Monday, 31 December 2018

31/12/18 WINTER 2018


A Masters gained in Creative Writing after a

Blisteringly hot summer

Complete with an even hotter holiday to Crete which I am so grateful for.

During which time I learnt of the sad passing of a fellow poet - which brought sadness - yet appreciation for life and for celebrating those we have, and those we have known.

Especially sad for my family this year has been the sad passing of my uncle and I am

Fortunate to be able to spend time with and support my Mum during such sad events.

Great fun has been had in the joint organising and running of WORD Stafford monthly poetry slam and spoken word evening.

Hopefully this will continue long into the future with exciting special guest bookings and the growing awareness of spoken word as an art form, a creative tool, and a form of communication that can be used in limitless ways to engage, inspire, evoke emotion, and highlight important issues that face our world and society today.

I have enjoyed working as Poet in Residence for There Is No Planet B this year and hope good things come from the awareness of environmental issues raised in the poetry books and performances.

Judging the Grinch young people’s poetry competition for Stafford Dyslexia Support Services has been an honour and

Knowing how hard the students worked on their poems - when facing barriers to literacy development - was a poignant reminder to me of why I feel so strongly about inspiring young people through poetry,

Leading me into a few ideas for next year and the future....

Mental Health Awareness Poetry Night in May was a great success at Stafford Library. A thought provoking, positive and inspirational evening with brave contributions from all the poets in attendance, which I very much enjoyed organising.

National Poetry Day in October was a disappointment for me as I was ill and unable to attend the poetry night I’d organised at the library. Luckily good friends took charge and the night was a success! I enjoyed seeing all the photos afterwards but was most disappointed I missed out on my Mum’s coffee and walnut cake created especially for the event.

Opportunities for interviews were given to me and I have enjoyed featuring in the Spoken Worlds spoken word podcast in November and am eternally grateful for the support given to me by Mum and Brent and the opportunity to be able to pursue my career as a writer.

Performance invitations came too; including an invitation to perform at Bottlecraft in Hanley alongside some of Staffordshire’s finest poets in July, and to perform at Dark Nights into Brighter Days book launch in Worcester the same month.

Questions of self have arisen this year and I’ve fought hard to maintain and develop confidence.

Raising money for Parkinson’s UK was a meaningful event for Mum and me in May when we took part in the ten-mile Walk for Parkinson’s UK around Stafford, and I am proud to have published The Friendship Collection anthologies which I’m donating a percentage of the profits from to Parkinson’s UK.

Stafford Publishers and I have collaborated to create two unmissable spoken word poetry and story-telling evenings in Stafford this year - with Gin, Fizz and Literature in August and Staffordshire Ales ‘n’ Tales in November.

Tails of a Little Brown Mouse was published and launched in June as my debut full length children’s story book.

Undeniably the ‘work’ highlights of my year have been the joint running of WORD Stafford, my own development as a performance poet, and the completion of my Masters which I found incredibly hard work….

Voicing my concerns about my studies, and just feeling horribly stuck, I’m incredibly grateful to the poetry friends who showed me such practical support by coming to help me when I felt I was floundering and losing my confidence.

When out and about at other people’s poetry gigs, I have discovered and enjoyed hearing poets who have travelled to perform from much further afield and I have discovered that the auditory experience of poetry set to music can be so varied and unique in style. I’ve discovered a few absolutely fabulous acts this year who I’m looking forward to hearing more from in future.

Xceptionally (c’mon you didn’t expect me to come up with a word for X really did you?) delighted with my two new tattoos this year which some of you might think, ‘hang on what’s that got to do with poetry?’ But everyone who knows me knows the significance behind them both and yes, they definitely do relate to poetry!

You, and everyone else who takes the time to read my work, have helped to encourage me and push me on as a poet and writer. I have been touched to receive some very heartfelt messages from individuals about my writing - and I feel that being able to reach out and touch people through the words I write is the whole reason for writing. So, thank you for letting me know this has happened - it means more than you could ever know. And last but most definitely by no means least....

Zoomies, popcorning, rumble strutting and rumbling are new words we have been able to add to our vocabulary since the arrival of Scruffy our baby guinea pig in August! He came to live with us as a little twelve-week-old pup and has grown and gained so much confidence in his first few months with us. Bubbles is perplexed at the wheeking noises her new baby brother makes and looks on haughtily when Scruffy zooms around his cage…. The A - Z would of course not be complete without a mention of the cat herself, and it is without doubt that Bubbles provides the biggest snuggles, comfort and purrs to me every day, as I write....

