Continuing with the online writing course, we are looking at where we write:

Worst place to write

It’s really busy and cramped, noise clatters around me.  The hostile metal of the station bench pushes against my bones, acting as a wick for the cold that surrounds.  Feet rush past; high heels click clacking as they rush for the train.  There is too much going on.  The thoughts in my mind are fighting against the pain in my joints.  Voices invade my space along with the bodies they belong to.  Pushing and jostling.  I move away from the torturous seat and go in search of coffee.

Best place to write

There’s some gentle background music.  Acoustic probably.  I’m cocooned in a blanket, cosy and warm as I sidle up to the radiator.  The chair hugs me, supportively.  I reach out for the pot of tea as I run words over my tongue.  Testing them.  Choosing them.  Rejecting them.  My laptop sits on the table next to paper and pen.  I flick between the two mediums although everything will end up electronic in the end.

Some recipes with your poetry?

Writing prompts


No bread and honey

To the family name, just

Granma’s bees, now Dad’s.



A hello today

Marking tomorrow’s goodbye





Equations untying pasts,

Predicting futures

Bit of a plug:

This weekend I went to the Women’s Holiday Centre in Horton in Ribblesdale. The house is an amazing women’s only space which really feels like home.  They charge on a sliding scale to keep it affordable and the cost includes the food that’s kept in the house (all vegetarian) and available for you to prepare meals with.  It’s about a 7 minute gentle walk from a train station and is nestled at the foot of Pen-y-Ghent.  It’s brilliant!  Go along on your own, with a friend or book the whole house like we did.

Whilst I was there, I also booked into a creative writing workshop as the one I did last year was wonderful. Really supportive, inspiring and positive.

Recipes from weekend

The weekend really played into the part of me that likes to cook for people.  ‘Recipes’ may be stretching it a bit but here you go…

Bananajacks (vegan)
A cross between banana bread and flapjack, hence the name!  In a pan, gently heat three handfuls of chopped dates with two handfuls of brown sugar. Once they start to melt together add six chopped bananas. Once melted into a sticky smoothish mix add as many oats as the mix will take. Bake in a greased tray in a preheated oven (180) for 15-20 mins.

Chocolate brownie (vegan)
Make this recipe but I would replace the sugar with brown sugar (I’m really rubbish at fully following recipes but brown sugar makes it stickier). If you can, add chocolate chips.  Once cool, ice with a fudgy buttercream chocolate topping – two tablespoons of (vegan) butter, 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder, a teaspoon of so of (soya/oat) milk and keep adding icing sugar until it’s fairly thick and stiff and when you taste test it, it doesn’t taste too greasy.

Chickpea, lentil and spinach curry (vegan)
70g red lentils per person
80g chickpeas per person
Lots of spinach
Per person, roughly: half a clove of garlic, half a teaspoon of… turmeric, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, ground coriander, garam masala, tiny amount of chilli powder (tip of a spoon)
Lemon juice
Fresh coriander

Fry garlic, turmeric, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, ground coriander, ground cumin, chilli powder into a paste. Stir in lentils. Add water to cover lentils. Keep stirring. After five minutes add chickpeas. You might need to add more water as the lentils absorb it. Once the lentils have cooked down (15-20 mins after putting them on), taste it. It might need a pinch of salt or some more cumin or coriander. Stir in spinach. It will wilt down a lot so you’ll need more than you think. Stir through a splash of lemon juice and some fresh chopped coriander.

Serve with rice, chapattis and yoghurt.  Reheats and freezes well.

Writing prompts

I came across some writing prompts today aimed at children.  Here’s a couple of things I wrote as a response:

The first time I rode a bike, I…

I have no recollection of the first time I rode a bike.  I suspect it wasn’t a particularly significant day in my life.  I do remember a day, probably around my birthday as it was gray outside, I was on the farmyard and my dad was behind me.  I was on a red bike.  I don’t really remember much else about it.

I do know that having a bike was my escape.  In the evening, at the weekends, during school holidays I would cycle across the fields, up and down the yard.  When I was older I would go out on the lane, cycling up and down.  It didn’t really seem to matter where I was going, the destination wasn’t important.  What was important was that I was away from the house.  When I was old enough to cross the main road I would spend hours at my friends house.  We were geographically convenient to each other.  That’s not to say we weren’t good friends, we were, but I suspect we wouldn’t have been as close or spent as much time together if we weren’t the only people our age within cycling distance of each other.

I had forgotten how important a bike was to me when I was growing up.  I’d forgotten the carefree feeling of doing wheelies and staying out as long as I could.  I’d forgotten that having a bike was a reason to go out.  “I’m off to ride my bike” was better than “I’m going to hang around somewhere else”.  Essentially it provided a means of purposeful escape.

