batteries ready for whatever catches my eye. Like a dream, none of this was planned in advance, the opportunity came out of the blue, so there's no more to say just now, except I'll put up some photos after I return.

Talking of dreams, this last few weeks my nights have been full of weird and wonderful multi snippets of moving pictures and strangely coloured scenes from outerspace - or is it innerspace? A plethora of disturbing, intriguing, affirming images and visions which I don't have time to record just now, but which shower me with material for much future writing and philosophising. Watch this space.

Sunday, 12 April 2009


Yes, we had the bananas, now we have EGGS! The quartet of bantam Speckledie hens which Michael bought to put into an old hen-house he'd been given about a month ago, have cleverly managed to present us with two brown eggs (each the size of a large grape!*?) in time for our breakfast this Easter Day morning. HOW DID THEY KNOW? Maybe the full moon on Good Friday night had something to do with it.

After a couple of weeks for settling in, they're now ranging free, pecking and scratching among the herbage and verdure for interesting beetles and grubs. That's when they're not eating their expensive fowl pellets and porridge oats. Haven't got the figures, and so haven't yet worked out the costs, the profit/loss calculation - the setting up costs, the feeders and water containers, luxury bags of bedding hay, roofing materials, rat-proof and fox-proof netting, not to mention their top quality, twice-a-day pellets, versus the profit on the first two mini eggs, but with luck, come the end of their life, it's a fair bet we might just break even.


"Look! Is that a black sheep over there? Two white ones and one black.''
"Careful! Don't get too close, dear."
"Why not? It's not as if they're bulls or anything, but they do look strange, don't they. And so BIG? Why do they have such LONG necks?"

What a fabulous Spring day! Easter Monday. We packed some sandwiches, fruit and cake and took ourselves off into the heart of the English countryside. We headed for our secret spot, a dome-shaped hillside steeply - almost precariously, overlooking a wooded valley, where at the right time of ear you can find five different kinds of wild orchids.

To get there we walked through a pasture, keeping our distance from a flock of surprised, and surprising llamas, on through meadows and woodlands carpeted with primroses, intense violets, wild garlic and bluebells - and not a human soul! We spread out rug on the orchid hill, though on this April day the grass was short, green, and primrose strewn. Catching the breeze, clouds of mini flowers from blackthorn and cherry dusted the ground around us. Blue sky from end to end with circling and corkscrewing buzzards calling like aero-kittens as the only sound audible in the miles and miles of silence.

Thursday, 26 March 2009


We're the best part through with March already and there have been so many To DO's on my To Do list that I've had no time to update my blog. Probably also, none of this busy-ness was this least bit interesting to others. However, just in case... I'm in the midst of having a full new website created which will include, not only a page/pages devoted to each of my three books, but pages also of a selection of my sculpture and a few paintings and drawings.

Many of the sculptures I managed to complete in the years when I was still involved with three dimensional work were life-size figures, and many, if not most of these have been left behind in one way or another. Sculpture, unlike your two dimensional stuff, is hard to store. You can't slot it into racks or put it up in your loft. It's heavy. It's bulky. And reluctantly, I had to leave several of my figures behind over the years in gardens or fields, or other people's sheds. Some of my earlier 'oeuvre' were stolen from the studio I shared in London during the time I was away that year in Rome ('58/59'). I guess I was shocked for a time when I returned and found them gone, but life was all movement in those days, and I soon moved on. So, in short, I now have only bits and pieces, a handfull of small bronzes and ceramics plus a couple of life-size figures.

However, gathering the remains of my stuff together has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. A piece here, a piece there, and what surfaced was a sense of a lifetime's work being drawn together. One charcoal drawing, e. g. was done at the British Museum while I was a student at the Royal College in the mid-fifties. An aluminium figure which was cast on a trip back to Sheffield visiting friends who were teaching in the sculpture department at my old college in Psalter Lane. My friend Derek had invited me to try out their facilities. I'd brought a couple of things with me carved from polystyrene blocks, and we decided that sand casting might be a good way to tackle them. Sand casting bronze was a traditional craft in Sheffield, and I'd often watched the men at work there in my student days, fascinated by the process. We'd never had this facility in the old Art College, but the building had since been extended and modernised, and money lavished on all kinds of equipment. I was eager to try some of them out for myself and get to know how this 'new' material worked. You don't often get chance to play in a sand pit! We set the blocks, plus runners and risers in the sand mix, tamping it down in the old familiar way, then melted the aluminium. When it reached the right temperature we poured it into the cast. Happy days!

