Jumping about in June – the RA – Tenerife


P1110047The garden exploded into action when I was away for a few days, typical! Now it’s still roses, roses everywhere and with loads of deadheading to be done. P1110046

I’ve sorted out the greenhouse yet again with raised beds and planted the tomatoes, all of which took forever.

My garden could be described as unruly, even a clump of  daisies the gardener gave me at the Ted Hughes Arvon Centre P1110043three years ago have established themselves in a crack in the step from the house. We have to walk round them as best we can.

P1110062So moving swiftly on…

Last week we visited the the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition on friends day.   This is a family tradition. I took my mother there for over 20 years.

This year it is described as the most colourful exhibition to date and  Grayson PerryP1110116 and his committee of fellow artists handpicked over 1,300 artworks in an array of mediums.

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The choice included art by people such as David Hockney and Joana Vasconcelos, Tracey Emin etc. but there was a tiny space for a painting by my daughter-in-law’s sister Maura which was a first for her!

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P1110079  Maura with her owl.

P1110096   P1110099  P1110095 This is a wonderful entry with handmade books, pictures and conversations about the art of bell ringing! (Sorry need to check her name!)



All loads of fun – do go along if you can.


Other distractions in London that day.

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An unexpected holiday two weeks ago with eldest son and daughter-in-law who took us off to Tenerife.  All very relaxing.

Highlights including an intriguing shepherd’s cottage on the road to Mount Teide. A road builder had taken up residence when the road up into the mountains had been completed and lived there with his family. Much later he was on his own and reliant on goats, honey etc.  I love innovation and small places like sheds, campervans, homes in caves!P1100897


But also pyramids and the sea and sun, of course.


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Other small spaces nearer to home that I love   P1100773 my shed.

The allotment shed P1100727

Nearer to home again

Alan has been busy with his music and playing in Brighton’s Mandolin Orchestra

P1100829-001 P1100830 Here is the concert which included playing with the New American Mandolin Ensemble at St Georges!

Juliet at The Open Art Cafe in Rottingdean has gone overboard with her flower display this year and also has special summer menus.


Good news for ‘The Hole in the Wall’

My illustrated poem for children ‘The Hole in the Wall’ that has been published by  The Dry Stone Walling Association has really taken off. I have just been asked if someone can read and sell them at a Dry Stone Walling event. Answer has to be yes!


New Poems

Have several poems in the pipeline but making an effort to get a few more published. If they go on this blog they are considered published so its a bit of a dilemma!

But this worm has been around for a bit and is more than happy to appear again – such an exhibitionist!

The Worm

On the path
I just avoid
stepping on a
brown worm.
I place him
on rain sodden earth.
After all, anyone
can take
the wrong




Posted in Ann's photography, Arvon, Brighton - out and about, Cheer yourself up on a dull day, Flowers/Garden/Allotment, London out and about, Nature - birds, flowers, sea or country, Photography, Poetry - Creative Writing, Retiring to Brighton - ups and downs, Rottingdean | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Muddling through May


Wonderful bluebells at Nymans. P1100627Later in the week I watched a deer wandering into my eldest son’s garden. Apparently deer love to feast on roses!

I went along to see the children’s parade the start of the Brighton Festival. This year the theme was paintings so local schools provided wonderful representations from a whole range of painters including Freda Khol, Monet, Chagall, Hockney, Van Gogh and many more. The Festival programme itself is full of art, performance, music and exhibitions.

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I’ve been lacking energy recently probably because there has been lots to in the garden. it’s a tough life!  But managed to get to a few Fringe festival events, including a session on publishing and another ‘Come Rhyme With Me’ with Dean Atta and Deanna Rodger at New Writing South.  I even managed to be one of the open mic appetisers with a poem about ‘Temporary Employment’ forcing myself to read something written recently.  The evening  includes a wonderful Carribean dinner, so they describe the show in foody terms! The Starter: Daisy Behagg   Main course: Potent Whisper  Dessert: Usaama Minahs.

There are still plently of events on offer and loads of ‘Open Houses’ to catch up on. Tomorrow I’ve booked for Roy Hutchins and company with a show that includes music and poetry which should be fun

Less dramatic on Tuesday we had to re-line our pond on our allotment because it had sprung a substantial leak!

We got our plot eight years ago after being on the council list for three years! In truth it was a muddy field with a sad frog sitting in a dried out pond.   But we inherited an apple and a sour cherry tree and have grown plenty of vegetables over the years. But frogs and newts create responsibilities hence so much watery enterprise.


In the Balance
May, they say, is full of promise
we have just two straggly bluebells and how long
before a late frost saps newly planted fragile shoots
and will the robin’s eggs in the nest survive, balanced
precariously between tins of fertiliser and a ball
of string on a shelf in the greenhouse?
A sleek ginger tom eyes the birds eagerly
from under the hedge, whilst I like a demented
guardian angel, attempt to fix an accessible
temporary door with sticks and chicken wire.
Now the growbags will not get planted and dreams
of the heady fragrance of ripening tomatoes
all summer long, drift into the mist of secret longings.
The robins’ beaks now full of curious green insects,
cautious at first, fly through gaps in the wire.
The cat stiffens, glares, his mouth tightens, he crawls
reluctantly back under the hedge.

