David and I enjoyed our visit to Chatsworth House in Derbyshire.It’s  on the banks of the Derwent River in the Wye Valley. Construction of this grand country house began  in 1553, under the auspices of Sir William Cavendish –  politician, courtier and 1st Earl of Devonshire – and his wife, Bess of Hardwicke. The last four hundred years has seen their small Elizabethan garden developed and greatly expanded, into the huge parklands we enjoy today.




Between 1760 and 1754, The 4th Duke employed garden designer Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, whose skills and fame were on the rise. His nickname arose from a propensity to discuss the capabilities of a  particular site. At Chatsworth, rocky hills give rise to heather moors. Over time, he transformed working farmland into a park. This huge task included land-forming, drainage, levelling and turfing. This produced the rolling green slopes we enjoy today. He planted trees singly, in clumps, and as a perimeter belt to enclose the view. He paid attention to the vista in planning carriage rides.



The 6th Duke of Devonshire inherited a garden neglected by his father. In the age of plant-hunting expeditions, he acquired many new  species. In 1827, Joseph Paxton was appointed head gardener. Some say, he was the greatest single influence on Chatsworth’s gardens: but Capability had certainly provided a significant contribution, and left a far from a bare canvas to be tackled by his successors.




Paxton proved to be an innovative gardener. In 1835, he planted a succession of trees in the arboretum, and diverted a trout stream two miles from the East moor for aesthetic effect. In 1842, Paxton laid out a gargantuan rock garden, balancing huge boulders, one atop another, a remarkable feat in days before earth-moving equipment. He also glassed-in The Case, a large Conservatory which protects sensitive plants such as figs, peaches and shrubs from the effects of cold.



Expecting a visit from Tsar Nicholas of Russia, the 6th Duke decided to construct a tall fountain in his honour. Gardeners set to work, digging out an eight acre lake in the moors above the house, to provide sufficient water pressure. It was completed in just six months, working by flares at night. The Emperor Fountain, at the North end of the Canal Pond, reaches 290 feet, the highest in the world, and is surrounded by rocks and statues. It is rarely shown at full height, due to water limitations. It  supplied electricity to the house. The park we enjoy today requires twenty gardeners, two trainees and over twenty volunteers.


Chatsworth House has been featured in many films, including Pride and Prejudice. This  version of the famous novel, filmed interior and exterior shots –  the supposed  country estate of Fitzwilliam Darcy.

P6250333 (2) Relic Chatsworth.JPG

Famous guests of Chatsworth include Mary, Queen of Scots, held prisoner there at different times from 1568 to 1584. And Princess – later Queen – Victoria, aged 13,  had her first adult formal dinner at Chatsworth.

P6250331 (3) Sculpture Chatsworth.JPG


A delightful feature of our visit was an exhibition, The Dog. It features the bond between canines and man throughout 400 years. Arranged by the Duchess, it shows the family’s enduring love for these animals. She trains her own dogs for obedience and field trials. A rich canine history is shown in paintings, drawings, sculpture, letters, photographs, tapestries and on china –  it celebrates all breeds. Artists exhibiting include Jeff Koons, Faberge and Anthony Gormly, with one of his Lost Dogs. Pooches are even featured in a State Bedroom frieze. The Duke and Duchess support Hearing Dogs for the Deaf.

shallow focus photography of a golden retriever

ABOVE Unknown Mutt with a friendly smile by Garfield Besa on

P6250336 (2) Waterfall Chatsworth.JPG


Enjoy the antics of Henny, the family Golden Doodle , at



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I was recently inspired by a visit to Chester Cathedral. An exhibition makes clear that  compassion for new immigrants is alive and well in their community .It addresses fear of the unknown, fear of a different language, fear of  an exotic race, colour or culture. Children are being educated to understand that diversity is the sign of a healthy nation.



Since the Brexit referendum in Britain, hate and prejudice has proliferated , even against those from Poland. Have citizens  forgotten the crucial role played by  Polish Pilots during WW2? Brave, highly trained and audacious, they flew closer than other pilots and downed many more enemy planes. Without them , the Battle Of Britain may well have had a very different outcome.  Below, kites painted by the children at Chester, show the spirit and image of freedom.

