Monday, December 24, 2012

Season's Greetings

Couldn't resist taking a photo of a local landmark. A witty resident has installed this in his garden as homage to his less than chirpy next door neighbour. The addition of the Santa hat has made me laugh each day I have passed it with the dog.

Also my fascination with lichen continues - I came across this one with stalks on my Christmas Eve tramp with Fudge - better light would make for better photos - I will be back to capture them in sunshine (if we get any).

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Other blogs to inspire

It is near the Winter Solstice and I look forward to the days growing longer, albeit slowly and in the beginning imperceptibly.

In the meantime here are some blogs I find inspiring and food for thought:-

 Brene Brown

Also a reminder that Small Stones do make a difference and I got through last January thanks to that daily practice and I intend to do the same in 2013 and in fact have already started...

Friday, December 14, 2012

No change there, then

A few months ago I started subscribing to Roy Lilley's NHS Manager's newsletters. Insightful and critical I have enjoyed being stimulated by the debates he raises.
In response to his missive today I wrote to him and this is the gist of it....

20 years ago (yes 20!!!). I had a post as a Strategy Adviser for the local Health Authority – first of the new wave of commissioning jobs (funded by the pharmaceutical industry) set to redesign and build capacity in an over stretched and under performing service. Guess what – as a nurse I was marginalised, bullied and ignored. I wrote a strategy that the Public health team felt was “too innovative and radical” (it wasn’t but it did suggest that patients & families (we didn't call them service users then) might have a say in where and when they received their care) and the consultants felt threatened by a bright and innovative nurse. I am still angry about that job as it promised much but in the end I helped out in clinics and GP surgeries so I felt I was doing something to contribute to the service delivery. I still don’t think commissioners have any leverage on dyed in the wool technocrats who deliver services they way they always have cos that is comfortable and cosy. Sitting in clinic rooms behind a closed door helps protect you from the grim realities of living with  long term conditions, the employment issues, the housing conundrums and just the getting on with life issues that people face on a daily basis when they have less than £20. 000 to live on. Not enough bright and innovative practitioners are heard as it is threatening to hear service improvement/redesign ideas from “lesser mortals”....

I also wrote an essay about the challenges facing the NHS back in 1985 when a DN student in London reflecting  the issues around GP contracts, NHS Consultants and private work. There are so many anomalies in employment, procurement etc in the NHS it is truly baffling BUT not theoretical physics, or biochemistry – it is not difficult to get your head round, what could and should happen, it is just that the powerful professions won’t and can’t let go.

Politicians tinker at the edges and we have had a series of Health Secretaries that are worse than useless and one that has been ideologically unsound.
God help the NHS - if you want to read some challenging stuff then subscribe to Roy's newsletter.

Monday, December 10, 2012

What on earth is going on?

I am appalled and saddened by what has happened over the last week in health care environs.

The Chief Nursing Officer launches her initiative about care and compassion in nursing and it is not universally embraced. Nurses aren’t to blame for all the woes - once upon a time nurses ran the wards with authority and high standards. We were terrified to leave people without a wash, without a drink and without privacy and dignity. Sister would be at your side before you knew what had happened – the NHS is too busy and under resourced.

On Saturday the lady next to me in the choir collapsed at the end of our Christmas Concert. My immediate response was to keep her safe and also to make sure she was surrounded by fellow choir members so she was not on show to the audience. Fainting is one thing being gawped at another!! I am not sure it was my 30+ years of nursing that ensured I did this - it is just a basic human concern. My daughter has it and she is only 11!!

I am also saddened by what happened in London last week with the Duchess of Cambridge and the nurse who was so despairing after disclosing information she committed suicide. For God sake what is Society all about when an "innocent and silly idea” backfires badly and a professional feels so personally responsible she ends her life.  What about her managers, her colleagues - the DJs are receiving counselling - why was she not supported - disgraceful indictment of managers. Why don’t people think through the consequences of pranks and hoaxes – we don’t care enough about each other across society – it’s not just nurses.

