Free as a Bard next Sunday 23rd

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Gutted to be missing the final FAAB this coming Sunday – it’s been a lovely series of events this year. Bring on 2015!

Originally posted on dipdoomagazoo:

I help organise Free as a Bard, a poetry and music event at the coast with Peter Mortimer from Iron Press.

Freeasa Bard

Free as a Bard (or FaaB for short) takes place four times a year on a Sunday evening in Whitley Bay’s Jam Jar Cinema. The Jam Jar is a volunteer-run cinema offering something for everyone: mainstream, arthouse, children’s and “silver screenings.”

jam jar

 The  final Free as a Bard of 2014 takes place next Sunday 23rd November and  features a triple helping of local talent. Poets Scott Tyrrell and Vicky Arthurs are joined by musician and songwriter, Jack Arthurs.

Scott Tyrrell has been writing and performing comedy and poetry since the turn of the century. He is author of two collections of poetry, winner of 10 poetry slams around the country, twice semi-finalist in the BBCRadio 4 Poetry Slams, finalist in the Spokefest UK Poetry Slam and winner of the Manchester Comedy…

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And now for something…

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Again, as with Tuesday, something different for this post. As well as loving the world of creative writing, for the last two years I’ve also been making my own jewellery (hence new site name), as well as gifts for family and friends, and the odd request for specific pieces. I may not be the most adventurous of designers, but I love getting to work with great materials, and making pieces that are purely ‘me’. Having started on glass and plastic beads, about two years ago I discovered Jewellery Maker, and since then, may have become a little bit addicted… Getting to work with stunning gemstones makes jewellery making even more appealing.

So, here are five of my favourite strands from JM, and why…

I love sparkle, and although JM do sell stunning diamond strands every so often, they are sadly out of my league right now! So, I tend to get my sparkle from the cut of a gem, like these beautiful silver-coated faceted pyrite rounds, which would catch the light beautifully, or these black agate faceted slabs, which also satisfy my love for huge gems!

I’m very traditional with my colour palette, and have always had a thing for purples, such as these faceted amethyst nuggets, which have a very regal feel to them, and obviously, purple was at one point limited to only the highest members of society (which must be why it suits me so well!).

Other gems with regal connotations (and also ridiculously affordable) include JM’s strands of emeralds, rubies and pearls. It is fantastic (if a little insane) to be able to tell somebody that you’re wearing a home-made emerald and pearl necklace. I sometimes think people don’t believe me, or at least think they’re fake. Of course, there are some fabulous strands that those with larger (or commercial) budgets could stretch to, or to treat yourself or a loved one to as a special treat, such as these red spinel ovals, and these too are great value, but personally, I love knowing that I’m wearing an amazing piece which hasn’t cost the earth to make. I’ve always had a fear that I’ll lose or break any valuable jewellery, so I’m definitely happier at the lower end of the price scale. The necklace and earring set below was made from gems entirely from JM, including genuine freshwater pearls, apatite and amethyst. By my estimate, it cost me no more than £15 to make, but I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t find it to buy for anywhere near such good value in any high street shop…

Pearl, apatite and amethyst necklace

Given how much I love this set, I definitely have my eye on these silver pearls, especially with Christmas just around the corner!

Well, this post has definitely got me in the mood for my monthly craft group – be prepared for more jewellery-related posts in future…

Eric and Little Ern

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So, this isn’t a blog about writing, and there’s no poem in sight, but last night I went to the theatre to see Eric and Little Ern, and there is no way I couldn’t write something of a review. I’m very late to the party, with the show already having been up to Edinburgh, and been touring for a while, but it finally arrived in Darlington last night, and although the house was sadly not at full capacity, you couldn’t really tell once things got going.

It starts with Ernie in a hospital bed, but he’s only alone on stage for a minute or so, when a ‘doctor’ arrives, and no prizes for guessing who he is. With the boys reunited, Eric coming to ‘collect’ Ernie, the banter and gags are soon flowing, drifting effortlessly into classic bedroom and living room sketches, with new dialogue in between, discussing Ernie’s feelings following Eric’s death, and their long-lasting relationship.

At the end of the first half, I realised my scarf was drenched in tears, an odd combination of happy and sad blubbing, but either way, I’m glad I skipped the mascara… Happily, in the second half there was no such confusion – it was an out and out tribute to the great duo, with classic lines and new material, with the audience clearly loving every minute.