In the US, it’s distressing to watch extremist ideologues like Trump  whipping up hatred against Latinos, and people of colour 
for personal and political gain. His daily  Tweets and racist comments have increased violence in the US. Now his White Supremacist followers think  xenophobia is OK.  It’s outrageous that Potus has the gall  to tell native-born  Americans of colour to go home. It’s no surprise to see him take pleasure in denigrating his opponents  achievements, especially women. Let’s take a step into the past, to see how things were handled back when.

city new york statue of liberty usa

Photo by Pixabay on

The US Statue of Liberty proclaims: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door. The country’s greatness and true genius lies in its diversity.  This excerpt from a Petrarchion sonnet, The New Colossus, was written in 1883 by poet Emma Lazarus, herself an immigrant. It was only printed  after her death. These famous  words were inscribed over the Statue entrance in 1945, achieving world-wide fame for the sentiments, and for her poem.

america ancient architecture art

Photo by Pixabay on

The  words of Emma Lazarus have inspired millions to seek freedom in the US. It’s hard to believe that in 2019, this same nation , has fallen so far from grace and dignity . Would anyone have believed  that a country which produced Abraham Lincoln and George Washington – who never told a lie – have spawned a man who does nothing else? Indeed, he’s proud of his ability to con. Who could have believed that in the 21st Century, virtual concentration camps would be set up on the Mexican border?

usa flag

Photo by Wayne Penales on

Inmates in Border Force wire cages are lucky to receive a shower every eight or nine days. It’s a shame the arms-crossed unease evident in Pence during his recent visit, couldn’t be translated into positive action on their behalf. Immigrants are constantly demonized, although their crime rates are lower than in the general population.  Potus remains oblivious to the suffering endured within this hell-hole – and, clearly, doesn’t care. Children sicken, are sexually abused and die, separated from their parents. They sleep on the cement floor, have no access to toothbrushes or other measures of hygiene, and are short of essentials such as food and napkins. Teenage detainees are expected to care for separated babies. This disgrace can’t be allowed to continue.  When will Potus  show genuine leadership in regard to this issue, not be content to whip up hate-driven chants? Is he incapable of exhibiting the decency and integrity, of a great nation? Information from Chester, confirms that many immigration  concerns are unfounded.


Kids at Chester bring a wonderful contrast to all the negativity. Paintbrush and pen   picture a better world where immigrants feel welcome and:



After WW2, Australia was proudly numbered among those who welcomed millions of migrants . Many had escaped suffering and persecution in Easter Europe. Newcomers made remarkable contributions to our culture and economy. They set up businesses and drove employment.  In recent times,  Governments and opposition have shown a cruel  disregard for human suffering, caused by conflict and poverty. In Places like  Nauru, men, women and children have been incarcerated, some for six years, lacking hope of resettlement due to the Government’s  stubborn refusal to accept New Zealand’s offer of asylum.  In limbo, without hope, they suffer mental illness,  attempt suicide, and die from treatable infections, while Canberra delays evacuation. In Papua New Guinea, one young man was murdered by locals, who mistakenly believe inmates are criminals. Thousands of Australians protest  against this inhumane treatment. Politicians continue to resist calls for compassion. In the darkness of these realities,  many Australians nurse our shame. We deeply desire a better approach. Diversity marks our population, once celebrated.


Child migrants fleeing Hitler were welcomed to the UK, and refugees after WW2 widely accepted by the population in general. Why have many forgotten theirr humanity?

Children’s art work at St Martins, helps illuminate the need for change in Britain, the US, Australia – indeed, around the world. Look into the eyes of those who have tackled dangerous journeys in their bid for freedom. Look into their eyes and say you cannot help. The community of caring folk at Chester have taken up the challenge. They welcome Asylum-Seekers.  The facts below will help dissipate other fears . 


To paraphrase the students from St Martins: The world can be looked at another way. A place should belong to those in need and seeking shelter, not just those born there.  It’s not okay to turn the other way and build a wall to keep them out. Let us share our countries. Share our homes. Share our food. Many face death, persecution or poverty in their native lands, torn asunder by war or famine. Make them welcome, celebrate the richness of their culture.They are desperate, not cut throats or thieves with  bombs up their sleeves. Not layabouts and loungers, chancers and scroungers. Many have a great deal to contribute to any society, given a chance. Should life have dealt us a different hand, these haggard faces and haunted eyes could belong to you or me…



My photos taken at Chester Cathedral. Others are shown grace of Sincere thanks to students, teachers and staff of the Cathedral and St Martin’s School for presenting this valuable and insightful exhibition. The information has enlightened me – and underscored the need for compassion and kindness. Society must find the means to manage this human crisis, not increase their suffering. I hope all these comments prove of value to others. Maybe even soften the hearts of Government Ministers around the world, responsible for helping  unfortunate people in need .