Get it right before more this happens again!! 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Worth a look

Having lots of conversations about projects for next year and although low on energy feel quite excited about the prospects of working with artists not academics.
However I also feel I have a number of issues I want to write about and get out there for discussion and debate - like :-
1. Art and well being - what are the issues?
2. Living with long term conditions - coping with uncertainty.
3. Closing the gap - helping communication between people with long term conditions and their health care professionals.

Also interested in this blog as well - interesting times for academia!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What's out there

Have had a busy time and low on energy but I came across this and wanted to share

Thought I would share this, too

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Mobile phones and driving

When I meet people and tell them about my blog and twitter name they go " oh surely you are not grumpy" - but I am so grumpy sometimes it bothers me. This morning sat at traffic lights I looked to my right to see the car driver texting away on her mobile phone. Well I always hate this - I try not to react and tell people off BUT I have a short fuse and often don't stop myself saying something. Well this morning was no exception and I took a quick photo of the offender which upset her greatly. I also embarrassed my daughter so in the spirit of reflexivity and self-awareness I am writing about it so I can stop over reacting and, more importantly, upsetting my daughter.

I react this way because testing whilst driving (even at traffic lights) means you are not paying attention to driving - I think that’s why it is a driving offence. It also makes me wonder what is so urgent that it needs texting now and how we now communicate with each other as a matter of urgency instead of communicating in a reflective and thoughtful style.

I have a low tolerance of what are seen as “mild offences” – like this one and parking on double yellow lines – some people don’t see what the fuss is about but I see it as a basic lack of consideration of ways of behaving to maintain “the order of things” in society.


Writing is a good way of moving on from rumination so that is why I have written his – the blog helps me write rather than thinking about writing!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I have been involved in two sessions this week discussing how we can involve service users in the preparation and on-going development of health & social care practitioners.

In the discussion care and compassion have been raised a number of times and I have taken every opportunity I can to promote the work of Hearts in Healthcare and have had Robin’s book on prominent display!!

Writing Workshops

Here is a link to some information about a series of writing workshops for those interested in the therapeutic benefit of creative writing, facilitated by Kate Evans

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Getting out and about

After last weekend's inspiring experience in York I have realised I need to pay more attention to my writing self. So....

I have been out to an evening with Mari Hannah  at Whickham Library. If you like crime writing then you will love Mari's work - she is a lovely woman and a fabulous writer. Lots of evidence of attentive editing and rigorous re-writes. Makes for a pacy and engaging read, it's great to have a local writer to recommend.

ALSO went along to a workshop with the wonderful Sheree Mack, writer-in-residence at the equally wonderful  Lit and Phil in Newcastle. A great place with a wonderful atmosphere. I have a special place in my heart for both as it is thanks to Sheree that I "went public" with my poetry when I read at the Lit and Phil on National Poetry Day in 2006. Below is the poem I read out 3 days after my Mum died. Poetry will always play a very special in my life because of that time and the connections with poetry with my Mum before she died and with my Dad since.

Now and Then
Attention to detail has never been my strong point.
Baking cakes a nightmare
as I miss stages in the process.
Dealing with the minutiae
of life, boring and tedious.

Explaining procedures,
filling in forms
send me into a decline.
Grasp at the whole –
I ignore the fine grain.
Often find a justification for
not knowing everything I should.

Losing things in a mess of papers.
Restrained and submissive I used to be.
Tense and frustrated
I’d find my mind closed.

Now I am going to be
Unruly and spirited
I want to cultivate
wonder and excitement.

Zigzag along the paths –
no more straight lines for me.

This poem has been around along time. It started life in a workshop with Julia Darling, early 2005 - using the alphabet as an initial structure - each line starting with a word beginning with a,b,c, d etc. It then got worked on when I was on the MA. Not sure it resembles its starting point but that's the value of workshopping - you don't have a blank page.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Weekend Away

