Writer in Residence

New workshop

New workshop!

Find your voice. Creative Writing for Wellbeing.

Starts 20th Sept 2018.

Every Thurs 12.15pm-1.45pm.

170 Brick Lane, London E1 6RU.

Book now! Earlybird offer £125

If booked before Aug 31st.


High Tea (on the 7th Floor)

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
C.S. Lewis

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”
Thich Nat Hahn

I love afternoon tea and recently invited some of my favourite women friends to my balcony overlooking the train tracks and tower blocks of London for just such an occasion. With copius amounts of prosecco a fine time was had. It was only after I’d sent out invites that I realised I didn’t have a tea pot. Would Darjeeling taste the same in a cafetiere? It all turned out well though more Mad Hatter’s than Ritz with everyone bringing something from a funky teapot found in a charity shop, to the drizzliest lemon drizzle, to a divine chocolate cake that had to be dragged off the spoon by firm lips. I even tried my hand at my first ever scones, which were rather deformed, but all the tastier for it. A splendid way to spend a bank holiday Monday afternoon, conversation only pausing when the passing trains drowned us out. Read more for some great literary quotes about afternoon tea.  (more…)

Jerome K. Jerome -so good they named him twice

Why would any parent do that with a name I wonder? Is it his real name?

Let’s investigate. Here are some interesting facts and quotes:

His middle name is Klapka. (What the….?) Good old Wikipedia explains it all: His father was called Jerome Clapp, who then changed his named to Jerome Clapp Jerome (no wonder his son developed a sense of humour)

“Swearing relieves the feelings—that is what swearing does. I explained this to my aunt on one occasion, but it didn’t answer with her. She said I had no business to have such feelings.”

He wasn’t posh, as I’d assumed. The family seem to have been rather impoverished after bad investments by Dad (JCJ), and this scuppered all JKJ’s plans of becoming a man of letters and he went to work on the railways.

I can see the humorous side of things and enjoy the fun when it comes; but look where I will, there seems to me always more sadness than joy in life.

He did all sorts of jobs- acting, teaching, journalism, before starting to sell humorous articles to magazines.
“I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.”

Three Men in A Boat  (1889) was actually a novel that he wrote after his honeymoon on a boat on the Thames. In the book his two male compnaions were based on real friends of his though he changed their names. It was an instant success and is still in print today. It is also credited with making the Thames itself a major tourist destination.


“Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need – a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends, worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing.”

He wrote loads of other stuff. But I’ve loved Three Men in a Boat since I read it at school. It wasn’t just humorous though, there is some lovely stuff in there. I defy anybody to read the following and not want to be there:

“…till we, common-place, everyday young men enough, feel strangely full of thoughts, half sad, half sweet, and do not care or want to speak–till we laugh, and, rising, knock the ashes from our burnt-out pipes, and say “Good night,” and, lulled by the lapping water and the rustling trees, we fall asleep beneath the great, still stars, and dream that world is young again….”

 He died aged 68 in Northampton.


Japanese Whispers

I saw a delightful film last night that changed my mood completely. Isn’t that what works of art are for? Even if they are animations? That’s cartoons to me. And I don’t do cartoons. Usually.

I caught up with Whisper of the Heart at the BFI South Bank, where I often hang out, and decided to see this film on a whim. They’d transferred it to the main screen as it was so popular. Yes, a cartoon, so though it’s, essentially, a teen romance, it has more than a sprinkling of Zen, and I was soon transported into the world of 14 year old Shizuku, a girl who loves books and writing (that reason I can blog about it). One day she discovers an odd coincidence in her library books when she notices they’ve all been taken out of the library before by the same person. Thus begins an Alice in Wonderland-style journey into a world of strange cats and odd characters and an uphill road that leads to a seemingly enchanted bric-a-brac store owned by a wise old man. (Aren’t they always?) The rest of the story provides a wonderful metaphor for finding your own path, discovering what it is you love and want to do, then going for it. Even I, a middle-aged woman, had a lot to learn from this 14 year old girl. In fact the writer of this warm, funny and insightful screenplay, Hiyao Myazacki, a man, said the film was aimed at viewers who ‘tend to give up too easily on the idea of being the star of their own stories’.

That film was from 1995, but the same writer and animator has now made his last film, The Wind Rises,  which is out in the cinemas now, and I’m going to see it this week. It sounds a much darker affair, about the designer of a Japanese war plane, of all things. I guess you have to take the Yang with the Yin.



Three Women Without a Boat (Part One)

In the style of Jerome K. Jerome (sort of)

 No one quite knew whose idea first it was to walk the Thames Path, but I like to think it was mine.  We three were discussing the possibility of a little trip whilst drinking cocktails in the Radio Bar with its dandy clientele and fine views over London. Pressley was all for Venice before it sank. Smithy was up for anywhere, so long as she hadn’t been there before, but as there aren’t many places in the world she hasn’t been, we were feeling limited as well as of limited means.

As darkness descended, along with several more cocktails, the city’s skyscrapers and Tower Bridge lit up like Blackpool illuminations.  I was about to suggest Blackpool, but as my friends were busy admiring the view along the Thames, I said: “Did you know that the Thames Path has been voted one of the great walks of the world? Second only to Rio De Janeiro?”

My friends were stunned into silence, but that may have been because of the large bill for several Margharitas and a couple of Bellinis. Tipsy discussions began around how much of the Thames path we could walk and we all felt we’d easily manage the whole 184 miles, probably over a long weekend. Thus began several weeks of diary shuffling to find only two nights in April the three of us could do, but we still felt we could cover a decent stretch. Then it began raining. And raining, and continued until the Thames had its worst floods in centuries.  We thought it might have to be Rio after all, but we decided to go ahead with our original plan and walk a reportedly dry section between Marlow and Windsor, a mere 16 miles or so.