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Hidecote Manor Garden in Gloucestershire is a must-see. It’s one of the best-known and influential Arts and Crafts Gardens in Britain. A series of outdoor ‘rooms’ show yew and holly hedges, rare shrubs and herbaceous borders. It’s not all about being ablaze with summer: the contrast in texture and colours of green are important, as are harmonies in white of foxgloves against more delicate blossoms.



An American, Lawrence Johnson began the project in the early 1900s.



He conceived a plan to transform the fields around his mother’s Manor into a showpiece. By the 1920s, he employed a dozen full-time gardeners.



His designs developed and changed over the years, but he left few records of the ‘why, how and when’. Intricately designed rooms lead one into another, named for their elements.



The Fuchsia Garden has low box hedges and the burble of a fountain. Hidden birds twitter: David spotted a chaffinch. Below, notice the contrast between foliage, with just a stipple of bright red.



The Long Walk brings a spectacular vista of clipped hedges on either side, in contrast with mature trees and softer green shrubs. Topiary avenues and, a stream, add interest. Below, folk enjoy the red and white waterlilies.



The Bathing Pool Garden, is raised with a fountain. Unfortunately, WordPress has omitted access to this picture from their selection of photos. See my FACEBOOK PAGE



There is a delight for the eye at every turn.



No description could do this garden justice.It deserves several visits in different seasons.



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One’s first impression of Blenheim Palace at Oxfordshire is of the monumental size and antiquity. It is arguably most famous for being the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Much is made of the ‘small’ room which greeted his early arrival. To those of us accustomed to a modest cottage, the size seems perfectly adequate. Great preparations had been made for a London gynaecologist and obstetrician, with suite of rooms at the ready. Winston had other ideas. The Duchess was attended by the local doctor.



The room where Winston Churchill made his early arrival

The land on which the house is built had been gifted to the 1st Duke after his military triumphs against the French and Bavarians in the Spanish War of Succession in 1704. The story of its design and construction includes a Royal Grant of 240,000 pounds fromQueen Anne, an enormous sum in those days.


The Battle of Blenheim 1704

The Duchess was less than impressed by her husband’s choice of architect, Sir J Vanbrugh, and seems to have opposed his ideas at every turn. The building opened in 1722, and remains the principal residence of the Dukes of Marlborough.


The Great Hall ceiling painted by Sir J Vanbrugh

A spendthrift 5th Duke began the decline in family fortunes, selling family estates. Luckily, Blenheim itself was entailed. The sale of valuable paintings by subsequent Dukes failed to stop the decline .By the 19th Century, Blenheim faced ruin. In the noble society of the day, it was unthinkable for a gentleman to work, but a sham marriage was quite acceptable. The 9th   Duke took the only action possible : he carried out negotiations with the parents of an American railway heiress, Consuelo Vanderbilt. Consuelo proved  to be an unwilling bride, but her mother fancied seeing her daughter a Duchess. Locked in her room, she eventually agreed to the match. Terms included cash-in-hand and a generous yearly income. The young couple were in a carriage driving away from the ceremony, when the Duke confessed his  love for another woman… They managed to produce an heir, subsequently divorcing. In a gold thimble, Consuelo’s wealth preserved not only the fabric of the building but enabled replacement of paintings and other treasures sold to keep the estate afloat. Ostentatious tapestries, sculptures, paintings books and artifacts match the style of this grand Baroque building. It’s well worth seeing. Some say at least 100,000 visitors enjoy  this palace and garden each year.


Visitors enjoy paintings, and family photographs which bring a family dimension to this grand room






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On a visit to the UK, we’ve been lucky enough to explore a number of attractive gardens. Each brings its own unique charm. Stourhead, as the name suggests, is at the head of the river Stour, in Wiltshire. It’s one of my favourites. Designed in a classical 18th Century design, it surrounds a large lake. Each generation of a family make their unique contribution. A team of gardeners, generous acres of land, and the right designers, work miracles of ‘natural beauty,’ given time.

