Archives for the month of: November, 2016

I’m involved in two writing workshops in the next week. This coming Saturday 3rd December I’m helping out at Jennifer C Wilson’s afternoon workshop in Whitley Bay library. It’s called Ekphrasis: Finding Words in Pictures. The Greeks used ekphrasis to describe writing about art. The aim was to make the reader imagine the work of art as if it were physically present.

adieu-ammenotep-1960 Jennifer has taken the word as a springboard for Saturday’s workshop. Come and find inspiration from paintings, sculpture and other artworks. Jennifer will guide you through a number of exercises and there’ll be chances for feedback throughout the afternoon.

Ekphrasis workshop: Finding Words in Pictures. Saturday 3rd December Whitley Bay library 1.30pm to 4pm Cost: £20. Book your place online

elizabthI’m running my final creative writing workshop of the year next Tuesday 6th December in Happy Planet’s shop on Ilfracombe Gardens in Whitley Bay.  It’s called Words of Comfort (Food.) Do you have a treasured family recipe book or do you keep favourite recipes in your head? Isn’t it time to record them for posterity? Join me next Tuesday as I share the recipe for successful food writing and help you to start compiling your very own recipe book. All attendees to bring along at least three favourite recipes.

Words of Comfort (Food) Tues 6th December, 7pm – 9pm at the Happy Planet Studio & Gallery, Ilfracombe Gardens, Whitley Bay, complete with tuition and seasonal refreshments for £20. Booking is essential, so please secure your place with a deposit of £10 by clicking here.


Last week the Office for National Statistics announced that dementia is now the commonest cause of death in England in Wales. The Guardian newspaper reported that dementia will affect one in three people aged 65 and over and costs the UK more than £26bn.
Britain is becoming more aware of dementia but many people are scared of the disease. Whenever I find myself talking to people about dementia I try to shoehorn positive experiences of living with dementia. I always start with examples here in North Tyneside.
stcatherinessilverstarsThe Alzheimer’s Society runs a weekly Singing for the Brain group in North Shields. It takes place every Monday afternoon in the hall of St Columba’s United Reformed Church in Northumberland Square. Folk living with dementia at home or in care homes attend plus their carers and loved ones. The group is organised by Alzheimer’s Society and supported by a group of devoted volunteers. Once a month the Silver Stars Ukuele Band attend the session and the group get to play with instruments and join in simple line dancing. The group is a lifeline for those living with dementia and their families.
Less than a mile away from St Columba’s is the Methodist Church on Hawkeys Lane where every other Wednesday morning  pARTners meet. The group pARTners is a regular art class for people living with dementia. It is run by local artist Val Farrar and her husband Tony. I visited the group last month and found calm, joy and creativity.
In one part of the church hall Val oversees the the art class. Attendees are paired with a volunteer and they sit together painting, drawing, talking and partaking of tea and cake when it is served. In another part of the church hall Tony oversees the tea, cake and chat for the familiy members and carers who’ve come along.dots-flower
The group is holding a coffee morning with a difference next Wednesday 30th November. There will be tea, coffee plus an exhibtion of the artists’ work, sale of Christmas cards and a chance to share with a representative of Age UK on dementia awareness. If you would like to attend the morning or want to know more about pARTners (as potential attendee or volunteer)  then contact

Poetry with Friends is the poetry appreciation with a difference group I attempt to co-parent with artist Gail Curry from Happy Planet Creative Arts CIC. I say “attempt” because Poetry with Friends (PWF for short) bypassed baby steps and teething and is now marching around Whitley Bay in DMs making new friends and dragging them along to our Thursday morning and Tuesday evening sessions.

happy-peePoetry with Friends has been running for over two years. We’ve seen a few friends come then go but there’s a core group of approximately 15  bods who flit between Tuesday evenings in St Paul’s Parish Centre and Thursday mornings in Whitley’s library.

I’ve missed quite a few PWF sessions this year so Gail has been in Madame Chair’s hot seat for most of 2016. If Gail can’t make a session I cover but sometimes (very occasionally) neither of us can make a PWF session. Thanks then to one of our Thursday “regulars” Joyce for chairing last Thursday’s session. The group welcomed newcomer Liz and shared some of their own poems plus work by Dylan Thomas, Cole Porter, Geordie Broon, Robin Moss, Vicky Arthurs and A.E Houseman.

Joyce said there was “LOTS of chat and good fellowship” last Thursday. Thanks, Joyce.

blakeThis Tuesday’s PWF saw me in Madame Chair’s seat. It was good to catch up with the PWF regulars and welcome back a poetry fan who first joined us almost two years ago. We shared poems by writers including T.S. Eliot, Ogden Nash, Mike Pratt, Louis MacNeice, William Blake and poems by some of the group. I was struck by David’s choice “In Praise of Songs that Die” by Vachel Lindsay.

PWF regular Ken Creen turned up halfway through the session. He’d just been to see Jo Scott read her work at Monkseaton Library.  This coming Monday Ken and I will perform with fellow Poetry with Friends regular Harry Gallagher at John Hegley’s gig in Whitley Bay Library. All three of us are looking forward to sharing the stage with John.

happy-planet-tooNext Thursday’s Poetry with Friends will see Gail back in Madame Chair’s seat. Welcome back. Your PWF friends have missed you.


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