Exploring the Borders

Voices carried on this windy brow
with songs from yesterday for tomorrow.

I recently journeyed south, exploring the invisible lines between England and Wales. What a joy to marvel at the beauty of nature in this extraordinary pre-summer heat. Sun-glazed trees, hedgerows, and fields beamed with life, and every shade of youthful green fluttered in the gentle air.

My heart danced, watching sun and cloud paint an ever-moving picture on the cat’s back of Black Hill. Roads, seldom-travelled, were thickly populated with wild abundance. The earth felt solid here, unshakable, ancient, and infused with magic.

Swallows swooped before me. Buzzards circled high above. Crows beckoned me onwards. No longer was I following a map, but the compass of my heart.

Climbing higher, past nature reclaimed ruins, I found a church on a windswept brow between somewhere and nowhere. There was no one here – at least not living. The road was empty. No one came past. The church doors were closed. Yet I felt the presence of human life all around me in echoes of forgotten conversation and a tidal wave of emotion.  Voices carried on this windy brow with songs from yesterday for tomorrow. I listened closely to the stories, and added my own song to the collection of voices that lifted like the skylark against the tender blue.

Eventually, I found my way back into the everyday realm with its bustle and noise and irregular rhythms, sad to leave the rare, timeless places my heart and the birds had taken me to. But what a joy to find that there is still enchantment in these lands where nature thrives and where passing souls can be present for a while. Moments to be cherished.

Save

Share

Walks in Late Spring

Such a joy to be in nature’s domain, walking along quiet lanes in the late spring sunshine.

In wild green verges, butterflies and bees flit from one wildflower to the next, feasting on comfrey nectar.

Buzzards circle higher and higher, wings sun-glazed, oblivious to the tale of Icarus, while closer to earth, swallows swoop in fearless flight.

From the water’s edge, mayflies ascend with but a day of life to enjoy the gentle air.

This age-old scene of nature’s rituals and rich beauty fills me with poetry and song, and I dance along, pausing often to marvel at the miraculous.

☆~♡~☆

Share

Into Enchantment

Whenever I feel my creative nest is closing up around me, I find my wings and fly into nature.

I love writing and creating and sharing my soul’s gifts. It is one of the reasons why I’m here. Birthing new stories and breathing life into an idea brings me immense joy, but can consume the hours and my energy like nothing else. Too much, like too little, isn’t particularly soul nurturing, and so I turn to nature for equilibrium.

Being in nature is alchemy for mind-body-spirit. No matter how tired, how dull, how diminished we feel, nature restores us.

I have always lived close to the earth. No matter where I happen to be, I’ll find a natural place to visit where there is water, trees, wildflowers, wildhearts. This is home and sanctuary filled with sweet sighs and the joyful sense of belonging. Here is where magic happens.

Whether walking the poet’s path around Rydal lake, filled with words and song that brightens on the breeze; or stepping into the enchantment at Aberfoyle, where the woodland hides gateways to the beyond; or walking the sea-tickled shores at one coast or another, listening to the memories of water… here, in nature, I feel free.

Today, I went to my local park. February’s sun has the promise of spring in its rays, teasing everything it touches. This dream called life is birthed from light. Everything feels transient. In this moment, I am girl and woman and something else. Memories of past magical moments in nature become musical notes on my soul’s pages. It is a beautiful song.

Nature has played its part in the best I have written and created, and in everything that I am. Although just a visitor on the earth journey, star-braided and like a comet passing through, I feel nature’s sentience will remain with me long after my tour is done.

 

Why not treat yourself to Enchanted Lands?

Save

Save

Share

A Good Morning

‘You can only come to the morning through the shadows.’ -J.R.R. Tolkien

Over all the years of writing and living creatively, I have come to appreciate the gift of those first few hours of the day. I feel grateful to be here – alive and well on this earthly plain – and joyfully curious as to what might manifest as the day progresses.

There are mornings and then there are good mornings.

For me, a good morning is rising with the light and making time to read, write, sketch or dream. This quiet time nurtures my soul and enables me to breathe life into my day. I find that I’m always more focused and content when I give myself this space.

Although I love the special light at dawn, extra early starts are rare for me – unless I need to be somewhere or I’m travelling. It takes me a while to emerge from the realm of dreams and I’m usually inbetween this world and another until I’ve had my first (or sometimes second) cup of jasmine green or blackcurrant tea.

Since moving to my new creative nest, I love to spend the mornings in my reading nook. The light gradually streams through here and natural light, being kinder to the eyes, makes reading all the more pleasurable.

Over the years, my morning space has changed. My favourite was overlooking the timeless beauty of Cuerden Valley Park with its rolling greenery and the Mother Tree anchored into the distant rise.

It was there where I wrote Light Weaver. The views through the seasons and ever present company of nature provided no end of inspiration. I have moved several times since then and have come to realise that a good morning space can be found anywhere and is rooted in my heart and mindfulness.