Mighty oaks stretch out mossy limbs to touch the lake. Elm, chestnuts, copper beech and tees of every green hue, dark and bright, are stippled with light. Admire the rhododendrons, in shades ranging through white to pale pink and red. Step down uneven rocky paths to the grotto and sparkle of a stream. In the half-light admire the statues – I was glad of Andrew’s arm to assist my return to the even-surfaced path.

Throw in a few temples, add a pantheon with statues and tall columns, a folly or two.

As they say each garden path is a metaphor for life itself. It meanders, sometimes allowing us to rest in the shade, others harsh with brassy sun. Old twisted trunks on ancient trees tell of troubles encountered, and survived. Sometimes there’s a hard climb to reach a peak, rewarded by a spectacular vista, showing how far we’ve come.

Fortunately, the pleasant 1 ½ mile walk around a lake affords plenty of seats, spots to take a breather and admire the view. Enjoy the picture of graceful swans, ducks, waterhen and other birds. Pink and white waterlilies drink in the warmth. A formal bridge contrasts with one in the humped-back Venetian style. A Gothic summer cottage would be a perfect spot to contemplate and write poetry.

A pub lunch back at the house completes a perfect visit.

PS This is my first time visiting WordPress for some time and it seems to have changed for the worse. No longer does it give an option to post photos – apart from Google or elsewhere. I have plenty of my own. After I Previewed this article, I could find no way of returning to it – hence yet another version pasted. This is most unsatisfactory and frustrating. I want articles to accompany my own pictures. If anyone can enlighten me on how to navigate all this, I’d be most grateful.And I’ve agreed to the use of cookies so many times, I’ve lost count.


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On our quest to trace Vine ancestors at Jevington, we spent a night at Hastings. It was my first visit and we were amazed by then tall black timber sheds for storage of seafaring equipment in days when everything was made of natural fibres. A friend showed us around the old town with wonderful old Tudor buildings, and walls jutting out at odd angles. Mellow light from bookshops and old pubs tempted us to linger. We dined with our friend and met her partner’s delightful sons. One lad draws wonderful cartoons of Donald Trump. The other had a delightful image of photographic images, with hand-written text in a style which perfectly complements the images.

The next morning, we took a train to Eastbourne. Melissa had looked up details of the bus to Jevington, including the number, but it wasn’t listed on the shelter. She asked everyone from passengers to other drivers, ‘Is this where the bus to…’ They looked blank. ‘Never seen that.’ We began to fear our ghost-bus would never arrive, or didn’t exist. Had it been cancelled? She asked one official looking gent in uniform. His bristling moustached seemed to confirm it. ‘Small community vehicle. Green and cream.’

We had about given up hope when the little bus drew up, almost apologetic. All its larger cousins, looked down their noses as it crept in and out. We stopped at the Eight Bells Pub, not open until 11. Promising ambience, we’d call back later. Wonderful country of the South Downs on every side, much of it still owned by the Dukes of Devonshire.  Not much opportunity for a young couple to acquire their own property then, as now. Probably little changed since they left for Australia in 1884Fields with horses in jackets, fluffy trees on hills. And set off to explore. Walked along the busy road – narrow, edged with leaves turned into mud, no footpath.

Avoiding ruts and water, we reached St Andrew’s Church, Jevington. A squat building in local flint and green sandstone, it dated back a thousand years. The broad proportions of the unbuttressed tower seen as 11th c . Arched headings of outside windows made from re-used Roman bricks. Seems a Roman road once passed through Jevington, and a Roman coin was picked up in the churchyard. It has a Saxon defensive tower, refuge against Viking raids on coastal villages. Seafaring connections are indicated by a rare anchor cross above the South porch and Nave Roof. The chancel dates to 1230, with a quirky mix of restoration architecture, from the original Saxon, to Norman, Roman, Victorian…

A Tudor Wagon Roof in the nave has alternating king posts and hammer beams. And a rare bell 1456-1486 ,is  one of two from the Medieval period.

A black marble tablet, memorial to one Rector Nathaniel Collier, highlights the dispute about the date of New Year. Did it start on 25th March, according to the old Julian calendar, or on 1st January as indicated by the new Gregorian one? The date was recorded as 1691/2. An Act of Parliament in 1752, finally confirmed New Years Day as 1st January. It must have seemed very confusing at the time.