Thursday, 12 March 2009



AND on my birthday, too! Not only 'A' birthday, but my 3/4 of a century day.

What a golden gift. And what's more, they are delicious! Wowee! I'd love to share them with you, but you know how it is ....

I hadn't expected them to come through that winter, certainly not to ripen. Not until we had some good sun, anyway. But early Spring! Pure gold.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009


This Saturday, 21st Feb. saw my debut appearance on the shopfloor of Waterstones, Bath. Here I am seated at a small table in the act of signing books. The delightful lady joyfully examining one of the copies is my daughter Sandhya, whose unexpected arrival took me completely by surprise. It was a day of surprises and the unexpected.

There had been a write-up in the local paper a couple of days previously. I was in good company; I spotted the cover of my new book at the bottom of the page below an article on the Bath Literary Festival featuring its artistic director, Sara LeFanu; a cover picture of The Other Half Lives, 'an edgy thriller', by Sophie Hannah; ditto of Sir Menzies Campbell in conversation with Don Foster; and ditto of the forthcoming appearance of Melvin Bragg at Topping & Co with his latest autobiographical novel, Remember Me. Was inclusion in all this illustrious company pushing my luck just a bit far? And what about that headline for The Strange and Precious!; ''Miracle' author weaves love and sci-fi into her new novel." Some header! Well, I though, that's the Bath Chronic, for you. Hope no-one comes along on the day expecting blue smoke and a sparkling magic wand. But something even more extraordinary happened.

It certainly amazed me, anyway.

I had been told by Claire on behalf of the management at Waterstones, to expect people wanting to come up to talk to me about the book. I had to think about that: it's such a complex story I wasn't sure how to approach it. I wrote an Outline, printed out some reviews, compiled a sheet of background scientific research, and wrote an 'About Me'. On the Friday morning I did a few last-minute posters to pin up and took them into town. My write-up in the Chronicle had begun one paragraph; The Island, (which Plato claimed to be the last remaining tip of lost Atlantis,) is the setting for this many-layered story. This gave me an idea; something interesting, not to mention important, to talk about. I enlarged that quote, put it in context, and printed it out ready for the morrow. I'd also checked my emails once or twice in case anything important had come in. It had been a busy morning: I called it a day and had a lunch break.

Later in the afternoon, around 3.30 I checked my emails again. As I opened my BT/Yahoo page a 'breaking news' announcement popped up. I don't usually take much notice of popup news, but there at the top was this item headed; Has The Lost City of Atlantis Been Found? Astonished, I quickly printed it out in economy, b&w print, thinking, Here is something I can definitely use at the signing. The Island is certainly a place where Strange and Precious Things happen; I had already pointed this out when I gave my little talk at the launch, and here was yet another example - the universe presenting me with this last minute gift. But why not splash out and print it out in colour, I told myself. I opened up Yahoo again, but now, only minutes later, it had gone! The news item was no-longer there. I stared in disbelief, realising that if I hadn't opened it up just when I did, I wouldn't have seen it at all!

I felt quite miffed at not being able to have the colour version, but it occurred to me later that there was a way to go back onto the news archives, which I did. I'm so uninterested normally that I'd never looked this closely. But the synchronicity of the thing appearing at the exact moment I opened up and then disappearing again was amazing.

In the version I've managed to upload here the image of the sea floor grid is unfortunately difficult to decipher. And the text impossible to read. (I'll search for a better one later.) But, briefly, is says; "A perfect rectangle of criss-cross lines has been found 620 miles off the coast of West Africa. Is this the lost city of Atlantis? Bernie Bamford from Cheshire, UK found the figure while using Google Ocean to explore the sea. Its existence is even more perplexing as the grid is about 3.5 miled down.
Some believe it is the city of Atlantis, a great civilisation that Plato believed sank around 9.700 B.C. Dr. Charles Orser, curator of historical archaeology at New York State University and an authority on Atlantis said, "The site is one of the most prominent places for the proposed location of Atlantis. Even if it turns out to be geographical, it definitely deserves a closer look."

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

After the Big Freeze, comes the thaw: after the cover, comes news of the book itself.

Everything seems to have been at a standstill for weeks, frozen and snowed in , and to top it off a bad cold which just wouldn't go away. Sore throat and fits of uncontrollable coughing just when my Waterstones 'signing event' was coming up. People would want to come up and talk to me about the book, the management told me, and here I was unable to croak out a simple sentence without red-in-the faceness, streaming nose and eyes, and the need to dash to the loo to be sick. However ...