This morning, I made some notes that emerged from the previous night’s shadows. I sketched alittle. I dipped into Tove’s Winter book (again) because I know the stirrings of spring will occupy me soon. And I ended my good morning time with a tea meditation.

How do you start your day? What makes a good morning for you?

As always, much love and brightest wishes.

Save

Save

Share

Magical Portmeirion

It’s better to travel than arrive. This old maxim just doesn’t apply to the magical folly that is Portmeirion village. At least, it doesn’t for me. You see, there is an energy about this place that is positively alchemical, and being there feels like travelling and arriving all at the same time.

PortmeirionFilm

And, simply on the rise of a spontaneous feeling, I had an urge to be there. So Fen and I journeyed along the coast and through the Welsh countryside on a balmy September day to find Portmeirion and its multitude of pleasures.

Portmeirion14

The Italian-styled village, created by architect, Clough Williams-Ellis over a 50 year period between 1925 and 1975, sits snug on a private peninsula overseeing the Traeth Bach tidal estuary on the Snowdonia coast of North Wales. Its 70 acres of sub-tropical gardens, woodland, lakes, temples, colourful architecture, and gazebos are flanked by a rock-edged shoreline with ever-changing views across the water to the hills beyond.

Portmeirion8

There is a beautiful hotel on the shore; colourful cottages with names such as Unicorn, Dolphin and Mermaid; a lightless lighthouse; a boat that never leaves the shore; a castle; statues of Hercules and Goddesses; a golden one-armed Buddha; and a shell grotto and hidden caves. These are just some of the wonderful finds, but it’s the landscape and nature’s presence that holds you enchanted here.

Portmeirion19

You possibly know Portmeirion for the 1960s surreal spy TV series, The Prisoner, which was filmed there. That’s how I first came to hear of the place. However, as a writer, I was intrigued to discover that Noel Coward wrote Blithe Spirit there in just 6 days! And, that does not surprise me. There is a potent creative energy here, born on the breeze and carried in by the ever ebb and flow of tidal waters. This energy rises from the sands and bedrock and, higher still, through soil and dense foliage. There is something spirited about this wild place, which permeates everything, despite its touristy overtones.

Portmeirion46-001

“An architect has strange pleasures,” Clough Williams-Ellis wrote in 1924. “He will lie awake listening to the storm in the night and think how the rain is beating on his roofs, he will see the sun return and will think that it was for just such sunshine that his shadow-throwing mouldings were made.”

Clough, who aspired to beauty- ‘that strange necessity’- built the tollgate, his last offering to the village of his dreams, in his 93rd year. His motto was “Cherish the Past, Adorn the Present, Construct for the Future.” Wise words from this wonderful wizard.

PortmeirionFilm-003

I aim to return to Portmeirion to write, to further explore and research, and simply to enjoy the magic that flows through this timeless place. No doubt, the experience of being there is already working its way into my writing as boldly as it has woven into my imagination.

Have you visited Portmeirion? Leave a comment and share your memories…

Love & Bright Wishes,

Save

Share

Born from Light and Shadow

Most mornings, I begin the day in bed with my notebook, crystals, and cup of Jasmine Green Tea. Usually, I’ll meditate for a while. Mostly, I write, read or sketch. Often, I look out of the window to be with nature and the trees and, always, I notice the ever dancing light.

Even on the gloomiest of days, the light finds its way in, energising me, and it creates moving pictures on the walls, flickering like the first movie-making ventures. Here’s a clip…

The light show reminds me of the zoopraxiscope, created by photographic pioneer Eadweard Muybridge in 1879, or the whirl of strobe lighting. There is something uplifting about this ever shifting light that moves me into a different way of feeling.

My attention is often drawn to the light and shadows in the ever changing landscape of my aqua-turquoise satin duvet cover. It is here where I see pictures and realise potential story threads, and I am always amazed by the figures, landscapes, and shapes that appear.

P1040343

Like others, I find it easy to see beyond what appears to be there. This is referred to as pareidolia -from Greek for ‘alongside’ or ‘instead'(para) and ‘image’ or ‘form’ (noun eidolon) -, which is considered to be vague and random stimulus being perceived in a different and usually significant way. Examples of pareidolia include being able to see the ‘man in the moon’ or faces, angels or galloping horses in clouds or seeing Elvis in a slice of bread, and is described as a type of apophenia, which involves seeing patterns in random data.