Inside we admired framed historical images, depicting many of the above influences, from Saxon kings to our Vine ancestor who drew a map of the village in his time, and wrote of his recollections.

We wandered around the Jevington Churchyard. Was this tablet for a Sarah Pitcher the mother of our Sarah Jane, who married James Stephens at Eastbourne in 1877? There were several Vine headstones  of those who are probably relate

We viewed a rare Tapsell gate, characteristic of Sussex Churchyards.  Built of oak or other hardwood, with a central spindle to balance the gate, it is often reinforced by iron. It turns at the slightest touch and, when swung full circle, closes on stops of the gate posts. It requires half the radius of a conventional gate, and is excellent for keeping out livestock, or allowing coffin bears to pass through, without missing a beat. The design was first introduced two hundred and fifty years ago.

It was too muddy after recent rain to explore byways, but potholes provided lovely images of bare-branched trees. WordPress seems to have removed the option to add more than one photo to a posting, which is a pity, since visitors enjoy visual images

We lunched at the Eight Bells Inn, popular with walkers and locals alike. It dates back to the 18th C and it is strange to think of my ancestors dining or drinking there in the 1700s.It seems to be the hub of life in the environs, with all sorts of activities listed. The tiny village is served by a volunteer bus service twice weekly, so were lucky to be there on a Tuesday, with a return at 3.17 pm

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Your Etihad Business begins with a Priority Pass through boring old Customs, to the usual magical array of Duty-Free Liquor, French Perfumes, jewellery, chocolates enough to put on kilos…You resist temptation, regardless of Oscar Wilde’s famous injunction.

At the Etihad Kingsford Smith Lounge Reception Desk, an obsequious employee in white stores you goods until it’s time to leave. He accompanies you into a lift to the Lounge with acres of glass and a display of starters enough to make your mouth water. You join other Sybarites and Patricians at work or play, tapping away on computer keyboards or mobile screens, dining with wives, lovers or both. Every five minutes a black-clad minion walks by, giving the gleaming tiled floor another buff. It’s mirrored surface is bright enough to do your make-up. It puts even my friend, David’s obsessive-compulsive, housekeeping skills to shame!

A female waitress glides to your table, clad in formal noir, attire the occasion demands. Would Madame like iced water, juice, white or red wine from France… French Champagne Bubbles in your mouth… You try several starters. Your taste buds zing. A gentleman offers succulent dates that melt on your tongue. Then Madame orders from the wide menu and fillet steak slices, with potato and parsnip mash appear.

Along the corridor to the loo, other minions stand to attention, lest you lose your way. With your flight about to depart, you walk through the hoi polloi to a small area reserved for Business Class Passengers like me. It’s easy to see one could become accustomed to this heady lifestyle.

In the aircraft, you are shown to your seat cum bed – almost like a mini cabin, really. The TV has a 17” screen, which was once the norm for homes all over the country – not bad for aircraft travel. Certainly bigger than the ones in Tourist. One can dine at any time of your choosing, so hostesses move to and fro, forever on the go. I think of their tired legs in those high heels.

In the cabin across from mine, I see a man whom, at first glance, appears to be in a pyjama top, legs and torso covered by a blanket. Then I notice the large emerald ring, another with diamonds, and decide it’s a woman. Then glimpse the hand- it’s definitely that of a man. Or not. I never did decide. Glances avoid glances. We take our places as if we are invisible: I guess it’s not done to notice others are there. So in silence and blindness we share – yet avoid sharing – our delusions of grandeur.

What would Madame like for dinner? Have another glass of the Duval-Leroy Brut Reserve French Champagne – what other type is there? Figure I’d rather sleep, rocked off by the ebb and flow of air-currents as the big aircraft floats through the long night

What would Madame like for Breakfast? Yoghurt and cereal with breads and Earl Grey tea is perfect. My plane bumps to earth on the tarmac of Abu Dhabi – definitely not a Magic Carpet arrival, I’m grateful the pilot flies better than he lands. I traverse a winding succession of corridors, buy a French Croissant with American dollars, find my departure gate, sit and wait. Don’t bother to seek out the Etihad lounge.