 10 things I want to buy

  1. A trip to Asia, I’m thinking Cambodia for my next big holiday.  I would go ahead and book it but I’m not really sure I’m actual fit for it.
  2. Trip to New Zealand and a ticket for a friend, ideally hire a campervan and just go from place to place.
  3. Health.  If you could buy health I would do it and would buy some for friends who are struggling.
  4. Warmth.  I guess this is really heating and I always feel guilty about the amount of energy I use on heating.
  5. Books. Because I always always want to buy books.  Books make me happy.  They are filled with possibilities and that excites me.
  6. Music.  There’s a few CDs on my wish list and I’m finding silence difficult at the moment
  7. New camera kit – a macro lens, film to play with, a creative photography course (as opposed to learning the technical side)
  8. A tattoo by Rebecca Louise Vincent
  9. Wool.  Knitting is helping my mental health.  It’s also helping me learn the importance of pacing so that’s a win too!
  10. Dairy free ice cream. I was never really fussed about dairy free ice cream but the last six months or so have seen me constantly wanting more.

Interestingly I didn’t think I wanted to buy anything when I started the list. That’s consumerism for you.


After a couple of failed attempts at online courses (both free – one was too heavy and the other was too reliant on video clips which I can’t see on my phone thus limiting when I can access the course) I’ve started another Future Learn course, this time it’s ‘Start writing fiction’.

One of the first tasks was to write 50-100 words including…

…one fact, three fiction

So, it’s Monday lunchtime.  I’m standing by the river, sun shining on my back as I gaze at the ripples.  Gently, ducks bob by, their tranquillity slows my heart beat.  I know appearances mislead and their feet are paddling furiously but I let myself believe the beautiful lie.

…three facts, one fiction

Distractedly gazing at the computer screen, my mind ticks over to the weekend.  I’m off to the countryside where I hope the sun will shine and revitalise my soul.  Just need to get through a few days in the job from hell.


Then a quick look at the writer’s notebook:

The writer’s notebook

Collections of facts and fictions

Brief observations

Enchanting words

Snippets of inspiration

Whispers of stories

Ghosts of characters

Unimagined worlds

Lodging within

Cardboard covers


Then we looked why different writers write.

 Why do I write?

I write to create a world, to make sense of the world.  I write to develop characters, further my understanding of them and myself through them.  Writing is a lens to see the world through.  It helps me to focus on details which are so easily lost in the universe.  Words allow me to frame ideas, understand my thoughts and explore within me.  I use words to shine light on crevices that would remain in the dark.  Writing allows me to listen to myself.  Writing can be meditation, reflection, observation.  Writing is a journey into other worlds, other ways, into yourself.

I’ve always written.  I wrote story after story as a child.  I dabbled in haiku and acrostic.  I wrote my own newspapers and magazines.  As a teenager I indulged in dark, dramatic, miserable poetry.  Written in notebooks that never left my side.  Written in the margins of my maths work.  I reached a stage where writing was no longer consoling me, it was holding me hostage to the depression that blackened my day.  I took a break.  I am returning to writing, more mature, less brooding.  I am a different person.  I am a different writer.

This is my life. This isn’t a life.

Wake up, run hands over body to check for overnight weight gain.

Drag self out of bed. If I stand up and the room goes black then I know I’m on track.

Put on the kettle.  Make coffee.  A taste acquired through anorexia .

Strip off.  Weigh self.  A good day will see weight loss.  A bad day, weight gain.  You have to weigh yourself before you can eat or drink anything.  You have to weigh yourself naked.  No more pj days for me.

Slowly get dressed.  Exhaustion makes it difficult to do everything.

Wearing seven layers and still not warm.

Drink coffee.  Possibly have dry cereal for breakfast.

Then drag self to work.  Walk seems like forever.  Have to take the lift one floor.

More coffee.  Mainline diet pepsi.  Countdown minutes till lunch.  Lunch, which can barely be called that.  Constant counting of calories.  Working out the possibilities of food combinations.  What can I have for tea? If I have that then I can’t have the other thing.  How can I reduce calorie content of foods?  Constantly thinking.  Constantly counting.

Countdown minutes till I can leave.  Struggle to get to the end of the day.  Trying to remember how to hold conversation.  Pretense of normality.

Dragging self home is almost impossible.  Miles and miles of painful exhausted steps.

Surrounded by mess and dirty dishes, force self to cook.

Eat watching dvds.

Stay, stuck, on the sofa.

Bed. Dreams of food.

Start again.

This is my life.


This isn’t a life.


Mariana Trench

Mariana Trench

At depths so dark and

Unimaginable, life

Continues to thrive

So my next online course (because learning is good for me and Future Learn courses are free) is Exploring Our Oceans.  I am one week in and we’ve covered a bit of the history of ocean exploration.  It’s only relatively recently that we’ve found that there is life in the depths of the seas and as part of our discoveries and mapping of this unknown we have found many many new species.  The Mariana Trench is the deepest part of the world’s oceans and is home to creatures such as the Angler Fish.  At over 30,000 feet deep, it is deeper than Mount Everest is high.  There’s a helpful chart from the National Geographic to help get your head round that.