The Joys of Singing

Issue 9 of Breathe magazine is out now and includes my feature, In Search of Harmony, which is about the benefits of singing and joining a community choir.

As always, the magazine is full of interesting articles on well-being, mindfulness, creativity and escaping. There are plenty of dreamy and inspiring images to tease your senses too.

This issue also includes a ‘Notes for my Novel’ notebook for all you budding novelists.

With the nights drawing in, take the opportunity to cosy-up with your own copy of Breathe. It’s so much more than a magazine. Enjoy! ♡

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Coast Features

It was a joy to write about Isle of Skye based weaver, Maggie Williams, and Cornish-born artist, Sue Read, for November’s issue of Coast magazine.

Coast magazine

Both artists are inspired by the sea, and this is evident in their beautiful creations.

I think you’ll enjoy finding out more about these two lovely ladies who are living their dream.

Coast magazine is in the shops now. ♡

 

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To Autumn in South Lakes

This place will always be full
of beginnings and endings for me,
and traces of old and untold stories.

A visit to Cumbria is a treat and especially in-between seasons. Trees and hedgerows begin to show their autumn tints in the late summer sun while swallows swoop and soar, testing their wings in readiness to fly south.

Despite the afternoon heat, the light gives way to cooler evenings, and there’s anticipation in the air of something unfathomable.

Returning to the Lake District and, in particular, South Lakes brings a sense of home-coming. As soon as the Lakeland fells come into view, my spirits lift and I feel a resurgence of energy, story, magic, life.

This is Light Weaver country. This is where I met the characters in my first novel. This is where something extraordinary seized my imagination while liberating my soul.

A richly-coloured, undulating quilt of fells, pastures, crags, lakes, shores, rivers, forests and hideaways is woven with the fabric of human, animal and other seen and unseen life.

The ever-changing light makes more or less of what is here and simply intensifies the transience of each moment.

This place will always be full of beginnings and endings for me, and traces of old and untold stories. I’m entwined with this landscape for reasons that partly remain a mystery, and this is why I keep returning with a happy heart filled with sparks of possibility.

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Evening Scenes

A barn owl quarters the spent earth
while a field mouse scurries for cover.

As summer surrenders to the wild atmospherics of autumn, nature prepares for its seasonal transition.

Travelling back to base-camp one evening across the Cheshire and Lancashire plains, it’s clear that the nights are quickly drawing in.

There is something spell-binding about the fast-fading light, which creates a transient palette of colour and hues.

Smoke grey clouds streak the sky, remnants of earlier sharp showers, and the landscape begins its routine merger with the night.

Upon reaching the west coast, a burning pink and orange tinted ribbon is all that remains of the sunset, but the grey cloud blooms have cleared to leave the most magnificent blue sky made richer, perhaps, by the energy of recent solar flares.

Moths begin to storm the road over the moss. A barn owl quarters the spent earth while a field mouse scurries for cover.

These evening scenes, though fleeting, remain with me long after the day’s journey ends. What simple nourishment for the soul.

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Exploring Halsall Village

With summer coming to its close,
there was a moment of peaceful reflection.

We often find ourselves passing through the pretty West Lancashire village of Halsall en-route to somewhere else. On this occasion, we decided to stop for a while to enjoy a leisurely wander.

Surrounded by low-lying mosslands, which stretch out west to Ainsdale and Formby sands, the parish of Halsall, with a population just under 2,000, stands on a slight rocky ridge close to the ancient market town of Ormskirk.

At the heart of the village is St. Cuthbert’s church, a designated 1 listed building, dating from the 14th century.

The church is situated amidst beautiful trees and lovingly cared for gardens. In the church yard, there are grave slabs from the Middle Ages and there is even a gravestone for a Mr James Bond.

On the day of our visit, we were drawn to nature’s abundance. Damselflies sunbathed and birds sang from the branches of all the beautiful trees here. The light was so beautiful. The hydrangeas glowed, and so did we.

If you find yourself in Halsall, look out for the sculpture by Thompson Dagnall, which marks the commencement of the Leeds and Liverpool canal. You’ll find this near the bridge at Saracen’s Head. If you’re ever passing through the village in June, you might be lucky enough to see the annual scarecrow festival. A must see!

With summer coming to its close, there was a moment of peaceful reflection.

After time spent well beneath a rare blue sky, we journeyed on across Halsall Moss looking for the phantom hitchhiker who has been known to haunt these lonely roads. We didn’t see him on this occasion, but perhaps we’ll meet him on our return. In Halsall, we have the feeling that anything is possible.

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Walks in West Lancashire

Nature endures. Nature always finds its way.

As summer reached its height, we took a stroll along the West Lancashire and Sefton section of the Cheshire Lines path. Forming part of the Trans Pennine Trail, this 346km coast-to-coast route, which was once a railway line, runs from Southport to Hornsea.

It is in these fields and woods, an ever changing patchwork divided by the silvery threads of rivers and brooks, where we’ve seen owls, hares, and deer.

On this occasion, as we stood on the bridge of Downholland brook, a grey heron made an appearance along with the stealth sky pilots that are swallows, swifts and martins. Although they were going about their daily rituals, feasting on late summer’s offerings, we were treated to an avian air show like no other.

The riverbank was sweetly covered with clover and a myriad of grasses, plants and wildflowers. A common blue butterfly – a female – flitted around us before settling in the abundant green.