Another plane, another Business Class Cabin. Would Madame like red wine, white wine.. For starters, I sip a glass of French Champagne. I’m gradually figuring out how to operate all the accessories at my disposal, finding the way to open out the table, and lift the lid on my box of goodies. Order an A La Carte Luncheon. The hostess puts a damask tablecloth, with matching napkin, supplies silver. An excellent selection of appetizers teases my taste buds. Then my main, yummy chicken-breast, stuffed with sage and ricotta, with sides of fondant potato, kale and cranberries. I drink A Paul Comeau Sauvignon Blanc, Pouilly Fume- France 2015. Expressive floral and citrus meld into a core of yellow orchard fruit, apricot, mint and wildflowers of the region. A selection of cheeses follow with a ripe Camembert and very nice cheddar, artisan crackers, fruit and paste. Dessert follows. I chose a delicious orange crème brulee with Chenin dessert wine.

At Heathrow I have a fixed idea – catch a bus to Reading Station, same as last time, then the train to Bath Spa. Only, from that Terminal, the girl assures me, there is no bus to Reading. I’m incredulous. Another woman suggests the National Express Coach to Bath at 3.30 pm, about an hour’s wait. I privately dismiss that plan, thinking it’s too late, and wander off with my trolley, wondering what to do. Inside the Terminal, another national Express man suggests two stops on the train to Hayes and Harlington –    sounds ideal. I ask, Are there lifts? He assures me in the affirmative.

On arrival I rename it Hayes, Hell and   Harlington.    Dozens of stairs. No lift. I have no intention of hefting two cases etc up and down stairs. Nobody offers to help. Had I been twenty and pretty… They suggest a train to Paddington station, and a direct ride back to Bath Spa. By then I know the National Express Coach at 3.30 pm had been the perfect option. Madame will just have to be wiser next time.

Posted in age, air, anticipation, celebration, difficulties, don't give up, explorers, grandeur, magic, modern, people-watching, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment


Sad to say some folk are denied the joy of poetry. Bad teaching at school made it punishment, not pleasure, and they loathe it with a passion. I’m lucky to have always enjoyed reading –and writing – it, ever on the quest to improve. Like many of my fellow enthusiasts, we workshop our efforts and send them off to small poetry journals. This month I feel privileged to have had four of mine printed in ‘Mozzie.’

The poem below was written on a day out , near Bath, south-west England when a peaceful drive suddenly took on a turn for the worse. The driver little knew he had a back-seat poet on the lookout for material!


his aristocratic confidence knows
no bounds   some call it noble
arrogance    that self-satisfaction

regardless of achievements
or knowledge of the route
and don’t remind him how he

reacts  that tell-tale
blink     blink      blink
of a man   under stress

road barrier    change
direction     the problem
becomes entirely hers

he screams why didn’t you tell me
to take the side road?

This one was written one foggy morning in Bath.

the sky and hills are gone
this morning   someone
stole them overnight

even the trees are missing
streets and houses shiver
beyond that curtain
of white

it gives me the scares
will i be next?

With rising costs of child-care, and unaffordable housing, many grandparents find themselves as regular babysitters, at a time when they might have hoped for some free time to indulge their hobbies and passions. Others take up the task when their children can’t manage the parental role. But, sadly, there are some who don’t get the chance to interact with their grandchildren at all.

huge distress   denied access
to my grandson   if i can’t
hope   what’s the point?

yearning for that knock on the door
if I was wrong  can’t I be forgiven?
just pick up the phone  and call home

didn’t even know his name until last week
saw his photo on Facebook  i’m aching   to
share secrets    show him the beauty

and magic of  life   i’d cherish his heavy
innocence   asleep in my arms   be joyful
over milestones first tooth  steps  words …

grandparents   conspirators of love
help make their young all they can be

Finally ,a thought  for all those writers – or others -whose efforts in the creative field, fails to meet their goals. All I need is one more lifetime to write that bestseller…

of study and striving   perfection
a distant atoll   glimpsed from my
shingled shore of self-education

i’ve struggled to create the perfect
novel    have my lyrical poems astound
wavelets of hope   foam and groan

around my toes   sand  sinking ‘neath
my feet   tries hard  screeches a seagull
but does not always succeed

very good   mutters a crab   walking sideways
at some things  in the music of air and sea i
know for me  this is the way it’s meant to be

yet nothing can replace the joy of creation
success? Well yes   i’ve done my best


Posted in artist, bewildered, character, don't give up, dreams, grief, healing, human desperation, journey, Life, parents, Poetry, Prince, sincerity, Uncategorized | Tagged | 1 Comment


I’ve had a lazy Saturday tweaking my poetry. It’s wonderful how one can transform a mediocre first draft of anything – whether prose or poetry – into something pleasing to the ear and eye. Often it needs a second, third or even subsequent visit. The work  reveals itself to you in ways that weren’t obvious before. That’s part of the joy of writing.