My duvet is the perfect backdrop for the imagination, and especially in the morning, when I’m still fresh from astral and dream-time. Curious figures and landscapes, born out of light and shadow, temporarily appear, and I attempt to capture what I see through quick cross-hatched sketches like these…

P1040345

P1040347

P1040348

Leonardo da Vinci wrote of pareidolia as a device for painters. He said, “if you look at any walls spotted with various stains or with a mixture of different kinds of stones, if you are about to invent some scene you will be able to see in it a resemblance to various different landscapes adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, plains, wide valleys, and various groups of hills. You will also be able to see divers combats and figures in quick movement, and strange expressions of faces, and outlandish costumes, and an infinite number of things which you can then reduce into separate and well conceived forms.”

Everything is open to perception and interpretation but, to me, these images offer visual prompts for stories, adventures, and other worlds, where events are playing out in some dimension or another. They are the beginnings of possibilities as transient as the moment.

See how the light gets into everything?

It’s where every moment begins and ends…

Share

Playing With Words

SN850503Producing good writing is often a challenging and complex pre-occupation. If not careful, there is a risk of drowning in a sea of seriousness. If the words and ideas aren’t flowing, I find it usually means I need to play more. After all, if there’s no fun in writing then what’s the point?

Playing with words is a great warm-up exercise and a way to ease the transition into producing quality writing, particularly after a long break.

I enjoy several writing games. Two that I’ve engaged with often over the past 30 years, and in the writing of Light Weaver,  is automatic writing, where I spill words onto paper without applying any thought or logic, and the other is word-mining, where I dream up fresh phrases and metaphors, which I store in my notebook for future fuel.

Recently, I’ve enjoyed experimenting with lipograms after being drawn to reading a book by R D Cook titled Between Two Seas. In the following examples, I wrote quick passages without using the letter ‘e’:

‘Your radiance, gold on skin, brightly burning away shadows. You always found a way through with your god-light.
You, all symphony and soliloqy, all that is and all that was, glorious in bliss.

***

‘This night holds songs in its soul.
Fly my owl boy into star-black

and bring down moon light.
Our world is calling you back.’

***

‘Spinning out too fast too far
you, all gold and light,
child of sun
chanting air songs at dawn
smiling always’

***

‘Sky full of snow
half-lit morning
bird song
branching out
tilting towards spring’

***

‘Crystal light burning
through woodland storm
churning rich black soil
mushroom potion full of visions
of owls flying at night
Bold wisdom in your arms
magical air in your lungs
waking into knowing’

***

And here’s one without using the letter ‘i’:

‘Sea-blown breeze upon the dunes
sun-blazed sands gleam gold
on the edge between land and sea,
where all moves and changes constantly.’

***

These were fun pre-breakfast writing games.

Another writing game popped into my head one winter sunrise, and that was to construct several passages using a fibonacci-inspired sequence for the number of words used.

Here’s an example, using the Lucas number sequence:

1. So…

3. I was there

4. right at the beginning

7. wondering what I was supposed to do

11. because there was no instruction manual or no-one to guide me.

1. Yes…

3. it seems strange

4. I had no idea

7. that life would just unfold so beautifully

11. when everything is so unpredictable, so mysterious, and so bloody crazy.

I reckon this game would be ideal for song-writing!

I play with words most often before I’m out of bed or when I have a spare moment. It sharpens the writing reflex. The words and ideas that come forth are never wasted and usually slip into my stories as if they’ve been there all along.

Give it a go. See what word gems manifest for you.

Receive my newsletter…

Occasionally, I send out an email. There’s news about my writing, stories and creativity – and some free gifts, too. Subscribe free here. ☆~♡~☆

Save

Save

Share

Walking for Inspiration

Struggling to find ideas? Here’s what walking can do for you…

I’m not a serious or even consistently regular walker, but I do love to walk and, as a writer, I find it’s vital for my creativity. Once I’m motivated and in my rhythm, a walk takes on a life of its own, opening up my imagination and providing me with an endless stream of ideas.

P1020419

A good walk reduces mind-clutter to make room for creative reflection, curious thought or simply the pleasure of enjoying the moment. It allows me to stretch my legs and enjoy the tonic of different scenery after lengthy stints in my writer’s nest. Walking also offers a chance to escape and explore a patch of this magically diverse landscape, and I’m always excited by the prospect of discoveries with each footfall. Inspiring stuff for a curious mind!

Feeding the Imagination

I’ve done my share of bad weather walking over the years so perhaps you can forgive me for saying that, these days, I much prefer fair-weather walking. I’ve been lucky to cherry-pick such days. That said, there are pleasures and insights to be gained from being caught out in a rain shower or fighting my way against a fierce gale. All experience feeds the imagination and there’s something about embracing the elements, which brings out the drama in one’s creativity.

Tuning into Creativity

When I tackle a route, I usually cover anything from two to eight miles. That’s no great distance. After all, in the days of poet Wordsworth, William and his sister Dorothy, along with their literary companions, often walked anything between 12 and 20 miles a day – and on a regular basis. It’s no surprise that Wordsworth and the likes of ST Coleridge gained so much inspiration on their walks. Their poetry is full of nature’s magic and musings experienced while out on foot.