I have been at the NAWE Conference in York this weekend meeting a host of wonderful people. I was there to give a presentation on how I believe creative/expressive writing has a vital role in supporting and developing professionals in health and social care.
The best part of the weekend was meeting fellow travellers on this road of discovery and the discussion around the need to network and collaborate. Writers working in health can see a real need to support staff as well as patients and carers. They are wondering why the professions and their mangers are not seeing how vulnerable their staff are becoming to stress. The question was not why do we need writing workshops for health care professionals BUT why are they not available and how do we get that message across to senior people and decision makers.
Only 2 people turned up for my presentation so it was more a joyful conversation than an academic polemic BUT that was great. I am beginning to think I may have more in common with writers willing to work in health than I have with my nursing colleagues.
I read somewhere recently that if you have noticed that there is a book you really want to read on a topic and it isn't already written maybe it is the book you should write. Meeting folk this weekend suggests to me that there is a real interest in supporting staff in health care with creative writing - it is time we gave it a wider audience and see how it can contribute to proper supervision in practice and professional and practice development - ultimately leading to a better experience for both sides in health care delivery.
It wasn't!!!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Playing around

Helping Lizzie with her Art homework I was inspired to try out some mark making on some previous work. Also bought new printer/scanner that allows me to put type onto scans - marvellous!!
This has given me ideas...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mindful writing day Small Stone

Group Poetry

Each one of us takes
a moment to choose,

a moment to choose
the words we rearrange

we rearrange to find meaning
find meaning in others' words

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Join the first Mindful Writing Day on the 1st of November

This Thursday the 1st of November is the first ever Mindful Writing Day, organised by Kaspa & Fiona at Writing Our Way Home.

To join in simply slow down, pay attention to one thing and write it down (making a small stone). Read all about it here.

small stones are easy to write, and they will help you connect to the world. Once you've started, you might not want to stop... You can read more about small stones and find out about Lorrie with pea-green eyes in Fiona's free ebook, Write Your Way Home.

If you visit Writing Our Way Home on Thursday you'll find out how to download your free kindle copy of the new anthology, 'A Blackbird Sings: a book of short poems'.

 You can also submit your small stone and see it published on the blog, and be entered into a competition to win one of five paperback copies of the book.

 There's a Facebook invite here if you'd like to invite your friends.




Monday, October 29, 2012

Autumn Mists

Went to York on Saturday for the quarterly meet of the HOT Lapidus group. It was great to see lovely friends and allies in the world of writing and well-being. We met up (eventually) at the Quilt Museum in York - a few misunderstandings (me not reading my instructions and navigation problems) meant I arrived a bit grumpy and out of sorts but after a latte and croissant I soon recovered. It was a bit of a revelation I have to say. We visited the Textile Musuem of Canada in Toronto and that was fabulous; this Museum is much smaller than the one in Canada but even so it had a wonderful exhibition of the work of Pauline Burbridge.  I love her latest work - wonderfully impressionistic and has a strong narrative I can relate to. Take a look at her website.

After lunch we were lead in a writing workshop at a fascinating building Jacob's Well.

We were all inspired by the words originating from our experience in the Museum.
Here is my poem

Thought Threads  

A riot of autumn colours flickered
just to the right of her eye line.

A strand of an idea had become
self-patterned in her mind.

A diamond infill hanging
there in precise splashes.

Zigzag or straight seamed,
look for the missing piece. 

It may not be quick
but one day it will make sense.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Please take a look

My wonderful friend and artistic collaborator, Mel Hopwood, as been experimenting with our Haiku boulders -please take a look - they are gorgeous!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Some ideas

Have just finished teaching a module that encourages students to think about the skills and knowledge required for effective collaborative working. This has included considering the different types of knowledge that health and social care professionals use and value in their practice. In discussing this I could see that some of the students were beginning to appreciate some of the stuff I had been talking about - research and evidence based practice. Ben Goldacre and Trisha Greenhalgh had all been mentioned as champions of learning to analyse the published research and always be aware of just how much never gets to see the light of day.

I made connections whilst I was lecturing (reflection in action) about compassion, care, communication and how good nursing delivered by excellent nurses might be a combination of knowhow, know what and know why - the bricoleur with the patient at the centre. I am interested in the notion of practical wisdom and how nursing care impacts on how people feel about themselves. Made for quite an exciting moment and I want to share this insight. I just wish I could build up my stamina and write more and share it with an academic audience,

However I have realised that more people might read this blog than would read an academic paper and certainly more than would have read my PhD, if it had ever got written – few of them ever seen to get turned into books that sell.

I want to communicate my ideas and get feedback so this is start.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Worth a read

My friend Kate's blog - little gems - jewels of wisdom - I could go on!!