Fingers crossed (all of them and toes too,) I shall be there at Bath's major chain bookstore this Saturday Feb 21st from 11.00 a.m. to 1.30 ish. If I hold out that long. AND at the same time, I shall be appearing on the pages of the Crimson Circle Shaumbra Creations site for the month of February. Here is a link:
I hope it works.

If it does and you decide to investigate, it should take you to the Crimson Circle Newsletter Home Page. Look down the left until you see; Shaumbra Creations. Click on it and scroll down that page. Half way down is a picture of Esme Ellis and another pic of the book cover, PLUS a piece about the book itself.

Everything is suddenly on the move. A bit in the local paper and an interview for BBC Radio Bristol on the horizon, too.

* Crimson Circle is a world-wide organisation for Quantum Leap, and New Energy teachers and creators.

Sunday, 25 January 2009


It's time I said something about this book, then. I thought I'd begin with the cover. That would introduce it nicely. In visual terms there were two main characters I wanted to portray, but they needed a background. I thought first of all I'd try to paint one myself, or maybe take a few photos and piece them together. But then this idea came to me to use a piece of fabric which I had in my possession. It was silk, it had the right sort of colours and was already hand painted. But to make it more my own I wanted to change it in some way, so I scrunched it up and flattened it by placing a piece of glass over it. The result was 'ripple'. My friend Skip, (Robert Palmer,) came in at this point and together we took photos of it, which he then transferred onto the computer where, side by side, we gradually pieced together my ideas for the cover.

Then I made images of my two main characters, the boy and the girl. All good stories have a boy and a girl. But in this case at least, Finn, the young male character, was a boy with a difference. For one thing he arrives on the scene after having spent a few hundred years surfing the Multiverse. He has been summonsed by Gaia, Mother Earth, just as Humanity is on the verge of a major transition, a crisis point in World history, and plummets down through the stratosphere just as Annya, our main female character is floundering in the sea, close to drowning.
The fabric I used for a background has just the right touch of ambiguity. It suggests the sea, while at the same time it is a metaphor for 'the veil' which certain esoteric writers speak of as that which separates us, the living, flesh and blood humans, from those they speak of as being 'on the other side.' These are not terms I feel comfortable about using myself, and I didn't consciously choose a piece of silk with that term in mind. But once in place it felt right, and almost as if someone other than myself had had a hand in its choosing.
And this is something else which deserves a mention: there was, on many an occasion during the writing of the book, a sense that 'my uptheres' as I call them, were constantly dropping in from time to time, not only with encouragement, but with vital pieces of information at the very moment when I was floundering myself, or felt as if I had come to the very edge of a precipice and didn't have the slightest clue what I was going to say next. I have acknowledged this at the front of the book, crediting figures such as Adamus Saint Germain, Tobias, and the voice of The Reconnections, via Daniel Jacob.


IN-AUGUR-ATION. I just heard today that this word comes from 'augurdre' meaning reading the omens from the behaviour of birds. This was a Roman custom where a chosen priest and a highly placed politician consulted the auguries who spoke on behalf of the gods. These two illustrious representatives of the people would scan the skies looking for the sacredmost spot, the temple in the sky, where it was decided the birds would appear. Then after prayers and incantations were finished they would watch for the very next bird to appear in that space. Thus spoke the gods.

Keeping well in mind that I'm now speaking of We, The People, three days before the Inauguration in Washington a great bird appeared in the sky, and was brought down to earth by a company of its fellow avians -- following me, are you? What transpired a second or two later was by any standard, a miracle.

Thursday, 22 January 2009


Well, I watched and listened - listened carefully, and for myself, I can now come off the fence and say, he IS the real thing. WE, THE PEOPLE, means it's roll up our sleeves time. We are the Hope of the World; we are The Dream we have been dreaming. And we just elected a great guy to stand for US, but not to carry all our expectations that he'll do the work for us.

I think I felt the Earth shift once more. Gaia felt it too, and rejoiced. And in my own humble way, this shift - both the shift in consciousness - the acceleration of the expansion of New Energy, and the actual material reality of the earth beneath our feet - is what I have been writing about in my new book, This Strange and Precious Thing.

If you want to read more about it visit my webpage at: That is until I get more detail up on my blog.