I have lots of these fragments in my poetry  repertoire, many of which have now been breathed into life. They’re almost ready to share with my poetry group. We meet every Wednesday night at the Writers’ Centre and it’s great to receive input from  experienced poets. And it’s always a pleasure to see our work in one of the magazines and or online.

As I mentioned last time,  I have another reason to rejoice. My novel, LETTERS FROM A DIGGER  is with the printer. Like thousands of young women in 1916, Allie Wakeling waits for the precious letters from her fiancé fighting for freedom on the Western Front in France. The remarkable love story of Allie Wakeling and Billy Wraxall begins at a cricket match in the summer of their young lives when their future promises happiness and children in the bright days of innocence in the early twentieth century.

 But by 1914 the clouds of war threaten to destroy the world and the age of integrity seems lost forever. Young men like Billy who answer the call for King and Empire fight the enemy in conditions that will scar them for the rest of their lives.

 Allie’s story depicts the bravery of these young men and the courage of the women who stayed behind, praying they would come home.

 Billy returns to a world that has changed forever. As Allie and Billy begin their lives together, they fight against the injuries of war until tragedy finally overcomes them.

 Then, against a background of the Great Depression, a new life begins… a life that brings happiness and joy but also a difficult secret that must one day be revealed.

 I now have a date for the launch of LETTERS FROM A DIGGER :at the NSW Writers Centre on Friday 28th October. The time is racing by and I’m really getting excited, as the time draws near.

Posted in anticipation, character, conscience, country, danger, dedication, ethics, honour, journey, sacrifice, tyrannical regimes, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment


It is pleasing to know how books help break down barriers and build relationships. My daughter was in hospital – on holiday from the UK, she underwent emergency surgery in Sydney. Sincere thanks to St Vincent’s Hospital which gave her the wonderful care needed.

She happened to overhear another patient saying she had trained as a nurse at the RAHC  – the Childrens’ hospital  – in the fifties. They struck up a friendship and spent an hour swapping stories of the shared experiences of nurses from that era. During the conversation, Melissa gave Joy a copy of my novel, BLACK STOCKINGS, WHITE VEIL – A TALE OF ADVERSITY, TRIUMPH AND ROMANCE AT ROYAL PRINCE ALFRED HOSPITAL. It celebrated 50 years since my graduation as young registered nurse, the Class of 1962. And was a Finalist in the 2009 Indie Book Awards.

Back in the fifties, Joy and a couple of nursing buddies were seconded to RPAH for six months to undergo adult nurse training. So they actually trod the long corridors in which this story is set, appreciating it from a hands-on perspective. As Joy wrote, ‘ I cherished every word savouring memories and nostalgia. Thank you for your wonderful, personal and insightful story of that memorable time in our lives.’

It’s lovely to know this story is being read and enjoyed by a wide variety of folk. Being of historical interest to the profession, it has a timeless quality. Hospitals and technology have changed dramatically since the 1950s and nurses are now educated at universities.  It shows how things were when nurses lived in nun-like seclusion of Nurses’ Homes, with late Passes and strict curfews. This book is of interest to those who have ever visited a hospital, been a patient, trained as a nurse, graduated as a doctor, or those who simply take pleasure in hospital tales.

Since the release of BLACK STOCKINGS in 2008, I have been co-editor on two anthologies of poetry and prose from the Women Writers Network at the NSW Writers Centre.  Our WOMEN’S WORK was a Finalist in the 2010 New Generation Ippy Awards in the Womens’ interest Anthology section. BARE, another quirky collection, has been well received and reviewed, praised for both overall design and content.

I have also been developing three further novels. The first to be finished, LETTERS FROM A DIGGER, the first of a duo, has just emerged from my editor. Billy Wraxall’s beguiling letters to fiancée, Allie, depict his risky voyage on the Osterley to Egypt. Vivid images of Cairo are soon followed by the beauty of France and dangers at the front…The manuscript is now with the printer.  The novel will be launched in October this year.



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