Thinking about what might have been

In 1995 I started a PhD - it was an innovative and original piece of research (nature of the beast I thought!!)  exploring people's experiences of their interactions with health care professionals (going to the clinic). I started the research when I was a diabetes specialist nurse - I had discovered Action Research, participatory approaches to research and the embryonic practice development literature in nursing and wanted to  change the way I worked with the people coming to the diabetes clinic. I had a hunch we could do it differently but I was not sure how it might look and I was also committed to the changes being informed by people with diabetes NOT ME.

Anyway --- I did not stay in diabetes care - I moved to Higher Education in 1996 and could no longer do the action research and had to change the purpose of the study. Instead of changing my practice it had to become a more theoretical study - not one I was that happy about BUT  I thought I might get practitioners to "buy in" to the findings at a later date.

I am not sure if I was just full of overzealous evangelism or stupidity but I did not ever find anyone to work with. As the years went by my commitment to the data and the findings withered as I became a mother and found little support from anyone around me in academia. So in 2004 the journey ended - no more PhD - the upside of that little excursion was discovering poetry BUT at the same time I am constantly reminded of what my informants told me and the impact going to the clinic had on their life.

I read this blog today and it all came flooding back. I had hoped to make a real difference to the way diabetes care was delivered but that didn't happen. Maybe social media can have greater impact!!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Values and learning

At the end of a very mixed week I have been reflecting on two main issues.
Firstly about core values and how that manifests itself in nursing practice and how we conduct ourselves with other human beings. My daughter's school requires everyone to agree to their core values (contract) - students have the values on cards, pass cards and they are highly visible within the organisation and it is an explicit requirement that as parents we "buy in" to this ethos. I think it is wonderful and sharing it with a group of students this week they think it would be a great idea for nurses to have some means of reminding themselves about core values. It might also remind lecturers that they are required to behave and act towards each other in respectful and thoughtful ways!!!





Individualised care#

Person centredness etc

I might think about using it when I get a new group of students based on the work emerging from the Chief Nursing Officer – the 6c’s.

The other issue is about what works when ensuring our students learn. I find lectures really tricky - I enjoy the performance and sharing my knowledge and expertise BUT I am sick and tired of crowd control; having to ask people to stop talking amongst themselves. It seems to have become a habit for some groups of students and it becomes much worse towards the end of their time in University, just before practice placements - they are slightly bored and excited about being back out in practice but lots of anxieties as well. I try to engage then but the ripple of chat is very tricky to deal with. I have tweeted and chatted to discover new strategies that prevent me crying and losing my temper.

My friend advised me about her approach which is to sit down with the students - discomfort silences them!! On twitter I discovered a great resource from Clare Morris - I love learning new things and making connections.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Small Stones

I make no apology for promoting Fiona Robyn's Small Stones. I am in their new collection, A Blackbird Sings and writing small stones is good for you!!

Sign up for this:-

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Room of My Own

I have a problem (not a huge one) but one that bothers me. I have a room of my own - but I find it oppressive and energy sapping. What is it about the space?
Is it too crowded? Do I expect too much? What is going on? When I walk into the room, my heart sinks - I should have it tidier; is there too much "stuff"?
Not sure what the problem is but it is very frustrating. other folk would love a room to escape to - this is not new by the way it has been part of my dilemma for years. Since I grew up in 1990 and had my own flat I have always had a spare space to have for writing and studying but instead of it being liberating it has been a bit of a burden.
Anyone help with this?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Student Nurse Blog

Just wanted to draw your attention to this blog - great insights and encouraging for the future of the profession

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Business Ideas

I want to have the courage to start my own business - running workshops, helping health and social care practitioners (supervision and coaching) and being a development consultant .

Have been thinking about names for my business -

The Crafty Spark -

The Artisan Bard

Two to play with for a while.

National Poetry Day

This year I spent National Poetry Day "doing" poetry. In the morning I spent a simply marvellous hour and a half prescribing poems for people. Whether they were stressed, lovelorn or lonely I had the privilege of listening, paying attention and finding a poem that spoke to them. It was a wonderful experience and my last 8 years of getting to know poetry provided me with the material to respond. I read the poem out to them and then folded it carefully into a beautiful small folder - a real gift - I loved it!!