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The following piece is three years ago and the following year a bumble bee made a nest in a corner of the greenhouse, which also created havoc with my planting plans.

Posted in Ann's memoir, Ann's poems, Brighton - out and about, Cheer yourself up on a dull day, Gardening and the Allotment - for the love of it, Life and Times of a New Age Granny, Living by the sea, Nature - birds, Nature - birds, flowers, sea or country, Photography, Poetry - Creative Writing, Retiring to Brighton - ups and downs | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My little book about a dry stone wall published!

I wrote  ‘The Hole in the Wall’ on an Arvon picture book writing course at Totleigh Barton many years ago. I remember the inspirational Pat Hutchins the author of ‘Rosie’s Walk’ and many other picture books was the tutor.   Sadly she is no longer with us.

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One afternoon I wandered around Totleigh and found the remains of a dry stone wall. On the spur of the moment I wrote a poem for children about the creatures that might live there and created the illustrations there and then.

As a child I remember spending a lot or time in our garden behind our house in North London. The flower beds were set on top of hand made walls as my grandmother had suffered a serious back injury due to a bomb destroying part of the house during the Second World War and this was the  only way she could manage the garden.

After the course I tried to get it published. Oxford University Press showed some interest but then dropped the idea. I was brought up in post war ‘waste not want not’ age so a few years ago I made it into a film.

How lucky that the charity Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain found my film on youtube last November and asked if they could make it into a book. Now they have produced a dear little  24 page book of the poem and pictures using my original artwork. I was even invited into a local primary school last week and the children loved it.

It can be purchased for £2.00 on the Dry Stone Walling  site – http://www.dswa.org.uk/books-dvds.asp

The art of dry stone walling is well documented and the Dry Stone Walling Association is promoting its use because not only is it traditional but also environmentally friendly.

Since writing ‘The Hole in the Wall’ I felt confident enough to attend more formal poetry courses at Arvon centres and elsewhere and have written and had published many poems, including a collection  P1040516‘The Puppeteer’s Daughter’

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In and out of April

In and out of April
manic moods
losing weight
seed potatoes
sun cheating
clouds racing
resolutions falling
into the waste basket
the dark green bird box
made by a nuclear
engineer in Birmingham
only ever had two
birds nesting
best get out
do something
for goodness sake
give more attention
to verbs and line

The sun lightens up P1100518-001our lives as does the pavement poet
P1100543          Daniel Rowland chalking up his latest work.


Brighton as mad as ever – people sail by on their pedal power celebration.



Benny, at the new Ivy Restaurant, sees me looking at the menu,  stops to chat about their one thousand, five hundred enquiries in one day,  cycle lanes, P1100538-001signature dishes and the possibility of having to employ a traffic co-ordinator if they want a few yards of parking!

Well some dishes are a bit pricey, but plenty are fine. Opens 2nd May and would love to take a peek inside, so that’s one thousand five hundred  and one enquiries.

The next day success for Allie Rogers, she has a full house for the launch of the her new book ‘Tale of the Tooth.’   Well done her!





Roy Hutchins was at the Hatchery in Hove on Saturday. Roy always ready to share his writing techniques but today he and musician/fellow conspirator  – Mike ‘Dr Blue’ Mckeon, shared a few pieces from Roy’s forthcoming festival event.  Innovative and touching, should go down well. P1100534   Bear North will premier at Brighton Fringe – May 4, 5, 9,11,16 and 19

Japan eat your heart out…


not so quite so much blossom but a brilliant display in Eastbourne on Sunday.


popped over for a japanese meal with eldest grandson, later we eat non fattening cakes on a patch of grass in the garden behind his flat.

 The weather changed completely on the way home but that’s April for you


and the potatoes were still busy chittering

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100 year anniversary of Spike Milligan

We hope everyone at The Bell in Ticehurst has a happy time tomorrow, with all the Spike Milligan and Goon Show events they are putting on. Spike lived in Ticehurst for some time. Our look-a-like Eccles is very sorry he can’t be there again this year. He is busy in the garden tending his money tree, forever the optimist!

Our Eccles reckons he should have had the honour!         Eccles is at it again        Eccles on the Weald Allotment

Those with a keen eye will notice that our look-a-like Eccles is a shadow of the original but he was knocked up quickly for a Goon Show convention a few years ago.

With none of the original Goons alive the TeIegoons have had plenty of attention but sadly most of the Telegoon puppeteers have also passed on.

I was the youngest and last time I pinched myself I think I was still alive!

Yes I know a lot about  the Telegoons because my family made the pilot film that sold the series to the BBC. Tony Young came to our studio many times for advice and we were involved in the developing the rubber for the marionettes. But Tony’s dad ended up making them.