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Autumn 2018

All the leaves are brown now - as I am writing in November when most of the leaves have created a crinkly auburn carpet on the ground.

We have put our heating on and had a move round in the lounge to make sure Bubbles' and Scruffy's beds are not in a draft. Bubbles' day bed is now tucked nicely in front of the heater along with her scratching post - so she can choose to snuggle down in her bed or curl up on one of her platforms and be snug and warm.

Scruffy's cage is away from the window and this gives him the excellent vantage point of being able to watch me in the kitchen when I am preparing his fresh fruit and vegetables....

Bubbles is able to see into the kitchen as well from her platform so she is able to keep tabs on me and is able to come quickly to check out any interesting occurences - such as toast and butter being made to share with her!

I had a couple of weeks away visitng family in September and October and on my return, I was honoured with the almost once yearly event of Bubbles sitting on my knee. She must have really missed me. Scruffy and Brent had struck up a bond in my absence so for a few days - until he realised I was the food giver again - I was entertained by Scruffy wheeking madly to voice his excitement every time Brent stood up from the settee just incase he was going into the kitchen to fetch Scruffy's delicious vegetables!

Here we are on my return from Germany....

Now the weather is cooler (cold), Bubbles is once again tucked up on our bed at night. She takes turns to sleep on top of us or nestled into our legs and provides Brent's morning alarm clock in her not so subtle attempts to attract his attention to the treat tub at 7.00 am.

Summer 2018

Bubbles celebrated her twelvth birthday this July and for her birthday received a very exciting bottle of blowing bubbles. She loves playing at patting the bubbls and watching them float to the ground and always makes funny little "nang nang" miaows.

Here she is receiving her birthday card. The envelope was stuffed full of Whiskas Chicken and Cheese....

A few days later, Bubbles was discovered staring seriously into the mirror - i.e. dropping very unsubtle hints that I should blow some bubbles for her to play with!

This summer was the hottest on record since the drought of 1976 which my parents experienced during their wedding and honeymoon. I was not yet born, however, apparently the summer of 2018 gave 1976 a good run for its money. It has been blisteringly hot here in the UK. With yellow and brown lawns across the country and nobody wearing a jumper or coat from the start of May until October.

Personally, I adore the heat. Bubbles has not seemed particularly affected by the soaring temperatures. The only real difference in her behaviour was that she slept less on our bed and more on the floor - as well as spending time during the day lounging around on the wooden laminate floor which was nice and cool for her.

The summer additionally signified a very exciting event in our family.... The addition of a new fur baby....

Scruffy is a Lunkarya Guinea Pig who came to us as a little twelve week old baby with the curliest hair you've ever seen!

Bubbles at first was unsure what to make of our new furry friend but has soon got used to his funny squeaks and noises. When Scruffy is zooming around his cage, Bubbles looks in haughtily as if to say "What's all the commotion?" Especially when bits of hay are flying about everywhere!

Usually she just likes to watch Scruffy when he is playing or eating.Scruffy likes to watch Bubbles too and if one gets a treat I make sure the other one has a treat too.

Recently, Scruffy has had some medicine. He is a very sweet and mild mannered lad and let me give him the medicine mixed with water in a syringe. Although he clearly didn't like it and yanked his head back startled whenever the syringe loomed, he still took it nicely and got lots of peppers and other veggie treats as his reward for being a brave boy with his medicine.

Usually, Bubbles is nowhere to be found at the slightest whiff of medicine from the vets, but because it wasn't for her, she desperately wanted it and got on my knee - queueing up to try to have some. Of course I did not give her any medicine not intended for her but made sure she had lots of extra Whiskas Chicken and Cheese treats so she would not feel left out.

Scruffy is very chatty and talkative and although cats and guinea pigs obviously do not communicate in the same language, Scruffy seems to be chatting in a friendly way towards Bubbles as he watches her.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Spring 2018

Spring saw the preparations for the launch of  my very first children's story book Tails of a Little Brown Mouse. It is a fictitious tale, however, based on the true account of a real mouse we found in our previous garden! The discovery of the little brown mouse in a tray of seedlings one night prompted the idea for a story - and the idea has blossomed from a little flash fiction chapter written in the summer of 2016 to a fully illustrated, full length children's story.

Of course, Bubbles the cat features in the story! How could she not?

In reality she did not come face to face with the mouse but I created a section of the story especially for her - and my illustrator William Scarratt created a superb black and white sketch of her for the story....

We held a book launch - and as it was really for children - there were LOTS of balloons! Now anyone who has followed our blog for a while knows Bubbles has always had a very up /down relationship with balloons. They go up and her ears go down! She is terrified of them.