In the afternoon I facilitated poetry making for people with aphasia - an acquired communication disorder, usually after a stroke. We had fun, explored language and had a wonderful time.

I look forward to more days like this!!

At the Lit and Phil, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Monday, October 1, 2012


As I am of a certain age I went along for my first breast screening appointment today.

There is nothing to complain about BUT it was so efficient and impersonal. Not a flicker of recognition that I might be nervous - no use of first name - in and out in 5 minutes - champion - on to the next one..

I had a similar experience at a Breast clinic a few years ago - after I found what I thought was a lump my GP sighed and referred me. A tortuous Saturday morning was spent going from ultrasound to mammogram - ruthlessly efficient but no reassurance. I couldn’t help think about the women there who did have cancer, the possibility of life changing surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy – was all the care and compassion saved up for them?

I know at last 5 women who have gone though some degree of treatment for breast cancer over the last year. All are exhausted from their experience and not one of them will be the same again - survival might be the goal for the Health system but there is a lot more to personal integrity/identity, well-being and flourishing that the absence of diseased cells.

Think on you out there - please address emotions and psychological well-being. Maybe you don’t know how to but you should learn.
A little bit of chit chat would help - a little recognition of me as a person - why can't it happen?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Unsung Heroes

District Nursing was the reason I stuck out my training in Cambridge. If it hadn't been for my placement in rural Canbridgeshire after 6 hideous weeks on a geriatric ward I would have left. The professionalism and compassion I witnessed for the next 2 weeks sustained me until I could do it myself. At last someone in the public sphere has recognised the work DN's do...

"District Nurses are the unsung heroes of the NHS and I witnessed the most amazingly high standard of care and commitment which they gave to their patient and her family – and it made a sad contrast to the low standards offered by some hospital nurses."

I get sick and tired of the attention acute nursing gets - community nursing is special and very skilled but often invisible or seen as a lesser form of nursing. We need to build the profile of District Nursing - one of my students said exactly the same thing as this blog when her Mum died this year. We hear so much about Macmillan and Marie Curie but so often it is the DNs doing the work. I left District Nursing because it was limited by its own imagination in relation to the work it could do - I suspect this is still the case.

Learning from Twitter

Have been keeping up to date with policy and evidence based practice on Twitter - fascinating stuff.
Shared this with some 2nd years and they were very enthusiastic - now following Ben Goldacre and Trisha Greenhalgh - sharpening their critical appraisal skills!!

Images of the week

Posting some images that I will come back to as I see this blog as a way of collecting data about myself and will be reviewing and analysing at a later date.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Different view

A long walk with the dog (Fudge) this morning tired us both out - but what a glorious autumnal day.
Walked over to the fields with the wonderful view of the City.

More to it than just the singing!!

I watched The Choir on Thursday with growing fascination and astonishment.

There in all its glory was power, hierarchy, suppressed emotions and the toil of managing self in the face of trauma and suffering. I have long been fascinated by the "total institution” of the Hospital and how its seemingly "normal" function is actually dysfunction and damaging.

I did not like working in hospitals and got out as soon as I could being “allowed" into district nursing just 18 months after qualifying. I loved working in the community and I am pretty sure the reason why I finally had to leave clinical practice was because I was working in the Hospital environment with all its related power relationships and expectations that all illness is presented on the wards rather than working to prevent people ever getting in there in the first place!!

Anyway enough of that for now but I was quite shocked by what I saw on The Choir - after 16 years away I thought things would have changed BUT no - still the same. On thinking about it this morning whilst walking the dog I wondered whether the folk who were on there were:-

1. Very brave for showing us their fragilities and frailties


2 Blissfully unaware of what ails them!!

Monday, September 17, 2012


Discovered this blog through Twitter and I do wish I could write at this level. Like the entry about consilience - a new word to my vocabulary but useful for my work in nurse/health care education!!

