Showing posts from 2017


The idea of the written word as therapy is gaining popularity with the recognition that both the writing process and the reading of poetry and prose that resonates with our personal experience can be therapeutic.  I have always been able to lose myself in writing, the deep thought and concentration takes me away from the world and my daily routine. Reading fulfils the same function, a good story able to transport me away into another life for a while. Where reading becomes healing is when we find writers whose words help us to access our own emotions, remind us of events in our lives, struggles we have lived and survived, joys we have shared. Sometimes just a single line of poetry can move me and provoke a memory and a release of emotion that I had buried and forgotten, a smile of recognition, a tear of understanding, a flash of righteous anger.

The debate about whether such poetry is art or merely fulfilling a 21st century need to share our emotions is one I reject. There is a place f…


Freedom Kit Bags is a charity providing sanitary wear to women in rural villages and poor communities in Nepal who do not have access to even the most basic provision. We take for granted the pack of pads or tampons thrown in the shopping trolley while these women make do with rags or even grass. In some cases, women are even forced to leave their homes to stay in out buildings whilst they menstruate. Freedom Kit Bags provide all women need to hygienically manage their period, giving women and girls back their dignity and freedom. They also run a public health education programme to help change the prejudicial attitudes to menstruation.
For only 25 pounds Freedom Kit Bags can give this gift to a Nepali woman. Sanitary protection has changed unrecognisably in my lifetime, we are fortunate now to have a whole range of choices including sustainable, reusable pads. I think all women can imagine how much worse our lives would be if we had to feel shame and suffer ostracisation due to our …


Stanza Alacant is a Poetry Society poetry group run by Christopher North in the Marina Alta area of Alicante province in Spain. I have been fortunate to be a part of this group of committed and talented poets who provide a safe and supported community to share, criticise and improve our work. Their new anthology 'For the Sake of the Forest' is to be presented on 14th December at the Seu University in Benisa where the 10th anniversary of the group will be celebrated with readings from the anthology and a reception. All are welcome to join us.
This is an old poem I shared with Stanza friends. It is always interesting to revisit old poems as they reveal the feelings of the time when written. After so long in Spain I no longer notice the small things that make it seem so different and exotic to visitors but I still remember the feeling of being exiled. I was told by doctors I could never return to live in the UK so for sometime I did feel exiled. It took some years to stop pining f…


This year I have missed my Autumn and Winter visits to England. I have always loved the autumn in Warwickshire, the freshness in the air, the glory of our deciduous woodlands as their leaves change from green to gold, the fast flowing rivers after a summer of heat and drought in Spain. As I dip into winter knowing I will be back in the light and sunshine I am charmed by its chill, our walks on crisp ground wrapped up against the wind, home to cosy rooms.
Change is sometimes forced on us and the death of my parents and sale of the family house has ended the frequent visits to my childhood home in Coventry. For now, I am happy where I am, with my family in the Spanish village which has become our home. Indeed, the very thought of getting off the plane at Birmingham airport and not driving straight to the old house is still too hard to bear so I have not yet faced going back. I am content with the memories of special times and special people, knowing that before too long I will be back, …


In June 2016 I travelled to Brussels and presented my petition asking the European Parliament to intervene and ensure thousands of British citizens like me and my family could vote in the European Referendum. We live in Spain and after 15 years residence out of the UK we had our right to vote in general elections removed. David Cameron’s government had promised to repeal this law but decided not to do so or to include us in the referendum franchise. The opposition did not carry any amendments to the Referendum law and the support from the European Parliament’s petitions committee came too late. Two weeks later the referendum was held and the vote to leave was confirmed. I maintain this was not a democratic vote on the basis that so many British citizens were denied a vote. There is also a valid argument that EU citizens long term resident in Britain should have been given a vote as Irish and Commonwealth citizens living in the UK were.
I also have serious and continuing misgivings abou…


Sometimes poems have no other function than to tell a story. This one is a true story from a time we lived in a house on the edge of the village where mice, snakes and rats would find a way into the cellar and up the stairs. I was advised to rub garlic cloves on the stone steps to stop the snakes climbing but it had no effect on the mice or on at least one occasion, a rat. After 20 years I can still both shudder and smile at the memory of the rat in the kitchen.

I once shared my kitchen with a rat, sniffed its musty presence, hunted it down with a quivering nose, scouring shelves, bleaching drains, still the fusty stench remained.
Till the day I traced it, raised the cooker lid and faced it, nestled in orange fluff, hairless worm tail coiled round dirty dank fur, unblinking coal eyes stared at me.
Resourceful this rat, wrapped in insulation whilst I stood stirring sauces, absently boiling and burning, unaware of twitchy whiskers awaiting return to its warm bed.
I slammed down the t…

CRACKLEY WOODS - in memory of John and Lilian

A year ago today we left my father’s funeral and went straight to the woods, the path we had all walked together, with my parents before they were too infirm and then with my own children and nieces.  It was a beautiful frosty morning, sun glinting off the crispy grass, the path through the trees lit as if it was beckoning me into my future. When a breeze blew through the woods the last of the autumn leaves started to fall, spiralling down, sprinkling the hoar air like falling stars. We jumped and ran to catch them, as we did when children.That sad but lovely day reminds of this poem. It was written some years before my parents died, when they were both ill and in pain and would feel and share each other’s burden as if their own. Over 60 years together they were linked by more than love. Rereading the poem I am suprised by its sadness and my melancholy.  There were hard days and difficult times but what I now remember of their last few years together was how much pleasure they took i…


Fiestas are the lifeblood of Valencian village life. Religious celebrations are held all year round but the main fiesta season starts with the passing of Spring into Summer, when days get longer and the sun higher. From May until September a town or village nearby will be in ‘Fiestas’ every week and young people spend the Summer months dancing and partying through the hot nights, coming home with the sunrise. The fiestas are organised by groups of neighbours and  the 'Festeros' with help from the Town Halls and they raise money throughout the year to pay for the weeks events, from fireworks, church processions accompanied by brass bands,  dance bands, races, village paellas and communal suppers. My four adult children were all ‘Festeros’, the young people involved in organising fiestas who then are presented to the village on the opening night, dressed in evening gowns and suits and garlanded with their fiesta sashes. They remember their 'Fiestas' as a highlight of t…