Sunday, November 01, 2015

"What Do You Call A Pair Of Poets...??"

OK, what DO you call a pair of Poets? 

Well, in Chester last week..... it was" Armitage and Maxwell"....
Simon Armitage, yes, (who was appearing at Chester Lit Festival) ...and Glyn Maxell, also appearing, and also invited as the Festival's Poet In Residence.
I was lucky enough to enjoy 2 sessions: the first being Armitage's talk about his new book......a Radio 4 B of the W...... WALKING AWAY" ( see above) which particularly appealed to me...... as I love the SW of the UK....and Armitage's book tells of his Walk along that coast, taking in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall. He walked each day, then sang for his bed and also for his supper, no doubt, in the evenings.

AND after that session....... I managed a swift snack in pub by Town Hall....most Events held in the TH.......and I also managed a zingy glass of prosecco...before.I joined friends to hear Armitage and Maxwell speaking together "On Poetry"....lots of interesting chat between them.....which revealed  their poetry, their lives and their very long-standing friendship..

I hadn't realised that their joint book " Moon Country"....written after a trip together to Iceland....... came about to honour a long ago trip to Iceland in the '30's......made by poets WH Auden and Louis MacNeice.
Another Pair of Poets.... 

See Macneice and Auden's book " Letters From Iceland" ( below) 


I am very gradually catching up with my posts.....please bear with me....( whoever reads this, although to be honest, I've not much idea who does!) 
The title of this Performance from Chester Theatre Club ( in LitFest Fringe ) was compelling:
 " With Flowers In Their Bayonets".
AND IT WAS was based on WW1 writings from women ( something I've long been drawn to) and beautifully created by Jenny and Paul Shryane, 
Extracts used were chosen from "Women and The Great War" ( ed. Joyce Marlow) and " Scars Upon My Heart" selected by Catherine Reilly.
ACTORS were: Elliott Anthony, John Henry, Zoya Ivanova, Toria Jones, Alison Knott, Ann Massey, Ellie-Mae Smith and Liz Stafford. 
Music was by Catherine Harrison, mother of John Henry.
We had a moving/thought provoking afternoon, watching/listening to this fine performance....
BELOW: John Henry rehearsing in the Salisbury Studio at Chester Theatre Club with Alison Knott. 


We had 4 scary visitors last night...they were off to a party...BUT THEY decided to HAUNT us first!

PS: Bring back the bowl of water... and the swift ducking for apples!! PLUS my mother's gorgeous parkin.....or was THAT Bonfire Night??

Saturday, October 31, 2015

"Matthew Frank Voted No 1 By Waverton Good Readers!" ...

Here is writer Matthew Frank with his wife, Matthew's award......
at this year's "Waverton Good Read Dinner", held at Eaton Golf Club.....with a full dining room of keen readers in attendance.

Matthew's book was read with great interest by lots of "Good Readers" and along with a massive pile of books by other first-time novelists, it was judged accordingly.
 And "If I Should Die" ...featuring Detective Joseph Stark..... and published by PENGUIN.....was voted a very well deserved, much acclaimed winner.
It will be the first title in a new crime fiction series which the people of Waverton will enjoy when Matthew's next book leaps off the press...

The Award has been running since 2000, started by Gwen Goodhew and Wendy Smedley.  
Winners include: Mark Haddon for " The Curious Case Of The Dog In The Nightime", Jonathan Trigell's " Boy A", also Rachel Joyce's " The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry" . 
All books I've enjoyed. 

2 rather strange characters attended...thoroughly enjoying company and dinner! 


"Celebrating 10 Years Of THEATRE IN THE QUARTER"

This is Matt Baker.... the amazing GUIDING LIGHT of all that"Theatre In The Quarter" have
 achieved in Chester over the last decade....
Just For Starters: Groups include: "Theatre In The Quarter Chorus", "REWIND Blacon Youth", "QUARTZ" 

Grandson G ( aged 10!) taking part in Jigsaw Music Theatre's " City Of Stories" for the 10th Anniversary Celebrations, held at The Hammond Ballet School, Chester.
Actor TOM HUGHES began his career by joining JIGSAW MUSIC THEATRE when at school. 
In honour of both Tom's achievements..... AND  the 10th Anniversary, Tom was made Patron of JIGSAW. The children were delighted.
NB: Tom was also presented with a very cool hoodie to mark the occasion...!

Lovely soloist MAYA ROJAS. She captivated everyone with her voice, smile and gentle confidence...
TOM, displaying the JIGSAW HOODIE!

END OF THE SHOW: Matt with the children of JiGSAW take a well deserved bow!


Another pair of Picnic Plays performed at Theatr Clwyd one recent Friday lunchtime.