Attitudes as well as aptitude

Saw interesting article in Guardian about Priya Singh Medical Director at Medical Protection Society  - favourite quote from the piece

"Education, not just in clinical skills but also in how we communicate effectively, is key to reducing the rising numbers of claims and the adverse impact that claims can have on public confidence in healthcare."
Think I have been saying this for a while (12 years at least) and I am very good at facilitating this learning!!
Let me at them....

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Book binding

Spent yesterday at the Hearth at Horsley learning to make books with Chloe Daykin - think I completely knackered myself and had a bit of  a backlash today BUT slowly but surely I recovered and after a quiet day feel OK.
Decisions, decisions, decisions!!!
My books!!

Finished collage

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Work in progress

Have been assembling materials for a couple of collages - felt a bit restless - this new term not as plain sailing as I was kidding myself!!
As I was putting together these pieces I was reflecting on my downward spiral of mood yesterday. Realised it was simply that folk who I have connected to other folk and have benefited from this connection have not said "thank you" This has happened twice - both writing organisations that I have linked up with in HE and they have subsequently developed work from the connections. I don't want the work - just for them both to say thank you for thinking of them and creating the connections. Might be immature and petty but explains my mood.
Useful insight.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

More stuff

Tidying up

My husband has had a big sort out in our enormous garage and as a consequence has unearthed all sorts of stuff. Enthused by this tidy I decided to have a sort out in the spare room wardrobe where my art stuff is stashed!!
Found the following collages that I did before I really "thought" about what I was doing - winter blues therapy I believe. I like them, I must say!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Late Summer

Often a tricky time of year - new term, new beginnings BUT this time not been as bad as before. I started nursing 33 years ago and I am pretty sure that the weather then was similar to what it is now. I seem to remember getting to know Cambridge pubs from their outsides first. We started in early September weeks before the undergrads started and it was ohhh so quiet. The social landscape really changed once the students arrived.
Led a fabulous poetry workshop yesterday with skilled and committed Hospice staff - humbling and exhilerating. I want to do that type of practice development/service improvement activity ALL the time. I swear I left walking 2 inches off the ground. They are going to have a monthly creative writing meeting - trying out exercises with each other.
Also discovered other nurse bloggers via Twitter - all good stuff

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Big School Angst

Well it was not as bad as I thought starting "big school" - just getting up earlier and getting jobs done by 10 a little disconcerting but determined to use time well. Seeing my friend Cath first thing is a great start to the day as well. Knowing you are not on your own with these changes is wonderful - we have been sharing this journey for 7 years.

Have discovered Moodscope   and Twitter are 2 good ways of interacting with others (or just listening and retweeting), observing yourself and learning - not bad in a week!!

Not sure which debates to get involved with yet? Hunt as Health Secretary (are they short of choices) or make sure care and compassion remain top of the list in preparing practitioners.

 Glorious walk in late summer sun this morning on reclaimed industrial land.
Watergate Park - Gateshead

Saturday, September 1, 2012

More Images

Saturday Saunter

Went for a lovely walk at Low Hauxley.
Bought a "bridge" camera the other week and trying to sort out how I might use it. Compact for macros, SLR for landscape and brdige for wildlife and sea shore!!
Sanderling on the turning tide at Low Hauxley

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

But is it art?

Have been experimenting with textured paste, acrylics and koh-i-noor.
There was a shop in The Butts Centre in Reading in the 1970's called But is it art? I worked in the music shop across the way - always loved that name!!!


Have been consciously taking photos of images that are meaningful for me that day. Am going to explore them to see what it is all about!!
Damaged Gate (with Fudge in shot)

Map of local railway

Sign at Otterburn Mill

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Over the years we have been lucky to visit Snowdonia.
Inspired by looking through old photos here is a photo collage of mixed media collage - words from The Prelude by William Wordsworth.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

More fiddling

Mixed media - acrylics and pastels


Went out for breakfast at The Hearth at Horsley - looked round at the studios.
inspired by Mandy's new drawings - below my effort..


Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Walking in Heaton Park this morning my dog lead got entangled with another’s - one of the people shouted at me and I got very upset. They were power walking 3 abreast and I was in the wrong!! Why can't people be nicer and why do I take to confrontation like that so badly? One of the trio over reacted to the incident and I was put in the wrong. I ruined their walk and they ruined mine!!