 

P1030308-001

You don’t have to walk such great distances to tune into your creativity. Even a short walk of a mile or two is beneficial. If I’m honest, I favour walks of just three to four miles. I like to vary my pace, and take time to stop, explore, reflect and devour the changing scenery.

Capturing the Moment

I’ve spent hours on the circular Rydal path in the English Lake District, stopping frequently to admire the shifting light or to watch the reflections on the Lake. It is a route of about five miles, savoured by many artists and writers past and present. I like to just `be’, and this is important for creative thinking. Moments of stillness allow you to be fully aware and capture the present moment. Like a story, walking has a certain beginning, middle and end. The imagination shifts through the landscape during a walk, and those stopping points provide ideas, which can be committed to a notebook.

Spontaneity Sparks the Imagination

Walking a familiar route is a pleasure, but it’s often the unplanned walks and newly discovered paths – the spontaneous `let’s see where this path takes us’ – that excites the neurons and teases the imagination. These particular walks offer a playground for the senses.

P1020295

I’ve discovered magical woodland glades, rocky outcrops with endless views, secluded paths where only the sedating trill of wildlife fills the air, and timeless landscapes, which leave a permanent imprint on the memory, simply by taking another unplanned path. In some cases, I’ve only walked less than a mile or so to find these little treasures.

Creativity in Motion

Sometimes, I sing when I walk (to myself of course) or recite poetry or, if I’m with willing companions, discuss the profundities of life, the universe and everything, but it’s the silent moments that are the most insightful. It’s during these times that thought deepens or I sense life’s natural rhythms flowing through me, and an idea for a story unfolds. The action of walking silently through the landscape brings clarity to the mind, and opens consciousness to a plethora of ideas and solutions. It truly is creativity in motion and I always return inspired and mind spilling over with inspiration.

P1040163

Walking is, without doubt, great exercise and a celebrated pastime for many people but, for me, it is also a vehicle that takes me right to the heart of my imagination, allowing the creative playtime that I’ve always craved since childhood. Whether it’s just being out in the fresh air or the action of moving through the landscape, thoughts are given the space needed to think creatively, and there are few activities that are so effectively inspiring.

By Carol Anne Strange

By Carol Anne Strange

Save

Share

On Board the Mobile Library

On Monday 30th July 2012, I returned to Cumbria with my novel, Light Weaver, for an extra special book signing on board the mobile library. It was a wonderful experience for me to take the book back to where it all began some four years previous. It was also, perhaps, a novelty for the mobile library readers as the event was a first of its kind (as far as we know) in South Lakes.

P1020503

After a quick interview with the fabulous Ian Timms of BBC Radio Cumbria, I travelled north with that familiar feeling of going home. I journeyed under a dramatic sky, with ever changing light, rainbow flashes, and ominous cloud that has been typical of this strange summer.

Upon arrival, I met the lovely library staff. I was treated to a tour of Kendal’s stunning Carnegie library on Stricklandgate before setting off to the historic South Lakes villages of Burton and Holme to meet readers on board the mobile library.

P1020504

There were moments where I felt as if I’d stepped into scenes from Light Weaver. I was half expecting the singing psychic to make an appearance, dancing up and down the street as I signed copies of the book. And, perhaps he did!

Time passed quickly as it always does when you’re having fun, and I left the mobile library to continue its adventures into the heart of Light Weaver country.

P1020513

After a walk by the river and a delicious late veggie lunch at Kendal’s Waterside cafe, I made my way to Silverdale, where I often find Light Weaver’s Tom and Cali watching the tidal bore. Sometimes, I see the mobile library there, too, although I’m not sure whether it’s in this dimension or another.

P1020509-003

Thank you to Cumbria Library Services for making the event possible and to Dave and Sam (either of them could have been mistaken for Tom!) for looking after me on the mobile library. Also, thanks to the lovely Cumbrian folk who gave me such a warm welcome.

Share

The Sentience of Light

I’ve been playing in the light, bathing in rainbow rays that seem so much more intense these days.

P1030792

Kestrel, Crow, Buzzard and Lapwing have kept me company along with the first of the season’s butterflies. Both sun and moon have occupied the afternoon’s gentle blue, and all of life’s magic manifests in the stillness of being. Springtime is on her way, here in this little corner garden of planet earth, and nature knows this. ‘Tis a time for new beginnings.

P1030793
There is something dream-like about my walks and travels of late. I feel like I’m moving without moving, noticing the transience of the moment.

P1030803

I’m constantly reminded that I’m just a visitor here – as are we all.

P1030803-001

Such a reminder is a gift… a message to enjoy this physical journey, as our visit is so sweetly short.

P1030803-014

Breathe in bliss. Capture a moment.

What is more beautiful than being present in the light, surrounded by nature?

Share