There is an uneasy chill on the breeze. We see how humans attempt to tame and master the land and elements, yet nature overcomes. Nature endures. Nature always finds its way. 🌿

I’m sure we’ll be back here before long, and perhaps we’ll explore the route by bicycle. That will certainly please Fen.

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Birkrigg Stone Circle

There is something about Birkrigg stone circle, situated on a hillside south of Ulverston, that never fails to captivate me.

The incredible views from the elevated common overlooking Morecambe Bay certainly makes this site so special, but there is an energy here that is tangible and full of mystery. I can’t help but wonder what has taken place on this common in far-off days. 

We first visited this circle with lovely friends one winter not so long ago and returned early this month on a breezy late summer’s afternoon.

Birkrigg stone circle, also known as The Druid’s Circle, has two concentric stone rings. Apparently, there are only around 30 such circles in the UK and nothing else like this in Cumbria.

The inner circle consists of 10 stones and the outer circle has about 15 stones, although some are obscured by grass and bracken. It is also said that there are several bronze age tumuli on the common although we haven’t explored these yet.  Perhaps we will on our next visit.

Having visited quite a number of stone circles over the years, Birkrigg leaves a lasting impression. Time stands still here and I always have a distinct feeling that we’re not alone.

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Light Weaver and Future Stories

When Light Weaver, my debut novel, was published in 2012, I had no idea what effect this book would have on all the lovely people who chose to read Tom and Cali’s extraordinary story.

My partner, Fen, was the first to read Light Weaver and was so enthralled that he asked me if he could publish the book. At the time, I had just started to make initial enquiries with literary agents and publishers, and with favourable responses, but independent publishing appealed to my ‘let’s do it now’ outlook. By taking this route, and accepting Fen’s generous offer to take care of all the commissioning of editors and designers, typesetting, lay-out, printing and all the publishing admin, it meant that the book would find its way into the world much quicker than taking the more conventional publishing route. I was fixated about getting the book out in 2012, and so Fen took the project on board and made it happen.

If you have discovered a print copy of Light Weaver you will see the love and care that Fen put into transforming my manuscript into the final book. He did a magnificent job, and I’m very grateful.

Slowly slowly, Light Weaver began to find its readers. This hasn’t been an easy route partly because the novel doesn’t fit snug into a particular book genre. Some have described it as visionary or metaphysical fiction, some refer to it as fantasy / sci-fi set in a familiar place (the Lake District), and some refer to it as a nature-inspired love story with an extra dimensional twist. These are all valid descriptions, but it doesn’t make it easy to place the title on a book store’s shelf. To me, it’s all about the story and I love nothing better than finding something extraordinary in the ordinary (and vice versa) to share with my readers.

Back in 2012, I had hoped to start making progress on the next novel. I have so many stories (and curious characters) inhabiting my imagination, and they need to find their way on to the page. Was it John Lennon who said, life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans? I did start writing and researching, but I’ve been caught up with life’s funny twists and turns and pre-occupations. This leads me to another pertinent quote courtesy of Virginia Woolf: A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction. (Of course, this applies to men, too.) In this instance, money equates to freedom, and freedom is what I value greatly, but the stories won’t leave me alone. They rattle their cage bars and keep me awake at night. They swim in the pool of my thoughts whenever I’m adrift from the moment.

Although Fen invested in bringing Light Weaver into the book world, publishing and marketing books is not his life’s venture. He is busy with his own creative projects. If I am to bring new stories into the world, I will need to find a publisher I can co-create with… a publisher who is listening to my slowly growing readership and understands what they want.

Right now, I am joyfully busy writing inspiring features and content for magazines and clients, but I am open to the possibility of bringing new stories into the world. There is one story – set in Scotland – that is weaving its threads through me, and which I would like to complete and publish before the fires go out. Not a week goes by without readers asking me if I have another novel available or even a Light Weaver sequel. This is telling me something, but are there any publishers or literary agents taking note and willing to take a chance on me? If so, let’s talk.

Way always leads to way. While there is light within me, there is a spark of a story waiting for the dawn. I hope I’ll be able to share more curious tales before my tour of earth is done.

Have you read Light Weaver? Are you waiting to read my next novel?

Please leave a comment about what you thought of my debut novel, and whether you would like to read more of my stories. Although I already have some great reviews of Light Weaver on Amazon, your comments here might just help me connect with a fabulous publisher. Where there’s a spark, there’s a possibility. Thank you. ☆~♡~☆

 

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Summer Evenings on the Shore

How soon will sea and summer breeze
erase footprints in the sand?

This stretch of beach, flanked by ​ever moving ​dunes and sea, was all ours in the lingering​ late evening heat.​ ​

We walk​ed​, barefoot, pausing often to observe the ever-dancing light on water cast by the slow-setting sun.

Here, on this north west England coast, is where Jean Sprackland spent a year gathering inspiration for her beautiful, award-winning book, Strands: A Year of Discoveries on the Beach. Here is where my younger self spent long ago summers with my parents and brothers.

Will we see remnants from the Star of Hope? What about mermaid’s purse? Not on this occasion, but there are plenty of footprints and curious sea treasures strewn across the tide rippled shore.

How soon will sea and summer breeze erase footprints in the sand?

I meditate on this sense of transience: the ever turning tides of life. It would be all too easy to become caught up in what is past and what is yet to come, but I hold steady in this rare breeze. That is all we can do when sailing into the unknown.

Soon, it’s time to go, but not before dancing to the song of the sea and setting sun.

This life is so miraculous. My heart is filled with gratitude​ for every blissful moment​.

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