I am tired of feeling powerless and without a voice. I have things to say and I want to reach an audience but I don't know how to do that. Writing in an academic journal won't do it as so few people actually read them. Writing in "popular" journals doesn’t do it as I have found that they don't get read either. So how to let people know what I know and test it out?

Any ideas?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012



Derwent Walk

August musings

We have been away in North Yorkshire again and could begin to feel the inspiring landscape doings its stuff!! Felt more relaxed and calmer.

Lizzie is on a tennis course this week from 10 til 2 and I have promised to write 1000 words when she is there. I got carried away yesterday and wrote over 1700 although I am not sure what it was all about. Mostly free writing but my thoughts went all over the place and I landed in all sorts of spots.

Last night I started experimenting with textured paste and acrylics - I am quite pleased with some of the outcomes and can begin to see how I might develop this approach.

See below.

Also went for a long walk along the Derwent walk this morning after dropping Lizzie off at Tennis – a poem began to form.

Derwent Walk

She listens to the ghosts along the line

Sooty lungs and coughs

that keep folk awake at night

The wails of mothers

Whose sons have been killed

by untethered wagons

or rotten pit props.

Graves leave the sons’ names

but not of those left behind.

She wonders if they ever

found a place to rest.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Playing about

Had lunch with the wonderful Dr Sheree Mack today what an inspirational lady. I met Sheree nearly 8 years ago when I first embarked on my creative writing journey. I met Sheree on the Wrtiing and Health course at Newcastle University run by Cynthia Fuller (with Rima Handley) in 2004. We worked together on an exercise and have kept in touch ever since. Sheree was responsible for my first "outing" as a poet when I read at the Lit and Phil for National Poetry Day in 2006. It was a significant event and will be etched in my mind forever.
Came home and played around with some art work. This is a textile that has been scanned and then modified.

Original textile

Monday, August 13, 2012


On the MA at Northumbria (2005-6) I found myself writing Haiku as commentary to the landscape around me. My tutor at the time commented that she did not see the point of them and "what was I trying to say?". Her voice has stayed in my head ever since then and I struggle to ignore it. I think my stuff is derivative and worthless. This feeling is compounded when this tutor is at poetry readings. The words get stuck in my throat and I just have to ignore the voices telling me to get a grip, stop thinking I have anything to say and shut  up!!
One of the haiku I wrote at the time was about Hownsgill viaduct near Consett. We crossed it on a bike ride and I was struck by its isolated position and the tree canopy below. It was in the local news last week. Officials are going to erect "anti-suicide fences" in an attempt to reduce the number of people who die there. Notices and the Samaritans' phone number has not deterred those who come there in deep despair.
It really got me thinking - along the Derwent valley there are a number of viaducts and this one seems to be the "hot-spot" for suicides. Is its isolation or is because of the depth of decline in and around the town and local countryside in that part of Durham.
Part of my problem back then was I rushed to do the MA and had not found my voice. I read the feedback I got from the MA at Newcastle (2007-8) and I realise I had just started my journey when I finished the course. I was just getting there when I got the qualification. Hey ho - maybe i can stay with the positive feedback i got from the Profs on that MA and silence the other.

Hownsgill Viaduct

A relic of the past when wagons
took  coals from Newcastle.
Men searched for meaning
now it only breeds

Folk come here to end this
in this place.
maybe they hope never to be found,
to disappear - vanish.

Land owners have to bring
the bodies in.
The bodies of those
the notices do not deter
from falling here.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Image making

I have been fiddling this afternoon with stencils and various media I have bought over the years. Quite pleased with the outcome. I used to do this quite a bit and then scan them into the computer, fiddle a bit more and then make them into cards.
I managed to sort the scanner out so that it now works again. here are a couple of fiddles from today!!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Saturday Thoughts

Am not at all sure what I want to write about this week. I thought I would post a daily insight but have not had the energy to call into here and post anything. I think I might look at using the camera more as I do have a dabble with paint etc but I get very frustrated as I don’t produce stuff that I feel satisfied about. I have lots of idea when I am out walking the dog and I have to find a way of retaining the thoughts…

Thinking through the lens and exploring the image might be way of peeling back the layers.