2 very short plays by ANTON CHEKHOV: " Swan Song" told the tale of elderly actor,Vasili, who falls asleep in his dressing-room.......only to be discovered later that night by the prompter, Nikita. The play features a remarkable chat between them about their lives and a fascinating analysis about much that has happened over the years......the actors were Ian Burfield and Mathew Bulgo, who gave fabulous performances...

The 2nd play " On The Harmful Effects Of Tobacco" had the audience roaring with laughter......the play took the engaging form of a lecture, given by Nyukhin, who has a "nagging" wife plus an addiction to tobacco. Christian Patterson as Nyukhin was superb.

ALL the actors were currently appearing in "All My Sons" at Theatr C. I didn't see it but heard it was one of the finest plays seen for a while...
PICNIC PLAYS: £3 to merely watch(!) + £5 should you fancy buying a very generous picnic....

" WHAT would Jane Have Made Of This...?"

AUSTENTATIOUS  are an ensemble of actors who improvise Comedy-Drama....... in the style of Jane Austen. They develop the play as it goes along.......they ad lib like crazy, they speak their lines totally " off the cuff"...........and they giggle lots, roar with laughter lots...and so do the audience! This was undoubtedly a highlight of Chester Lit Festival.

Friday, October 30, 2015


A couple of Tuesdays ago, 6 "feisty" women (?...someone else's adjective) boarded the late afternoon train to M/Chester.......they yattered ( gossiped?) ......they leaped (stumbled?) off at Piccadilly.....they raced (trundled?).........  up the steps in the station to Carluccio.......where they scoffed..... and they quaffed...then taxied their way to Royal Exchange Theatre...
THIS THEATRE  is always a brilliant experience....just going in at the door is a thrill to me...and I think we all feel the same.... 

WE were at the Exchange to see/hear Jeannette Winterson........who, as an essential part of Manchester Literature Festival ( see ), was talking about her new book: " The Gap Of Time: The Winters Tale Retold" .......a modern and exciting retelling of Shakespeare's play.
Winterson gave a great performance.......both reading from her book, telling the story...and to some extent, telling HER OWN story. 
The stage is in the she strode round constantly as she spoke...but all of us heard every fascinating word.

I've devoured only 2 of her books over the years : " Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit" and the more recent:" Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?" and will certainly read this new one.
It's published by Hogarth , who commissioned a clutch of famous writers to rewrite Shakespeare tales, for example, Margaret Atwood.
 Looking forward to more of this project...and certainly more of the effervescently brilliant Winterson! 

" Beatons, Chester...Ist Mon Of The Month....9:30 am-10:30 am..

The first Monday of October saw the first session of poet Gill McEvoy's new venture. 

See me and Gill above. I' m the greedy one, scoffing the toast/marmalade. 
AND the scoffing of toast is a CLUE to Gill's new event.
Every 1st Monday of the month, Gill and friend, Annie Holland, are hosting a POETRY BREAKFAST at Beaton's coffee and book shop, situated near the Bell Tower on the Walls, in Chester. 

The Breakfast will ( funnily enough) include breakfast of choice ( £6:50) plus ample ( very ample) coffee/hot choc/tea etc. served along with the listening to...and the reading of poetry. 
Last month's theme was THE CITY. 
This coming Monday's theme is :THE ZOO. This will lead to all kinds of ideas/interpretations/...and looking forward to it.

NB: Beatons refers to CECIL and not MRS....I soon discovered this on spotting superb b/w photographs adorning the walls....


"Suffragette" was one of the most moving films seen for a long time.
A vital part of our history was portrayed brilliantly. OK, some of it "creatively", but that merely enhanced the "message"...... and the importance of what these women were up against ....and what they achieved.
This is a film that will stay long in my it will with the 3 friends who watched it with me.


Friends of Chester Lit Fest recently enjoyed a brilliant afternoon of both poetry AND cream teas...both equally delicious, believe me. 

Sailing away in a canal boat from The Mill Hotel, Chester, we were entertained by superb poet Jo Bell, a good friend of Lit Fest, who is always welcome in Chester.***
She performed in her usual fabulous style...many poems from her latest anthology: " Kith" 
SEE Above: Jo settles at her table with fellow poet and also canal enthusiast, Robbie Burton.

ABOVE:Elizabeth, admiring a glut of glorious cream cakes....

ABOVE: Our boat, sailing on the gentle waters of the canal at Chester...

***.I originally met Jo when she was Cheshire Poet Laureate. She's visited my Hoole-igans a couple of times, led workshops and performed for both Lit Fest and Friends, when we've had great sessions. 
She's now Canal Poet Laureate, she's been a Director of National Poetry Day, had many commissions, eg. with The National Trust, Glastonbury Poetry............Her credits are endless. 
WE look forward to seeing lots more of JO! 