Having just posted this I discover that the said, D Jacob has put up another of his own which seems to contradict my 'roll up your sleeves time' comment. Not the first time we've disagreed! However, I don't think we actually have. The way I see it is: We, the People are beginning to take the power into our own hands and arrive at the realisation that WE, INDIVIDUALLY have the power to change our reality. That phrase itself is becoming a cliche, but what does it actually mean? If it simply means acting out of the past; acting from the good old, narrow old, self with its grab it all and hold onto it, devil take the looser, mentality, then nothing will have shifted. But neither will the world have changed if we go on adopting the victim role and expect our leaders to magic the solutions to all our problems and inadequacies. So, the question is still; what is our reality? Well, maybe reality is much more than we think it is. And our power to activate change is also greater than we have dreamed of before, because WE are also much more than we think we are. And, again, this is what my new book is about.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009


Today's the day, but everything's been said, and I can't come up with anything new. From around the world, anyone who's anyone at all, or no-one at all, have been asked their angles and opinions, and we've heard them all, so many times by now that the comments already sound like cliches. Maybe we can only wait and watch now - and hope. Yet as I say this an email has popped in which may have something new. I've quoted from my friend at The Reconnections once before, but I might just squeeze him in again. Here is an excerpt:---

From Daniel Jacob of The Reconnections.
"Everyone has at least one passion. Every heart harbors some secret joy. Many of us have simply lost hope, or forgotten. NOW is our time to remember! NOW is the time to move towards that passion. Step by step. Little by little. Don't worry about doing what you "should." That's a paper tiger. What is it that you REALLY WANT, deep down in your soul? What makes your heart skip a beat, and your blood flow faster in your veins? The more you follow after that, the more ENERGY you attract to yourself.........FLAMES, which have power to warm your spirit, and lift it higher and higher. Do what you can, right where you are. Begin by TELLING ONE PERSON what your passion is. Take a risk. Passion shared is passion multiplied. Step to the line. If you can't speak it, write it. Once the energy is given a chance to takes on a life of its own. If you encounter obstacles in realizing your passion, don't give up. Step back, give the situation time to "breathe".......and go do something easy.... something fun. The Reconnections call this "HackySack Wisdom." Play. Doodle. Do something "pointless," to restore a sense of FLOW. Or do something simple, that carries no resistance with it. When you feel relaxed, replenished, go back and check on your passion again. Still stuck? Keep flowing. Let that situation be. Go inside and reaffirm your desire......letting go of doubt. If your brain is screaming "Try harder!" ........let your body play,instead. Don't push. Don't let yourself be pushed. Life is no longer about pushing..... Though there is plenty to observe, as we move along life's journey,sooner or later we must come to grips with the fact that LIVING IS NOT A SPECTATOR SPORT. And neither is re-birthing a country. The central focus of Barack Obama's Presidency has always been: "This isn't about me, it's about YOU." Many people on the Capital Mall today were seen wearing t-shirts that read: "This is OUR Inauguration." This is something we must all do together. Divided,we fail. United, we will rise to become more than we ever imagined ourselves to be! "

Saturday, 3 January 2009


And we all seem to be back in the land of the Eyeless (and Toothless) in Gaza. How long does it take? An eye for and eye; a tooth for a tooth, and this is where we end up. Again. Again. Again.

"Promise was that I should Israel ..... deliver;
Ask for this great Deliverer now,
And find him Eyeless in Gaza ,,,"

"But what is this strength if it has not within it a double share of wisdom?" from Samson Agonistes: John Milton.

The Augument
Samson made Captive, Blind, and now in the Prison at Gaza, there to labour as in a common work-house, on a Festival Day, in the general cessation of labour, comes forth into the open Air, to a place nigh, somewhat retir'd there to sit a while and bemoan his condition. Where he happens at length to be visited by certian friends and equals of his tribe, who seek to comfort him what they can; then by his old father Manoa, who endeavours the like, and withal tells him his purpose to procure his liberty by ransom; lastly, that this Feast was propclaim'd by the Philistins as a day of Thanksgiving for thir deliverance from the hands of Samson, which yet more troubles him. Manoa then departs to prosecute his endeavour with the Philistian Lords for Samson's redemption; who in the mean while he is visited by other persons; and lastly by a publik Officer to require his coming to the Feast before the Lords and People, to play or shew his strength in thir presence: he at first refuses, dismissing the publik Officer with absolute denyal to come; at length perswaded inwardly that this was from God, he yields to go along with him, who came now the second time with great threatnings to fetch him, Manoa returns full of joyful hope, to procure e're long his Sons deliverance: in the midst of which discourse an Ebrew comes in haste confusedly at first; and afterward more distinctly relating the Catastrophe, what Samson had done to the Philisins, and by accident to himself: wherein the Tragedy ends. John Milton; Samson agonistes; first published 1671