Had an idea for the name for what I want to do as a business. Not sure why I think getting the name right is so important but it does seem to be holding me back. Next thing is to have some business cards and flyers written up and then distribute them.

The guide by the side

 coaching for personal and professional development.

Helping the helpers.

Focussed conversations to explore potential, performance, service improvement and change management in the human services.

Been down to Gibside today – maybe the inspiration I need is on my doorstep. We are so lucky to have such wonderful landscape literally on the doorstep.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

North Yorkshire

Been away for a weekend in North Yorkshire, in Commondale. It was a lovely trip and I began to get quite inspired by the landscape.
Maybe I can relax and unwind down there; find a place to write and read.
The views are wonderful and it is so quiet.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Seeing right through it

On my way back from dog walking the other day I noticed the view through this top window for the first time. This old Co-Op building in the village is in a very sad and sorry state. It used be the thriving hub of this end of the village and now it has lost most of its insides and only the front survives. The shops just about help to keep the building going. It is such a terrible shame but at the same time the view seemed quite symbolic at the time. Buildings have to be transient things but we do make a fuss about keeping them going. The trouble is if the humans are not around to give them meaning then they lose any significance for me - so without the stories what is the point?
 I thought of seeing if I can have a creative idea or output each day through August. There is not much work stuff to intrude into the artistic side of my thinking so I thought it might be a good time to give it a go!!

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Had a great day yesterday in Durham with the HOT Lapidus group – (Humber, Ouse, Tweed). We wrote in the morning after a walk in and around the Cathedral and then we had finished writing we then spent over an hour sharing our work and exploring our writing practices and our thoughts and feelings about going public with our poetry. It was lovely supportive day and we had a lovely lunch at a local Pizzeria. In the afternoon we discussed the future meetings of the group and I can now look forward to a day in York in October and a day near Whitby/Scarborough in January next year.

I am also seriously considering treating myself to a week in North Wales in late November  at Ty-NewyddI know where it is and also it is a week exploring writing and health. I now know that is the area I want to work – writing and well-being – be it for patients, carers or professionals. Writing can be good for you it can be great for development and I believe that inner creativity can be harnessed and a new way of looking at the world can emerge thanks to writing in new and creative ways. Gaining the impetus to do more in that arena and use my new shiny coaching qualification is what I need to do.

Professional development has always been my main interest as an educator in nursing and has also widened that of health care practice in general. This week I led a workshop exploring creative writing in health care education for Cetl4health North East  and my co-presenter was a wonderful gentleman with Parkinson’s who did a far better job than I did in demonstrating the power of creative writing. His prose and poems showed other participants about the potential of writing and well-being. I did not need 20 slides listing the accumulating evidence; his story showed us all what can be achieved if we allow ourselves to explore our inner world closely with creative writing techniques. Skimming the surface is all we tend to do in health care practice – both in our conversations with patients and in our own practice of reflection. We skim we do not go too deep lest we unearth things that might concern us or might identify issues we might not be able to control. I find this all endlessly fascinating and even now just writing about it I feel a frisson of excitement about the potential for harnessing this all.

Presenting at the session on Wednesday was the guy who helped start up Patient Opinion – I am going to make sure I encourage as many people as possible to access the site and also engage the students in a bit of appreciative inquiry around what they can learn about nursing practice from the comments left on the website. I would love to be case study on the site and then maybe get invited to help facilitate workshops for practitioners about how they can use the information on the web to help develop their practice and also help identify areas for their service improvements. The information is all there it is often about people have the vision and imagination to see how they might work laterally with staff and services to improve the patient/carer experience.

I keep thinking that if I have ideas the others might have them too but I am beginning to realise that I might just have the capacity to have wisdom and insight into how people can use the information available to them. I am also a very good facilitator and that I can work a room and engage most people there to “have a go”, “take a risk” and think differently. I am also learning the flip side of this which is to be very cautious about with whom I share my ideas. I have had my fingers burnt in the past and I have helped people achieve doctorates and promotion with my too generous sharing. I am good with ideas but seriously crap at taking them forward and that is what I have to learn to do. Not just have the ideas but see them to fruition, finish them off and ultimately write them up or present them at conferences and garner a bit of glory!!

Scary stuff#