" Talking With Tim In The Town Hall..."

Last Saturday, 16 writers settled in one of the elegant rooms in Chester Town Hall.
This, I think, is ITSELF a treat!
This session was a part of Chester Literature Festival,with Tim Lott holding  a Masterclass in the fundamentals of story: for writers, clearly of different ages/different experience, which always adds a piquant flavour to this sort of session.........

Lott has had an amazing career...... which includes many facets of writing: novels, journalism, film, TV, Radio....... and many of us knew in particular his weekly column in The Guardian.
His new book is " The Last Summer Of The Water Strider" : a friend has recently enjoyed it think I'll buy my own copy ASAP.......
NB: CHESTER PERFORMS: Please arrange more Masterclasses!


We had a lively hour in the Town Hall ( Chester Lit Fest) on a recent Saturday lunchtime: 
Mancunian poetess/playwright/performance artist gave a great performance adapted from her collection:" Amsterdam" ( Crocus )
Here she is with Helen Hill......who performs her own poetry as Guest Poet at Lingham's Bookshop in Heswall, on Thursday November 5th....and for my Hoole-igans for our last session before Christmas...

" Hoole-igans Captivated ( Captured?) By Crime Writer..!"

Liverpudlian Crime Writer Margaret Murphy visited The Hoole-igans recently. 

Karin, Rebecca and Sue examining some evidence in their notebooks during a fascinating session....
WE had a great morning, hearing about Margaret's writing life, plus some juicy secrets into the art (science?) of crime fiction. 
See Margaret's website on: 


"STICKY WALNUT" in Charles St, Hoole, Chester, is a popular local  restaurant. 
Marina O'Loughlin, Food Writer in The Guardian,  places it in top 50 UK restaurants. 
Fine accolade for a fine place!  

Wednesday, September 02, 2015


....AND remembering our fortnight on the gorgeous island of Lesvos, in Molyvos, 
Just a few snaps and I'll add more ASAP....we had a lovely couple of weeks in Greece with G,L, G and A. 
Here's our pool ...which appeared to melt like magic into the Aegean 
Eating Dinner....we seem to have accumulated a surplus of snaps of us scoffing delicious Greek food...although in this case, it was actually Italian
G hanging onto his hat on a breezy day....
The pool again and our beautiful villa, owned by a super Greek family who made us incredibly welcome...
Girls Who Like To Shop...! 
G and L after anther meal at The Sea Horse in Molyvos harbour...
Backgammon for Grandpa, good book for G....Congas's Bar where the music is cool...
A with chocolate pancake...

AS you'll know, Lesvos, particularly Molyvos ( merely 6 miles from Turkey) is in the News constantly at present. 
To see what is happening ( to people who have arrived there to escape absolute horror) really brings the news home....and into a reality beyond our TV screen and our newspaper. It is heartbreaking.There is a mass exodus of people who need help, who deserve help, people who need the support of a world that cares. 


These are the 4 brilliant... but extremely varied novels I devoured on my recent holidays....they couldn't have been more different...but that was the beauty of them...! 
ALSO I've just received a copy of Hoffman's latest novel called "The Marriage Of Opposites"..... which I can't wait to read....but firstly, I must finish another gripping Sarah Waters:" The Night Watch"....

" A Week In Wales".........

.........WE had a week in a lovely cottage at Croft Farm Cottages, a mile or so out of Cardigan, in beautiful West Wales...
On the beach at Penryn....where there are caves straight out of old-fashioned story books....
Mnt Cove, ....lots and lots of steps down to this fabulous beach but it's worth stepping on every one....
All our names writ large in the sand......
Morning Greeting from H....! 
Feeding the guinea pigs ( and all the other animals every morning at 9:30 prompt!) 
Aberporth Beach.....warm golden day.....Welsh summer holidays at their sunniest
Backgammon tournament....K, the regular champion, takes a swift sip between bouts ...... ....
Excellent fish restaurant....O, R and Grandpa....
The church above the beach at Mnt....
Water sports in a rocky pool at Aberporth...H looks extremely impressed...don't know about Grandpa...! 
Waves and Grins and very chilly feet....
                                  Pass me a cheese sarnie....and a 4 fingered KitKet please...

PLAY IN A WEEK....POW.... with the brilliant Matt Baker at the Helm.....

Rehearsing for THE PIED PIPER at St Mary's...granddaughter A, just  old enough by one week to take part....and she took part with GUSTO! 
That's A, 1st left front row....see brother G in striped T next row....
G practising his notes for the play....
After a brilliant performance, G and A are smiling for the paparazzi.
 I may be their grandmother.... BUT it was MEMORABLE!! 
What a wonderful job these adult organizers do with these children! It's SO much appreciated.