So on the eve of the book launch, Brent was tasked with the job of blowing up about 30 balloons and as usual, part way through the evening, the lounge door flew open and in marched Bubbles. As soon as she saw the balloons, her whole demeanor changed and she slunk, low and stealthy to the floor across to say "hello" very quickly. Then she slunk back out to sulk in bed for the rest of the evening.

The interesting part came the next morning when we had to transport the balloons in our very small car all the way to the library!

Friday, 29 December 2017

29/12/17 Spring, Summer, Autumn & Winter 2017

So, this has to be the longest break in between blog posts that I have had so far. Huge apologies to our readers for the lack of Bubbles' updates!

She has had a very relaxing year, all in all. We moved house twelve months ago and Bubbles seems content in her new homestead - which has many windowsills for her to luxuriate and sunbathe on. Being an indoor cat, she is delighted to have two very loud Siamese cats as her new neighbours - and an excellent view of a large tree that is often adorned by a variety of birdlife (mainly pigeons.)

Spring came and went - with a strange weather phenomena at the end of May that gave us 30 degree celsius temperatures for several days. This beautiful, tropical weather was - alas - short lived. Spring also saw the launch of my latest poetry book Natural Colours and the completion of the first year of my Masters in Creative Writing.

The summer months saw a new addition to the household; a tropical Siamese Fighting Fish named Flash. Flash is fearsome to other fish and will actually kill them if housed with other male Siamese Fighting Fish (and we discovered that he does in fact actually bully any fish that cross his path) so because of this he is unable to have any tankmates apart from two snails that generally mind their own business and slither around the tank eating algae, other debris, and my beautiful Red Tiger Lotus aquarium plants!

Bubbles likes to "supervise" Flash during his daily swimming activities....

I seem to have spent much of the Autumn book editing and taking part in lots of poetry performances, which I have thoroughly enjoyed. Bubbles, however, is less keen on listening to me practise and often chooses to leave the room mid - poem. Yet she does seem to pay special attention to one particular poem entitled 'The Wise Cat'!

Winter is here and Christmas has been and gone in the blink of an eye. So with the New Year on the horizon, all that's left is for Bubbles and I to wish you a Merry Christmas!

Thank you for reading.... We will try to update the Blog a bit more regularly next year!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

13/8/17 Tia Maria Double Trouble

This month's Blog Post is all about a little Chinchilla Persian kitten called Maria! She belongs to Sarah and has a sister called Tia....

Tia Maria = double trouble I think.

Maria is no ordinary kitten, as she just loves to be taken out for a walk on her harness every day....

Knock knock!

Who's there?

Being quite small, Maria sometimes gets herself stuck in a spot of bother....

Look at those adorable, big, blue eyes....

Sarah tells me that when Maria is out for a walk she loves to stand and stare at the neighbours - which can be a little bit awkward. She enjoys jumping and can already open doors!

Like all cats, Maria loves to explre and sniff all the flowers and delicious smells in her garden.

Bubbles is enjoying the smells of summer too - as we have plenty of sweet smelling flowers for her to sniff. Her favourite scent seems to be the pretty purple Campanula plant. She is definitely not keen on Mint and is just warming to the highly perfumed aroma of Sweet Peas.

But I think Bubbles' favourite smell IN THE WHOLE WORLD hasgot to be her favourite Whiskas Chicken and Cheese treats! She always races up the hall for these whenever she hears the rattle of the treats and the crackle of the plastic lid being opened for her!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

28/3/17 Spring Has Sprung

It would appear that spring has finally sprung! Bubbles is full of the joys of moulting - shedding her thick winter coat for a lighter spring jacket. She loves her new purple fur brush and rushes over to us purring whenever she sees us getting it down from the shelf -  then basking in bliss as we gently brush her head, all around her face, ears and chin then all over her back.

If I am very good, I might be allowed a quick brush of her tail before a quick slap on the hand tells me "enough!" My other half is allowed to brush her all over without a fuss - including her precious tummy fur - which I am not allowed to touch!

The vibrant yellow daffodils are in full bloom blowing in the spring breeze, along with some smaller purple crocuses and what looks as if it promises to be a tulip shape is just about to open. Sadly my seedlings in the kitchen are doing less well - I seem to have killed off some nasturtiums with a bit of extravagant over then under watering.

Bubbles is enjoying a relaxing day so far... Having started the day being rudely interrupted during her lie in by me making the bed, she went off looking very displeased into the spare bedroom where she went back to sleep but has since reappeared, scoffed some Sheba and is now having a major grooming session on the scratching post.