At first Television puppeteers had to have Equity cards, I got mine as an entertainer during my first summer season in Eastbourne. The Equity card was an acknowledgement of the fact puppeteers were part of the drama and did not just pull strings. But during this series the rules change and affiliation to a different union was acceptable.

Sadly the show was never a big success in Britain maybe because most people had their own ideas as to how the characters might look like from listening to The Goon Show  The Telegoons were much more popular in America and AustP1100509ralia.

I was one of the first puppeteers and performed with the marionettes and life-like models for 15 episodes. Whew! But working on that set carried enough setbacks and intrigue to fill another episode of the Goon Show!

Spike only ever visited the set once!

Some of the original sketches for the puppets.

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My eldest son first met Spike Milligan reading his poems in the Chimpanzee Tea Party enclosure at London Zoo, an encounter, he says he will never forget.

Naturally the grandchildren now 24, 23, and 21 years old, all loved Spike’s poetry. Who wouldn’t appreciate ‘Ning Nang Nong Where the Cows go Bong’ and his other wonderful poems for children?

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Spring at last – pictures and poems

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Not actually sure now when a tortoise wakes up! This poem was about my neighbour’s tortoise a few years ago,

The Tortoise

when the tortoise crawls out of hibernation
from the box of straw, do the rings of his ancient shell
shield him from regret
does his wrinkly head recall the sound of her voice
the haunting echo of her wild, warm laugh
as he takes his first bite into a lettuce leaf
are tortoises bereft of feeling
is that the secret of their long life?





In the kitchen

Let’s draw daffodils
and talk about compassion,
capture papery parcels
that hold the tightly packed
buds still green in their pods.

Let our pencils trace
the shapes of ambitious petals
intent on jumping the gun,
reaching out to the world
before their traditional season.

Let’s fill in the details
on their frilly faces
add a few shadows,
for they had no say in the matter
like us simply here in this kitchen
at this particular time. 

The worm

On the path
I just avoid
stepping on a
brown worm.
I place him
on rain-sodden earth.
After all, anyone
can take
the wrong

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Poems from ‘The Puppeteer’s Daughter’ – New collection underway.

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Making the best of March

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Despite the snow earlier in March, I managed to get up to Faber for an evening with Wendy Cope.  Amazing how a big glass of wine and convivial company can make all the difference, and on top of that the delightful Wendy Cope, launching her new poetry collection. ‘Anecdotal Evidence,’

There she was having come all the way from Ely spilling the beans about reaching 70, in her own inimitable style’ reading some of her new poems, including a few  sonnets.

Meeting her and hearing her read cheered my spirits so much, I bought two copies of her book, one for me and one for a friend.

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A few days later the rooks were busy building their nests in the Dene nearby. Far too big for their boots, staggering up to their new abodes with overlong twigs happy to play at clowns trying to get them through the branches to their new homes.

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The Beach Hut Writing Academy Conference at the Friends Centre in Brighton came next. This is a  group of  professional writers, teachers and/or mentors which includes bestselling novelists and non-fiction writers.

Julie Cohen talked about her latest book ‘together’ giving us a lively presentation on planning a novel with the aid of post-it notes.   Highly original and fun as we were all given a tiny pack of post-its to try the format out right there and then. This, she insists, is how she negotiates the key elements and characters in her new books.

There followed a range of workshops, talks by authors and agents, wonderful food and time to network.   The authors involved sold quite a lot of books from the ‘pop up’ Waterstones and we were also given a goody bag with two mags. and a book from the selection available.

A ten minute pitch with an agent was part of the deal and I guess some got lucky!  I was not one of them unfortunately. Not helped by having chosen who I thought might be the most appropriate one from details online.  When I heard them speak on the various panels, I was pretty sure I had chosen the wrong one and would be wasting her time!

Not only that but my carefully constructed 100 word pitch allowance sent in advance had been devoured by my computer the previous day never to surface again.

Luckily the agent was warm and friendly and had her copy of my pitch in front of her. I couldn’t admit I had lost mine, so muddled along for my allocated 10 minutes unfortunately talking far too much rather than listening!

All this was not helped by the fact I was one of the last group so around us people were discussing train times and going home!  Nevertheless I got a patient response and three pieces of good advice for which I was and still am grateful.

P1100369  P1100370But by the next day I was feeling more cheerful. A close relative had come through a  serious operation and signs of Spring were in evidence.

The cherry tree is in bloom and  the Forsythia just starting to sprout.

Decided it must be time for another major clear out! So piled up another 100 or so books and started to sort through them, stopping to read bits and pieces as I went along of course. But then a whole range of neater book shelves.

P1100390-002Must now decide on the order for my writing projects; finish the memoir, or the new poetry pamphlet or complete the picture/poetry for  children?

A question of spring cleaning the brain?

As long as I don’t resort to finishing another butterfly tapestry all will be well.

In the meantime made pencil puppets with the little girl next door, what it is to be full of enthusiasm for something so simple!

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