I missed being on the same planet as Eric Morecambe by a month, and so never had the chance to experience seeing them live, even on television, but the two actors, Jonty Stephens (Eric) and Ian Ashpitel (Ernie) captured them so beautifully, I nearly forgot the pretty obvious fact that these were not the originals!

It doesn’t matter one bit that I knew what was coming once each sketch started, and could probably have finished every joke – it was a blissful evening, and I’m still grinning as a result.

If you have the opportunity to see this, you should. It is as simple as that.

Jonty Stephens and Ian Ashpitel outside the Civic Theatre, Darlington

Jonty Stephens and Ian Ashpitel outside the Civic Theatre, Darlington

Update: Jennifer Wilson



Blushing ridiculously at Sheree’s incredibly kind words… As you may have picked up from recent posts, the week was absolutely amazing and truly inspirational.
Thanks again Sheree, for a wonderful opportunity.

Originally posted on Sagra delle Words:


Jennifer Wilson, a young writer from North East England, was the winner of our free place this year. She’ll be the first to say how surprised she was about winning the prize but also how much she appreciated this opportunity.

Jen mentioned during the week that she felt the pressure to write and live up to the award. However, I feel she had nothing to worry about as her words flowed freely and excellently well during our time at OZU. It was a great joy to see her opening up, pushing her boundaries and flourishing as she explored her writers’ voice.

Jennifer has kindly offered to share a couple of her creations during the week here. We also hope to have news soon to share about the 2014 Sagra delle Words anthology of writing. Make sure you check back to find out more.


Lake Turano

At lake’s edge, her worries…

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and the poets put their music on!!

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A perfect summing up of a perfect week… Thank you Ozu!

Originally posted on OZU activity:

well, they crossed the door,

they looked inside,

some of them gave and got a big hug.

(some visited us for the second time, which means hugs were absolutely welcomed)

they brought along tea time

and a great wind all the way from the united kingdom.

their british-scottish bubble was so powerful and cheerful

that between the words and their bodies

if you paied close attention

you could have seen

the queen her self,

james bond dressed as sean connery

winnie the pooh

and some fish and chips wrapped with yesterday’s newspaper.

words flew around

were written and rewritten

always black on white

each one of the writers with her own hand writing

signing her personal voice

in transparent and light phrases.

they wrote water, they wrote people, they wrote the past and they captured moments,

poured flesh and bones of their own into their strong and delicate texts.

and we were there

near by

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By the Water

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Last Tuesday, I swam in Lake Turano, with Sheree Mack, Jessica Wortley and Caroline Kemp. It was absolutely magical – as all our post-swim poems showed, there was definitely something special about that morning, that place, and that experience. This poem was started months ago, but completely rewritten after our swim.

By the Water

By the water, we know the people we want to be.

By the water, all is peace:
worries carried off on silver platters
by skittering shards of fish
as we skim our stones.

By the water, souls take flight,
rising on thermoclines
and stolen breaths,
shocked into letting go.

By the water, smiles shine out.
Faces turn to the sun, squinting
against sea-bound diamonds,
icy-blue as the skies above.

By the water, we can’t sit still,
or fight the urge to submerge.
We slip off inhibitions,
and make our leap.

In the water, we are nature,
humbled by our Mother,
feeling small yet mighty,
in her warm embrace.

In the water, we are the people we want to be.

Our little piece of Lake Turano

Our little piece of Lake Turano

Please don’t go …

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Sheree wasn’t the only one brought to tears by this… A lovely (if blurry) end to the most magical week of writing. Here’s to 2015!

Originally posted on Sagra delle Words:

Image by Jessica Wortley

This is my final vision of OZU.

I’m leaving and Liron calls me over to the outside table. She says they have one more thing for me.

They switch on the laptop and start to sing and dance. Please don’t go, by KWS, a 90s disco classic.

I love you
Babe, I love you so
I want you to know
That I’m going to miss your love
The minute you walk out that door

So please don’t go
Don’t go
Don’t go away
Please don’t go
Don’t go
I’m begging you to stay.

It was an emotional moment, a moment that brought me to tears as we had all connected with each other this year. We have fostered a deeper and lasting connection with the centre, the place and the people.

I will miss everyone terribly but I know I will return. I…

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